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A Playful Destination

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

kids climbing on furniture in children's room

The new layout of the Children’s Room has provided opportunity for more interactive features to engage children while they are at the library looking for books, learning about something new, or just playing. Having time to play and pretend is important to a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, from early childhood on. With busy schedules and more structured activities, spending a few hours at the library can be the perfect time to encourage children’s freedom. They can choose from thousands of books to look through, play with different games or activities, or draw their parents into some free play as well.

Kids using the Beginning Readers and Early Chapter Books area are learning to read or becoming more confident readers. Some fun activities we have had on the magnet/dry erase board include Mad Libs with magnet words to fill in the blanks, and letter stencils to trace and spell. Now, kids can try out a Velcro rhyming tree by sticking leaves with rhyming words on the same branch. Finding fun ways to play with language and words gives kids another way to practice their reading.

In the Arts and Crafts Neighborhood, a craft project is always available at the table. We have used fun die-cut shapes for kids to create pictures, cards, door hangers, headbands and other take-home crafts. To celebrate spring, kids can glue cut-outs of the stages of a growing plant, from a seed under the soil to a tall, leafy stem.

This craft leads nicely into our Science and Nature area next door. One or two games or manipulatives are available at a table or from the Children’s Desk to encourage kids to build, experiment or test their science knowledge. For example, kids can build the “food chain” in order with Mega Bloks, or put together an intricate Lego machine from the Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Set.

Creativity abounds with children, and new outlets for their ideas are exciting. In another section, children are encouraged to create their own comics, using dry erase crayons on the Graphic Novels Neighborhood sign. Blank comic book panels encourage kids to draw and write a short comic strip. Some of our favorites have included librarian superheroes!

The gear wall in the Transportation area is a fun experiment for kids of all ages. Magnetic gears have to be connected to reach a pulley that will spin an airplane propeller high on the wall. Some skill is involved, since the gears tend to slip away if they are turning too fast. We’ve watched kids try different tactics until they get it going just right.

In the Geography space, a two-foot diameter globe with more than 1000 place names spins at just the right height for young knowledge seekers. Families who have moved here from abroad or visited places around the world love finding beloved spots on the globe, and sometimes kids just like to spin it and see where their fingers land. A unique feature is that the globe does not use conventional North American names for places, so Germany is Deutsche Land and China is Zhong Guo, giving children a chance to learn more about the world.

Our History area contains a large portion of the children’s nonfiction and is another great stop along the way. A bulletin board highlights historical facts or events, and a display case showcases special items. Currently, kids can view a collection of vintage model cars and trucks with amazing detail, on loan from Doug Schoning.

Slide down to the Animals Neighborhood to get a glimpse of a baby ball python, borrowed from Sunflower Pets. Our pet snake enjoys basking under the heat lamp, resting in a pool of water, or hanging out under her log. Earlier this winter, two Oriental fire-bellied toads occupied this space, and we hope to switch out with a new pet every few months.

The Fairy Tale and Folklore Neighborhood is a popular stop, with dress-up clothes to reenact stories or make up a new one. It is common to find moms, dads or grandparents sitting on the fairytale bench with a tiara or a wolf hat on their heads. Kids love to see their parents dressed up and playing along.

Putting on puppet shows is another favorite activity in our Early Literacy Center, along with magnet and felt board manipulatives and a variety of puzzles. A table dedicated to “6 By 6” early literacy skills includes fun activities for preschoolers revolving around a great children’s picture book. This month, it is Andy Rash’s “Are You a Horse?” with options to act out the story using puppets and stuffed animals, as well as “sewing” the letters for the word HORSE with mini lassoes.

Each area of the Children’s Room features wonderful collections of books to keep kids interested and coming back for more. We love seeing the library used, not just a stop on the way somewhere else, but a destination – a place to hang out for a while and spend some quality time together.

Posted in: Adult Services, Children's Dept, For Adults, For Kids, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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Nonfiction for Young Readers

By Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian

When you think about your reading life as a child, do you remember going through phases?  Maybe you couldn’t get enough of the Berenstain Bears as a preschooler?  Maybe there was a time when Nancy Drew was the only fiction you would read?  A lot of readers might remember devouring nonfiction in the early elementary years.  This trend is still true today, with boys and girls alike asking for nonfiction throughout their elementary years.  Publishing companies invested in children’s reference books have made great strides in producing quality material for all ages.  In the Children’s Room, we have nonfiction books for preschoolers, sixth graders, and every age in between.  Here are some great series of books to consider for your young nonfiction reader.

dk“DK Kids”:  Dorling Kindersley is the world’s leading illustrated reference publisher, and it is very apparent in their kids’ publications.  DK Eyewitness books are aimed at older elementary readers and teens, while DK Eyewonder books are intended for younger elementary readers.  Full of color pictures and information on subjects like animals and history, these books are perfect for children wanting to explore new topics.

“Let’s Read and Find Out Science”: Books in this series range from topics on weather and the earth, to how our bodies work.  Hand-drawn illustrations are used, helping children to transition from picture books to nonfiction.  These books are shorter, intended for preschoolers or younger elementary age students.

“National Geographic Kids”: The National Geographic Society has a wealth of information and photos about the world around us, so it should come as no surprise that their children’s publications are stellar.  The titles are a great stepping stone for early readers, as they each contain a picture glossary, captions, and large text.  This series comes in four reading levels, allowing students to “graduate” to the next level of reading but stay in the same format of book.  National Geographic Kids also has many titles for older readers, such as bird guides, almanacs, and atlases.

“You Wouldn’t Want To” series: Aimed at older readers starting to think critically about science and history, this series examines what it was like to live at a certain time period.  Titles include “You Wouldn’t Want To Sail with Christopher Columbus” or “You Wouldn’t Want To Work on the Great Wall of China.”  Told in second-person narrative, these books allow readers to truly enter into the lives of people in history.

amelia“Childhood of Famous Americans”: This series explores the early years of important American figures.  Though each book is a fictionalized account of one life, the stories are true to the values and experiences of Americans during that time.  Readers can find out what gave Thurgood Marshall a passion for justice, or what made Mark Twain such a gifted and honest writer.

If your children are interested in nonfiction reading, make it a priority to encourage them down this path.  There is so much to learn about history, nature, and how things work.  If you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian.  We will be your advocates in exploring this part of your child’s reading life.

 

 

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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Zoofari Tails: A Quacky Storytime!

Get ready, because Zduckoofari is tomorrow! Join us this month as we present a duck-themed Zoofari Tails Storytime! Stories read will include “Duck to the Rescue“, “Ducks” a short non-fiction book, and even “Duck Says Don’t“. Along with these great stories, we will also be waddling and quacking up a storm – trust me you don’t want to miss this! Sunset Zoo docents will also present biofacts AND a live duck! Due to lack of parking, we will start a few minutes after 10:00, so don’t be discouraged if you come a little late. We hope to see you there! Quack, Quack!

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, library services, Parents

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Evening Storytime with Mr. Brian

Evening Storytime on Tuesdays at 6:30 is a great option for families with working parents.  Children can come ready in their pajamas if they want to, and join us for fun stories, singing, action rhymes, games and dancing.  Mr. Brian is an engaging presenter and loves to involve children in the telling of stories.  Families are encouraged to attend together.

storytime photo

Mr. Brian has volunteers from the audience help with the story “More Bears!”

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Reading Round-Up on Tuesday Afternoons

Ms. Amber leads the Reading Round-Up Storytime on Tuesday afternoons at 1:30.  This storytime focuses on older preschoolers (ages 4 & up), and incorporates some games and activities to encourage letter recognition, phonemic awareness, rhyming and other early literacy skills. Amber uses interactive stories where children can help by repeating phrases, acting out parts of the story, or helping with puppets, props or flannel board pieces.

Reading Round-up letter C

Children use their arms and bodies to make a letter C during storytime.

Parents can find more ideas for encouraging early literacy skills at the State Library of Kansas’s “6 By 6” website.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Parents

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Zoofari

Join us this month AT Manhattan Public Library for our first Zoofari Tails Storytime, featuring the theme Snowy Cats! Help us break in our new storytime room by prowling in the snow, making animal noises, and even seeing some great animal biofacts – provided by docents at the Sunset Zoo. Stories read will include Little Mist and BobcatsBaby Snow Leopard. Children who attend will be given a new 2015 Zoofari puncard – after attending 6 sessions you will be eligible for a year-long membership to the zoo! Children will also be entered to win a free book! Don’t miss this fun and lively storytime! Please note that storytimewill be held at the public library and will begin at 10:00 – lasting about 30 minutes. We hope to see you there!

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, library services, Parents

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Great Start to the Year in Children’s Dept.

Thank you to the community for celebrating our Children’s Room Grand Opening with us on Saturday, January 17th! It was a fun-filled afternoon of music, activities, costumed characters, balloons, cookies and more!  Special thank goes out to Sunset Zoo for bringing several live animals kids could see and touch. Also to the Junior League of the Flint Hills and the local Girl Scouts who volunteered all afternoon.  We initiated the new Storytime Room this morning with more than 80 people at our first Toddler Move & Groove Storytime session in our finished room.  It’s going to be a great year!crowd

IMG_5727IMG_5799IMG_5739IMG_5712olivia hugrockin robballoons in roomoutside doorchalk girl]gear walltunnelready

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Storytimes start next week in our new room!

storytime_room_Jblog

We are super excited about library storytimes beginning next week, January 19, in our new Storytime Room.  Storytime Schedule

The storytime space has doubled in size and has beautiful flooring, walls and butterfly decor, with access to an outdoor patio and garden area.  Special thanks goes to our donors who have memorialized loved ones with these wonderful spaces, The Tami Borck Storytime Room and The  Goldstein Garden.

garden doorsThis semester, we are trying out some new storytime ideas and formats, as well as keeping many of our treasured favorites.  Nature Storytimes on Tuesday and Saturday mornings will feature stories about plants, Earth and animals, and will include an activity or craft. When possible, this storytime will take place outdoors in the garden.

Evening Storytimes on Tuesdays at 6:30 will be led by Mr. Brian. Families are encouraged to attend together, and children are invited to wear pajamas so they ready for the bedtime routine when they get home.   Mr. Brian will also include “Night for Knowledge” some weeks, which is geared at helping children and caregivers familiarize themselves with the new Children’s Room.

Move and Groove Storytimes will continue with two options per week for toddlers (18-36 months) and two for preschoolers (ages 3 & up).  These popular storytimes feature lots of lively music, dancing, and action rhymes, as well as fabulous stories and puppets to keep young children engaged.

Reading Round Up will take place on Tuesday afternoons for older preschoolers (age 4 and up), with longer books, fun props, music, and activities that challenge growing minds.

If you have a little one under 18 months old, Baby Rhyme Time is the perfect opportunity for you to bring in your baby and enjoy bouncy songs, nursery rhymes, short books, and fun music.

Our fabulous six children’s librarians have been working to prepare our best storytime semester yet. We hope to see you next week in the fabulous Storytime Room for lots of fun!

 

Posted in: Children's Dept, Children's Expansion, For Kids, Parents

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New Year, New Room!

By Jennifer Bergen, Children’s Services Manager

It has been nearly a full year since Kelley Construction Company broke ground outside the library to begin the children’s room expansion. Now, on January 17, 2015, just 358 days after the ceremonial groundbreaking, we will have a grand opening celebration to showcase the new Children’s Room, including fantastic reading areas, imaginative play spaces, and a larger Storytime Room for programs.

Already, the room is drawing crowds of kids, from an excited after-school bunch needing a place to hang out before evening ball games, to little tots discovering the secret doors into the playhouse.

kidsWalking into the room, anyone familiar with the library will immediately notice changes. Colorful carpet tiles lighten up the room, and an innovative bookshelf in the entryway draws readers in to have a look at the newest books available.  Kids who find something they like can crawl right into the bookshelf and begin reading in a comfy built-in nook.

Picture books have grown in popularity, so that space is enlarged with more book displays to show off the fantastic illustrations that define this genre.  The area formerly used for storytime has been renovated to encompass both an early literacy space for preschoolers and toddlers, as well as a parent and teacher resource center with a collection of books for adults.  Parents can browse for the perfect “toddler years” guide while their little ones are entertained with puppets, puzzles and books.

The new Storytime Room is a fabulous space with media capabilities that will allow for innovative programs.  There will be plenty of room for all the kids an  caregivers and even the double strollers.  Our first storytime in the room will be January 19.  Until then, children are enjoying the large, open space, bean bag animals, and bright colored cubes for seating.  On nicer winter days, families can slip out the side doors and enjoy the fenced-in garden area, free to explore nature, read outdoors, draw with chalk or play with items on the outside table.  Our new storytime schedule includes a Nature Storytime twice a week that will take place outdoors as often as possible.

roomOn the other side of the room, a special feature kids of all ages seem to enjoy is the climbable “Mount Verde”, a large, lime green, multi-level structure where kids can sit, lounge, or pose as King of the Mountain.  The structure resides in the Reading Corner amidst giant pillows, puzzle shaped seats, and soft comfy chairs.  The oval sloped lounge chair and blue wavy couch are other fun pieces on which kids or adults can relax as they preview their library choices.  This is the scene passers-by see as they drive past the windows of the library on Poyntz, and it is often teeming with children and parents.

Nestled around the edges of the room next to the Reading Corner are “neighborhoods” of books: Arts & Crafts, Science & Nature, Graphic Novels, Transportation, Geography, History, Animals, and Fairy Tales & Folklore.  Excellent selections of books on these subjects are perfect for young browsers who want to find everything on their favorite topics.  Children are drawn in with interactive features such as a magnetic gear and propeller wall, an enormous globe to spin, crafts to make on the spot, rotating displays, objects to build with, and even some live fire-bellied toads.  The fairy tale dress up clothes have been very popular, too.

The library’s large collection of children’s fiction is also relocated to this part of the room, and it includes divisions for beginning readers and early chapter books to help younger children find titles at the right reading level.

The additional space has allowed room for the children’s media collections that had been housed next to the adult media.  Children’s movies are now next to the librarians’ service desk, along with the children’s music CDs and audiobooks.  Customers have commented that they didn’t know the library had books on CD or music CDs for children until now.

studySoon, the Technology Zone in the children’s room will be upgraded with twelve touchscreen computers just for kids, loaded with entertaining and educational games, and quick links to kid-friendly websites.

Check it all out first hand, and tell us what you think. We are interested in hearing feedback as we continue to organize all our new furnishings and materials to make it the best library possible for all the kids and families who come in.  Join us on January 17, between 1:00 and 4:00, as we celebrate this new space with donor recognition, fun activities around the room for children, a musical performance by Rockin’ Rob at 2:00, and costumed characters Olivia and Curious George roaming the library.

Posted in: Children's Dept, Children's Expansion, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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