Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall Festival Outreach

Fall has proven to be a busier time than I expected at the library, which is great!  Pretty soon, Ally will be telling you about stuff she's done at her library this season.  Since she's talking about what happens inside the library, I wanted to talk about outreach.

Every October, my community has a fall festival.  The focus of the festival is always leading active, healthy lives.  Nearly every organization in town has a presence at the festival: the local health partnership, martial arts instructors, the YMCA, and many, many more.  There were stations where could could learn about food groups, practice doing exercises such as squats, etc.  I obviously represented the library.

I do not claim to be an expert on nutrition.  The library does not claim to be an institution that can give out accurate and sound advice on nutrition, diet, and exercise.  Sure, from my own knowledge I could probably share some basic information, and I can definitely help patrons find books about different foods, but our focus is literacy.  I also know that kids hear a lot of anti-obesity messages at school and perhaps even when they go to recreational activities. I only saw this article a few days ago, but Angie tweeted a link that explains the damage anti-obesity messages can cause.  Since the festival focused so heavily on nutrition, I wanted to pick focus on the seasonal aspect of the festival and selected a fun fall craft that would promote development and engage children's literacy skills.
I got this image and the idea for this craft here.

We made fall harvest crowns!  Ours looked a little different, though (I apparently forgot to take pictures--a theme you'll notice as I post more frequently).  I ordered roughly 2,000 adhesive glitter leaves from Oriental Trading Co. that the kids could put on their crowns.  Since the leaves were small, I also brought markers so they could draw.  Peeling the backs off the stickers uses fine motor skills, which is developmentally appropriate.  Secondly, using markers to draw uses important muscles the kids need to write and perform other tasks, such as using scissors.  If you ever ask any groups to help you with funding for outreach or other projects, it's important to include why you  select the activities you do and how they help the kids.

As for set up, we photocopied the crowns on construction paper and cut them out.  I taped pieces together before the festival, and we had kids tape them to fit their heads as they wrapped up their crafting.  I had a teen volunteer helping me, so this worked out fine.  I considered putting out scissors and letting the kids cut out the crowns themselves.  However, I knew I would have every age stopping by my booth and that we'd be very busy, so if someone didn't know how to use the scissors, I wouldn't have time to explain how to use them safely.  Ultimately, kids and parents really enjoyed this craft.  

This event was a great opportunity for me to see families I hadn't seen in a while, meet new families, and share information about our programs. I was able to put out extras of all of our flyers, which I hope will encourage families who haven't been to the library for a while to stop by more often.  I had tons of fun crafting and chatting with everyone I saw, and I'm eager to see what future festivals bring.

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