Draw a Yeti

Draw a Yeti

When I saw this tweet floating around the DC Public Library Twitter feed the night before Thanksgiving, I thought it would be a great project for our Kids’ Room craft station. So that night, during a blimp of down time, I whipped up this document and that was it! Since then, a flurry of yetis have taken over the library! (And yes, “flurry of yetis” is the collective noun for “yeti”.)

Draw a Yeti

This is my 4-year-old’s yeti. It’s very Chris Raschka, don’t you think?

If you would like to download a copy for use in your own library or classroom or home or any non-commercial use, click the link below for your own copy of this activity:

Draw a Yeti

Unleash the yetis!!




Mentor Me! Assistance for Young Readers in the Library


Mentor Me

Before arriving in Chattanooga I polled several local parent Facebook groups and asked what program or services they wished their public library provided. The dominate response was “free tutoring”, specifically for beginning readers, Or, a program to help their child learn how to read. It was also a common response after I started working and casually polled parents. Since University of Tennessee – Chattanooga (UTC) is only several blocks away from the downtown library branch, I decided to create a program where future teachers working towards their undergraduate or graduate degree in education and a teaching license could receive volunteer hours for assisting beginning readers and writers. One day a week, kids ages 5 & up could come in and seek assistance with either a book or assignment they were working on in class, or choose from books in the library to read aloud from with their mentor. Sessions were 30 minutes, and covered a two hour time period after school hours. Mentor Me! was designed to be a walk-in program so that every minute was being utilized and no-shows wouldn’t be an issue.  Young patrons could gain the helping hand and confidence they needed for zero cost, and the student teachers would gain valuable in-the-field work experience. Win-win!

Mentor Me library program

Before the program started, I called elementary schools near the library and emailed a PDF of the flyer. I dropped off a stack of flyers at several nearby schools, too. I posted the program on the Facebook groups too which I had originally reached out. I talked with teachers who visit the library. Everyone was very enthusiastic about it! I was nervous I was going to have way more kids than mentors, but a funny thing happened… Hardly anyone showed. Week after week there were 2-3 regulars and a handful of kids that were there already doing homework and took advantage of the program and that’s it. When evaluating a programs worth, it isn’t about the number of attendees, but I was surprised at the turnout after receiving so many remarks about this public need. The UTC student teachers were terrific and would often engage the kids regardless if they didn’t have scheduled mentoring sessions.

The 10-week episode of Mentor Me! in the library has ended and I’m left to my thoughts. Why would a program that was championed by so many caregivers and educators have such little turnout?

Do you offer tutoring or some type of academic assistance program in your library? What is your experience with this type of program and how does it work?

I would be interested to recieve and appreciate any feedback you have!



Flashlight Review + Activity


Ahh… Lizi Boyd. You’re a wordless picture book illustrating wizard. You’ve done it again.

I fell hard for Lizi Boyd’s Inside Outside, and the love affair continues with her latest, Flashlight. A child spends an evening exploring the yard shining a flashlight and revealing surprises the nighttime darkness hides. In the same style as Inside Outside, little peek-a-book cutouts are sprinkled throughout the pages. Hello whimsey!


flashlight lizi boyd





Back in August when I received this book, I immediately took it to the library to share with the kids for Spontaneous Storytime. Lately, I’ve been creating little extension activities for books I’ve been reading for Spontaneous Storytime and Flashlight presented the perfect opportunity do so. I found images of the animals depicted in the book, printed them out, and pasted them around the storytime room. I also made a tibetan flag using colored copy paper and yarn.




For Spontaneous Storytime throughout that week, small groups of 1-5 children were each given a flashlight, and we read Flashlight in the dim room with the flashlights. They loved shining their flashlights on the book so I could “read”. I explained that this was a book that didn’t have words which means we get to make up the story as we go. The storytimers loved this idea. Some contributed to the story and some took a listening role. After reading, we went on a flashlight hunt where we were sitting to see what animals we might find with our flashlights just like the child in the story. 




If you have kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews this is also a fun activity to do on a rainy or snowy day inside. You don’t even have to print out animals! What can you spy in the dark? How does it look different with a flashlight? Or if it’s a nice day, explore the outdoors with a flashlight… What can you see? How does it look different than day time? What animals do you see? Flashlight is a wonderful way to spark investigation and imagination!


More flahslight activities for kids:

3 creative flashlight activities via My Kids Adventures

These flashlight games for kids via Kids Activity Blog


More storytime ideas:

Night and Day Storytime via Storytime Kate

Flashlights in Story Time via Seattle Science Story Times

Shadow Storytime via So Tomorrow

Glow in the Dark Storytime via NYPL

Nocturnal Animals  via Fun with Friends at Storytime


Source of book reviewed: The fabulous folks at Chronicle Books.



The Beedle Society

Beedle Society

Ever since reading A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, I’ve been inspired by the mysterious “Beedle” character to create a club or secret society of kids that perform random acts of kindness. It isn’t a program or an event. It’s a small effort to encourage positive vibrations, giving without reward, a connection with one another, and the simple act of making someone smile. Thus, The Beedle Society was born!

The Beedle Society

Shhh… Can you keep a secret???

The Beedle Society is inspired by a secret do-gooder named “the Beedle” from the book A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (a Chattanooga local!). The Beedle performs random acts of kindness around his/her town and no one seems to know who it is! It’s a mystery!

We would like to inspire a society of young do-gooders here at the Chattanooga Public Library. When you visit the 2nd Floor, say “Beedle” to the librarian and they will give you a BEEDLE SOCIETY TOP SECRET MISSION. If we all do one random act of kindness, we can change the world! 

The above proclamation is printed on little slips of paper that can be found around kids’ area in the library and at the service desk. I’ve taken to recruiting members with kid-friendly guerrilla marketing by slipping these slips in the books on display or leaving them in play areas.



Also, I made a couple badges that can be worn around by staff members to encourage conversations about The Beedle Society with kids and adults. Like any good (not-so-secret) society, you have to scout out good candidates and hope they spread the word to others! If a kid seems interested, I whisper-ask if they would like to be a part of a secret club? And if the answer is “Yes” I pretend scold them for answering so loudly and slip them a BEEDLE SOCIETY TOP SECRET MISSION.

Top Secret Missions

A few library teen volunteers and a community service helper created a variety of colorful, anonymous envelopes out of magazines and colored paper. Inside these envelopes are BEEDLE SOCIETY TOP SECRET MISSIONS. So far, there are only 6, but I plan on adding more and more as time goes on….


Beedle Mission 1

Beedle Mission 2

Beedle Society Mission



The envelopes are discretely numbered on the outside for kids who may or may not want to do the same mission twice. The Beedle Society has been up and running for a week and so far the response has been good. The day before Thanksgiving, I was busy giving missions to kids and a grandmother remarked that that they (her twin 7-year-old grandchildren and the other children in the library at the time) are at the perfect age to fully embrace an air of mystery as well as the weight of their actions. I absolutely agree!

Beedle Society Sightings

Evidence of Beedle Society members at work are already popping up around the library:




Remains of a Beedle chalk drawing outside the library after a couple days of rain.

Remains of a Beedle chalk drawing outside the library after a couple days of rain.


If anything, my hope is that this will be an exercise of how one small action can make an impression in someone’s life, big or small.  Human kindness in itself is absolute magic.




Farm Stand Storytime: Thanks & Giving

thankful leaves craft

Friday was the last Farm Stand Storytime of the season and also the last day the farm stand was open before shutting down for the winter. There was a request to do a Thanksgiving storytime, which I decided to shift to a storytime about gratitude instead of the expected turkeys and pilgrim routine. In the past, I’ve performed Thanksgiving storytimes mindfully, but the truth is we don’t celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving in my own home. It’s a holiday I’m not especially fond of that I feel deserves to be looked at critically when discussing with children (perspective on that HERE).


The theme for this storytime was “Thanks & Giving” (borrowed title from Mel’s Desk, because Mel is wonderfully wonderful and am so thankful for her early literacy brain). It was a chilly morning (low 40′s), but luckily Crabtree Farm’s new education facility was open and I sat next to a warm stove throughout the storytime. Afterwards, we made “thankful leaves” for our post-storytime extension activity. It was a good November-y time! Here’s the rundown:

Thanks & Giving Storytime

First, I welcomed everyone and we opened with the rhyme I’ve been using for each Farm Stand Storytime session:

I wiggle my fingers
I wiggle my toes
I wiggle my shoulders
I wiggle my nose
I give my hands a clap
I put them in my lap.

wondering box

Wondering Box: Then I asked the audience if we should look inside the wondering box to see what we were going to be talking about during stortyime. I did my regular routine of peeking inside and then closing the box shut a few times and then opening for all to see. This month it was a picture of my family. I showed the audience and then looked at the picture and said: “It’s a picture of my family. My family makes me feel happy. I am thankful for my family and the way they make me feel inside and out.”

What is “gratitude”? I held up a sign with the word gratitude I said the word and then sounded it out running my finger under the letters.  We discussed how “gratitude” means to “be thankful, feel thankful, to show thankfulness”.  A person can be thankful for a lot of things… Their family, the farm that grows food, food that gives us energy to grow big and strong, or stories that prod us to think and use our imaginations. You can feel gratitude for many things and there are many ways to show it as well. The songs and stories shared today are about feeling gratitude and showing gratitude.

Thanks to the Animals

Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin, illustrated by Rebekah Raye

I started with a beautiful story by a Passamaquoddy storyteller about a family that is migrating for the winter, an accident, and how the forest animals come to the rescue. While traveling inland for the winter, Baby Zoo Sap falls off the sled while his family is sleeping. After hearing the baby’s cry of distress, one by one the animals of the woods come keep him warm and safe. It is a story that represents “an offering of thanks to the animals that sustained the Passamoquoddy people through the generations”. I love this beautiful book and thought it would pair nicely with a flannel board prop, so I printed pictures of all the animals, drew baby Zoo Sap to the best of my ability (and am pretty proud of how he turned out!), laminated them, and stuck magnets to the back. They worked perfectly with my husband’s old white board!

thanks for the animals prop


thanks for the animals flannel board

I started with a blank white board and when Zoo Sap falls off the sled in the story, I placed him on the board. After reading each page, I added the animals mentioned on that page. The kids really enjoyed seeing photographs of real animals illustrated in the book! After reading we transitioned into a song about being thankful.


“If You’re Thankful and You Know It”
Adaption of traditional song to the tune” “If You’re Happy and You Know It” as seen on ALSC Blog

If you’re thankful and you know it,
clap your hands.
If you’re thankful and you know it,
clap your hands.
If you’re thankful and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it,
If you’re thankful and you know it,
clap your hands.

Continue using these verses:

..Stomp your feet
….Shout “I am!”
……..Do all three! (clap, clap, stomp, stomp, “I am!”)


Bear Says Thanks

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Bear Says Thanks is a celebration of giving, friendship, being thankful, and showing gratitude by saying, “THANKS”. After reading this story I asked the kids turn to their neighbor whether it be a parent, or sibling, or friend and tell them “THANKS for being my ________” or “Thank you” for anything they felt thankful about that particular person.


“The More We Get Together”
Adaptation of traditional song.

The more we get together,
Together, together,
The more we get together,
The happier we’ll be.
Cause your friends
Are my friends,
And my friends,
Are your friends.
The more we get together,
The happier we’ll be.

The more we read together
Together, together,
The more we read together,
The happier we’ll be.
Cause caring is sharing,
And sharing is caring.
The more we read together,
The happier we’ll be.

I’m not sure where this adaptation came from, but I learned it from the librarians I worked with at Lawrence Public Library. And the idea to use this song for storytime came from Mel’s Desk as well as the next book and song.


day by day

Day by Day by Susan Gal

I love this story and was reminded about it reading this list of picture books about gratitude. And it was perfect for Farm Stand Storytime, because it talked about food harvested (a former Farm Stand Storytime theme), being thankful for friends and family, for the days gone by, the change of seasons, and transitions.


thanks a lot flannel

“Thanks a Lot”
by Raffi

The very last song of storytime was a flannel board that came from Mel’s Desk (Mel has all the ideas! I know!!). I made it the night before using this template provided on her blog. I also had families sit close and hug and sway if they liked. I sang and placed the flannel pieces up as the song played (lyrics can be found HERE). It was a sweet, quiet ending to storytime.

After “Thanks a Lot”,  I asked the children what they were thankful for. I said I was thankful for them and how special each one of them are, for sharing stories together, and for the time we have had together on the farm that morning. There is so much to be thankful for. I then invited them to write what they were thankful for on a leaf and decorate the leaf to be hung from the farm stand.


Thankful Leaves

thankful leaves project for kids

Using collected fall leaves, these metallic markers my daughter is a huge fan of, and gel markers, the kids decorated leaves and wrote what they were thankful for on the back of them. It’s a simple craft inspired by this projectan old recycled storytime project of mine, and the “Leaf Poem and Memories” project from a new favorite book, Make It Wild!:101 Things to Make and Do Outdoors by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield. I dumped a bag of leaves I collected the day before on the table along with several sets of markers and the kids went to work. Once they were done, they gave me their leaf that I attached to fishing line and hung from the farm stand.





thankful leaves craft

thankful leaf



thankful leaves 1


farm stand storytime thanks and giving

The leaves were adorned with names of friends and family members as well as “family”,  ”mommy”, “daddy”, “my cats”, “nature”, and “storytime” were the the few of the thankful messages. By the time the leaves were all hung, the storytimers had left, the farm was quiet, and the thankful leaves danced around on the breeze and sunbeams.  It was a happy ending. I’m grateful for this collaboration with Crabtree Farms, for the storytime kids, and for all the librarians, educators, and kid lit lovers near and far who share their smarty ideas and wisdom. Thank you!