Homemade Monday: Thanksgiving Books, Crafts, and MORE!

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be just about turkey and stuffing. After Santa makes his way down the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’s time to turn off the television and bring out the games and books to keep your child entertained while the turkey is roasting away. Here are four fun ideas:

1. Thanksgiving M&M Turkeys
This comes from ToddlerApproved and was suggested by one of storytellers. By using the template provided on the website, a few M&Ms, and a few crayons. If you want to add dice into the game, the website suggests making each color of candy correspond with a specific number. Children can make practice pattern making, counting, and color identification with this craft. 1abfinally turkey

2. Tell a story about the first Thanksgiving
This story comes from RovingFiddlehead. It was a big hit at storytime last week! You need just a pipe cleaner and pony beads. As you tell the story, your child can thread each bead on the pipe cleaner. Once you reach the end, have your child tell you the story, using the beads as a visual aid. Threading beads is also a great way to build fine motor skills in younger children. The story is as follows:
Pil­grims left England for a new life (brown bead). They sailed on the Mayflower (white bead). It was a very, very, very long trip over the ocean (3 blue beads, add very slowly). And then finally, LAND AHOY! They reached Plymouth (green bead). But it was a very, very, very long winter (3 white beads, add very slowly). And then spring came (green bead). The Pilgrims met the Native Americans who helped teach them about farming and the resources available in the new world (tan bead). At the end of the harvest, they shared the first Thanksgiving feast with cranberry (red bead), corn (yellow bead), turkey (brown bead), and pumpkin (orange bead).


3. A Watercolor Turkey
This is one of my favorite crafts, and it’s so easy! You need only a few sheets of construction paper (brown and orange), a coffee filter, and some markers. Color the coffee filter with the markers. Then using a spray bottle filled with water, spray the coffee filter. You’ll want to do this on a covered surface. You could also just dip the filter in a small cup of water. Let it dry. Cut out a turkey shape from the construction paper (don’t forget the legs!). Then glue the pieces together. afaithfulattempt has a great set of instructions and example!


4. Read Thanksgiving-themed books
Carve out some time to read a few Thanksgiving Day-themed books with your children. Compare the stories. what are the similarities? What are the differences? What was your favorite? Stop by your local SCDL location to check out our collection of Thanksgiving books or click the picture below to go to our online catalog and place your hold today!


Tell us about your favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions.


We are a SPARK Library!

Did you know that 1/3 of all children entering Kindergarten are already behind the other children in their class? Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a special luncheon to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) program–an intiative started to ensure children and parents are ready for Kindergarten. The program is a collaboration between schools, families and the community in nine Ohio counties and almost 40 schools! In May, the Stark County District Library partnered with the Sandy Valley School District to provide one full-time staff for the program. We were (and still are!) excited about the opportunity to help bridge the gap between home, school, and the library!


The program is grant-funded and operated through the Early Childhood Resource Center in Stark County. It is free and open to any family of a 3 or 4 year old (depending on the nature of the program) living within the boundaries of the school where it is “based.” A parent partner visits the home of each family at least once a month to work on learning goals that range from knowing specific letters of the alphabet to using scissors correctly. It could also include social, emotional, and behavioral skills like the child dressing themselves or doing an activity independently. It is all based on several assessments the parent and parent partner complete during the initial visits.

Once the assessments are complete, the parent partners begin visiting once a month to work on a specific story and extension activities. It is essential that the parents participate as the SPARK parent partner is modeling these skills for parents to replicate on a daily basis. They begin with a story (which they will get to keep) and end with a series of extension activities that can and should be done throughout the month until the next visit. During the bulk of the lesson, they are working a variety of skills that are important for children to know prior to Kindergarten, such as literacy, counting, and fine motor skills.

SPARK’s goal is to help improve parents’ abilities to educate their children and help them become more engaged in the process as a family. It is really exciting for us as a library to be a part of this program. I have had the opportunity to sit at the table during a home visit and watch the interaction between parent and child, child and parent partner, parent partner and parent. So much of what we do at the Library is based on helping improve early literacy skills. Typically, we do this through storytimes, programming, and presentations in the community. With this partnership, we are able to expand our services and work directly with the families in our community. We are also able to directly show parents how the library can be a regular part of their routine, especially when it comes to promoting early literacy at home.

The results speak for themselves: SPARK children score higher on state testing than children who were not in the program–and these are the third and fifth grade tests–tests that occur four to six years after children leave the SPARK program. By the end of the program, most children and parents show growth in all assessments. SPARK children show significant growth in areas like story recall, letter recognition, spelling, and applied problems. For more SPARK Results, click here.

If you have a child in preschool (or preschool-aged), visit SPARK’s website for more information to see if there is a program near you and how to enroll.

Homemade Monday: A Book and A Craft

When you read a book with your child, what usually happens? Feel free to describe the process in the comments below. Usually, though, we read the book and then we put it aside or we read it several times before setting it down to do another activity. All great activities, but why not bring the book to life?

Doing an activity before or after the book helps children remember the information they read, whether it’s vocabulary, instruction, or content. In today’s Homemade Monday, you will find four books paired with a craft or activity to extend the contents of the book.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

  • Set up Weather Station.
    • After reading the book, go outside or look out a window with your child. Talk about what the weather is like at that moment. Ask the following types of questions: What does it look like outside? If it’s raining or snowing, ask what is that “stuff” falling from the sky? Is it raining meatballs? What colors do they notice? Is it cold? Is it hot?
    • Make weather pieces (a cloud, snowflake, raindrop, sun, wind swirls), using construction paper or craft foam and a magnet. Have your child place the correct weather piece on the fridge or a cookie pan.
    • Set up a weather calendar and keep track of the weather for a week. Look in the newspaper for the temperature each day and record that. Note the types of weather (rain, snow, clouds, clear skies, etc.). Have your child look for patterns.
    • Note here that the extention activity has nothing to do with the movie. The movie is great and very entertaining, but not as meaningful as a hands on activity.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson


  • Make your own purple crayon drawing.
    • Using paper and a purple crayon, let your child design his/her own pictures. Put them together in a booklet and ask your child to describe each picture. Write a sentence about each picture.
    • Ask your child to read the book to you describing the pictures he/she made.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff


  • Make chocolate chip cookies after reading this book. My favorite is the Nestle Tollhouse recipe. But you can also make no-bake cookies. Just do a search on Google for No-Bake Cookies–keep in mind many of these recipes use peanut butter, so read the recipe carefully. Let your child help count out the right amounts and stir the cookies. It’s more about the process than the actual product.
  • Or make a paper plate cookie. Take a plain paper plate and paint it brown. Glue chocolate chips on the plate once it has dried, or cut out circles of brown paper and glue those to the plate.

And to name but just a few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue! by Laurie Rosenwald


  • You can choose any color book. My favorites include Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin, Press Here by Herve Tullet, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh, Green by Laura Vacarro Seeger, The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter, and Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Todd.
  • Make your own color book using paint chip samples from the home improvement store. Write the color word at the top of the card and then let your child place stickers on each card that match the color. Fasten them together with a ring or brass fastener.

Comment below with your favorite book activity!

Homemade Monday: Parachute Play

imagesThis week’s Homemade Monday post is inspired by a visit to our Jackson Township branch for storytime. The children’s librarian had a special treat for babies, toddlers, and parents. After a few songs and stories, she pulled out the parachute and let the children use their senses to look, touch, and hear as they moved the parachute up and down. So in today’s post you will see some rhymes you can use at home with your child. You don’t need a fancy parachute to do these. A light towel, blanket or sheet works just fine.

There is a song called “The Scarf is on My Head” that I typically sing with lightweight shear colorful scarves. So I adapted it for the parachute. You could change it depending on what prop you are using. 

The ‘Chute is on My Head! (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)
The ‘chute is on my head, the ‘chute is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute is on my head!
The ‘chute goes up and down, the ‘chute goes up and down!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute goes up and down!
The ‘chute goes fast and slow, the ‘chute goes fast and slow!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute goes fast and slow!
The ‘chute is on my head, the ‘chute is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the ‘chute is on my head!

Itsy-Bitsy Spider
This one is a real arm-workout.

If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it, lift it high!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it fast!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it slow!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it low!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat
(sit on the floor, hold the parachute tight and row back and forth)

Hickory Dickory Dock

For the next song, you can use any lightweight ball (the kind you would find in a ball bin at an arcade in the 80′s or 90′s), fabric block, or small lightweight stuffed animal. Wave the parachute slowly as you chant the rhyme, and then when you get to the end of the song, lift it high in the air to make the blocks bounce high in the air. Children love watching the blocks fly and land on the floor. You’ll probably find yourself doing this one several times.

Put the oil in the pot and make it real hot.
Put the popcorn in and begin to grin.
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, POP!

For the next song, you can also use the lightweight block, ball or stuffed animal.

Toast in the Toaster
I’m toast in the toaster
I’m getting very hot
Tick tock, Tick tock,
Up I pop!

Repetition is the key literacy skill here, and you will definitely repeat the rhymes many, many, many times. You will also find this a great workout for large muscles. The children also have fun with sitting under the parachute as it goes up and then down on top of them. Don’t leave them under it for more than a couple seconds as you lift it high above their heads. If you are doing this will babies, don’t put the blanket on top of their faces, but let them feel the light breeze that is created when you bring it up and down near them. 

Books Matter; Reading Matters

Check out this infographic I found today. It’s based on a research study I recently read by Susan Neuman and Donna Celano. Visiting the library can really help play a role in the future of a child. If purchasing books for full price is not an option, make visiting the library an every day or every week occurrence. Visit storytime weekly. Take part in children’s programming. Spend time reading aloud (or if you have older children silently together) for at least 15 minutes each time you visit the library. Let your child explore the library. Let them listen to books on CD or through digital download. Check out the Friends of the Library monthly book sales. Books will make a difference in the life of a child.



Book Review: Tiptoe Joe

Today’s blog was written by one of our very own storytellers: Miss Dani. She does our preschool and family storytimes, as well as other children’s programming. She shares her review of the picture book Tiptoe Joe by Ginger Foglesong Gibson.

9780061772030_p0_v1_s260x420Tiptoe Joe has an exciting secret to share! Join Beaver, Turkey, Moose, and Joe’s other friends as they quietly make their way through the forest to see the good news. This book uses repetition, rhyme, animal recognition, and onomatopoeia to take readers on a journey which will leave you in “awwww”.

For more fun “toe” related books, check out This Little Piggy by Tim Harrington. This humorous extension of the classic nursery rhyme is sure to please even the pickiest of readers.

Be sure to throw some non-fiction reading into the mix! Try Let’s Look at Animal Feet by Wendy Perkins. How many animal toes/feet can you identify?

Click the picture to find out which of our locations has a copy for you to check out!