Ideas to Make Your Library Shine

Sharing ideas from around the system & around the country, on programming, fundraising, grants, free stuff, and more.
Brought to you by the Winnefox Library System.

10 Free Ways to Add STEM Concepts to Storytime

If you feel a little intimidated by math and science, incorporating STEM concepts into storytimes could help both your staff and a child's caregiver see how science, technology, engineering, and math are a part of daily life.

In the article 10 Tips for Adding STEM Concepts to Storytime, authors Saroj Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz write:

We believe that every storytime theme has a math and/or science strand in it. By highlighting and playing with those concepts, we are enriching children’s storytime experiences.
This approach, rather than a more staff-intensive, occasional program, is sustainable and enables all children to learn about math and science as long as they can, at a minimum, go to storytime, thus reaching the largest number of children.
For example, a storytime book such as The Napping House (HBG, 1983) by Audrey Wood offers opportunities to talk about any number of concepts of science and math, such as the weather we see out the window, the rainbow, weight, sequence, measurement and comparison, and prediction by observing the animals in the pictures.

Here are snippets from 3 of the 10 concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Include matching activities. They support math concepts of categorizing and grouping ...
  2. Go beyond mere counting. Parents and caregivers often reduce math thinking to counting. You can expand on this by talking about other concepts including patterns ...
  3. Use science or math words using phrase such as “What do you think will happen next?” or “What do you predict will happen?”

Read 10 Tips for Adding STEM Concepts to Storytime for ideas on how you can make STEM a part of storytimes at your library.

Hat tip to Resources for STEM/STEAM Projects and Programs at WebJunction
Image credit: Franklin Park Library, Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic; the photo was cropped from the original

Help Children Build Money Skills With These Free Tools

Your library can start a Money as You Grow book club to introduce children to important money concepts through books. (By the way, Money Smart Week is April 21-28, 2018, and April is National Financial Literacy Month!)

Here are free tools from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to get started:

  • A list of 16 books for children ages 4 to 10, including two in Spanish
  • Quick Parent Guides for each book, containing reading tips along with questions and activities for children
  • Implementation Guide for libraries and community organizations, with Ice breakers for book club meetings, and suggestions for bringing together parents as a group to reinforce the money lessons and share ideas

The Parent Guides and Implementation Guides can be ordered free of charge from the Government Printing Office’s secure ordering site.

Ready to start a book club at your library? Just follow these steps:

  1. Download the Program Facilitator's Implementation Guide
  2. Make a display of books that are on the Money as You Grow reading list.
  3. Order free copies of the Money as You Grow Parent Guides (please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery)
  4. Schedule your first book club!
  5. Send your feedback to

You can order free printed copies of the discussion guides in bulk at from the Government Printing Office’s secure ordering site.

Here's a list of the book titles, for which CFPB offers a free downloadable discussion guide for each:

Title Ages Key concepts
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday 4 and up Prioritizing, saving
A Bargain for Frances 6 and up Setting goals, staying true to yourself
The Berenstain Bears & Mama’s New Job 4 and up Setting goals, staying true to yourself
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money 4 and up Making decisions, spending
A Chair for My Mother 6 and up Setting goals, earning
Count on Pablo 5 to 7 Solving problems, earning
Curious George Saves His Pennies 4 to 7 Making decisions, sharing and borrowing
Just Shopping with Mom 4 and up Prioritizing, spending
Lemonade in Winter 3 to 7 Solving problems, spending
My Rows and Piles of Coins 4 to 7 Setting goals, saving
Ox-Cart Man 4 and up Earning, setting goals
The Purse 4 and up Solving problems, setting goals
The Rag Coat 6 to 9 Solving problems, sharing and borrowing
Sheep in a Shop 4 and up Making decisions, solving problems
Those Shoes 5 to 8 Prioritizing, sharing and borrowing
Tia Isa Wants a Car 4 to 8 Solving problems, saving

Money as You Grow book club (CFPB)
Money as You Grow Book Club: How to Help Families Build Their Children’s Money Skills (WebJunction)
Money Smart Week, a national initiative between the ALA and the Federal Reserve Bank

Image credit: Money as You Grow poster free download from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

How to Rescue a Wet Book: Two-Minute Tutorial Video

Watch this short (2-minute) video primer on how to save a waterlogged book.

No fancy or expensive tools needed, just 4 simple things will get the job done:

  • paper towels
  • a fan
  • a couple of boards
  • something heavy, like bricks (because not all of us have a book press)

There's a bonus tip, in case you don't have time to repair a waterlogged book as soon as it comes to you.

Source: How to Rescue a Water-Damaged Book: A Short, Handy Primer (video) at The Digital Reader

Free Webinars in March

ImagePlan to attend these free webinars; all you need is your computer & speakers or headphones (no microphone needed.) If you attend a live webinar, it may be counted as a Category B continuing education activity towards renewing librarian certification.

Webinars with a ★ are the ones I think you'll find most useful.


28 Days of Hands-On STEM Activities for February

An ex-engineer and current stay-at-home mom has 28 Days of Hands-On STEM Activities for Kids at her Left Brain Craft Brain blog that you can try in February, or any month of the year you choose.

Anne has organized the activities into four topic areas; here are the categories, with some examples from each:

  1. STEM Goes Green
    • Re-purpose Dryer Lint for Gardening
    • Easy Upcycled Catapult
    • Recycled DIY Can Telephones
  2. STEM Challenges
    • Build a Tower with [candy] Conversation Hearts
    • Paper Bag STEM Challenges
    • Bridge Building STEM Challenge
  3. Coding for Kids
    • Superhero Computer Coding Game Without a Computer
    • Coding Games -Building and Walking an Algorithm
    • Screen-Free Coding for Preschool and Kindergarten
  4. STEM On a Budget
    • 50 Creative Weather Activities
    • How to Create a STEM Cart in 5 Easy Steps
    • Math on a Budget: Learning with Q-Tips

Note: Anne authored the original version of her post in 2016 which was a leap year, so she actually included 29 ideas. :-)

image credit: CERDEC Math and Science Summer Camp, 2013 by U.S. Army CERDEC via Flickr, Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)


Middle Earth Walking Challenge Wellness Program

Consider replicating the Middle Earth Walking Challenge Wellness Program at your library, using the tips and resources provided by the Peter White Public Library of Marquette, Michigan.

Participants were challenged to save Middle Earth by walking from the Shire to Mt. Doom, with the goal of destroying the One Ring. Participants kept track of the miles they walked from June until August. The winner received a copy of The Lord of the Rings, and runners-up received a copy of The Hobbit.

Here are some of the program's highlights provided by the library's Programming Coordinator, Carolyn McManis:

  • There was a lot of excitement at the beginning of the program. People really got caught up in the fantasy element; one person commented on Facebook “We’re going to see the elves!”
  • We also got a lot of TV exposure early in the program.
  • In terms of generating excitement about a library event and promoting fitness, I think our goal was achieved.
  • ... the buzz generated at the beginning of the summer and the positive feedback from the people who completed the task was great.
  • The winner walked 963 miles, a little over half-way to Mordor. Collectively, we walked 4,642 miles, thus saving Middle Earth.
  • If I were to do this type of event again, I would make it less labor-intensive for participants. I think keeping track of miles every day over the course of the summer was just too much work. If the challenge lasted just one month, more people may have completed it.
  • We spent money on printing ($.05/color copy) and prizes. The prizes were nine copies of "The Hobbit" and one boxed set of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which came to approximately $114.

You can download from the post a mileage Walking Log and a copy of the poster they used to promote the activity. The Walking Log indicates it's 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, and 920 miles through Moria to Lothlorien.

As seen at Program Model: Middle Earth Walking Challenge on the Programming Librarian blog
Hat tip: Let's Move in Libraries January 2018 Newsletter
Image credit: Lord of the Rings Project Interactive Map of Middle-Earth


3 Grants & Prizes You Can Apply for This Month

These three opportunities are listed in chronological order, soonest deadline first.

Pat Carterette Professional Development Grant
Amount: $1000
Deadline to apply: 11:59pm CST on 15 February 2018
Application form (note: it's just 8 questions)

The grant will be awarded to an individual on an annual basis to provide monetary support (up to $1,000) to participate in continuing educational event(s) to keep current in his/her career field.
Monies may be used to participate in continuing professional development event(s) offered by the American Library Association (ALA), an ALA-related unit or association, State Library Associations, ASTD, the American Management Association (AMA), or any other Learn RT Board approved activity/event. Grant monies will be available to the recipient during a twelve-month period spanning from one ALA Annual Conference to the next.
Grant funds can be used to cover registration, travel, lodging, or other expenses related to the event. Documentation/receipts will be required prior to payment. If the recipient is participating in a ALA or ALA-related event, monies will be transferred internally instead of being paid to the recipient. Recipient must be an active member of the sponsoring organization hosting the conference/event if the registration fee is higher for non-members. Any un-used grant monies can be applied to other events as long as it meets the above criteria - funds un-used funds at the end of the award period will be forfeited.

National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize
Amount: $10,000
Deadline to apply: 10:59pm CST on 28 February 2018
Application form and criteria

Applicants should:

  • Apply for an existing program/project/initiative with evidence of success — as Innovations in Reading is a prize and not a grant, the goal is to reward work already underway, encouraging it to continue and/or expand.
  • Focus on reading, and not exclusively literacy skills
  • Demonstrate innovation in mission, approach, and/or audience/community served
  • Share the National Book Foundation’s mission to expand the audience for literature in America

Ezra Jack Keats Mini-Grant
Amount: $500
Deadline to apply: 10:59pm CST on 31 March 2018
Application form and instructions

Make sure your program follows these guidelines:

  • provides an enriched learning experience
  • is supported solely by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
  • costs $500 or less
  • is offered free of charge
  • is implemented during the summer or school year following receipt of the Mini-Grant

Successful programs have included a public story walk … a multicultural portrait project … a school garden … bookmaking … puppetry … and intergenerational storytelling. See more examples in our Great Mini-Grant Programs gallery. Please use these as a starting point: We encourage new ideas.
Approximately 60 grants of up to $500 each will be awarded to qualifying teachers and librarians in public schools and libraries across the country.

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