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by: 
Jennifer, Lakewood Library

When kids get to pick their own books they get greater pleasure out of reading. Reluctant readers sometimes struggle with deciding what to read since they aren't big fans of reading in the first place. Books like the Plot-your-own stories (a.k.a. Choose Your Own Adventure) are great because they put the reader at the center of the story. The reader is an active character who can shape the direction of the story. There are a variety of Plot-your-own stories. They can be fictional adventures or based on actual historical events. Because these books can have a number of conclusions based on the different decisions that a reader makes along the way, you may just find your reluctant reader rereading the same book over and over. Check out some of these great Plot-your-own story series.

Twisted Journeys

 

Interactive History Adventures

 

American Girl: Innerstar University

 

Star Wars: Decide Your Destiny

by: 
Marcy James

We use bubbles in our baby and toddler storytimes because they are fun, but also because they serve a purpose: Young children and babies can practice tracking an object with their eyes. They reach out to touch and pop the bubbles which utilizes their large motor skills and increases their range of motion. As with most effective learning, they simply think they are having fun!

Here are some other ways you can have a little fun with bubbles this summer:

Pipe-cleaner wands
Simply create a shape in a pipe cleaner and blow! Does a heart shaped wand make a heart shaped bubble?

Fairy Bubbles with drinking straws
Tape straws together, dip and blow for several tiny bubbles at once!

 

Bubble Window (Also makes large bubbles)
Take 2 straws and cut them to approximately 5 inches.
Thread a length of yarn (approximately 25-30 inches) through the straws and tie it.
Pull the straws to opposite sides to make a rectangle.
Dip in bubble solution and when you pull in apart you have a window!
If your finger has bubble solution on it you can poke it through the window and it won't break the bublble!
Woosh it through the air holding the rectangle shape and make a giant bubble!

Bubble Snakes
Cut the end off of a water or Gatorade bottle with scissors.
Wrap a piece of old towel or other fabric around the end and fasten with a rubber band.
Dip the cloth in solution - no need to saturate.
Blow through the mouth of the bottle and create huge lengths of foam.
Be sure that if solution gets inside the bottle that you don't drink it...YUK!

 

If you are very ambitious try a body bubble with a hula hoop!
      

Here is the recipe for a Bubble Solution that I like, but there are many to experiment with online!

by: 
Barbara, Evergreen Library

We celebrate fatherhood in the month of June, and lately, I find myself reminiscing about my first and most favorite friend to play with, my Daddy. I'll never forget his amazing piggyback rides or learning that bad throws cost runs in baseball; or that on rainy days he'd spend hours, with me, playing checkers, dominoes, or just doing a puzzle.  Though, I didn't always win, I didn't care, I was having fun with my Dad and he was having fun with me. ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PLAY as one of their 5 practices designed to promote early literacy in young children.

How does playing with children help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states that:

Play can be a powerful boost to early literacy learning! The critical component of play that builds children’s literacy skills is oral language. This includes talking about their play, describing what they are doing, negotiating roles, and discussing props.

Narrative Skills

When children act stories they know, either as a play or with props or puppets, they practice sequencing events. They also are exploring and investigating story structure. Putting events in sequence and understanding how stories work are both skills that help children understand the new stories that they read.

Vocabulary

As children play, they can be encouraged to talk about their scenarios and describe their actions and props. (“I’m stirring the eggs because I’m cooking pancakes for dinner.” “This stick is the magic wand and I’m going to turn you into a butterfly.”) This gives them a chance to practice using the vocabulary words they are learning. If a word in a book is one children have spoken themselves (instead of just hearing it), they are more likely to be able to recognize it on the page. They also can learn new words when an adult introduces new ideas into the play. “What would you like for dessert? Would you like cake, or a sundae? A sundae is ice cream in a bowl with chocolate sauce and sprinkles on top.”

Print Motivation & Print Awareness

Play times can also be an opportunity to show children that print is used in a wide variety of ways. Delivery drivers use maps, chefs use recipes, shoppers use lists. The more children see lists, notepads, signs, letters, and other props with printed words on them, the more they learn that print is something that is all around them, not just in books. The more different kinds of texts children are exposed to, the more likely it is they will find a type of text or a purpose for reading that they can connect with and be motivated by.

Parents can also follow their child's interests and play preferences by bringing home books about the topics their children are interested in and like to act out. If a child has a favorite toy horse and likes to play vet, bringing home non-fiction about different breeds of horse or stories about vets can introduce both new ideas for future play as well as keep children intrigued about books in general.

Letter Knowledge

A milestone in children’s imaginative development is symbolic play, when they can use one prop or object to represent something else, as when a building block held to the ear becomes a cell phone. Dramatic play allows for many of these substitutions! Understanding that one object can stand for another object is a basic realization that leads to the more complicated understanding that a shape on the page can stand for a letter of the alphabet, and a word on the page can stand for a spoken word.

In addition, children learn through all their senses, so the kinesthetic exploration of shapes and letter forms via puzzles, play dough, sensory tables, and body movements all help children build their letter knowledge. Sorting games and matching activities directly involve shape recognition and prepare children to recognize small differences in letters.

Phonological Awareness

Singing isn’t the only way to build phonological awareness skills; chanting games (“Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?”), clapping games (“Miss Mary Mack,” call-and-response rhythm games), and rhyming games (“Down By the Bay,” “Willoughby Wallaby Woo”) all contribute to this awareness as well, by highlighting the rhythms and sounds of oral language, and involving the whole body.

If you are looking for something new to do check out, The Great Outdoors: 25 Outside Activities from Family Fun magazine.

So, get outside this weekend, dig out that old catchers mitt and make some lasting memories. Your kids will love you for it!

by: 
Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Reading to your child should be fun. Why not make it fun for both of you? Here are a few of my favorite books that got the adult in this Children's librarian to laugh.

 Jake Goes Peanuts by Michael Wright

Anyone who has ever tried to please a picky eater will get a good chuckle out of this one.

 

Lester's Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell

The sweaters that cousin Clara knits for Lester are truly dreadful but also hilarious.

 

The Cat the Cat series by Mo Willems

Cat the Cat Who is That?, the first in this series, made me laugh so hard in a book store that my husband pretended not to know me.

 

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka

This is my current favorite. It's a great one for kids young and old. Check out the hilarious trailer and then RUN to your local library to get a copy.

by: 
Barbara, Evergreen Library

I've always loved Bad Kitty! From her first mischevious adventures with Puppy, to her latest hijinks with creator and illustrator, Nick Bruel, Kitty has never disappointed. No dream of tuna is too tuna-y, no Puppy slobber is too slobbery, and no Uncle Murray Fun Fact is too fact-y, in fact, I just can't get enough.

Which made me ask myself, why? Why do I have this undying fascination with Kitty? Why do I care who wins the Kitty Cat Olympics? Why do I love playing What the Heck is That Thing? And, just how did that goofy cat get a refrigerator up a tree?

It wasn't until this week that I finally found the true reason...we both have May birthdays. YAY!!! Though she's a Taurus and I'm a Gemini, I have overcome that barrier and sworn to be her BIGGEST fan! Now it is my mission to make ALL of you her BIGGEST fans too! 

Let the adventure begin with Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel...

You'll be HOOKED!!!

 

To find out more about my favorite cat and her creator check out Bad Kitty Books, Uncle Murray will thank you.

Now, I'm off to play What the Heck is that Thing? Look out refrigerator!!!

 

by: 
Jennifer, Lakewood Library

Is your reader reluctant to read chapter books or fiction books of any kind? Try some non-fiction instead to get them interested in reading. Many kids prefer reading fact-filled books on their favorite topics rather than a story.

Have a conversation with your reader about what interests them. Then, come to the library to find some books that will support those interests and encourage them to read. Here are a few non-fiction series that might be appealing to your reader:

Ology World series

 

DK Eyewitness books

 

The Gross and Goofy Body series

Once your reader's nonfiction interests become clear, ask a librarian to help you find fiction books on the same topic. Sometimes this can be a good bridge into the world of fiction books for reluctant fiction readers! 

by: 
Marcy, Arvada

I'm all for reusing found items and making something fabulous on the cheap. This is one of those crafts.

These eye spy bottles encourage problem solving, word building, letter recognition and best of all they can keep kids busy on a road trip or while waiting in line at the DMV. No batteries required.

1. Take a water bottle, Mason jar, anything clear with a lid that you can hot glue into place. 
2. Collect 20 or more small objects that will fit through the neck of the bottle. Look online for examples. Some people find objects around the house some buttons and trinkets from the craft store and some people use themes like Halloween Bottles or ABC's.
3. Take a photo of the objects that will go into the bottle.

4. Choose filler. This can be rice, bird seed, beans, dried peas, whatever you have around the house.
5. Alternate layers of filler with the objects leaving a little shakable room in the bottle.
6. Glue the lid in place and attach the photo. You may want to laminate the photo.
7. Give it to your little one for hours of fun.

Another option would be what is referred to as a discovery bottle. Skip the picture of what is inside and let the kids discover what they will. You could fill the bottles with water and oil liberally laced with glitter or tint the water. You could alphabet beads and encourage your child to make words like scrabble in a bottle. The possibilities are endless!

by: 
Barbara, Evergreen Library

Hi! I'm Barbara, and I have been asked to fill some VERY big shoes, here at JCPL, and continue the ongoing blog series entitled, Ready to Read Reminder.

Ready to Read Reminder, will focus on ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read), which has 5 practices designed to help you and your child build a life long love of reading: READ, TALK, SING, WRITE, and PLAY.

Each month I will highlight one of the 5 practices and share fun activities with you that you and your child can enjoy doing together. This month I will be exploring WRITING and the importance it plays in early literacy. 

How does writing with children help them get ready to read? The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL) states that,

By letting your child explore their world by coloring, drawing, and writing you are encouraging them to develop print motivation, expand narrative skills, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge. 

Print Motivation

We know that print motivation includes being excited about books and stories, wanting to read and be read to, and being interested in learning to read yourself. When children have a chance to do their own writing, whether it is a scribbled “list,” random letters on a label, or the initial of their first name, they have a chance to feel connected to print in an active, very different way than when they are listening to a story. It’s always powerful for children to have the opportunity to do things for themselves! Being an active participant in writing and telling stories helps keep children excited about reading stories, too.

Narrative Skills & Print Awareness

The very first writing that children do is connected to narrative skills: The first stage of writing development is when children draw pictures, then tell the stories that the pictures represent. When children do this, they have made the leap to understanding that marks on the page can carry meaning. When a child completes a drawing, caregivers can encourage the child's narrative skills by saying, “Tell me about this picture!” or “What's happening in this picture?” In addition, children's narrative skills can be expanded by providing them with opportunities to explore writing as a part of their dramatic play, such as creating menus while playing restaurant, or writing traffic tickets while playing police officers.

Vocabulary

We know that children whose caregivers talk with them more have larger vocabularies than children whose caregivers speak with them less often. Parents and caregivers can prompt discussions by modeling writing for their children, and then discussion what they are writing and why. Talking about grocery lists before and during shopping trips, or the content of family emails while sitting at the computer, or to-do lists when putting a sticky note on the refrigerator, all provide more opportunities for the child to hear new words in meaningful contexts.

Phonological Awareness

As preschool children begin to learn their letters and are able to make intentional marks on the page, writing “messages” as part of their play is one way they practice their knowledge of what sounds go with what letters. “Invented spelling” is what happens when children try to spell a word that they don’t yet know how to spell. The resulting “misspelled” words don’t mean that children aren’t learning well, instead it means children ARE learning—they are thinking very carefully about the sounds that they hear and the letters that they know.

Letter Knowledge

Even before children have the fine motor skills that allow them to draw or write letters on purpose, their growing understanding of the shapes of letters allows them to recognize these letters when they see them—on buildings, in books, and even in their own scribbles. As children practice making the lines and curves and circles they will later use to write letters, they sometimes will make marks or a scribble, look at it, and then identify letters that they see. “Look, I made a T!”

Every day is special with your little one but, who knew celebrating YOU, and the wonderful job you do every day, could also become an early literacy skill builder? Make Mother's Day cards for all the special "moms" in their lives and help your child create memories that you both will cherish for a lifetime. 

 

 

by: 
Marcy, Arvada

It's time to get out of the house! Spring has sprung and there is a whole lot of concrete out there in need of beautification. Sidewalk chalk has unlimited potential and you can even make your own.

What to do with this rainbow of possibilities?
Play a game! Here are 30 of the best ideas I've found:

Twister anyone?

Use chalk as a photography prop.

Chalk can even keep those literacy skills fresh over Summer break!

Cheap, easy, washable...what more could you ask for? In fact I think I will try some of these ideas here at the Arvada Library this summer so keep an eye out!

Get creative and let the Spring showers clear your canvas (or driveway.) 

by: 
Jennifer, Lakewood Library

I just finished a great book: How to Catch a Bogel by Catherine Jinks. It's perfect for kids 4th grade and up who like scary stories. 

Birdie’s work as an apprentice to Alfred saves her from being a poor orphan in London. Alfred is a Bogler, which means he traps and kills monsters who like to eat children, and Birdie is his bait. She is fast on her feet but will she be fast enough every time? Check out the book trailer if you dare!

 

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