Program: Dinosaurs and Fossils

We’ll learn about the dinosaurs through stories and crafts, then do our very own fossil dig here in the library!

April 22, 2010 from 4-5 p.m.

Grades: K-3

Budget: $15: $6 for a bag of seashells, $9 for 150 clothespins. I made the play dough at home, and haven’t got any idea how much it costs.


Make-your-own fossil (after explaining what a fossil is, of course)
Each kid gets a ball of home-made play dough*. Roll the play dough into a ball, then flatten it against the table. Turn over so the flattened side faces up. Have kids choose from plastic dinosaurs, twigs, seashells etc. to push into the play dough. Leave them there for a few minutes, then take them out. Have kids place their fossil on a paper plate with their name on it, put aside to dry.


The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell


Clothespin stegosaurus: Each kid gets a cardstock stegosaurus cut-out. Have the kids color and decorate their dinosaur, then glue on a googly eye. Color 5-7 clothespins the same color as the dinosaur, and attach to the stegosaurus’s back.

* Play Dough Recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar

Easy. Mix everything together and cook it over medium heat until it all clumps together, then take it out and knead it for a few minutes (until it feels like store-bought play-do). Super easy, and it worked really well.

How’d it go?

Everyone loved getting to play with play dough (of course), and the fossils turned out awesome. Some kids took them home, but most left theirs at the library to dry on paper plates – they were all ready by the next morning. The dinosaur book display was also a hit, and everyone wanted to take home The Super Hungry Dinosaur – which is now my second-favorite Dino storytime book, after Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime.

Book Club: Vampire Island

Vampire Island, by Adele Griffin

Discussion Questions

1. Who is your favorite character? Why?

2. What do you think about Hudson’s crusade for the environment? Why did it make the other kids in his school so mad? How would you feel if someone like Hudson was in your class?

3. Was Maddie right to go after the von Krik family? Or should they have been left alone unless they bothered Maddie’s family?

4. When the Livingstones left the Old World, they gave up the chance to live forever. What do you think about that choice? Would you want to live forever?

5. Why do you think Hudson might have kept his Old World powers when everyone else in his family lost theirs?


By popular (and repeated…constantly) request, we played Mafia (called “Vampires” this month). I can never turn down a game of Mafia.

Program: Superheroes

Put on your best cape for our superhero party! We’ll make crafts, play trivia, watch and listen to some superhero stories, and do a special obstacle course.

March 11, 2010 from 4-5 p.m.

Age group: Grades K-5, parents welcome

Objective: Increase awareness of/interest in our extensive collection of Superhero books. Draw reluctant readers (especially boys) to the library.

Soundtrack: Chronicles of Narnia

Display: Superhero comics, novels, and early readers (incl. Captain Underpants, etc.)

Budget: $20 (4 plastic tablecloths @ $2 each, 5 packs of stickers @ $0.50 each, 1 bag of Oreos @ $3, 2 packs of prizes – Spiderman erasers and Batman pencils – @ $3 each)


Spiderman’s Web!

Make a web out of white yarn. Tape the ends of each string (at least one string for every two kids) to a surface and write a number and corresponding letter on either end (A-1, B-2 etc.). Have each kid pick a number, then race to unravel the web and reach their letter! (They need to take the string with them along the way.) Give the first kid a prize!


Superhero capes

Materials: Plastic tablecloths, brightly colored, cut into squares approximately 28” on each side; yarn

Prep: Before the program, use a hole punch or scissors to make four small holes evenly spaced across one side

Kids: Take their piece of yarn from the web and string it through the holes, then tie the cape around their shoulders and trim the yarn. They may need help. (If kids did the web in pairs, cut the yarn in half first.)

Superhero masks

Materials: Mask templates on cardstock; yarn and/or popsicle sticks; stickers and other decorations

Prep: Cut out masks and eyeholes; hole-punch masks and cut yarn if desired

Kids: Decorate masks. Either glue popsicle stick to mask (easier!) or tie a piece of string to hole punched in either side of mask, then tie around back of head.

Superhero trading cards

Have each kid fill out the back of the trading card, then draw a picture of themselves as a superhero on the front! Take a look at the trading cards here – you are welcome to use them, but you’ll probably want to take my library’s name off first. 🙂

Book (if crowd skews younger)

Read aloud Traction Man Is Here! by Mini Grey.


Pass the Kryptonite

Paint a piece of Styrofoam green. Play Hot Potato. Winner gets a prize.

Super Vision!

Use super-zoomed-in mystery photos of familiar objects, and have each kid guess what they are. Whoever gets the most right gets a prize.

Trivia (if time allows)

See attached. Winner gets a prize. (Can do in teams, then the whole team gets a prize.)

Snack (can do at the same time as Super Vision!)

– Kryptonite juice – green Hi C fruit punch

– Spider cookies (double stuff Oreos and either Twizzlers or red licorice for legs.)

– Give out rest of prizes during snack time.

How’d it go?

Attendance: 22 children, 10 caregivers, 1 teen volunteer

This program was a HIT. Everyone loved their capes, masks, and trading cards, and the spider web – the part of the program I was most dubious about – was actually a lot of fun. I wonder if some of this program’s success is attributable to my more-detailed-than-usual agenda…hmm. It also helped to have lots of extra activities planned – it let me customize the program to the group I had. I did read the book, which the kids liked even though it’s sort of a tricky storytime book.

Anyway, this was tons of fun, and I would do it again in a second. Also, pretty much all of the displayed books were gone by the end of the program. That’s what I call a success.

Book Club: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

As my group gets older, I get to pick some longer, more complex novels (like Bone last month, and now Sammy Keyes). This is a lot of fun for me, as a would’ve-been English teacher. I think it’s fun for them, too. Challenge is good for us!

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, by Wendelin van Draanen

Discussion Questions

1. Who did you think the bad guy was? What clues were there along the way that led you to believe that person had committed the crimes?

2. Did you solve the mystery before Sammy did? Do you like mysteries that are easier to figure out yourself, or do you like surprising endings to mystery stories?

3. What do you think about Sammy’s family situation? What do you think about her mother’s leaving to pursue her own dreams? What about the apartment building she lives in with her grandma?

4. For the most part, the kids in this book do things on their own. Many of the adults treat Sammy as an annoying kid and don’t believe her even when she does try to get help. Was Sammy right to continue working on her own, or should she have tried to find an adult who believed her? What could she have done differently to make Officer Borsch take her seriously?

5. Sammy and Marissa come from very different backgrounds, and both envy the other: Marissa has lots of material things, but Sammy has a grandmother who loves her very much. Which do you think is more important? How do they deal with these differences and stay best friends?

Solving a mystery from the publisher of Sammy Keyes.

Book Club: Bone: Out from Boneville

Bone: Out from Boneville, by Jeff Smith

Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever been far away from home or lost before, and not sure how you would get back home? How did it feel? What did you do?

2. The cousins are very loyal to each other – Fone Bone and Smiley Bone leave Boneville with Phoney, even though they are not the ones who are in trouble. Once they get separated, they spend a lot of time searching for each other. Would you leave your town with your siblings or cousins if they got kicked out, even if they’d done something wrong? What are the limits to this kind of loyalty?

3. Which of the Bone cousins did you like the best? How are they different from each other? What do they have in common?

4. Fone Bone makes a lot of friends in this book. Why do people get along with Fone Bone so well?

5. Does “Bone” remind you of any other stories you have read or seen?

6. How is reading “Bone” different from reading other kinds of books? Do you like the pictures? Do they help tell the story, or do they sometimes make it harder to figure out what is happening?

7. Because this is a comic book, we don’t get to find out what the characters are thinking. Do the pictures help us learn about the characters and their feelings? How?

8. What did you think about the ending? Do you have any ideas about what will happen in the next book?


Pick one…

1.Using a learn-to-draw book (or not!), draw your own pictures or comics, using whatever art materials are out on the table.

2.Pick a scene from the book, and try to write it out (or tell it to a friend) using only words. Is it hard to tell the story that way?

3.Think about what might happen next in the story, then write or draw a scene that you think could happen in the next book.

In case you were wondering…
from Wikipedia’s page on Moby Dick

Moby-Dick is a novel first published in 1851 by American author Herman Melville. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a whale of tremendous size and ferocity. Very few whaleships know of Moby Dick, and fewer yet have encountered him. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.