A few years ago, I left my job as a full-time librarian to stay home with my then 2-year old and my soon-to-arrive newborn. "Self," I said to myself, "we are going to have so much free time! However shall we fill our endless days?"
I know. I mean, now I know. I'll give you a minute to compose yourself. Have a small sip of water. Breathe into a paper bag or something.
There, where were we? Ah, yes. That year, Santa brought me this wonderful book, Playdate with Denver & the Front Range. I was delighted, and since I was suffering delusions of grandeur, I had BIG PLANS. We were going to ATTACK Denver & the Front Range. We were going to MAKE MEMORIES!! And then the baby came.
Long story short, I recently found that book under a pile of other great ideas and good intentions and it is the inspiration for this series. I really don't go enough places with my kids. I still want to make those memories, and I think we're ready now. We're starting the series off with one of my very favorite places to bring my kids - and the one place we visited regularly even when I didn't really want to go anywhere.
13150 W 72nd Ave, Arvada, CO 80005
WHEN: Clubhouse Winter Hours (Nov. 1-Memorial Day)
Monday-Friday, 7:30 am-9 pm
Saturday, 7:30 am-6 pm
Sunday, 9 am-7 pm
HOW MUCH: Free!!!
This place is just great. It's fun for babies and for big kids. There are tube slides and a climbing maze. One side is designed for the toddler/preschool set, with a short set of stairs to the slide. The other side appeals to older/more adventurous kids with a longer slide that requires more climbing and scrambling to get to.
In the last year or so they've added a few features to the play area: a foam canoe that seats 2-4 kids (depending on how territorial they're feeling), as well as a ladybug and a turtle that the pre-/early walkers love to play on.
The floor is made from rubber so most kids can easily shake off a minor stumble. Kids can "pilot" a helicopter, "drive" a daisy-car in the sky, repeatedly slam themselves into foam bumpers. I mean, look how fun that is! It's pretty much your neighborhood playground - but inside and way up high!!!!
Aside from water bottles, no food or drink is allowed in the Clubhouse, but there are tables and chairs just outside if you'd like to bring a picnic. There is also a snack bar where you can find reasonably priced standard snack-food fare. Full disclosure: we've never eaten at the snack bar. We live close enough that hungry-enough-to-whine-about-food time is also going-home time.
There are cubbies for jackets and shoes - socks are required. A few plastic stacking-style patio chairs are provided for parents and caregivers, but be prepared to get comfy on a nice bit of rubber floor. There is a bathroom in the clubhouse - it has one of those adorable (but wildly impractical for normal-sized humans) preschool-sized toilets and a changing table.
As you might expect, the Clubhouse gets very busy during inclement weather. It's a fabulous place to go to play during a snowstorm or cold snap, but you won't be the only one with that idea. If lots of stir-crazy kids running around like mad isn't your cup of tea - you may want to wait for a nicer day to visit.
The Apex Center's Child Watch daycare is attached to the Clubhouse as well - during peak times you may find lots of kids and not a lot of parents. This usually isn't a problem, as the staff is supervising, but if it's really crazy-busy sometimes the older kids can get a little wild while the staff is occupied with other children.
I love this place as much as my kids do. That magazine I can't find two seconds to flip through? That knitting project I'd like to finish before Christmas? That next level of Candy Crush? Hey kids! Let's go play at the Apex! They run themselves ragged, I get at least an hour and all I really have to do is "Mom! Watch!" every few minutes. An Apex day is always a good day.
Follow me, let's go places!
Photo credit: Rob Anna, Apex Center
As a bilingual English/Spanish librarian, I often hear from adults that they studied Spanish in high school, but they remember very little from those days. It makes perfect sense when you look at brain development. When babies are born, about 15% of their brains have developed. By the time a child is 3, 85% of the brain has developed.
Researchers have found that by 6 months old, babies are already showing a preference for a certain language. Baby brains are wiring to the rhythms and sounds they hear from their families, caregivers and community. More studies go on to say that the best window of opportunity to learn a second (or third, or fourth...) language is between 0-7 years old.
Learning another language by the time we reach middle or high school can be too late!
Our corpus collosums (the part of the brain that connects the left and right side of the brain) grow harder as we age. Connections from one side to the other are no longer as quick as they are in young children when the corpus collosum is soft and malleable. Learning new things becomes more difficult. And, as we get older, we learn more and more information. Our brain starts pruning away at unused information. Ever hear the phrase 'Use it or lose it'? That's what our brain is constantly doing; trimming away at what it doesn't see as useful to us any more.
So why teach a child another language? For one, it has amazing affects on learning new concepts and problem solving! People who know more than one language can quite literally think 'outside the box' more readily than a monolingual or one language speaker. That's because they already think in different languages or in more than one way!
Also, younger learners can learn how to produce the native sounds of another language much easier than older learners. Think of the early wiring to language sounds as babies and the pruning the brain does as we age. When we are young, the brain is activated to learn as much as it can, including how to form sounds with our mouths and tongues. For example, as children, if we don't have an experience rolling an 'rrrr' (I used to mimic my cat's purring), we will have a difficult time later in life trying to learn how to do it. The brain is more open to learning how to produce sounds during the early years or this critical period in its development. Wow! As a former preschool teacher, this stuff facinates me!
Here's an easy book in English and Spanish with bright pictures of familiar foods to check out:
Over the next few months, I will be exploring more about second language learning and sharing ideas on teaching your child another language---even if you don't know another language yourself!
Carrot photo credit: www.alternativa-verde.com
You know, even when the weather is delightful, it can be challenging to come up with new and fun things to do with kids. There are naps to contend with and snacks to pack and diapers and toys and it can seem like it's probably just easier to stay at home and have a pretend adventure.
Follow Me! is a new series in which we'll explore fun places for kids in or near Jefferson County. The places we'll highlight will be free or extremely affordable or just so totally worth the price of admission that I can't resist sharing them with you.
I have 2 kids and I'll be absolutely straight with you: I'll tell you who had a good time, who needed to be older or younger and/or if anyone cried the whole time (even if it was me). I'll let you know if the staff and other patrons were actually welcoming or if anyone cringed and fled when they saw us coming. I'm a mom who happens to be an information professional: just like you, I want to know if getting everyone out the door is really going to be worth it.
But first - there are some fun holiday happenings this weekend that I don't want you to miss:
Friday, December 5 beginning at 4:00pm - There will be dancing, caroling and free photos with Santa before the annual Olde Golden Candlelight Walk. You may bring your own candles, or purchase them at the Golden Chamber of Commerce. Consider visiting the Golden Library beforehand for cider and to explore our collection of holiday books to enjoy following the festivities!
Friday, December 5 at approximately 5:30pm - Santa and Mrs. Claus are going to light the community tree at the Evergreen Lake House, followed by the annual Holiday Walk from the Lake House through Downtown Evergreen! Visit the Evergreen Library before visiting Santa to get holiday books to share after the festivtities!
Saturday, December 6 noon-3pm - Bring a camera! Santa will be in Arvada's Olde Town Square every Saturday afternoon until Christmas! Guess what else is near Olde Town Square! (Do you see where I'm going with this? Wait for it...) Visit the Arvada Library before or after seeing Santa, choose some holiday books and films and keep the spirit of your super-fun adventure going well into the season.
Watch this space for more kid-friendly fun!
Photo credit: Vicky Brock on flickr
HEY...LEGO my EGGO!
I'm starving and if you think you can just waltz in here and grab my Eggo when I have been waiting so patiently for the toaster to pop...you've got another thing coming buddy!
What? This isn't about my Eggo?
You said LEGO? As in the building blocks?
Oh, well that makes more sense...
So, no Eggo's at the library? Just LEGO's at the library? That could be fun!
LEGO Club has made a huge splash at your local Jefferson County Library, offering monthly programs for both kids and teens. All you need is a little imagination and some elbow grease, and we'll provide the rest.
Now back to my Eggo...where'd I put the syrup?
PRINT MOTIVATION: Being interested in and enjoying books.
I LOVE BOOKS!!!
I know, you're saying "Well duh, you're a librarian". But, even if I was a rocket scientist or a zoo vet I would still love books!
Even before my children were sleeping through the night (and believe me I don't miss those days) I would sit in my rocking chair and read to them. It would be just us, gently rocking, and listening to "a quiet old lady who was whispering 'hush'". You can inspire the same love of reading in your children, whether it's the wee hours of the morning or the middle of the afternoon, showing interest and enjoying reading with your children is where their love of reading begins.
According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PRINT MOTIVATION as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
Kids who enjoy books and reading will be curious about reading and motivated to learn to read for themselves. Motivation is important because learning to read is HARD WORK!
It's important that we make sure our children start reading and listening to books from day one and that they have a good time with books.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Read books you both like
Stop (or shift gears) when it is no longer fun. Length of time is not important; enjoyment is!
If you're looking for a tried and true classic...you're never too old or too young to enjoy, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise-Brown. I promise!
So, find a comfy spot, curl up with a fun book and your little one, and let the magic begin!
Have you ever read a goosebumps book? Not the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. I mean a book that no matter how many times you read or re-read it, it gives you goosebumps. WONDER by R.J. Palacio is one of those books!!
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
WONDER, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
The magic of Wonder continues in these beautifully written companion books.
This companion book features conversations between Mr. Browne and Auggie, Julian, Summer, Jack Will, and others, giving readers a special peek at their lives after Wonder ends. Mr. Browne's essays and correspondence are rounded out by a precept for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills.
There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.
Now readers will have a chance to hear from the book's most controversial character—Julian.
From the very first day Auggie and Julian met in the pages of the Wonder, it was clear they were never going to be friends, with Julian treating Auggie like he had the plague. And while Wonder told Auggie's story through six different viewpoints, Julian's perspective was never shared. Readers could only guess what he was thinking. Until now. The Julian Chapter will finally reveal the bully's side of the story. Why is Julian so unkind to Auggie? And does he have a chance for redemption?
CHOOSE KIND! It'll give you goosebumps!
Halloween is just hours away. Do you need some last minute decorations? Try these easy upcycle crafts that are great for kids.
Gather up your old jars and some paints to make this colorful Halloween luminaries.
These cute egg carton spiders are great for toddlers and older kids to make. If you don't have pipe cleaners or wiggle eyes on hand, try using black paper strips for the legs and paste on your own paper eyes.
Wondering what to do with the empty toilet paper rolls from your mummy costume? Your little one will have lots of fun making these toilet paper roll pumpkins.
Did you know that the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book is coming November 4th? In the latest book Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Long Haul, Greg goes on a road trip with his family.
The Lakewood Library will be celebrating the new book with games and activities plus a chance to win a copy of the new book. Join us Saturday, November 8th at 12:00 p.m. until 1 p.m. in the Kid's room for some Wimpy Kid fun!
P.S.: Want a sneak peek at the new book?
You daydream about catching your child reading Huck Finn or War and Peace but are rudely awakened to find them in front of the TV again. It seems like every conversation with your child ends with, "but books aren't as good as TV."
Why not capture your child's attention by introducing them to books based on their favorite TV shows or movies? The library owns several titles at many different reading levels based on popular TV shows and movies such as Scooby Doo and Star Wars. They may not be classic masterpieces but they just might get your child to read! Here are just a few of the popular TV shows or movies that you can find in books at your library:
Start your kids off on the path to reading with their TV and movie pals. Once the door to reading has been opened the possibilities are endless!
Photo credit: Lubs Mary. on Flickr
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The first one said, "I just can't wait."
The second one said, "I'll be there."
The third one said, "If you dare."
The fourth one said "Let's run, let's run!"
The fifth one said, "Isn't Halloween fun!"
Woooooo went the wind...
and the pumpkins made merry,
as they rolled on over to their local LIBRARY...
Join us for Halloween Storytimes and Events from October 16th through November 1st! Your local library will be celebrating Halloween with a ton of fun programs! We hope to see you there, in costume!!