Celebrating Dinovember

FIMG_2200irstIMG_2202, the back story: Dinovember was created by a mom and dad whose kids were huge dinosaur fans. Each night in November, the parents arranged the dinosaurs throughout their home, with the dinosaurs causing mischief and wreaking havoc in their home. If you’re familiar with Elf on the Shelf, this is almost identical to that. The idea of celebrating Dinovember has become viral, with children in over 45 countries now celebrating it. The parents who created Dinovember have also releas ed a book showcasing their hilarious pictures, called What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe and Susan Tuma.

After hearing of the adorable ways that families were celebrating Dinovember, our library decided that this would be the perfect passive program to do in November. While our dinosaurs don’t go around causing quite the same amount of mischief, we do have them get into some sticky situations within the library. Our library dinosaur changes locations each week, rather than every night, to make it easier on our staff. We have IMG_2207advertised this through word-of-mouth, social media, and with signage through the Children’s Department. When the children “find” the dinosaur that’s hidden, they come up to our reference desk to tell us what they saw the dinosaur doing. The children earn a dinosaur temporary tattoo for finding the dinosaur.IMG_2203

We also have a craft available for children to do during the month of November. The craft is a dinosaur crown, a pretty simple craft that works for all ages and is easy for staff to replenish as needed. Our display cart contains a wide assortment of dinosaur books, and the first week of November’s storytimes were ALL about dinosaurs. At the end of the month, we’re having Paleo Joe come to the library to do a dinosaur program. He is wildly popular within libraries for putting on dinosaur/fossil programs, and we’re so excited to have him as the ending to a successful month-long passive program.

Have any other libraries celebrated Dinovember? We had a lot of positive responses about it, and the children really enjoyed searching for the dinosaur’s new  location each week. You can  read Hafbouti’s post on her library’s experience promoting Dinovember, as well as an ALSC post about Dinovember.

Light Painting

ALight Painting few months ago we had a light painting program for 3rd-5th graders. This can be done with a light painting app and an iPad. The app we used was the ‘LongExpo Pro’ app made by EyeTap Soft ($0.99). The app settings should be set to “B Shutter” and “Light Trail”, as this will allow the most light in and make the pictures more vibrant. You will also need to adjust the iPad settings to allow the app to access your photos. Once everyone is ready, it’s time to turn off the lights.

We used laser finger lights for the light source, but you can also use a flashlight. Kids were paired into groups of two, so that one could operate the iPad’s camera and the other one could use the laser fingers to create a design. When the child with the light source gives the okay, the Light Painting OKother child pushes the button on the iPad to start the “picture”. Then the child with the light source begins moving the light around, which can be in a pattern or not. After several seconds or more, the child with the light source tells their partner to hit stop. Voila! The light painting has been done. We hosted this program for 45 minutes, with 10 minutes allotted at the end for the kids to share their favorite light painting photos with the whole group. This was a fun and extremely easy program to run, and also very inexpensive if you already have tablets or devices to download the apps to.Light Painting Heart

The laser fingers were a novelty to the kids, and none of them had ever used them before. While the kids enjoyed them, it did slow things down when the rubber bands became disconnected from the lasers. Some kids were able to reattach the lasers to the rubber bands, but others had trouble and needed our help to do so. If you decide to purchase laser finger lights, I would recommend buying the ones with velcro rather than rubber bands. They are more expensive, but they’re worth it in the long run because they stay in place!

For more information on Light painting library programs, check out these blog posts:
Bryce Don’t Play

Lego WeDo Robotics

Last week our library hosted a Lego WeDo Robotics program for 3rd-5th graders, and it was a resounding success. Let me tell you how we did it:

If you’re not familiar with Lego Robotics, you can check out the Lego website for more information. Our teen department has been using these kits for quite some time with 6th-12th graders, and we knew that our tweens would be interested in these programs as well. The children’s department decided to purchase the WeDo kits, which are easier than the Mindstrom kits that Lego also sells. The teens use both, but for the purpose of beginning something new, we wanted something where children of all skills could learn to build in one session. The WeDo kits sell for about $130 per kit, and include various Lego pieces, as well as a motion sensor, a motor, a tilt sensor, a USB hub and several instruction booklets. The WeDo software costs $90 for an individual license, or $300 for a site license. We did not buy the software for the WeDo kits; instead, we used Scratch (a free programming software created by MIT) to program the robots.IMG_2198

We requested advance registration for this program, which is always somewhat dicey in our community. While it helps us to limit how many people show up, we usually have a couple of no-shows no matter the type of reminders we send. It turned out that we had 10 children show up (out of 15), which meant that 2 people were working together with each kit (we own 5 Lego WeD0’s). In retrospect, having 2 children for each kit was a perfect number. This allowed kids to work together and it didn’t feel too crowded, but it may have if everyone had shown up!

IMG_2199We chose to have each group work on the Ball Kicker design first. We wanted to start with something easy and then progress to a more difficult design if there was time. The Ball Kicker took most of our kids about 10 minutes to build, and then about 5-10 minutes to use Scratch. Only about half of our kids said that they had used either WeDo and/or Scratch before, but even the kids with no prior experience caught on quickly. Once they had finished building the Ball Kicker, we gave them the Scratch instructions. If you’re not familiar with Scratch, you can read more about my first Scratch program here.

Once the kids were finished with building the Lego and programming Scratch, I gave them each a ping pong ball to use with their robot. There’s a small sensor attached to the robot, and whenever an object is placed in front of the sensor, the leg will “kick”. The kids loved it! They spent at least 5-10 minutes playing around with their ball kicker robot before disassembling it.IMG_2188

Lion Scratch RevisionThe next design the kids worked on was the Lion Roar. This one was slightly more tricky, and due to time constraints (our program was scheduled for an hour), two of our five groups did not get to finish the Lion. If the Scratch instructions are followed exactly as written from GA Tech, you will program the lion to stand up. We modified the Scratch instructions so that ours would stand up, roar, and then lay back down and meow (see picture). It was a pretty cute modification, if I do say so myself!

Our kids had a blast doing this program and they are already asking when we’re going to offer it again. For more specifics on how to host a Lego WeDo event at your library, read this post from the Robot Test Kitchen. Have you offered a Lego Robotics program at your library? I’d love to hear about it!