Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thrive Thursday: Illusionology! 3rd Grade Outreach

This post is part of Thrive Thursday, a school-age programming blog-hop started by Thrive After Three in the same vein as Flannel Friday. Check out the round-ups here and join the fun!

So my library decided we needed some grade school outreach up in here. You know, over 3 years ago, when Abigail started the idea of the "Elementary School Menu," a few offerings the department would bring out each year to the elementary schools. And then she left the outreach to die on an island because I was hired and I was a Stupid Cat and I hardly knew anything about libraries. (Except for what my MLIS prepared me for, of course, but we all know that's why blogs like this exist.) But after a chance trial-run at outreach with a local group of second graders, I felt ready to pilot the menu this year. I started with kindergarten, second grade, and third grade. This was a deliberate choice: kindergarten and second grade are both coming into the library on field trips this year, and third grade just saw us last year as Library Stars. Each of these is pre-made and stored in a bin, with a script so that anyone can do it (But I usually want to because it's the best).

Why, if it's already written out, did I wait so long to post this awesomeness?! The world may never know. Or maybe it's the existence of C.O.P.S. on You Tube.  You understand.

Kindergartners are treated to a Pete the Cat theme, second graders enjoy an Aliens vs. Robots program, and third graders celebrate Illusionology from the -Ologies series! This post is about the third grade outreach,  because I've not only gotten the most requests for it, it's also SO FUN TO DO and the kids and teachers love it and the entire time you're just like:

Here's how it goes down:
Okay so these are all the parts of the program, which runs EXACTLY 30 minutes without giving the kids extra time to practice their tricks (so, of course, 45 minutes is ideal IF the teacher has the time. If not, tell the kids they can practice at recess). All of this is delivered of course with a thick layer of "I don't understand why you don't come to the library if it's the coolest place on Earth" attached.

Clock trick: This trick is actually in the book, and it's a great starter! Here's the directions if you're too super impatient to read the rest of words, because I'm obviously attaching the script to the bottom of this post. But I get it if Ice-T got you pumped. Happens to the best of us. Here's how I modified it for a third grade crowd: explaining it takes a lot of time for some kids, so what I do is do it once all together with the kids picking their own numbers for the 'wow" factor. If some kids DON'T end up on the number one, we do one "open face" where we all pick the same number and do it together. Then we do it again with different numbers. If they don't get to 1 that time, they can practice later (I give them a handout with a clock and the directions). ALSO, and this is crucial, post in large letters on the board "ONE=3 LETTERS" up to twelve, because that mental process is just too much for some kids who have been working all day and just want something fun. And, I mean, counting's HARD.

Top 8 weirdest facts about Houdini: This is basically this list simplified for third graders, because Listverse is the best place for random facts ever, as I've mentioned before. I also posted to the document projector funny-for third-grade related pictures with numbers on them (like, #3 which is "It was believed he could speak to the dead" with a picture of Scooby Doo and Shaggy running from a ghost). You could also hold up pictures if the classroom doesn't have this technology. My #1 is "Harry Houdini wasn't born in Wisconsin" and in the classroom I visited the teacher exclaimed "BUT THERE'S A MUSEUM!" all horrified. It's pretty great.

Optical Illusions: I always thought these were so cool, even when I was little, and I banked on these kids loving them too. And they did! To introduce the idea to the uninitiated (and to dispel misconceptions that there's one right way to see them, which happened a few times), I read the book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krause Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. We then looked at Vase-Faces, Young-Lady Old Lady  (funny story: I first saw this one when I was around 6 and it took me until I was in 5th grade to actually see the young lady's face), and we end on Rotating Discs, which actually does not work on a document projector.   

Card Trick: We end with a card trick that doesn't need sleight of hand, because as someone with 
cerebral palsy sleight of hand  is out of the question. (Also, add that blog to your reader right away; I love it so). You need a deck of cards for this. Obviously.

The is my piece de resistance: before this point, everyone is in their seats. I gather them around me either in a reading nook or at a student's desk. And I tell them: "Because we are all magicians now, I can teach you this card trick so you can try it on your friends. But a magician never reveals his or her secrets, so if your friends ask how you do it, tell them they need to go to the library and ask for me."
Here's how you do the card trick:
1. Memorize the card on the bottom of the deck.
2. Ask a volunteer to pick a card, not show you, and memorize it.
3. Have them replace the card on the top of the deck
4. Cut the deck and restack it so the bottom card is directly on top of the top card.
5. Face all cards to you and fan them. Say, “I will now find your card.” The card you know will be to the direct left of the volunteer’s card when you’re looking for it.                

The cool/weird thing about this program is that I got to specifically design it for a certain age of kid, and that's not something you're afforded in in-house programming. I've heard that a downfall of outreach is that you don't get checkout, but I'm firm believer that the checkout will come if you go get them.

Ready for your very own captive crowd of 3rd graders?
Click here for all you need!    
(If you do use this stuff, or do this program, I would love for you to write a guest post for my blog or at least tell me how it's going! Drop me a line at brycedontplay at gmail dot com.)                                                                

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