this week at the fpl

DSC01654

It was Front Porch Library day–and I do mean day. We were sprucing up for our moment of fame on WFSU and before long we had almost all our regular library kids helping–not to mention working in clay, shooting hoops and making glued yarn pictures with what Connor described as “the colorful yarn.” Some even wrote their “why I want to go to summer camp” essays.

While all this was going on Miss Kary replaced the torn out screen on the porch (someone locked the do-not-lock upper lock in the door and we had to rip our way in), and Mr. Ray and Klark replaced the window pane Klark exuberantly and accidentally broke with a soccer ball (we’ve all done that, right?), and Miss Jennifer Woodard with much help built the jungle set for the Tallahassee debut of “How the Frog Lost His Tail,” and I kept straightening while right behind me others kept messening.

So, from about 9:30 on the library was in full swing. Mr. John arrived and the cake decorating reached new heights. Let’s just say chocolate cake, chocolate icing with blue drizzle accents, sprinkles and (this is the piece de resistance) we had a box of Girl Scout thin mints we discovered would stand up like fins if an edge was shoved into the cake.

By the time WFSU arrived we were at full roar. They managed to interview many of us and shoot footage of everything from our shark-finned cake to our puppet show (we pulled it off, woo-hoo!).

It was a great and very full day at the FPL. May I collapse now?

this week at the FPL

DSC01635

It looked for a time as if we would have no kids at the Front Porch Library. We immediately began a much needed reorganization. Our new volunteer, Karen took on labeling and sorting nonfiction. Isaac shelf-read. Hal organized the building materials. John and Judy began organizing the back rooms, then the Early kids arrived.

We did the usual read aloud. Today was Jackie Mims Hopkins “The Three Armadillies Tuff,” which got a lot of laughs. After, John read with Tamiya while everyone else made puppets. Miss Jennifer W slid in during the read aloud–and she had made us a wonderful puppet stage out of a giant cardboard box. We had puppets with mustaches and puppets with yarn hair and puppets with feathers. A handsomer bunch of paper bags you have never seen. We put on a couple of improv shows–singing was involved–then ate a carrot cake (some of us only ate the icing).

Another fine day at the library.

this week at the FPL

KIMG0113

 

What was I thinking? I went to bed without filing the Front Porch Library report. It was a beautiful cool afternoon for carrying our leaning-to-the-left glorified cardboard box puppet stage out onto the lawn so we could practice “How the Frog Lost His Tail.” (As you can probably guess pride was involved–traditional folk tales hate pride).

Half of our cast (four siblings) was with their dad this week so we had to scramble some to cover the lion, monkey, and the two puppeteers whose job it is to scrunch inside the box. We got by, even if we lacked grace and no one seemed to be able to keep track of where we were in the script.

We then made giant monkey and snake cutouts to hang in the bushes when WFSU comes out to film us for a local segment next Sunday. Hopefully all our actors will be with us that day and everyone will find their highlighted parts in the script and hopefully the TV crew will enjoy the weekly healthy snack (this week, strawberries, ants on a log, and peanut butter crackers) and a slice of our always unpredictable celebratory cake–yesterday Klark and Olivia helped Mr. John ice the cake. Half was hot pink, the other half sky blue. Sprinkles were involved along with a limited number of gum drops (someone found a nearly empty bag at the back of the cupboard).

Another fine day at the Front Porch Library.

this week at the FPL

DSC01645

Although our official start is 4 Library began at about 10 today. Kids just started wheeling in on bikes or on foot–Connor rode his ziggler, which may be his name for a not-quite-tryke that is propelled by zigging and zagging back and forth. Olivia and Klark are moving into the house next door so while their parents painted bedrooms they hung out at the library. (We are all excited that they will no longer be two blocks away, but right here!)

The day went into improvised projects using paper and stickers and glue and Legos and, well, loads of things that got carried out to the tables.

Official library began with a dramatic reading of Jackie Mims Hopkins, “The Gold Miner’s Daughter.” The kids had a great time figuring out which fairy tales she had squeezed into her story.

Then we practiced our puppet show, “How Frog Lost His Tail.” It went really well with Elleiana and Connor crammed in our cardboard box puppet theater manning the puppets. Other kids voiced the puppets and acted as foley artists providing the sound effects. Miss Heather and Hanna stage managed. Kweli, the voice of the lead character (frog), was sick but read valiantly–the show must go on!

After that the Thank you table went into high gear making cards for a couple of the patrons of the library–thanks to generous help we are lining kids up to go to a week of camp this summer. Everyone is really excited–especially me.

The library itself has been undergoing a metamorphosis I find astonishing. Miss Jennifer W has taken it upon herself to straighten us out–and this means repainting, organizing, even supplying a new table umbrella to replace the one that has been hanging sadly limp, one side busted like a broken wing. I keep telling her to pace herself and praying that she won’t burn out.

To top the day off we heard the jangly notes of–you won’t believe this–an ice cream truck. I thought they quit making neighborhood rounds sometime around 1972. Our volunteer, Isaac, bought a round of popsicles. It was an exceptionally fine day at the library.

this week at the FPL

DSC01636

Today at the Front Porch Library we cast the parts for our puppet show, “How the Frog Lost His Tail.” Bet you didn’t know he had one, but due to pride, he lost it (Lion bit it off). Olivia will be narrating, Kweli will play the proud frog, Keith the lion, Klark the elephant and Nailani the monkey.

Having cast the speaking parts, the puppet table went into full production–Olivia insisted that the characters needed eyebrows and we had feathers so it worked out well.

Since it is the week before Easter we had volunteers hide eggs for the egg hunt while we ran lines in the living room after I explained that running lines didn’t involve actual running. We have yet to find our inner frog, lion, monkey and elephant, but the reading of the lines was pretty fluent, even if they haven’t yet used a voice that didn’t sound exactly like the one they always use.

The egg-hiders did a remarkably good job. It took a long time to find them, and we never found them all. Even the egg-hiders were stumped.

We have two big things coming up. The first is that WFSU is coming out to do a segment on us–hence the puppet show. Second, we are gearing up to send kids to a week of summer camp at the Tallahassee Museum. We have had generous donations, most notably from the local DAR and from some of my writing friends, but as we broach the subject with families the response is bigger than we imagined.

If you’d like to help us get a bunch of great deserving kids to camp you can donate at our website.Anything at all will help, and we do have a Paypal account.

DSC01598

 

this week at the FPL

DSC01614

Today really was that unheard of event, the kidless day at the FPL, but we had such a great crew of volunteers. Jennifer, Judy, Penny and John worked inside–John iced the cake as it was the general consensus that even without kids cake was in order.

The outside crew, Hanna, Tiffany, Jen, and two guys I will call Sam and Jack because those may be their names (first time volunteers) pulled weeds, trimmed hedges, raked leaves–I got an abbreviated version of the whole show as I went to urgent care halfway through. Sick all week, it seemed like checking on the pain under my rib cage was a good idea. It is probably pulled cartilage (probably not a blood clot). They always throw in one scary choice with instructions like, if you can’t breathe or the pain becomes excruciating call 911. Actually, they were very helpful and thorough and I believe all medical professionals take an oath to give all possible diagnoses no matter how scary or unlikely.

I can’t wait to see the FPL yard by daylight. I expect to be dazzled!

DSC01615

this week at the FPL

DSC01599

It looked for a time as if we would have no kids at the Front Porch Library. We immediately began a much needed reorganization. Our new volunteer, Karen took on labeling and sorting nonfiction. Isaac shelf-read. Hal organized the building materials. John and Judy began organizing the back rooms, then the Early kids arrived.

We did the usual read aloud. Today was Jackie Mims Hopkins “The Three Armadillies Tuff,” which got a lot of laughs. After, John read with Tamiya while everyone else made puppets. Miss Jennifer W slid in during the read aloud–and she had made us a wonderful puppet stage out of a giant cardboard box. We had puppets with mustaches and puppets with yarn hair and puppets with feathers. A handsomer bunch of paper bags you have never seen. We put on a couple of improv shows–singing was involved–then ate a carrot cake (some of us only ate the icing).

Another fine day at the library.

this week at the FPL

DSC01576

Today at the Front Porch Library we began with an overwhelmingly good healthy snack thanks to Jennifer W. Between the home-baked muffins, fresh fruit and apple juice we had a feast!

It was pay day today, the day the library antes up for books read, essays written and other acts of learning. Today’s non-reading choice was a measuring project. The ruler turned out to be a foreign tool to the kids. What the heck is an inch anyway? We measured lines and rectangles of paper. I have never thought so deeply about how to position a ruler, how to name what those little marks between the whole inches signify. We boldly moved on to measuring the circumference of the oak in the front yard. Then we talked about how a foot was a unit of measurement based on a genuine, long ago foot and we measured the distance between chalk lines on the street using our own heel-to-toe built in rulers.

While we were on the street Vivienne suggested that we trace our shadows on the street with chalk. We have a short-lived portrait out there of Klark on a scooter, Delmus looking like a kid about to sink a shot, Vivienne being princess-y, and many more.

The kitchen pay office opened. We calculated the payout and wrote the details in our bank books. The twins Terion and Terianna wisely left cash in the bank opting to earn the very generous interest offered only by the Book Bank–sorry you have to be an FPL kid to get a deal like this.

Another good day at the Front Porch Library.

this week at the FPL

 

DSC01585

We had a great time at the Front Porch Library today. For the first time in a long time I had a rapt audience for a read aloud thanks to Laurie Keller and “The Scrambled States of America Talent Show.” Who knew the states could juggle, jump on pogo sticks, and have stage fright, not to mention being pun-meisters? The kids guffawed.

We continued our Thank You project. Robin W Ecker this week you will get a drawing of a very bulbous but charming horse. Robyn Davis you red hair has been thoroughly immortalized. We began to talk about our plan to send kids to summer camp to much excitement.

Miss Judy read with the kids using her literacy specialist skills to assess the kids–hey, they were all pretty good and read a lot–next week is pay day at the FPL. Pay envelopes will be passed out and interest offered to those who can leave $$ in the bank.

Miss Penny played rousing checkers with Connor and Elianna. Miss Jennifer headed up the “If I were president…” project. I was so proud of our kids. Most said that if they were president they would provide food and houses for the homeless. Except for Ray-Ray, who wrote “I would be a warrior and fight for freedom.” Ray-Ray is a first grader, a good reader, but small for a warrior. He is, however, surprisingly exacting for someone that young. He was unhappy about his printing and copied it all over on a second sheet of paper.

We got a little scufflie-ish at the end, but for almost the whole two hours everyone was happy and productive. It was the general consensus that crackers and peanut butter is a better healthy snack than corn bread and peanut butter, and that maybe either way raisins should be left off some of the healthy snacks. The orange cake was a novelty (my husband, chooser of last week’s blue cake, struck again). It was much more popular than the cornbread. Maybe Ray should be in charge of the healthy snack…

Another very fine day at the Front Porch Library.

this week at the FPL

We had a rousing time at the Front Porch Library today. We never did get around to the “If I were president” project (in honor of president’s day) but many valentines were drawn and glued and glittered, and we began to make the hand-drawn thank you cards to friends who have made donations to our cause–we are gathering our assets and all our organizational skills to send some of our kids to a week of summer camp at the Tallahassee Museum.Cynthia Shiver, Mike O and Susan Williams (the princess) your cards will be on their way to you soon. Robin W Ecker and Robyn Davis, next week ladies.

It was warm enough that we could do all our projects outside. We had a never-ending round of Connect Four at one of the folding tables–sometimes the lesson is more basic than connecting, vertically, horizontally or on the diagonal. Sometimes the lesson is taking turns and not throwing a playing piece when you lose.

The art table was in furious production–those beautiful cards are thanks to Nalani, Elliana and Vivienne.

Meanwhile, in the street the hoop was getting a workout. We were very lucky today that we had a large turn out of Key Club volunteers. They really saved the day as Miss Heather and I were the only adults (or good approximations thereof) on the scene.

We worked on reading, manners, and self-control. We ate a pile of carrots, peanut butter-raisin crackers and as the closer, a blue cake. I always buy the cake mixes that take oil, not butter (butter is too darned expensive), but Ray picked up the mix and he did not know about the economic boycott on butter so today’s cake was exceptionally blue and exceptionally delicious.

Another whirlwind day at the FPL.

this week at the FPL

Another Sunday with Adrian away but that didn’t stop us.  Volunteers galore showed up to host a Field Day of balloon relays and crab races where two kids stood back-to-back and linked arms and then they had to run sideways to the finish line.

There was a valentine-making station, several healthy snacks, and a fresh new month of Book Bucks reading activity.  Big thanks to Judy, Heather, John, Donna, Ernest, Isaac, Hal, Hanna, and Arianna.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

this week at the FPL

DSC01509

It was Pay Day at the Front Porch Library and there was a fury of reading to get in the last couple of books for the month. It was, in fact going on all over the house and in the yard, along with a major Duplo-Block build on the lawn and an intense round of a board game with a name like (maybe exactly like) Worst Case Scenario in which you had to pick the correct way to tell Bubonic Plague was setting in, deter a shark, or escape a tornado when no shelter was available.

Keith and I were a team (one volunteer – one kid). The other team was Nick and TJ. As TJ read words like “meningitis” I realized this game was a tougher reading challenge than the ones posed by any of our books.

It was close, but Keith and I thought our way around what to do when you swallow poisonous mushrooms or how to handle a sudden fainting spell–so, we won! The game wasn’t one I purchased, not even at my usual exclusive store, Goodwill. No, I found the game lifting the lid of a neighbor’s trash can and a game that involved sharks, floods. famine and radiation seemed too good to pass up.

The gathering closed with visits to the Pay Office (AKA the kitchen). Each kid got a bank book so we could record their pay. At pay-out I made the readers an offer Bank of America would never consider. “If you leave a quarter in your account I will match it–that’s right! You will have a 50 cent balance before you read book one!” I think that four kids took me up on it–and we’re on our way to teaching the concept of saving and compound interest!

We had 16 kids today and a dozen volunteers–which is about the necessary ratio. Another good day at the Front Porch Library.

this week at the FPL

DSC01447

We are at high tide numbers at the Front Porch Library again. Luckily we have a great cadre of volunteers and today we were joined by Judy Leclere, a seasoned literacy coach. Wow, did we get lucky.

Mr. John and Judy also began coaching some GED seekers so there was a lot of hard thinking going on.

Easy thinking too. Our volunteer Arriana invited another volunteer, Hal, to the Sadie Hawkins Dance with a proposal written on tag board. We were all happy when he accepted.

Reading continued to go on in the reading room, Miss Heather getting a lot out of the readers by asking them questions that required thought–dare I say deductive reasoning.

In the kitchen we made a huge pot of vegetarian chili–yes, kids with knives, chopping. We got a particularly potent onion that sent many kids from the room in tears, but after wiping the tears away with their sleeves they came back. Cumin was declared a really good spice by general consensus.

Banners were worked on at the big table. It was a lively day at the FPL. I’ll wait until tomorrow to mop the floor in the kitchen. Chili ingredients seem to be more-than-a-little affected by gravity.

this week at the FPL

DSC01441

With a dozen kids, it was wild and crazy at the Front Porch Library today, but quietly, in the reading room, Miss Heather was finding the “just right” books for each kid and getting them to read, sounding out words like”fetch,” which isn’t that easy if you think back to your own sounding-it-out days.

Outside, with the help of our volunteer Arianna, I was drawing on some standard hippie knowledge and teaching the kids to make “God’s Eyes” using Laurel Cherry saplings and some variegated yarn donated to us by I-don’t-remember-who. Being left handed I needed Arianna to translate the motions for the right handed craftsmen, which was every kid at the table.

In addition to our dozen kids and a great array of volunteers. The basketball action in the street was hot and heavy–both hoops in continuous action.

There was a request that I bring our new dog. Rudy out. The kids took turns walking him. He found this very exciting.

The cake was an unusual casualty. When I shook it out of the pan it fell out in pieces. Olivia doctored it with a massive covering of icing and sprinkles. With the rough terrain of sprinkles who could tell the cake had landed in a lot of pieces?

Another lively day at the FPL. The gang was definitely all there.

this week at the FPL

bake10

Kary here, reporting for Adrian who had to be away this week leading a writing workshop for adults.  We missed her, but managed to have an action-packed, amazing day anyway.

Donna brought starter dough and baking supplies.  With an apron and heapin’ helping of verve, she brought three groups of kids through the kitchen to make homemade bread.  The youngest ones’ eyes got wide when they heard that the yeast was alive and that sugar and water would “wake it up.”  Robin kept doughy hands from touching every surface in the house.  She also helped pack up the dough and sent everyone home with hand-written instructions for turning their kneaded ziploc bags of goo into scrumptious loaves. Six loaves of bread were baked and sampled — some just plain and hot out of the oven and some with spoonfuls of strawberry jam.  Not surprisingly, all were proclaimed “The Best Ever.”

John, Isaac and I did plenty of one-on-one reading as our Book Bank patrons made their next deposits of time spent reading.  Meg and Hal watched the street and shot some hoops.  Several more woven potholders were finished by four of the kids who demonstrated the triumph of perseverance over stretchy loops of fabric.

We sent three young neighbors home with armloads of giveaway books.  Later I saw Eliana with a paperback open in one hand while the other held the handlebars of her bicycle.  She was making small circles on the street to stay close to group at the basketball hoop.  Every time she stopped, she would look down and read another page.  “It has jokes in it!” she said as she showed me her prize.  Another fine day at the library, indeed.

And here’s the postscript, but it is more like a roar:   Many and ultra thanks to Donna, Robin, Meg, Hal, John, and Isaac !!!!!