Sing, Talk, Play, and Read…in less than an hour

Singing, talking, playing, and reading. It can be done in less than one hour. I promise. And I’m going to tell you how.

Step 1: Visit your Stark County District Library location and attend storytime. That’s all.


Foster and his sister play in the water table and discover what happens when you put candy canes in water.

Here’s the proof: Today at storytime, we read three books, sang four songs, played in the water table with water, candy canes, and toys, talked about the reaction between the water and candy canes, and then created a beautiful candy cane painting. And we were done by 11:15 (just 45 minutes after we started).

And just in case you can’t make it to the library, here’s how you can do all of this at home.

We started with the storytelling portion of storytime. You just need a couple books and some songs. As you read, feel free to stop and ask questions about the characters, storyline, or pictures. Here’s what we used:

  • Welcome Song: “Wiggle Them, Wiggle Them”
  • Action Rhyme: “This is Big, Big, Big” 2x
  • Story: Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney (let your child choose the story…we chose this because Foster loves the Llama Llama series)
  • Song: “Up on the Housetop” with hand motions 2x
  • Story: Shh (this is my absolute favorite Santa story) by Julie Sykes
  • Song: “Jingle Bells” (you can add bells to make even more fun!)
  • Story: Peek-a-Boo Snowman by Charles Reasoner

Our friend plays with a shrinking candy cane.


Peek-a-boo! Use toys in unexpected ways.

Then we moved to the play portion of the program. I filled a water table (you can use a sink or the bathtub) with about three inches of water (if that). We talked about the water. What does it feel like? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it warm?

Then I pulled out the candy canes! What happens if we put a candy cane in water? We made a few guesses and then tried it. Immediately, the water started to bubble around the candy and the color started disappearing. While the candy dissolved, I gave the children some toys to play with. Don’t be afraid to use words like sink, float, disappear, light, heavy, etc. You’ll be surprised what your children already know.

By the time we were finished, the candy had completely disappeared, the water turned a light shade of red, and the room smelled like peppermints.IMG_4427

The last thing we did during storytime was our candy cane painting masterpiece! You need a little red paint (add a little peppermint extract for a sensory bonus!), a marble and a candy cane paper cut out. Place the candy candy cutout in a flat container, squirt a little paint in the corner, and roll the marble back and forth in the container over the paper. Talk about what is happening and why the marble rolls the way it does.

So, while I can’t guarantee storytime will always involve a water table and candy canes, I encourage you to visit your library for storytime and other fun programs because I can guarantee you’ll sing, talk, read, play (and possibly write)! And I encourage you to try these activities at home!


Summer Reading Challenge

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!


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, McDonald’s, 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, 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 registers and participates in the program will also have the opportunity to walk in the kick-off Hall of Fame Community Parade.  

This year, our theme is Fizz! Boom! Read! If you aren’t from Stark County, your local library may be doing the same theme (it’s a collaborative summer program). What does that mean? Many of our programs are themed around science and hands on activities this year. (I would definitely recommend visiting the Artful Science program–there’s bubbling glitter!)

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


Laugh, Play, Read at the Library

Laugh, Play, Read Literacy Night has begun again. If you haven’t attended a Laugh, Play, Read program at our library, here is a snippet of what you can expect.

Once a month at our Main Library and once a month at a branch location, I set up a couple tables with different literacy-based activities designed to let children have fun playing and exploring while their parents learn ways to replicate them at home. Most of the programs have a make-it-take-it component that allows parents to create a project to take home.

Last night, we did Sensory Explosion at North Branch. Sensory Explosion is one of my favorites because it involves making playdough, playing with puzzle pieces in the colored rice tub, making letters in sand and exploring rough surfaces to draw and write. We made Bubble Dough, an extremely easy to make form of playdough. I used hair conditioner (the brand that costs less than $1), corn starch, and a little olive oil. According to the recipe, shower gel or hand soap will also work in place of conditioner (but it is what I had on hand). The children had so much fun pretending it was a turtle or hat, but they also used playdough mats to practice forming letters and numbers.

The programs are designed for children 3 to 8 years old. Most of the activities we do can be tailored to any of the ages and grade levels within that range.

Keep a lookout for a program nearest you. We will be doing several different themes:

If You Build It: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children by building with blocks and other materials. Make your own literacy games to take home.

Games, Games, Games: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children with homemade and repurposed games. Make your own literacy games to take home.

ABCs 123s: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children. Make your own literacy games to take home.

Storytelling: Laugh, play, and learn new ideas for teaching early reading skills to your children by bringing the pages of favorite stories to life. Make your own literacy games to take home.