Tic Tac Toe: Sneaky STEM

Tic Tac Toe

My scavenger hunts and other passive programs are so popular, I thought I’d mix it up a bit with a new game. This non-fiction game includes Steve Jenkins’ Just a Second. I put a copy of his book in a new magazine holder so it wouldn’t wander away from my program station. I copied questions and answer cards on different colored paper with Xs and Os on the opposite side. This way, the game can appeal to younger children who can’t read but could play a game if they happened upon it. It’s been very popular, so I wanted to share it. The trivia cards have one fact on them. The opponent needs to guess which measure of time the fact happens in: 1 second, 1 minute, 1 day, 1 month, 1 year. If they guess right, they take the card and place their X or O. If they guess wrong, the opponent gets the X or O.

Just a Second Cards

Here’s a copy of the game to play in your library:

The Instruction Board and Flyer: Tic Tac Toe Board with Instructions

The trivia cards (make double-sided with Xs and Os): Just a Second Tic Tac Toe Cards

Of course, Steve Jenkins’ books are great for this.

What else would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section!

Cookie Decorating for All Ages

I do an annual cookie decorating program that’s a huge hit in my community! I usually do it in the winter and have a winter theme, but you could do it anytime of year. I’ve learned a ton over the past decade and make tiny improvements each year. Here’s what I learned and how you can run it fool-proof. You’ll need a few weeks lead-time for the bakery and liquor store, and I always get teen volunteers to help setup and cleanup. I contact my local high school’s Acts of Kindness Club and they donate their time to be used toward volunteer hours for graduation requirements.

Family Day in action

List of supplies: Total cost about $125.00 ($75 for supplies, and $50 for cookies)

  • 80 cookies (ordered from local bakery-I have them match my theme: ginerbread men, mittens, snowman, etc.)
  • Beer flats donated from local liquor store (Most important part! This keeps the mess inside these little boxes. No cleaning up sprinkles all over the floor!)
  • 4 14 oz bags of M&Ms
  • 1 24 oz bag of raisins
  • 2 75’ rolls of waxed paper
  • 8 cans of white frosting
  • 4 cans of sprinkles
  • 6 tablecloths or wrapping paper to wrap 6 tables (at least 48 feet/16 yards)
  • 100 plastic knives or spoons (grocery store doesn’t always have just knives in bulk)
  • 25 plastic spoons (for dividing up supplies)
  • 100 napkins
  • 200 mini cups (1x for frosting, 1x for goodies)
  • Baby wipes x 6 for each table
  • Gloves to prepare food with

Family Day Cookies (3)

Family Day Cookies (4)

Family Day Cookies (2)

Family Day mms

Family Day frosting


Before the program:

  • Line each cardboard flat with wax paper.
  • Each can of frosting fills 10 cups = 80 cups
  • Each bag of M&Ms/sprinkles/raisins fills 20 cups = 80 cups

Keep all empty food containers so families with food allergies can check ingredients labels.

Family Day 1 cookie

Family Day 2 cookies

  • Each flat will have:
    • 1 cookie
    • 1 napkin
    • 1 spoon or knife (whichever is readily available at the store)
    • 1 cup of frosting
    • 1 cup of M&Ms/sprinkles/raisins
  • You can mix the cardboard flats to have either 1 setup or 2 setup (just make sure you have 2 of everything!)
  • Stack the flats in rows in the alcove by the door where the garbage can is.

Family Day Stacked Up

During the program:

  • As a child leaves the table, clean up their flat. Throw away any extra frosting/candy DO NOT LET OTHERS EAT THEIR LEFTOVERS
  • Place a new cardboard flat on the table so a new child can sit in his place.

Family Day Cookies (6)

Family Day Cookies (1)

If you have any extras, you can use gallon-size bags to made classroom packs for local preschools. My outreach locations occasionally get a little extra-special treat and they are grateful!

This is a huge hit in the community, and lots of community are involved with the program. A win-win!

Magic Bag: Spring Edition

Magic Bag Spring Edition

About four years ago I started using a “Magic Bag” with a winter story, All You Need for a Snowman (it was actually my first Flannel Friday post!). Since then, kids have been asking for my magic bag all year ’round. I finally developed a year-round curriculum after years of thinking and creating! I am finally ready to share it, and this is my first out of three seasonal posts. This is the Spring edition.

My black magician’s bag has a secret pocket inside that’s about 6 x 6″. I can hide props or flannels inside of it. I always ask the kids to sing a magic song that we make up on the spot, or I use my go-to song by Carole Peterson called I Can Make a Snowman.

Ahead of time, I know what I will be pulling out of the bag and I choose my story accordingly:

Book Prop
Carrot Soup Carrot
The Carrot Seed Carrot
Waiting for Wings Butterfly
Very Hungry Caterpillar Butterfly
Pie in the Sky Cherry pie
Planting a Rainbow Bouquet of flowers

Here’s a video of me explaining it a little better:


Stay tuned for upcoming Fall and Winter posts! In the meantime, check out the Flannel Friday website, the Pinterest board, and the Facebook Group. This week’s roundup is fittingly held over at Felt Board Magic.


Puppet Costume Story: Using You Can Do Anything, Daddy!

You Can Do Anything Daddy Pirate Puppet Costumes (1)

I decided to make costumes for my pirate puppet so I can use it to go along with one of my favorite stories, You Can Do Anything, Daddy! by Michael Rex. This out-of-print story lives through my storytelling, and I’m always looking for ways to freshen it up so I don’t get bored with it myself. I decided to make a series of ponchos to fit over Pirate’s head. I used three 9 x 12 felt sheets: 1 dark brown for gorilla, 1 grey for robot, and 1 green for robot gorilla pirate. I cut a hole in the middle of the sheet that fits over Pirate’s head, then I used fabric paint to decorate the outfits. I can easily manipulate these outfits and place them on top of Pirate’s head while I use the book to read the story:

You Can Do Anything Daddy Pirate Puppet Costumes Gorilla You Can Do Anything Daddy Pirate Puppet Costumes Robot GorillaYou Can Do Anything Daddy Pirate Puppet Costumes Robot Gorilla Pirates from MarsHere’s a video of the storytelling:

For other ways to tell my favorite story, check out this link. For more flannel ideas check out Mel’s Desk. She’s hosting Flannel Friday this week!

Up, Down & Around

Up Down and Around (7)

For the spring I decided to make a flannel set to go along with Up, Down & Around by Katherine Ayres. I used my die cut machine to cut out 4″ blue circles (to represent the sky) and 4″ tan circles (to represent soil). I used glittery green pipe cleaners to represent the vegetables growing up or out of the earth. I hot glued them onto 4″ white circles for sturdiness.

Up Down and Around (4)
These are the pieces you’ll need for each veggie: 1 4″ circle, 1/4 of a glittery green pipe cleaner, 1/2 tan 4″ circle, 1/2 blue 4″ circle.


Up Down and Around (2)
Use a pen to curl the “around” veggies.

The finished products:

Up Down and Around (8)
Up: Corn, Down: Carrots, Around: Cucumbers Up: Peppers, Down: Potatoes, Around: Pumpkins
Up Down and Around (9)
Up: Broccoli, Down: Beets, Around: Green Beans Up: Okra, Down: Onions, Around: Tomatoes

What better way to learn about the food cycle?!

For more flannel ideas check out Ms. Kelly at the Library. She’s hosting Flannel Friday this week!

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? Puppet Story


Eve Bunting’s Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? is Seuss-esque and perfect for puppet storytelling! I used a cheat sheet Have You Seen My New Blue Socks, my puppet bin, and a puppet stand. The result is a lot of fun–and tons of rhyming! I only needed a few props that I found on clearance at Target (snowflake slippers and two pairs of socks: one purple and one blue). Here’s the story:

For more ideas to use in storytime, go to Flannel Friday. Check out the website, the Pinterest board, and the Facebook Group. This week’s roundup is over at Read, Rhyme and Sing!

Milk & Cookies Club

Milk & Cookies (2)

For the past several years I have a done a very successful winter read-aloud program for K-6th graders after school called Books and S’mores. The after school hour slot frees up during the winter months and parents are looking for activities for their children to do. When I found out that Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk was out in paperback AND that it was optioned for a film starring Johnny Depp, I had to use it for my next read-aloud! I was also excited to see that Upstart has a cookie line with scratch and sniff bookmarks and cookie book bags that can be purchased here. I put it all together and created the Milk & Cookies Club. Here are the logistics:

Milk & Cookies (3)

Each child gets a 7 oz. cup filled with Cookie Crisp cereal (it’s peanut-free and fortified) to munch on while I read the story aloud. (They can follow along with their paperback copy if they wish.) Of course, you can fill the cups halfway to stretch your budget further. I pour these ahead of time and put them on the tables.


Once the children are seated and settle in a little, I pass out cups of milk. (I stretch one gallon of 2% into 40 cups each week. My weekly attendance is about 35.) I didn’t want the kids to spill the milk when they are running around, finding a seat next to their friends. The cup of cookies is perfect. The kids take the little things and dunk them in the milk. It takes them the whole 30 minutes to eat the cup! If I gave them a cookie, it would be gone in two seconds and they would be asking for more. The setup time is way less than the s’mores and this is truly a keeper!

The Result:

Milk & Cookies (1)

Milk & Cookies tables

Who Hatches? Spring Scavenger Hunt

Who Hatches

Last year I used Jbrary’s Bunny Scavenger Hunt and it was so much fun! The kids loved it. Lindsey asked me if I was going to one this year, so I had to oblige! I thought I’d do an egg hatch theme, and I re-learned a few things I forgot over the years. Did you know that the ostrich lays the biggest egg, while the hummingbird lays the smallest? I included an array of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals to make this extra fun. I hope you like it!

Here’s a pdf file of the flyer to promote, a ballot for the kids to fill out/color, and 12 eggs to hide around your children’s department: Who Hatches Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy…now I have to wait until spring…

Who Hatches (3)

Who Hatches (2)

Who Hatches (1)

Afterschool Program Resources

after school

I just finished my Infopeople course, Afterschool and Out of School Programming. It was a fantastic experience! It was a great group of professional librarians exchanging ideas. I want to share all the hard work everyone came up with.

First, I’d like to thank my friends for helping me make this class interactive and fun (as well as educational, of course). Feedback from participant surveys raved about the video clips. I appreciate all the time and effort you put into helping me! In case you missed the class, you can watch videos filled with program tips by amazing bloggers. Take the time to add these to your Watch List! I learned a few tricks myself.

Jennifer’s Tips from In Short, I’m Busy:

Bryce’s Tips from Bryce Don’t Play:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/138267730″>Special Programs and No-School Days</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user43536937″>Bryce Kozla</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Meg’s Tips from Miss Meg’s Storytime:

Kelly’s Tips from Ms Kelly at the Library:

Brytani’s Tips from The Neighborhood Librarian:

Rebecca’s Tips from Hafuboti:


A list of program ideas that the class came up with is available here. There are five different pdf files you can download: Early Elementary, Upper Elementary, Mixed-Age, Passive and Special.

I hope to meet you at ALA this weekend!

Tic Tac Toe: The Felt Table Game

Tic Tac Toe Felt Table

For my winter felt table I decided to create a Tic Tac Toe game. I used fabric paint to make the lines in the board. I cut white snowmen and black snowflakes with my die cut machine. Kids of all ages have been having fun with this! My local preschool gave me the idea when they had Pumpkins vs. Ghosts near Halloween. You can really do this anytime of year with a seasonal theme.

Tic Tac Toe teaches children problem-solving and coping skills. Once children learn that the game should end in a draw, they’ve mastered it. For older children you can use the Frog on a Log cards and have children play Animals vs. Objects.

Tic Tac Toe with Frog on a Log Cards

For more Felt Table Ideas, click here to see how you can add this passive program to your children’s space.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira