Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dealing with the Hard Stuff

Parents are always looking for a storybook that helps deal with some of the unhappier issues that life brings to a family. THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN is a storybook that handles the issue of a young mother's cancer with forthrightness and optimism. It is winter when Mom finds out she has cancer, and after a trip to the doctor where the kids get to ask their questions, it is decided that while Mom is getting treatment they will plan a garden -- because the doctor has said that Mom's treatments will be done by pumpkin time. Mom's treatments progress after surgery, and the garden keeps growing.

The author of this book has struck the perfect balance of being truthful about what happens with a disease and telling an upbeat family story.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

by Janna Matthies


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Should We Do Today?

Today's the day to come to the library!

First, grab a comfy chair and curl up to read a good story.

Next, check out the colorful bins that are tucked into the Parents' Corner -- you'll find just the right ingredients for a tea party, a construction marathon, a toddler concert, or a creative art project.

Now, grab a basket and fill it with great books to check out!

P.S. Don't leave without stopping by the doghouse and grabbing a calendar -- you don't want to miss the next great event at your library!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Math Literacy Begins at Home

You can take the fear out of math by making sure it is just a part of everyday life at home. By engaging your child in everyday activities that are fun, you might be laying a foundation for a future in math or science. At the very least, you will be giving them a confidence that will make their way through school a little easier. Math does not need to be taught as a lesson. It can be discovered in storybooks or explored at the kitchen table. Preschoolers shouldn't be doing drills or being quizzed, they should just be experiencing an introduction to numbers and patterns found in familiar objects and activities.

Math-Multiplying Play
Source: Parent & Child at
Six major math concepts that preschoolers can learn through play.

Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics by U.S. Dept. of Education
Fun activities for preschoolers and up. Weighing, counting, walking, building, playacting and more.

Early Math Matters: A Guide for Parents of Preschoolers
by the National Center for Learning Disabilities
Don't be put off by the fact that this is put out by the National Center for Learning Disabilities. This is an excellent article that lists early math activities for parents, teachers, homeschoolers. It does refer parents whose school-age children might be having difficulties to places they might receive educational screening.

What to Expect at Preschool: Math
Source: Scholastic Parents at
Math should be an everyday experience and this experience can start at home. Learn how children 2 & up learn numbers, geometry and spatial relations, measurement, patterns, and how to analyze data. (This sounds so scarey -- you are weighing pets, counting silverware, stringing beads and looking at polka dots!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm Bored!!!

Today is a sunny snow day and playtime outside is a priority. But what do you do when you are back inside and the winter crankies start up again?

Winter is the perfect time to build literacy skills -- whether you are playing inside or out. This month we'll show you some web sites that give you ideas for simple minute-to-minute activiites to keep your toddlers busy.( Of course, make one activity a stop at the library. Just picking out a few themed picture books will give you inspiration for all kinds of projects and discussions. Stop in at a storytime, AM or PM, and get the week rolling. Many parents say that their preschoolers "prepare" for next week's storytime theme by gathering up show and tells and talking about "what may happen." )

The Rainbow Resource Room has many activities for parents that use only what you have at home -- or nothing at all! My favorite winter outdoor idea is to take a "Silly Walk" that gets you counting. ( Take a walk with your child. Make up some silly steps to do together. Examples: Take two large steps and three tiny steps counting 1,2 - 1,2,3 - 1,2, etc., as you go.) You've just combined exercise with reading (patterning) and math practice -- and probably worked up an appetite for hot chocolate.

Preschool Playbook has got you covered with "Hot chocolate Anyone?" Here is what you need:
zipper sandwich bags
packaged hot chocolate mix
mini-marshmallows (or shapes)
stir sticks
optional: Hershey Kisses

Work with your preschooler assembling the ingredients for a couple bags to drink after playtime and a couple bags to share. Use large measuring cups or spoons to measure the mix -- let them do the measuring. Count the mini marshmallows and split them into equal piles. Fill bags in an assembly line (patterning again.)
Include the poem if you like:
Here's a little Snowman Soup
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water and sip it slow.
It's sure to do the trick.

Two of our favorite wintertime books at the library are The Hat and The Mitten by Jan Brett. Did you know Jan Brett has a website filled with coloring sheets and activities you can make at home? Read her Honey. . .Honey . . .Lion! and then go to the Honey. . .Honey . . .Lion! rythm band project to make some fun and noisy instruments. You don't have to worry if you don't have a printer -- draw and color your own patterns--then shake shake shake your crankies away. Are you stuck at home and can't get out to the library for new stories? You can make y0ur own. Pick out pictures from old magazines (cut these out when you are out of sight if you have a very young child who hasn't yet learned when it is OK and when it is not!) Lay them out on colorful paper and construct a story. Tell your own tale then ask your toddler for a different version. Or, start the tale and ask "What do you think happened then?" Just scramble the pictures for a new story tomorrow. (Laminate the pictures for a great short mealtime activity.)
Remember--Spring is just around the corner.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Things To Do With Dad

By Chris Stevens
This book is brimming full with fun activities to do with Dad -- building forts, making tee shirts, creating carnival games, cooking up spooky food, holding a bad spelling bee. Full instructions for plenty of things to do, inside or outside, when the family is bored.

Also read: Things to Do With Mom by Alison Mahoney.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cozy, Comfy, Winter Reading Activities

This is the time of year that both parents and children feel trapped inside. Take advantage of more "together time" by participating in fun activities that also build pre-reading skills. A colorful quilt or tablecloth on the family room floor is a bright backdrop to set up an afternoon tea or luncheon. Make menu cards that have simple pictures and words (bread, apple, milk, purple jelly, cup.) Discuss the order in which your sandwiches were assembled and what your favorite meals are you have shared. Have your child help you make up a story about a fictional character (dog, princess, pirate, fireman) that has a funny experience while having lunch.

In an hour's time or less, you have worked on word identification, sequencing, narrative skills, and creative thinking. When you are done -- read a short story that involves food and then wrap up in the blanket and take a cozy nap.
Having fun? Stop at the library and check out our new Play n' Learn Spot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall Into Good Reading Habits With Babies and Toddlers

It always feels like Fall should really be the start of a new year. We slowly come out of our slump from the lazy days of summer play and feel energized by the crisp cool air. The stores full of bright new crayons and empty notebooks make all of us want to learn something new. What a great time to start new reading habits for the months to come. Make a Fall commitment to pick three times during the day that you can read or tell a story to your children.
  • Is breakfast hectic? Maybe while they are dawdling you can tease them with a story plot of a familiar book -- and promise to read it before bed.
  • Pack a few books for the park. Have a story and a snack before heading home.
  • Plan your trip to the library when you plan other outings. That way before and after you visit the pumpkin patch or apple orchard you can share some good tales that will start up lots of discussion about the event.
  • Pick a good series of books for bathtime -- the anticipation will be high and there will be no more bathtime fussing.

Now is also a great time to take advantage of cozy pj storytimes and new programs starting at the library. They might even let you play with those new crayons!