Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Be Ready for Back to School

It's almost that time again - school starts next week!  Ready or not, it's time to prepare for getting up early, doing homework, and diving into those after school activities.  We've got a few helpful tips to help you be ready for school!

  • Gradually move towards waking up and going to bed earlier.  Over the summer, most kids stay up and sleep in a little (or a lot) later than they do during the school year.  If you wait until the night before the first day of school to go back to an earlier bedtime, kids will still be used to the later bedtime and won't be tired yet.  They may have trouble sleeping if the routine changes suddenly.  Likewise, waiting until the first day of school to get up early could leave your child groggy and grouchy.  Help them gradually adjust to the school routine rather than going "cold turkey."
  • Clean out that backpack.  There's nothing worse than finding a stinky, moldy sandwich the night before school starts.  The earlier you clean out last year's backpack, the more time it'll be able to air out before the first day of school.
  • Take advantage of back-to-school shopping deals.  We agree, those back-to-school ads start way too early!  Though you've probably been spending most of the summer tuning them out, now is the time to pay a little closer attention.  Also, some teachers send students lists of supplies they should have before school starts, so keep an eye out for teacher suggestions.
  • Maintain an up-to-date family calendar.  Include after-school activities, sports, play dates, vacations,  family occasions, and even grown-up plans.  If everybody's activities are listed in one place, it's much easier to know where everyone is!  Though your smartphone may be a great resource, you're pretty much the only one with easy access to it, so keep this calendar in a visible place in the house where everyone has easy access to everybody's schedule.
  • And of course, don't forget about those Summer Reading lists!  Before summer started, we worked with the Watertown Public Schools to develop suggested reading lists for kids entering preschool through grade 5.  There's still time to do some last minute reading from those lists!  You can check them out on our website, or come on in to the Children's Department where you'll find them conveniently all shelved together in the Summer Reading section.  And feel free to ask us for advice on other good books to round out summer vacation.
Looking for other tips and ideas?  Check out some of these resources:
  • USA.gov - The official site of the U.S. Government has some helpful tips.
  • NASP - The National Association of School Psychologists offers ideas to help your child be emotionally and psychologically ready for school to start.
  • HealthyChildren.org - This site is put together by the American Academy of Pediatrics and great information about safety, bullying, and developing good study habits.
And remember, even though Summer Reading at the library is over, we'll start a whole array of programs for all ages in the fall!  Check out our online calendar of events to find out when all the fun will happen!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On My Own Story Time: It's almost time to sign up!

Attention parents of four- and five-year-olds!  Summer Reading may be over, but we're already preparing to dive right into our school year programming!  One of our favorite programs is On My Own Story Time.  This program is for kids ages four and five, and it's designed to help them learn school readiness skills.  Children will participate in fun, curriculum-based activities all centered around stories, songs and crafts.  They'll learn important literacy skills that will help them be ready to start school.

Additionally, unlike our regular PreSchool Story Time programs, children attend this program without their parents or caregivers.  (Don't worry grown-ups, you get to hang out just outside the program room.  You won't be far away!)  It's excellent practice for kids to separate from their grown-ups and to experience something much closer to an independent classroom experience.

On My Own Story Time goes for 4 weeks, and we do ask that kids try to attend all 4 sessions. The program requires registration, and registration begins on Monday, August 27.  You can register here at the library in-person, or you can call us at 617-972-6435.

This is a program you won't want to miss!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2900 Total Summer Reading Hours!!!

Well folks, today was the last day of Summer Reading.  Following an amazing program with the Museum of Science, we held our Wrap-Up Party.  Tons and tons of kids and parents came to find out how many total hours we read this summer, and whether or not we reached our ultimate goal of reading 2000 hours and donating a pig to Heifer International.

The kids were anxiously awaiting the final count announcement.



Together, the kids of Watertown read a total of 2900 hours this summer!  That's well over our goal, so we will ultimately be donating ducklings, geese, rabbits, AND a pig to help families in need around the world!  You should all be proud of your incredible reading achievement!

 To celebrate, we ate a delicious cake!

But kids, don't stop reading!  You can stop in at the library any time and pick up your reading log, which you can now take home with you.  You can keep reading and keep recording those hours and fill up your log on your own.  How many hours can you read before school starts?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Early Literacy Tip: Babies need to hold, touch and chew on books!

In this morning’s Nursery Rhyme Time program, we shared an early literacy tip about letting your baby play with books.

Let your child play with books! One of the first literacy skills young children need to learn is understanding what a book is. They learn this by touching books, opening and closing them, turning pages, and putting them in their mouths. Even building towers out of books or spreading them across the floor helps babies learn this very early, but important, concept. Don’t feel pressure to read through books word-for-word. Physically playing with books is important – don’t rush through this fun stage!

One of the most important early literacy skills a child can learn is the enjoyment of reading, formally called Print Motivation. This comes from warm, positive experiences with books and reading. When babies are young, this includes physically playing with books. For infants, the mouth is the most highly developed avenue for learning about the world. That’s why babies put everything in their mouths. This needs to include books. Babies need to touch, feel, and of course, chew on books.

When you’re reading with your infant, it is not very important to read each word of a story. While language is important, at this age any talking or singing you do will be beneficial. When it comes to physical books, the important thing is to have incredibly positive experiences with these objects. Yanking a book away when they put it in their mouths or forcing them to turn pages when they don’t want to yet isn’t necessary. Sure it makes it easier to read the book, but it’s more fun for the baby to play with the book as they see fit.

So how do we share a book with them? Instead of focusing on the words, point at pictures and talk about the illustrations. Ask them questions (even though they’re too young to answer). Don’t be afraid of wordless picture books – these encourage even more parent/child/book interaction!

If you really want to read all the words, try giving them their own book to hold and play with while you read from another one. That way baby’s hands (and mouth) can physically explore the book, and baby’s brain simultaneously benefits linguistically from hearing you read.

Looking for more info? Check out these helpful websites!

Better Beginnings, from the State Library of Western Australia
Reading Rockets, from the U.S. Department of Education
Zero to Three, from the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

Monday, August 20, 2012

Only Two Days Left of Summer Reading!

All summer you've been reading and recording your hours, working toward our goals of donating animals to Heifer International.  So far, you've read over 1500 hours, and you've donating ducklings, geese, and rabbits.  And now you're almost there... on Wednesday, we'll hold our big Wrap-Up Party and we'll find out if we've read enough to donate a pig!

The fun will start with our Wednesday Special program at 2:00pm.  The Museum of Science will be here to tell us all about Super Cold Science!  You'll find out how all sorts of matter changes when its temperature is cooled to super cold temperatures! This program is geared towards kids entering grades K-5.

When the program is finishing up, we'll move into our Wrap-Up Party, which is for all ages.  That's when we'll finally announce the total number of hours we've read throughout the summer, and we'll find out if it's enough to donate a pig.  And then, of course, we'll eat cake!

(This is a picture of last year's cake.  But this year's cake will be equally delicious!)

And be sure you come into the library before the program on Wednesday to record any additional hours you've been reading.  That way your hours will count toward the grand total we announce at the party.  So mark your calendars!  You won't want to miss the culmination of all the reading you've been doing!  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review from a Parent

As you may remember, few months ago we had a bunch of Advanced Reader Copies of soon-to-be published books available for kids and parents to take home, review, and then keep.  Here's another one of those reviews from a local mom!

After the Kill by Darrin Lunde

"This book has beautiful illustrations that depict realistic events of the jungle.  Given all of the factual information, this book is probably best for late elementary readers, grades 4-6.  I look forward to reading this book with my son when he's a bit older."

If you have an ARC book at home, don't forget to bring in a review that you or your children write.  We don't currently have any more books to give away, but keep your eyes peeled because we probably will again in the future.

And be sure to come in and check out some of the books that have already been reviewed!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Week's Guessing Jar Winner

Congratulations to Lucas, this week's guessing jar winner!  His guess of 54 was only 2 away from the actual number of raffle tickets in the jar!  He chose a slammers game as his prize.

After posing for our photo, Lucas specifically requested to take another photo with a "funny face."  Here it is:

Remember, there's still time to come in and guess and maybe win a prize yourself!  This week we're guessing how many seashells are in the jar, so be sure to stop by!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moving Toward a Pig!

You've read so many hours that Denise needs to stand on a chair to color in the thermometer!  Awesome work!

There's only one week left of Summer Reading, and our great big goal of donating a pig is within our grasp!  Keep on reading, and keep on coming in to stamp your log and count your hours.

And make sure to mark your calendar for our Summer Reading Wrap-Up Party on Wednesday, August 22, after the Museum of Science Super Cold Science program at 2:00.  We'll celebrate summer with a delicious cake, and we'll find out if you've read enough to donate a pig to Heifer International.  Don't miss it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Newest Guessing Jar Winner!

Congratulations to Arushi, this week's guessing jar winner!  Arushi guessed that there were 258 stars in the jar, and her guess was the closest to the actual 271.  She chose a Bananagrams game as her prize.

This week the Guessing Jar contains raffle tickets.  How many?  Well that's up to you to guess!

Monday, August 6, 2012

You Donated Bunnies!

As you can see, we've made a TON of progress so far on our reading thermometer!  We've been keeping track of all the hours that every single participant spends reading, and we're quickly moving forward.  And guess what?!

That's right, our readers have made it to our third reading goal!  Watertown readers have read 1500 hours, which means we can donate a trio of rabbits to Heifer International.

So how will these rabbits be helpful?  Rabbits reproduce incredibly quickly, which makes them a long-term source of protein for a family.  And rabbit droppings make excellent fertilizers for gardens.  Learn more about how your reading is helping feed families around the world by visiting Heifer International's website.

And remember, we're not done yet!  There's still time to read, read, read and, of course, to come in and stamp your log to keep track of your hours.  You can even still sign up to participate if you haven't had a chance yet.  Keep reading to help us reach our final grand goal of reading 2000 hours and donating a pig!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Check out YOUR artwork in our gallery!

Next time you visit the library, head upstairs and take a look at our T. Ross Kelly Family Gallery!  Throughout the month of August, we're displaying artwork created by Watertown's kids!

In July, one of our Unplugged Friday programs was a Community Mural!  Kids who attended designed their own pieces of canvas that come together to form a larger collage focused on a theme: What Watertown Means to Me!

You'll also find artwork contributed by our First Grade Lunch Bunch Book Club.  They read The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, then they drew their own interpretations of the book.  A few kids also did giant self-portraits that are being displayed.

So be sure to take a look and see what your children or children you know have created!  Feel free to snap a picture or two, and bask in your month of fame!