We Children’s Librarians have purchased lots of cool and educational toys to help build early literacy skills at the library. You may have seen some of these at our Discovery Time, such as the cloth box with colored scarves to pull out, the fancy colored nesting blocks or the counting food cans. However, you can encourage early literacy skills for little or even no money whatsoever – just be creative with items around your house! Below are a few ideas for you and your family to enjoy.
Stacking Bowls. Don’t have the money to buy a fancy nesting toy set? Take a set of different-sized plastic or Tupperware bowls from your home and let your child play with them. These bowls can help teach concepts of size (little fits into medium fits into big). You can even stack the bowls upside down and build a snowman (insert your own “Frozen” joke).
Magnet Letters. I‘ve been seeing lots of toys with light-up letters that feature sounds and word samples. Pretty nifty. But for my money, nothing beats a good old set of magnetic alphabet letters. Spell out words and sentences right on the fridge. Put some tape up, and make your own preschool Boggle board. My mom was fond of putting a new word up every day – great for vocabulary building and letter recognition!
You may have seen our posts highlighting apps for kids or seen our dragon computers featuring all sorts of educational games. But do you wonder whether your child is old enough to have screen time? Daniel Boone Regional Library recently created a “Tech Tips” wallet-sized card just for you. These tips reflect the most up-to-date guidance from early childhood professionals for ages 2-5. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids younger than 2.)
- Limit screen time to 15-20 minutes a day, and stick to it.
- Teach your child to ask you whether it’s OK to turn on a device.
- Be aware of what your child will be doing on the device.
- Select activities and apps that encourage creativity, collaboration and discovery.
- Encourage your child to record a story or song, take pictures or draw.
- Look for apps that support your child’s interests.
- While your child is using a device, be actively involved with him or her.
- With eBooks, explore the technology first, then your child can focus on the book.
- Don’t keep TVs, computers and electronic devices in your young child’s bedroom.
- Lead by example. Don’t spend big chunks of your time on your devices.
You often hear “Never judge a book by its cover.” And of course, you’d never, EVER think a librarian would judge a book by its cover. Except I did (as I’m sure have many of my cohorts).
One day, while roaming the shelves for a new read, I came across Cornelia Funke’s “Inkheart.” The book cover for this edition was gorgeous. A fairy-taleish design, a hand popping out of a picture showing a burning castle, a fancy font…I knew I had to read this book. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Far from it.
“Inkheart” is the story of 12-year-old Meg and her father, Mo. Mo works as a bookbinder, but he also has an even rarer talent – when he reads aloud, he often reads characters out of books into the real world. Cool, right? Wouldn’t you love to meet characters from your favorite novels? Well, the catch is that Mo doesn’t get to choose who or what comes out AND something from the real world has to take its place in the story. When Meg was a little girl, Mo accidentally read three characters out of a novel, “Inkheart,” and his wife disappeared the same night without a trace. Now the villainous Capricorn, read out of the story, is after Mo and Meg.
This wonderful book is the first in a trilogy, with the other two parts being “Inkspell” and “Inkdeath.” Be sure to also check out other books by Cornelia Funke – she’s an engaging author and has written many wonderful tales for children and teens. Like what you read? Come find me at Columbia’s Children’s Desk, and I can give you plenty of other recommendations of great fantasy stories…regardless of their covers.
The kids are back to school, the temperatures will (hopefully!) cool down soon and the fall edition of “At Your Library” is now available. Here’s a look at just a few of the up and coming fall programs you can find at your local library in the next couple weeks.
Wednesday, September 3 • 10-11 a.m. , 3:30-4:30 p.m. , 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Columbia
Playing with blocks develops a child’s math, language, social and science skills, as well as being lots of fun! Come to our block party to build, talk, explore and create together. Families, ages 2-6.
Otis the Tractor Party
Thursday, September 4, 2014 • 5:30-7 p.m. in Columbia
The calf is stuck in Mud Pond, and only you can help Otis the tractor rescue him! So starts another adventure involving Otis, the star of a beloved book series by Loren Long. Drop in anytime during this session to create your own farm animal puppet, join a tractor parade and try to escape the treacherous mud maze. Ages 3 and older. Continue reading
While we don’t recommend screen time for babies or real little ones, preschoolers ages 2 and older may benefit from playing educational apps with a parent. Each DBRL branch now has a crayon kiosk with at least one iPad attached to it (and four iPads attached at the Columbia branch). These iPads each have the same app – an educational preschool app that will be switched out periodically. Each app is chosen for early literacy learning.
The current app is “Moo, Baa, La La La!” by Sandra Boynton. This digital story is narrated, and children can touch the animals to see them move and make sounds. My favorite is the dancing pigs, but many in the department prefer the snorting rhinoceros! Since these apps are for preschoolers, we encourage parents to play the apps with the children.
We also occasionally run a feature on DBRL Kids called “Get Appy.” Some of these apps are appropriate for older kids, too.
Feel free to check out the crayon kiosk with your child and explore the digital world in a safe way!