Spy School

We had a LOT of fun at Spy School! We did this as part of our new program Spotlight.  Spotlight focuses on a different topic each month.  It follows the interests of what we see in our department.  Since Stuart Gibbs’ latest book Spy School Secret Service is now out, we decided to have some fun with it sending our school-aged kiddos through different tasks and missions in order to officially be spies.

Here is a quick look at what we did!

 

The overall set-up was stations that they could go to as they pleased.  There were no progressive steps (with one exception which I’ll tell you about in a minute).  We do the majority of our programs this way for a couple reasons.  First, kids don’t all go at the same pace.  This set up gives kids the freedom to explore stations where they need more time without feeling self-conscious and likewise allows them to move on from stations that go quickly for them.  Though it may sound chaotic,  it actually helps keep everybody on task.  Second, we serve kiddos with special needs and this format gives them the ability to participate at a level that is comfortable for them and adjust as they need.

These were our stations:

Hand Scanner for Entry

This was quick and easy.  Just use a name-brand Ziploc bag (the generic I have tried to use leaked terribly), clear hair gel and water color paint or food coloring.  I sealed the edges of the bag with duct tape just to reinforce.  Be sure to squeeze all the air from the bag before sealing it up!

Agent ID

We found some fun Secret Agent Badge printables online.  The kids grabbed a color out of bucket A and an animal out of Bucket B and this became their Code Name for all missions.

Book Cipher

We created a book cipher using copies of Fox in Socks.  The kids (and some parents) had a lot of fun figuring out our messages!

Secret Messages

We set up a wax resist station for kids to right secret messages to each other.  White crayons on white construction to write the messages and water color paint to reveal the messages made it a fun little project.  The kids loved leaving messages for others to find.

Pom Pom Target Practice

We found this really cool blog that had a great tutorial for pom pom target practice, so we tried it out.  The kids did a great job with this simple activity and LOOOOVED creating their own shooter.  Pool noodles, duct tape, balloons, and pom-poms are all you need for this and it is a huge hit!  We set up a target on our wall.  Their objective was to stand at varying distances and shoot into the caution tape.

 

Dodge the Lasers!

We used a strong, thing book tape to create a laser field for kids to dodge in and out of, trying to avoid getting stuck.

Minefield

This is the one station that I wasn’t thrilled with.  Sadly in programs, sometimes ideas that seem great on paper just aren’t as great in real life.  The objective is to stomp and walk through the pool (or minefield) and not pop a balloon.  Unfortunately, this really wasn’t a challenge.  The balloons would fly out of the pool before they could even attempt to pop, or not pop, them.  Were I to do this again, I would not confine it to the pool and I would use a lot more balloons.

 

All in all, everyone loved this program, including me!  In fact, we liked it so much we are putting it on again (minus the minefield) at our Exploratorium on November November 29th!

 

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Humpty Dumpty ….. After the Fall

 

So many authors have wondered what happened to Humpty Dumpty after the “great fall”, and they’ve come up with some terrific picture books to entertain that idea! Here are some titles for you and your child to explore.

For our very youngest library customer, we have Humpty Dumpty by Jonas Sicklar. If you are not familiar with the “Indestructibles” books, they are designed for the way babies “read” – with their hands and mouth. This version of Humpty Dumpty has the egg man on the Great Wall of China!

Next up is Humpty Dumpty by Daniel Kirk. After Humpty climbs the proverbial brick wall to get a better look at the young king in his birthday parade, the obvious fall happens, and it’s young King Moe who puts Humpty back together, “like a puzzle”!

In Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again by Dave Horowitz, Humpty’s shell has been fixed, but he’s lost his confidence. The author cleverly inserts other popular nursery rhyme characters in this “eggsistensial tale of hope”.

For beginning readers, check out Humpty’s Fall by Dosh Archer, one of the Urgency Emergency! Early Readers series. In this fun adventure, Humpty arrives at the hospital with a cracked shell and severe yolk seepage …. can the doctors at City Hospital save him?

Two fun picture books by Joe Dumpty (as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom) are What REALLY Happened to Humpty? and The Crown Affair (both are from the files of a hard-boiled detective! These stories take place in Mother Gooseland, so you’ll be sure to see some of your favorite characters making an appearance.

We have a series of picture books called Flip-Side Rhymes, where half-way through the book, you must flip the book to get another side of the rhyme. By Christopher Harbo, you may not want to read this Humpty Dumpty version if you are appalled by the ending … [SPOILER ALERT!!!] … poor Humpty gets scrambled and eaten!

Bob Graham tells the story of Humpty’s little sister in Dimity Dumpty. The author believes that Humpty’s notoriety for not doing much at all (basically just falling off a wall!) was not very clever, so he’s telling the story of his little sister, who was quite the heroine.

In Ode to Humpty Dumpty by Harriet Ziefert, the author blends the traditional rhyme with new characters. The whole book is done in rhyme, which makes it fun and playful.

And finally, the book that inspired the title of this post, is After the Fall – How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat. From the book jacket: “Inspiring and unforgettable, this epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme will encourage even the most afraid to overcome their fears, learn to get back up – and reach new heights”.

Miss Teresa

Exploratorium: Magic

It’s that time of year when things start to appear magical, so what better time to get the kids involved in creating a bit of magic of their own.

Our next Exploratorium on Wednesday, Nov 15 at 2:00pm-3:30pm features Magician, Mark Yeager who will do a magic workshop for children in K-5th grades. This is a great opportunity for children to learn some slight of hand and other magical tricks they can do on their own. If they get hooked, let the magic grow by taking a look at our many magic books we have available to be checked out.

Miss Christina

Coding

Coding. That’s something with computers, right? But what’s this about young children doing coding? It turns out, coding is just a way of thinking that we start doing at an early age. I’ve just let the term “code” freak me out. There are many ways for a child to develop those coding skills without looking at a computer for those parents wishing to limit screen time. Being surrounded by technology, learning how to code becomes more and more necessary in life and just like a foreign language, it is easier to learn at an early age. That’s because creating a code is like a language –  a special language that tells a computer or robot what to do. Turn left, go straight. clap three times. Coding helps children with problem solving and logic. The ability to direct technology instead of just using it, builds confidence and skills that will help children later on in school and in careers where there is more and more demand for technology.

At our November 1st Exploratorium we started with very basic coding concepts using a variety of coding kits that will be available to try out in the Children’s Dept the week of Thanksgiving and then will be available to check out at a later date. This is a great way for your child to get started with the concept of coding before purchasing items that are more complicated. Some of the new items we have available include:

 

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar, Cubetto Educational Coding Robot, Learning Resources Learning Essentials Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set and an Ozobot.

A basic game to play with your child that demonstrates coding basics at no cost is a form of Simon Says. Simon says, if I clap my hands, then you stomp your feet. Or, if I nod my head, then you nod your head. Simon is the programmer, everyone else in the group becomes the computer.

Ready for something more complex? Place a black checker somewhere towards the far side of a checkerboard. Place a few red checkers on the board to act as obstacles. Place another black checker in the lower left corner of the board. Now direct the lower left black checker to the other black checker using only these simple directions: Go Forward, Turn Right, Turn Left, Repeat. The checker can move only 1 square at a time. It does not matter if the square is black or red.

An example:

Go Forward

Repeat

Repeat

Turn Right

Go Forward

Turn Left

Go Forward

Repeat

 

Continue until you reach the black checker. Write down the instructions, step by step.

Now place the black checker back to the lower left corner and follow your written instructions. Did it work? If it didn’t, go back and figure out where you went wrong and try again. If it did work, then you just wrote your first piece of successful code!

 

In January we will have another coding program for Exploratorium that will be a bit more advanced than last weeks program. In the meantime stop by the children’s desk to try out the basic coding program kits we have.

Miss Christina

Holiday Reading Traditions

As we get nearer to Christmas, I’m gearing up for one of my favorite holiday traditions with my kiddos- 25 days of Christmas books! I love making reading an integral part of our family traditions, and this is a truly meaningful way for us to both celebrate the season, expand our love of books, and bond together in shared reading. Every year, come November, I pull out my box of Christmas books, gathered over the years from Goodwill raids, yard sale finds, hand-me downs and library book sales. It’s surprisingly easy to find amazing Christmas books on the cheap, especially in November, before the holiday rush really picks up steam, so start your collection now! I wrap up each one, and starting December first, every evening, my Ruby and Edwin each get a book to unwrap and read before bedtime. As the years have passed, they treat the return of each book like the return of a long- lost friend, so excited to see and read them again. Our lives are so rushed, it’s hard to squeeze in meaningful holiday traditions, and while this is a small one, it means so much to all of us and is such a simple way to celebrate the season together.

So pull out your Christmas books, wrap them up, and start counting down to Christmas!

literary-advent-6

Miss Janna

Jolabokaflod

Jolabokaflod, or the “Yule Book Flood,” is an annual event in Iceland where giving a book for Christmas Eve is the norm and spending the evening reading is tradition.

What a wonderful tradition to bring to your own family.  It doesn’t have to happen on Christmas Eve.  It could be the first Thursday or third Tuesday, just find a date that works for you and start your own family tradition building your family’s library.

Books have always been a tradition in my family.  To celebrate the birth of a child, I give a book.  Child loses a tooth and the tooth fairy delivers a book to replace the lost tooth.  Birthday? A book or two will be given!  In fact, i can’t think of a time when I don’t give a book as a gift.  It is such a wonderful, meaningful way to help a child build their own library.  The book may have another gift with it, but the book, I feel, is the important gift.

For more info on the Yule Book Flood, go visit jolabokaflod.org.

Miss Sarah

Nursery Rhyme Time: Humpty Dumpty

 

 

Humpy Dumpty sat on a wall…

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall….

Can you complete the rhyme?  We find that many adults are not familiar with children’s  nursery rhymes anymore, but there are good reasons that they should be!

Learning nursery rhymes help children develop language and vocabulary – and help them form the foundation for learning to rhyme words on their own.  Many nursery rhymes also contain phrases that start with words that all have the same beginning sounds, so this helps children begin to become aware of the sounds of their language.

As children learn these traditional rhymes, they exercise and stretch their memory skills, which helps them prepare to memorize future materials, such as the alphabet, sight words, or math facts.

So, brush up on your nursery rhymes, and teach them to your children!

To get you started, here’s the full rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses,

And all the King’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

To extend the fun of learning the rhyme, here’s a craft you can make with your child. I created the pattern based off this craft my son Adam made over 20 years ago!

  1. Color and cut out the Humpty Dumpty body and legs.
  2. Color a sheet of paper to resemble a wall.
  3. Glue Humpty’s legs to the wall.
  4. Attach Humpty’s body to the legs with a brad.
  5. As you say the rhyme Humpty can swivel as he falls!

Have fun! To learn more, here are links to good web articles on why nursery rhymes are important:

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/nursery-rhymes-not-just-babies

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/the-surprising-meaning-and-benefits-of-nursery-rhymes/

https://www.themeasuredmom.com/10-reasons-why-kids-need-to-know-nursery-rhymes/

Miss Teresa