I mention Natasia throughout this post quite a few times. In case you’re unaware of who she is, she was my right-hand creative rock star who did the vast majority of the concept and creation of what you’ll be seeing (including photos of her own work). A few weeks ago we said goodbye as she moved on to a non-library job. She is deeply missed.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me in any way to get more details or answers to your questions about anything. I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Now on to the themes!!!
January 2019: Dragon Magic
This was a simple, but very effective theme. As kids approached the door, they’d see a magical book, and when they stepped inside, they’d be greeted by this large dragon who had emerged from the book.
Our community’s mascot is a dragon, and so this was quite popular. We had a wide variety of dragon-themed books on display, and the display was always nearly empty.
Thankfully, Natasia’s beautiful dragon found a home within a Gretna teacher’s classroom once this month was over. We do that a lot with parts of our themes: giving them away at the end of the month. Sometimes it’s through social media contests, or more often than not, when someone inquires about it.
February 2019: Febru-Beary
Natasia used colored paper (not construction paper) for the front windows’ décor.
That bear to the right of the door waving “hi” and “bye” to everyone was just the sweetest. He got a good number of high-fives from kids on their way into the library.
This also marks the first facts display created by Natasia. Our team always had a blast when she’d show off all of the cool facts she’d compiled for the themes. It was also really nice to hear kids and their caregivers talking about all of the posted information on our white board.
This scavenger hunt opted for education over ease. We could have gone for finding five or six bears, but went for all 8 bear species. That said, we tried to give kids as many ways to connect the bears to the checklist: the image, the number, and the name. As a bonus, all that information helps us when kids need a hint.
If you’d like to have your own bear hunt, then click on the left-hand image – you’ll get everything except a template for prize stickers.
March 2019: Farm Fun
For many years, our city has been the fastest growing city in Nebraska. While we are right next to Omaha, we still have farmland to the south and west of us. So anytime we do anything farm-related, it tends to be a hit with both kids and adults.
There were many comments on the Fun Farm Facts display – even from fellow librarians. Now that I think of it, rarely is there a “facts” display where I didn’t learn something new.
Our reading bench display shows how a simple-but-impactful image can convey more than words. COW!!!
And lookee there to the left – it’s everything you need to do our Farm Scavenger Hunt (minus the prize). Enjoy!
April & May 2019: Birds
We put out bird coloring sheets for the kids in April and then filled the windows with their creations throughout April and May.
“Decorate with us” events are totally awesine passive programs – just count the number of birds at the end and there’s your participation count!
If you click on the above framed bird coloring sheets, then you’ll get your own set of – wait for it – bird coloring sheets to use however you’d like!
Above is the bird scavenger hunt checklist we used for this month. It was incredibly popular. And it’s incredibly easy to see why I can’t share it with y’all.
Below, the cut paper Natasia used to create the birds on the inside display was really cool. The little feather tufts you see were somehow tucked into the main portion of the birds giving them a depth and texture. Oh – and can you spot the Eva Wingdale scavenger hunt piece? I’d totes give you a sticker if I could.
June & July 2019: CSLP's A Universe of Stories
I am so glad that we got an interior shot of the gorgeous tissue paper planets that Natasia created.
The original version of these windows didn’t have as many blackholes/galaxies. The reason more were added? To try and block more of the sun at the circulation desk. Not only does it get hot-hot-hot, but the bright light messes with the laser beam of our computer scanners.
Natasia (who you catch a glimpse of in the above photo) found a great rocket template on Etsy. I believe that it’s this one. She also found a simple star template and hung those around as well.
She used discarded books and other paper that we had on hand to create a space super-highway across our ceiling. Our favorite (not pictured) was Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
August 2019: SCIENCE!
Our two summer teen interns wanted their focus to be on being Creative Directors, so they helped design August’s scientific theme. They gave Natasia the concept of oversized science things using colorful pieces of cellophane for the windows.
The cellophane ended up being such a cool, colorful, and layered effect that we want to use it again someday.
The teens put together the display sign using the periodic table to spell out a phrase which I can’t seem to find!!! But they printed and cut out a magnifying glass, added clear cellophane for the glass, and enlarged the text beneath it. It was pretty cool and I feel terrible that we don’t have a picture of it.
The interns wanted the Facts board to be about female scientists. I suggested using Ada Twist, scientist – and they had no idea what I was talking about.
So I suggested a design which they liked, and then they helped pick out both the scientists and the facts that we shared. The I drew the scientists and used Photoshop for both their names and the facts. I enlarged a scan of Ada and then used colored pencils to make it look more hand-drawn (and hide the pixilation).
They completely designed the scavenger hunt which we’ve made available for you to use! The only input that I gave was to put the pattern within the text of the checklist in order to help non-readers play.
September 2019: Reading Around the World
All of the hot air balloons were made from scrapbooking paper, and the continents were made from pages of discarded kids’ books. Sooo prettyyyy!!!
The photo above shows how tight the workspace is here. Anything that’s large needs to be able to move in an instant in case someone needs help or access to a space in the library. Natasia was fantastic at making that happen.
October 2019: Creepy Carrots
Author Aaron Reynolds visited our schools back in 2017, and the kids here continue to be enormous fans. So when Natasia asked if she could do a Creepy Carrots-themed October, I was totally for it.
The scavenger hunt!!! Natasia made the creepy underwear (the spikes are from leftover cellophane from the previous month), and I scanned them in to make prize stickers. It was one of our most popular scavenger hunts of the year.
I truly love what Natasia did here. From the dead-on replication of the artwork, to creating the “Wall-O-Creepy Carrots,” she nailed it.
For a bonus program, kids could decorate a carrot at our activity table, and then would come up and ask for the googly eyes. We glued them on at the kids’ direction, and then would stick them wherever they wanted them to be on the whiteboard.
Click the image to the left to get a PDF of Natasia’s very average-in-no-way-creepy carrots.*
*googly eyes not included
November 2019: Squirrels!
Natasia had just put up this display when I walked by and yelled “SQUIRREL!” and then started laughing. I told Natasia that I thought we should have Dug from Disney’s Up! yelling his famous line somewhere in the display. So Natasia very graciously made it happen.
We didn’t get a full picture of the beautifully minimalist front windows, but we got a close-up. Basically, it was a garland of paper acorns on brown twine atop a garland of paper fall leaves.
It seemed natural to have our young squirrel patrons go hunting for numbered acorns (2-D paper ones, of course).
December 2019: Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary
Typically we celebrate a children’s book artist during the month (we affectionately call it Decemberley in honor of Ed Emberley), but this year we went a different direction. Since it was Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary, we wanted to do something special, and we only had December left in terms of décor openings in 2019.
Again, Natasia’s work was gorgeous. Oscar was my absolute favorite since his trashcan was made using metallic silver tissue paper, and he had Slimey with him. But the younger crowd was so excited to see their favorite Muppets – it was a delight to behold.
I created the sign for the reading bench display, using a digital file from Etsy (which is no longer available), and changing the street’s name to Winter Reads.