Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tic-Tac-Toe/Simon Says Mashup Game

HEY EVERYONE. I need to share with you this thing that is super fun and so easy and you'll want to do it all the time.

So a few weeks ago I visited an afterschool club at one of our elementary schools. One week, I saw the K-1 kids; and the next week, I saw the second graders. Fresh from the Wisconsin Afterschool Association Conference, I felt ready to put some of the things I learned into practice while I geeked out about the library. So I used my The Book with No Pictures activity, read a few funny and interactive books, and made sure to include some silly songs and a game of Simon Says to promote self-regulation.

I noticed when I visited the K-1 kids that this particular afterschool group seemed mildly obsessed with Tic-Tac-Toe. They played each other, they played their teachers, they played in groups with rules I didn't exactly understand. So when I was planning the 2nd grade visit, I figured I might want to incorporate Tic-Tac-Toe in some way. I Googled around for a new version of it, or a new game they could play in that style, but nothing really stuck with me. A light bulb went off and I started Googling about kids using their full bodies to play tic-tac-toe. What if it was our self-regulation game? Then I found this.

I knew exercise would get their blood flowing but we had a small space inside a classroom to work with. SO, I went about creating a Tic-Tac-Toe/Simon Says Mashup! It was so much fun that I made it an addition to our Star Wars Party in May, using the moves described for Don't Drop Yoda at Lemon Squeezy.

Here's what you need:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Ask Away #2: Field Trips are an Advocacy Tool

So I'm sure I'll talk about it more sometime (yeah, right, just like I'll catch up on my programming posts sometime, right? I'm The Worst), but for now I'll just say I couldn't ask for a better group of colleagues to come together, reflect on current practice, and tackle scenario-based questions for my inaugural go at Iron Fist: The Class. Nothing brings a group of people together like talking about when we've felt most vulnerable and/or empowered for six weeks in a row, I guess. I'm ecstatic to hear from them, because why don't we just all hang out forever now?

So I was happy to hear that Brittany Gitzlaff, youth services director at Waunakee Public Library in WI, agreed to my featuring a recent email conversation of ours! Here's her question:
"After the success of my first few 4K field trips, due in large part to yours and your coworker Brooke's blogs, I was wondering if you had any advice or tricks on writing field trips and tours... Basically, I just don't want them to come in and think that I or the library are completely boring. :)"

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Awesome New-to-Me Blogs

It's my 4 year blog-iversary! I've come a long way since my very first post in which I read Flat Stanley. Not many librarians were here for my first premise, which was to read and blog my way through our entire collection of early chapter books with snark and moxie. A valiant goal, to be sure, but at least it got me writing. Now I write about programming, research, and philosophy with a little less snark and a comparable amount of moxie. Maybe a little less. I was in my 20s when I started this blog, after all.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone who reads my little corner of the web, shares what works for them, and/or writes blogs of their own.

Since I know my blog wouldn't be as successful as it is without some linking from blogs who had already been blogging for awhile, like Marge and Anne (I still remember when Anne linked to my first Iron First post and I had 400 views in a day, on a weekend, when the day before I'd had like 30. Not that page counts actually matter or prove engagement, which is why you'll never find me talking about them. Except, like, right now, of course. Like you expect me to NOT contradict myself in two sentences. What are you, new here?), I figured there's no better way to celebrate my 4 year anniversary of my blog than with a few new/new-to-me/new-to-the-world blogs I've added to my RSS feed. Follow them all! Give them love! Three word phrases!

Anyway, here we go, in absolutely no order, except the one that has come about from linear organization of thought:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


This is not my first nor will it be my last Denver
picture on this blog.
Okay, I obviously love to put the word "-ology" in the title of all my programs because the kids just keep coming to everything with "ology" in it.

I also unabashedly love dinosaurs.

So when I put together a program that invited kids to geek out about dinosaurs, I was not at all playing.

And once I got to talking with the kids who attended, I knew I made the right decision.

This school year I've held more programming on after school and early-release days, and so I've kind of taken my programming in a new direction: fewer stations, more OMFG-this-is-so-crazy-let's-talk-about-this-information-together. And since the programming has happened on days when the kids HAVEN'T been sitting in one spot for six hours, and I can build in some regulation activities, I can give the kids what they want without worrying they'll fall asleep on me. And they want info, because brains are wired to seek it out.

So here's how Dinosaurology went!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


So for awhile we've been talking in my department about running a grossology program, but I've been shying away from it. Mostly because my gross-out factor is really, really, really high. I mean, I guess it depends. For instance, I can talk bodily functions and other stuff people might think is gross for days. I've explained too many Cards Against Humanity jokes in a clinical fashion to in-laws to count; and for that I'm happy that my husband's threshold for mortification is incredibly high. But, play an episode of a show that has a vomit gag, even a cartoon one, and I'm Audi 5000, my friend.

At any rate, I set out to put together a grossology program that was not at all gross to me and yet possibly gross to other people; and after I planned it, I ran it by Kelsey to make sure it was gross enough. Her face as I was describing it said it all-- it was!

So yeah, here's how the "grossest" grossology program I could get myself to do went:

Monday, April 13, 2015

After School Book Exploration: A STEM Shared Experience

This weekend I was lucky to attend The Wisconsin After School Association Conference. If you've never been, the WAA Annual Conference is a great place to connect with other community members statewide who work with youth. I learned about epigenetics, which is completely fascinating. Seriously everyone, watch that video. I'm sure I'll be writing more about it as I wrap my brain around what this could mean for library service. It's fairly inexpensive professional development, at $50 for 4 sessions and a half-day pre-conference. Another great thing I learned about was Spark PE, a research-based physical education program. You can download free plans here that you can adapt to library programming, surely.

I also got to present at one of the session times! I wanted to connect a few high--quality (read: my personal favorite) books to fun things kids can do after school, and talk a little about why that's important.

Here's some highlights: