Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gettin' Crafty: Post #1: Intro & Pencil Toppers

As the school year began at the end of August, I decided to make a greater effort, now that I've been in the job almost one full year, to offer more for the after school crowd that visits my library. Up until this Fall, I only had one afternoon program, a family story time, that was poorly attended and chaotic, and a handful of scheduled programs for older kids that went mostly ignored. I was not satisfied with that, and I knew I could do better. So in addition to changing the Monday story time to a preschool story time, I've also begun putting out craft supplies after school on some of the busier days. 

My mom is exceedingly crafty - she cross stitches, and she used to make dolls, and even some of my clothes when I was a kid. I, however, have not inherited this gene. On the contrary, I am impatient and easily frustrated, I can't thread a needle, and my middle school home and careers project was sewn, in part, by the nice boy who sat next to me. My winter coat has been missing a button since February, because I have yet to puzzle out how to sew it on. So needless to say, my crafts needed to be simple, and easy enough that if kids asked for help, I'd be able to give it.

So I've done a few now, and I've decided that, since there must be other librarians like me, who are all thumbs when it comes to craftiness, I'll share what I'm doing, and hopefully make someone else's life easier!

So here is the first craft we did, back on September 6th:

Pencil Toppers

I originally got the pencil topper idea from, which has always been one of my go-to sites for simple kids' activities. I didn't follow their instructions  exactly, but I did get my supply list from them.

Everything I didn't already have (except the pencils, which came from a dollar store) I bought at Michael's:
Creatology Foam Stickers: Shapes
These are the foam shapes with adhesive on the back, so there is no glue required. We used glue anyway, for other things, but I always aim to avoid glue, since I then have to scrape it off all of our tables.

Googly Eyes
Alas, these were not self-adhesive and required some Elmer's.

Glitter Pom-Poms
These wouldn't stick at all. More on that in a moment.

Initially I set up the program in the children's programming room, but when no one seemed interested, I put it at one of the homework tables in the back corner. That drew in a larger crowd, since the kids sitting back there couldn't help but see what we were doing. And it's monkey see, monkey do with crafts. If several kids are doing it, several more will join.

I put out one example pencil, which I made myself. Here are the steps I followed:

1. Choose two foam pieces of equal size and shape. Stick one to either side of the pencil eraser. Pinch with your fingers to make sure it's really stuck. This is the base for your pencil topper.

2. Attach more foam shapes to the base. Create eyes, ears, and other facial features, or do your own abstract design. This is where I was really glad to have adhesive foam shapes. The thought of all that glue made my brain hurt.

3. Attach buttons, googly eyes and/or  pom poms if desired. Or, if you're me, attach the pom-poms and watch them immediately fall off. I eventually got one to stick right in the center of a button, but I think it was because the button was plastic. Nothing in the world could make that pom pom stick to a piece of foam. Some kids did still try to use pom-poms, but I wound up picking them up off the floor, or worse, scraping them off the table.

Despite the stickiness and frustration, what I liked about this craft was that it really depended on the kids' creativity. I intended the project to be for grades K to 3, but it was easy enough, that with a little grown-up help, the little ones could participate too. (I also left the pencils unsharpened, making it safer for the little ones to make their toppers without hurting themselves or anyone else.) Most of the kids who participated did not follow my example at all, which I thought was wonderful, and one little artist was so inspired by mine, she actually took it apart and re-stuck the pieces on her own project.

I would definitely do it again, but next time, I might like to get some smaller self-adhesive stick-ons - maybe some gems, or some other type of sticker. This would also work with pens, and I think, given the right environment (i.e. one without toddlers) kids all the way up to middle school could enjoy it.

Next time: Popsicle Stick Bookmarks.

7 Books About Kids & Dogs

Calvin Coconut: Zoo BreathCalvin Coconut: Zoo Breath by Graham Salisbury
Calvin studies his dog's bad breath in the hopes he can get rid of it before his mother sends the dog away. 
Ginger PyeGinger Pye by Eleanor Estes
The Pye family dog is stolen and the kids must work to get her back!
Julia Gillian (and The Art Of Knowing)Julia Gillian Trilogy by Alison McGhee
Julia Gillian's best friend is her dog Bigfoot, but he's starting to show his age.
Because of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Opal's new dog, Winn Dixie, helps her make friends and come to terms with her mother's abandonment of the family.
Love That DogLove That Dog by Sharon Creech
A reluctant poet is inspired by famous poets and his own life.
Henry and Mudge: The First Book (Henry and Mudge, #1)Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant
Henry and his dog, Mudge go through life's milestones together.
Good Dog, CarlCarl series by Alexandra Day
These wordless picture books show what happens when Carl the rottweiler is left to babysit.
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