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kids

Jul 27 2015

Fish with Benefits

by Rebekah B

go fish education center buildingAs the summer draws to a close, families may still be seeking out some educational opportunities to prepare kids for returning to school.

As many of you may know, DCPL offers a variety of attraction passes that include the Georgia State Parks Pass, the Zoo Atlanta DVD/Pass, and the Puppetry Arts Pass (not currently available, as the museum is in the process of expansion and renovation). The lesser known of these passes may be the Go Fish Pass. You may have visited Perry, GA, as I have, when taking your kids to an All-State Band audition. If not, the purpose of this post is to inform you about what there is to see and do in and around Perry and to make your visit to the Go Fish Center the focal point of a highly educational, fun, day trip, of interest to adults and to kids.

go fish center fishing simulatorThe pass for the Go Fish Education Center allows up to 4 people to enter free of charge. The Center is located in Perry, Georgia (click on the link to view the location on Google Maps), about a one-hour drive from Atlanta. At the Go Fish Education Center, regional species of freshwater fish as well as a variety of reptiles and aquatic wildlife are exhibited in aquariums, and a variety of wildlife conservation programs for all ages are included in the educational programming. Local Georgia habitats are also featured, and visitors can test their skills on hunting and fishing simulators as well as learn how fish are raised in a state-of-the-art hatchery. On the Go Fish web-site from 7 am to 8 pm daily, you can watch a live webcam broadcast of the fish swimming in the 15-foot-deep aquariums of the Piedmont Reservoir exhibit.

massee lane gardensBefore I first visited Perry, I asked some of my well-traveled book club friends what else we might do in and around Perry so we could make a day trip of the All-State Band auditions. My friend Betty, an avid gardener, advised us to visit the Massee Lane Gardens of the American Camellia Society, in Fort Valley, GA. The gardens are intimate, with a wide variety of camellias, of course, and brick paved shaded walkways dotted with mile markers and millstones, part of the collections of the originator of the gardens, Mr. David Strother. The plantings also include a rose garden and a small Japanese garden with water features as well as access to adjacent pecan groves.

andersonville cemeteryBetty also told us that the National Prisoner of War Museum is nearby, which is adjacent to the Andersonville Civil War historic site. The POW museum is also the acting visitor’s center for the park and is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm, closing only for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The Camp Sumpter Military Prison was the largest confederate military prison during the Civil War, and of the nearly 45,000 Union soldiers imprisoned here, about 13,000 died due to highly insalubrious conditions. The museum visit is free of charge and the indoor collections include many fascinating and highly personal artifacts that document the lives of soldiers from a variety of conflicts in American history. Visitors can walk through the park, exploring reconstructions of parts of the Andersonville blockade as well as the Andersonville National Cemetery. According to the museum website, the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site is just 22 miles from Andersonville.

yoders restaurantIn addition to these great places to visit, Betty told me that she and her husband also enjoy dining at a local Amish-style restaurant and bakery near Montezuma, GA, which serves southern comfort style food and a variety of deserts, including shoofly pie.  We didn’t go to the restaurant, but it seemed like a nice cultural attraction.

Take advantage of the Go Fish pass to visit rural central Georgia. You may see, as I did, clumps of cotton bunched along the edges of the roadway. Not being a native Georgian or southerner, I had never seen cotton growing before…and at first, I wondered why there was so much trash along the road’s edge! The pecan groves and peach orchards are lovely to see as well.

 

 

 

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When I was five my grandmother tied one of her checked terry cloth aprons around my chest, stood me on a stool, handed me a butter knife and an egg and told me it was time I learned to cook.  That’s how I learned to fry eggs, eggshells in the egg, egg in the hot bacon grease and my five year old self just as proud as I could be.  Now, I know you’re horrified because none of you would ever put a five year old anywhere near a functioning gas burner or a pan of hot grease but let’s just recall that times were different—remember when child car seats hooked over the front seat and weren’t actually intended to restrain a child?  Sometimes I’m amazed I survived my childhood.

What’s particularly interesting  about my grandmother deciding I needed to learn how to cook (thanks to her I could put a full meal on the table for a family of six by the time I was 11) is that the only thing my mother could do in the kitchen when she got married was peel potatoes.  My grandma would be the first to tell you she  wasn’t a fancy cook, but that she was more than competent in the kitchen, yet it was my father who had to teach my mother how to roast a chicken, among other things.  I puzzled over this for a long time but the scales fell from my eyes the first time I tied an apron around a junior member of the Kitchen Patrol at my house.  I handed over an egg and butter knife and wound up a gibbering idiot with, quite literally, egg on my face.

It’s not easy to teach someone who is still developing fine motor skills and an attention span how to crack an egg and get it into a bowl.  It takes patience and a willingness to settle for less than perfect results.  Knowing my grandma, I imagine she decided it was just easier to do it herself than to fuss with the mess and bother of teaching my mother.  Of course, by the time I came around she wasn’t worrying about putting out three meals a day for a family of seven and I think she could afford to be a little more relaxed.

Cooking with my family is still a source of deep pleasure for me—most of the best moments of my life have happened in a kitchen.  The Junior Kitchen Patrol and I spend many hours cooking together.  We make bread, brownies, biscotti, pizza, jello.  Jello is in fact the hot favorite at the moment (don’t ask—there’s no way to explain it) with pizza  running a close second.  It’s not all fun and games.  Cooking with children is a scholarly activity.   We do addition (2 eggs + 2 eggs is ?) fractions (slice that pizza in into eighths!) we work on  fine motor skills (try peeling your own shrimp for dinner and see how good you get) and we even squeeze in chemistry (contrary to what some people at my house think the sugar in bread dough does not give yeast gas—we’re still working on that concept.)  Yes, sometimes I wind up gibbering, and I keep the frying-things-in-grease jobs for myself, but Junior KP can crack an egg with no mess these days and we’re both pretty proud of that.  Cooking with a child does take longer but it’s a pretty rewarding pasttime and I’m glad my grandma had the luxury of figuring that out.

Silver spoon for children: favorite Italian recipes recipes adapted and edited by Amanda Grant

FamilyFun cooking with kids from the experts at Family Fun Magazine

Salad people and more real recipes: a new cookbook for pre-schoolers and up by Mollie Katzen

Kids cook 1-2-3: recipes for young chefs using only three ingredients by Rozanne Gold

Children’s baking book recipes and stylings by Denise Smart

Toddler cookbook by Annabell Karmel

Kitchen science by Peter Pentland

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Sep 4 2009

The End of the Rainbow

by Jesse M

reading-rainbowOn Friday, August 28, the award winning children’s program Reading Rainbow aired its final episode. It marked the end of an era. For the past 26 years, host LeVar Burton has introduced countless children worldwide to the joys of reading. In that time the show has been the recipient of over 250 awards, including 26 Emmys (ten for “Outstanding Children’s Series”), a Peabody, and nine Parent’s Choice Awards. While the show stopped producing new episodes in 2006, PBS had continued to air reruns until last month, when lack of funding made it impossible for them to renew the show’s broadcast rights. This unfortunate happenstance is at least partially due to a paradigm shift in children’s literacy work which asserts that the focus should be on teaching the mechanics of reading instead of attempting to foster a love of books, as Reading Rainbow did (See the NPR article for more on this).

The Library has many Reading Rainbow videos available for checking out.   Additionally, the Reading Rainbow section of the PBS kids website is still running and will remain accessible until December 2009.

I was a huge fan of the show as a kid, and though it has been many, many years since I last had the pleasure of viewing it, I still remember the words to the theme song. I bet you do too.

Correction: originally, this post said that the Reading Rainbow series was not available at the Library.  This was a mistake, and has been corrected above.  Thanks to the readers who pointed this out to us!

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Aug 10 2009

Homework, Help!

by Amanda L

pic_homework

With school starting back today, homework is not far behind for the students of DeKalb County. How many times as a parent have you had your child come to you early in the evening and say  “I have an assignment due tomorrow morning, and I need to go to the Library!” I know my first thoughts are I don’t want to go out now.  My second thought is usually, the library will be closing shortly or is already closed.

We have a variety of electronic resources that may help you or your child with homework from home. They can be found on our Reference Database page.  For elementary and lower middle school children, many of the resources can be found on our Children’s page. You will need your DeKalb County library card number and your personal identification number (PIN) to access these resources. (The PIN is a 4 digit number.)

For general research help, we have online encyclopedias such as Groliers and Britannica. For social studies homework, there is Grolier’s Passport, Sirs Researcher, Student Resource Center for middle school and younger. For high school or older students, we also have CQ Researcher available.  For Science homework, there is Student Resource Center, Encyclopedia of Animals, and the National Science Digital Library  (available through GALILEO).  For literature homework, there is Literature Criticisms Online and Literature Resources from GALE.

Although the Learning Express Library is listed under test preparation, this resource has several tutorials, tests and diagnostic tests that can help with homework. For instance, they have practice and diagnostic tests for reading comprehension, a variety of math for all levels and vocabulary for high school students. This resource also has a few courses available such as Middle School Writing Courses, and some basic math courses.

Searching for newspaper or journal articles? We have a couple of resources for this type of research. The easiest way to search is to go to GALILEO.  (It will ask you for your library card and PIN numbers and then give you the current password. You will then type in the password to proceed.)  If you click on the search button and type in your keywords, it will search for relevant articles.  These are just a sampling of electronic resources that you have available at your fingertips from home.  Feel free to browse our database page or GALILEO.  If you need specific help on where to start your search, don’t forget to use our Email A Librarian service. It can be found under the Research tab on our home page.  Be sure to select “I need help finding information.”

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On Monday, the American Library Association gave the John Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book.

I was pleasantly surprised by this year’s choice because the Newbery doesn’t often go to fantasies and because of the frequent tendency for Newbery books to be ‘good’ books, as in good-for-you. Even Mr. Gaiman seemed surprised, saying that “there are books that are best sellers and books that are winners.” Popularity is not a consideration for the Newbery award (and rightly so), but there’s been a lot of debate in the library world recently about the obscurity of the most recent winners.

As a child I resisted reading ‘good’ books, preferring escapism to character-building.  As an adult, I know that I missed out on some excellent stories the child-me would have loved. As a librarian,  I’m trying to get those excellent stories to children who are just as reluctant as I was to read a ‘good’ book.  So I’m happy that this year’s Newbery choice means the good and the popular are on the same page.

I always love looking at the Caldecott books and this year the award for the most distinguished picture book for children goes to The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.

The ALA makes lots of other awards as well, including the Odyssey Award for audiobooks.  One of this year’s Odyssey Honor nominees is Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, written and narrated by local author and DCPL favorite Carmen Agra Deedy. Congratulations to Ms. Deedy, Mr. Gaiman, Ms. Krommes and all the other winners and nominees!

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Book clubs are an enjoyable way for children to develop literacy skills. Reading increases vocabulary and fluency, and exposes children to new views and beliefs. Getting involved in a book club further enhances these skills by giving children the opportunity to share ideas and opinions, analyze the story, and strengthen comprehension skills. Plus, book clubs are fun! Children have the chance to make new friends and read great books.

Get a book club started today with help from these library books:

The Kids’ Book Club Book by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

The Book Bunch: Developing Book Clubs for Beginning Readers by Laura J.H. Smith

And it wouldn’t be a book club without yummy snacks:

The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

The Dunwoody Library and the Clarkston Library currently offer book clubs for kids.  Contact these branches to learn more.

-Nancy M

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Nov 20 2008

Dear Diary

by Ginny C

J’nai’s post on Tuesday about journaling got me thinking about books for children and teens that are written in a diary format.  Its popularity as a format has grown recently due to several factors – they’re easy to read, they bring an immediacy to the characters and setting, etc.  Probably most important is that kids and young adults like them.  One of the most popular books to come out recently is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffly’s Journal and its sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, both by Jeff Kinney.  Both books have waiting lists and are a big hit with middle school age kids, especially boys who enjoy the humor and the cartoons that appear throughout the books.  Listing all the books the library owns would make for a very long list, so I’ll just list a few of my favorites.

Diary of a Worm by Dorren Cronin:  A young worm discovers, day by day, that there are some very good and some not so good things about being a worm in this great big world.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee: In a series of journal entries, eleven-year-old child prodigy Millicent Min records her struggles to learn to play volleyball, tutor her enemy, deal with her grandmother’s departure, and make friends over the course of a tumultuous summer.

Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman:  The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.

And here are a couple for teens:

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flynn: Sent to counseling for hitting his girlfriend, Caitlin, and ordered to keep a journal, sixteen-year-old Nick recounts his relationship with Caitlin, examines his controlling behavior and anger, and describes living with his abusive father.

Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon: Sixteen-year-old Janet Bandry keeps a diary as she deals with an annoying family, school, a quirky best friend, and trying to find herself through vegetarianism, literature, romance, and her “Dark Phase.”

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Nov 6 2008

Go Ahead, Play With Your Food

by Ginny C

Miss Manners would surely disagree with the title of this post.  I believe she’s on record as being against playing with your food.  However, experimenting with food is a fun way for kids (and adults) to learn about science.  Now, I’m not talking about food fights or lobbing handfuls of mashed potatoes across the dinner table.  (Unless you’re studying the trajectory of those mashed potatoes, but that’s not the kind of experiment we’re interested in here.)   Check out the following books for lots of great experiments and recipes for kids to try on their own or with adult supervision.

More Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb: Experiments with food demonstrate various scientific principles and produce eatable results. Includes beef jerky, cottage cheese, synthetic cola, and pudding.

The Science Chef: 100 fun food experiments and recipes for kids by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond:  Can one bad apple really spoil the whole bunch?  Why does popcorn pop?  Lots of fun recipes and experiments.

The Science Chef Travels Around the World: fun food experiments and recipes for kids by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummon: Introduces fourteen countries, including Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, describes an experiment related to some basic food ingredient typical for each country, and provides a recipe for a complete meal based on each food.

Everyday Science Experiments in the Kitchen by John Daniel Hartzog:  Provides experiments that explore scientific phenomena occurring in the kitchen.

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With the financial crisis making headlines every day, children are naturally wondering what to make of it.  Slate had a great article a couple of weeks ago called Great Kids’ Books About Financial Ruin.  The author lists several childrens books dealing with money (or the lack of) and recessions.  All of the books (except one title, which is on order) are available in our system.  They won’t necessarily explain the current crisis, but they’ll provide a solid background for understanding what’s happening.

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Oct 8 2008

Election Books for Kids

by Ginny C

The elections are a month away.  If you haven’t already, now is a great time to explain the importance of voting and how the process works to your children.  The library has lots of resources to help you, including dvds, picture books and information books.

Here is a sample of what the library offers:

Vote! by Eileen Christelow:  Using a campaign for mayor as an example, shows the steps involved in an election, from the candidate’s speeches and rallies, to the voting booth where every vote counts, to the announcement of the winner.

How Do We Elect Our Leaders by William Thomas:  Describes the process for electing local and national officials.

Election Day:  (DVD)  From campaigning and debates to rallies and voting, this program explains the activities that precede Election Day. Different levels of public office elections are reviewed along with the constitutional amendments that gave the right to vote to all groups. Children also explore the history of voting and examine the attributes of a good leader by watching as a group of middle school students elect their class president.

Max for President by Jarrett Krosoczka:  Max and Kelly both want to win the election for class president, but when one of them loses, the winner finds a way to make the loser feel better.

Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio:  When Grace discovers that there has never been a female U.S. president, she decides to run for school president.

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