For this activity, obtain some candy conversation hearts. Next, you’ll need a nutcracker and a large tray to work on. After instructing your kiddo about how to safely use the nutcracker (little fingers need to be careful), let them use those fine motor skills to place a candy heart in the nutcracker. Now they just squeeze down, strengthening their hands and crushing the candy heart with a satisfying crunch! Before they do the next one, take a moment to predict how many pieces it will break into. Then count the pieces afterward, to see how accurate the guesses were. Now your child is not only having fun with destruction, they are also practicing math skills!
The candy hearts themselves offer an opportunity for literacy skills, as your child can recognize letters and tell you the sounds they make. If you’re working on colors, have your child sort the hearts by color before commencing the crushing. Thanks to Mary Catherine at Fun-A-Day blog for the idea.
These colder temperatures have me reminiscing about growing up in the north. One of my favorite activities during the frigid afternoons was digging into an “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo” book. Remember getting lost in a world of marbles, toy cars and googly eyes? If this brings warm memories to mind, then you might enjoy checking out other search-and-find books. Search-and-find books ask you to locate specific objects or people amidst a crowded scene. They are great for any age and can be a fun family activity that promotes reading!
The library has a variety of search-and-find books that cater to the interests of any reader. Here’s a list of some of our lesser-known search-and-finds for you to browse. Not only will kids love the pictures, but they will practice early literacy skills such as scanning pages, building vocabulary and decoding symbols. It is also a great way to further develop observation skills as you explore detailed illustrations of fantastical worlds, animal habitats and castles from long ago.
February is Black History Month! This is the time of year to talk to our children about the great civil rights leaders, musicians, athletes and politicians who fought for equality and justice for all people. As parents, educators and caregivers, we encourage our children to grow into tolerant, open-minded individuals, so this month I have a two-part challenge for you:
Step 1: Check out a book by an African American author or illustrator. (Here’s a handy list of picture books, chapter books, and teen books!) As of 2017, in the U.S, only 7% of children’s authors and illustrators were people of color, compared to the 37% of the population who are people of color. By actively seeking out these underrepresented voices, we can help support diversity and authors of color!
Step 2:Talk about race. Easier said than done, right? If you’re having a hard time with this one, check out this great Today’s Parentarticle with an age by age guide to discussing race. Before children enter kindergarten, they’ve already formed racial biases, so please don’t wait for their kindergarten teacher to teach them about diversity. Start the conversation now, and help make the world a better place, one child at a time.
A record-breaking 22,000 preschoolers voted for their favorite picture book, selecting “Pug Meets Pig,” written by Sue Lowell Gallion and illustrated by Joyce Wan, as the winner of the 2018 Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award. Check out our previous blog about “Pug Meets Pig” to read a full review of this charming tale.
For more information about the Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award program, go to the website molib.org/awards/building-block-award. And, in case you were wondering, our 2019 nominee announcement is just around the corner. Keep an eye out for an announcement in February!
January has been quite snowy indeed! Older kids seem to love this time of year, with all the sledding, skating and snowball fighting. But what about the tiniest of tots in your family? When snow reaches well above your sweet baby’s head, try this simple indoor snow activity sure to produce lots of smiles.
Here is what you will need:
A big tub or container
A couple of towels for the floor
Some scoops, ladles or spoons
Toys–think dinosaurs, cars and trucks, sand or play toys. If your child is old enough, you can even add SPRINKLES. (See photo.)
Get a clean scoop of snow from outside, and place it in the tub or container. Add the toys or sprinkles to the snow, and let the fun begin!
Not only is this a fun activity, but it also encourages cognitive development when your little one’s senses are stimulated.
Once a year, I gather my friends to celebrate, give thanks and appreciate the world’s most perfect and delectable food. On this day, we consume this food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and many, many snacks. Even though I eat this food at least once a week, I especially appreciate it on January 24, and, of course, I’m talking about PEANUT BUTTER! **She says like she was giving away cars on a talk show.**
You can pair it with noodles, cakes, icing, crackers, honey, marshmallows, chocolate and a true classic–jelly. Did you know that peanut butter dates all the way back to the Aztecs and the Mayans, and the first peanut butter making machine was patented in St. Louis, Missouri by Dr. Ambrose Straub in 1903?
To celebrate this most joyous of days, I will be making a giant peanut butter cup. However, if you are looking for a more kid-friendly and healthy recipe, you can try making some no bake energy bites.
“Peter Pan,” “Toy Story,” “Lion King,” “Lady and the Tramp”; just reading the titles of these iconic Disney and Pixar films brings back fond memories of childhood Friday nights, watching a film from Blockbuster. Blockbuster is no longer with us, RIP, but the library has stepped in to keep you and your family entertained when you can watch “Frozen” no more! In addition to all of your favorite classic American films, DBRL has a selection of international animated children’s films for families with kids of all ages! International films are a great way to start conversations about different cultures, help your children develop a broader worldview and enjoy a movie that’s new, even for you!
The films below are listed by country and are either available as a DVD at the library or on our streaming service, Kanopy. I’ve watched all of these films, so I’ve included a personal age recommendation for each movie.
The recipient of the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge invented “a 3D printed device that harnesses carbon nanotubes and a mobile app to test water for lead contamination in as little as 10 seconds.” Gitanjali Rao’s invention is truly revolutionary. But perhaps even more amazing is the fact that Rao was only 12 years old when she won this award. Then again, Rao is just one on a long list of young people who have made their mark in the field of inventions. Louis Braille was a teenager when he created the Braille language, which is used universally today; five year old Robert Patch invented toy trucks and Frank Epperson was only 11 when he created the Popsicle.
We celebrate young inventors, such as these, on January 17th, also known as Benjamin Franklin Day. Franklin, who invented many items during his lifetime, (which include bifocal glasses, the lightning rod and the glass harmonica) actually created his first invention when he was only 11 years old. By utilizing two oval pieces of wood, Franklin created the first swimming fins!
Because this unofficial holiday also “aims to encourage children to be curious about the world around them and to be creative when solving problems,” here are a few of the books we offer at DBRL to encourage your budding inventor and get them off to a great start!
Connecting kids with books at a young age is essential to creating a love of reading. What better way to spark that love than by interacting with the book? The interactive books below are books that require the reader or the listener to touch or speak to the book. Listed are a few of my favorites.
“Get Out of My Bath!” by Britta Techentrup tells the story of Ellie the Elephant. Readers help Ellie slip and slide around the book during her bathtime by moving the book from side to side.
Look, I love Pete the Cat and the Pigeon books as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to read something exquisitely beautiful. I put together this list of beautiful picture books that I really enjoyed. Next time your kid is in a pensive mood, or maybe even after they go to sleep, try a book from this list. With breathtaking illustrations and moving stories, I think you’ll be glad you spent a little time with these books.
“Teacup” by Rebecca Young
Illustrations cannot get much more beautiful than the exquisite oil paintings in this book. “Teacup” tells the story of a boy who had to leave home and sail across the ocean to find another. This surreal journey is full of wonders and uncertainty, and I never knew what was going to happen next. Like all good art and poetry, there are plenty of interpretations and it will leave you thinking long after you close the book.
“The Whisper” by Pamela Zagarenski
I was completely enthralled by this book. From the very first look at the inside cover, the rich layers of color and texture in the illustrations captured my imagination. Not only are the pictures beautiful, the story is tantalizingly clever. When all the words fall out of her book, a little girl must learn to tell the stories herself…though we find she’s not the only one imagining new stories.