I would not consider myself a crafty person at all. That’s why I was terrified when I learned that my current job would require me to do a craft every week with preschoolers. At my other libraries I hardly did any crafts at all, so that’s why I literally curled up in the fetal position upon learning they would be such a huge part of my job.
Well, two years later, I have pretty much caught on to the general rule of storytime crafts at my library. Let the kids use the smelly markers and let them play with the glue and they will be happy campers. Anything more complicated than that and the moms/dads have to do all the work and then nobody is happy.
I also learned that when making the examples, it is always best to do it myself. That way I know exactly how the craft is done and if there are any weird hiccups I need to be aware of. (I learned this the hard way after having volunteers make one of the examples for our big Holiday Party. They did a great job, but they didn’t tell me that the little rubber stampers they used all had plastic coverings on them that needed to be taken off. All night long parents were fighting with the plastic, trying to take it off the stamps. I felt terrible. Lesson learned.)
Sometimes, I have to dash off the examples really fast right before storytime. Other times, I really put a lot of effort into it, and then they come home with me and earn a place on my fridge. Here are a few of my favorites from my personal collection.
This is about as simple as a craft can get. I just found a pretty frame pattern on the internet and then printed it on cardstock for all the kids. Our storytime was about families, so I had them all draw a family portrait. I am the world’s worst artist, so I actually spent a lot of time on my picture. From left to right it is me (I almost forgot to put myself in, that’s why I am leaning in from the side), my sister (I apologize to Anne for drawing hips like Giles does), my dad, and my mom. The cats are Addie, Hermione, Penelope (who kind of looks like a mouse), Pippi, and Amy, Callie, and Tigger (my parents’ cats). The kids were fascinated by my picture and loved to hear all about my cats. It was a great motivator for them to draw their own pets in their pictures.
This is one of the more involved crafts I have tried. The cupcake liners make perfect flowers, and we have a million tongue depressors at the library so I try to use them every chance I get. The insides of the flowers are little foam smiley faces that I flipped over so the back is showing. This was the type of craft that some kids got really into, while others just colored all over the sheet. I brought it home with me because I loved my ladybug and bumblebee so much.
This was the first craft to make my refrigerator. This was a summer reading craft last year, and I always try to be a little more ambitious when it comes to summer stuff. Not only do more people come, but we also have a lot more volunteers to keep busy, so we can do more complicated crafts. For this one, we used an X-acto knife to cut out a fish shape from a piece of blue cardstock. We used the fish themselves for a craft with the older kids later. Then we put a piece of contact paper over the fish so that the sticky side was facing up. We placed the plastic backing from the contact paper over the paper so that we could stack them easily without them sticking together. All of this was done ahead of time.
When it came time to do the craft with the kids, they stuck pieces of tissue paper, aluminum foil, sequins, and a googily eye onto the fish. The goal is to cover up as much of the sticky stuff as possible. Then they could decorate around their fish. I am extremely proud of my brain coral. That is some of the best art I think I’ve ever done. The final step was to put plastic wrap over the top and tape it to the back. That covered up any extra stickiness and makes it look like the fish is under water. It is apparently also makes it yummy for cats because Pippi loves to chew on my picture. You might be able to see her little teeth marks near the top left.
So, I am getting used to doing crafts on a weekly basis, and have even received some compliments from parents about the stuff we do each week. I actually look forward to planning them (sometimes).
Also, if you ever come over to my house and see artwork on the fridge, please don’t ask if it was done by my kids at the daycares or at the library (those pictures are all in my office) because you can just assume they are mine.