Earlier in the year, our Teen Librarian was struck with an unfortunate bug and needed to stay home from work that day. There was a Tween Time scheduled for that afternoon, and although my specialty area is programming for the 3-and-under set, I bravely agreed to take on the tweens for an hour and a half.
We thought that we had a program activity lined up - but, unfortunately, the bin of program materials did not arrive as scheduled! I have to admit, I was a bit panicked. What on Earth was I going to do with a room full of tweens on such short notice??
Drooling dimpled babies? Terrible two-year old toddlers? No problem!
Then it struck me. I'd use some of the toddler toys to make a super fun program. I'd do....Angry Birds!
I got out the foam blocks, connector toys and beanbags that we usually use at toddler programs. I scrounged up some styrofoam cups. Then I went to the internet and printed out some Angry Birds and Pigs to tape onto the beanbags and cups. Thus, live-action tabletop Angry Birds was born! :)
As luck would have it, I had a feisty group of tween boys at my program that day. They helped tape the Birds to the beanbags and the Pigs to the cups. Then, they took the blocks and got busy building elaborate levels to conquer with their Birds. And at last, it was time to launch!
About 30 seconds later, 15 minutes worth of beautifully-constructed level lay in ruins on the table and floor. And the kids were psyched! They picked everything up and started to build all over again!
An hour and a half of tabletop Angry Birds later, parents stopped by to pick up their happy offspring who had nothing but good things to say about their program experience.
I have to admit, I had a ton of fun with the tweens that day. I'm still terrified of them, naturally, but we did have an awful lot of fun with toddler toys. ;)
"Hush, hush, it's sleepytime for puppies." Read in a whispered voice. My mom could do it the best! Every night for as long as I can remember, my mom read to me and my brother as part of our bedtime routine. Hush, Hush, It's Sleeptime by Peggy Parish, a Little Golden Book, was my FAVORITE! It became just as important to my bedtime routine as brushing my teeth and squirrelling that last drink of water out of my parents. This book was first published in 1968, when I was just taking my first steps, and I still have my WELL loved, original, copy on my bookshelf. Think back to your favorite book as a child...Babar, Curious George, or maybe Madeline. The one book you could never get enough of, the one you had memorized and could "read" yourself. A life long love of reading begins with that one simple story. That's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights READ as one of their 5 practices designed to promote early literacy in young children.
How does reading with your young child help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states through:
Children who have an awareness of print understand that the markings on the page represent spoken language. They understand that when adults read a book, what they say is based on the words on the page, rather than to the pictures.
Here’s a super story about what it looks like to learn how to “see” print.
Learning letter names, shapes and sounds is a building block to being able to sound out words on a page.
The ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words.
The ability to describe things and events and tell stories.
A child's interest in and enjoyment of books. A child with print motivation enjoys being read to, plays with books, pretends to write, and likes trips to the library.
Knowing the names of things.
Looking for a creative way to combine your local libraries summer reading program and fun at home?
"Here's a surefire way to build excitement around the written word. Inspired by book-bingo handouts used by librarians, we designed a treat-packed home version that rewards frequent and wide-ranging reading. Whether your kids are born bookworms or reluctant readers, they'll get a kick out of earning prizes through their bookish pursuits -- and never suspect that they're also boosting their literacy skills." - June/July 2014 issue Family Fun
Check out A Simple Summer Reading Game, Book Bonanza for instructions.
I'm going to go home and find my Little Golden Book...hush, hush, it's sleepytime for readers.
What would you have in your perfect treehouse? A trap door, No-Girls allowed signs, a refrigerator full of your favorite snacks?
Well, best friends Andy and Terry have built their perfect treehouse and it has 13 stories. Not only do they have a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool with sharks, and a secret underground laboratory, they also have a lemonade fountain and a marshmallow machine that follows them around and shoots marshmallows into their mouths whenever they are hungry! It's the best treehouse in the whole wide world!!! How can you make the best treehouse in the whole wide world better...you add 13 more stories and a Maze of Doom.
Visit Andy and Terry in their treehouse and see just how much fun you can have being treehouse masters, you might just get a few ideas for your own perfect treehouse.
The 13-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths
The 26-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths
...WAIT there's even more...look for The 39-Story Treehouse...coming in Spring 2015.
The 39-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths
Come on up! What are you waiting for?
I am lucky enough to remember the days when Elitches and Lakeside Amusement parks were literally blocks from each other and park hopping was really no big deal. Elitches has moved on down the road but, Lakeside has remained in it's original location since 1908.
Nestled in the city of Lakeside, Colorado, the park was originally named the White City, after the Chicago World's Fair, boasting over 5000 electrical lights on the landmark Tower of Jewels and 100,000 more lights throughout the park.
Early rides at the park included the Shoot-the-Chutes, a splash down water ride, the Scenic Railway, an elevated railway over a mile long, the Velvet Coaster, StarShip 2000, Flight to Mars, a Coney Island Tickler, the Double-Whirl, the Staride, who's skeletel structure is still visible today, and the Cirlce Wave. Lakeside was also home to the Riviera ballroom and the Casino Theater.
Early postcard of the Shoot-the-Chutes ride, with a view of the Front Range in the background.
Lakeside Amusement park has seen a lot of changes over the years, but still maintains the small family friendly atmosphere it has always been famous for. I hadn't been to Lakesdide since I was a kid so, I didn't know what to expect when I took my kids, a few years back, with their free passes from JCPL's Summer Reading program.
Parking was FREE...take that Elitches. The kids were FREE, and it cost me just $10...I repeat $10...for my family of 4 to get into the park for an evening of fun. My daughter rode her very first roller coaster that night, she was TOO short to ride the ones at Elitches but, just right for the best wooden roller coaster in town, the Cyclone.
That night we ended up riding every ride at least twice, the lines were basically non existant, and everywhere we turned we ran into friends from the library. Our family had the BEST time that evening and now the kids look forward to earning their free unlimited rides pass to Lakeside every year!
The Cyclone, built in 1940, still packs a punch
Lakeside Amusement park and the Summer Reading Program have become a summer tradition for my family and our friends, we meet up, ride the rides, make ourselves sick on cotton candy and look forward to next year when we can do it all over again!
When kids get to pick their own books they get greater pleasure out of reading. Reluctant readers sometimes struggle with deciding what to read since they aren't big fans of reading in the first place. Books like the Plot-your-own stories (a.k.a. Choose Your Own Adventure) are great because they put the reader at the center of the story. The reader is an active character who can shape the direction of the story. There are a variety of Plot-your-own stories. They can be fictional adventures or based on actual historical events. Because these books can have a number of conclusions based on the different decisions that a reader makes along the way, you may just find your reluctant reader rereading the same book over and over. Check out some of these great Plot-your-own story series.
We use bubbles in our baby and toddler storytimes because they are fun, but also because they serve a purpose: Young children and babies can practice tracking an object with their eyes. They reach out to touch and pop the bubbles which utilizes their large motor skills and increases their range of motion. As with most effective learning, they simply think they are having fun!
Here are some other ways you can have a little fun with bubbles this summer:
Simply create a shape in a pipe cleaner and blow! Does a heart shaped wand make a heart shaped bubble?
Fairy Bubbles with drinking straws
Tape straws together, dip and blow for several tiny bubbles at once!
Bubble Window (Also makes large bubbles)
Take 2 straws and cut them to approximately 5 inches.
Thread a length of yarn (approximately 25-30 inches) through the straws and tie it.
Pull the straws to opposite sides to make a rectangle.
Dip in bubble solution and when you pull in apart you have a window!
If your finger has bubble solution on it you can poke it through the window and it won't break the bublble!
Woosh it through the air holding the rectangle shape and make a giant bubble!
Cut the end off of a water or Gatorade bottle with scissors.
Wrap a piece of old towel or other fabric around the end and fasten with a rubber band.
Dip the cloth in solution - no need to saturate.
Blow through the mouth of the bottle and create huge lengths of foam.
Be sure that if solution gets inside the bottle that you don't drink it...YUK!
If you are very ambitious try a body bubble with a hula hoop!
Here is the recipe for a Bubble Solution that I like, but there are many to experiment with online!
We celebrate fatherhood in the month of June, and lately, I find myself reminiscing about my first and most favorite friend to play with, my Daddy. I'll never forget his amazing piggyback rides or learning that bad throws cost runs in baseball; or that on rainy days he'd spend hours, with me, playing checkers, dominoes, or just doing a puzzle. Though, I didn't always win, I didn't care, I was having fun with my Dad and he was having fun with me. ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PLAY as one of their 5 practices designed to promote early literacy in young children.
How does playing with children help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states that:
Play can be a powerful boost to early literacy learning! The critical component of play that builds children’s literacy skills is oral language. This includes talking about their play, describing what they are doing, negotiating roles, and discussing props.
When children act stories they know, either as a play or with props or puppets, they practice sequencing events. They also are exploring and investigating story structure. Putting events in sequence and understanding how stories work are both skills that help children understand the new stories that they read.
As children play, they can be encouraged to talk about their scenarios and describe their actions and props. (“I’m stirring the eggs because I’m cooking pancakes for dinner.” “This stick is the magic wand and I’m going to turn you into a butterfly.”) This gives them a chance to practice using the vocabulary words they are learning. If a word in a book is one children have spoken themselves (instead of just hearing it), they are more likely to be able to recognize it on the page. They also can learn new words when an adult introduces new ideas into the play. “What would you like for dessert? Would you like cake, or a sundae? A sundae is ice cream in a bowl with chocolate sauce and sprinkles on top.”
Print Motivation & Print Awareness
Play times can also be an opportunity to show children that print is used in a wide variety of ways. Delivery drivers use maps, chefs use recipes, shoppers use lists. The more children see lists, notepads, signs, letters, and other props with printed words on them, the more they learn that print is something that is all around them, not just in books. The more different kinds of texts children are exposed to, the more likely it is they will find a type of text or a purpose for reading that they can connect with and be motivated by.
Parents can also follow their child's interests and play preferences by bringing home books about the topics their children are interested in and like to act out. If a child has a favorite toy horse and likes to play vet, bringing home non-fiction about different breeds of horse or stories about vets can introduce both new ideas for future play as well as keep children intrigued about books in general.
A milestone in children’s imaginative development is symbolic play, when they can use one prop or object to represent something else, as when a building block held to the ear becomes a cell phone. Dramatic play allows for many of these substitutions! Understanding that one object can stand for another object is a basic realization that leads to the more complicated understanding that a shape on the page can stand for a letter of the alphabet, and a word on the page can stand for a spoken word.
In addition, children learn through all their senses, so the kinesthetic exploration of shapes and letter forms via puzzles, play dough, sensory tables, and body movements all help children build their letter knowledge. Sorting games and matching activities directly involve shape recognition and prepare children to recognize small differences in letters.
Singing isn’t the only way to build phonological awareness skills; chanting games (“Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?”), clapping games (“Miss Mary Mack,” call-and-response rhythm games), and rhyming games (“Down By the Bay,” “Willoughby Wallaby Woo”) all contribute to this awareness as well, by highlighting the rhythms and sounds of oral language, and involving the whole body.
If you are looking for something new to do check out, The Great Outdoors: 25 Outside Activities from Family Fun magazine.
So, get outside this weekend, dig out that old catchers mitt and make some lasting memories. Your kids will love you for it!
Reading to your child should be fun. Why not make it fun for both of you? Here are a few of my favorite books that got the adult in this Children's librarian to laugh.
Jake Goes Peanuts by Michael Wright
Anyone who has ever tried to please a picky eater will get a good chuckle out of this one.
Lester's Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell
The sweaters that cousin Clara knits for Lester are truly dreadful but also hilarious.
The Cat the Cat series by Mo Willems
Cat the Cat Who is That?, the first in this series, made me laugh so hard in a book store that my husband pretended not to know me.
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka
This is my current favorite. It's a great one for kids young and old. Check out the hilarious trailer and then RUN to your local library to get a copy.
I've always loved Bad Kitty! From her first mischevious adventures with Puppy, to her latest hijinks with creator and illustrator, Nick Bruel, Kitty has never disappointed. No dream of tuna is too tuna-y, no Puppy slobber is too slobbery, and no Uncle Murray Fun Fact is too fact-y, in fact, I just can't get enough.
Which made me ask myself, why? Why do I have this undying fascination with Kitty? Why do I care who wins the Kitty Cat Olympics? Why do I love playing What the Heck is That Thing? And, just how did that goofy cat get a refrigerator up a tree?
It wasn't until this week that I finally found the true reason...we both have May birthdays. YAY!!! Though she's a Taurus and I'm a Gemini, I have overcome that barrier and sworn to be her BIGGEST fan! Now it is my mission to make ALL of you her BIGGEST fans too!
Let the adventure begin with Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel...
You'll be HOOKED!!!
To find out more about my favorite cat and her creator check out Bad Kitty Books, Uncle Murray will thank you.
Now, I'm off to play What the Heck is that Thing? Look out refrigerator!!!
Is your reader reluctant to read chapter books or fiction books of any kind? Try some non-fiction instead to get them interested in reading. Many kids prefer reading fact-filled books on their favorite topics rather than a story.
Have a conversation with your reader about what interests them. Then, come to the library to find some books that will support those interests and encourage them to read. Here are a few non-fiction series that might be appealing to your reader:
Once your reader's nonfiction interests become clear, ask a librarian to help you find fiction books on the same topic. Sometimes this can be a good bridge into the world of fiction books for reluctant fiction readers!