Monday, December 23, 2013


The Watertown Free Public Library will close at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, December 24, and will be closed on Wednesday, December 25.  We will resume normal hours on Thursday, December 26.

That means, you should come visit us during the following open hours this week:
Monday (today) 9:00am-9:00pm
Tuesday 9:00am-12:00pm
Thursday 9:00am-9:00pm
Friday 9:00am-7:00pm
Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm

Monday, December 16, 2013

Super Hero Party on Friday!

Do you wish you had super powers?  Which super hero is your favorite?  If you love everything super, you won't want to miss our Super Hero Party on Friday at 3:30 p.m.  It's for kids in kindergarten through second grade, and there are still spaces available.  You'll get to come up with your own Super Hero name, we'll share some stories about amazing powers, and you'll make your very own mask and super hero cape!

Registration is required, so call 617-972-6435 or stop in and let us know if you're interested!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Story Time at Santa's Village in the Watertown Mall - 12/18 at 10:15am

You won't want to miss this!  On Wednesday, December 18 at 10:15 a.m., a librarian will be in Santa's Village at the Watertown Mall to share stories and songs to get everyone in a winter mood!

This program was added after a few December calendars were distributed, so if you grabbed one of our early calendars you may not see it on your calendar.  It's an end-of-the-year bonus program!

The stories and songs will be appropriate for families with children of all ages, and there's no need to register.  Just stop into the Watertown Mall on December 18 and join us!

Wanna know more?  Check out our online calendar of events, call us at 617-972-6435, or stop in for more information.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Legoland Discovery Center Boston

Hey LEGO lovers!  Did you know that Boston's going to get it's very own Legoland Discovery Center?  And did you know that, starting on December 2, you can vote on what landmarks will be in the Boston Miniland?  If you visit the Legoland Discovery Center Facebook Page, you'll be able to vote and find out more about the soon-to-be Legoland, including some photos of the building's construction.

In January, Legoland Discovery Center is also hosting a unique event.  Each Discovery Center has a Master Model Builder who develops new features, exhibits, and models.  This person will play a big role in the experience of children who visit Legoland, and they don't get chosen lightly.  Legoland will be hosting auditions over the course of a two-day event, and families will be able to watch potential Master Model Builders earn their spot.  You can find out more at Legoland's website:

And of course, we've got all sorts of fun options for LEGO fanatics here at the library!  Each month we've got LEGO Club, where kids in grades K-5 can spend time creating whatever they can imagine with our huge supply of LEGOs.  We move the day and time around so people with different schedules can come.  The next LEGO Club will be on Friday, December 27 at 10:15am.

Throughout the year, we offer multiple sessions of LEGO Simple Machines programs (for grades 1 and 2) and LEGO WeDo Robotics programs (for grades 3-5).  We utilize LEGO engineering kits to help kids develop all sorts of STEM skills while having a blast.  Look for these programs coming up in the spring.

And everyday we've got two different LEGO sets that you can check out and play with here at the library: the LEGO Train (for younger kids) and a LEGO Simple Machines set (for kids who are a little bit older).  We just added the Simple Machines (check out our past blog post about it), but each kit can be checked out for 2 hours to play with here in the library.

So LEGO enthusiasts, make sure you check out the Legoland Discovery Center website, vote on your favorite Boston landmarks to be LEGO-ized, and stop by the library and check out some of our great programs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Only 2 Days Till Our Hunger Games Party!

Do you have what it takes to survive?

In just two days, the Children's Department and Teen Department are teaming up to celebrate the upcoming movie release of Catching Fire, the second installment in the thrilling Hunger Games series.  Older kids (grades 5 and up) should bring all their friends to this amazing event.

Kids will get to find out what district they'd be from, create fashionable accessories that would be worn in the Capitol (their Capitol Couture), try their hands at some survival games, catch up on the first movie before, and so much more!

(Will a gift from your sponsor save you?)

This awesome event will be on Thursday, November 21 at 3:30 p.m.  And be sure to come dressed as your favorite Hunger Games character!  Prizes will be awarded for the best costume, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Now you can play with Lego Simple Machines at the library!

Have your kids gotten a little too old for our Lego Train set but still enjoy playing with Legos?  Are you looking for ways to help your child learn more about engineering and simple machines?  Want to try it before you buy it?

Well now you can!  We've added a Lego Simple Machines set to our collection of games that are available for use here in the library.  All you need is your library card, and you can check out this set to play with for up to 2 hours here in the Children's Room.  Just like the Lego Train, you'll need to play with it in the program room, which means it's only available when there are no programs going on in there.

Be sure to stop in soon and try it out!

Monday, October 28, 2013

We've got Hoopla! You can stream movies, songs and audiobooks for FREE!

We've just started offering a brand new service for digital media: Hoopla!  Hoopla is a service that provides streaming video, music and audiobooks for free with your library card!  Here's what you need to know:

  • No late fees!  Hoopla items are automatically returned for you when they're due, so you never have to remember to give them back.
  • Unlike our other digital ebooks and audiobooks, we have unlimited quantities of Hoopla items!  That means that all of the videos, songs and ebooks that you see on Hoopla are available all the time.  You don't have to put anything on hold or wait for someone to finish something you're interested in.
  • You can use Hoopla on a computer with an internet connection, and there's also an app for use on devices that run iOS or Android systems.  It's a streaming service, so you just click on what you want to watch or listen to and it starts playing!
Interested?  Here's how to get started:
  • Direct your browser to and click Sign Up in the top right corner.
  • Scroll down and agree to Hoopla's terms and conditions.
  • Enter your information to start a Hoopla account.  When you get to "Your local public library," select "Watertown Free Public Library."  (Note: you can leave the "Library card PIN/password" field blank.)  Click "Register."  Now you've got an account, and it may automatically sign you in.
  • If you are not automatically signed in, click "Sign In" at the top right and enter the email address and password you just created.
  • That's it!  You can click "Browse" near the top look through available titles, or you can use the "Search" box in the middle to find something specific.
Want to try it on your Android or iOS device?
  • Download the "Hoopla Digital" app.  It's free!
  • If you've already done the above steps on a computer, click "Sign In" at the top right.
  • If you haven't started an account yet, click "Sign Up" at the top left.
  • Agree to Hoopla's terms and conditions.
  • Select "Watertown Free Public Library" on the "Find Your Library" screen.
  • Enter your library card number in the "library card" field.  You can leave the "pin" field blank.
  • Enter your email address and a password.  You'll use these two pieces of info to sign in.
  • Once you're signed in for the first time on the app, you'll see a brief tutorial about how to use Hoopla.  Start browsing and borrowing!
Give it a try!  And next time you stop in to the Children's Department, let us know what you think!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Come see our new and improved play area!

Next time you stop in, you'll notice some delightful changes in our early literacy play area!

We've moved a few book collections in order to make space for some fun, developmentally appropriate activities.  Little ones can pull themselves up and work on their hand-eye coordination and small motor skills on our brand new wall-mounted bead maze and gear set.

We've also replaced our activity cube with a brand new one! There's still a well-loved bead maze on top, but the activities on the side are a little different, so you'll want to be sure to come in and try it out.

But where, you may ask, have the books gone?  The bookshelves that used to be along the walls have been removed.  Those books have been moved to the shelves where the board books used to be.  And, as you saw in the last post, we've added brand new shelving for our board books that keep them at eye level for our tiniest patrons.

And of course, we've still got our blocks for developing spatial relations and early engineering skills, and our puppet house for kids to work on imaginative play and narrative skills.  And guess what?  We've even purchased some new puppets!

These improvements and additions make our early literacy play area even more beneficial for our youngest customers, and of course more fun!  So be sure to stop in soon to check it out and play awhile.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Board Books Have Moved!

Remember how our board books used to live in plastic bins on shelves?  And remember how those bins would fall over and spill?  Or how they would mysteriously disappear of the shelves and reappear in random places throughout the library?

Well no more!

We've just installed brand new shelves for our board books!  Now they're within the play area, right where kids hang out.  They're more easily accessible to crawling little ones.  You can grab one or two (or five!) and share them with your child on our comfy chairs, and the books and chairs are now right next to each other.

So be sure to stop in and take a look and, of course, take some board books home!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Do YOU Think is Awesome?

It's here, it's here!  The Watertown Free Public Library Children's Department now has our very own Awesome Box!

Have you ever returned something to the library that you just wanted to tell everyone about?  Something that surprised you, impressed you, or moved you?  Something that was just, overall, AWESOME?!  Well now you'll be able to let everyone know what you thought was awesome!

It's delightfully simple.  Our Awesome Box will be at the Children's Circulation Desk.  When you're returning something you want to give a shout out to, simply put it in the Awesome Box!

Then we'll add it to our Awesome Box website.  It's as easy as that!  You can submit books, movies, audio books, music, whatever moves you!

If you're ever curious about what other people in Watertown think are awesome, or if you're looking for suggestions regarding what to read, watch, or listen to next, check out the website!

We can't wait to see what you think is awesome!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Interactive Musical Experiences Benefit Your Baby's Brain!

You may have noticed that we have lots of music programs here at the library.  In fact, this Thursday (September 26) at 3:00 p.m. we'll start a brand new one: Toddler Sing-Along!

There's a reason for this.  Infants and babies have tons of activity going on inside their brains.  They're starting from scratch and developing connections between brain cells.  They need to learn absolutely everything, from moving their own bodies to speech and communication.  Interaction with you and other people in their lives helps them make these neurological connections.

Music can be especially helpful in making these connections in baby's brains.  Studies have shown that babies who listen to music, specifically in an interactive way, end up developing their communication and social skills earlier than babies who don't participate in musical activities with a loving caregiver.  One of these studies was conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Canada.  Their findings are fascinating, and highlight how beneficial it is for you to sing, rhyme, and dance with your baby!  (*You can find out more about the study below.)

So what does this mean exactly?  It means that singing with your baby, rhyming with your baby, clapping your hands, and dancing are all wonderful for your baby's brain!  You're teaching them rhythm and musical knowledge, and it turns out those skills help with all sorts of other skills.

It also means that you should take advantage of some of the music programs we offer here at the library!  We've got tons of programs where you can practice musical interaction with your little one.  Be sure to check out:

  • Story Time programs: We do these for various age groups up through preschool, and we always include lots of interactive rhymes and songs.
  • Music with Ed Morgan: For ages 5 and under, the second Saturday of each month at 11:00 a.m.
  • Music with Matt Heaton: For ages 5 and under, the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10:15 a.m.
  • Toddler Sing-Along: For walkers up through age 2, the fourth Thursday of each month at 3:00 p.m.

You can find specific days and times in our online calendar.  We've also got lots of CDs and books that will help you learn more songs to sing with your child!  Stop in and speak with a librarian for suggestions.

See you at a music program!

*Here are a couple of places to find out more about McMaster University's 2012 study:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Take Our Makerspace Survey!

Do you want a Makerspace here in Watertown?  Do you know what a Makerspace is?

A Makerspace is a place where members of a community have the tools and space to make things!  It provides an opportunity for people to learn and practice lots of different hobbies that they don't have the room or equipment to do at home.  Makerspaces are popping up all over the country, especially in libraries.  And we are looking into the possibility of creating a Makerspace here in Watertown.

The definition above is pretty vague, but there's a reason for that.  The types of tools and materials available vary from Makerspace to Makerspace.  Some Makerspaces have 3D printers.  Some have sewing machines or tools for bike repair.  Some have audio visual equipment.  Some have woodworking tools.  The equipment provided varies based on the needs of the community.

And how do we figure out what our Makerspace would have?  That's where you come in!

We've put together a survey about what types of tools and equipment you, our community, would like to see in a possible Makerspace here in Watertown.  We're still in the information-gathering phase, so we aren't sure yet what we would end up being able to provide.  But we'd definitely like to know where your priorities lie!  So do us a big favor and take our survey to let us know what you would want!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coming up in September...

Coming up in...

There's only one week left of Summer Vacation for most of you, and we're taking a short program break to gear up for the start of September. That means we won't be holding any of our usual story programs this week, but never fear, we'll dive back in right after Labor Day!

Make sure you check our online calendar of events to find out about all of our September programs. A few highlights include:

Preschool Story Time!
We've moved our story time for preschoolers to Mondays at 10:15 a.m.  It's geared toward ages 3-5, and we'll share stories, songs, rhymes and a craft activity! It'll start on Monday, September 9 (because the very first Monday in September is Labor Day).

Nursery Rhyme Time
Just like we've been doing all year, we'll share rhymes, songs, fingerplays, a couple stories, and playtime with parents and babies who are not walking yet.  We do this program twice, at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

Toddler Story Time
Throughout the summer, this program was opened up to all ages as Family Story Time.  But starting in September, it's back to being focused on one- and two-year-olds.  We'll do lots of singing and dancing, and we'll share wonderful, age-appropriate stories.

On My Own Story Time
On Friday afternoons in September, four- and five-year-olds are invited to On My Own Story Time.  Kids will practice school readiness skills while sharing fun stories and activities, and they need to be comfortable separating from their caregiver.  This program does require registration, and you can register now for all four sessions (September 6, 13, 20 and 27).

And of course, many, many more!  Again, be sure to check our full calendar or stop in to pick up a calendar and find out more about what's going on for kids of all ages!  And check back here, as we'll continue to highlight programs here on the blog.

Enjoy this last bit of Summer Vacation!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Congratulations Summer Readers!

What an excellent day! Today was the last day of Summer Reading, and we just finished our Wrap-Up Party!

First we were amazed by John and Rebecca, the Yo-Yo People! They did extraordinary yo-yo and hula hoop tricks. Above, they are using 4 yo-yos while balancing on each other!

Then, to celebrate our great success, we ate delicious cake! 

Amazing job, Watertown! 431 kids signed up for Summer Reading this year and, together, logged over 3374 hours of reading!

That means that, with all that reading, you generously donated tree saplings, honeybees, ducklings and a llama to Heifer International! You met all of our goals and read way past our grand total goal of 2500 hours. We are so proud of you, and we can't wait till next year's Summer Reading program!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tomorrow's the Last Day of Summer Reading!

Our llamamometer is approaching the top, which means we're getting close to our goal of reading 2500 hours this summer! But we've only got one day left! So don't forget to come into the library and record your last few hours!

If we can make it to 2500 hours by tomorrow at 2:00pm, we will be able to donate a llama to Heifer International and help a family in need. You have already done an amazing job reading so far, and we've been able to donate tree saplings, honeybees, and ducklings. So keep up the good work!

Our dinosaurs are getting super packed on our program room walls! Each dinosaur symbolized one hour that a child in Watertown has spent reading.

As you can see, we've got a ton of dinosaurs!

But wait, you may say. Tomorrow's the last day? How will we find out if we've read enough to donate the llama?

Come to our Wrap-Up Party!

Tomorrow at 2:00pm, we'll have an amazing performance by the Yo-Yo People! The performance is geared towards children entering grades K-5 in the fall. John and Rebecca can do incredible tricks with yo-yos, and they even hold 3 Guinness World Records for their skills. You won't want to miss it!

Immediately following their performance, we'll begin our Wrap-Up Party, which is open for families with children of all ages. We'll find out our total reading hours and whether or not we've read enough to donate a llama. And of course, we'll celebrate our accomplishments with some delicious cake!

So be sure to come in and record your reading, and be sure to come to our Wrap-Up Party tomorrow at 2:00pm. We'll see you there!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

There's Only One More Week Left in Summer Reading!

There's only one more week - that's right, seven days - left in our Summer Reading program!  We've reached our third goal of 1875 hours and we've donated a flock of ducklings to Heifer International.  But can we reach 2500 hours - the highest goal we've ever had - in just seven days?!

We can if you keep reading!  So read, read, read!  Come into the library anytime during our open hours over the next seven days to stamp your log and record your reading hours.

And don't forget about our Wrap Up Party!  On Wednesday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m. we'll have an awesome performance by The Yo-Yo People.  They're world yo-yo champions and they hold 3 Guinness World Records.  They'll perform amazing tricks using all sorts of yo-yos, including yo-yos attached to bouncy balls, yo-yos with 10-foot strings, and using multiple yo-yos while simultaneously riding a unicycle!  The show is aimed at kids entering grades K-5 with their families.

And as soon as the show is over, we'll start our Wrap-Up Party.  The Wrap-Up Party is for families with children of all ages.  We'll find out whether or not we've read enough to donate a llama, and we may even share a special treat.  You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Another Guessing Jar Winner!

Congratulations to Sofia, our most recent Guessing Jar winner!  Sofia had the closest guess as to how many pieces of sea glass were in the Guessing Jar.  She chose a play doh kit as her prize!

There is still a little bit of time left for you to have your chance to win!  This week we're guessing how many construction stickers are in our jar.  And next week (the very last week of Summer Reading!) we'll be "digging for compliments" by guessing how many compliments are on little strips of paper inside the jar.  So be sure to stop in and make your guess.  You just might win!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Week's Guessing Jar Winner!

Congratulations to Erik, this week's Guessing Jar winner!  Erik has the closest guess regarding how many flip flops were on the beach blanket in our guessing jar.  The prize he chose was a gift certificate to the Red Leaf Cafe here at the library!

Want a chance to win?  Stop in this week to guess how many pieces of sea glass are in our jar!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Children's Work in the T. Ross Kelly Family Gallery

Hey kids!  YOUR art work is on display in our art gallery on the second floor!

Kids who participated in our Unplugged: Art Extravaganza program and our Massive Craft/Dance Party program created amazing works of art that are on display in the gallery throughout the month of December.  They utilized multiple mediums, including oil pastel, colored pencil, and tempera paint.  Be sure to come check it out anytime we're open until August 31.  And artists, if you would like your art back, please stop by to pick it up anytime after September 1.

Want a sneak peek?  Check out the photos below!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Two Guessing Jar Winners in One Day!

Today we had TWO Guessing Jar winners stop in to get their prizes on the same day!

Congratulations to Mira, who had the closest guess as to how many candy Lego pieces were in our Guessing Jar!  Mira chose a bubble blowing machine as her prize!

AND Congratulations to David, who chose a stuffed turtle as his prize.  He had the closest guess regarding how many gummy worms were in the Guessing Jar.

This week, kids are guessing on how many pairs of sandals are on a beach blanket in the Guessing Jar.  Come on in and make your estimate, and you might be the next winner!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We've Reached our Second Reading Goal!

You did it Watertown!  So far you've read 1,328 hours, which puts us well past our second goal of 1,250 hours! And you know what that means...

We're donating HONEYBEES to Heifer International!

Thanks to all of your reading and generosity, we've been able to donate tree saplings AND honeybees!  And if you keep reading, we'll donate ducklings and, if we hit our grand total goal, a llama!

So keep reading and keep coming to the library to log your hours.  Haven't signed up yet for Summer Reading?  Don't worry, there's still time!  You can sign up anytime until August 21st.  So keep reading!

Monday, July 15, 2013

We Have a New Winner!

Congratulations to Robert, our newest Guessing Jar winner!

Robert, age 8, had the nearest guess as to how many ice cream spoons were in our guessing jar.  He chose his prize, a baseball and bat!

There are still plenty more chances to win!  This week, you can guess how many candy lego pieces are in our jar.  You can stop in and guess anytime the library's open, and maybe you'll be next week's winner!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

WE DID IT! We're donating Trees!

Congratulations Watertown!

So far, the kids of Watertown have read for 649 hours!  And that means we've reached our first goal, and we'll be donating tree saplings to Heifer International!

Heifer International will give tiny fruit trees to a farmer who needs help getting plants for his or her farm.  These trees will grow fruit which will feed the farmer's family, and might even be enough for them to sell.

By reading 649 hours, the kids of Watertown have both improved their reading fluency AND helped someone else in need!  Way to go guys!

Our next goal is 1250 hours, when we'll donate honeybees!  Keep reading!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our first guessing jar winner!

Congratulations to Mason, our very first Guessing Jar winner of 2013!

Summer Reading's off to an amazing start!  Kids are reading and logging their hours, and our programs and events are tons of fun!  And of course, we've had our first winner of our weekly guessing jar!

Our first week, kids were trying to estimate how many chocolate covered seeds were in a small gardening bucket.  There were 332 seeds, and Mason had the closest guess!  So he got to choose a prize, and he chose a water cannon which will be perfect for these hot July afternoons!

Don't worry, there will still be lots of chances for YOU to win a prize!  Each week we'll have something different to guess, and each week the child with the closest estimate will get to pick a prize.  This week we're trying to guess how many dinosaurs are in our jar.  You can guess every time you come to the library, so you  could increase your chances by visiting us more often!

And don't forget, if you haven't signed up for Summer Reading yet, there's still time!  Come in during any of our open hours and start logging your hours to help us donate plants and animals - and, if we read enough, a LLAMA! - to Heifer International!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Reading's Off to a Great Start!

(Our display of all our Summer Reading participants: Our Crayon Box of Readers!)

Our Summer Reading Program here at the Watertown Free Public Library officially started on Monday!  We had a kick-off party Monday afternoon and had a great turnout.  So far, in just the first five days, 222 kids have signed up to participate!

Kids who sign up get their very own reading log here at the library.  Every time they come to the library, we pull out their log and they get to put a stamp on it for every fifteen minutes they've read since the last time they visited the library.  All types of reading and reading-related activities count: reading on their own, being read to, listening to audio books, looking at the pictures in books, reading magazines... everything!

When kids sign up, they get to put their name on a paper crayon and add it to our wall display, our Crayon Box of Readers (check out the picture above).  For every hour they read, they'll get to put their name on a paper dinosaur, which we'll put up on the walls of our program room.  Over the course of the summer, kids will get to see their name up all over the Children's Room!

We're keeping track of all the hours we read together on our Llamamometer (check out a picture on our previous blog post!), and when we reach certain goals we'll make donations to Heifer International!  So far, even though they've just started logging their hours, the kids have already read 40 hours!

Kids who signed up this week also received a goody bag with a bookmark, a sticker, and some great information about our summer programs.  We've got 10 bags left, so the next 10 people to sign up will get one of these great bags, where you can carry your books all summer!

So be sure to come in and sign up to start logging your hours and help us get toward our ultimate goal of donating a llama to a family in need!  And if you've already signed up, keep reading!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Reading is just ONE WEEK away!

School's almost out, and you know what that means: Summer Reading's almost here!!

In just one week on Monday, June 24 we will kick off this year's Summer Reading program!  Be sure to come to the library at 3:00pm for our sign-up bash, and you'll get to be among the very first kids in Watertown to log your hours!

Can't make it Monday?  Don't worry, you'll be able to sign up and get your very own reading log anytime after the kick-off party starts, so come in anytime during our open hours and start recording those hours!

Just like last year, you'll get your very own reading log here at the library.  Every time you visit us, you'll get to stamp your log for every 15 minutes you've read since your last visit.  We'll keep track of all of our hours together, and when we reach certain goals we'll make donations to Heifer International.

Just like last year we'll keep track of our hours on the wall.  BUT instead of a thermometer, this year we'll keep track on a LLAMA!  If we reach our top goal of reading 2500 hours, we'll donate a llama to Heifer International, and so we'll do all of our hour tracking on our brand new Llama-mometer!

And of course, we'll have tons of awesome programs for kids of all ages!  Come in to the library to pick up a brochure, or check our online calendar of events to find out what's going on for kids your age!

We've also partnered with the Watertown Public Schools again to provide lists of Suggested Summer Reading Books for each grade.  We've got tons of copies of the books, so you should have plenty to keep you busy all summer.  Your teacher might give you a copy before school's out, or you can stop in at the library or find the lists online.

What else is going on?  Check out our Summer Reading Website to find out more about our reading program, Heifer International, and all of the fun events we've got planned!

And be sure to come to the library on Monday, June 24 at 3:00pm to be one of the first to sign up for Summer Reading!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Come play with our newest iPads!

The next time you stop in at our computer area, you'll notice something new: iPads!

Our new iPads are loaded with lots of great apps for kids to enjoy!  They're both fun and educational, covering art, literature, math, and more.  And of course, kids are developing their technological and small motor skills through play.

You don't need to register or sign-up to use the iPads, they're on a first-come first-served basis.  Kids of all ages can use them, though we've loaded them with apps that are best for preschool and up.  Of course, all literacy activities are better when they're interactive, so sit down with your child and play through the apps together!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hang out with some adorable pups!

School's getting close to ending, and your last chance to participate in our Dog B.O.N.E.S. Reading Program before summer break is this week!

Kids in grades K-5 and can sign up to practice their reading (and ear-scratching) skills by reading to certified therapy dogs.  We only have two sessions left of this wonderful program before our volunteers take a break for the summer:

Friday, June 7 at 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 8 at 2:00 p.m.

Kids can register for a fifteen-minute session where they get one-on-one time reading with a sweet, cuddly pup.  They're also getting a chance to improve their reading fluency by reading aloud, and therapy dogs have been shown to build reading confidence with their non-judgmental listening.

You do need to register, so call or stop in today and sign up for your fifteen-minute time slot!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Early Lit Tip: Hand-Eye Coordination and Writing Skills

Yes, literacy is about learning how to read, BUT it's also about learning how to write!  Writing is not a skill that just miraculously happens.  Rather, children need to start developing their writing abilities with activities that help them build up their small motor skills, strengthen their hand muscles, and improve their hand-eye coordination.

How do we do this, you ask?

There are lots of fun, simple activities you can do with your child to help their brains and hands be ready to write!

You can start developing these skills right away with infants and babies by doing fingerplays together.  Sing songs or say rhymes while moving your hands and fingers in front of little ones.  Move and clap their hands and, as they get older, encourage them to copy your movements.  Need ideas for rhymes and songs to do together?  Come to one of our Nursery Rhyme Time programs on Tuesday mornings, or check out a book of nursery rhymes.  We've got tons of them.

As children get older, the most simple and clearly connected writing practice is coloring.

When your child is first learning how to scribble or color (a precursor for writing), start with fat writing utensils.  Sidewalk chalk is great, or thick crayons.  Writing utensils that require the use of pressure (i.e. crayons, chalk, pencils) do a better job strengthening hand muscles than markers or pens that you don't have to push on at all.  Your child will probably start by drawing large shapes and, as your child's skill increases, you can encourage him or her to draw smaller shapes to help hone in on specific movements.

Another excellent pre-writing activity is lacing.  We just did a lacing craft at this morning's Family Story Time that encouraged hand-eye coordination.  The theme of our stories and songs was clothes, and so we strung little paper "clothes" on a clothesline.  You can do this easy activity at home by making holes in paper or cardstock (either with a hole punch or by poking a hole with a pencil or pen) and having your child pass a string through the holes.  This is such a specific, targeted movement that it is excellent at developing your child's hand muscles and coordination.

As children get a little older, tracing is another excellent way to develop writing skills.  You can find printable tracing sheets online, and there are wonderful apps available that you can download to your tablet or smartphone.  Try out Little Writer (free, by Innovative Mobile Apps) or abc PocketPhonics ($3.99, by Apps in My Pocket Ltd).  These make it possible for your child to work on their writing skills while you and your family are on the go!

Interested in finding out more?  Just stop in and speak with one of our children's librarians!  Try some of these activities, and your child will be ready to write at just the right age!