RovingFiddlehead KidLit

Making Monday: Sun, Wind & Water

June 22, 2015

Wind, water and sun, the staples of summer fun — and renewable energy.

Kits for Iowa Educators

University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education is the go-to place for Iowa teachers/librarians wanting to do free energy projects with kids. Individuals may purchase the kits. Anybody can download the lesson materials for free. Kits include:

  • Mini Solar Car
  • Solar Ovens
  • Wind Tunnels
  • Propeller Kits

Mini Solar Car

Projects with Materials around the Home

Pizza box solar oven. Instructions from New Mexico Solar Energy Association.

Wind Car with Stir the Wonder.

Wind Turbines with STEM Mom.

Weather Stations

Is it a good day to go to the beach or pool? Create a weather station to make your own predictions.

Arduino Weather Station Instructable.

littleBits Real-time Weather Dashboard using the CloudBits Kit.

Raspberry Pi Internet Weather Station Instructable.

Video Inspiration

William Kamkwamba built a windmill using old bicycle parts, diagrams in  in Malawi to help his parents’ during a drought. His story has led to the inspiring book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, with adult, teen and picture book versions.

Maker Notables

Josh Burker. Educator, writer (Invent to Learn Guide to Fun) and maker-extraordinaire. He chronicles his adventures in making on his blog and in real-time (glitches and all) via Twitter  @joshburker.

MakerBridge. Makerbrarians facilitating growth in makerspaces and maker culture, especially in libraries and schools. @makerbridge

Quin Etnyre, 14 year-old hardware developer and entrepreneur. His products include the ArduSensor Learning Kit and the Qduino Mini, an Arduino-compatible board with built-in battery connector & charger and fuel gauge. This Edutopia video shows Quin sharing his passion for electronics with fellow students and teachers. @QTechKnow

Twenty-two Cents #nfpb15

June 17, 2015

Twenty-two cents

Muhammad Yunus

Picture book biographies about bankers are a rarity, but Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus is worthy of the attention.

In Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank, Paula Yoo begins with the everyday acts of kindness his mother demonstrated by sharing food with the poor. Her exampleprimed Yunus to notice inequalities around hi and his father’s interest in education placed him a position to act.

As an Economics professor at Chittagong University had an impact, but his realization that twenty-two cents was keeping a talented artisan, Sufiya, in an inescapable cycle of debt and poverty is what changed the world. The microcredit solution he and his students developed has reached millions and spawned a global response to poverty.

For a topic so new to its reader, the text is rather dense and the addition of a glossary would have been helpful. Yoo does a good job of explaining the barriers poor women in Bangladesh faced when borrowing money, but the text explaining the workings of the Grameen Bank assumes more background knowledge than the intended audience is likely to produce. Nevertheless, it is an informative biography and a good topic to spark conversations about how we can help those in need and the barriers they face. And, clearly others disagree with me. It received a 2015 South Asia Book Award for positive portrayal of South Asia.
South Asia Book Award

Additional Microcredit Resources for Youth

Kids Go Global Microfinance


A Basket of Bangles: How a Business Begins by Ginger Howard

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Kate Milway

The Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

For this week\’s nonfiction picture book challenge roundup, visit Alyson Beecher's blog, KidLit Frenzy. #nfpb2015

Making Monday: National Week of Making

June 15, 2015

June 12-18 is the National Week of Making, which coincides with last weekend’s National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C. If you tweet about any projects you do this week, add the hashtag #weekofmaking. Let’s look at a few tutorials for kids’ projects at the Faire.

Lockpicking. Specialized tools can be purchased from MakerShed or you can get started with old locks from second-hand stores, a paperclip and this Instructable tutorial. In case this project makes you uneasy, read DH MakerBus’ post Why Teach Children to Pick Locks?

Soldering. The Makey Robot Learn to Solder Skill Badge is a regular at Maker Faires. Technology Will Save Us Solder and De-Solder Videos are helpful as is the “Soldering is Easy” Comic Book.

Squishy Circuits

Squishy Circuits. By using batches of both sugar-based and salt-based playdough, electric circuits can be created with a fun and safe product. Instructions from St. Thomas University Check out the possibilities in AnnMarie Thomas’ TED talk.

Telegraph. Heather Pang of Castillejas School has a nice writeup about the telegraph in history project she did with her class including tutorial links.

Video Inspiration

From Sesame Street, comes “The Power of Yet.” Janelle Monae encourages Elmo and friends to stick with it as they struggle learning new skills. “There’s no mountain you can’t climb, it just takes a little time.”

Maker Notables

Diana Rendina. Middle-school teacher-librarian in Tampa leading the way incorporating makerspaces into schools. @DianaLRendina

Project H Design. Youth-led public design projects that incorporate design-thinking, tinkering and vocational skills building. “In my classroom, no one is ever bored and no one is ever finished,” says Emily Pilloton, Director. @ProjectHDesign

Project M@CH. Designing & implementing the first Makerspace in a children’s hospital at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN. @ProjectMACH

Making Monday: Music Projects for Makers

June 8, 2015

The beginning of a weekly extension of the Coding & Making Resource list I put together for Iowa Tech Chicks and also featured on this blog. This week, the focus is music projects for makers.

Music Projects for Makers

Makey Makey

Makey Makey Banana Piano

Famous for the Makey Makey banana keyboard, there are many musical projects you can try with this invention kit. Any material that can conduct even a little bit of electricity can be connected to a computer and a Makey Makey to create a keyboard. Other musical projects to try with a Makey Makey:

Homemade Harmonica

Grab some craft sticks and rubber bands and your preschooler can make a simple harmonica.

homemade harmonica

Outdoor Music Wall

This looks like so much fun – but you may want to get buy-in from your neighbours first!

outdoor music wall

Make a Carrot Clarinet

Australian musician Linsey Pollak walks through the steps of making a functioning clarinet from a carrot and then plays it to perfection. You will never look at carrots the same way again.

Altoids Tin Ukelele (Advanced)

Daniel Hulbert makes banjos, guitars and ukeleles from a variety of household implements from bedpans to tennis racquets. Free plans for the Altoids tin ukelele are available at Circuits & Strings along with many other interesting projects combining tech and music.

This Week’s Maker Ed Notables

There are so many great initiatives in the Maker Movement that I am going to highlight a few each week.

DHMaker Bus. A mobile makerspace in London, Ontario. Ryan Hunt and the rest of the staff and volunteers put on engaging programs, but also through their blog emphasize accessibility with posts such as Affordable Accessible Maker Learning Resources for Parents and translations into Arabic for some of their most popular posts. @DHMakerBus.

MIT Media Lab. They’ve had a hand in so many of the physical products that have made tech and coding more accessible. Makey Makey, Scratch, Chibitronics (paper circuits), LilyPad Arduino and so much more. @medialab

Robot Test Kitchen. Children’s and teen librarians in Chicago using simple robotics to bring technology and imagination together. @RobotTestKitchn

Here’s to a week of joyous musical making!

Coding and Making Resources for Youth

June 7, 2015

A version of this post promoting summer coding and making activities originally appeared on Iowa Tech Chicks with additional Iowa City/Cedar Rapids-specific information.

coding and making


  • Short Hour of Code activities to longer multipart courses. Start by building snowflakes with Elsa and Anna from Frozen and work up to learning JavaScript and creating phone apps.
  • CodeAcademy: started with basic web development courses, adding new languages all the time. Requires good reading skills.
  • Code Combat: Learn to code by playing a game
  • Code School: many languages, combination of video and written tutorials. Most introductory courses are free, intermediate and advanced courses often require payment
  • Computer Science Unplugged: learn logic through group activities that do not require computers
  • Hackety Hack: Ruby, Introduction to Programming
  • Made with Code: Coding projects use Blockly, a visual programming language and most incorporate music or art.
  • Scratch: (a visual programming language)

Coding Apps

Many have added web-based activities and curriculum

STEM & Maker Movement Projects


Online Maker Camps

DIY Camps: Paid 4-week online camps including daily activities. Examples include LEGO Master Camp, Minecraft Architecture Camp and Music Inventor Camp.

MakerCamp: July 6-August 14: Six weeks of themed maker projects from Make Magazine.

Area Activities

CoderDojo: an international coding for kids movement with area chapters. Check for the chapter closest to you.

Public Libraries: Many have including making  and coding programs in their Children’s and Teen Summer Reading Programs this year. These are a great way to experiment with some of the pricier electronic maker toys such as Cubelets, Little Bits, and Makey Makey. Maker Jawn Curriculum and Show Me Librarian are great places to start if you are wanting to ramp up maker programming in your library.

Batman Fingerpuppet Template

June 5, 2015

Every Hero Has a Story

With the Summer Reading Program theme at most American libraries being Every Hero Has a Story, I hope you will find my hand-drawn template for a Batman Finger Puppet useful.

Batman finger puppet


batman template

You can download the template PDF here or via Slideshare.

Finding Flannel Friday

This week’s Flannel Friday host is Jane at Itsy Bitsy Mom.

You can also find past and future roundups and lots more information about Flannel Friday at the Flannel Friday website. For a visual round-up of all postings, check out Flannel Friday on Pinterest.

Shoes & Clothing Storytime

May 18, 2015

A clothing-themed storytime featuring lots of colour-based songs and accessories such as hats, shoes and socks.

Opening Song: Glad to See You by Pete Allard

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
A girl with a mind and style all her own!

If You Like Wearing….[Red, Black, etc.]
(Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It)
If you like wearing red, shake your head
If you like wearing red, shake your head
If you like wearing red
Then please shake your head
If you like wearing red, shake your head

(Continue to add colours and movements to fit the song)
Blue, touch your shoe
Green, bow to the queen
Yellow, shake like Jell-O
Black, pat your back
Brown, turn around
Hat by Paul Hoppe
A simple story filled with both imagination and compassion.

Prince Wore a Red Crown

Princess Wore Her ____ Crown Flannelboard
(Tune: Mary Wore a Red Dress)

Princess wore a *purple* crown, a *purple* crown, a *purple* crown,
The princess wore a *purple* crown all day long.
Prince wore a *blue* crown, a *blue* crown, a *blue* crown,
The prince wore a *blue* crown all day long.
Repeated with the red, pink polka-dot, green and starry crowns.

New Socks

New Socks by Bob Shea
Can’t beat Leon’s enthusiasm for his new socks!

Where Oh Where Has My Clothing Gone?
(Tune: Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?)
Oh where, oh where have my new shoes gone?
Of where, oh where can they be?
I’ve looked up high, and I’ve looked down low
Did someone hide them from me?
(Repeat with: white socks, blue jeans, red shirt, yellow hat, etc.)

Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin.
Let’s face it, Pete the Cat puts a smile on everyone’s face!

Color Rhyme by Jean Warren
If your clothes have any red
Put your finger on your head
If your clothes have any blue
Put your finger on your shoe.
If your clothes have any green
Wave your hand so you’ll be seen
If your clothes have any yellow,
Smile like a happy fellow
If your clothes have any brown,
Turn your smile into a frown.
If your clothes have any black,
Put your hands behind your back.
If your clothes have any white,
Clap your hands with all your might.

No That's Wrong

No! That’s Wrong! by Zhaohua Ji and Cui Xu
A rabbit mistakes a pair of underwear for a hat. Giggles ensue.

Early Literacy Tip

Make a dress up trunk with lightly used clothes for dramatic play. Dramatic play and pretend play help to build narrative skills along with encouraging social and emotional development.
Source: CLEL Play Reminders.

Stone Giant

May 13, 2015

Stone Giant

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

In Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be by Jane Sutcliffe, Michelangelo does just this; discovering David within the giant piece of marble that had troubled the city of Florence for years. Even Leonardo da Vinci refused to work on the block that had been abandoned to the elements by so many sculptors.

The work was an obsession and Michelangelo worked long hours to remove “not-David” and reveal the powerful David that lay within. The choice to portray a strong and capable David reflected the way Florence viewed itself. Florence and David were growing together, both upstart troublemakers in their respective realms, both ultimate success stories. Sutcliffe unites these two storylines to create an art book with broader appeal.

Beautifully illustrated by John Shelley, Stone Giant brings 16th century Florence to life as much as the Michelangelo’s sculpting. The crowd scenes are engaging and the scenes showing the sculpture’s moving day are filled with instructive detail and emotion. The history of daily lives is portrayed alongside the story of magnificent art.

Much beloved from its unveiling in 1504 to today, David stands as a testament to the power of art to help people define themselves. Stone Giant shows the ties between art and its community.

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

For this week\’s nonfiction picture book challenge roundup, visit Alyson Beecher's blog, KidLit Frenzy. #nfpb2015

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash #nfpb15

April 1, 2015

Ben Franklin's Big Splash

Ben Franklin’s Swim Paddles

Ben Franklin’s zest for life and self-assurance shine through in Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of his First Invention by Barb Rosenstock. Not restricting himself to the way things were always done, Franklin learned to swim (rare in colonial America) and then started pondering ways to swim faster and easier. While only a letter written fifty years after the fact describes eleven-year-old Franklin’s swimming paddles, there is ample information about the rest of Franklin’s life and inventions for Rosenstock to write a literary biography filled with historical detail. S.D. Schindler’s illustration capture both colonial life as we know it and imagined iterations of the swim paddles.

“Not Satisfied”

Curiosity, perseverance and self-confidence, qualities important for any inventor are evident throughout. Franklin did not fail, but rather he “was not satisfied” with his swim paddles.

“Most kids might have felt sad, ashamed or stupid. Instead, this smart, stubborn, sensible son of a soap-maker simply thought he’d made a mistake — and wouldn’t stop seeking, studying, and struggling until he SUCCEEDED.”

Slip, slosh, squirt, spurt, spout

This book’s strength is that Rosenstock has great fun delivering the message that Ben Franklin enjoyed himself and learned while making mistakes. Words beginning with the letter S predominate the text. Typography emphasizes Rosenstock’s wordplay with bold S-verbs. Cumulative tale techniques highlight the trial and error method central to invention and scientific discovery.

As a delightful nonfiction read-aloud, Ben Franklin’s Big Splash stands out among historical biographies.

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

For this week’s nonfiction picture book challenge roundup, visit Alyson Beecher‘s blog, KidLit Frenzy.


Flannel Friday: French Rhyme Petit Poisson

March 20, 2015

Petit Poisson

This cute red fish was made by the dynamic duo, Jackie and Mathieu, that I worked with to do French storytimes. It goes with the following Petit Poisson (Little Fish) rhyme. Craft sticks are perfect since the fish are going in circles. They brought stick puppets for the children as well.

Petit poisson qui tourne en rond,
Petit poisson dis-moi ton nom.
Petit poisson qui bouge,
Petit poisson tout rouge,
Petit poisson dis-moi ton nom.

Rough translation:
Little fish who swims in circles
Little fish tell me your name
Little fish who moves
Little fish who is red
Little fish tell me your name

The rhyme comes from Un Deux Trois: First French Rhymes selected by Opal Dunn and illustrated by Patrice Aggs. Helpfully for us non-native French speakers, the book comes with a CD as well so you can play the rhymes if you need help with pronounciation.

Finding Flannel Friday

This week’s host is Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime. You can also find past and future roundups and lots more information about Flannel Friday at the Flannel Friday website. For a visual round-up of all postings, check out Flannel Friday on Pinterest.