This week in our preschool arts program, Little Makers, we did two projects to help us celebrate and appreciate nature for Earth Day! First, we created nature journals by punching holes into paper and practiced our fine motor skills to string yarn through the holes. Then, we used markers to decorate and name our nature journals.
The second project we worked on was a set of binoculars. We used recycled toilet paper rolls and secured our binoculars with glue. After the glue dried, we decorated each pair with words and drawings. Although the binoculars have no magnifying effect, with a little imagination it worked just fine! After completing the projects, our little makers were excited to give them a go!
These projects not only helped us appreciate nature, but also centered on the early literacy practice of writing. By writing descriptions or drawing pictures of what they see in nature, a child is working on building the skills they need for writing and reading.
Writing is like learning a code. Each letter has a meaning and those individual meanings strung together create a word. Did you know that when a child scribbles, they’re practicing writing? A shape may represent a letter or a mark on a piece of paper can represent a word. It may not look like words to us, but to the child it has meaning. It’s building their print awareness, which means knowing that print has meaning, and helping them build the skills they’ll need when they’re ready to read.
Now that we have a trusty pair of binoculars and a brand new nature journal, why not play and build up some of our early literacy skills from Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices: reading, writing, singing, talking or playing? Ask your child to describe a bug they see! Is it fluffy or solid? What color is it? How many legs does it have? Make up a silly song about the bug! Another fun way to explore an early literacy skill is to draw a picture and label it. Have a child draw a picture of an animal and label the head, eyes, tail, arms, or paws. Make it a game, early literacy should be fun!
Here in the Children’s area, I have the privilege of working with caregivers, parents, and children almost every Tuesday at a program called Little Makers. This is an arts-based program where we strive to engage children and their caregivers with open-ended projects that support early literacy skills, an inquiry-based learning style and foster creativity. This week we did pasta painting and used pasta noodles in exchange for paint brushes!
Whether you’re using the noodles as a brush or using them as stamps, this is a exciting project to explore. It’s a great way to discover different materials and how they interacted with each other as well as incorporate everyday objects into your child’s play and literacy. We were ready to experiment and talk about the different shapes and textures of the pasta and had a variety of noodles including spaghetti, macaroni, fiore, and rotini.
In addition to building creativity, art is a great way to build early literacy skills. It can incorporate some of Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices: reading, writing, singing, talking or playing. While experimenting with our pasta paint technique, we combined early literacy practices by engaging in talk and play by asking open-ended questions such as: What are you drawing? What’s happening in your painting? Creating an abundant verbal atmosphere, while having fun, gives preschoolers an advantage for when they enter kindergarten.
Early literacy shouldn’t be a chore, so make it fun! Bring out the markers, paint, and chalk. You are your child’s first and most important teacher and enjoying art together can help build the skills that lead up to reading. Come join us at Little Makers or ask us at the reference desk about other programs that incorporate early literacy skills!
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Of course, you can get a library cardany time of the year, but in September, back-to-school season, we like to remind that a library card is an essential school tool. Just as important as having a notebook, folder and pen in your backpack, is having a library card tucked in your pocket. Best of all, library cards are free to Monroe County residents of all ages!
In addition to giving you the ability to borrow books, movies and music, your library card provides you with access to a number of electronic resources the library has purchased especially for Monroe County residents to use. Some of these resources are designed for kids. To access them from outside the library, you will be prompted to enter your library card number. It’s a simple step to gain entry to a wealth of authoritative information and images to suit your needs. You can find a complete list of electronic resources on our A-Z Research Toolspage. Some e-resources and downloadable options of special interest to school-age children include:
Grolier Online – for information about states, countries, current events and more
Indiana Digital Media – to download ebooks and audiobooks, including titles for kids
Freegal – to download music. Once downloaded, songs are yours to keep
Your library card makes these reputable resources available to you around the clock. We love that you can access these resources even when our physical doors are closed for the night. But even more, we love to see young children come in to the library with their families – with library card in hand. How many places can children go where they are welcome to pull items from the shelves, look through them and choose which ones they would like to take home? We are continually delighted to observe children claim their books or movies and then proudly walk up to the self-check machine and check them out to take home and enjoy. We see how empowered they are by this, the confidence it instills, and we know it helps launch them on their journey of life-long learning.
So next time you are in the library – show us your library card! We’d love to hear what you like about it, and how you use it most. And in September and October, children who show us their library cards will receive a special sticker and bookmark – and a chance to shout “Hooray! I used my library card today!”
Groundhog's Day has come and gone, but the shadow of its promise of longer, warmer days lingers! For preschool science in February, we explored the world of light, reflection, and shadow. These activities are meant to promote lively discussions between children and their adult partners, which builds vocabulary and knowledge of the world.
As any parent knows, young children are curious about the world. At the library, we explore a range of topics during Preschool Science and Math. When the weather turns cold, I turn to one of my favorite themes for preschool science: Animals in Winter. Here are some of the activities we did in December!
If you know a child who is 7 years old or younger, the Learn and Play Space in the Children's Department at your Monroe County Public Library is the perfect place to visit. Children and their adult caregivers may explore several learning stations that were designed to help build early literacy skills. Children grow vocabulary when they work puzzles and play with puppets. Imaginary play in the store and the kitchen builds narrative skills which help children make meaning of words when they begin to read. The letter wall is a great place to learn the names of the letters and to practice the sounds the letters make. The writing center is stocked with cards, paper, envelopes, and markers so children can write books, mail letters, and draw pictures. Trained supervisors are available during most open hours to guide learning experiences, play games, and provide craft materials. There is even a dedicated space that is reserved for infants who are not walking and their caregivers exclusively. This engaging space has been made possible by support from the Smithville Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Monroe County Public Library. Paper supplies for the writing center are received from the Reuse Center at the District. Read more about Early Literacy at The Learn and Play Space