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!