American Girl: Josefina Montoya (October 2015)

I resumed my American Girl series after our summer reading program and boy, was I excited for what I planned for October. Día de los Muertos! My brain exploded with ideas. I knew Josefina would perfect for this with her storyline.

I started off with my traditional powerpoint. I briefly touched on Josefina losing her mother and how she most likely celebrated Día de los Muertos. I also discussed the customs and traditions celebrated today.

Our first craft was to make a calaveras mask for the participants and their dolls. I found this template. I printed off both the flower and heart mask and downsized the original mask to fit the dolls. I put out markers, sequins, and glue for decoration tools. I saw some pretty cool masks.

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Our second craft was nesting dolls. I wanted a craft that would be slightly more modern. I also liked that it correlated with the decorating of the graves on Día de los Muertos.

nesting dolls

To add an extra bit of flair to the program, I also incorporated face painting. I choose a simple design and had my two helpers keep to this one choice. At first no one was getting up to get their faces painted, but soon there was a line with ready participants. Here is an image of my helper’s makeup.


I wrapped up the event with some hot chocolate. My research showed that hot chocolate or champurrado are popular drinks during this holiday.

This might have be my favorite session yet. The girls had a blast and it went very smoothly.

American Girl: Julie Albright (April 2015)

Alright, work has been extremely busy with summer reading program, and I have fallen off the wagon with updating. I’m going to try and catch up by doing at least a post week (hopefully two).

My final American Girl program was focused on Julie Albright. I figured we could end the spring series with some disco dancing, pet rocks, and tie-dying.

I did my traditional opening with a brief powerpoint about the Julie’s era, the 1970s. After introducing Julie, I then talked about how popular pet rocks where during this time. I gave a brief history about how pet rocks got started. I then let the kids and their adults loose to paint their own pet rocks.

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After our pet rock project, we moved on to tie-dying (how could we not). There were quite a few chuckles from the older crowd. I would have loved to actually tie-dye shirts, but coffee filters are just as fun. I had the crowd decorate their coffee filters (each person got three) and then my helpers walked around and spritzed each filter with water. We saw some really groovy combinations.

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We finally ended with a mini party. I served Doritos and root beer to the kids. I always knew that Doritos was popular, but who knew how crazy the kids would go for their own batch. I actually had to give five girls Oreos because I ran out of Doritos. Next time I will buy three party bags instead of just two! I then threw some ABBA on and let them have their own dancing party.

American Girl: Addy Walker (February 2015)

I had a hard time picking a girl for February until one of my favorite patrons requested that I do Addy Walker for February. I knew immediately that I wanted the kids to make their own play-dough cherry pie as Addy had cherry pie for her birthday. I woke up at 6am on Saturday and made several batches of homemade play-dough. I found this super easy recipe. I do recommend that you add the salt directly to the hot water. It made the play-dough less grainy. I made several batches for the “dough” and a smaller batch for the “cherries.” 10997511_774953422553707_5027035777628351599_n Once the girls arrived for the actual program, I did my Addy Walker powerpoint. I talked briefly about what plantation Addy’s lived on (the author created Addy’s character based on the Stagville Plantation, how she picked her birthday, her chores, and where she escaped to with her mother. I then talked about how Addy had cherry pie for birthday and how she might have played with a Thaumatrope. Our first task was for the girls to make their own cherry pie out of the play-dough. I bought a several muffin tins. I specifically choose the tins that came six to one tin. I wanted a size that the girls could easily manage and that would be size appropriate for their dolls. These are super easy to cut. You just have to make sure to fold the down tin so there are no sharp edges. We lined out tins with the dough, rolled the cherries, and then made the topping. Plastic knives work great to make the strips.

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Some of the girls made designs. Unfortunately, I was running around and was unable to get pictures. After our cherry pies, we went on to make our own thaumatropes. I found my instructions in Martha’s Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids. I had a few examples of thaumatropes on my powerpoint. I showed two youtube videos. One of them was of vintage thaumatropes and the other was of new thaumatropes.  Beware that many kids will copy the examples. However many of them of turned out great. Here is one example:

American Girl: Kirsten Larson (January 2015)

Kirsten Larson might be retired, but she made a reappearance as our very first American Girl for our series. To get the public excited I made a mini display at our American Girl table with Kirsten’s books.


For my actual program, I started with a powerpoint about Kirsten Larson. I kept it fairly short, as all of the kids are in school. I talked about where Kirsten was born and why her family moved. I then very briefly talked about why they moved to Minnesota and what Kirsten’s family would have sought in this new land. This included what kind of chores Kirsten was expected to do and what she might have to do for fun.

I explained that Kirsten most likely did quilting as a fun activity. I did not want to hand out needles to little kids, so I found an alternative at Playdough to Plato. Scrapbook paper! I had a volunteer die-cut a bunch of one inch squares for me. I then made a simple quilt template for the kids. I then let the kids and their adults loose.


I gave a good thirty to forty minutes for the kids to design and glue their quilt together. Once someone was done with their quilt, I came around with different colored card stock for their border. I did not do any funky colors, as I wanted the quilts to be more authentic.

There were some really cool quilts!

edited quilts

After we were done making our quilts. We switched gears to the chores that Kirsten would have completed. One of these was making butter! I explained that she probably churned butter, but we were making butter with our shaking skills. The kids had a BLAST with this activity.


Once we were done making butter I gave everyone bread to eat with their homemade butter. I actually some of the kids licking butter out of the jars!

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This was a very successfully program. I actually had several parents/guardians ask me for the recipe to make the butter, as they wanted to do it at home!

American Girl Doll Lending Program

I am very excited to announce that it has been almost two months since my American Girl Doll program went live! This has been a dream program of mine since I started in the library world, and my current boss made it a reality when she gave me the thumbs up to purchase all the dolls. We were able to buy 7 of the 8 Beforever Historical Dolls. Addy was backordered in December and I had to use 2014’s budget to get the dolls. We  made a mental note to purchase her in 2015. I was like a kid on Christmas Day when all the dolls arrived.


On December 20, 2014, at my Samantha’s Victorian Christmas Tea Party, we officially announced that all the dolls will be available for checkout. I was immediately bombarded by little girls asking when and how they could get the dolls. Unfortunately, it took me a good three weeks before they were ready.

10462863_745489288833454_5794966194288602524_nIt took me 2 1/5 full work days to get these dolls ready for circulation. I created a detailed binder with LOTS of pictures. I itemized everything that came each doll, pictures of each doll, and pictures of what came in their carrying cases. This has come in very handy.
Here is a picture of Kit with everything she comes with when she is checked out.

10961810_574998867147_680062504_nI made sure to include a journal with each doll. The inside of every journal includes how to take care of their dolls and the policies for taking them home.

My last step was to create a place where children and adults could find the dolls. I made this handy dandy bucket. Every doll comes with her own paddle. A patron simply takes the paddle to our circulation desk and they receive their doll.


I can officially say this service is a HUGE SUCCESS! The dolls are NEVER in and we have constant phone calls from adults inquiring if the dolls are available. I even had one woman run into the library without a coat in 17 degree weather. She saw that two dolls were available and she didn’t want to miss her chance to get one.

I do have a few quick suggestions for libraries interested in starting their own American Girl Doll Lending Program:

  • Ease in slowly with dolls. I felt a bit overwhelmed trying to handle and check all 7 dolls. I almost wish that I would have started with 2 and then introduced another 2 this month and so forth. However, I then wouldn’t have all my rocking stats!
  • Realize that dolls with curls are going to be the bane of your existence. I spend at least 30 minutes to an hour redoing Caroline’s curls.
  • Really examine the dolls. I thought that a patron had cut one of the doll’s hair until we realized that the shorter hair (it was in between the longer strands) was too perfectly cut to be done by a child. My assistant director called her sister-in-law who confirmed that her doll also had the same thing.

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information!

American Girl: Samantha’s Victorian Christmas Tea Party

I am very excited too announce that I am starting an American Girl series at my library. I have done an American Girl Program at my previous library, so this program is not unknown territory for me. However, my new library is starting an American Girl Doll circulating collection. We are only missing Addy, as she was backordered when we purchased all the dolls. We are hoping to add her with the new year.


I started prepping for this program back in September. We officially announced the program with an American Doll display. Staff members generously loaned us their dolls and accessories to jazz up the cases.

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I also placed a sign in the case advertising the program.


My age limit for this program is Kindergarten through 5th grade. I figure that most children in Kindergarten have some experience with sitting nicely. I also encouraged everyone to register. A child did not have to have an American Girl doll to come.

I originally began with 25 spots, but I quickly expanded to 38 when we hit max registration by September. I do allow, even encourage, parents and guardians to attend with their children. I see this program as a bonding opportunity.

The Big Day: Saturday, December 20


I was very fortunate that my coworker and I were frugal with our budget this year. This allowed me to purchase bakery cookies instead of store-bought cookies. I would recommend that you talk with your baker and ask how large the cookies will be. I planned for about 5 cookies per person not realizing that the cookies were HUGE. Library staff enjoyed several platters after the program.



Since our library does not own real tea cups, yet, I settled for Chinet Crystal Plastic Cups. It adds a tiny bit more fanciness to the event instead of red solo cups. However, I was not comfortable with serving hot beverages in plastic cups. I opted for:

  • Country Time Pink Lemonade
  • Arizona Half & Half
  • Arizona Sweet Tea
  • Decaf Coffee (we had coffee cups)

To compensate for the lack of real hot tea, I made little party favor bags for all my guests. I placed one celestial peppermint tea bag and a candy cane into a party bag.


Table Settings

I went with blue and silver table cloths alternating every other table. I had a volunteer die-cut me three big snowflakes for each table and four tiny blue snowflakes to surround the big snowflakes. I then sprinkled shimmery confetti on top of the snowflakes to add a glittery element.

For each place setting I had a plate, cup, napkin, goody bag and name card. I only did name cards for the girls, as I did not have all the adult names.

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Background Music

I love to play music in the background of my American Girl events. I feel that people start feeling more relaxed and enjoy the event even more. I was fortunate enough to locate the cd, The American Girls Christmas–Music of Christmas Past.


I chose three crafts for this event. The first one was calling cards. I explained to the crowd how calling cards were used during Samantha’s time. I then had everyone make their own calling card. I gave about 10 minutes for this craft. After everyone was done I walked around and collected the cards on a platter.


The second craft was silhouettes. I set this station up in the hallway to keep the flow moving. We started this craft while everyone was eating.


I strongly recommend that you have larger pieces of black paper to do this craft. This allows for the kids to do the whole head instead of just their faces. I have done larger pieces of paper before. Regardless, both adults and kids had fun with this one.

Our final craft was making our own fans. You can find this craft in Samantha’s Craft Book: A Peek at Crafts from the Past with Projects You Can Make Today.


The fans can be a headache the first time you make them. Here are tidbits to make them go easier:

  • Buy wrapping paper with grid-lines. This makes the folding ten times easier. Target’s wrapping paper normally has grid-lines.
  • Four grid boxes high and the whole width of the wrapping makes the perfect fan. It’s not too long or too short.
  • Use glue when attaching the paper to the tongue depressors and provide rubber bands to keep the paper down.

The Final Surprise

We gave away a Samantha! I was SUPER excited for this part. I crossed every single toe and finger that the child who won did not have a doll. My wish was granted! The girl who won did not have an American Girl Doll and she was very gracious with her winning. Her mom might have been more shocked about the doll than the girl.


Overall Thoughts

This program went really really well. I had seven volunteers to help me with everything. I really could not have done without them. They made the program run smoothly. When the guests were arriving, I would have my volunteers escort them to their assigned tables and take their coats. After everyone was comfortable, my volunteers had specific tables where they would refill drinks, clean away trash, and bring out craft materials.

Overall, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I actually had several parents and little girls who came up and thanked me for the program. I am glad to report that my registration for my January-March programs are already starting to fill up!