American Girl – Cécile Rey


Introduction I’ve been really wanting to do a Cécile Rey program for a while now but did not really know what theme I wanted to focus on. Flipping through her books, I came across the yellow fever! I am a total sucker for morbid information, and I figured the subject was fair game if it was in her books.

For my opening remarks, I gave the kids information about New Orleans during Cécile’s time, and how yellow fever was rampant. I provided all the kids an 1853 map of the United States, and they had to color in Louisiana and pinpoint New Orleans.

Symptom Checker/ Nursing Activity After we talked about New Orleans, we started talking about the yellow fever. I gave the symptoms of yellow fever, and the kids colored and marked a human body chart with each of the symptoms.

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I also emphasized that this was a time where the community would tend to their neighbors if they were sick. I gave each kid a packet of gauze and they could either wrap their dolls or another person.
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Masquerade Masks I honestly could not not do masquerade masks. I outreached to a fellow librarian who lives in New Orleans, and she said that masquerades happen all the time. I figured that my participants would enjoy making their own masks.
Mosquito Spray Finally, I decided to do a modern twist on the yellow fever. Why not make our own mosquito spray? I researched the different options and picked a kid-safe/toddler-safe spray recipe. I notified the parents about testing the spray first on clothing.

I had an assembly line set-up and the kids moved down the table.
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American Girl: Nanea (October 2017)

American Girl Nanea was a super simple program but so fun to do!

I did my typical opening. I talked about where Nanea lived (Hawaii) and two popular items in Hawaiian culture. The first one was Mochiko. I talked about the cake’s origins and bit about how it is made. I then had everyone split into two groups, as we were going to make our own Mochiko.

I had everything laid out on the tables.


Then every child helped with making the cake.

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This was the most time-consuming portion. This ate up almost the entire first hour. After I had everyone’s pans, I was able to put them in the oven.

While we waited for the mochiko to bake, we made leis. I talked about the history and etiquette of the lei. I then guided the kids into making their own lei. This were the instructions I used.

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By the time everyone was done with their leis, our cake was ready!


American Girl: Earth Day

Our one and only American Girl program for spring happened to land on Earth Day. I felt that it was only appropriate to do a Modern Girl session by upcycling crafts that I already had around the children’s department. You can find a TON of activities to do for this kind of program. I had to limit myself to four of them. This program was also very loosely structured compared to my other American Girl programs.

Our first craft: CDs/DVDs
Supply cost: $0

I wanted something other than a mobile for a CD project. Researching, I found several sites where people painted CDs with black acrylic paint and then etched a design into them.  As a library, we have a whole bin of old CDs and paint is always to be found. We used push pins as our etching tools, as I wanted the little hands to have some sort of handle on their utensil for etching. I would say to remind people that this is a time consuming project. It takes patience to etch away the black paint. I also think the older participants and adults enjoyed this activity more than my younger participants.

Second Craft: Batik Paper
Supply Cost: $0

I found this craft idea in Make Your Own Crafts: Eco-Crafts by Sally Henry and Trevor Cook. All you need is either coloring sheets or plain paper (I used scrap paper), crayons, water-based black paint, and paper towels.

My participants colored a picture of their choice or drew their own design with crayons. The trick is to really color the entire paper and to color heavily. Once they finished coloring, the kids crumbled up their papers into a tight ball and re-smoothed it out. Once it was flat again, the kids then painted over their picture with the water-based paint. We had to water down our paint because it was a tad thick. If the paint is too watery, you can mop up the excess with a towel.

We covered each picture with another piece of paper and then carefully placed the iron on top of the clean paper for a second. We would lift up the iron and press it on a new section. DO NOT IRON the paper or leave it on for too long. It will make the papers stick together. Once you have applied the heat pull apart the two papers.

This was a favorite among the participants. I actually had several adults ask to see the book, so they could get the instructions to do at home.

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Third Craft: Chalkboard Tins
Supply Cost: $1.98

We had a patron who donated mini Altoids tins to our library. My co-worker originally was going to use them, but she graciously donated them to me for my program. I also had chalkboard paint.  I only needed to buy the chalk for the kids.

This was the clear winner for the kids. All they had to do was paint the inside of their tin. Ideally you would allow the tin to dry for a few hours and then paint another coat. We didn’t have that kind of time, so we would let the tins dry for about 20-30 minutes and then apply another coat. Some of the tins did have quite a bit of paint from some overenthusiastic painters, but it all worked out. Instructions can be found here.


My last craft I unfortunately do not have a picture of it. One of my volunteers found wooden flowers of varying sizes. She created little baggies that contained one colored Popsicle stick, one big flower, and one little flower. The kids (really an adult) hot-glued them together.

I think the next time I do this program I would like to incorporate making dirt cups. I just was a leery of how much time I would have for everything.