Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tech Tuesday: ScratchJr- Coding for Kindergarteners

 Welcome back to Tech Tuesday! We love to explore new technologies and apps here at the library, especially when they are a creation from the always awesome MIT Media Lab. ScratchJr is a free iPad app made possible through a collaboration between the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Playful Invention Company. They expect to release an Android version late in 2014 and a web-based version in 2015.
Image from kickstarter.com
 The ScratchJr project raised funds earlier this year on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and also received funding from the National Science Foundation, Code-to-Learn Foundation, Lego Foundation and BT.

We have held Scratch programs here in the past for the tweens and although a wonderful and fun educational tool, Scratch original was more challenging than expected for some of the younger participants. ScratchJr uses the same idea of teaching an introductory programming language via graphical programming blocks, but in a more simple and visual format. This new app enables young children, specifically children ages 5-7 that would have struggled with the original Scratch, to create their own interactive stories, games and more. Children can snap together brightly colored blocks to make their characters jump, sing or dance as well as edit these characters in the paint editor and use pictures of themselves or friends in their projects.

Image from wired.com
You may be wondering "why would coding be a valuable skill for a kindergartener?". Well, coding or computer programming is truly a new type of literacy. Think of it as a type of writing- it enables you to express ideas and organize your thoughts. 

This sort of coding can also be a wonderful stepping stone to more complicated computer science concepts. It also provides a great foundation for young learners who are growing up in a time when digital literacies are more and more important to grasp. Supportingeducation.org wrote, "One incredible feat that ScratchJr accomplishes is reaching an audience who largely cannot read, giving them a considerable head start on critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills." 

Image from scratchjr.org
If you'd like to know more about the research and work put into creating ScratchJr you can read an interesting interview Forbes conducted with Mitchel Resnick, one of the creators of ScratchJr, here.

ScratchJr is rich with educational opportunity and I encourage you to check it out today! Educationnews.org reports that some schools are already using ScratchJr in kindergarten classrooms. If you don't have an iPad, stop by the library anytime during our regular hours to check out an iPad for usage inside of the library. We'd be glad to show you ScratchJr and help you and your little one start coding!
Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.
Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/technology/can-kindergarteners-be-taught-to-code-scratchjr-says-yes/#sthash.wOg2KWHf.dpuf
Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/technology/can-kindergarteners-be-taught-to-code-scratchjr-says-yes/#sthash.wOg2KWHf.dpuf

Launched in July for iPads, the app, which is offered free of charge, is already in use in Kindergarten classrooms at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School in Medford, MA.  Teachers across the nation are encouraged to sign up for a ScratchJr Pilot Research Program. - See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/technology/can-kindergarteners-be-taught-to-code-scratchjr-says-yes/#sthash.wOg2KWHf.dpu

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Books That Will Fright and Delight!

We have selected our favorite books for this creepy season! We hope you enjoy our suggestions.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage. Kathy Dawson Books, 2014.

Image from Amazon

Miss Mo LoBeau may be the most charming southern detective I have encountered! This book is the sequel to Turnage's Three Times Lucky, Mo's introductory story and equally amazing book. Mo is one half of the Desperado Detective Agency, along with her pal Dale. Together they tackle a possibly haunted inn, the new kid in town, and all the other every day problems a sixth-grade has to deal with. This book is so spectacular, I could not put it down!

The Game of Shadows by HervĂ© Tullet.  Phaidon Press Limited, 2013.

Image from eslite.com
This time of year leads us to think about what may be hiding in the shadows. Tullet's board book takes an interesting look at light and dark, and invites readers to play with the pages! Grab a flashlight, shut the curtains, and investigate the wonderful cut-outs that adorn each page. You may find that some shadows are worth exploring.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara. Square Fish, 2008.

Image from Amazon.

When a young girl moves into the big house at the edge of town, she discovers a spooky problem: her house is haunted! She takes a witty and unexpected tactic to deal with her specters. Her approach will have younger readers delighted with this ghost story.

Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka. Walden Pond Press, 2011.

Image from Goodreads.
Jon Scieszka is the founder of Guys Read, a group that encourages boys to read. In the second book of the Guys Read library, Scieszka has compiled ten stories that will make you squirm and shriek until the very end. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. HarperCollins, 2008.

Image from Goodreads.
This Newbery award winner begins with a murder, and ends with readers wanting more. Nobody Owens, or Bod for short, is orphaned and taken in by the inhabitants of the local graveyard. His new ghostly family teach him the way of the world, both now and as it was during their own lives. Bod has to try and make his way in the human world and leave the ghosts of his past behind. This book is now available as a graphic novel, as well.


If you are looking for some spooky series to read, we have you covered! Take your pick of over 70 Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine, the Creepover series by P.J. Night, or the Poison Apple books. Ask your librarian for more recommendations.

If you are looking for spooktacular ways to celebrate the season, we will be hosting several programs!

Trail Tale:
The Grafton-Midview Public Library and the Lorain County Metroparks are collaborating to bring you a new way to share reading and nature with your families!
All week long you can find pages from Click, Clack, Boo: A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin along the Beech-Maple Trail at Indian Hollow Reservation to read while you hike. Once you finish the hike, head to the Grafton-Midview Public Library and tell your librarians your favorite part of the story for a prize. Registration is not required.

If you would like to get extra wear out of your costumes, we will be hosting a Spooky Stroll to hike and read the Trail Tale at Indian Hollow from 1-2 PM on Saturday, October 25th.

The Great Pup-kin:
Join GMPL for a howlin' good time at this 4th annual event. Bring your dog in a costume for a chance to win doggone good prizes. Dog rescue groups promoting National Dog Adoption month. Adoptable dogs will be available. Meet your new best friend. Professional photographer Laura Bower will be on hand to take pictures during this event. Door Prizes, doggy goody bags and much more. Registration is required.

Monster Mash:
*Please note: we will not be having our regularly scheduled storytimes the week of Halloween. Join us on Wednesday, October 29th from 6:30-7:30 PM for a fun-filled night of stories, games, and creepy snacks. We'll monster mash at this Halloween bash. Coming in costumes would be wise, you don't want to be caught without a disguise! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fresh Picks! October

Happy October! Here are some of our current new and favorite books:

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox. Schwartz & Wade, 2014. 
Image from Goodreads

Based on a true story, Elizabeth the elephant seal isn't like any other seal. Instead of the enjoying ocean life like most of her species, Elizabeth prefers the sweet, shallow waters of the Avon River in New Zealand. Despite the people of Christchurch's efforts to send her home, Elizabeth knows exactly where she belongs. 

Recipe for Adventure: Naples! by Giada De Laurentiis. Penguin, 2013. 
Image from Amazon
In the first title of De Laurentii's series, readers will discover a world of food and adventure. After being transported to different cities around the world, Alfie and Emilia find themselves in Naples, helping a boy named Marco shop for the best ingredients for the city's upcoming pizza fest contest. Not only do Alfie and Emilia get a taste of Italy, but a look into how food plays an important role in the feeling of home.

Mix It Up! By Hervé Tullet. Chronicle Books, 2014.
Image from Goodreads
An interactive journey full of color! Follow the artist's simple instructions and watch as colors appear, mix, splatter, and disappear. A wonderful book for deepening an understanding of color. 

Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken. By Sarah Dillard. Aladdin, 2014.

Image from Goodreads
 After becoming bored with mundane chicken life, Warren wants more! All he does is peck, peep, and eat boring chicken feed. Warren leaves his quiet farm to discover what makes him special, with some help from friends along the way. The simple text, speech balloons, and illustrations make Warren's story a blend between picture book and chapter book. A great pick for children beginning to read independently.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Kuddle- A Photo Sharing App for Kids

Welcome to Tech Tuesday! Tech Tuesday is a new blog series here on gmplkids.com where we will share great apps for kids and families, tips for online safety and responsible digital citizenship, and give the scoop on awesome new devices!

Today we will be sharing an app with you- Kuddle, a wonderful social media app that allows children to share photos in a safe, parental-controlled online environment.

Image from http://www.prnewswire.com.
The New York Times blog Bits recently discussed Kuddle, posing the question, " Parents can childproof their homes by covering the electric sockets, adding parental controls on the cable box and putting a padlock on the liquor cabinet. Is it possible to do the same for the web?". You can read their article here.

Kuddle attempts to provide a more "child-proofed" experience by creating a safer photo-sharing alternative to Instagram for the 13 and under crowd. Designed specifically for children, Kuddle allows parents to monitor what their children publish and keeps access to content restricted. Kuddle requires parental approval to sign up as well.

Kuddle is free, just like Instagram but differs in that there are no hashtags or comments allowed. And if you like the picture, your “like” shows up anonymously, so that kids are less likely to get caught up in cyber-bullying issues.

Techcrunch.com described Kuddle as "an Instagram with training wheels" which is an easy, accurate description. Techcrunch writes that Kuddle, "...sees this app as the first step in a larger vision for the company which will focus on helping parents make better choices when it comes to their kids’ mobile usage, possibly through subscription services".

We encourage you to download Kuddle and share it with your family today! It's a great way to safely share photos with friends and also teach your kids about how to be a responsible social media user. 

Image from http://tech.firstpost.com.