Henri Matisse, Collage Art – Homeschool Program

One of my favorite parts of being a youth services librarian is our different partnerships across the community. During this past school year, I had the opportunity to work with one of our local homeschooling collectives. This group would come in to our adjacent community center for different programs and activities. One of the programs that we provided was a “Homeschool Art” program. These programs were designed to teach the kids about different artists, techniques, types of art, crafts, and more. Each program had a different theme and focus.

For this particular program, we focused on the wonderful collage art by French artist, Henri Matisse. I like to start these lessons with a little bit of background about the artist, the technique, and art terms that will be used throughout the program. We started by going on the relevant art terms and a brief history of Matisse’s career. We then looked at different works of art by Matisse from his collage period. We took some time to have a discussion about the works of art and what they liked and disliked about them.

For the art portion of the program, I set our a plethora of precut pieces of construction paper. I also had full sheets of paper and scissors for those that wanted to cut out their own particular pieces. We then spent about 30 minutes arranging our pieces and gluing them to our canvases (11×17 legal paper). The kids did a wonderful job! Check out the pictures to see some of their works! To wrap up, I had the kids think of a name for the works of art. Then, we went around and introduced our works and gave a brief discussion about the piece of art and the process. This was a very successful program bringing in nearly 70 kids!

As always, I displayed library books about Henri Matisse and collage art for any interested takers to check out!

Books to use:

Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter
Henri Matisse by Jude Welton
Henri Matisse by Mike Venezia


Duck Craft

This super simple duck craft really quacks me up… Yeah I just did that. My love of paper plate crafts and bad puns knows no bounds! This is a great craft to do for Springtime or if you are focusing on animals or the letter “D”.

Here’s what you need:

  • Paper plates
  • Printed out duck heads (sounds a bit creepy!)
  • Orange construction paper
  • Orange markers or crayons (optional)
  • Glue Sticks
  • Colored feathers
  • Scissors (for prep)
  • Sello tape (scotch tape)
  • Regular hole punch
  • 3″ circular hole punch (optional)

For prep:

  • Cut paper plates in half
  • Use the regular whole punch to punch a small hole in top left of the paper plate half (The plate should be flat side up with the back of the plate facing up, see pictures)
  • Cut triangular pieces out of separate paper plates to use as the wing (I basically cut a few paper plates like a pizza into slices!)
  • To make the duck feet, I used my 3″ circular whole punch to cut out circles from the orange construction paper (You can just use scissors, but it may take a bit longer) then I simply cut the circles in half
  • Cut out duck heads (I just printed out a duck coloring sheet and cut out the heads)

Once everything is cut and prepped, give each child a halved paper plate, a paper plate wing slice, a duck head, 2 orange paper half circles, a colored feather, and a glue stick. I also left a roll of tape on each table for them to share.  This is mostly an assembling craft which is great for developing manual dexterity and developing instruction following skills. To start, line up the duck head to the front of the flat side of the back of the paper plate half, see pictures for orientation. Glue the head in place (you can add a bit of tape too for a stronger hold). Next glue the wing on the top middle of the plate. Make sure you let the wing sit slightly above the flat line of the plate to give it depth. Next, you can glue the orange feet to the bottom of the plate. Glue the feet with the flat side down, see pictures. Last, slide the feather through the punched hole at the back of the paper plate. Affix the feather on the other side with a piece of tape. Optionally, the kids can color the bill of the duck with an orange marker or crayon. Yay ducks!

This craft goes great with:

  • 5 Little Ducks by Denise Fleming
  • Ducks Away! by Mem Fox

Sunshine State Young Readers Award – Display

Each year, we like to showcase the Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) winning books as they are very popular and circulate a good bit. If you are not familiar with this ‘series’, here is a blurb from the SSYRA website:

“The Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) Program is a statewide reading motivational program for students in grades 3 through 8, in a collaborative effort between the Florida Association of Media in Education (FAME) and the Florida Department of Education (DOE). The purpose of the SSYRA Program is to encourage students to read independently for pleasure and to read books that are on, above, and below their reading level in order to improve their reading fluency. Sunshine State books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. The SSYRA committee is comprised of 20 qualified school librarians located throughout the state of Florida, subdivided into two committees- grades 3-5 and grades 6-8.”

In addition to the 3-5 grade books, we also showcase the SSYRA Jr. award winning books. These are picture books geared toward students in K-2 grade. We finally completed a snazzy section for these books in our youth fiction series section. The display features both the 3-5 grade and K-2 grade titles all in one spot for easy access. To go with the books, we labeled the shelves for easier access and I created display flyers that feature the SSYRA titles, a picture of the book, and a brief blurb about each title. This should help to further entice our young readers to pick up and check out these award winning titles!

Add a Snowflake Interactive Display

For the winter months, I created this interactive display where children can decorate their own snowflake and add it to our snowy hill! I love creating interactive displays because they help to get the spirit of the season flowing within the children’s library. It also gives our wee ones something fun and creative to do when they are not reading books or in a program. I only had the display up for about a half of an hour and wee already have three snowflakes! In Florida, these may be the only snowflakes that we ever see! I miss the snow! 🙂

Pumpkin Patch – Interactive Display

Whenever someone says, “I need help with a display…”, Mr. Anthony is the first to jump in! I love creating big high visibility displays. I especially love it when they are interactive displays! To help celebrate the fall, and the fall time holidays, I created a simple interactive display… it’s a pumpkin patch!!! The idea is very simple. Children… and adults… and staff come up to the children’s reference desk and ask us for a pumpkin to color and add to our pumpkin patch. No strings attached, just pure coloring fun.

To make the display, I made a very big green background, added some dark green vines, and added some fall leaves across the bottom and top to make the display pop! This display will run through the rest of October and throughout November. I will post updates as more and more pumpkins get added to our patch! Check out some of the previous interactive displays that I created for our children’s library:

3D Printer & 3D Printed Skull Pen Holders

Our library boasts an innovative Makerspace that has been designed to meet the needs of local makers and creators of many different backgrounds. Within our Makerspace, we house many tech goodies including our very own 3D printer! We offer programming based around using the 3D printer and the related software. I went by the Makerspace recently and the 3D printer had just finished printing some awesome skull pen holders. In the spirit of Halloween,  these skull pen holders will be given to the different reference and circulation desks in the library. Super spooky and super cool!

Ellie visits Stories for Babies!

Most days, I absolutely love working in the children’s library. Other days, I love it even more! Today was one of those days. One of the programs that I do at the library is our Stories for Babies program. It is one of the highlights of my week. I get to sing and play with teeny tiny littles! Cuteness overload! Here is what we typically do:

  • Reading/cognitive tip for parents and babies
  • 2 or three pop-up or picture books… usually pop-up books!
  • 3 or 4 songs: Happy and you know it, open shut them, 5 little ducks, etc…
  • Bubble time! Babies love bubbles
  • Shaker time! We play shakers, maracas, and jingly bells to different songs
  • Lots of dancing!

Today, my baby daughter, Ellie, came to the program. Needless to say, I was beaming the whole time. It made my already awesome program even more special for me. What a treat! She even stayed after to take a couple of pictures with dad! Look at that proud papa!

Scarecrow! Spoooooooooooky!

To get into the Halloween spirit, and prepare for our Halloween Fun Day, I created a scarecrow that sits behind our reference desk in the children’s library. He’s extra fancy with his snazzy orange tie and is already ready for the party sporting his best party hat! I added some grass for depth and lights to make it extra spooky! I will post more pictures as our Halloween Fun Day approaches! Spookiness!!

DCPS Open House – Tabling Outreach

As part of our continued partnership with our local public school system, DCPS, we do our best to make it out to the schools for different events throughout the school year. During this time of the year, we are mainly heading out to each school’s open house event. These events typically feature different organizations from the local community coming out and setting up tables to provide the school staff, students, and parents with information about their organization. This was from my first open house of this school year! I was lucky enough to be placed as the very first table meaning that I was able to see everyone that came out to the event! For my tabling outreaches, I like to bring multiple flyers detailing the different programs and services that we offer at the library. Additionally, I bring a lot of goodies to give out to the kids, including: Free books, magic color-changing pencils, stickers, and bookmarks. For this particularly open house, I gave out over 60 books, 100 pencils, and countless stickers & bookmarks! Being able to reach 150-200 individuals at these events makes them very valuable marketing opportunities for our library and helps to strengthen our partnership with DCPS and strengthens our bond with the local community!