Category Archives: Library Events

The Orange Carpet 2015

This was the third year my library held its annual Halloween Runway Party (see last year). By far one of the most popular family events, it was created by my director as a way to have Halloween fun without the competition – every child is a star. Each child is announced by name and costume, then they walk down the orange carpet to background music while their families take pictures.

bp halloweenActivities

Last year, I expanded the event to include activities in addition to the runway. This year, I expanded the number of activities significantly. We did not have any comic books from Halloween ComicFest, but that was because September and October were insanely busy months for both myself and the director, and we never put in the order for the comics.

Poke-a-Pumpkin – My mislabeled station was popular last year, and was popular again this year. I put small, inexpensive treats in each cup – beaded bat necklaces, bat rings, squishy eyeballs, Halloween tattoos, etc… A single layer of tissue paper was rubber banded over each cup to hide the prizes. To get to the prizes, you jab your finger through the tissue paper.

bp poke

Pumpkin Guts (from Stir the Wonder) – A station intended for littlest children, but all of the children present spent some time squishing guts around.

bp hall 4

Paint Mix Pumpkins (from Sunflower Storytime) – I used this as an activity at a storytime, and thought it would be good to use again since several attendees were under the age of 2. I learned from previous experience that duct tape over the top of the baggie is a must – enthusiastic smooshing can cause paint to leak out.

bp hall 5

Squawking Pumpkins (from Miss Mancy – website not working ) – I did a non-Halloween version of these with my Girl Scout troop last year, and they loved them. When I came across a version that turned them into jack o’lanterns, I knew I had to do them at my library. A volunteer prepped them by stringing the yarn and paper clip so all the children had to do was decorate it and play with it. I highly recommend using a drill to make the holes in the base of the cups.

The basic directions: tie a piece of cotton yarn to a large paper clip; put the string through the hole; hold the cup in one hand, and with the other hand wrap a wet (not sodden) paper towel around the string and pull down. An annoying squawking noise is made by the wet paper towel/string and amplified by the cup. Physics at its funnest.

bp hall 2

Egg Carton Pumpkins – I know variations of this are floating around the internet, but I got the idea from a craft I did with my Daisy Girl Scouts. We made Girl Scout Promise bugs from blue-spray painted egg cartons. It was easy enough to translate the idea into pumpkins.

bp hall 1

Candy Corn Puff Paint (from Growing a Jeweled Rose) – I’ve used shaving cream/glue paint multiple times during storytime, and it has always been a hit. I had a bunch of leftover candy corn coloring pages from last year, and decided to reuse them.

bp hall 6

Pool Noodle Pumpkin Stamps (from Toddler Approved) – a popular, and messy, station.

bp hall 3

Arty Party (Library Event)

The final program I did this  summer was an Arty Party for children ages 2-6. Over 20 kids attended, which for my library is outside the norm. We usually have between 5-10 children attending storytimes and other programs (except the ZooMobile, then it’s a guaranteed full house).

Because all of my summer programming was science-oriented, I wanted to do something art-oriented. I like fun, I like mess, and art is a good way to do both. I like activities that have no right or wrong way to do them. A child could do an activity completely different from the instructions and still create something amazing.

Our community room is somewhat small, so I was only able to squeeze five stations in. Even that was somewhat crowded because of the number of people attending.

All of these activities  can be done inexpensively (the name of the game for a tightly budgeted non-profit library).

arty 3

A messy display of art projects.

The Stations:

  1. Watercolors & Oil
  2. Paper Collage
  3. Shaving Cream Marbleized Paper
  4. Masking Tape Resist
  5. Spin Art

1. Watercolors & Oil (from Babble Dabble Do) – Rereading the directions, I realize I did this art project differently. It would have been easier for the kids if we did it the BDD way. For my way, the children used pipettes to squeeze liquid watercolor, water, and oil onto a plate. They then dipped a piece of sulphite paper into the mixture. The results were interesting, and no one realized that I gave the wrong instructions.

arty 4

2. Paper Collage – For this station, I pulled out all of the random bits of construction paper that has been cut up over the past several years, foam stickers, and placed them on a table with scissors (fancy and regular), glue, and uncut construction paper to be used as the base.

arty 2

3. Shaving Cream Marbleized Paper (from Happy Hooligans) – This was a popular, and messy, table. For the prints, I cut water color paper into approximately 4×6 in pieces. I also used regular-sized heavy duty paper plates for the shaving cream instead of larger trays. We were able to get two decent prints per shaving cream/watercolor mixture.

arty 5

4. Masking Tape Resist (from Happy Hooligans) – Paper, tape, and watercolors are all that is needed for this project. It seemed like the least popular station, but I could be wrong about that assumption given that a lot of my attention was devoted to helping with the two über-messy activities.

5. Spin Art (from Babble Dabble Do) – I have done this at both a previous storytime and at my daughter’s 5th birthday party. It has proven to keep kids occupied until they run out of paint in the bottles.

arty 1

The Valentine’s Day Party That Wasn’t

This past Saturday, we were supposed to have a Valentine’s Day party at my library. After braving unplowed roads and blowing snow, my director told me to go home, and closed the library for the day.  My kids benefited from this, and they got to play with all of the fun stuff I bought/made for the party.

1. Gummy Heart Construction (from Lemon Lime Adventures) – A take on marshmallow/tooth pick construction, gummy hearts are used instead. I found jelly hearts on clearance for $0.97 each at Jo-Ann Fabric, and grabbed all five containers on the shelf. The idea being that what didn’t get used at the party could be used at home by my kids (who ended up spending an hour and a half building and eating).

gummy hearts2. Candy Heart Patterns (from PreKinders) – The idea for this was to have a bowl of candy conversation hearts with several different card stock printouts of various patterns.

3. Treasure Hearts (from Growing a Jeweled Rose) – I mixed baking soda, water, washable red paint, and red glitter together in a bowl. Then I filled a heart silicon pan halfway with the mixture, put two jewels in, then filled the mold to the top. I put them in the freezer to speed up the process since I only had one pan. Once the hearts were solid enough, I turned them out onto a cookie sheet to dry overnight.

hearts1When the kids melted their hearts, I colored the vinegar (blue, orange, and yellow). They used pipettes at first, but soon determined that this didn’t make the heart fizz fast enough. They poured the vinegar over the heart, and stabbed it with the pipette until it broke apart.

hearts34. Make-Your-Own Valentine’s Day Card – This was an open-ended station. Card stock, heart-shaped doilies, pink, red, and purple construction paper (solid and patterned), scissors, and glue sticks. I would have liked to see this one in action at the library.

5. Heart Mandala Coloring Pages – I love mandalas. They keep both myself and my kids occupied for hours. I have been told that coloring mandalas helps children develop early math skills, but I have yet to find any information about that from sources other than from my friend who used to live in Germany and several blogs.

image linked to website

image linked to website

image linked to website

image linked to website


Breakfast with Santa

Every December, my library does a Breakfast with Santa event for families. They gather in the community room for doughnut holes and juice, then Santa comes in to say hello. In the library proper, we have a sitting area with a wingback chair placed next to a Christmas tree. The children are taken out in small groups to meet Santa. When they are finished, they go back to the community room for crafts and activities. Activities are my sole contribution to the whole thing.

1. Glittery Snow Painting (from Growing a Jeweled Rose) – This was by far the favorite activity. Multiple families asked for the recipe so they could make it at home. The only thing I would do differently would be to have the children sprinkle the glitter over the paint once they’ve finished. The glitter got lost in the shaving cream when it was mixed.

2. Bow Tie Noodle Wreath Cards (from Crafty Morning) – I prepped the noodles by dying them with green food coloring and vinegar. To make them glittery, I sprayed adhesive on the noodles, put them in a zip baggie filled with green glitter, and shook them.

wreath card3. Tri-Bead Candy Cane Ornament – The one ornament we had all of the supplies for. I raided our supply closet for beads and pipe cleaners (cut into 6″ pieces).

bead candy cane4. Santa Beard (from East Coast Mommy) – Quick and simple.

santa beard

The Orange Carpet

My library held its 2nd Annual Halloween Runway Party on October 25th. The director came up with the idea last year to have kids model their costumes down The Orange Carpet. Each child is announced by name along with who/what they are dressed up as, then they walk runway accompanied by music (Jamiroquai, if you’re curious). This is not a competition. There are no prizes. Just each child’s chance to be the center of attention.

bp oc 3Me being me, I wanted to do more than just the fashion show and a single craft using random bits of foam and paper scrounged from our supply closet. My initial expansion idea came from Halloween ComicFest. I wanted to give the children Halloween-themed mini-comics (which ended up being a good choice on my part) and incorporate comic book elements into the party. I ended up skipping the additional comic book elements in favor of some simple games and and activities.

Once all of the children walked the Orange Carpet, we opened up the community room for the remainder of the party. There were four stations (two games, two crafts), and when families were ready to leave, a table with take-home favors consisting of  candy, Halloween-themed play dough, and Halloween mini-comics (Vamplets was the favorite).


1. Witch Hat Ring Toss (idea from Sometimes Creative) – I bought a piece of black foam core poster board and spray painted it silver. Dinner plates served as the template for the brims.  The cones are poster board and are attached to the foam core with electrical tape (using a glue gun didn’t cross my mind for some reason). The buckles are construction paper.

bp witch

2. Poke-A-Pumpkin (idea from Project Denneler) – Ignore the fact that in my infinite wisdom I wrote “pop” instead of “poke”.  This was surprisingly quick and simple to assemble. I hot glued orange plastic cups (16 oz) to white foam core poster board, put small prize in the cups, then rubber banded tissue paper over the openings. I did all of this while the board was horizontal, and made sure to be extremely careful when tilting it upright to place on the easel. Several cups had small bottles of bubbles, and I didn’t want them to either break the single layer of tissue or to be visible to the pokers.

This was by far the most popular station at the party.  I having at least two cups per child to poke.

bp poke


1. Origami Bats (instructions from Activity Village) – I printed out instructions, made a sample, and pretty much let the families have at it. If I did this again, I would remember to bring chalk so the children could draw faces on the bats.

bp bat

2. Candy Corn Collage (idea from Indiana Mom) – fairly self-explanatory. I found a free candy corn coloring page and printed it out. Since participants tend to skew younger at our events, I wanted to have something for them that wasn’t too hard.

bp craft

What Awaited Departing Children

Pumpkin Play Dough (idea from Juggling With Kids) – I used the ingredients in the ratios she had listed, but I combined the water, oil, salt, and food coloring in a pot and brought it to a quick boil before removing it heat to add in the remaining dry ingredients. Each pumpkin is approximately 6 oz, and I was able to get 6 1/2 pumpkins per batch.

bp pumpkin

Candy and Comics!

bp comics

Miss Emma’s Choice (Summer of Science)

There was no educational component to this session, it was purely making explosions or creating goo. I chose the activities because I liked them, I had a good response from previous sessions, or I wanted to test out an activity. Gak was by far the favorite.

This was my final summer science session. All of the sessions were popular, and I will have to work in other science programs throughout the school year to keep the excitement going. I also have plenty of time to figure out what I’m going to do next summer.


1. Mentos Geysers. This was our first activity. I could not find my geyser tube, so I followed the instructions on Steve Spangler’s website for making one out of construction paper. The homemade tube works, but you’ll need to make a new one for each bottle (a few of mine lasted for two bottles, but you lose time removing and reattaching the tube). You’ll also want to have an awl or ice pick to create a hole to put the toothpick through. It is very hard to force a toothpick through multiple layers of construction paper.

We used: Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Diet 7up, Mountain Dew. Diet 7up performed the best, followed by Diet Coke.

2. Baggie Bombs. This was a repeat from the Acids & Bases session. This time we used two different sized baggies (lunch and quart) to see if there was any difference. I bought regular baggies instead of the sliding ones, and it made a huge difference (in a bad way). Always buy the slider bags. The regular ones (quart-size) didn’t pop. The lunch-size ones sort of did, but it was rather disappointing as a whole.

3. Gak. I decided to do a test run of making gak before the family science program. I used the recipe from PBS. What I learned is that it takes a lot more than 1 teaspoon of the Borax solution to make the gak gel together. We had to keep adding a little bit at a time until there was no more liquid mixture left. Fingers also do a better job mixing than craft sticks once you’re past the initial stages.


Almost-completed gak.

Sticky, Slimy, Gooey (Family Science)

The second, and final, summer family science program was all about sticky, slimy, and gooey things. I read one book and then dived into the goop. 18 children participated.

My 4-year old received this book as a birthday gift. It is popular in my house, so I figured I would try to create some kind of storytime around it. My favorite illustration is the one with the frazzled art teacher sitting on the floor huffing into a paper bag.

too much glue

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre


1. Oobleck. The oldie, but goodie oobleck was our first activity. 2 parts corn starch to 1 part water. Food coloring optional. As families made (and played) with it, I explained what oobleck was and what they could do to make it act like both a solid and a liquid.

2. Gak. I tested this out last week at the final school-age science program. It was a hit then, and a definite hit this time as well. There are many recipes for it, but I mostly used the one from PBS:

4 oz white glue mixed with 4 oz water (pour water into empty glue bottle to get more glue out). Add food coloring. In a separate cup, mix 1 teaspoon Borax with 1/4 cup water (this is a modification from PBS, which calls for a 1/2 cup of water). Add 1 teaspoon of Borax solution to glue mixture (though you will ultimately need more than just a teaspoon), and mix with your fingers until it firms up.

I had the children pour the mixture onto sturdy paper plates to mix. They added small amounts of the Borax solution until all of it turned into a lump of gak.

3. Slime. This one came from Science Bob and is incredibly gross. Think of the saliva dripping from the alien’s mouth in any of the Alien movies, and you’ve pegged it (Slimer’s slime might also work). Very mucousy. The basic recipe is equal parts white glue, liquid starch, and water (I used 4 oz). Mix it together and prepare to be grossed out.


jlaw disgusted