Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Hopscotch- Coding for Tweens

Welcome back to Tech Tuesday! I love trying out different graphical coding platforms and my latest coding adventure has been with the coding app, Hopscotch. I've discussed using Scratch Jr. before (another coding app), but Hopscotch is a different program for youth that is geared towards older children, specifically 8-12 year olds, otherwise known as tweens.

Image from blog.gethopscotch.com

Hopscotch can be downloaded for free here for the Apple iPad. This app has won plenty of noted awards, such as the 2013 Parent's Choice Award for mobile apps and a 2014 KAPi Award winner for Best Educational Technology. So why is Hopscotch so awesome?

As Tech Crunch puts it, "Hopscotch’s special sauce is to be mobile device focused. Its graphical programming language has been specifically designed for use on the iPad". The app focuses on making coding easier by using graphical elements that kids can drag and drop to build programs. The program is basically just like Scratch and Scratch Jr. in concept and functionality, but Hopscotch is just for iPads. Common Sense Media has reviewed the app positively, pointing out that,"Kids get the support they need to create programs and build confidence before they encounter the intricacies of coding". You can watch a short YouTube video here demonstrating how to build in the app.

I personally love the fun graphics in Hopscotch and think that the cute creatures and cheery, bright colors in the app will be especially appealing to those kids who are not as interested in the more industrial look of other graphical coding programs. Another favorite feature of Hopscotch is the ability to program actions to be activated by different events on the iPad, like shaking the iPad. An example of how this could work is that a child could program a bear to jump up and down whenever the iPad is shaken! The open-ended nature of the app is wonderful and allows children to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills while also practicing their tech skills and even fine motor skills for those children not adept at using a touch screen.

Image from educade.org

This app is another great stepping stone to building greater digital literacy and a wonderful in-between program for kids wanting to move on to more complicated programming platforms or even to a real programming language such as Python. As PC Mag says, " ...even though Hopscotch isn't "real" programming and the programs themselves can't run outside the iPad, kids wind up learning programming concepts such as conditions, loops, branching, and variables.".

Interested in trying out Hopscotch but don't have an iPad or in need of some extra help? Stop by the library and use one of our iPads or ask for the Emerging Technologies Librarian, Nicole (that's me!).

Image from gethopscotch.com

Kids in grades 3-6, if you love exploring with technology, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming Creation Station programs that will begin in 2015. In February and April the library will be hosting Creation Station programs after school that will be tech-focused, creative and super fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cooking With Kids

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving! One of our favorite days of the year is spent gathering with good company and of course, gobbling up yummy food. As hectic as preparing for the holidays can be, we thought we could take a few extra moments to make cooking together a fun new learning experience for your wee ones. Who knows, maybe you will start a new tradition!

This video from Cook Smarts introduces parents and families to cooking together with children, and lays out the many benefits of incorporating little chefs into the kitchen. Learning to follow directions, growing their vocabulary, and building hand-eye coordination all help lay an important foundation of learning. 


If you are just starting out in your cooking adventures, this article from Food Network is a worthy read: Cooking With Kids Without Going Insane. Taking simple steps before you start the cooking process can pay off in a big way to help alleviate headaches. Need a little more convincing? Babble shares ten skills children learn when you cook with them in this informative slideshow.

Childhood 101 shares some helpful tips, like pre-measuring ingredients, and some kid-friendly recipes here. Head over to Mess For Less,  Two Daloo, and Simple Bites to get a variety of recipes and tips to keep your rolling pin busy.
Even Buzzfeed is getting on the band wagon of cooking with the kids with these 21 recipes. 

With all of the warm rolls and mashed taters you will encounter over the holidays, why not include the kids in making a sweet hostess gift like homemade butter? Apartment Therapy shares an easy to follow recipe for your sous chef.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and looking forward to hearing your cooking stories. 

Gobble, gobble, 
Katie and Abby

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fresh Picks! November

Can you believe it’s already November?! Here are some new books to cozy up with as the weather gets colder:

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes. By Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2014.
Image from Amazon
Image from The New York Times

Did you know that there are creatures so tiny that millions of them can fit on an ant’s antenna? Using facts such as these to introduce the topic, Davies creatively makes the concept of microbes easily understandable. Tiny Creatures is a simple, concise, and beautifully illustrated look into a microscopic world all around us. With easy-to-relate-to analogies, comparisons, and retro-ish illustrations, Tiny Creatures is a fun, and informative book for learning about our world’s hardest workers. 

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters. By Oliver Jeffers. Philomel Books, 2014.

Much more than your average alphabet book! From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, a hole that goes on Forever, to an Owl that rides onward on the back of an octopus, Jeffers' humorous and delightful mini-narratives make for a fun, surprising and exciting alphabet experience. 

Quest. By Aaron Becker. Candlewick Press, 2014.

The journey continues! An imaginative, and adventure-packed sequel to the Caldecott Honor book, Journey. This wordless picture book takes readers into a fast-paced, thrilling fantasyland. “Becker creates a visual narrative that is clear enough for children to decipher but complex enough to reward multiple readings.” –School Library Journal  

Sisters. By Raina Telgemeier. Scholastic, 2014.

A companion to Telgemeier’s #1 New York Times bestselling, and award-winning graphic novel, Smile. Telgemeier once again creates a relatable, and funny story for young adults. As Raina heads out for a family road trip from California to Colorado, she experiences an eventful trip with her mother, sister, and younger brother. A great story about families, but especially sisters.

Spirit’s Key. By Edith Cohen. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014.

 After Spirit's dog, Sky, mysteriously dies, a strange sickness spreads throughout her town killing its people and dogs. Everyone on the island blames the wild dogs, thought to possess dangerous spirits. Everyone except Spirit. A race against time, Spirit must solve the mystery to save the island before it's too late. With themes of belonging, doing what is right, and overcoming loss, Cohn's debut novel is like no other.