Jul 28, 2015

WonderWorks: Spirals!

Today we explored the natural shape of a Spiral in nature (or a Fibonacci Spiral, but our young mathematicians didn't need to get that technical to explore!) -- a guest post by Rebecca Pettyjohn

Today's Topic: Spirals
Homemade playdough  (I got my great recipe here)
Laminated spiral pages
Spiral cut outs (we have a great die cut!)
Spiral whirlygigs (from www.babbledabbledo.com)
Pine Cones
Sea Shells
Painters tape
Carpet squares
Glue, scissors, wiggly eyes, and pompom balls
Our bodies! 

cover art Swirl by swirl : spirals in nature / Sidman, Joyce  

Jul 22, 2015

The Supper Club presents: Apps about water

 Yo-ho-ho, on the App Sea we go!

(App titles are linked to my full review where possible.  Click on the links to read more!)

READ: Byron Barton’s Boats by Oceanhouse Media  ($, iOS) -- Just like the board book, but with a few moving parts and the option for a narrator (though I prefer to read it myself!)

PLAY: Fiete Match by Ahoiii ($, iOS & Android)

SING: Big Reading Show by Hooked on Phonics (free/$, iOS)

TALK: Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer ($, iOS & Android) -- a free play, discovery game filled with giggles and lots of repeat play value.

FAMILY PLAY: Monument Valley ($, iOS & Android) -- one of my top 5 favorite apps for joint adult/child play of all time.  Or just adult solo play.  It's gorgeous, challenging for all ages and with no time limits or points, stress-free for kids to play too.

STEM: Marco Polo ocean ($, iOS only)  -- "build" a boat, an orca or another sea-related item and learn more about the item as you build.

Kapu blocks ($, iOS & Android)

Take-out Box:  Sago Mini boats ($, iOS only) -- If you love Sago Mini Road Trip, you should know that this is the aquatic version of that app.

Kapu fishing ($, iOS & Android) -- lazy day of fishing, complete with DIY fishing lures

Marine Missions by Nat’l Geo (Free, iOS only) -- A new one to me, this is a really nice choice for free.  A little learning, a little play and attractive app design.

Our craft this evening was toy boats (best tongue twister ever--say "toy boat" three times fast!):

Necessity is the mother of invention and I didn't have any pool noodles at work, but I did have a stash of foam pipe insulators (similar to these) but because the diameter on those is smaller than a pool noodle, I had to scale down the rest of the materials too.  I had some "ornate wood toothpicks" (similar to these) and a stash of milk filter scraps, so those became the sails.  The kids were very excited about these little boats and made some real beauties!

 This young artist was really exploring some alternative mast orientations....
I heard rumor that the boats are still sailing in a bowl of water in at least one of the homes they went back to, almost a week later now!

Jul 16, 2015

The Supper Club presents: Farm apps (a belated post)

 Do you have a fan of the farm at your house? These are the apps for you!

Way back in May, the Supper Club featured apps about farm life.  Honestly, I had another theme I was working on up until a day or two before, but I realized that every app on that list was iOS only and I really like to have more diversity in my platforms each month, so I switched at the last minute to a topic that I knew I'd have no problem finding tons of options for.

When people started arriving for Supper Club that night, I was so excited to see that some new families had heard about Supper Club and decided to try us out, but the kids in one of the families were a bit older than my usual crew and as I progressed through this set of apps, it became increasingly clear to me that these apps were all skewing very young. About halfway through, they decided to quietly sneak out the back and while I couldn't blame them for not wanting to stay, I wished that I could run after them, assuring them that there was usually a broader target age range to the apps I talked about.  And so, I dragged my feet about writing this blog post and felt like my app picks weren't even worthy of sharing online.

But then I realized that a) some families DO have children (and adults!) who are fans of the farm and would love to see this app list and b) perhaps there were some larger lessons for librarians exploring app possibilities that I could share on the blog.  And so, 2 months late, here's my blog post about the farm.  I'll put my librarian reflections at the bottom of the post so you can skip it if that part of the conversation doesn't interest you.

May 2015: Farm
Jump See Farm by JumpSeeWow ($2.99, iOS & Android)
Nighty Night by Fox & Sheep ($3.99, iOS & Google Play, free on Amazon)
Moo! Said Morris by Digital Leaf (free, iOS only)

And now for some Deep Librarian Thoughts:
1. If you're advertising a mixed-age program, be sure that there are at least one or two options aimed at older kids and others aimed at younger (duh, but apparently sometimes I need a reminder).
2. "Simple" themes like "farm" or "circus" or "trains" will often bring up results that are aimed at a preschool audience for much the same reason that you'll find far more picture books on these topics than chapter books. BUT, if you search intentionally, you might be able to find apps that will appeal to an older audience as well.  OR, just brainstorm a few titles for older users that you're currently excited about and see if you can make them fit your theme.  For instance, this month's (July's) app theme was "Water" and I chose to include Monument Valley which has a few levels with water in them, but is SUCH a fantastic and beloved app to users of LOTS of ages that I've been wanting an excuse to introduce it for a long time.
3. An alternative would be to either go "themeless" (I personally like the focus that a theme brings, but I will not hesitate to choose "Carissa's Favorites" as the theme some month if necessary to avoid sharing lukewarm apps just because they "go with the theme") OR choose more complex themes like "Think outside the Screen" or "Becoming Global Citizens."  Granted, it's MUCH more difficult to search for apps in those categories, but it becomes easier the more apps you familiarize yourself with.

So, if you've read this far, what do you think? If you're a parent, do you like themes in storytimes like Supper Club or not? If you're a librarian, would you use themes when choosing a batch of apps?

Jul 15, 2015

Wonderworks: Clothespins

Spring-style clothespins are great for improving your pincer grasp and also, they're just a lot of fun to play with!

Today's Topic: Clothespin as Technology
wooden or plastic clothespins
felt (or paper) "clothes"
die-cut long-legged animal shapes (with the legs cut off)
a picture of baby birds with open beaks
egg cartons

cover art Mrs. McNosh hangs up her wash / Weeks, Sarah

Jul 9, 2015

Summer Special: Sock Monsters

A Bubbler Jr. program where kids can turn lonely socks into unique stuffed friends.

The amazing Angela Richardson came to our library a few weeks ago and guided kids (and their parents) through making some fantastic sock monsters.
 First, we used needle and embroidery floss to sew a V in the toe of each inside-out sock (creating two horns or ears), then cutting a triangle out of the V.

 Then, we flipped the socks right-side out and filled them with stuffing from this cute stuffing-monster-bag.

Jul 2, 2015

Wonderworks: Wheel + Axle Engineering

Kids talk about wheels all the time, but axles are less frequently discussed--let's talk about this classic pair and how they work together.

Today's topic: Engineering Wheel & Axle combinations
Supplies (suggestions --feel free to improvise):
Tinkertoys (I found a partial set at a second-hand store)
Rolling pins or brayers
small dowels or wooden skewers with the tips cut blunt
toy cars
heavy book or brick

What we read:
Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root

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