Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Hands-On Idea Swap Ideas, Part 2

More tidbits from the idea swap about hands-on activities.  More to come!

Karen from Woodville reminded us about the Wisconsin DNR's EEK site (Environmental Education for Kids). There are lots of great activities on this site, and they update them regularly, so it is worth checking out.  There are indoor activities (making an edible aquifer, for instance), and also outdoor adventures.  Karen had fun with taking kids on a stream walk, collecting data (on temperature, rate of movement, counting creatures) and sending it in to the DNR.  (This reminds me of a recent well-reviewed book for kids, Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns--no MORE libraries own this title yet!)

Marilyn in Boyceville talked about their library's Wrangler Days.  She brought in horse tack, showed kids how to do roping (they were roping chairs), they made brands, told some tall tales and talked about the history of cowboys.  They even did some reader's theater, with the help of a junior high student who loves drama.  They had one program for 1-3 grades and another for 4-6 grades.  Sounds like fun!

Marilyn also talked about a winter program that has worked well in Boyceville.  In a town that doesn't have many hang-out spots for teens, their monthly after-school teen coffee time was very well received!  The library served cappuccinos (very swanky), put out storytime-prep projects for them to work on if they felt like it, and pulled a display of science fiction/fantasy titles for them.  Teens loved the chance to hang out (much better--and warmer--than the Cenex station down the street).  They snatched up the books, provided a little help, and just enjoyed each others' company.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Exploring the Solar System

Last week, IFLS librarians had a chance to tap into the knowledge and experience of Boyceville Library staffer Marguerite Blodgett, who has more than 200 hours of training from NASA about creating informal learning opportunities about outer space.  If you missed this workshop, you missed a fun day, filled with easy-to-recreate hands-on activities.  But don't despair!  Marguerite provided us with excellent handouts about the session (look for the Exploring the Solar System heading)--along with some bonus handouts on making comet ice cream and stomp rockets.

Marguerite urged us to realize the important role libraries can play in encouraging students' interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields by giving kids a chance to enjoy, explore, mess around, and not be afraid of tests or making mistakes.  Some cool ideas:

A great demonstration of how we see planets, and ways that we can get a better picture of what they look like.  Here, librarians orbit the planets with their PVC telescopes.

Creating creatures that have certain characteristics and need specific atmospheric elements or food to help understand the different conditions on planets and imagine where life could conceivably exist.

A discussion of comets as dirty snow balls--or snowy dirt-balls (hence the idea for making comet ice cream), an activity about Saturn's rings, and a few demonstrations of how the planets are distributed in the solar system.

Coming up in May--watch for details about a webinar about more Outer Space adventures, presented by Amy Ambelang (from L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire) who attended state-wide NASA training earlier this month.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Idea Swap Report Part 1

We had an idea swap last week, and with the 5 people who attended, we generated a wonderful list of ideas, brainstorming even more as we talked.  I will be highlighting a few of those ideas in the next few weeks, so watch for further updates.

The theme of this idea-swap was great hands-on activities for kids.  I'm going to start with a few of the Summer Library Program/Dream Big-related ideas in case anyone out there is still scratching your head about the summer.

Dreaming of Art:  Several of the libraries at this meeting are planning to use Dream Big as a way to talk about interesting vocations.  Cathy from Sand Creek talked about making books--using picture book covers as the cover, and then comparing recent creations with the version on the library shelf.

Outdoor Night-time Adventures:  Having just come from a workshop about Exploring the Solar System, some librarians were intrigued with the idea of having a Meteor Shower Party during the Persieds (which peak on Monday, August 13).  In Frederic, they are considering a family camp-out at the lake.  And in Sand Creek, they are working on finding a DNR ranger to come and talk about night-time animals--at night around a campfire.

Dream Big--Be Your Own Superhero:  In Woodville, Karen is going to have a Murder Mystery night, with a Superhero theme.  She purchased a kit, which can allow for a varying number of participants ages 10 and up.

Watch for more ideas in future posts!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shakespeare Appearances in Western Wisconsin

Shakespeare and a sword-wielding fan in Boyceville

Ron Scot Fry became Shakespeare to produce a show about the Bard, his times, and his work.  Three libraries in IFLS-land had programs with him during National Library Week, and he was a hit with audiences in Eau Claire and Boyceville.

Here's what they said in Boyceville:  "He had a great mix of teaching us about what life was like in that time period and acting small scenes from his plays. People are still coming in this week and thanking me for having him. I would definitely do it again."  An 8-year-old who has participated in Shakespeare plays with his homeschool group was invited on stage to recite some lines.

Here's what they said in Eau Claire:  "Ron Scot Fry did a great job. He engages the audience, uses the language in a very natural manner, interacts well with both youth and adults and strikes a good balance between providing humor and factual historic information.. Eau Claire middle schools do a Shakespeare Festival in May. Student actors were inspired. They gathered round Ron with questions and to share their own experiences with Shakespeare’s works..."
Turnout at these presentations was terrific!  In Boyceville (population 1070), 42 people, ages 5 to 95, attended. Nine of them were high school students who received extra credit for attending, but that leaves 33 who attended purely for the pleasure of it.   Eau Claire filled their large meeting room--twice.  I think it is really great that libraries are working to meet the interests and needs of their community, including video gaming tournaments and movie parties.  But sometimes, throwing in a program about Shakespeare (or something like it) can meet needs, too!  I know some teens who are not interested in gaming or popular culture but who drove 50 miles to attend a program about Shakespeare...Kudos to Altoona, Eau Claire and Boyceville libraries for taking a chance on a program like this and making it a success!