Sunday, November 23, 2008

Homeschoolers Program

Last week we did a program for some of our local homeschoolers. We have an active homeschooling community in our district and we're moving towards offering more programs for them. (Instrumental in my understanding of homeschooling is Adrienne's book Helping Homeschoolers in the Library. If you can get your hands on it, do so! Also check out her blog Homeschooling and Libraries for valuable links.)

We had a fairly large group of kids ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade. We started by giving them a tour of the library. We tried to point out areas that would be helpful to them and since our circulation area recently underwent major construction, we demonstrated the new holds process and self-check machines. The tour lasted just about 30 minutes and then we split into two groups.

The younger group (approximately K-3rd) went with J and had a storytime and a craft project. The older group (approximately 4th-8th grade) went with me and had a demonstration of library databases and booktalks. We were very flexible about which kids went in which group. The only small issue we ran into was having the groups on two different floors. Some parents had kids in each group and were trying to go back and forth to get some of each program. It would have been easier if the rooms were side by side.

For our database program, I had set up a projector with a laptop. I demonstrated searching with the library's catalog (which most, if not all, of them were familiar with). I also demonstrated how to limit a search to the kids' area or to fiction or nonfiction and I demonstrated how to request books through Interlibrary Loan.

I showed them our booklists, including readalike lists, genre lists, and topical lists. Then I demonstrated several of the databases to which we subscribe. In each database, I showed them how to find the link from our website, how to access it from home, and how to search. I showed them World Book Online, Biography Resource Center, CultureGrams, and Student Resource Center. My presentation was about 25 minutes long and by the end we were all getting a little squirrelly. If I did it again, I'd try to make it a little more interactive.

When I had gone through all the databases, I handed out a "scavenger hunt" worksheet. Each question had a note about which database to use to find the answer. I gave them about 20 minutes to go through 8 questions and if they didn't finish I told them they could take it home and finish it.

To end the program, I brought them back into our story room and did about 15 minutes of booktalks. I booktalked the following:

Down Cut Shin Creek by Kathi Appelt
Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Seaborn by Craig Moodie
Secrets of a Civil War Submarine by Sally Walker
What the World Eats by Peter Menzel

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine was a big hit and that's one of my favorite books to booktalk. Savvy was also snatched up right away, as were the Sharon Creech books.

I was nervous about this program before we did it because I had never worked with this group before and because we were doing a lot. It went absolutely fine. Everyone was super nice and had a good time and I think we were able to give them a lot of valuable information. Homeschoolers are generally huge library users and it was so nice to get to know some of them a little bit more and to provide a program that was useful. I'm certainly looking forward to planning more programs for homeschoolers!