Category Archives: Activities

Doctor Who: Starting a Library Club


Doctor Who (the television show) hits a half-century this Saturday. It was with with an eye to this that I started chatting to a group of students about the possibility of starting a Doctor Who Club. This was in late June of this year.

I knew that I was on to a winner immediately as I saw eyes light up, and you know that when people get so excited that they start talking so fast that words sometimes come out in the wrong order that something must be done! I knew that the person that should be doing something was me and so I did. I started speaking to more students about the Doctor, asking them if they were fans and what they thought about a Doctor Who club in the school. Most of the kids wanted one – and they wanted it to start immediately, I put them off until after the summer holiday and when school came back in September the first words out of a number of students mouths to me were not Hello or “How was your summer?” no they were questions on when the club was going to start.

Working together the students and I came up with a name for the club, a logo and a time to meet that would suit most members.
wholigans50Personally I have never beeen a fan of the term “Whovian”.

The club had a soft launch half way through the first half-term and will have a proper launch on the Tuesday after the 23rd November.

At present discussions have been limited to favourite Doctor (a toss-up between Tom Baker and Matt Smith so far) and what people think The Day of the Doctor will be about.

Once the club is firmly established I am hoping to use the club for cross-curricular purposes, from creative writing with the English Department, discussions on ageism (one of the recurring themes of conversation so far has been about how a lot of the students do not like the idea of a Peter Capaldi Doctor as he is too old), sexism (a female Doctor anyone?) and bullying (humans are roughly treated by a number of alien races and vice versa) for PSHE. In fact any subject can be made a great deal more interesting with the addition of the Doctor. Take History – the Doctor can visit any point in time, and space which ties in the Science Department (plus the TV show with Dr Brian Cox discussing how possible the science of Doctor Who is). Citizenship can encompass discussions on Fascism (Daleks), Socialism (Cybermen) and ruling by divine right (The Time Lords on Gallifrey), RE can look at ethics with the Doctor and the Master and their actions. I am also hoping to tie in the Design & Technology Department with building a life-size TARDIS.

I am not forgetting the Library as there are hundreds of the Doctor’s adventures in book form, not to mention Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures, as well as comic books and fan fiction.

Like all clubs it depends on the members and what they would like to do, I do not want to be too prescriptive but will guide discussions and activity ideas and let them make up their minds on what they would like to do.

Also it may give me the excuse to wear a fez at work – fezzes are cool!

Activity Idea: Stop-Motion LEGO Movie

I had been toying with the idea of making a Lego stop-motion movie for quite a while before I had the idea for a Halloween short which gave me the impetus to get started.

For the camera I used my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, the cast was composed of a number of Lego minifigures.
cast of halloween for tl
The set was made out of a Lego baseplate and handmade scenery.
lego base for tlscenerybackground for tl
The most intricate part of the whole endeavour was making the bookshelf and books out of cardboard.
shelf for tllittle books for tl
I was rather pleased with the finished result:

It is important to have a script, for even though it is a silent film you need to keep track of what is going to happen and where the intertitles have to be placed.

Depending on how much movement is occurring I found it best to keep scenes fairly short to prevent accidents, including fingers appearing at the wrong moment, camera and set collapse as general mishaps that would necessitate the re-shooting of an entire scene. The Lego bumps on the baseplate made it easy to keep track of where the characters are supposed to move.

Creating a Lego movie can be a good way of engaging a group of teens, you can get a group working on script development, another on set design and creation, depending on the number of scenes you want to incorporate you can have multiple phone-camera operators, Lego minifigure wranglers each controlling the movements of their character and director (or directors) who maintain overall control of the filming.

I would recommend using a mobile phone tripod to cut down on camera shake although Youtube does offer the tools to stabilise the finished movie.

Jobs for a group-made stop-motion film:

Director
Script-writers
Set designers/creators
Camera-operators
Lego-wranglers
Intertitle creators
Editors
Publicity team

Book Week Scotland 2013 – Schools Resources

The Scottish Booktrust is running their book week at the end of November and they have a brilliant school resource on how to get involved with their Biig Book bash.

Looking for ideas on how to get pupils and staff involved in Book Week Scotland? This resource pack can be used before, during or after Book Week Scotland 2013 to help you on your journey to becoming a reading school!

The resource pack features ideas for getting both staff and pupils engaged in Book Week Scotland activities, including:

* suggestions for a ‘Big Book Bash’, from a staff book swap to a pupils’ book review club;
* ideas on how to get the whole school sharing their current reading;
* guidance on holding a reading flashmob!

Whether you want a few activity ideas or plan to hold an outlandish celebration of the written word, this resource pack provides the tools to get you started.

You do not even have to be Scottish to use the ideas (and they have some great ones!

You can download the school resource pack here:
http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/files/book_week_scotland_resources_2013.pdf

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum!

If you do nothing for TLAP Day you should get a group together and sing a shanty! Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum is a perfect one, it even has literary links as it is based on the song from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and sung by Long John Silver.

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

The mate was fixed by the bosun’s pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey’s throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o’day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of the whole ship’s list
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion’s axe his cheek had shore
And the scullion he was stabbed times four
And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped down in up-staring eyes
In murk sunset and foul sunrise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of ’em stiff and stark
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Ten of the crew had the murder mark!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

‘Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead
Or a yawing hole in a battered head
And the scuppers’ glut with a rotting red
And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes
Looking up at paradise
All souls bound just contrawise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men of ’em good and true
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ev’ry man jack could ha’ sailed with Old Pew,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
With a ton of plate in the middle hold
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,
And they lay there that took the plum
With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb
While we shared all by the rule of thumb,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through a sternlight screen…
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Chartings undoubt where a woman had been
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

‘Twas a flimsy shift on a bunker cot
With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot
Oh was she wench or some shudderin’ maid
That dared the knife and took the blade
By God! she had stuff for a plucky jade
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
We wrapped ’em all in a mains’l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser’s bight
And we heaved ’em over and out of sight,
With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-you-well
And a sudden plunge in the sullen swell
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

19th September: International Talk Like a Pirate Day


Ahoy mateys! Hoist the colours, splice the main-brace and raise the mizzen!

Yes! International talk Like a Pirate Day is almost upon us again!

Rather than rehash the suggestions I have made in previous years I thought why not take the musical route in your libraries in 2012. Piratical types have always enjoyed a bit of a sing-song as I discovered last year when I ran an impromptu shanty session in my library – teaching a group of year 7s,8s, 9s and two 6th formers how to sing Yo-ho-ho and a Bottle of Rum was brilliant! If I manage to do it again this year I will get a video and audio recording.

If you are interested in the music and words you can see (and hear them) here:
 

 

Then there is the Disney version (made famous by the ride in Disneyland and the movie Pirates of the Caribbean)
 


 

There is also a version by amazing Steampunk band Abney Park
 


 

Staying with Abney Park (and Pirates) they also have a track called Airship Pirates
 


 

Steampunk has been growing in popularity over the past few years – I have been a fan before I knew there was Steampunk, it started when I was in my teens and started reading the works of James Blaylock and Tim Powers, then years (and years) later I came to the UK and was given a copy of Airborn by Kenneth Oppel – and it brought back my love of airships, pirates and sky-high action.

I also love the Victorian era and the whole neoVictorian world that the Steampunk genre inhabits is something wonderful!

Anyway this is supposed to be a post about International Talk like a Pirate Day – I will get back to Steampunk in another post.

So Pirates!
 

Did you know that there are only three real Pirate jokes?
 

According to Cap’n Slappy that is…
 

The biggest one is the one that ends with someone usin’ “Arrr” in the punchline. Oh, sure, thar be plenty o’ these, but they’re all the same damn joke.

  • “What’s the pirate movie rated? – Arrr!”
  • “What kind o’ socks does a pirate wear? – Arrrrgyle!”
  • “What’s the problem with the way a pirate speaks? – Arrrrticulation!”
  • …and so forth. Those jokes only work if people know their arrrrrs from their elbows!

  • The second joke is the one wear the pirate walks into the bar with a ships wheel attached to the front o’ his trousers. The bartender asks, “What the hell is that ships wheel for?” The pirate says, “I don’t know, but it’s drivin’ me nuts!”
  • And finally, a little boy is trick or treatin’ on Halloween by himself. He is dressed as a pirate. At one house, a friendly man asks him, “Where are your buccaneers?” The little boy responds, “On either side o’ me ‘buccan’ head!”
  •  

    Potential activities include
     

  • Creating a piratical joke-book;
  • Discussing movies featuring pirates;
  • Book discussions;
  • and on a serious note comparing the romanticised view of pirates versus their reality and the re-emergence of pirates of Somalia and other places.
  •  

    YA Piratical Novels:

  • Vampirates Justin Somper
  • Pirates Celia Rees
  • Blackbeard’s Pirates versus the Evil Mummies James Black
  • Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Curse of Captain LaFoote Eddie Jones
  • Airborn Kenneth Oppel
  •  

    Pirate Movies:

  • Cut Throat Island
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Treasure Island
  • Master and Commander: far Side of the World (not really pirates but amazing scenes of ship-based battle)
  • For more ideas and information of this most illustrious of holidays you can look here:
     

    International Talk Like a Pirate Day

    Raspberry Pi

    The first question most people ask whenever I mention Raspberry Pi is:

    What’s a Raspberry Pi?

    The Raspberry Pi is a credit-sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.

    The second question is is usually so what has that got to do with libraries?

    Well not much, unless you want to… I don’t know – set up a library-based technology group.

    So why the Pi? Well they are low cost, they are cool in a geeky, tech kind of way and they can help libraries (both school & public) engage with young people by giving them hands-on experience with small, shiny bits of tech.

    The Raspberry Pi will be out sometime between now and December. I fully intend to purchase several and create a tech group that will look at the different ways in which these tiny computers can be utilised. From standard TV computing to integrating them into clothes with small possibly touch-capable screens and micro-keyboards in the sleeves as well as possibly powering them with solar panels in clothing and possibly jamming them into small powered gliders to create self-guided aeroplanes.

    There are so many possibilities! To start thinking about what you can accomplish with a slice of pi take a look here: Raspberry Pi

    Under 14's Only @ My Favourite Books


    This is the second year My Favourite Books blog will be hosting Under 14’s Only Month. We were approached by some of our local librarians last year and told – confidentially – that a lot of younger readers are feeling very left out when it comes to books for the younger age group, as everyone seemed so focussed on all the teen novels coming out. Which they of course could not read as these were in some cases too mature for them.

    This really worried us and as we are always happy to fight for a cause, we established Under 14’s Only Month to review both old and brand new books that are out there for this large age-group. The publishers have been amazing and have inundated us with a variety of books for all ages within this broad spectrum we’ve chosen to showcase. Between the three of us – Mark, Sarah and myself – we are hoping to highlight some great books and authors in July. I have roped in fellow bloggers and reviewers to make their case for their favourite books for younger readers and I’ve got interviews with authors set up to talk about inspirations, monsters and other shenanigans.

    We know how hard librarians, parents and teacher work to get kids reading and to keep them reading – if we can hook readers young, we stand a great chance that they remain readers, especially the reluctant readers, be they boys or girls. We have received some great titles from Barrington Stoke, Macmillan Kids, Walker Books, Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster, Random House Kids, Templar to name but a handful of publishers taking part in this. Their enthusiasm blew my mind and now all we ask for is an audience to share these amazing books with. Please come and visit the blog and comment and recommend us to everyone you know who may benefit from reading the reviews. And remember there is a chance to win two boxes full of books at the end of July. We are always hungry to hear about more titles and new authors we’ve overlooked. Come visit us for the month of July and enjoy our Under 14’s Only Month celebration of fiction for younger readers.

    Liz, Mark and Sarah of My Favourite Books Blog

    TED: Ideas worth Spreading

     

     

     

    TED or Technology Entertainment and Design to give it it’s full name, is a global set of conferences formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading. Since June 2006, the talks have been offered for free viewing online, under a Creative Commons license, through TED.com.

    There are over 900 free talks available online. If your library or resource centre has a television or bank of computers it may be worth thinking about holding a TED day and running their freely available video talks in the library or in conjunction with school lessons.

    The TED Mission statement:
    We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

    Some of the talks follow

    Brewster Kahle builds a free digital library

    Handspring Puppet Co.: The genius puppetry behind War Horse

    Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter …

    Those were just three of the 900+ talks available free at www.TED.com The videos are subtitled so are accessible for the hearing impaired.  Thanks to volunteer translators taking part in TED’s Open Translation Project, subtitles in a variety of languages are available for nearly every video in the TEDTalks series.

    Simplified Dungeons & Dragons

    Over the past few years I have spoken to a number of D&D and gaming fans that work in Libraries, without exception they have stated that they would love to set up gaming sessions in Libraries, the only problem they have encountered is the timescales involved in setting up and running campaigns.

    Now thanks to BoingBoing I have found a website that has provided a ‘how to’ guide on running a D&D introductory campaign for eight year olds. The campaign can be tweaked for older players in libraries but overall the simplified rules and character creation makes it easier to start with beginners.

    2) Kids chose which color dice they want and which miniature will be their hero, both of which they got to keep as “goodie bags” from the party. We didn’t have them do any further character creation (all heroes had the same stats behind the screen) except for name. Lots of the kids who hadn’t played before had problems coming up with a name, so I asked if they wanted to roll for one. I didn’t actually have a table, I just used the time they were rolling the dice to think them up.

    3) The scenario was that the heroes set forth from their stronghold to explore the surrounding wilderness in search of magical items to claim and Pokemon to capture. We had the kids construct the wilderness using Heroscape hexes, and the stronghold using wooden Kapla blocks

    The campaign was played over two and a half hours. For full details go here:

    What Made for a Successful D&D Birthday Party

    Library Protest sign making 101

    I have been speaking to a number of library workers recently who are being affected by the upcoming cuts, I am one of them! There are a number of marches and protests planned across the UK and it will be a shame if Libraries are left out of the push for social justice, so I have put together a basic how to guide on making protest signs. This can also be used as a practical workshop for young people who feel they may want to protest.

    It is also good for Friends of Library Groups that may wish to protest branch closures on a Local Authority level.

    Materials:

    • Poster boards (A3)
    • Ruler
    • Marker pens / Paint
    • Stencils
    • Pencils
    • Handles
    • Stapler
    • Glue
    • Duct tape

    Select a thick board that won’t easily bend or tear in strong winds. Also, select a board that’s white – or, if choosing coloured board, make sure it is a light colour that won’t distract from the message.

    Writing the message:

    • You will need a pencil, a ruler and a thick black marker for this part, especially if you don’t have stencils.
    • Using the ruler, measure the board and letter size – you do not want to start and then run out of space.
    • Using the pencil, lightly trace out the letters of the slogan, make them as large as you can (so that the slogan is legible from a distance)
    • Once you have a design you’re satisfied with, use your marker to outline the letters.
    • If there is a particular word you want to emphasise, consider adding colour. Red will make it stand out and look dramatic, but outline the word in black so it’s readable.

    There is a how to construct a stencil guide at the bottom of the article.

    Constructing your sign

    Use glue to attach the sign to the handle and then use a staple gun for additional strength, for the paranoid you can use tape to make sure the sign will stay attached to the handle. If you use wood for the handle it may be advisable to wrap the end you hold in take so you do not get splinters.

    Hold your poster up with both hands where people can see it. It is, of course, make sure it is right side up! Alternatively you can attach a handle to your sign.

    Slogans

    These should be clear, concise, and readable – remember that people will only have a few seconds to read your message, by all means have some leaflets to hand out as well detailing your views.  Humorous slogans can work well, as do images.

    For example:

    We will not be shhhhhh’ed!

    Close Tax Loopholes Not Libraries!

    Making a stencil

    • Come up with a design – it is best to do this once you have measured the board as you may end up with letters that are too large or small for the size of the board.
    • It is important to remember that you cannot have ‘islands’ such as the middle of an O or R. You can use straight lines to connect the islands.
    • Transfer your designs to a piece of cardboard (cereal boxes can be used to make stencils). You can also draw out your designs on paper and then photocopy them on to thinner pieces of board.
    • Use a sharp craft knife to cut out the design. Blunt blades can rip the board wasting your work.
    • Spray-paint works best with cardboard stencils, you can also use acrylic paint and dab it through the stencil using a sponge or brush.
    • Remember to wipe excess paint off the stencil as this will help it to last longer.