Home > Kids > Jcpl Kids Blog > Parents


Barbara, Evergreen Library

It's that time of year again, that little nip of Fall is in the air and school children everywhere are asking:

"What did you bring?"

"PB&J and an apple, wanna trade?"


Don't let this happen again. Check out some of these fun and inovative books, with creative and delicious lunch box ideas, and take your kid's lunch from drab to fab!

Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord


 Best Lunch Box Ever by Kate Sullivan Morford

Your kids will thank you!!!

Jenny, Golden Library

The nights are getting cooler, aren't they? But the days are HOT! How about some fun places to keep cool during these dog days of summer?

WHERE: Surfside Spray Park
           5330 W 9th Ave (just west of 9th & Sheridan), Lakewood
WHEN:  Aug 22-Sep 6: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
           Labor Day: Mon, Sep 7: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $1 per person (pre-walkers free)

We went to a birthday party at this park a few weeks ago and I was sure the GPS lady had lost her way until we were right on top of this hidden gem. Most of the park is a circle of sprayers of varying height and duration. My boy was enchanted by the aim-able water cannon, naturally. My daughter developed a game where she ran through the whole park without getting wet at all, so it is certainly what you make of it! There is a little-kids area with a water-way and movable obstacles so the children can explore the physics of water. And then they can stand on a fountain! The tables and shelters are set far enough back from the splash pads that you don't HAVE to get wet to have a good time here, although that is kind of the point, isn't it?  Surfside used to be a swimming pool, which is evident from the facilities: lockers! changing areas! multiple stalls! 

WHERE: Ralston Central Park
            5850 Garrison St, Arvada
WHEN:   Splash Pad hours through September 15:  10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

When Ralston Central Park opened last summer, we couldn't wait to go. And neither could anyone else! It was like Thunderdome over there. We went one time, had fun, but the chaos was a bit much for me. It's still a very popular park, but it's calmed down a bit. I really like the layout of this park: there's a traditional, vaguely "Swiss Family Robinson" themed playground that's separate from the splash park - so, like at Surfside, you don't HAVE to get wet. The splash park has features for all ages: plenty of shade and tables for parents/caregivers; tall leaf-shaped showers, and buckets that dump for big kids; fountains that shoot up from the ground and cascade down from about 3ft for our littlest friends. The facilites are new, and - as far as park facilities go - delightful.

WHERE: Discovery Park
            3701 Johnson St (38th & Kipling), Wheat Ridge
WHEN:   Park hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
            Splash Pad hours May 1 - September 30: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

I confess, Discovery is my favorite park right now. It has lots of little environments so it feels like more than one park. The splash pad is user-generated: if you want to get wet, you must stomp on the in-ground "buttons." My little one doesn't care for surprises, so she likes that she has some control over whether or not she gets soaked. Up the hill on the south east side of the park is a meandering "stream" for ankle-deep wading and paddling. There's a toddler playground near the splash pad, and a big kids playground across the way. There's a skatepark, a sculpture park with a "secret" tube slide, and even a dedicated sandbox (with water feature) for [getting really filthy] an extra special sensory experience. A bonus for Discovery Park is that there's a Port-o-Let available year round. I know, gross, but in Colorado it's a shame the bathrooms at most parks are only available during the summer. We like to be outside when the weather's nice - even in February, and when you gotta go...

I hope you've had an amazing summer. Stay cool, Jeffco!


Photo credits: Surfside - Design Concepts Community and Landscape Architects; Ralston Central Park - Westword.com; Discovery Park - Bobby T. at Yelp.com


Jill J. Outreach Librarian, Kids & Families

As summer comes to a close and we get closer to Halloween and fall costume parties, many of us start to panic about which costume to make or buy for our children.  Recently, I heard a mother talking about how she created a costume chest for her son when he was little.  I thought to myself, that’s right!  Why wait to have fun with costumes?  Why not create a collection of costumes and extend dress-up play to enjoy during the entire year?!  This would be a fantastic way to encourage my son to engage in another form of imaginative play.  A recent Scholastic article points out that the benefits of pretend play include helping children develop strong social, emotional skills and thinking skills, while also nurturing the imagination.

I was delighted to bring this idea home for my son.  I bought a large basket which we named "The Costume Chest."  Then, he and I gathered up all of his old Halloween costumes and props.  I immediately noticed how much he loves dressing up to act out scenarios and pretend to be certain characters even more, since he has easy access to his costumes. Great places to get cheap costumes, if you don’t feel like making them, are dollar stores and off season sale bins/end caps at various stores.   Thrift stores and garage sales are also great places to hunt for costumes and props.  Then, try to set up scenes in your house in simple ways.  A fort could double as a pirate’s cave, or a blanket and some pillows on the floor could be a pirate ship.  Most of all have fun!

Here are some additional suggestions to help create an imaginative play zone in your home:

  • Large plastic crates, cardboard blocks, or a large, empty box for creating a "home"
  • Old clothes, shoes, backpacks, hats
  • Old telephones, phone books, magazines
  • Cooking utensils, dishes, plastic food containers, table napkins, silk flowers
  • Stuffed animals and dolls of all sizes
  • Fabric pieces, blankets, or old sheets for making costumes or a fort
  • Theme-appropriate materials such as postcards, used plane tickets, foreign coins, and photos for a pretend vacation trip

For some costume ideas, check out the library for costume books.   





Photo credit: jasohill on Flickr

Anna, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

I have a three year old and a five year old. It has been such a beautiful experience watching them learn to recognize letters and their sounds. My boys are so proud of themselves when they can point to a letter and make the sound. When they do this, they are practicing an early literacy skill called Letter Knowledge.

What is Letter Knowledge? It is simply knowing that letters are everywhere. That each letter makes a different sound, has a different shape and when you stick a few letters together, you get a word!  I discovered a website that has a great variety of early literacy games including some in English, Spanish, French, and German! I particularly like the Uppercase Game because it shows how different shapes construct a letter. This game shows that three straight lines in two different lengths will form the uppercase "A". When your child puts all the pieces or shapes together, they will see the Uppercase Letter. 

Here are a few ways to practice Letter Knowldege with your child: 

  • Talk about how different shapes make up our letters (Three straight lines make letter "A")
  • Write the letters of your child's name and talk about the sounds in his or her name.
  • Point out the differences between Uppercase and Lowercase letters 

Books suggestions that will encourage talking about letters:

Shiver me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel 

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham

G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco 


Photo Credit: Steven Depolo  

Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

As a kid, there was always a cetain feeling of dread combined with excitement when the summer came to a close and my mom and I would go 'back to school' shopping. Whether heading to the first day of preschool or the first day of second grade, I always had butterflies in my stomach and trouble sleeping the night before. Reflecting on my experiences as a child and as a teacher, I thought I would share some books to help prepare your little one for the first day in a classroom or daycare.  I also included a few titles to make your elementary or middle school bound child laugh or feel a sense of ease about the upcoming school year.  

A cute board book for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners.  

See how Dino wins each "match".  


Daddy doesn't stick to the list in this funny story.  

A new book about overcoming elementary school bullies with a great attitude. 

Number 7 in James Patterson's popular middle school series.  This book will have boys and girls ages 9 and up laughing!


Image credit: Flickr


Barbara, Evergreen Library


Dear Duncan,

Esteban the Magnificent here...formerly known as PEA GREEN CRAYON...we don't talk about that though, such an unfortunate color name!

I mean really, PEA GREEN?

Kids hate peas!

Who wants to color with their least favorite food?

Oh...and poor MAROON CRAYON, lost beneath the sofa cushions, just tragic!

And BURNT SIENNA CRAYON...chewed up and spit out by the dog...EWWWWW!

Not to mention TURQUOISE CRAYON...tumbled dry, low!!! The horror!

I recently heard that the Original 12, and you know who you are, almost QUIT!

Can you imagine, crayons quitting? It's back to school time!

Well, they did, and you, Duncan, listened.

I hear the Original 12 have it better than ever now.

Well, we're special too, we're the CRAYON CLASSIC COLOR PACK - 64 COUNT, with sharpener in the back!

There might be a lot of us, but that doesn't mean you can do with us as you please, we have feelings too you know, and we want to come home.

The world can be a cold hard place for a lone crayon.

So Duncan, if you're reading this, remember there's more to life than RED, BLUE and GREEN, we're here for you too, buddy.

We just want to come home (AUGUST 18th, if you'll have us),

Esteban the Magnificent (aka PEA GREEN)


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt


Karen, Kids and Families Outreach Librarian

Having nine nieces and nephews as well as knowing a lot of friends with children, I have been invited to countless babyshowers.  My favorite gift items?  Bath toys!!  You can never go wrong with bathtime books, foam letters or rubber duckies.  Bathtime is a wonderful opportunity to engage your baby, toddler or preschooler in the Five Early Literacy Practices: Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play.  

On pbs.org, they describe many ways you can encourage language and literacy development during bathtime; from naming body parts to asking your child what are they going to need for bathtime.  There are even suggestions for first graders. My favorite one was to make up stories about the different bath toys.  Once upon a time, there was a Pirate Duck named Orange Beak.  He was on a mission to locate the treasure stolen by Princess Barbie and her Little Pony friends...

Ideas that incorporate the Five Early Literacy Practices into bathtime:

TALK- Use different words to describe how toys move in the water: splash, dip, sink, float, rock, glide, etc...

SING- Sing to baby about body parts (ie. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes).  Make up or learn new bathtime songs like the one about the turtle, Tiny Tim, on Jbrary (I LOVE JBRARY!!!)

READ- Read bathtime books to your baby or point out words on your child's bubble bath or shampoo bottle

WRITE- Use bathtime crayons to write baby's name on the tile or use foam letters to spell out words

PLAY- Mix in science and math concepts by adding measuring cups and spoons to your bathtub toy collection

Read a good book before or after bathtime:


A board book. Great for babies and toddlers!

A cute story about an elephant reluctant to take a bath.

One of my favorite characters, the Pigeon!  Mo Willems' books make me laugh!

Rub-a-dub!  Now get those kiddos into the tub!  And keep logging Summer Reading minutes!

Barbara, Evergreen Library

STORYTIME: a regular time at which a story is read aloud to children. 

Wanna get jazzed for the day? Just come to a storytime at your local library!

I do a weekly toddler storytime at the Evergreen Library and I look forward to it all week! It is my time to shine...use silly voices, see lots of smiling faces, Shake My Sillies Out, and end with a grand finale of the Hokey Pokey...this is not your mother's storytime! Gone are the days of hushed voices and long stories. Instead today's storytimes are interactive and most of all fun!!! Filled with well illustrated and age appropriate books, songs, fingerplays, felt board and interactive activities there is something for everyone at your libraries weekly storytimes.

According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights EARLY LITERACY STORYTIMES as one of the crucial activities designed to promote early literacy in young children.

Why it's Important:

Literacy-based storytimes offer libraries a way to be partners in education with parents and caregivers. Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL) supports the definition of a literacy-based storytime as one that contains the following components:

  • Parents and caregivers are invited to attend storytimes with their children
  • At least one early literacy practice is highlighted during each storytime
  • Storytime leaders model activities that build early literacy skills
  • Books and activities promote the use of early literacy skills and practices
  • Information about early literacy skills and practices and/or tips for building skills are provided to parents and caregivers during storytime, either verbally, via a handout, or both

At the library we LOVE storytime and we want you and your child to LOVE it too! So, drop on by and give us a try, we can't wait to see you!!! 

Jenny, Golden Library

I have a confession to make. I've had the Monkey Preschool Lunchbox app ($1.99 Apple/Android) on every device I've owned since I first discovered it several years ago. It's so simple, so fun, and so rewarding that even though my kids first started playing with it when they were each about 18 months old, they still play at 5 and 3. Here's why:

It's varied: there are 7 different mini tasks - counting, letter recognition, matching, colors, puzzles, shapes and sizes. A sweaty-palmed 2 year old may have trouble with the puzzles at first, but that same child in a few short months will be waving your expensive phone/tablet around in triumph. 

It's repetitive: yes, this is also one of its drawbacks, but young children thrive on repetition. It provides opportunity to both practice emerging skills, and gain mastery of the concepts presented in the game. Before she'd perfected the art of the swipe, my daughter would simply hand me the phone when she reached a task she couldn't complete. I would help her do what was asked, and she would take over again. We both win.

It's fun: I mean, it has a little Memory game in it. The monkey does flips when you pack its lunch! Flips! And then you get to choose stickers that dance around because they're so excited that you're such an amazing genius. Or your kid is. Whomever. I also sort of like the calypso/calliope music...for a little while. 

Since they've discovered YouTube, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is no longer the go-to app on any of our family devices anymore. But if we're out at a restaurant, or stuck in a doctor's office, or really anywhere there might be a long wait and no wifi, we are playing this game and loving it. I downloaded the app when it was featured for free, but if you have young kids and smartphones, this may be the best $1.99 you ever spend.  

If your kids, like mine, have pretty much mastered these skills, you may want to try Monkey MathSchool Sunshine. It's got 9 more mini-games that teach sequencing, patterning, counting, adding and subtracting. My 5 year old son loves the connect-the-dots to help the baby turtle find the ocean.

I didn't know until right now that they'd also developed a reading game. I'll bet you can guess what I'll be using our next app store credit for...


Anna, Kids and Families

Colorado summers are so beautiful and children enjoy being outside. So, let's take our books outside and read under the shade of a tree. What if we enhanced this outdoor reading by adding an activity that will help our early readers retell the story?

Retelling a story is an early literacy skill that builds their reading comprehension confidence. This confidence will keep kids excited and motivated to keep reading. This outdoor storytime won't require much.

Here is what you will need:

  1. A blanket to sit on
  2. A book of your choice
  3. Some crayons or a set of paints, brushes, and cup of water
  4. Something hard to color on such as a piece of cardboard, and;
  5. A few sheets of blank paper.

Once you've found the perfect shady spot in your yard, explain to your children that they can draw the story as you read it. They may need 3-5 sheets of paper in order to continue drawing throughout the entire story.

After you finish reading the book, ask your child this question: "Tell me about your picture". Asking them to tell you about their picture will encourage them to retell the story in their own words.

Stay away from questions like "What is that?" or "Is that a dog?". These questions can be limiting. You could ask: "Who is in this story?","Where did this story take place?","What happened next?", or "How did the story end?" Your child might end up drawing the butterfly that flew over you as you read. That is okay. The idea here is to create a positive experience with you and a book.

Here are a few suggestions of picture books and chapter books that are great for this reading comprehension skill: 

Remember to log those minutes!

The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone 

If You Give a Moose a Muffin  by Laura Numeroff 

 Otis by Loren Long

 I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen 


Do you want more than picture books? Check out these chapter books. 

Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo 

 Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne 

Image Credit: Jeff Golden


Subscribe to RSS - Parents