Tall Blocks, Small Animals

Books become more meaningful when you can expand the story to a hands-on activity. Here is one extension activity you can do with very little supplies.

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You’ll need to read the book Tall by Jez Alborough. (Hint: Stop by your local library and pick up a copy if you don’t own it.) Tall is about a few jungle animals who help a little monkey feel taller than he really is. This is a great book with very few words. You can use the illustrations to talk about what is happening on each page.

Next, get out the blocks or the LEGOs. You will also need a couple small animals or action figures. Now let your child’s imagination go wild. Let he/she build towers as tall as can be (just make sure no one is on the other side in case it falls!). When he/she is done building, place the small animal on top of the tower. Just how tall can the tower be before it falls over? Experiment with different shapes.

This is a great opportunity to talk with your child about the tower he/she is building. Ask questions like how tall do you think it can go before it will fall? What kind of tower is it? Why is the animal or action figure climbing so high? What is it the animal is trying to see?

Try to avoid yes/no questions as they require no other answer. To help expand your child’s vocabulary and comprehension of the story, you want to ask open ended questions.

Credit for activity idea: Teach Preschool.

Float or Sink?

The key to teaching your child throughout the summer months is to sneak in learning experiences while they are having fun. For instance, whether you are swimming at the pool, splashing in a water table, or simply getting ready for bath time, why not play a game of sink or float?

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First, you’ll need to gather together a few items. Make sure you have a mix of light and heavy objects. Also, try using two of the same materials in different forms. In my example, I used a ball of foil and compared it to a flat piece of foil. (In my example, we just used a bucket with water tinted a light shade of blue just to see it better.)

Once you have your objects, let your child guess what will happen with each object. Will it sink or float? Don’t forget to ask why! This is a key component as you expand their vocabulary. You can just sort the items in piles.

Now for the fun. Let your child start dropping the objects in the water. Talk about what he or she thought might happen versus what actually happened. Talk about why the objects sunk to the bottom or floated on the top.

By sneaking in a few fun activities while your child is enjoying his/her summer, you are helping to shorten that summer slide and get him/her back on track faster when school rolls around again.

Don’t forget to comment below with the objects you tested!

 

Practicing Pinching

It’s important at an early age for children to exercise their hand muscles. Those are the muscles that will help them grip a pencil, hold and grab objects, use scissors, open packages, etc. Below if a fun activity you can do on a rainy day or even on the front porch on a sunny day to help exercise and strengthen those muscles.

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You will need the following items:

  • Clothes pins or tweezers/small tongs
  • pompoms of varying sizes
  • two containers

Label the containers BIG and SMALL. Mix together all of the pompoms. Let your child start picking up the pompoms with the clothes pin or tongs by pinching it. Release the pompom in the correct container.

This activity teaches opposites, strengthens the pinching (fine motor) muscles, and helps increase vocabulary. You can talk to your child about the different sizes and colors of the pompoms, substituting words like large, tiny, huge, etc. for big and small.

As a variation, you could use objects you find outside like leaves, flower petals, stones and pebbles, sticks, etc.

Out of this World Summer Fun

This summer you can go on an outer space adventure without ever leaving the comfort of your house and yard!cartoon girl in spaceship

Before we begin, you will want to pick up a few books about outer space and astronauts from the Library. Click the subject links below for some fun books to read.

Now the fun begins! Take a little time a read through one or two of the books you have chosen. Talk about the illustrations (don’t be afraid to use the word illustration). Ask your child what it would be like to fly to the moon. Or what he/she thinks space is like.

Next get two giant sponges (the kind used for washing cars). Rubber band them to your child’s shoes. Let them walk around the house. Ask them what it feels like. This is to simulate walking on the moon or on another planet!

Pick up some astronaut ice cream. You can usually find this at a local museum or toy store. Let your child try a couple bites. Explain it is freeze dried. Try other freeze dried fruits from the grocery store.

Pour flour in a large Tupperware container or baking sheet. Drop a rock on to the flour. When you pick it up, explain that you have just made a crater. Talk about what it looks like. Let your child drive little cars or rocks through the flour for fun.

Or make your own moon sand! Materials Needed: 6 cups play sand (you can purchased colored play sand as well!); 3 cups cornstarch; 1 1/2 cups of cold water.

Don’t forget to comment below with some of your favorite out of this world activities!

On Your Mark, Get Set…READ!

mark on the map Have you signed up for the  summer reading challenge, yet? If you have, great! If you have not, what are you waiting for? We have made the program so simple this year–the only thing you your child has to do is read!

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If you have children birth to age 18, stop by one of your favorite Stark County District Library locations to sign up, and you’ll receive a map. Your child can mark on the map every day spent reading. There are categories for children birth to age 5 (read to me), age 5 through grade 5 (children), and grade 6 through grade 12 (teens).

For every five days read, make sure to bring your map back to the library to receive a coupon to a local restaurant like Chipotle, North Canton Skate Center, Taggart’s, Chik-Fil-A, and Wendy’s–teens have other coupon choices as well! Once you reach 40 days read, you’ll receive a book and a coupon along with an entry into our grand prize drawing. If your child reaches 50 days read during the summer, he/she will receive a bonus book and coupon along with a second entry into the grand prize drawing. To add to the excitement of summer reading, anyone who completes 40 days read will receive a golden ticket to a special finale celebration!

Participate in our bonus BINGO game to earn more incentives for reading and checking out library materials! For more information, book lists, and printable activity pages, visit our website.

Parents, don’t let your child fall behind this summer…keep reading every day to help them stay ahead when school starts.

A New Collaboration!

We are excited to announce a new collaboration with the Canton Repository!

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Laugh, Play, Read is now a weekly feature of games, stories, puzzles, arts, and information designed to foster early literacy and enrich children’s lives. Find a copy every Sunday in the Lifestyle section of The Canton Repository or visit this page to download and print your own for free.

Everything you love about the Laugh, Play, Read blog now delivered through our local newspaper and our website. Each week you will find activities you can do with your child as you read and learn about a new topic, laugh with characters in a comic strip, and play fun games. You’ll also see content highlighting the StartSmart initiative at your local Stark County District Library!

Make sure you stop by and tell us your favorite activity each week.

Laughing is a Sign of Learning

Did you know having a sense of humor helps children develop self-esteem, learn to problem solve, foster creative thinking, and hone social skills? This is according to author Louis Franzini, who wrote the book Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor, in an article on Parents.com.

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The root of humor is taking something familiar and changing it in a unusual way. Typically, babies will start laughing around the age of 4 months. Up until this point, they are just beginning to learn how the world looks, feels, and sounds. As a child develops,  she learns to use humor as a way to build up self-esteem for a friend who may be feeling blue or for her own self if she makes a mistake. Laughter or a good sense of humor can help a person look at things in an unusual way.

So what are some ways you can encourage your child’s sense of humor? Read funny books, of course! Play with puppets! Make up stories! Sing silly songs together! Play dress up! Play Peek-a-Boo! Have fun with your food!

Here are some favorite laugh-out-loud picture books from our staff at the Stark County District Library.

  • Goldie Locks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
  • We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
  • The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak
  • This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Steve, Raised by Wolves by Jared Chapman
  • Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgans
  • John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith

Add to our list! Comment with your favorite laugh-out-loud books below!

 

3 Questions

Have you ever asked your child what his/her day was like? What is his/her response typically? Is it “fine” or perhaps “I didn’t do anything” or maybe even “I don’t know.” Well, I read an interesting blog post today about the three questions you should ask your child every night before bedtime. And these three questions will hopefully cure those “I don’t know” answers–but it may take a little time.

At the end of each day, as you are tucking in your little one, ask him/her these three questions. Put down your phone. Turn off the television remote. You may be surprised by the answers.

  • What is something that made you smile today?
  • What is something that made you cry today?
  • What is something that you learned today?

 

Children need three things as they develop: attention, bonding, and communication. These three questions help you give your child just that. You are giving him/her the one-on-one attention and focus they crave (even if they don’t say so). You are bonding with your child and learning about them in those little moments. And you are communicating with them…talking and discussing things. By talking to your child everyday, hopefully, you can teach them to talk to you about all things…happy, sad, confusing, scary, etc.