Category Archives: Library Events

Noontime Ninjas

Today I ran a program at the library called “Noontime Ninjas”. We seem to have better participation with families when an event is held on a Saturday afternoon as opposed to a weeknight (bar storytime), so “Ninjas at Night” had to be modified. 15 children, 25 people total participated, which is a great turn out for us.

The program itself was very simple – create your ninja symbol, make a headband, navigate the courses. My one requirement was that in order to run the courses, you had to hear a headband.


This is my younger daughter’s panda bear headband. The circle is approximately 3″, and both it and the slots were cut using my Silhouette (completely worth the money spent and learning curve learned). Threaded through it is a strip of black plastic tablecloth.

Course #1

I made a relatively simple course using red crepe paper streamers. This was meant more for the little kids, though some of the big kids managed to weave their way through it.

Course #2

Participants had to battle their way through a field of ninjas. While my field of ninjas is less than impressive, it was extremely popular. If I had more space, I would have constructed a fourth course combining the streamers and balloons.

Course #3

The big kid course made using red yarn. This course needed a lot of touch ups because shoes, capes, and hat bobbles kept catching on the yarn and pulling sections of it down. Still a lot of fun.

Family Slime Time

Given the popularity of slime, I decided to do a family program to show people how easy slime is to make. My plan was to have several demonstration tables to show how to make some of the more complicated recipes, have a DIY slime bar, have a take-home recipe sheet, and provide take-home samples of glow-in-the-dark slime, thermochromic slime, and magnetic slime.

Both the director and I were anticipating around 20 people to attend. The library hasn’t really  offered children’s/family programming other than a regular storytime on Tuesday mornings, and we assumed that there would be a smaller turn out because of this. How wrong we were. 86 people attended the program. It was very chaotic, though full of happy children. If I had figured for that many people, I would have modified my set up.

Three things I want to mention:
1.) Slime is an artistic science. You can visit five websites and find five different ways to make the same recipe. If one version of the recipe doesn’t work, try another; experiment with ratios. I tend to stick with the basic Elmer’s school glue/liquid starch recipe because I have always gotten consistent results.
2.) Brands do make a difference, especially with glue. Elmer’s school glue or Elmer’s clear glue are the best choices. I have used other brands of glue, and found that the slime doesn’t “gel” properly.
3.) White vinegar will get slime out of ANYTHING. The vinegar breaks apart the molecular bonds holding the slime together, even if you discover 3-week old dried slime on the bathmat your children hid.

Recipe Handout & Take-Home Samples

Table 1 was set up for families to get a slime recipe handout, and to take home a sample of slime. I chose glow-in-the-dark, magnetic, and thermochromic so families could take home a “specialty” slime in addition to the basic slime they made at the DIY bar. These slimes are more expensive to make and wouldn’t have been practical to include in the DIY bar. (These are the containers I used to put the slime in.)

Glow-in-the-Dark Slime: I used paint, and it seemed like the the glow was somewhat weak. I did not “charge” the slime, so that might have been a factor.  I would like to use a glow-in-the-dark powder for comparison purposes.

Magnetic Slime: Iron oxide powder is a must for this. I attempted to use magnetic paint, but the smell and the fact that the black leeched onto my hands made it human-unfriendly. It’s important to note that the slime itself isn’t necessarily magnetic – meaning it won’t stick to something metal. It reacts to rare earth/neodymium magnets, not so much regular magnets.

Thermochromic Slime: Make sure when making this, that you use powders that react at a lower temperature, such as 72-74*F. Using a powder that reacts at a higher temperature will render the slime pretty much useless in a color-changing sense unless it is very hot outside. I bought my powder from SolarColorDust. You can also find multiple options on Amazon by searching “thermochromic pigment powder.”

Slime Demonstrations

I set up three tables for demonstrations on how to make saline slime, fluffy slime, and gak/borax slime. I had planned on rotating through them periodically to show families how to make slime variations different from the recipe used at the DIY bar. However, because of sheer number of participants, I ended up only haphazardly being able to man the demonstration tables. Most of my time was spent helping families troubleshoot their slime.

Saline Slime: I still haven’t worked out the best amount of saline solution when I make this. Even with using a 1/4 cup, I had to squirt more solution into the mixture to make sure it gelled properly. As a whole though, I do like this version of slime.

Fluffy Slime: My kids love this version of slime, and it is fun to make. My only complaint is that the “fluff” doesn’t last very long. The slime is still usable, it just doesn’t have the volume of a freshly made batch.

Gak/Borax Slime: This is my least  favorite slime recipe. It’s less “slime” and more “Jello-O”, especially when you store it and try to play with it several days later. Plus, when I made this with my Girl Scout troop, several of the girls complained about their hands stinging. I still included it because it is a recipe that you find on multiple websites, and because many people have good results with it. Be careful with the amount of borax you use – too much and you’ll end up with a bouncy ball.

DIY Slime Bar

I am very glad that Bean volunteered to help because it would have been even more crazy without her. She ended up manning a section of the DIY slime bar in order to refill cups and help with slime-making. The director also ended up having to help as well. If I had known how many families were going to attend, I would have used more tables, spreading out each step to give everyone more space. I would also have shifted the tables a bit to make sure there was space behind them to store supplies to make it easier to refill as needed.

“Toppings”: Several colors and shapes of glitter, mini gems, sequins, and polystyrene/foam beads.

Note: I also included some cut up drinking straws to facilitate blowing slime bubbles.

0.) Get the slime-making supplies. 1.) Choose your glue – white or clear. 2.) Add in some water.

3.) Choose a color. 4.) Make it sparkle.

5.) Mix in liquid starch. 6.) Rinse your hands and/or slime. 7.) Wipe your hands. 8.) Plastic baggie for your slime.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Candy and Comics!

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