May 2019

May 2019

It takes a Neighborhood to Nourish a Children’s Librarian

Dear neighbors,

I think my favorite part of getting to participate in The Cardigan Neighborhood is hearing from you all. From emails to Instagram, you all are children’s librarian rockstars! I can’t wait for you all to read about some of Glow in the Dark programs our neighbors have done in our “Plan” section and some of the amazing elementary programs in our “Share” section. It’s also just encouraging to hear about what you all want us to investigate and write about in the newsletter. Thank you for your input in wanting to hear about infant massage. I recently was able to see Katherine put this into action in our babytime, and it was touching to see caregivers connecting to their babies in this way. 

Please keep contacting us. We want to hear all about your amazing accomplishments and want to hear about what aspect of children’s librarianship you want us to include in upcoming newsletters. 

Sending out all the good vibes for Summer Reading Programs everywhere,



Infant Massage

Deepen your knowledge on a topic related to Children’s Services.  


I recently witnessed a presenter integrate infant massage into her program, accompanied by nursery rhymes, and I immediately knew this was something I wanted to replicate in my baby storytimes. 

Infant massage is a form of intentional touch that builds emotional connection between a baby and their caregiver, and research suggests it also helps reduce a child’s stress and improves sleep quality. Since baby literacy activities are most often oriented towards building the baby-caregiver bond, infant massage has a natural home in storytime! 

Here are some general guidelines for integrating infant massage:

  • Introduce the rhyme by saying something like, “this activity is inspired by infant massage; feel free to modify it for whatever works best for your child. If they want to sit, instead of laying down, that’s ok!” 
  • Pair the touch with a song or nursery rhyme and repeat once or twice
  • Encourage caregivers to use a light touch, and remove any large rings that might snag

Here are some different touches that can be used:

  • Move hands up and down, palms down, caressing the baby while singing 
  • A “milking touch” (light pulsing touch on the arms or legs, moving from the hands or toes upward towards the heart). 
  • A heart-shaped touch (caregiver’s hands lay on top of the baby’s heart and then move outward to form a heart shape)
  • Use a touch that mimics the meaning of a song (for example, tap fingers on the baby’s back while singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider to mimic the movement of a spider)

Many of the songs and rhymes you likely already use as fingerplays or lap bounces can be modified for a baby massage format by laying the child belly-up instead of sitting on the parent’s lap. Some very easy nursery rhymes and songs to pair with massaging strokes are:

  • Lavender’s Blue Dilly Dilly
  • Hey Diddle Diddle 
  • You Are My Sunshine 
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Be sure to check out the great Youtube channel Story Massage for Children. They have a collection of short videos illustrating how to tell a story through touch. 

Here are some video demonstrations, you can view “Mister Golden Sun” and “Humpty Dumpty


Object Play

Play is a right! Learn quick tips to optimize play experiences in libraries. 


While helping with playtime at our library, I noticed a toddler grab a ball from the program room and run right outside the playroom to bounce the ball on a metal bench. I got up to make sure that the child’s adult was aware of the escaping toddler. I was pleased to see the dad not far behind the toddler. I watched for a little while as the toddler’s dad followed him to the metal bench and then back inside the playroom for the toddler to grab another ball. This went on for a few minutes. The toddler would hit a ball on the bench and then run back inside to fetch another ball. As I approached the situation, the dad must have noticed my quizzical face. “He’s testing the different sounds the different balls make on the metal bench.” 

I was struck by this interaction because it reminded me of a research summary on play and learning I had been reading from the Minnesota Children’s Museum about object play. The researchers write, “Children can use play to scientifically reason about novel objects and test hypotheses about how those objects operate.” Simply providing different types of balls (fabric, textured, rubber, large, medium, small, etc.) led to a great experimentation on the part of this toddler. It reminded me that our toys don’t always have to be so complex, because our children can use the most simple of objects to engage in object play. Below are some of my favorite toys that Katherine has purchased that are simple, but can have great impact on young children being able to test their hypotheses about how these objects operate. 

What are some of your favorite objects that you have purchased for playtime that encourage children to test their hypotheses on how the objects work? Email them to us at or direct message us or tag us on Instagram, @thecardigannewsletter


Glow in the Dark Programs

Learn about an interesting program you can easily replicate at your library 


I’ve heard of some really neat glow in the dark library programs, but have never tried them myself. I put a call out on our Instagram to see what programs our neighbors had tried and wow y’all delivered! 

Here is a round-up of some amazing glow in the dark programs I found online or that were shared by our Instagram followers, followed by activities that you can mix and match for your targeted audience and setting:

  • Glow in the Dark Storytime
  • Glow in the Dark Dance Party
  • Glow in the Dark Yoga
  • Glow in the Dark Science (check out the Iowa City Public Library’s program)
  • Glow in the Dark Badminton (shout out to the Eagle Valley Library District for pulling this off!)
  • Glow in the Dark Mini-Golf
  • Glow in the Dark Art
  • Glow in the Dark Jewelry (offered by the J.C. Wheeler Public Library)
  • Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt (offered by the Fort Collins Library)
  • Glow in the Dark Pumpkins (offered by the Troup-Harris Regional Library)
  • “Let’s Glo Night” (@_karla_kristine) 
  • Glow in the Dark Halloween Event (@juliana_g)


  • Glow in the Dark Jenga  (by @leftyleo19)
  • Glow in the Dark Hopscotch with special tape (by @leftyleo19)
  • Glow in the Dark Ring Toss (put glow in the dark tape on bottles, and use glow bracelets as rings) (by @leftyleo19)
  • Glow in the Dark Rice (by @runningirsh) 
  • Glowing highlighter art, since highlighters glow in the dark! (by @runningirsh
  • Glow in the Dark Slime (by @juliana_g0)
  • Glow Bowling (by @juliana_g0)
  • Rainbow Scratcher Art (example; by @juliana_g0)
  • Glow in the Dark Face Painting (by @ontarianlibrarian)
  • Glow Dough (by @literarylibrariankim)
  • Do the “Glowkey Pokey” with glow bracelets and necklaces (by @zenira3)
  • DIY Shakers with rice, mini glowsticks, and plastic eggs (by @zenira3)
  • Put glow sticks in balloons and shake them on a parachute (by @zenira3)
  • Make paper puppets and paint them with glow in the dark paint to do a rendition of The Three Billy Goats Gruff (by @jujeee)
  • Glow in the Dark firefly craft with plastic bottles, glow sticks, paper wings, and pipe cleaners (example; by @zenira3)
  • Glow in the Dark Hula hooping (shout out to the Athol Public Library for this idea)
  • Glow in the Dark Galaxy Jars (kuddos to our neighbors at the Tulsa City County Library for coming up with this program idea
  • Glow in the Dark cupcakes (yes, I had a similar reaction to this… but the Piscataway Public Library offered this program and it looks like the secret ingredient to make frosting glow is tonic water! Who knew?!)
  • Glow in the Dark Bubbles
  • Glow in the Dark Play Sand 
  • Glow in the Dark Sensory Bags (by Claudia Hanes)

And here are a few great read-aloud titles to pair with your event:

Special thanks to Karla from Alberta for providing the above pictures of her glow in the dark program, and her glow in the dark display!


Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 

Libraries are for everyone! 


By the time this is published, Mother’s Day will have come and gone, but Father’s Day will be right around the corner. I’ve recently been reflecting how we celebrate these holidays in the library and the best ways to make sure everyone feels included. By no means am I saying that libraries shouldn’t do Mother’s Day and Father’s Day displays and programs, but I also want to brainstorm with you all to think of other ways to make sure our children that might have lost a parent or are dealing with difficult family situations will still feel welcome at the library during these commercial holidays. 

  • Create an inclusive family display, like librarian Reagan Kloiber from OKC. It is based on Love Makes a Family and the passive was just to draw your unique family structure whatever that may be. She also included a small book display to go along with it about love and families. 
  • Instead of inserting Mother’s Day or Father’s Day books into a regular storytime, create a separate storytime and program for families to attend.

Please email us your ideas and pictures to the or direct message us on our Instagram: @thecardigannewsletter. 



Discover new people to follow online 


Children’s museums can give us great ideas for play programs, crafts, displays, and more. Below are some of my favorite children’s museums to follow on Instagram! 

The Eric Carle Museum: @carlemuseum On our instagram, we already mentioned how the Eric Carle Museum inspired our Bee Hexagon Passive Display. Their instagram and website have some other great ideas. 

Seattle Children’s Museum: @seattlechildrensmuseum From their “Facts About Feces” program to “Arctic Animal Yoga,” they have some creative ideas for inspiration. 

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: @pghkids Their “Discussion Board” questions that they post in their museum could easily be adapted to libraries. I’d love to see what our kiddos would write with discussion questions like, “What Makes You Powerful?” or “What is Love?,” 

Kohl Children’s Museum: @kohlchildrensmuseum They do a “Doctor for a Day” program where they encourage children to bring in their favorite doll or stuffed animal to explore the healthcare field and help children cope with any fears about going to the doctor. 


Managing Feelings

Some of our favorite books. 

Guest Contributor: Brittney Logan

We are so happy to have our friend and colleague extraordinaire Brittney Logan curate this month’s book list on managing feelings! 

Here is a URL to the PDF with the book titles and descriptions:

Also check out the ALSC 2019 Summer Reading book lists. These can be great resources for families this summer looking for age-appropriate books to read for the summer reading program. 


Program Management 

Where we reflect on the deeper questions. 


I recently led a parachute play that could, at best, be described as chaotic. Children were running around the room, shouting, and throwing themselves on the parachute. As someone who is not typically comfortable with program management, I tend to ignore the chaos and hope my voice will be loud enough to cut through the noise. This wasn’t cutting it, so I used the “if you can hear my voice, clap once, if you can hear my voice, clap twice” technique to settle the group down. We performed a deep breathing exercise together (“smell the flowers, blow out the candles”), and then I explained that I was so happy they were having fun, but it was important that we not throw ourselves on the parachute in order to keep everyone safe. We all turned to our neighbor and made a pinky promise saying “I will not throw myself on the parachute.” I had to insert two other deep breathing exercises throughout the program to settle the group. At the end of the program, I said “thank you so much for following directions and not throwing yourselves on the parachute like I asked. I know that was hard but I appreciate you trying to keep everyone safe.”  

This was the first time I had to intervene so incisively to regulate behavior, and I was surprised by how positively caregivers responded. They seemed to appreciate the effort to focus kids’ energies. Allie and I have been discussing how much we lack confidence and know-how in terms of behavior management. Most resources are oriented towards teachers, not librarians, and many of the tools don’t translate well to a library setting. This seems to be a shared sentiment among children’s librarians, so we are hoping to research and feature more tips and tricks you can implement in programs.  If there are certains tools or techniques that have worked well for you, please e-mail us at so that we can learn from you! And be sure to check out our Instagram @thecardigannewsletter for more content on behavior management. 


Elementary Programming Ideas

We have been getting such great responses from you all from our last “Ask” section about elementary programming and how to incorporate books into the programming. Below are some great ideas for elementary programming from our neighbors, Frances and Kristie. 

From Frances in Burlington, ON:

I coordinate programs for kids age 6-12 system-wide, and we offer/are hoping to offer:

1.     A Tween Writing Contest. Working with two enthusiastic local authors, we set a writing prompt for our entrants to build on to create a short story. I connect with local Grade 4, 5, and 6 teachers to encourage them to incorporate the contest into their writing curriculum as well. The local authors and I read all the entries, chose winners in a variety of categories, and throw a celebration/author talk at the end – with cake of course! Full details:

2.     A Writer’s Club. This will be new next year. One of the two authors from the writing contest is working with me to develop a writer’s club. This will be an 8 week program, afterschool. She will walk them through creating a story and do creative exercises with the group. We’re going to host it right before next year’s Writing Contest so the kids are ready to enter once they “graduate” from Writer’s Club.

3.     A full range of book clubs. For our kiddos in Grades 1-3, we have “Relax and Listen Book Clubs” where they get to choose the book and listen to it chapter by chapter over a number of weeks. We think of these as the bridge from storytime to traditional book clubs. For our Grade 4&5 and Grade 6&7 kids, we have traditional book clubs where they read and discuss books. The older they get, the less structured the club is. The Grade 4&5s have a facilitator to help select books, ask questions, and plan activities, while the Grade 6&7’s usually select their own books entirely, or just chat about what they’re individually reading.

4.     Programs that bridge STEM and literacy. This Summer we’re going to offer Story Scientists, for kids 6-9. They’ll be reading a picture book as a group, discussing the STEM elements in the book, then doing a hands-on activity to investigate the science in the story. For example, we could read The Three Billy Goats Gruff, then be challenged to invent a new way to cross the water to avoid the troll – testing the contraptions in our water table of course. In programs like these, we offer “Design Sheets” where kids can write and draw their ideas, and make notes about what worked and what didn’t. This incorporates literacy, writing, and the scientific process!

From Kristie in Cinnaminson, NJ:

Concerning literacy-specific programming for the middle graders, I have had some success with tying programs in with popular books. I did a Who Was? series last year and this year I’m doing Survive! with programs designed around a specific Survive book. So far we’ve done Survive: Pompeii and Survive: The Hindenburg. I create stations and move the kids around in smaller groups from station to station. The hour flies by! For the Hindenburg, which happened right here in NJ, I had them find their hometown and Lakehurst, NJ on a map. They added the star stickers and labeled the towns. We made blimps out of construction paper with chenille stems hooks on the top, which they then zip-lined around the room and we talked about the Hindenburg’s passenger amenities such as the lounge and the reading room and they set to designing the interiors of their own private zeppelins. We began with discussing our love of the book series and I was able to show the video of the Hindenburg Disaster on Youtube. I teased next month’s program (Shark attacks) in case anyone wanted to read the book ahead of time. 

I have also read of others using the -Ology series as a basis for programs. It’s a great way to jam in STEM projects. 


It’s giveaway time! We all love Kevin Henkes’ picture books, but what about his new middle grade novel, Sweeping up the Heart? We are giving away one copy to a lucky winner.  To enter, fill out this form. We will pick a winner next week! 

Congratulations to Brianna for winning last month’s giveaway book!

You can access a PDF of this newsletter in our Google Drive. This is where we will be storing all future newsletters. 

Logo by Thomas Freeman

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