Halloween Papel Picado

papel picado garland

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we did papel picado in Art Club. It’s really easy, fun, pretty and will make any dull space vibrant like a Fiesta!

First, you’ll need to pre-cut tissue paper in rectangles about 10″ x 6″. Doesn’t have to be precisely those dimensions. I usually eyeball it, so there’s no waste from my big pieces of tissue paper.

IMAG0794 IMAG0795Fold the top of the paper the long way (that is how you will hang it on the yarn.

IMAG0796 Fold the piece of tissue paper in half and again in half, always keeping the top folded piece in view, to make sure you don’t cut it off. I usually tell the students to hold that part in their hand when they cut, to remind them not to cut it.

You can fold it again and in any direction you’d like.

IMAG0800Cut through all the layers of the folded paper.



IMAG0802Once done, open it up and see the the design you’ve created.






Glue each one on a string or piece of yarn. you can make it as long as you’d like.

I made one for our Halloween display, creating pumpkins and bats and hung it on top of our reference desk in the children’s department.

I’m adding more pictures of different ways that you can fold the paper to give you different results.



Creative Lab

Our first Creative Lab was amazing! Exactly like I thought it would happen. There were 15 kids ranging form the age of 5 to 10. The younger ones were helped by their parents, the older ones worked on their own. This first Creative Lab was about construction. We talked about architects and how they design buildings & towers; what they have to think of when building (a safe base, the height, the aesthetics…). Children were given recyled objects to create a tower. They had to make it as tall as they could (not a competition). They could work in teams or alone and they couldn’t use glue. We had duct tape that they could use.

Davis, age 7, made the tallest tower in his age group. He also worked alone.
His tower was taller than him, once placed on the floor.
It was an impressive construction.








Some of the kids decided to focus on the base and never really had time to build up their towers. Others focused on the symetrical aspect of their towers. Three 10 years old boys teamed up and made the tallest tower. At the end, they added one element which made the tower tip over. They tried to fix it, but it never really stand the same afterwards.


The tallest Tower! We measured it before it collapsed, it was 7′ 7″ !









Kimberly, age 5, build a “house” from styrofoam.

Printmaking at the Library

This week we explored two different kinds of printmaking: monoprints & collagraph.

Preschool Project (3-5 year olds) is back this week! Ms. Laura decided to do a nighttime storytime to kick off the “Dream Big Read” summer reading theme. To follow this theme, I decided to do a fun project, something most kids don’t get to do at home. We made monoprints. We also worked backwards by starting with a slab of paint and children removing the paint with paintbrushes & palette knives. I used black & blue tempera paint and with a brayer I rolled the paint directly on the table (which kids just think it’s sooo cool!). Children then used the palette knives and paintbrushes and started moving the paint around, removing some of it.

Once they were done, we placed a piece of paper on top and the rubbed it to transfer the paint from the table onto the paper.
Keep in mind that our tables are made of laminate, which is non-porous and easy to wash. If you’d like you can use acrylic sheets or cookie baking sheet.

For Toddler Art we made a collagraph, which is a collage & printmaking mixed together. I used old cardstock flyers, but you can use any kind of material to create your collage. As long as it’s thicker than paper, it will work.
Toddlers cut and glued the pieces on to a bigger one. Once they were finished, they cam to me and I applied the ink over it and they use a baren to transfer the ink from their collage to the piece of paper. The results were fun and amazing.

Rosemary, age 3 cutting and creating her collage. Mom is watching and assisting with gluing and some cutting.







Levi, age 2, showing off his collage.







Connor, age 3, with mom helping him to use the scissors and cut the cardstock.







Rosemary, age 3, using a baren to transfer the ink from her collage to the paper.







Levi, age 2, rubbing the paper, making a print








Printmaking is not used often with younger children. Parents don’t always know what is printmaking or think it’s a technique for older children or adults. I don’t believe there’s an age to learn to have fun with art and stepping outside our comfort zone.

Metal Embossing

Since this weekend was Father’s Day, we made metal embossing art as a father’s day present / card. I think it’s fun to step away from making plain cards for father’s day and instead make a piece of art that they will definitely think is cool. What I like the most about this project is that even little ones can do ait and it looks really interesting even if it’s just scribbles. I bought a roll of aluminum tooling foil  but, you can also use the bottom of old pie pans.

You will need:

  • Old newspapers
  • Pencils
  • Paint brush
  • India Ink
  • Container to hold the ink

I explained to the parents that the edges of the metal can be sharp and to manipulate with care. The Instruction I gave were simple:

  1. You will need a stack of newspaper, about 3/4 inch thick
  2. Place the metal on top and have the kids draw on the metal with their pencil.
  3. Once the child is done drawing, bring me the piece of metal for inking.
  4. The inking process may take a while. Take a sheet of construction paper and draw or make a card for your father.
  5. The finished piece of metal should be glued to the piece of construction paper.

Here’s a video showing how I ink the piece of metal.

Creating a patina / Inking

There are many ways to work with the metal. The possibilities are endless. You can turn the metal into a 3D art, use colored paint & markers…
Many cultures use this technique in their art, like in Mexico and Morocco. You can cut it and create milagros or  Hand of Fatima.

Mermaids & Pirates

The summer is slowly on the way. Some kids are out of school and we are feeling the influx of families coming in. We decided to continue with our beach-y/ocean-y themes of the past few weeks and do a Pirates & Mermaids storytime this week.

For Toddler Art, we made pirate hats, which kids decorated with oil pastels and glue scraps of paper & sequins.  They wore the hats and paraded around for storytime. It always amazes me how children react to wearing their art. Some have no problem with it, other want to keep it in their hands. I usually have mirrors around the classroom so they can look at themselves.

Reed's pirate hat

For Family Art,  which the crowd varies and I usually get more preschoolers (as well as toddlers) or early elementary children; I asked them to make a mermaid using the oil pastels, the scrap paper and sequins. Some boys weren’t very happy about the mermaid theme for the art project, so I reminded them that it was their image and they could make pirate scene instead.  Once I notice children were almost done with their art, I brought some blue paint, so they could add water or sky to their creation. I wish I would have diluted the tempera paint a little more, to make a resist. Some of the children covered their picture with blue paint, losing the drawing they had done underneath.

Art @ the Beach… continued

Today, I added an element to the “sand art” creations. I remembered a Ukranian artists who draws and tells story in sand (and a light box & projector) and I thought that could be a lot of fun for children to draw in the sand. Kseniya Simonova won Ukraine Got Talent  in 2009 with this performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOMgDbcA84A

I laid butcher paper (one black, one blue) on 2 tables, placed some tools in the middle (paintbrushes, sticks, palette knives…) and asked the children to draw and move the sand.

tables set up with playing sand & tools on butcher paper

preschoolers, drawing, digging and making “pies” in the sand.

Sand Creation by Chloe, age 8

Creative People in Libraries

Working in a public library requires a few skills not learned in library school and often overseen in the MLS program (Master in Library Science), like creating displays and programs promoting library materials and services. In children’s department especially, being creative is a must! Library staff make props for storytime, displays to attract patrons attention and programs to bring in new patrons.
I think public libraries need to hire more creative people (artists, musicians, designers…) to help breach the gap between what is expected of their staff and build on their skills. I also believe that once hired, creative people need to have some  freedom in their creative process. 

As I was browsing Pinterest, I found Rachel Moani who works in the  Timberland Regional Library system in Washington state. She does art programs, library programs, collaboration work, displays… which are all very creative! I found her blog through her Pinterest boards. She has so many great ideas that fosters creativity in children in a library setting.

Rachel Moani’s Display

As a creative person working in a public library, I am fortunate enough to be allowed to be creative on so many different levels. I can draw, paint, sculpt, craft and teach art in one place. I’m praised and valued for the work I do.  

Props for the song “Down by the Bay” from Raffi

 Mr. Josh, who works with me, has a series of music programs for children, called Music Club. He invites local bands to come in a perform for our young patrons as well as talk about their instruments and let the children try them. Here’s a link to a video of  After the Bomb Baby! who performed last summer.


Mr. Josh also teaches guitar lessons for children ages 9 to 14, as well as host a very popular storytime called Toddler Power Hour which focuses on music and movement. He is part of a group of library people who brought in a zine collection in the Jacksonville Public Library and has started a zine writing program for children ages 8 to 12.