Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Lighting Street Festival

It is the week after Thanksgiving, the plates have been cleaned, the holiday decorations have been changed over, and your children are starting to dream of 'sugar plums'.....  If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, at 5:30pm on Friday December 3rd the holiday lighting ceremony and street festival will be taking place. 

This annual 'flipping of the switch' marks the beginning of the holiday season in Des Plaines.  You and your family can enjoy hot chestnuts and fresh kettle corn as they listen to the Maine West marching band perform and look at the neat decorations that school groups from around the area have used to decorate the various evergreen trees.  For more information, look here.

If that doesn't fill your holiday cup, there is more fun to be had on Saturday and Sunday at Lake Opeka.  The annual Lake Wonderland Winter Festival will be running from 11am to 5pm on both days.  For those interested, there will be free pictures with Santa and horse drawn sleigh rides.  You can find more information about the winter festival here.  When you are there, don't forget to find the Des Plaines Public Library's tree.  See if you can spot your favorite childhood book among the 'ornaments'.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eight Nights of Light

Over the years some wonderful books about the holiday of Hanukkah (also spelled Hanukah, Chanukah) have passed through my hands. Hanukkah will be arriving this year at sunset on Wednesday, December 1 and continue through December 9 so take a minute before, during, or after one of the eight nights to share a story or learn a little more about this upcoming Festival of Lights.
This is the Dreidel, a cumulative story with delightful illustrations, is a great introduction to the vocabulary of Hanukkah. Though this story doesn't go into much detail about the history of the festival or the deeper meaning behind the symbols, it does introduce the basics. And it's great fun to read.

If you are a fan of The Gingerbread Man, don't miss The Runaway Latkes. Three big latkes (that's potato pancakes to you and me), crisp and brown, jump out of the pan and roll off to see the town. You'll love the participatory aspect of the story, and there's a recipe for latkes on the last page!

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, published in 1989 and a prestigious Caldecott Award Honor Book in 1990, is now considered a classic of children's literature and a favorite of the season. Hershel of Ostropol, a trickster character, must save a village from the goblins who prevent the villagers from lighting their holiday candles and enjoying the seasonal festivities.

In addition to these wonderful stories, we also have in the library plenty of books that will help you learn more about the meaning and significance of Hanukkah itself. Please visit our holiday display of books for some suggestions. Happy Hanukkah!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Looking For a Great Gift?

Sometimes during the holiday season, books can be overlooked as a great gift for kids. Some kids just want that new barbie dream house or G.I. Joe battleship... but books can make great gifts, are fairly inexpensive, and can be a source of great entertainment long after the "new plastic" smell is gone from the air. Here at the Des Plaines Public Library, we would be happy to suggest great titles for your child, niece, nephew, neighbor, or grandchild. You might even get a few minutes of 'cuddle time' with them while you read the first few pages of the book together.

As a department, we have constructed a list of what we think are the best gift books for kids. You can take a look at the list, look at the physical book in our collection, and then head out to the nearest retailer to grab a copy. You can find the list on the second floor of the library and it will soon be available online.

Remember to enjoy the simple things this holiday season, and have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanza, a Happy Three Kings Day, and most importantly, remember that whatever you are celebrating this season, have a wonderful time doing it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Storytime Sharing: You Can Raise a Reader

We love sharing age appropriate books, songs and rhymes from our storytimes. We strive to teach the six early literacy skills at storytimes and offer suggestions for how you can reinforce these skills at home.

This week in Toddler Storytime we learned about being thankful, thanksgiving and turkeys, and how squirrels are getting ready for winter.

We read the book,
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri which emphasized the pre-reading skill of Narrative Skills. Narrative Skills is the ability to tell stories, describe things and events. You can reinforce these skills at home by telling stories together, encourage pretend play and let your child be a storyteller. We also read the story, Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes and expressed our thanks for the small and big things of our lives, most importantly, our families. Here are some songs we danced along to:
  • Turkey in the Straw from Turkey in the Straw: Bluegrass Songs for Children by Phil Rosenthal. We used clappers to the music!
  • The Turkey Hop from H.U.M. All Year Long :Highly Usable Music Kids can Sing, Dance & Do! by Carole Peterson. Just follow along.
  • Mahalo from Under a Shady Tree by Laurie Berkner. You can move side to side or use a scarf to the music.
These rhymes are sure to please the family gathered at your home this Thanksgiving:

The Soup is Boiling Up
The soup is boiling up,
the soup is boiling up,
Stir Slow, around we go,
The soup is boiling up.

First we put in the carrots,
Then we put in the onions,
Stir slow, around we go,
The soup is boiling up.

(continue to other vegetables!)

My Turkey
I have a turkey bog and fat,
He struts around this way and that,
His daily corn he would not miss,
And when he talks,
he sounds like this- gobble, gobble!

You can show your child how to make a special turkey:
  • Have them place their hand on a piece of paper, fingers spread out.
  • Then trace around the fingers and connect the bottom of the palm
  • Have children add eyes and mouth where their thumb outline is and then color in their finger outlines as feathers.
Additional information for planning Thanksgiving day:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day of Thanks

This Thanksgiving, you may be wondering what you can do to help teach your children to give back to the community.  Most high school service groups hold food drives, collecting food for the needy during the holiday season, but you may be looking for something more to do.  My family goes every year to the Salvation Army and wraps pairs of socks to be given as presents during the holiday season.  Your family can find their activity too!  

Our website has a page of charities and organizations that may need your help, and you can find it here.  If what you are looking for is not on that list, you can look for information at www.volunteerinfo.net, which will list out northwest suburban volunteer opportunities.

Don't forget to teach your children about volunteering and how it is an important part of being a community.  If you need help, stop in to check out some books.  We have plenty of materials to go around and lots of books about volunteering for kids from Preschool to Middle School.

Happy Volunteering!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Get Your Game On @ Your Library!

Board games, computer games, sports, video games-games are all around us. Why is gaming so important? For younger kids gaming is important because it teaches hand-eye coordination, counting, colors and matching, as well as important skills like sharing and taking turns. Gaming is relevant for older kids because it also teaches teamwork (not to mention sharing and taking turns which is important at any age). But it has far reaching benefits that scientists are just learning about.

In 2009 a paper was published by Richard Haier,a pediatric neurologist and professor emeritus at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Irvine. His studies showed that after three months of Tetris playing that teenage girls were not only better at the game but their brains were more efficient. A paper published in Archives of Surgery shows the results of the laparoscopic surgical skills of surgeons that are gamers versus surgeons that aren't in a simulated skills course. The results were very interesting: surgeons who are current video game players made 32% fewer errors, were 24% faster and scored 26% better overall than their nonplayer colleagues. And surgeons who had previously played games for more than three hours did even better-they made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster and scored 42% better overall than those who'd never played. Other studies suggest that memory and vision also improves for those that play video games.

In an article from The Boston Globe from October 12 2009, Cheryl Olson, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted as saying: “There’s still a tendency to think of video games as a big wad of time-wasting content. You would never hear a parent say we don’t allow books in our home, but you’ll still hear parents say we don’t allow video games in our home.Games are a medium. They’re not inherently good or bad.’’

There is more to learn about what affects gaming has on its players. What we do know is that games are fun, promotes bonding with friends and family members, and helps us develop critical thinking and strategy skills. And we pretty much knew that without scientists telling us right?

This Saturday will be the 3rd annual National Gaming Day, which was developed by the American Library Association to bring communities together through their libraries via the social, educational, and fun medium of all different kinds of games. The Des Plaines Public Library will be participating in an all ages event. Stop by the 2nd floor information desk and check out a board game to play with your kids. Come into the 2nd floor program room to test your skills at Wii bowling or figure out how to get ahead in Mario Kart.

If you can't make it in to the library why don't you pull a board game out of the closet and gather the family together to play. Or check out our cd-rom collection and get one of our awesome educational games where kids are having fun while learning. Or put on a jacket and race the kids outside! The weather is supposed to be about 50 this weekend. A nice game of catch or tag will warm everyone up right away. However you decide to celebrate, make games a part of your weekend.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Leaf Fun

As the weather has turned cooler, your kids have probably been having tons of fun  watching the leaves change colors, fall, and then raking those leaves into big piles and jumping in them.  Just as they have had fun helping to take care of the leaves, you can have them help them dispose of them too.  You will find more information about how to dispose of your leaves here at the City of Des Plaines website.

Don't forget to rake the leaves into the street (where applicable) for village leaf pick-up so that we can keep the streets from flooding later in the winter and the spring due to leaves clogging the sewer system.

If your kids want to know more about what happens to the leaves and why they change color, bring them into the library.  We have plenty of books with information about what is happening outside  during the fall and we would LOVE to share them with your family.

Remember to make taking care of the environment (and your house) a fun and enjoyable activity, and have some hot apple cider or hot chocolate waiting for them when they finish helping out with the lawn.