Early Literacy the Affordable Way

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).

Magnetic letters on fridgeMagnet 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!

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Visit our Crayon Kiosk for Appy Learning!

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.

Child using iPad at crayon kioskThe 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!

Welcome to Story Time!

Kids enjoying story timeHave you attended a story time at Columbia Public Library? If not, prepare yourself for a fun time – songs, rhymes, stories, big books, flannel boards, puppets and more are featured as the library staff educates and entertains in each thirty-minute program. Below is valuable story time info for both our regulars and new story time visitors. We have story times for different age groups, and we try to keep our story times on a fairly regular schedule (only occasionally interrupting for a special program such as a visiting performer or annual Summer Reading-themed programs or wrap-up). Continue reading

Ready Early, Read Rhymey

Humpty Dumpty clip artYou have probably already heard that it is never too early to start reading aloud to your child. Sometimes we field questions about what the age minimum is for summer reading, obtaining one of our library cards, etc. The answer? There really isn’t one. Birth, in utero, we aren’t picky. Literally, never too early. We mean it. That is because the sooner children are read to, then the easier their transition to reading independently will be.

“But, Random-Library-Lady-Writing-This-Blog-Post,” you’re thinking, “my brand new bouncing baby, while perfect in every way, won’t even be able to recognize a blurry version of MY FACE (you know, me, the one who gave them life?) until around three months; how can it possibly be helpful to read books to a newborn?” Continue reading

2013 Missouri Building Blocks: Let’s Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy

photo of the book coverJan Thomas’ books are known for their humor, and “Let’s Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy” doesn’t disappoint. Turning a typical bedtime routine on its head, the parent – played by the brave cowboy – continues to halt the bedtime process. Cowboy’s wild imagination turns flowers into spiders and sticks into snakes. Luckily the cows and a not-so-scary wolf alleviate his fears, and he happily croons everyone to sleep.

Kids love guessing what inanimate object is scaring Cowboy. Their enthusiastic and imaginative guessing reminds me of a simple game I made up as a child. I called it… “The Peek Game.”

filegameHow do you play this marvelous game, you ask?

  • Gather a file folder, scissors and some interesting images from magazines or calendars.
  • Cut several flaps in the front your file folder. Larger flaps are perfect for young ones. Tiny flaps make the game more challenging.
  • Hide an image inside the folder.
  • Let one player pick a flap to open.
  • Given this peek, what could the image be?
  • Continue opening windows and guessing until you guess correctly.
  • Swap places and let the other player pick an image.

Looking for more fun?  In the vein of Throwback Thursday, take a peek at our past blogs for another popular guessing game and my favorite cowpoke lullaby (actions included).