April 23, 2015

Encouraging STEM with Block Parties

There's been a lot of buzz lately about how to best encourage science, technology, engineering, and math (aka S.T.E.M.) in children.

As it turns out, you have to look  no further than your local library.

All week long tables are set out with an assortment of crafts and experiments for our S.T.E.A.M. Friday endeavors (STEM, with the add on of Art as well).

In addition to this, we host programs especially focused on these subjects in a fun time play environment. Block Parties are movable parties in a box provided by the Purdue Extension, which handily also provides a real life tip giving spokesperson to lead the program.

 So what do you have to do? Just bring yourself and your kids and have fun! All blocks are provided and your child can build anything they want, knock it down, and start again. Our next Block Party is scheduled for July 14th. For more information please go to our library calendar or contact the library by phone. We hope to see you there!

February 7, 2015

Science Fun with Snow & Ice!

We've been having lots of fun with snow & ice @ the library--and learning important early literacy skills along the way!

Toddlers painted blocks of ice using watercolors in only the primary colors. They saw first hand what happens when these colors mix--and they observed what happens to ice at room temperature. They also made many prints of their work--just pressed white paper down on top of the painted ice. The ice kept changing as they painted and it melted--so many made lots of prints. Later older kids--and teens--had a great time painting and printing blocks of ice.

 Just freeze blocks of ice in containers for several hours. Turn the containers upside down and run them under warm water for a few seconds. The ice block pops right out--and the fun & learning can begin!

While there is still so much snow, explore some its properties. Make a small snowball and ask--will it float or sink? Then try it. There were many surprised scientists at the library when we offered this activity for STEAM Friday. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math--every Fri. @ the library!)

Which takes up more space--snow or water--or are they the same? Make a prediction (your hypothesis) and then conduct the experiment. Fill two identical cups to the same level--one with water and one with snow. Once the snow has melted, what do you observe? Was your hypothesis correct? It doesn't matter--what matters is that you followed the Scientific Method--make a hypothesis, conduct the experiment, observe, draw a conclusion.

Have fun with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This year is the 53rd anniversary of this sweet award winning classic for young children. We made snow tracks on dark paper using 'snow paint' we made. It just takes equal parts flour, salt, and water. Mix it together and then paint tracks in the snow like the ones in the book. When it dries, it glitters and really does look like snow! So easy--and a great measuring activity! Check out some more ideas to use with this fantastic book at Ready-Set-Read, http://www.ready-set-read.com/2013/01/the-snowy-day-book-activities.html

 When you explore science, math and the world all around, you are helping your child get ready to read. Studies show that the more your child knows about his world--and the more vocabulary he learns as a result, the more successful he or she will be when he begins to read!

December 11, 2014

Sing & Rhyme to Help Your Child Get Ready to Learn to Read!

There are lots of great books about this time of year to share with your child. One favorite is How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen.  It rhymes and invites participation and discussion. Rhyming, singing, talking, and helping to tell the story all help your child learn important early literacy skills to get ready to learn to read! Print the dinosaur--or find another online. Help your child decorate and color the dinosaur. Tape a straw or stick on the back to make a dinosaur puppet and then sing some songs together. Sing lots of songs during this time of year (and all year long!) Songs help your child hear the smaller sounds in words because each syllable usually has its own note. So have fun rhyming and singing! You are helping your child get ready to learn to read!

(Sing to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur hop
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur stop.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur run.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur, let's have holiday fun!

Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur, roar
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur, roar more.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur, shh, don't make a peep.
Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur, time to go to sleep.
Dinosaur Song
(Sing to the tune of "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear")
Dinosaur,dinosaur, turn around.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, touch the ground.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, shut the door.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, jump and roar.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, touch your shoe.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, stomp in goo.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, turn off the light.
Dinosaur, dinosaur, say "Good night."