Summer is a great time to make things with your kids. Whether you are a dad or a mom, you'll find good ideas for collaborative projects to DIY with daughers and sons in Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter Projects. Written by Mark Frauenfelder, the editor in chief of MAKE Magazine, these projects vary in complexity. Most require some kind of tooling but can be adapted in different ways. There are woodworking projects like laminating up wood veneer layers while it's bent to make a pre-sprung long board to cruise the streets. There are imaginitive electonics projects like a kite-mounted video camera. There are plenty of whimsical, imaginative projects here. Also included are tips for devoping practical skills like creating and hosting your own podcast and using a variety of tools. I thought this book was suitable for parents and their elementary or middle-school aged children and up.
This spring, we celebrated the 20th year of the Global Reading Challenge! This quiz-bowl program is for 4th and 5th graders. Students form teams at their schools, read ten books chosen by KPL children’s librarians, then work as a team to answer questions about the books, earning points with correct answers.
Our intent is for kids to have fun reading the books and participating in a team activity. The ten books are carefully chosen to reflect our diverse world and to show characters successfully solving problems, contributing to their communities, and learning that people are more alike than they are different.
The first Challenge, in 1994, featured 19 teams from Lincoln, North Christian, and MLK Westwood; the winning team was the “Bookworm Warriors” from MLK Westwood. This year we had 129 teams from 17 schools! The District Final Challenge featured teams from Edison, Arcadia, Prairie Ridge, Spring Valley, and Northglade. The champion was the “Crazy Cougars” team from Prairie Ridge. Thanks to the students, parents, teachers, principals, and coaches for another successful year of books and reading!
Over this summer, librarians will be reading and choosing the books for the 2015 Global Reading Challenge. Team applications will be accepted in October and the book titles will be announced in December.
Global Reading Challenge
The Developmental Timeline from parentingcounts.org includes some great research-based parenting tips videos. Many have good advice for any caregiver of young children about how to speak "parentese, or speak in a way that actually encourages language development. Other videos linked from within the different tabbed domains in the timeline show the world from a child's perspective. If you are parent or caregiver, you might find them interesting, too. I like the videos that try to portray the world from a child's perspective. Other videos have good tips about how to make reading fun from the very beginning. These are things that come naturally to parents when we make the time to read to our kids. I like to think about how many parents and children are making memories reading 1000 Books Before Kindergarten together.
Making Reading Fun
There are lots of fun things to do at Kalamazoo Public Library locations during Spring Break. If you're at the Central Library and want to borrow child/family movies and music, come to the Children's Room. That's where those materials are now located. Maybe you've been wondering what those lullabye renditions of Michael Jackson music sound like. Or maybe it's time to see how Danny Devito voiced The Lorax. Or revisit that beautiful Carl and Ellie sequence from Up. You'll find something that you'll enjoy in this collection and you'll be able to check it out at the kiosk in the Children's Room, too. And while you'll be able to find Dr. Seuss books in the Children's Room, you'll want to go to the lower level to find Thriller and The Wiz. You'll find lots of movie musicals and documentaries that make great family viewing in the lower level, too!
Movies and Music in the Children's Room
We’re seeing more and more dads in the Children’s Room, as they bring their kids to storytime, choose books to take home, and share in the fun of playing with toys in the Story Place.
As more dads take on caregiver responsibilities, we are glad to see more parenting books written just for them. A Dad’s Guide to Childcare is one that I like. It’s practical, has clear photos that illustrate step-by-step processes, and even addresses difficult situations that may come up.
As part of the renovation of the Central Library Children’s Room, we’ve added some more Parenting books to our shelves. If you’re looking for books about parenting children from birth to 5 years, you can now find those books in the Children’s Room. We’d be glad to help you find the books that are just right for your family.
A Dad’s Guide to Childcare
1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is an exciting new program at Kalamazoo Public Library for all children from birth to entering Kindergarten. It's super simple, self paced, and provides a way for your child to earn a prize for every 50 books you read aloud to her and then a gift and certificate of completion when you reach 1,000 books. More important, since reading aloud to your child is the best way to prepare for kindergarten, 1,000 Before Kindergarten is a way for you to do just that - read lots of books with your child!
A parent asked me if the books she reads to her child for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten need to be library books. They do not. While Kalamazoo Public Library certainly has many thousands of books we can all share together with our preschool aged children, you might find yourself reading a book aloud to your child that you found at the Friends bookstore or that was passed along to you or purchased elsewhere. Of course this is just great! And the way you read the books is also completely up to you. Some books are made to be sung to your child. Other books benefit from the animal sounds you supply. There is a whole world of fun to be had reading to our children.
It's easy to sign up at the any KPL location. Learn more about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at KPL and continue down the road to Kindergarten. And if you're in the mood for a fun read aloud that will help you think ahead to Springtime, check out 999 Frogs Wake Up.
999 Frogs and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten!
The newly renovated Children's Room is open and ready for you to explore! There are many exciting new features including a parenting section, folk and fairy tales highlighted in the Alice in Wonderland Room, and more display space for new Fiction, new Non-fiction, and new Picture Books.
The Story Place has room for Lego at the Library, story time programs, and more. I hope you'll take time to come in and see the new Children's Room over the holiday break.
Come See the New Children's Room!
We've been busy renovating the Children's Room. Now there's a brand new Story Place! Soon there will be a new shelving layout and an exciting new Fairy Tale room that continues to feature Conrad Kaufman's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland themed murals and Jamie Rife's "Tall Small Alice" stained glass installation that so many have enjoyed over the years. The Children's Room will be closed Monday, December 16th, through Wednesday, December 18th, in order to change the way the room is arranged. The new Story Place will remain open for Toddler Storytime on the morning of Tuesday, December 17th. When Children's Room reopens on Thursday, December 19th, we hope you'll find an exciting new layout.
We're in the brand new Story Place this morning,
We're reading stories and we're having fun,
We're glad you came to Story Time this morning,
I hope that you will want to sing along!
Children's Room Changes
Our next Musical Storytime is coming right up! Last time, the multi-talented Mr. Ben Lau showed, played, and told us all about the pedal steel guitar! What an interesting mechanical musical instrument! It was neat to see how the cables, rods, and pedals work with Ben's musical playing to create music. Plus the pedal steel guitar makes some pretty great letter crane sounds!
At Musical Storytime, we read stories, sing songs, play musical games and generally have fun with music, songs, and our imaginations. Everyone is always welcome. The program is designed for children from preschool age up to about eight years old.
Pedal Steel Musical Storytime
Octy, who speaks with musical notes, not words as you and I do, wanted to let you know that the surgery was successful. Like Adele, John Mayer, and others lately, it was an issue with the vocal cords. Octy was overdoing it and was having a difficult time speaking and singing in tune. You might be glad to know that Octy's voice is recovering nicely. Octy would love to hear from you, especially with messages of “speedy recovery” or “best wishes”. Feel free to drop Octy a line via the mailbox in Children’s Room (see picture) or through the USPS addressed to “Octy” care of: Children’s Room, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
Speedy Recovery, Octy!
If you’ve been on the second floor of Central Library recently, you’ve seen some signs of renovation. Soon, some of that work will move to the first floor Children’s Room. Yes, we’ll soon see some changes that will support our new emphasis as a Family Place Library. That designation will align us with over 300 libraries in 23 states which have made a commitment to serving families with children from birth to age 5. Here’s the website: http://www.familyplacelibraries.org/.
What makes a Family Place Library special? Here are the core components:
- Strong collections of materials (books, music, toys) for babies, toddlers, parents and caregivers.
- The Parent-Child Workshop, which is a 5-week program for toddlers and parents, which emphasizes the importance of play and the importance of parents as a child’s first teachers.
- Coalition-building with community organizations to develop programs and services that meet local needs.
- Outreach to new and non-traditional library users, especially parents and very young children.
- Developmentally-appropriate programming for very young children and their parents.
- Library staff trained in family support, child development, parent education, and best practices.
Here at KPL, we’re just getting started on implementing Family Place Libraries. One of the most exciting projects is expanding the space in Children’s Room at Central Library so that we have more room to play! Soon, you’ll see a brand-new Activity Room open, the Story Room will lose one of its walls, and some things will be re-arranged. We’re excited about this time of growth and hope that you’ll be a part of our development as a Family Place Library!
Family Place Libraries
The Association for Library Services for Children maintains a great web resource for families: the cleverly-named Great Websites for Kids. The folks at ALSC are always watching for terrific resources for this list; recently, they added ten new sites. Aimed at kids up to age 14, there are also some very good sites aimed at parents and caregivers.
Using links like these, which are all vetted by the American Library Association, is one way for parents to sort through the immensity of the internet in search of quality sites for kids. Take a look at some of these and let us know what you think.
This is what a Monarch caterpillar looks like when it's ready to morph from a caterpillar into a butterfly. This animal has already been alive for several weeks. As in the Eric Carle book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it began as a little egg laid on a leaf. The egg was laid by a Monarch butterfly. Then, after the caterpillar hatched from the egg, it got bigger and bigger as it munched on milkweed in its caterpillar form until a few days ago when it climbed up high to hang so that it could turn into a chrysalis. A few weeks after it morphs into a chrysalis, it will emerge in butterfly form. Then, it will be able to lay eggs that will hatch into very tiny Monarch caterpillars.
Have you seen very many Monarch butterflies this summer? I have not. I'm told Monarchs have had a difficult time migrating northward. Maybe you'll come to the library to check in on the chrysalis and borrow some books about butterflies.
Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle
Anita Silvey always has great recommendations and reminders about children’s books. She has spent her professional life reading books, writing about books, reviewing books, and promoting books. Now she has a great website: the “Book-a-Day Almanac.”
Here’s the website: http://childrensbookalmanac.com.
The Kalamazoo Public Schools 2013 Summer Reading lists are a great place to get reading suggestions to read twenty minutes or more per day. The lists are arranged by the grade students to which students are "rising" when school starts in the fall. These titles are great choices for Summer Reading or any time of year, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Looking for more great summer reading ideas? Come visit! We'll be glad to see you! Don't forget to check in for Summer Reading Games with your gameboard or get signed up if you haven't already!
So Many Summer Reading Choices
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has some fine online materials about playing with music at home with children. Kids love music and you will love the ideas for incorporating music into your play with children. I appreciate the great music for children that's on the NAEYC site, as well.
We know that playing with music can be a powerful and enjoyable tool to learn about the world and to develop reading readiness skills. All children's programs at KPL incorporate music in accessible ways. Musical Storytime at KPL features a special musical guest every month. Kalamazoo Public Library has lots of recorded music for children available to borrow as well and additional resources if you would like more ideas about playing with music with your children.
Kids and Music
One of the great rewards of parenting is remembering how to play make-believe. A perennial favorite is ghost hunt. The kids want to play a game of looking for ghosts around the house. A child proclaims that a small flashlight is actually an instrument to reveal where the ghosts have been. Ectoplasm? It’s suddenly everywhere we look!
Kids aren’t seeking to be too scared when they engage in imaginative play about scary subjects. They know how to stay in control of their own make-believe. Children’s fears and interests might inform their play as they learn how to regulate scary feelings. I’m pretty sure my job as a parent is to play along. As demonstrated by the dad in the family favorite My Neighbor Totoro, laughter is the ever available antidote to childhood fears. It also can be helpful to mix up a big batch of monster repellent in order to ward off bedtime fears.
What are some of your favorite ways to make-believe with the kids?
It was a Musical Storytime to remember when special guest Jay Gavan brought in his sitar, one of the best known instruments from the classical Indian musical tradition. Jay told us all about the sitar and accompanied us on sing-along versions of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (Octy's Favorite), "On Top of Spaghetti", "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight", and, to celebrate the start of baseball season, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
Join us for the next Musical Storytime on Monday, April 8, at 6:30 pm.
What fun we had at Wednesday’s Family Literacy Night program for kids and parents from El Sol Elementary. We had stations set up all through Central Library, staffed by El Sol teachers, with activities for the kids. There was library card signup going on, kids were making Reading Buddy puppets, doing Mad Libs, learning about accessing info on the KPL website, seeing the Local History room in action, and even having a back-room tour!
Staff from many departments helped out: Spanish-language help from several library staff members, a great visual display of photos created by Local History staff, Facilities Management crews who set up, tore down, and cleaned up everything at the end of the night. Staff at the public desks did a great job giving directional assistance and helping families feel welcome here.
I know that an event like this can seem disruptive in a library, but it really does help us introduce new families to KPL so that they see the library as a place that has some relevance for them. It’s also an opportunity for us to strengthen our connections to the principal and teachers at a school. We had a great time last night and are already making plans for next year’s event.
Family Literacy Night
Kindergarten orientation is March 20th at all Kalamazoo Public Schools elementary schools. Recent legislation in the State of Michigan has changed the entry age for kindergarten. Over the next two years, the entry age will gradually be changed to require children to be 5 years old by September 1st rather than the current cutoff date of December 1st.
Here’s how the entry ages will gradually change over the next few years:
• 2013-2014 School Year – at least 5 years of age on November 1, 2013.
• 2014-2015 School Year - at least 5 years of age on October 1, 2013.
• 2015-2016 School Year - at least 5 years of age on September 1, 2013.
Inspired by Sarah Weeks’s book Pie, these young cooks are building a lattice crust with some help from their mom. Kids love to eat. And kids want to help create the food they eat. Plenty of practical kitchen skills can be learned and practiced when you share kitchen duties with the kids. Have a satisfying time in the kitchen by meeting children’s interests where they already have skills and then extending just a little bit. A three year old is often content to dump some dry ingredients into a mixing bowl whereas a seven year old is likely able to interpret meaning from a recipe, measure ingredients with scoops and scale, prepare a salad, and prepare many elements of a meal to be proud of. Of course, it's best to hold onto potentially hazardous kitchen tasks involving high heat and knife skills until children are ready.
Your library has lots of cookbooks for children and their adults to use together. Some popular favorites include the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, the Little House Cookbook, the Around the World Cookbook, and Vegan Lunch Box among many others. Chop Chop is an excellent magazine about cooking for kids and families. Share kitchen tasks with the kids for memorable times in the kitchen and an even more delicious dinner.
Cooking with Kids
As for many families, our family computer has become a center for listening to music. It can be difficult not to be distracted by the screen when it's time for an impromptu dance party. I like to turn the screen off or, for a more festive effect, drape a tapestry over the screen. Dance parties with kids work better when the music is heard, not seen.
It's always a good time for a dance party! Moving with music as a family is a stress buster and a brain boost at the same time. While I don't actually know that dancing with your kids in the living room boosts brain power, I do know that you can connect your child to music that's important to you - like your favorite dad rock on Freegal - and beat the winter blahs. When you and your kids are dancing to music together, you're enjoying music, movement, and each other's company.
“You're Never Too Old, Too Wacky, Too Wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” ~ Dr. Seuss
Reading with our children is something we know that we should do to help them become great readers. But it’s not always evident how best to go about it. As parents we often hear the message to read to our babies but if we are new to parenting, we might wonder what reading to a baby should look like and what benefit it is to the child or the parent. Over the next few weeks, I want to give a few tips for reading to young children, especially the things that helped me as a new parent. This will be a series of posts on six pre-reading skills children need to develop with some tips on how to practice each skill at home with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Our strategic priority is “Creating Young Readers” at KPL and we want parents and caregivers to have the tools they need to be their child’s first and best teacher! Stay tuned for more early literacy resources from our library staff!
Pre-Reading Skills are our Priority