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Monday, June 20, 2016

Ready for Kindergarten: Social Skills

Hello again friends! Let's take a look at this week's Ready for Kindergarten topic: social skills. Given the academic focus of kindergarten, it's really in everyone's best interest if these skills are well developed before kids get to the classroom. But do not fret! If your child hasn't mastered them, you can work on them at home.
Social skills for kindergarten include:
  • ability to take turns and share
  • raising hand to speak
  • ability to stay in seat when appropriate
  • ability to keep hands to themselves
  • able to walk and not run when asked
  • able to maintain eye contact when speaking
If you spotted that these are mostly impulse control tasks then you are on it! It's true that impulse control is one of the most challenging aspects for children and it's also true that children who demonstrate impulse control are likely to have an easier time in school.

The best way to introduce your child to the idea of turn taking and sharing is to have them interact with kids their own age. Older children are more likely to let younger children have their way, whereas kids of the same age will not be so willing to give up their own needs. This sounds painful to watch, and it can be, but one of the best ways to learn is by doing. If kids are in short supply in your neighborhood, you can play board games as a family--but remember that the goal is to teach taking turns and sharing. You can also play games like Mother-May-I or Simon Says to practice following directions.

Raising your hand to speak is a tricky one. There aren't a whole lot of places in life where hand-raising is a prerequisite for speaking. This is a learn-by-doing activity as well. You could make a game out of it or attend some of our summer performance events on Thursdays, where your child can see hand-raising in action.

The ability to stay seated is hard for everyone. If you eat dinner together around a table, you could encourage your child to ask to be excused from the table at the end of the meal.

Keeping hands to themselves is a skill that takes a few years to build. Use gentle reminders with your children when you are in crowded places.

The reason kids need to be able to walk and not run when asked is for their own safety. Imagine being in the middle of a pack of running kids and falling down! It would not end well for anyone.

Maintaining eye contact sends a clue to the person you are speaking with. It also allows the speaker to read facial and body clues.

If any of these skills are of concern to you, mention them to your child's kindergarten teacher. They want your child to have the best possible experience in school and are happy to have input on your child.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Ready For Kindergarten: Math

Hello! Welcome back to another Ready for Kindergarten post! This week we will be tackling MATH. You'll be surprised at how easy and painless it is to incorporate math into your daily routine.

When your child gets to kindergarten, these are the math skills they are expected to have conquered:
  • Identify basic shapes
  • Name numbers 1-10
  • Demonstrate 1:1 correspondence for numbers 1-10
  • Sorts objects by color, shape, size
  • Recognize simple patterns and can duplicate them

Identify basic shapes is pretty simple. If your kiddo can properly name all the shapes above, then you are good to go. Just a small tip: in mathematical terms that's a rhombus, not a diamond. If these shapes baffle you, we have a few books here that can help. I like this one and this one, but we have plenty!  You can also cut shapes out of colorful paper and label them together. Or stop by the Youth Services department and use our bucket of magnetic shapes to create a picture.

Name numbers 1-10: sure your kid can count to 10, but if you show them 4, do they know that is four? Again, there are plenty of number books in the library (a whole section, in fact) or you can make a game out of finding numbers when you are running errands.

If you hand your child a bunch of pennies, can they count them? If so, they are demonstrating 1:1 correspondence. It's a skill that takes a little practice, but think of all the stuff you can count around the house! Take it one step further by writing down the number and have them bring you that amount of items.

Sorting is a skill that is built on the back of gained knowledge. A child can group things into a pleasing arrangement, but will need to understand the concepts of color, size and shape before they can group things into those categories. This is an excellent game to do while waiting--at a restaurant, at the doctors office, anywhere there is built-in waiting is a good time to practice sorting. And what can you sort? EVERYTHING! You can sort pocket change, small toys, crayons, flash cards, pencil erasers, family members...everything!

Spend enough time sorting, and soon enough your child will be making patterns. The ability to recognize and recreate simple patterns is built in to being humans. It's part of the reason that kids like routine--it makes things predictable. You can work on patterns by creating ones for your child to recreate. Start simple with an AB pattern (the top row is an AB pattern) and then gradually work up to other pattern types. Once they get the hang of patterns, they can create patterns for you to copy. Don't be surprised when they start pointing out patterns all around them!

Tune in next time, when we will cover social skills!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Adventures

While it's not officially summer (that happens on Monday, June 20th), it certainly feels like it around
here.  Young people are out of school and regularly visiting the library, especially now that summer reading has started.  There are so many things to do this summer and places to visit.  Did you know the Roselle History Museum has dropped off passports for our patrons use this summer so that you can visit great museums and nature centers in the Chicagoland area?  Many of these places have fun activities for you to do while you are there visiting.  The passport is organized by city and has useful information about each of the locations such as hours, admission costs (so many are free), and if they have any special event days.  Plus, if you visit six (yes, you heard me correctly, just six) and get the passport stamped, you can mail it in to try to win a $25 gift card.  A chance to have fun and also win a prize.

Another great resource the library has is the Museum Adventure pass.  These are passes you can check out from us which help you get free admission or a special discounts at local museums (Legoland Discovery Center is an option) and zoos.   All you need is your library card and we can check a pass out to you.  Only one adventure pass may be checked out per family during the seven day loan period.  We have limited passes available so it's on a first come, first serve basis.  Check out Museum Pass Adventure to find out more and if any other restrictions apply.  It's a great resource.  I have used it to visit Brookfield Zoo and it save me a lot of money!

Finally, don't forget to check out our 900 nonfiction section.  It is full of information on interesting places to visit.  Want to go to Ireland (my parents are in September)?  Then check out  Dewey numbers 941.5.  Visiting Mount Rushmore this year (it's on my bucket list)?  Dewey number 978.393.  We have books about anywhere in the world, whether it is part of the fifty nifty United States, our bordering neighbors of Canada and Mexico, or Japan which is around the other side of the globe. 

So come on into the library for help on creating fun summer adventures and precious memories!  You'll be glad you did!

Passport to Adventure

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Read for the Win!

I am soooo excited!!!  And I just can't hide it!!!  The Roselle Public Library's summer reading program is almost ready to begin.  What?  You haven't heard about the amazing program?  Well, thank goodness I am here to spread the word.  The summer reading program begins on the Monday after the June 5th Rose Parade (which you need to be at so you can see our spectacular float and catch the free candy).  So on June 6th, you'll want to bring your whole family to the library to sign up.  That's right, folks - everybody in Roselle is welcomed to join.  Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, brother Joe, sister Susie, cousin Bob, best friend Stefanie.  We even have a one stop sign up table downstairs the first week so that everyone can register at the same spot.  Or you can do it from the comfort of your own couch with online registration.  We've got you covered!

But wait there's more!  Youth Services has a jammed packed schedule of events to help keep the summer interesting and entertaining.  Story times begin during the week of June 14 and every Monday there will be an afternoon drop-in craft (so much fun), but that's NOT ALL!!  On Thursdays there are special events starting at 1 PM.  Programs featuring robots, puppets, balloons, funny story tellers and reptiles (you have to come see the alligator).  Where else are you going to get these amazingly FREE opportunities? 

There are still other fun activities to do at the library over the summer.  Stop by and pick up one of our handy brochures or browse the library events calendar to learn more.  This is my favorite time of the year because I get to see so many of you having fun reading.  If you're ever in a pickle as to what you should read, stop by the "Ask Me" Desk; I'm ready to help you READ FOR THE WIN!!

Calendar of Events

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Ready for Kindergarten: Language

Welcome back! I hope that you're ready to dive into this week's Ready for Kindergarten skill: Language.

The language skills needed for kindergarten go one step beyond being able to verbally communicate. Humans are narrative creatures--we love stories. We love to tell stories, we love hear stories, and kids are amazing storytellers. Give them the opportunity to flex their storytelling muscles--it's all part of getting ready for kindergarten!

Teachers want to make sure your little one knows how to
  • Follow simple directions (one and two step directions)
  • Ask and answer simple questions
  •  Retell information from a story 
  • Sequence three pictures to tell a story
It's a short list this time around, and one that's fairly easy to accomplish with everyday interactions.

Follow Simple Directions is one that, developmentally, an average 5 year old has the capacity to do. Following directions has three components. First, If you ask your child to pass you a book, they should be able to identify what you are asking. Second, they should be able to locate the book. Third, they should be able to retrieve the book and hand it to you.
If you are struggling with your child following directions try simplifying your language. Instead of  "I need you to get up and get me a purple book with a green elephant on the cover," try "Please pass me the purple book." Using basic language allows your child to process your request faster; parse the language to determine what you want, and comply with the task. Little brains work slower than ours, so give them more time to process.
The more steps you add to the directions you give, the more difficult it is for the child to comply.
After success with one-step directions, try moving up to two-step directions. Hold off on any more steps until your kid is closer to six and a half.

Is your child able to ask and answer simple questions? If you have been engaging them in conversation, this should already be a well-established part of their day. Kids are inherently curious and want to know as much about the world around them as they can. If they still struggle, make it into a game. Ask them questions they know the answer to, like: what color pants are you wearing today? Or what did we have for lunch? Or what is the weather doing right now? And then allow them to ask you questions. When playing this game, encourage them to ask all kinds of questions.

Can your child retell information from a story? If you read a book and ask them, "What happened in this book?" are they able to give you a beginning, middle, end type of narrative? If they have a favorite movie, they can practice retelling that story. If you have a routine for getting ready for bed, they can tell that story. Any activity with a beginning, middle, and end can be made into a story.
From the book Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuberger. Storey Publishing, 2012.

Using pictures to tell a story can often help. Your child should be able to sequence three pictures to tell a logical story. This skill is called sequencing and you can make your own sequencing cards using clip art, by painting on rocks, or by using photographs. Additionally, there are a ton of resources available online (just search "story sequence cards").

The way to make the biggest impact is to allow your child multiple opportunities to engage in conversation throughout the day. Giving them room in their day for imaginative play is also a great way to strengthen those storytelling muscles.

Next time we will take a look at the math skills that kids need to be ready for kindergarten!

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Monday, May 16, 2016

And the winner is....

The Princess and the Pony wins the 2016 Children's Choice Illustrator.  Yes, Kate Beaton won the hearts of children world-wide, including the hearts of children at the Roselle Public Library.  The Princess and the Pony was our choice for favorite illustrator too!

Not only is Kate the illustrator of the book but she is also the author too!  How cool is she to be doubly talented!

If you haven't checked this book out yet, you need to.  Princess Pinecone totally knows what she wants for her birthday this year - a horse!  She is a princess warrior so of course she needs a trusty steed, big and strong.  But her parents don't quite see it that way and get her a pony instead.  You'll have to read the book to see how that works out for her (but I think you will enjoy the ending and the stomach issues of the pony).  

Check out other past winners from the  Children's Choice Book Awards in all the categories.  There are some great titles nominated and with summer reading getting closer, why not begin compiling your list?  You'll be glad that you did!

Children's Choice Winners and Finalists
Good Reads reviews

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Ready for Kindergarten: Academic Skills

Welcome back to the Ready for Kindergarten series!

This post will focus on the Academic Skills kids need to be ready for kindergarten. Don't be scared! These are pretty simple, and I'll give you some tips to help with the ones they don't know yet.

Academic Skills
  • Recognize Letters 
  • Say the alphabet without singing it
  • Distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Name some letter sounds
  • Know basic colors
  • Understand basic prepositions and concept words
  • Understand measurement words
  • Be familiar with book orientation

Letter recognition is one of the basic building blocks for reading. What your child needs to be able to do is sort out letters from symbols. You can make flashcards or just look for non-letters in written materials. Some examples of non-letter symbols that we see regularly are:  # & $ @

Say the alphabet without singing it seems like a weird request, but what the teachers are looking for is the understanding that the letters are independent from one another. Basically, they don't want your kid to think that LMNO is one letter.

The ability to tell uppercase and lowercase letters apart makes learning to read and write a lot easier. There are flashcards available to go over this, but you could just as easily check out some ABC books from the library. I personally like this one or this one. But we have A WHOLE section devoted to ABC books. Come pick out one that appeals to you.

Letter sounds are what kids use to figure out how to read words. Again, we are back to the building blocks of reading. The more you read aloud to your kids, the more familiar the sounds will become. You can also play a game where you make a letter sound and your child will guess what letter it belongs to.

Colors are descriptive words and are found frequently in books. The colors that make up a box of 8 crayons should be what your child knows: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and brown. You can make a game of finding five things that are the same color in five minutes.  You pick the color (red), set the timer on your phone, watch or microwave and see if your child can find 5 in 5. Or you can check out books on color--we have a whole section on that as well!

Understand basic prepositions and concept words sounds like a mouthful of mumbo-jumbo. What it means is: can your kid understand and correctly use words like: up/down, over/under, in/out, top/bottom, right/left, high/low, near/far, and stop/go.

Understand measurement words doesn't mean inches and centimeters--they'll get to that soon enough! Can they understand and correctly use words like: big/little, small/large, short/long, slow/fast, few/many, and empty/full.

Familiarity with book orientation includes knowing the front and back of the book, as well as the title, author, the beginning of the story, and illustrations. Pointing out these features each time you read together will be enough to plant these concepts in their minds. Additionally, you can check out books based on the illustrations or the author rather than the subject. What if you checked out a stack of books with painted illustrations? Or what if you checked out books by authors whose last names start with the same letter? Or authors who had the same first name?

When you read to your kid every day, they pick up on these skills much faster. If you can't read every day, read as often as you can! You can always come to our drop-in storytimes on Tuesday night from 6:30-7pm, or on Thursday morning from 10:30-11am.

Until next time--when we will cover language skills!

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