Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Snowflake Science

Yesterday we had a Snowflake Science program full of cold, wintry goodness. In case you missed the event or want to recreate the experiments at home, here is a list of the activities!

Ice Fishing


  • 4-6 Ice cubes
  • Drinking Glass
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Salt
  • Twine


  • Fill a drinking glass with water. Add a couple drops of food coloring (blue is fun to use!) and mix well. Add ice cubes to the glass. 
  • Lay a piece of twine over an ice cube.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the string and the ice cube. Wait 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Gently pull the string up and out of the glass. The ice cube should come along with it! 
How It Works: 
Salt causes ice to melt by lowering its freezing point. Just think about how we use salt on icy roads and sidewalks during the winter. In this experiment the salt causes the ice cube to melt, but the surrounding water is still so cold that it causes the ice cube to freeze again with the string.

Snow Cloud in a Jar


  • Large, wide-mouth jar 
  • Shaving Cream
  • Water
  • Food Coloring 


  • Fill a large, wide-mouth jar with water. Leave room at the top for a generous amount of shaving cream.
  • Add a few large blobs of shaving cream to the top of the water.
  • Add drops of food coloring to the shaving cream. Watch the food coloring seep down through the shaving cream and into the water. 
How It Works:
Even though you can't see them, water droplets are in the air all around you. A cloud forms when a million or so water droplets come together. When the cloud grows too heavy, gravity pulls the water droplets down as either raindrops or snowflakes. In this experiment the shaving cream represents a cloud and the food coloring represents water droplets. As the water droplets saturate the cloud, the cloud gets so heavy that it can no longer hold more water. It then "snows" down into the jar. 

Ice Cream in a Bag

  • 1/2 Cup Half and Half
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 3 Cups Ice
  • 1/3 Cup Kosher or Rock Salt
  • 1 Gallon sized plastic bag
  • 1 Quart sized plastic bag
  • Spoon
  • Towel or oven mitts (optional)
  • Place the ice and salt in the gallon plastic bag. Set aside.
  • In the quart bag, place the half and half, vanilla, and sugar. Close and seal the bag tightly.
  • Place the quart bag inside the gallon bag and seal. 
  • Shake the bag for roughly five minutes. The bag will get cold so use oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands. 
  • When the mixture in the quart bag has an ice cream consistency, open and eat! 
How It Works:
As mentioned above, salt causes ice to melt by lowering its freezing point. Heat also helps ice to melt. In this experiment the ice mixes with the salt and pulls heat from the cream mixture in order to melt. Because the cream mixture loses heat, it becomes cold and turns into ice cream. 

Snowflake Crystals

  • Glass jar
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Pencil
  • 3 Tablespoons Borax
  • 1 Cup Water
  • Cut and twist pipe cleaners into a snowflake shape.
  • Cut a piece of yarn. Tie one end to your pipe cleaner snowflake and the other around your pencil. 
  • Heat water. For every one cup of water, add 3 tablespoons of Borax. Add the tablespoons of Borax one at a time, stirring well after each addition until the Borax completely dissolves.
  • Pour the water and Borax solution into the jar. Let your snowflake hang in the jar while the pencil rests on top. 
  • Let your snowflake hang overnight. Carefully remove the snowflake the next morning and let it dry. 
How It Works:
Crystals form when a liquid cools very slowly, or when water evaporates from a solution, leaving the remaining parts to form into geometric shapes. In this experiment the Borax and water solution cooled all through the night. The water evaporated and the Borax left behind started forming shapes (crystals) around the pipe cleaner. 

Compare and Contrast Snow:

Snow #1: Steve Spangler's Insta-Snow 
Remember watching Steve Spangler make elephant toothpaste on Ellen? He's created a polymer powder mix that grows into snow within seconds of adding a little water. Find Insta-Snow to purchase here or here. We purchased the 3.5 ounce bag from Amazon and had plenty leftover after making snow for 25 kids. 

Snow #2: Paper Towel Snow

  • 1 Full Sheet Paper Towel 
  • 1/2 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar
  • Bowl
  • Spoon


  • Shred a full sheet of paper towel into tiny pieces. Place pieces in a bowl.
  • Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the bowl and start to mix.
  • Slowly add vinegar to the bowl and continue mixing. Your mixture should resemble wet snow.
Snow #3: Conditioner Snow

  • 1/2 Cup Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Hair Conditioner
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Combine 1/2 cup of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of hair conditioner in a bowl. Your mixture should resemble a dense snow that is easy to mold into shape. 
Questions to Think About:
How cold is the snow that you've made? How does it compare to the temperature of real snow?
Does it feel like snow? Look like snow?
How well can the snow be formed into a snowball?
Does the snow appear to be melting?
Can you make a hand print in the snow?

STEM Challenges:
These activities were available at stations that the kids could explore independently. 

Float the Boat:
Quick! The Abominable Snowman is after your treasure! You need a boat that will safely carry your shiny pennies across the water. Build a boat that is able to carry as many pennies as possible without sinking. You may only use aluminum foil to build your boat.

  • Aluminum foil
  • 20-50 pennies
  • Large plastic tub full of water 
Snow Sculpture:
You have been asked to create a sculpture for the school's winter skating party - the tallest sculpture the school has ever seen! Construct the tallest, freestanding structure possible with the materials provided.

  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • Mini and Jumbo-Sized Marshmallows
  • Toothpicks 
Snow Fortress:
The Abominable Snowman's cave was taken over by bats and he needs a new hideout. Create an awesome fortress for him out of the materials provided. Use a Styrofoam cup to represent the snow monster. 

  • Styrofoam cups
  • Sugar cubes
  • Marshmallows 
  • Toothpicks 
Snowflake Shapes:
Did you know that each snowflake is unique? No two snowflakes are the same! Create a unique snowflake that contains at least three different geometric shapes. 

  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Q-Tips
  • Pom poms
  • Buttons
  • Pipe cleaners 
Snow Scoop:
Oh no! There was a blizzard over night! You have to shovel the parking lot before the library opens for the day. Build a snow shovel that removes the most amount of snow possible in the least amount of time. 

  • Roasting pan or tray filled with rice 
  • Index cards
  • Aluminum foil
  • Straws
  • Masking Tape
  • Binder Clips
  • Coffee Filters
  • Rubber bands
Images and experiments can be found at Delish, Fun Learning for Kids, Little Bins for Little Hands, and The Homeschool Scientist. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

And the award goes to...

On Saturday, we concluded our voting for the Mock Caldecott Award.  Library users chose Daniel's Good Day by Micha Archer, however, it was not in the running for the actual Randolph Caldecott Award.

This morning it was announced that Kadir Nelson won the medal for Kwame Alexander's The Undefeated, which we are pleased was one of the titles in our mock awards.  Not only did Nelson take home the Caldecott Medal, he also won the illustrator's award for the Coretta Scott King award.  The book was also nominated for the John Newbery Award which is given to "the most outstanding contribution to children's literature.

The John Newbery Award was given to Jerry Craft's graphic novel New Kid.

                                 For a complete list of the winners, check out 
                                     the American Library Association's list.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Mock Caldecott

     On Monday, January 27 the American Library Association will announce the winners for this year's Youth Media Awards.  Until that date, we will not know which materials are in the running.  It is a very exciting time for authors, illustrators, publishers, voice actors and librarians.  After a lot of research and searching our collection, we have decided on 5 books we think have the potential to be in the running for this year's Caldecott Award. Patrons and staff may browse the books and choose their favorite by dropping a ticket in that title's ballot box.  On January 25, we will reveal our library's winner.  It'll be fun to see how our choices compare to the actual nominees.  

Read below for a description of the Caldecott Award and some of our other favorite awards from this ceremony.   For the entire list of awards, check out the ALA Youth Media Award's website.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal has been awarded each year since 1938 to the illustrator of the most "distinguished picture book."  It is named for the English illustrator who died just shy of his 40th birthday.  The image on the front of The Caldecott Medal is Randolph's "John Gilpin's Ride" from The Diverting History of John Gilpin. On the back is his pie with four and twenty blackbirds from the nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence."

Last year's Caldecott Medal was awarded to Sophie Blackall for Hello Lighthouse published by Little, Brown and Company.

The Coretta Scott King Award is given to an African American illustrator and author whose works exhibit an appreciation for African American culture, in particular.  

Last year's Coretta Scott King Awards were given to author Claire Hartfield for A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 published by Clarion Books and illustrator Ekua Holmes for Marion Dane Bauer's The Stuff of Stars published by Candlewick Press.  

One of the newer awards given out each year is the Geisel Award named for Dr. Seuss.  The winners and honors from this category represent beginning readers.  Last year's award went to Corey R. Tabor for his book Fox the Tiger published by Balzer + Bray and imprint of HarperCollins.  

The oldest ALA award, and perhaps the most well-known, is the John Newbery Award, given each year since 1922 to the author of the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."  Last year Meg Medina won for Merci Su├írez Changes Gears published by Candlewick Press.  

Thursday, December 19, 2019

3D Paper Snowflakes

I might be a little too enthusiastic about the holidays. But hey, I'm a children's librarian. It comes with the territory; like sweaters and scarves, and sweaters and scarves covered in cat hair. When I decided to hang paper snowflakes around the Children's Department I was thinking of how Buddy the Elf decorated Gimbels. See the vision below:

Festive for the holidays and for the rest of winter. So what does the Children's Department look like? Check it out below! If you're interested in creating some 3D snowflake magic of your own, keep scrolling for a quick tutorial. You can also find instructions hereherehere, and here

6 pieces of white copy paper 
Tape or glue

Fold a piece of paper in half diagonally. Copy paper will not make a perfect triangle, so cut off the rectangular edge. Feel free to get as elaborate as you like with your paper. Cardstock with different patterns on each side make some beautiful snowflakes!  

Fold the triangle in half. Along the bottom fold of the triangle, cut three parallel lines. Cut almost all the way to the triangle's edge. I tend to just eyeball my cuts, but some people prefer to measure their lines with a ruler. 

Unfold the paper and position it so it looks like a diamond. 

Starting from the inside of the diamond, bend and roll two paper lines together to form a tube. Attach with tape or glue. You should see triangle shapes on each side of the roll. 

Turn the paper over and attach the next two paper lines together. The tubes should be opposite one another. 

Keep turning the paper over and joining the lines together until no paper strips remain.  

Repeat with the remaining five pieces of paper. 

When you are finished rolling all the pieces, join three of the completed pieces together by stapling their ends together. Do the same with the remaining three to form the two branches of your snowflakes.

Staple the two pieces together in the middle. Then staple where each of the arms meet to ensure a full snowflake shape. 

Now you're ready to decorate! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Holiday Reads

Are you still searching for a picture book to read on Christmas Eve? Set out Santa's cookies and milk, and cozy up with one of these books. To find even more Christmas reads, visit our catalog

Dear Santa, I Know It Looks Bad but It Wasn't My Fault!
Norma Lewis
Scalawag writes a series of letters to Santa explaining all the mischief he has found himself in during the year. Since he is clearly the best kitty ever, there is no reason a few accidental mishaps should prevent him from receiving the Catman and Robin video game for Christmas! But when Scalawag destroys Miss Violet’s Christmas tree, he realizes he needs to ask Santa for something else.  

Little Robin’s Christmas
Jan Fearnley
Little Robin is ready for Christmas! He has seven cozy and festive vests to wear during Christmas week, but he doesn’t count on meeting seven chilly friends that need some hand-knitted warmth. When Little Robin starts to freeze in the snow, will a certain jolly fellow be able to help?   

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlies M. Schulz
One of the holiday season's quintessential movies comes to life in book form. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit expect for Charlie Brown. Something is missing among all the lights, presents, and aluminum Christmas trees. Can Charlie Brown and the gang find the true meaning of Christmas?

The Most Wonderful Gift in the World
Mark Sperring
Esme and Bear have the most wonderful Christmas, but they discover that Santa accidentally placed a gift for Little Bunny Boo-Boo under their tree. The two decide to deliver the gift to the correct recipient, but the journey is full of fierce winds, freezing temperatures, and deep snowdrifts. When they finally arrive, Esme and Bear learn that the lonely little bunny got exactly what she asked for from Santa.

Snowmen at Christmas
Caralyn Buehner
You may know what snowmen do at night, but do you know what fun snowmen get up to on Christmas Eve? A roly poly, snowy party of course!

Santa Mouse
Michael Brown
A lonely little mouse in a big, old, empty house realizes that no one ever gives Santa a gift in return. As he gets ready for bed on Christmas Eve, the little mouse decides to leave his most cherished piece of cheese for Santa. Santa is so touched by his generosity, that he asks the little mouse to be his helper.

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express
Maudie Powell-Tuck
Sad that her Christmas card won’t reach her grandfather in time, Mia finds an unusual mailbox at the Christmas market. When Mia follows the mailbox’s instruction, she is whisked away on a reindeer through beautiful winter landscapes. What will she find at the end of her journey?

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Brooke Vitale
An adaptation of a classic holiday movie, Gonzo and Rizzo narrate The Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge meets three ghosts and lots of Muppets on Christmas Eve, changing his mean ways for good.