Fabulous Fridays: How to Train Your Dragon Program

How to Train Your Dragon Program

Fabulous Fridays: How to Train Your Dragon

The Program
After receiving frequent requests for How to Train Your Dragon materials, Pamela and I decided it was high time we had a program! If you have never listened to this amazing series, YOU NEED TO! In my very first post on this blog, I shared some reasons why this and other fantastic audiobooks are worth a listen! For the program, I asked my amazing former history teacher to come and present evidence on why dragons may have been real. As always, she did a phenomenal job and kept the kids engaged for a full 30-45 minutes. At the end, this was my reaction:

Excited Brad Stevens - Conclusion: Dragons ARE Real!

But some of the kids were still incredulous...

In addition, we had a plethora of printouts and other passive activities for the tweens to enjoy. In a perfect programming world, every book would have a website with as many wonderful activities as Cressida Cowell has provided on www.howtotrainyourdragonbooks.com. I had to do next to nothing for this portion of the program. The only activity I added myself was a blank book made out of plain white and construction paper for the tweens to create their own version of "A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons."


Video of the author teaching Dragonese

Quiz about the author and the books:

Create Your Own Viking Shield:

Page 31

Family Tree

Inspired by the activity on page 23, printables on pages 29-30:

Translate your name into Viking runes

Pages 32-33

Viking History Quiz

Pages 25-26:

Differences between the book and movie:

Story Maps, Draw Your Own Map, and Write Your Own Story:

How to Speak Dragonese

Dragon Coloring Sheets, Dragon Trading Cards, and Create Your Own Dragon:

Pinterest board I put together of various ideas and printables:

There are various printables such as word searches and mazes from the movie here:


Create your own “Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons”
Create books by folding a piece of construction paper in half. Then fold a 2-3 pieces of printer paper in half and place them between the two halves of the construction paper. Staple.


The War that Saved My Life

The War that Saved My Life

By: Kimberly Bradley 

The Story 

From Amazon

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother  refues to let Ada out due to her clubbed foot. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But as the War goes on, Ada's mom comes back and forces Ada and Jamie to come home. Ada must find a way to win her own war and go back home with Susan. 

My Thoughts 

LOVED this book! I have heard talk of it being on the Newbery list, and I can see why. It has some new things to offer to the WWII genre, and it is beautifully written. I enjoyed the theme of the story which was that people with disabilities can do anything. Ada even caught a spy. How much cooler can you get? I also felt like it did a great job of describing the British attitude and hardships during the war. I was especially interested in the bombing. 

 It reminded me a lot of The Book Thief in the aspect of describing the bombing. 

Even though I think this book is phenomenal, please proceed with caution when using this book for reader's advisory.  

Some things to be aware of in reader's advisory with this book: 

1. It describes some extreme forms of abuse that may upset some readers. 

For instance, Ada is locked away in a cabinet for long periods of time & forced to use the facilities in a bucket. 

It also ends with her mom telling her that she never wanted her at all - which I myself had some trouble reading. 

2. It is hinted that Susan Smith (Ada's guardian) was involved in a lesbian relationship. 

It does not go into detail about her relationship. Susan's partner passed away, but it does dance around this relationship for the majority of the book. 

I would not recommend this to families who are uncomfortable with gay / lesbian relationships. 

Please note that I am just noting these reasons for reader's advisory purposes & school purposes. 
I feel like one has to be extra careful with middle grade books in advisory due to the array of maturity levels, 

 I do think that this book is buzz worthy for the right audience though!

Have you read this novel? What did you think of it?

Until next time,


I Survived Program

If you work in Youth Services, you know that the series I Survived is very popular right now.

I was inspired by this series. I studied history in college, and wanted to turn it into a library program.  I feel like it is a very librarian thing to do to turn a popular book series into a program. I could not resist! For this program, I created about 10 stations for families to walk through and try. I wanted to not only include the historical facts, but I also wanted to do some STEM projects as well.
It turned out to be a fantastic tween boy program.

I had a lot of stations. Maybe a little bit too many, but I wanted to have a lot for families to do. For each station, I had library books out on the subject and fun facts taped on the table for participants to read.

Here are the station I had set up:

Station #1 -  I Survived: The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912

For this station, I had participants make boats out of foil. They tested them out in our kitchen to see how many marbles it would hold. While they worked on their boats, many families read off facts about the Titanic to their children that I had setting out. 

Station #2- I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 

This was one of the most successful stations. Participants made buildings out of Legos. Once they were done, we put it on a cookie sheet and shook it to see how it would withstand an earthquake. We did have a lot of Lego men fatalities, but it was a great way for them to learn about structures, and what architects have to think about when they build. I will defiantly use this one next time!

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Station #4- I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 

For this station, I made a quiz called "Would You Survive a Shark Attack."  I set out books & a computer for the kids to see where tagged sharks are in the world. I pulled up the shark tracker through Ocearch. It is kinda of fun to see where the sharks are at, but the kids really enjoyed the quiz the most at this station. 

Station #5- I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011

My library isn't too far from Joplin. So I wanted to highlight the new release of this book. I didn't do too much for this station. I just set out some tornado safety handouts, and had some books out. If I do this next time, I would like to make a tornado in a bottle to show how tornadoes form. 

Station #6- I Survived the Japanese Tsunami 

The main activity for this station was for participants to play with an ocean in a bottle. This was supposed to show how waves are formed. This was one of the less successful station. Next time, I might do something different for this. 

Station #7- I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2004

For this station, I set out a laptop and invited participants to build a hurricane . I wanted participants to understand how hurricanes are formed. I had one participant who wouldn't leave until he successfully built one. It is a fun game that I suggest you try!

Station #8-  I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79

Originally, this station was supposed to be an obstacle course. I set out a red table cloth from the Dollar Tree, and placed brown construction paper down. Participants were to only step on the brown construction paper, but we decided it was too easy & merged it with Station #9!

Station #9 & 10- It's War! 

I based this station off of the I Survived books set in war time.

For this station, we had two main activities. The First one was an obstacle course.

This was my favorite station.  Ms. Alyssa & I try to make it difficult to keep our participants attention.  What you see here is the result!

The second half of this station was to build a fort.

 Creating a fort was one of the required activities for our summer reading program, and I thought it would be the perfect spot for the kids to curl up and read some of the I Survived books & its read a likes.  This station was a hit. I don't know how many times they built and rebuilt it.

How it went 

This was my favorite program I did this summer. We had so many tween boys come & they had a blast. I felt like the stations were perfect for them. Next time, I do think I will reach out to our local home school groups. I think that would make this program even more successful. I also felt like I had too many stations which took too much staff time. So I might cut out a few, but I think this is one that we will repeat in the future.

For more information about this program, please see my post in Programming Librarian 

Until next time,


The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Goodreads Synopsis:

A Foundational Fairy Tale by Master of the Genre, George MacDonald “Seeing is not believing - it is only seeing.” ― George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin 
George MacDonald's novel, The Princess and the Goblin, is a charming fairy tale of a young girl who sets out for adventure, meets a young miner boy, and helps save the kingdom from destruction by Goblins. Beneath the simple story is Christian symbolism and imaginative writing. Many writers such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L'Engle, and Lewis Carroll have been influenced by George MacDonald and The Princess and the Goblin. 


My love of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien first introduced me to The Princess and the Goblin. A coworker mentioned this novel had helped inspire such works as The Lord of the Rings and the The Chronicles of Narnia, which instantly peaked my interest! Any author that had inspired the works I considered the pinnacle of greatness for fiction, must be worth trying. Eagerly, I procured an audiobook of the tale and entered Irene and Curdie's world. 

One point I must make, is that this is not Narnia or Lord of the Rings. However, it is of a rare kind of literature that speaks to something deeper in a person than most stories. It enters soul level. This is what attracts adults to a story written for children, and sets it apart as great literature. This tome is layered. One can dig, read, and reread and still reap new fruits. A richly layered fairy tale that can truly be savored by a range of ages!

Until next time,