I threw around all sorts of ideas for a blog this month: second language resources, school topics, etc... I will definitely post on those themes another time. Right now, I just want to have fun! More importantly, I have come across new 2015 titles about monsters that shouldn't be missed!
Worst in Show by William Bee
Funny illustrations and a sweet story about celebrating all kinds of winners.
Five Stinky Socks by Jim Benton
A rhyming story about why each of his five socks are so STINKY!
The Monsters Under My Bed by Rebecca J. Razo
Read this bedtime story and learn how to draw monsters! Monsters won't seem so scary when you draw them as cuddly creatures.
Tickle Monster by Édouard Manceau
Like 'Go Away Big Green Monster' by Ed Emberley, kids will love deconstructing this monster with tickles!
Monstruo, ¡Sé Bueno! by Natalie Marshall
A simple and silly book in español about how to behave or 'comportarse' in different situations.
There are so many new books with Monster themes for 2015 that I can't share them all here. A hint: To find more titles on jeffcolibrary.org, type '(Monster 2015) (Children's Easy Collection)' in the search. Using the parentheses or () is like doing an 'Advanced Search' without the added step!
Photo credit: Flickr
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.
HOW MUCH: Free!
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.
HOW MUCH: Free!
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
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
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
Rick Riordan's new series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard kicks off on October 6th with the release of Sword of Summer. We have Norse mythology to thank for heroes like Thor, and tricksters like Loki. Add Magnus Chase, teen demigod from Boston, and get ready for doomsday.
Place your hold on Sword of Summer now!
While you're waiting, get your library card ready, and learn more about Norse mythology with the Gods, Goddesses and Mythology database.
Image credit: Gods, Goddesses and Mythology, Cavendish Digital
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
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)
When was the last time you played dress up? I'm guessing your last time was Halloween for most of you. Do you remember how fun it is? Kids enjoy dressing up. I have boys so they dress-up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Superman, wrestlers and sometimes they like to walk around in my high heels. Whatever your child likes to dress up as, add a book to the mix. Don't forget to get yourself a costume too! Start by letting your children choose a character they want to play from a book. If all of your children want to play the same character, that works too. Fun is the only rule in this family event.
Why am I suggesting this dress-up and read activity? Because Print Motivation is a very important early literacy skill that will keep your child interested books for years to come. Print Motivation is being interested in books and what they offer. Learning to read takes tremendous effort and persistence. For some children it takes more work than others. I can say this because learning to read was not easy for me. So, keep the FUN in reading! Find a book about something that appeals to your child. It could be super heroes, ballerinas, trains, or kitties. Then read and act out the story. Get into character by changing your voice to match the different characters in the story. Ask your children to help you find some props such as hats, goggles, a banana, or a spoon...anything to help the imagination and encourage acting.
Here are some book suggestions:
Birdie's Big-Girl Dress by Sujean Rim
I Don't Want to Go To School by Stephanie Blake
Photo credit: Rory Hyde on Flickr
Beat the summer heat with a cool book! Here's my recommendation for a nice chilly read:
Elliot, a very proper young man, finds a frosty new friend (named Magellan) at the aquarium. Elliot and Magellan have a "chill" time together at home, but what will Father say when he finds out??
Grab a copy of this great book from your local library and find out!
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...
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!