Spy School

We had a LOT of fun at Spy School! We did this as part of our new program Spotlight.  Spotlight focuses on a different topic each month.  It follows the interests of what we see in our department.  Since Stuart Gibbs’ latest book Spy School Secret Service is now out, we decided to have some fun with it sending our school-aged kiddos through different tasks and missions in order to officially be spies.

Here is a quick look at what we did!

 

The overall set-up was stations that they could go to as they pleased.  There were no progressive steps (with one exception which I’ll tell you about in a minute).  We do the majority of our programs this way for a couple reasons.  First, kids don’t all go at the same pace.  This set up gives kids the freedom to explore stations where they need more time without feeling self-conscious and likewise allows them to move on from stations that go quickly for them.  Though it may sound chaotic,  it actually helps keep everybody on task.  Second, we serve kiddos with special needs and this format gives them the ability to participate at a level that is comfortable for them and adjust as they need.

These were our stations:

Hand Scanner for Entry

This was quick and easy.  Just use a name-brand Ziploc bag (the generic I have tried to use leaked terribly), clear hair gel and water color paint or food coloring.  I sealed the edges of the bag with duct tape just to reinforce.  Be sure to squeeze all the air from the bag before sealing it up!

Agent ID

We found some fun Secret Agent Badge printables online.  The kids grabbed a color out of bucket A and an animal out of Bucket B and this became their Code Name for all missions.

Book Cipher

We created a book cipher using copies of Fox in Socks.  The kids (and some parents) had a lot of fun figuring out our messages!

Secret Messages

We set up a wax resist station for kids to right secret messages to each other.  White crayons on white construction to write the messages and water color paint to reveal the messages made it a fun little project.  The kids loved leaving messages for others to find.

Pom Pom Target Practice

We found this really cool blog that had a great tutorial for pom pom target practice, so we tried it out.  The kids did a great job with this simple activity and LOOOOVED creating their own shooter.  Pool noodles, duct tape, balloons, and pom-poms are all you need for this and it is a huge hit!  We set up a target on our wall.  Their objective was to stand at varying distances and shoot into the caution tape.

 

Dodge the Lasers!

We used a strong, thing book tape to create a laser field for kids to dodge in and out of, trying to avoid getting stuck.

Minefield

This is the one station that I wasn’t thrilled with.  Sadly in programs, sometimes ideas that seem great on paper just aren’t as great in real life.  The objective is to stomp and walk through the pool (or minefield) and not pop a balloon.  Unfortunately, this really wasn’t a challenge.  The balloons would fly out of the pool before they could even attempt to pop, or not pop, them.  Were I to do this again, I would not confine it to the pool and I would use a lot more balloons.

 

All in all, everyone loved this program, including me!  In fact, we liked it so much we are putting it on again (minus the minefield) at our Exploratorium on November November 29th!

 

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Exploratorium: Magic

It’s that time of year when things start to appear magical, so what better time to get the kids involved in creating a bit of magic of their own.

Our next Exploratorium on Wednesday, Nov 15 at 2:00pm-3:30pm features Magician, Mark Yeager who will do a magic workshop for children in K-5th grades. This is a great opportunity for children to learn some slight of hand and other magical tricks they can do on their own. If they get hooked, let the magic grow by taking a look at our many magic books we have available to be checked out.

Miss Christina

LEGO ROBOTICS AT MOLINE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Miss Marta

 

Building Bridges

 

Did you realize how many different types of bridges we have in the Quad Cities?

Since designing the Exploratorium Building Bridges program, I keep looking at bridges, explaining to my very patient husband that the footbridge he just crossed over was a beam bridge and the strengths and weaknesses of that type of bridge. All this time I just thought bridges were “pretty” or “ugly” because of their design. I never thought there was a reason for the style of bridge or to really think about the amazing amount of weight these bridges have to carry. It’s been an eye opener.

It all started with the model of the new I-74 bridge that is currently located in our lobby. I thought this would be a great time to do a STEAM program on bridges and how they are built.

At the program we observed what made a design strong with 4 different type of bridges. At the end, everyone designed their own bridge that would be strong enough to hold an apple. If you want to try these at home, they are very simple.

 

Beam Bridge

Supplies: 2 even stacks of books, 2 pieces of card stock, scissors, tape and weights. Weights can be anything the same size like small blocks or other toys that are the same size and weight that will not roll away from you or break.

Place a piece of cardstock on the two stacks of books so it looks like a bridge. Now begin adding weights, one at a time. How many weights did you add before the bridge collapsed?

Now create 2 piers from the 2nd sheet of card stock by rolling up the cardstock into a tube and taping it. Cut the tube into 2, sizing them so it fits under the “road” of your bridge. Place the 2 tubes or piers under the bridge and start adding weight again. Did it hold more weight?

Beam bridges are simple to create and are ideal for short distances unless you have other ways to support the bridge.

 

 

Arch Bridge

Supplies: 2 even stacks of books, 2 full pieces of card stock, weights.

Recreate your beam bridge without the piers. Form the second piece of cardstock into an arch and place it under the road of the bridge. How many weights does the bridge hold? Was this more than the beam bridge without piers? With piers?

If you were to create an arch from stones or blocks, this would need tension to hold the arch together. An example of the tension in an arch is to stand facing someone about the same height as you. Both of you hold up your hands and grasp them to form an arch. Now lean forward. The force you feel where your hands meet is the same force that would hold stones together in an arch. The arch shape is able to disperse the weight to the ground or abutment of the bridge.

 

 

Truss Bridge

Supplies: 2 even stacks of books, 1 full piece of card stock, 1 piece of paper, weights.

Truss bridges get their strength from a framework made of triangles. Triangles are much stronger than squares or rectangles because they can move the pressure of the road load from a single point to a much wider area.

Recreate your beam bridge. Remember how many weights it would hold?

Now fold your piece of paper like you would a fan. Spread it out and place it under your road so it spans the bridge. Now try adding weight. Does it hold more?

Why do you think the fanned paper was helpful? Would it work if it were a flat sheet of paper?

 

Suspension Bridge

Supplies: a long piece of cardboard about 4 ft long for the road. It may be bent. A hole punch, 2 chairs with an open back, pipe cleaners, 2 long pieces of cord about 12-14 ft long and some weights – we used 4 Lego blocks.

I found this bridge fascinating. It seems impossible that two pieces of cord can hold up a bridge!

 

Place the chairs back to back. Place the strings parallel to each other over the chairs so that the ends go over the front of each chair and reach the floor. If it helps for set up, tape the cords to the top of the chairs. Just be certain to take off the tape when the bridge is assembled. Tie the ends of your string to your weights and pull the weights away from the chairs to make the cords taught. Punch holes on either side of the cardboard, 3-4 on each side, evenly spaced out. You do not need to have holes on the far ends of the cardboard. Attach a pipe cleaner to each hole by threading it through the hole and twisting the end to the pipe cleaner. Place the ends of the cardboard on the seats of the chairs. You may need to support the cardboard until you have the pipe cleaners in place. Next, hook the pipe cleaners onto the cords.  Now you can pull the road support away and take off the tape.

Try putting on a toy car on the bridge. Does it hold?

What happens if you move the weights closer to the bridge?

What if you have fewer pipe cleaners? No pipe cleaners?

Can you determine what is supporting the weight?

 

 

When I started designing this program, I didn’t know the first thing about bridges, however, through the books and kits we have at the library plus the Internet, I developed a great respect for the bridges I see every day. Which is a lot of bridges!

It turns out the Quad Cities has many examples of the different types of bridges. When you cross a bridge, see if you can determine what kind it is: Beam, Arch – Tied Arch, Suspension, Truss, Swing, or Cable-Stayed.

And the next time you come into the library, be certain to check out the new I-74 bridge model in the lobby. It’s awesome!

Miss Christina

 

Preschool Halloween Party

Hey all you boys and ghouls, err, I mean, girls….

We’re having our annual Preschool Halloween Party for kiddos ages 3-5 (ish) and their families on Thursday, October 26, at 10:00 am.  Miss Sarah and I are cooking up some fun for all our storytime friends!  Come for Halloween stories, games, activities and treats.  Dress up in costumes for extra special fun!  Instead of heading to the Children’s Program Room, just parade yourself into the big meeting room off the lobby for this special Halloween event.

This special storytime is being sponsored by the Moline Kiwanis Club!  Thanks!

 

Miss Teresa

Why Your Child with Special Needs Should Be In Storytime and How to Make it a Success

Library programming has changed A LOT in the past decade.  A LOT.  We have gone from traditional story time reading with a paste together craft to interactive story times filled with music, movement, open-ended arts and crafts that encourage individual thought and creativity.  We have gone from book groups with preformed questions lead by the librarian to programs that tie literature into hands-on, thought provoking activities that engage the inner thinker in each kiddo.  We are no longer a community of “shushers” telling patrons to read quietly, but rather we are encouraging conversation and engagement with other children and parents at the library.

The best part of this change in thinking and direction is that it means programming now fits ALL abilities and needs instead of just the needs of children who can sit still and quietly for a story hour.  Still, the fear and misconceptions are out there, especially among our parents who have children with special needs.  I have extended the invite to Storytime for Littles (our baby/toddler story time) as well as Exploratorium (our school-age, STEAM-based programming) just to catch that hesitation followed by a hasty “Well, my child has autism, so I’m not sure they would sit for it,” or “My child has ADHD and I would hate for them to get too wound up.”

I know that response.  That hesitation.  I had it when my child was young.  I have a son who is autistic.  He also has severe ADHD and a sensory processing disorder.  Taking him into settings where I had no control over smells, sounds, and tactile experiences was nerve-wracking.  It could trigger a meltdown and the judging eyes of other mothers falling on us or upset children who felt we disrupted them.  From personal experience I can say, he needed those experiences.  Can I say every experience was a success for us?  No.  What I can say is that every experience gave him a frame of reference for adapting to different social settings (we run at the playground, we walk in the museum). It gave him exposure to new activities and topics, even if it was short-lived on a rough day (seeing new animals at the zoo to talk about versus the pets at home and animals in our neighborhood).  The opportunity to practice social skills at different programs was a major driving reason behind many outings.  Playing with new friends and meeting new people was not always easy, but he did learn how to greet people without being prompted and practice manners with people other than family which helped as he went off to school where I wasn’t there to guide his social interactions. All of this lead to a huge opportunity that is good for any child: the opportunity to gain pride and confidence in himself in any setting.

 

So what are some tips and tricks to enjoying story time if your child has special needs?

  • Talk to your child about it ahead of time, regardless of their age.  If they are too young to understand, you are providing them with new words to build a frame of reference for what story time and the library are.  If they are old enough, talking to them about what to expect at the program or what behavior you expect from them helps them feel more prepared going into the situation and sets them up for success.
  • Once in story time, let your child explore within reason.  Obviously we encourage them to stay with you and do the activities, be it listening to stories or dancing and moving to song, but we are used to “wanderers” who walk around the room, come up and point to the pictures in the books we are reading to the group, help with the felt board stories, and the list goes on.  They are still getting a lot out of being in the room, hearing the story and taking in the setting.
  • If you want your child to practice sitting during times we have the group sitting to listen to a story but they are struggling to stay still, ask us for a fidget!  We have an arsenal of fidgets and weighted toys that will help satisfy your child’s sensory output needs and use their energy while they are still sitting with the group.  And trust me, though at first glance they may seem distracted, they are actually more mentally engaged than they would be otherwise, absorbing every detail.
  • If it is a rough day and your child is overwhelmed, feel free to step out of the room.  Parents frequently are in and out during story time, and this is nothing that disrupts the program.  Feel free to come back in once your child feels ready to rejoin the fun and give it another go!
  • If it is really overwhelming adjusting to a story time or program, start small.  Sit in the program for as long as your child will tolerate.  Maybe it is 5 minutes, maybe it is 15.  Once they show signs that they are done, leave story time.  You can either take a break and come back in after a few minutes when they are ready to give it another go or just come back the next week and try again.  Slowly overtime as your child adjusts, the time they will be able to stay in the program will grow. Do this as many times or for as long as necessary!  The library staff understands completely and supports you 100%!  Often there is a concern that we will be disrupted or find that coming and going rude but the truth is we WANT you to do this if it helps your child.  We want you and your child in our program even if it is only for a part of it, even on a rough day!  And truth be told, parents and children come and go frequently during programs for lots of reasons so you are not alone!
  • If the program has different centers to explore, don’t make your child do every one if he or she doesn’t want to.  Let them guide their experience!  If they want to make three straw rockets instead of going to the area where they actually launch them and measure them, that is okay with us provided the supplies are there.  It is an opportunity to interact with different children who come to that station and use social skills!
  • Let the library staff in the room know if you need help!  Tell us how we can support you!  Whether it is asking us to hand you a cherished object that soothes your child while you are holding them to calm them down, whether it is giving you and your child a special sign if storytime is about to get loud because loud noises upset them and it gives you time to cover their ears, or even if it is helping provide a transition between activities so they aren’t upset when you need them to move to a new center or go home, we are there to support you as well as your child!

Miss Marta