Monday, April 28, 2014

Board Games are Great for Math

Want to give your child an edge in learning math? Want to keep your own brain healthy and strong? Then play a board game. The library has a small collection of board games and card games. The games don't circulate, but you can bring the kids over for an hour of "game night" on a Tuesday or Thursday evening, or a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Games are a great way to help children learn basic math skills. Board games require counting: how many spaces forward? How much money in the bank? There's addition and subtraction when dealing with the bank in Monopoly.

Then there's strategy: many games force players to think beyond the next move. Checkers, Battleship, Parcheesi... even Tic-tac-toe. And the cool thing: the more kids play, the more they learn how to think strategically. Just rolling the dice and moving around the board helps teach "cause and effect" because different rolls land you on different squares that will offer a chance to buy Park Place or Marvin Gardens.

Games also teach children cooperation. Even when the goal is winning, there are some games (like Parcheesi) in which players can team up against another player - though those alliances may be short-lived.

Games at the library include:
Battleship (great for strategy)
Parcheesi (great for strategy and cooperation)
Boggle (great for language development)
Wheel of Fortune
Trivial Pursuit
Pictureka (great for creative thinking)
Tangrams (great for math/spatial thinking and creativity)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day Resources at the Library

If you're looking for some low-cost, fun, Earth Day things to do, check out the library. We've got stories about Earth Day, and craft books chock-full of ideas for things to do with recycled materials. For example: recycle some gift wrap as origami paper and fold some frogs, turtles and birds to celebrate the season.

Head outside and explore the environment you live in. Borrow the Explore Science bag and go on a nature walk. There's a hand-lens so you can get a close look at tree bark and buds, flowers, caterpillars, moss, lichens.....

For the pre-school crowd there are a bunch of nature-related backpacks with books and games and an activity book. Check out Oceans, Bugs & Birds, Stars, or the Dinosaurs.

Part of the Earth Day sensibility is to reduce our consumption of natural resources - to buy less, drive less, and reuse more. Our library is a great place for that: you can check out books and movies, play a game, use the computer - even borrow a digital camera.

If you're looking for family activities, head over to Archimedes Notebook every day this week for Earth Week activities.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Reading Aloud Helps Kids in So Many Ways

photo from Practical MOMents

Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent can do to help a child prepare for learning.

Reading aloud helps develop language. Children have a larger vocabulary than the words they can read. And researchers have found that the more words a child knows on entering kindergarten, the more successful that child will be in school.

Reading aloud builds literacy skills. In addition to vocabulary, it helps children learn phonics, build comprehension skills, increases storytelling skills and develops familiarity with print.

Reading aloud, especially when done with expression, helps children meet some of the common core standards. One of those standards is to be able to read with expression. By reading aloud, you model that skill.

Reading aloud builds listening skills and also increases a child's attention span.

Reading aloud helps make kids smarter. It lets you introduce your child to all sorts of topics that he may not run into in the school curriculum for years. Think about sharing news and magazine articles – they can lead to discussions about everything from art to sports to scientific discoveries.

Just as important as language skills, reading aloud forms connections between you and your children. There’s a lot to be said about cozying up with a good book. Beyond the picture book stage, reading aloud provides opportunity to talk about tough topics.

Reading aloud is good for older children, too. Fourth and fifth graders enjoy listening to books meant for older readers. They enjoy complex plots even if they can’t read the stories (Treasure Island and Robin Hood stories, for example). And when a character gets in trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd, your child is going to experience that with you at his side – a perfect opportunity to talk about it together.