November 23-24: All libraries will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Did you know that you can gain free entry to some popular museums in Denver and along the Front Range, merely by virtue of being a JCPL cardholder? I know! Awesome, right?!?
You can book your tickets online - using your library card number - up to 30 days in advance. Chances are you'll be happier with the overall experience of using your Culture Pass if you have a fair amount of flexibility in your schedule. For instance, if you want to visit the Butterfly Pavilion on a Saturday, you'll almost certainly want to plan it 30 days out - it's far and away the most popular Culture Pass destination.
Other destinations include:
- Byers-Evans House Museum
- Denver Firefighters Museum
- Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls & Toys
- Dinosaur Ridge
- Foothills Art Center
- Golden History Museums
- MCA Denver
- Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
When it opens in May, don't forget to use your Culture Pass to take a ride on the Platte Valley Trolley.
Where will the Culture Pass take you?
Plan your trip today!
Image credit: flickr
Make some noise!!!!
Making silly sounds for storytime is fuuuuun! More importantly, hearing a variety of sounds and noises helps a child develop the ability to hear the sounds that make up words in spoken language.
Otherwise known as phonological awarenss, this ability is one of the foundations of developing early literacy in infants and young children. Plus, the more engaged, excited and silly you are with your sounds the more your child will enjoy the story!
Here are some great books that give you as the storyteller an excellent opportunity to give your vocal cords a good workout, get silly and boost your child's early literacy skills:
Trains Go By Steve Light
Planes Go By Steve Light
Diggers Go By Steve Light
The Book with No Pictures By B.J. Novak
And now, to show how fun phonological awareness can be, I will end with one of my all time favorite silly songs: Apples and Bananas!
Sing with me!
Print Awareness: noticing print everywhere, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how to follow the written word on the page
Words, words, WORDS, wOrds...everywhere words...
words in a BOOK, just take a LOOK
words in a CAR, both NEAR and FAR
words are BLACK, BLUE and READ
words are everywhere you will SEE
words are everywhere for YOU and ME
Can pointing out printed words help your child get ready to read? YES, and according to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PRINT AWARENESS as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
Children have to be aware of words before they can read them. They need to know how books work--the front cover, what's upside down, which page to start on, how to look from left to right.
When kids are comfortable with books, from knowing how to open a book to understanding what those black squiggles are, they can concentrate on starting to read the words.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Read board books that your child can handle on his/her own; let him/her turn the pages as you read together.
Sometimes point to the words as you read.
Talk about print even when you are not reading together. Look for letters and words on signs, labels, and lists.
Words, words, WORDS, wOrds...everywhere words...OH beautiful WORDS!
I really love February!
The holidays are over...the children's award books from the previous year have been named, and it's time to look forward to another year of great reading.
As my daughter gets older, I love using books not only for entertaiment, but also as an amazing way of teaching life lessons.
February is Black History Month, and I have found two amazing new books to add to my list of captivating portraits of African American life, both past and present:
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
National Book Award Winner
Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Running out of night, Sharon Lovejoy
A Children’s Book Review Seven Middle Grade Books for African American History Month Pick
Fans of Elijah of Buxton, Trouble Don’t Last, and Stealing Freedom will be drawn to this tale of the incredible journey of an abused twelve-year-old white girl and an escaped slave girl who run away together and form a bond of friendship while seeking freedom.
Every day is a misery for a nameless, motherless Southern girl who is treated cruelly by her pa and brothers. Her life changes forever when a runaway slave named Zenobia turns to her for help and shelter. Longing for her own freedom, the girl decides to run away, and she and Zenobia set off on a harrowing journey. Along the way, Zenobia names the girl Lark, after the bird, for her ability to mimic its song.
Running by night, hiding by day, the girls are pursued by Lark’s pa and brothers and by ruthless slave catchers. Brightwell, another runaway slave, joins them, and the three follow secret signs to a stop on the Underground Railroad. When the hideout is raided and Zenobia and Brightwell are captured, Lark sets out alone to rescue her friends.
Books give us reason to celebrate and to cry...what better life lesson can we share with our children?
Why yes, I do have manners, gracias.
A great approach to find out more about other languages and cultures is learning about greetings and customs. What better way to incorporate a second language into your day than to learn to say 'hello' and 'goodbye' or 'please' and 'thank you' in another language?
When I was a teacher, I got into the habit and still say 'yes, please' in daily interactions. I had to model what I wanted to teach my students. Once the students got some manners down in English, I would start to incorporate other languages into our day. They loved it and would surprise me by saying 'sí, por favor' and 'no, gracias' during meal times. After I subbed at the 'Había Una Vez' bilingual story time at Belmar Library, I was delighted by the children whose parents encouraged them to personally thank me in Spanish!
Here is a link to digital dialects. On it, you will encounter 70 different language games. When you click on the language you would like to practice, the following page has several learning topics. The first learning topic is 'phrases and greetings'. Languages like Spanish, French and Chinese have an audio learning feature. First, you practice the phrases and then you can play the matching game.
Check out books about baby sign or American Sign Language (ASL) like this one by Sara Bingham at the library.
Or, try 21 word or phrase signs to practice with your child, courtesy of parenting.com.
And, my newest discovery! 'El Perro y El Gato' from HBO Latino! Look for these funny, yet educational videos about a cartoon cat and dog practicing Spanish on youtube. The following video is about 'manners' or 'modales'.
Signing 'thank you'? Saying it in Chinese? Have fun and use the words right along with your child!
¡Buen día! Have a great day!
Photo credit: flickr.com
Ahh. Valentine's Day. The day of hearts and flowers, wine and romance... and sticky gluey kiddo fingers making cute V-Day crafts! :)
As a Children's Librarian, I've seen my share of Valentine's Day crafts over the years. I put together this roundup of three sweet little crafts that caught my fancy because they're simple, yet super adorable!
Bling your kids out with these Hershey Kisses rings. Once they're done sporting them, the ring makes a delicious treat!
If you're using sign language with your kids, this card project is a perfect for your family!
Hoo Loves You, indeed! I've done many paper plate animal crafts before, but never a Valentine Owl!
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day making memories with the family!
Image Credit: History.com
Gimme an R! Gimme a W! Gimme a T! Gimme an S! Gimme a P! Or maybe I'll give them to you. How can these letters help you help your child become a good reader? Let me tell you:
Read! --Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt helps families see that books and reading can be a joyful part of their day.
Talk! --Froodle by Antoinette Portis shows how to have fun with language and sounds.
Sing! --I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison shows us how to celebrate sound and music all throughout the day
These are the 5 early literacy practices that when used regularly will help a child be prepared to learn to read. For more information about the 5 practices and 6 early literacy skills check out CLEL's website.
The 5 books shown with each practice are the 2014 CLEL Bell award winners, announced today, February 5th! Each book has an early literacy activity sheet that will help you continue the experience after the book is closed. Go to http://www.clel.org/#!2015-bell-awards-titles/c1wgl to see the list of winners and links for the activity sheets. For more great books exemplifying each practice, take a look at the shortlist, which has 5 titles in each category. And be sure to take a look at last year's winners!
The Monster at the End of This Book is the first book I read all by myself. Well, I memorized it and could recite it before I could really read it, but memorization is a part of a child's literacy development, so it totally counts. After all, reading is knowing that this group of letters makes this sound. While early literacy development has traditionally begun with sharing books and other literacy materials like paper and crayons, we now have access to apps that can enhance the story experience.
Last week I found The Monster at the End of This Book and it's sequel, Another Monster at the End of This Book, on the shelf at the library and decided it was time to share them with the kids. Later that night, Little Sister sat on my lap, Big Brother sat next to me, I did an appalling impression of Grover's voice and they couldn't have been more delighted. We tickled and giggled our way through both books. Little Sister would only agree to go to bed once I promised we'd read them again in the morning. Lest I forget, she came into my room at o'dark thirty and plopped the books on top of me. I'd created a monster of my own.
Fortunately, I remembered that we'd once had an app of Another Monster at the End of This Book ($3.99 idevices and Kindle, sometimes offered for free), I redownloaded it and her brother showed her how to use it. Picture this, if you will, 2 kids, 1 iPad: no fighting! They were giggling! They were sharing! Real sharing! We had an App Store credit which I used to download the original Monster at the End of This Book ($4.99 idevices) as well.
If you don't already know, in both stories, Grover is trying to prevent you from turning the pages because he doesn't want to meet the (presumably scary) monster at the end. In the apps, Grover (or Elmo) narrates and the text is highlighted as each word is spoken. Unlike the book, you (or your child, I don't judge) have to manually disassemble the obstacles Grover puts in your way - tap to unclip the paper clips, swipe to wipe off the glue - in order to turn the page.
Now, in my heart of hearts, I am a children's librarian - so you can't say you didn't see this coming - a physical book shared with a child should always be our goal and is the very best practice for getting our children ready to read. However, if in the course of your day, you find yourself needing to make a phone call, or dinner, or use the bathroom alone, I highly recommend these interactive story apps.
Don't want to buy the apps? I don't blame you. The vast majority of apps we have were free for a limited time when we got them. I use Apps Gone Free (idevices - search the App Store/Android) and the hardest part is just remembering to check it - well, that and managing my storage space. For now, check out the videos for a very-close-to-the-real-thing Monster app experience!
Check back next month for another APPily Ever After!
Children learn and experience the world around them by using all of their senses: Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. I have two boys, a four year-old and a two year-old. What is the first thing my two year old does with a newly discovered object? Yep, it goes right in the mouth. I remember the first time he found a worm. He literally almost ate it.
How can we teach our kids to use more than just their sense of sight to interact with the alphabet, a sight word, or a book? How can we turn reading into a hands-on sport? Here are a few ideas I found helpful for my little guys!
Preschool and Kindergarten:
- Trace letters in a pie pan of sand or a salt and sugar mixture. Make the sound of the letter while tracing.
- Fill a Ziplock bag with colored hair gel. On an 8.5x11 sheet of paper boldly write various letters of the alphabet. Place the paper under the gel bag and have your child use their finger to trace the letter through the gel.
For Kindergarten and older:
- Write letters of the alphabet on a piece of cardboard. While you say and repeat the sound of the letter, your child can skip, wiggle, or jump their way to the corresponding letter.
- On the index cards, write the name of objects in your house. For example: chair, door, or sofa. Your child can match the “Chair” index card to the chair at your kitchen table. Let’s throw a little acting in with the reading. How about using action words on the index cards. Oh, my boys love this. They see the word “run” on the card and immediately take off running at full speed across the living room. Little do they realize, they are reading! Be ready to demonstrate these action words! You know our kids love to see us run around the house!
- Using American Sign Language (ASL) is another awesome way for our kids to learn to read or spell a new word. You can sing and sign the alphabet song. The library has many great books and DVDs to help children learn American Sign Language. Try the popular Signing Time DVDs. This DVD series is designed to help hearing kids learn ASL.
Image Credit: Melanie Holtsman
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS: hearing and playing with the smaller sounds of words
What is more fun for your tongue than saying Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz? That awesome tingly feeling you get when your tongue is making that snakey snakey sound.
Now say it 3 times FAST!
Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz...Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz...Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz...
See you're smiling aren't you? Your tongue is happy and now you are happy, too!
According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
Children who can hear how words "come apart" into separate sounds will be more successful at "sounding out" words when they start to read.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Sing songs; most break words up into one syllable per note. Reading works with syllables also.
Recite rhymes; rhymes depend upon ending sounds.
Play with tongue twisters.
Pick a sound for the day. Notice it at the beginning of words and at the end of words.
Have FUN!!! Make lots of sounds and know you are creating a little reader.