Tag: After School Library Programs

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!

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

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!

School Age Professional Development Fall 2015 Course

after school

If you’re looking to develop your school age programming, take my affordable fall course through Infopeople!

An Infopeople 4-week online course, October 20, 2015 to November 16, 2015

  • Would you like to learn the practical nuts and bolts of creating a successful school age program?
  • Do you want to be part of the competition for after and out-of-school learning?
  • Do you want to know more about how to create a variety of programs including active, passive, series, and specials?

Traditionally Libraries have been strong supporters of learning and recently the connected learning movement has provided even more opportunity through the focus on informal learning outside the school day. In this course you will have the chance to expand your knowledge on running successful school age programs at your library, right down to the best days and times for programming. Instructor Lisa Shaia, author of After-School Clubs for Kids, will also push your boundaries and encourage you to think about out-of-the-box ideas such as creating a bus stop, running a field trip, and finding community collaborators.

Course Description: Through practical assignment, discussions and an online meeting this four week online course will provide the opportunity for participants to learn how to create and run successful school age programs from start to finish, including how to calendar for the best attendance, using online registration systems and identifying local community collaborators and funders.

Course Outline: When you log in to the Infopeople online learning site, you will see weekly modules with these topics:

  • Week 1: Successful School Age Programming
    • Creating goals
    • Developing a calendar
    • Utilizing online registration systems
    • Explaining Unattended Children’s Policies
  • Week 2: Special Programs
    • Active vs. passive programs
    • Targeted age groups
    • Designing programs for mixed age groups
  • Week 3: Series Programs
    • Popular author/series programs
    • Designing series programming for mixed ages
    • Early and upper elementary series programs
  • Week 4: Kick It Up a Notch Programs
    • Identifying potential collaborators, funders and grants for programs
    • Setting up a bus stop
    • Planning a field trip

Time Required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend 2½ hours per week, for a total of ten course hours. Each week’s module contains readings and various options for assignments, discussions, or online meetings. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week’s work within that week to stay in sync with other learners.

Who Should Take This Course: Public and School Library staff at all levels who work with school age children for the purposes of programming.

Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at:infopeople.org/training/online_learning_details.

After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.

Fee: $75 for those in the California library community, $150 for all others.

For a complete course description and to register go to https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=521

Toy Stories: Toys Series By Emily Jenkins

The Toys series by Emily Jenkins is one of my newer favorite read-alouds for the school age. The short stories follow the adventures of three toys: a buffalo named Lumphy, a plush Stingray, and a ball named Plastic.

Lumphy PuppetStingray Puppet

Here’s a craft to make Lumphy and Stingray puppets so the children can create their own adventures.

For Lumphy:

Brown lunch paper bag

Lumphy (you can copy on brown paper, or have children color)




Cut out the pieces and glue to paper bag.

For Stingray:

blue square dessert plate

goggly eyes

blue craft stick (you can purchase colored sticks, or paint the sticks blue)




Position the paper plate like a diamond.

Glue two goggly eyes in the upper corner.

Glue a craft stick to the bottom corner as the “stingray.”

For more Toy Story ideas, click here. For more school age programming, check out Jennifer’s Jean Little Library. She’s hosting this month’s school age blog hop ,Thrive Thursday. For more information check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

Toy Stories: Traction Man Action Figure

Traction Man

The picture book series following Traction Man and his trusty sidekick, Scrubbing Brush, is filled with adventure and rescue missions. Here’s a craft that requires a little prep work, but will be a hit with early elementary aged children.

You’ll Need:

a manila folder

Traction Man (copied on light brown paper)

Traction Man Action Figure (copied on white card stock)

colored pencils



sandwich size baggies



For adult: Cut one Traction Man sheet in half and glue to a manila folder. Cut out the rectangle above the lightning bolt.

For children: Color Traction Man using colored pencils. Cut out the action figure pieces.

Back of Traction Man

Tape the sandwich baggie to the back of the rectangle, leaving the top layer of the closure open so you can open and close the baggie. Traction Man and all of his pieces will fit for storage. (Plus, this craft looks like the action figure box!)

For more school age programming ideas, check out Carol’s Program Palooza. She’s hosting this month’s school age blog hop, Thrive Thursday. Check out past roundups here. For more information check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

Mo Willems’ We Are in a Play: Library Style

I wrote a play based on Mo Willems’ books featuring his famous characters Elephant and Piggie. I blended elements of a few stories together: My Friend is Sad, Are You Ready to Play Outside, A Big Guy Took My Ball, I’m a Frog! and My New Friend is So Fun! I made simple costumes using Oriental Trading’s DIY Knight’s Armor. I drew the characters on letter sized paper, copied them on colored paper and the children glued them to the armor. wpid-we-are-in-a-play-costume-props-3.jpg.jpegwpid-we-are-in-a-play-costume-props-1.jpg.jpegwpid-we-are-in-a-play-costume-props-2.jpg.jpegYou’ll need the following characters and props:

We Are in a Play pages I wrote a script (We Are in a Play Act Two) and then made a Power Point presentation (We Are in a Play Act Two) so each slide looks like a page from the book–complete with color coding and blending!! I fired up the projector and had the actors stand in front of the screen. This way, there was no need for memorization. They could just read the lines. I had this as a mixed age program. I had the older children help with the main roles and behind-the-scenes jobs (such as assistant director, Power Point slide coordinator, props manager), and the younger children take on the walking through extra silly parts (such as clowns, superheroes and cowboys). It was quite a success. The children took home scripts to do with their families, and I’m even told that it was performed in certain classrooms! I’m in the process of writing another act featuring…Pigeon AND Duckling! Stay tuned. For more kickass school age programming, check out Angie’s blog this month at Fat Girl Reading. She’s hosting this month’s Thrive Thursday blog hop. For more information check out the schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group.

Elf on a Shelf Craft Program

I had a special December program that I called Elf on a Shelf Extravaganza. It was for all ages and a huge success! I picked a couple of books and songs from my go-to Christmas pile, setup the crafts and let the families have fun!


  • Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve
  • Bear Stays Up For Christmas
  • Mouse’s First Christmas
  • Little Santa
  • 12 Days of Christmas (the Jane Cabrera version)
  • The House That Santa Built
  • Santa Duck


  • Snowflake, Snowflake by Carole Peterson from H.U.M.
  • This is Christmas Time by Kimbo from Holiday Piggyback Songs
  • Ring Those Bells by Wee Sing from Wee Sing for Christmas
  • Snow Fun by Carol Hammett from Preschool Action Time
  • I’m a Little Snowflake by Laurie Berkner from Whaddaya Think of That?
  • Hat and Jacket, Pants and Boots by Carole Stephens from Season Sings
  • Jingle Bells and Stop  by Carole Stephens from Season Sings
  • We’re Marching in the Snow  by Carole Stephens from Season Sings


Elf Gingerbread House Oriental Trading


Elf Gingerbread House Station
Gingerbread House for your elf (from Oriental Trading).


Elf Magic Scratch Ornaments
Magic Scratch Elf ornaments (also from Oriental Trading).


Elf Tattoo Station
Tattoo Station with soaking wet cotton balls. Works perfectly and no mess to clean up!


Elf on a Shelf Donuts
“Shrunkin’ Donuts”
Elf on a Shelf Shrunkin Donuts
Mini-donuts using Cheerios, frosting and sprinkles.
Elf on a Shelf Trees
Foam trees using dot markers as “ornaments.”
Elf on a Shelf Hats
Elf Hats with ears and cotton balls
Elf on a Shelf Bells
Bells using paper cups, bells, and pipe cleaners. Decorate with stickers and markers.


One-Year Anniversary Thrive Thursday Roundup! (11/6/14)

Thrive Thursday Logo

We have an exciting roundup for this month’s school age blog hop! To celebrate the one-year anniversary, I’ve compiled some stats to share with you:

  • We have 250 members on our Facebook group. We help each other discuss program ideas, solve problems, and book recommendations and requests.
  • We have 275 followers on our Pinterest board. We pin all ideas after the roundups there. So far we have about 200 program ideas to use with school age kids, and it grows every month!
  • We have worldwide readership including the US, Canada, UK, Austrailia, India, Phillipines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Brazil, and many more.
  • On average, each month’s roundup gets 350 hits (though each month it grows a bit!).

On to the good stuff…


Collaboration Ideas:

  • Brytani over at the Neighborhood Librarian writes about her collaboration with her media specialist who just happens to be a genius! You have to take a look at her volunteer board. I’m definitely stealing it!
  • Amy at Tweenbrarian shares her collaboration with the local Humane Society. This animal-free program discusses all the ways children can help their local society by making cheap toys for the cats and dogs. Perfect idea for this summer’s Hero theme!

Program Ideas

School Age Programming

Characters, Themes & Games for K-6:

  • Ms. Kelly has a new Kindergarten Booktalk program complete with tips and tricks. Her ambitious goal is to visit each class in her two closest schools. I know she’ll keep us posted on her progress along the way.
  • Radnor Library Kid Zone is sharing a celebration of the Who Was… biography series. You have to see the bookmarks she made using participant’s faces! I’m adding this program to my spring schedule.
  • Angie over at Fat Girl Reading is sharing a Frozen Sing-a-Long Party and I’ll be using it in January! Complete with props, decorations, costumes, and best of all what didn’t work!
  • Carol Simon Levin at Program Palooza is sharing an ancient Greek program complete with booktalk excerpts and a sculpture craft! I can’t believe I never thought of pairing these together!
  • Rebecca over at Sturdy for Common Things has an amazing share with a Trick-or-Treat Picture Walk. This idea blends the popular storywalk with Halloween. You can adapt this for the upcoming holidays, or save it for next year!
  • Lastly, I am sharing a Laura Numeroff Party complete with activity stations to accompany four of her If You Give books.

tweensTween Ideas:

  • Jennifer at Monday Madness is sharing a Glow in the Dark program that is awesome and very affordable! Can’t wait to try this. I’ll be researching the cost of a black light once I finish compiling this post.
  • Jennifer also has a Minecraft program complete with video clips, crafts and games for all ages (and siblings) to enjoy.
  • I wish I had known about Anne at So Tomorrow’s Maze Maker series a little earlier! I still may use it when the Maze Runner comes out on DVD! This tween/teen program uses office materials and straws for an hour of fun and a-maze-ment! Brilliant!
  • Ms. Kelly at the Library shared a Halloween version of Minute to Win It Games. Don’t fret that Halloween is over. You can still adapt her amazing ideas for a winter program!
  • Bryce at Bryce Don’t Play offers a Wimpy Kid program to celebrate the Long Haul. Learn the Fire Drill tactic to lengthen attention spans, easily adaptable for any tween program.
    Field Trip Frenzy

Field Trip Ideas:

  • Jennifer over at In Short, I’m Busy is sharing a fabulous field trip idea complete with photographic Library Bingo Cards of her library so kids learn where to find things. Brilliant!
  • Brytani’s guest blog on Bryce Don’t Play (I know, they blow my mind, too!) is a PETE THE CAT field trip! Learn about 4 parts of the library and earn 4 buttons for Pete.
  • There must be something in the air, because Lindsey, half of Jbrary, wrote about her Pete the Cat field trip, too!
  • Bryce uses the two characters from Adventure Time to teach tweens about the library using a scavenger hunt. Get ready for lots of fist bumping!

So, spread the word, use the programs, and participate. Can’t wait to see where we’ll be in a year!

On a side note, if you plan on participating please include a link to the Thrive Thursday website, Pinterest page, and Facebook Group. Also, make sure you include a photo that can be linked to Pinterest so you can get more hits!

Next month’s host is the dynamic duo of Jbrary! So save your goodies from now to then.

If You Give…Numeroff Party for the School Age!


Inspired by Jbrary’s Book Character Roundup, I decided to do a Laura Numeroff Party after school. I read If You Give a Cat a Cupcake because it was the only game that required direct knowledge of the story. Then I setup four stations to accompany each book:


Numeroff Party Cookie Game

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Memory Game: Homeschool Share has a ready-to-go Cookie Flip game.


If You Give a Moose a Muffin Tin Challenge: You just need a ping pong ball, a muffin tin, poster board (semi-optional).


Numeroff Party Cupcake Game

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake: I found a downloadable game at First Grade a la Carte. I already had dice and game pieces hanging around.


Numeroff Party Pancake GameIf You Give a Pig a Pancake Relay Race: I have instructions for all the games here: Numeroff Party Instructions

What other fun Numeroff activities have you done?

For more school age programming ideas, check out the monthly roundup on Thrive Thursday’s schedulePinterest board, and Facebook Group! This month’s roundup is celebrating its 1 year anniversary!

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