Dec 19, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: StarWalk for Kids (Day 11)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
Learn more about the night sky in StarWalk Kids: a kid-friendly, but packed-with-facts app.


Dec 17, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Monument Valley (Day 10)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
Not designed for kids, specifically, this app appeals to a very wide range of ages and is great for kids and parents to play together.


Dec 16, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Hideout (day 9)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
A catchy soundtrack and word-building action reminiscent of old-school Electric Company make this FREE app from BYU one of my favorites to recommend.


Dec 11, 2014

Annual Holiday Special: Nifty Thrifty Gifty

We interrupt this list of app reviews to bring you details about this year's Nifty Thrifty Gifty -- an annual craft event where I choose interesting, yet simple crafts that are great for gifting to friends and family.

The craft in the title photo is from the"DIY Friendly Pendants" tutorial.  See some kid-made versions after the jump

Dec 10, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Alien Assignment (Day 8)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
This app will get your kids off the couch and searching the house hunting for items to photograph in an out-of-this-world scavenger hunt!

(image: itunes)

Dec 8, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: JumpSeeWow's Fire Station App (Day 7)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
I'll preface this review with a disclaimer that the app developer is a friend-of-a-friend, but all opinions here are my own, unbiased thoughts.


Dec 7, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Toca Lab (Day 6)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
So I could follow yesterday's post with a "Toca Boca anything" post, but then this whole "12 Apps" concept would really start to look like a sham.  So I'll narrow it down to my favorite app from this fantastic developer from this past year.

Dec 5, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Sago Mini... Everything (Day 5)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
I went to look at my notes today and... well, this has GOT to be cheating, but I just wrote down "Sago Mini Everything." And no, Sago Mini fans this is not the name of a new Sago app you haven't heard of, I simply couldn't narrow it down to only one Sago Mini app. But I will list some of our favorites after the jump.

Dec 4, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Piiig Labs (Day 4)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
Science (on sale!) without the mess.


Dec 3, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: Lazoo Squiggles & Kapu Blocks (Day 3)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)
For Day Three, I couldn't decide between these two apps, plus I feel like I've told almost everyone I know about this first one already, so really, I almost OWE you a second app recommendation today.


Dec 2, 2014

Dec 1, 2014

Twelve Days of Apps: One Globe Kids / Thinkrolls (Day 1)

 (Creative Commons image: Jesper Hauge)

I am going to attempt a series of posts here, listing my top 12 (or so) favorite apps, most discovered this year.  I won't promise that the posts will arrive on 12 consecutive days, but I'll do my best to finish them before the end of the month.  It was extremely difficult to narrow my app list down to 12 apps (and I've left some favorites off this list simply because I've already blogged about them somewhere in the past), so a bit of cheating may be in order.  For instance, today there was a tie.  So I am going to tell you about two apps.

Nov 29, 2014

The Supper Club Presents: Apps that build relationships

Depending on how you use them, apps can put up barriers between people or foster connection.  This month, we looked at a few apps that help to build relationships by encouraging intergenerational interactions.

First, we read (gasp!) a BOOK!  The kind made with paper and ink! Tea with Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg is a totally charming book about a little girl who has tea with her grandpa every afternoon.  The twist at the end? They're visiting with each other on-screen!  This book is a great reminder about one of my very favorite ways to use digital devices to build relationships -- video calls.  Two of the most well-known video call apps are FaceTime (for iOS devices) and Skype (for Android or iOS).  They are both free to use and are just a fantastic way for kids to connect with faraway loved ones.  One of the parents at the Supper Club pointed out that their family struggled with these video calls at first because the grandparents wanted the kids to lead the conversation and the kids weren't sure what to talk about, so if you're finding the process awkward, suggest some sort of cooperative play (like a tea party) that everyone can engage in together.  (My son loves to "hide his grandma" (i.e. hide the phone which grandma is talking on) inside his toy ambulance while she either makes siren noises or exclaims about how dark it is inside the ambulance or pretends to be a patient being whisked to the hospital.)

Nov 12, 2014

A call for guest posts

photo credit: "Bokeh all over" by THOR

I have been thrilled to hear from a few of you, dear readers, about how this blog has inspired you to create similar programs at your library. Library Makers will be a bit quieter for awhile as we head into the holiday season and my library's programming schedule lightens up until January, so I thought it would be a good time to hear back from you.  If you have done a library program (or if you're a parent at home, what projects have you re-created) inspired by this blog, I want to share your successes (or "learning opportunities") here!  Send photos, a link to your own blog, a story about your program, or whatever you're willing to share with other readers of this blog to  I'd love to see what you've made!

Oct 30, 2014

Toddler Art Class: Scrape Paintings

Library cards get you access to lots of fun things, but did you know you could PAINT with them?

Art Project: Scrape Paintings (in black and white)
library cards (or other plastic cards--gift cards, those fake credit cards that come in junk mail...)
paper plates (to hold the paint)

cover art Black meets white / Fontes, Justine

Oct 25, 2014

Toddler Art Class: Sculpture

Textures galore and easy construction opportunities make these two materials ideal for toddler play.

Art Project: Styrofoam + Chenille Sculptures
--Styrofoam (Someone donated half-spheres to me, but you could use almost any chunky pieces of styrofoam.  I recommend cutting down one of those big chunky pieces that come with electronics or other large items shipped in boxes.  Or raid your local appliance store's dumpster...)

--Chenille stems or pipe cleaners (this is an excellent opportunity to use up any pieces that have been cut into awkwardly short lengths or twisted up and used so many times that they're hard to jam back into the bag.)

cover art A porcupine named Fluffy / Lester, Helen

Oct 23, 2014

The Supper Club presents: Monster Apps!

App-makers just loooooove monsters!

The Supper Club: Monster edition

One of my morning storytime themes this month was "Monsters" and when I went searching for a good app to use during that storytime, I realized that there were so many great options that I was going to have difficulty choosing only one.  Hooray for The Supper Club where I can talk about all of them!  This month's apps included:

Oct 16, 2014

Toddler Art Class: Yarn Wrapping (or not...)

In which I learn how complex this seemingly simple activity can be...

Art Project: Yarn Wrapping
die cut animal shapes from cereal boxes

  cover art Extra yarn / Barnett, Mac
This book is really too complex for toddlers.  The third class got a quick summary of each page and the part about the evil archduke was quite edited.

Oct 9, 2014

Toddler Art Class: Crayon Resist (or Yippee! Tape!)

Wait--you mean I can use ALL THE TAPE I WANT??

Art Project: Crayon Resist (or Yippee!  Tape!)
painter's tape

cover art Monsters love colors / Austin, Mike
This is a great book for this project because it talks about crayons, but also because it glorifies scribbling, which (as we all know) is an excellent early literacy activity as kids refine control over their fine motor skills!

Oct 3, 2014

WonderWorks: Short Path Games

Playing board games teaches so many math skills!  Try this simple variety to introduce the concepts of taking turns, moving your marker along a path and counting.

Today's Topic: Short Path Games
large size construction paper
game pieces (I provided pom-poms, small blocks and buttons, but pennies or even just shapes cut from heavy paper would work fine)
blank wooden cubes (to make a die)

cover art Mini racer / Dempsey, Kristy

(I love how the endpapers in the book could be a short path game all by themselves!)

Oct 1, 2014

WonderWorks: Mazes, trails, pathways and roads

How do we get from here to there?

Today's Topic: Mazes, pathways, trails and roads
painter's tape or masking tape
toy cars
LEGO bricks and plates
large pieces of styrofoam (leftover from packaging works great!)
pipe cleaners
beads with large holes

cover art Thump, quack, moo : a whacky adventure / Cronin, Doreen

Sep 27, 2014

WonderWorks: Rubber Bands

Amazingly enough, we got through all three sessions of this class without anyone getting serious about shooting rubberbands at their friends--we MUST be working with preschoolers.

Today's Topic: Rubberbands (Technology)
--rubberbands in as many sizes and colors as you can find.  Don't forget about hair bands and ponytail rubberbands!  I also had a large resistance band and some stretchy rubber tubing from a physical therapy office
--Things to wrap rubberbands around (kleenex boxes, bowls, buckets, bookends, hangers, blocks)
--materials to make "Jumping cups"

cover art Just how long can a long string be?! / Baker, Keith
note: this book has nothing at all to do with rubber bands, but I couldn't find any that DID.  Recommendations are welcome!

Sep 26, 2014

The Supper Club: A new App Storytime

 A new evening family storytime featuring apps instead of books -- and also supper.  Mmmm... supper....

What it is:
I started a new program series this month called The Supper Club. We meet on the Third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. and families are invited to bring a picnic supper or order from one of the five restaurants near our library (they'll deliver food to the library right before storytime and they created some great "family meal deals" for our storytime families!).  Then, everyone enjoys eating dinner while I read a few book apps, sneak in a few quick tips about healthy ways to incorporate apps into family life, and introduce a few non-book apps (games, puzzles, creativity apps, etc.).

This month, one of the featured book apps was Ink Robin's Picadilly's Circus.  The developer generously sent me some free copies of the app to give away to storytime participants and this great illustration showing an early sketch from the book:
If you'd like to find out which other apps were featured this month, check out the full list here!

Our hands-on craft this month was a DIY pinwheel as an extension of Duckie Deck's Huff n Puff app. You can download the template and instructions and make your own pinwheel here!

Since this is a new program, I need your (yes, you Dear Reader!) input-- would you like to hear more about the Supper Club?  Should I post the apps we featured each month?  Is the pdf version of the list okay, or would you strongly prefer clickable links right in the blog post itself?  Do you love this idea enough that I should add it to the sidebar and include an FAQ page?  Do you have other questions about this new program?  Or should I stick to the hands-on maker-y posts for this blog?  Chime in readers!

Click here to see a longer list of apps I'm happy to recommend (it's a work in progress at this point...).

Sep 25, 2014

Craft Lab: Embossing School Notebooks

Got some boring looking notebooks and folders for school?  Here's an easy way to embellish them!

Today's project: Embossing
cardboard (cereal boxes work great!)
die cut machine and dies (or... an exacto knife and a self-healing cutting mat)
bone folders (or Sharpie markers)
water in a spray bottle

Sep 23, 2014

WonderWorks: Sorting

The scientific concept of classification is fun to explore with preschoolers!

Today's Topic: Sorting (or Classification)
sets of things you have on hand (I used buttons, bottle caps, puppets, blocks, foam letters, some dyed noodles I had from a past project, magnetic wooden shapes)
containers to sort them into (I used ice cube trays, egg cartons, and buckets)

  cover art Same same / Jocelyn, Marthe

Sep 10, 2014

Summer Special: Edible Mars Rover

Who knew NASA's work could be so sweet?

Today's Project:  Building an edible Mars Rover (with help from the UW Geology Museum and a grant from NASA)

graph paper
a picture of some past rovers
assorted candy
graham crackers
paper plates

Sep 4, 2014

Toddler Art Class: Foam Paint

Squishy like shaving cream or whipped cream with equally exciting sounds when it comes out of the can but it's paint!

Art Project: Foam Paint
foam paint
heavy cardstock or light cardboard
clean-up supplies!

cover art I ain't gonna paint no more! / Beaumont, Karen    

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