Baby & Me – December 2015



I had the pleasure to spend the four Monday mornings in December with loving and supportive parents and their babies. We shared stories, songs, and materials to spark curiosity and encourage movement. Repeat attendees offered me the opportunity to get to know their babies and introduce or adjust materials that tapped into interests I observed at previous classes. I encourage you to view the following three slideshows to see how the babies explored the provided materials over the course of the month to get an understanding of what we do at Baby & Me, and also to take joy in the learning that was happening each morning.

Week 2

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Week 3

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Week 4

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I look forward to February, the start of a new Baby & Me series on Monday mornings at 11 am.

  • Miss KT, Youth Services Librarian

Baby and Me 10.12.15



I had a wonderful time this morning observing and playing with the babies at Baby and Me. I captured some pictures and arranged them in a slideshow to share. The play explorations I set up were intentionally created to build on the children’s interests I observed last week.

SHREDDED PAPER -> The shredded paper last week was a favorite for a couple children. The older boy would toss the paper in the air and his younger brother had the intriguing challenge of crawling through the debris. This week, I put out a baby pool filled with fallen leaves. They have a different smell and color than paper which provides a new experience, but the gross motor activities are the same as the shredded paper. Children can toss them and watch the pieces fall. They can grab handfuls of these tiny pieces of leaves like paper. Children can also kick their legs to move the material.

I didn’t forget the shredded paper. Instead, I put it in a new place. I set up a tent with a tunnel, and I covered the ground of the tent with the shredded paper so it was similar to last week’s experience, but the more confined space makes it also different. The tunnel was filled with balls. I wanted children to desire to crawl through the ball-filled tunnel to share a similar gross motor experience as the baby felt last week when he crawled through the shredded paper that was on the ground.

BUBBLES – > The children were very engaged in the bubbles I blew last week. To sustain interest, this week I covered a section of ground with bubble wrap for the children to see that similar round shape, but this time they can trap it and listen to the loud pop sound. Some bubble wrap was also on the light table with the plastic bottles filled with water beads to play again on the interest in the magical round material that catches light in intriguing ways.

I also filled a container with sudsy water. I wanted the children to be able to hold bubbles in their hands and make bubbles when they splashed and moved their hands.

I hope you enjoy the photos from today, and I am excited to pull from today’s interests to create next week’s explorations to further learning.

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-Miss KT, Youth Services Librarian


Baby and Me 10.5.15



Recently I watched the TED Talk: What Do Babies Think? presented by Alison Gopnik.

What Do Babies Think?

Gopnik shares her research that provides evidence that babies and young children are incredibly smart.  I agree that babies’ brains are amazing. Babies and young children are natural scientists observing the world around them, problem solving, and testing and retesting theories.  Last Monday I hosted the first Baby and Me at the new time slot: Mondays at 11 am. I was happily joined by a few families and their brilliant children. I enjoyed spending time with them and observing the children respond to the rich environment I tried to provide for them to satisfy their cognitive appetite.

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I wasn’t fast enough to take pictures of all of the explorations I set up before they were enjoyed. The paper exploration shown on the left was inspired by Alise Shafer Ivey. Last Saturday I had the pleasure of listening to her speak at the Inspired Teachers Institute hosted at the Akron Art Museum. She discussed the importance of giving children a proper introduction to basic materials. At her school, a room was transformed by paper. The images were beautiful. Paper hung from the ceiling and covered the walls. Children climbed the paper, walked on the paper, and were greeted by paper hanging from the ceiling. The children actively played in this fantasy paper world. I wanted to give the babies at Baby and Me a taste of that experience, an introduction to a material that will play a heavy role in their life as they later learn to make marks on it, cut it, stick things to it, and read from it.

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I look forward to spending time with these children again next Monday. I hope others will join us, too. :-)

-Miss KT, Youth Services Librarian


Toddler Time: September 29


Hi everyone,

This week at toddler story time we shared songs and a story about things that move! After sitting together, we all began to explore the interesting activities around the room focusing on movement.

Last week, some of the children enjoyed using these boxes to build a bridge and run underneath it. This week, I observed more of the children running beneath a bridge one of the parents held up.


On Monday at Stories at the Park the rain kept us inside. One of the activities we explored involved pouring rocks and beads through pipe brackets, cardboard tubes, and clear plastic. I noted that many of the children focused on building more complex structures. I placed the activity out again this week, and I noticed many of the children working together to build larger and more complex structures.


After engaging with the more traditional ramp, two children shifted the board in the dirt and rock pile to resemble the more traditional ramp.


Experiencing new textures is an engaging way for toddler to explore the world around them. In the sensory bin this week I introduced a new, harder texture: rubber mulch.


I observed the children running beneath the black tube to feel the scarves on their faces. This activity provided opportunities for children to explore texture, movement, and gravity.


Enjoy the slide show below showing the many ways children studied movement this week! I’m looking forward to further exploring sound tomorrow!


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Until next time,

Miss JoAnna


Baby and Me Starts Next Week: New Time and Day



Baby and Me October session starts Monday, October 5, at 11 am and runs for three weeks until October 19. This past summer I experimented with an afternoon time slot on Wednesdays. I enjoyed the company of the families that took part in the program, but I did discover that the afternoon time slot did not work out that well for many others because of children’s nap schedules and other conflicts. I am hopeful that this new day and time will be more accommodating. I am looking forward to getting to know the babies and their adults as we spend time playing and learning together.

Here is a look back at the fun we had in August:


She took ownership of the book and turned the pages herself.


The sisters played together in the torn paper. She is a lucky baby to have her big sister’s undivided attention.


Bubbles add wonder and magic to a baby’s day.


He experimented with the different sounds the bottles made. The bottles are small and filled with different objects to encourage interest and easily fit in a baby’s hand.


This textured ball feels different compared to the others. It is regularly a favorite.


Open play concludes each Baby and Me. She explored the triangle mirror near her and the strings of beads dangling from it.


-Miss KT, Youth Services Librarian


Miss JoAnna’s Pictures from Story at the Park Week One



Hi everyone!

Miss KT and I have enjoyed spending time with you these past few Monday mornings at Hereford Park! What a great way to celebrate this beautiful time of year!

For the first week, I really wanted to offer the toddlers an opportunity to further explore some of the interests that emerged over the summer at toddler time: painting with different materials, building materials, and rocks. By using these materials along with other materials from our PNC Growing Up Great grant, we were able to offer children a variety of activities to engage with and explore.

Using flowers, tree branches, rocks, and bush leaves from my yard, children explored painting with items other than traditional paintbrushes.

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Measuring cups and other pouring devices were placed inside the water table along with large blue glass beads.

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The wooden sensory table held wooden tree blocks with a path of wooden tree blocks nearby creating a balance beam of sorts.

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Mirrors, magnifying glasses, and baskets were placed on the pavement underneath the trees encouraging children to explore the materials nearby: the leaves, pine bark, and tree limbs.

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A popular activity every story time, I placed matchbox cars at the top of the slide as an invitation to race the cars down the slide.

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Based on the toddlers’ interest in building over the last few months, we brought two different styles of blocks: small tree blocks and wooden building blocks.

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Below is the slideshow of the children and their families interacting with our invitations to explore. Please enjoying seeing the creative ways children engage!


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Until next time,

Miss JoAnna


Stories at the Park – Week 2



I entered the Highland Square Branch Library at 8:30 am on Monday morning and learned that one of our butterflies had emerged from the chrysalis and was ready to be released. The Library has cared for nine monarch butterfly eggs, and here is a picture from a video our Manager Fred took of one of the butterflies after it emerged.


The next step is to release the adult monarch into the wild. In my head I was thinking: This is perfect. Our Stories at the Park crowd gets to be a part of the release, and as if we planned it, the event builds nicely on the fact that we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar last week.

Fred skillfully transported the new butterfly into a small aquarium, and she joined me and a trail of children and moms on our walk from the Library to Hereford Park. Upon arrival, we were greeted by already active children and an enthusiastic Miss JoAnna. Children and adults walked up to the cage, made observations, comments, and asked questions. It was delightful to see how the wonder and joy at seeing a recently emerged butterfly has no age restrictions.

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A common command made by the children was: Open. I hypothesized that the request was  motivated by the butterfly’s flapping wings practicing for take off, a desire to touch the beauty, or sympathy for a trapped creature.


We made casual predictions about what the butterfly would do once the lid was removed.


After enough waiting, I removed the lid, and we watched.


More waiting! The butterfly sat there for what felt like a really long time. I wondered if the crowd of people around her made her nervous.


A child poked his head in the open aquarium.


The butterfly flew away! Eyes followed the butterfly as she flew high up in the air into a tree.


She rested in the tree on the left for a few minutes, and then flew over to the adjacent tree, and then out of our sight. The families took a cue from the butterfly and migrated to the blankets for stories and then play.

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This program made possible by a grant from PNC Grow Up Great.

-Miss KT, Youth Services Librarian


Stories at the Park – Fall Session – Week 1



Miss JoAnna and I started up again the Stories at the Park series last Monday morning at Hereford Park. Inspired by our library caterpillars, we read to the children The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Carle and a new title: Who’s Hungry by Hacohen. Children were invited to “feed” the pretend caterpillar the foods in the story. To encourage more learning through movement and song, together we moved to the rhyme The Noble Duke of York and the song Squirrely Squirrely.

After story time, the children and parents explored the playground and PNC grant-funded materials we brought to the park. With my phone camera and notebook in hand, I observed the children so I could learn what engaged them and see the learning experiences they were having on this Monday morning at the park. One little girl’s experience with Tree Cookies told quite a story. Instead of purchasing tree cookies, you can make them yourself by cutting off discs of log from a fallen tree trunk or branch. It is always wonderful to see how children make open-ended materials their own. (My son likes throwing tree discs in the air and watching them land on the ground and roll like a tire.)

The following pictures show how one young toddler interacted with the tree cookies:


She sees the stepping “stone” and grabs a broken piece from one. She made the loud noise: “Woe!”


With intention, she stacks the broken piece.


Without hesitation, she repeats the action.


She is onto something. Her creation is taking shape.


With confidence and determination, she challenges herself with a much larger piece.


Clutching the largest tree cookie, she repeats a word that sounded like “heavy” or “hurry”. Both seemed applicable. Dad, Miss JoAnna, and I watch in admiration.


All the attention attracts another friend. “Will she help with my plan or stand in my way?” These are thoughts I’m sure this young scientist was thinking.


The older child had a different plan. The youngest child was confronted with the conflict, and chose to rebuild with other remaining pieces, but her momentum soon fizzled, and she moved on to new explorations.

The entire time Alice was building, I was there asking her questions like “What are you going to do next?” and giving her praise for her accomplishments. Really, this story is a lesson in how capable toddlers are when you provide them with rich environments and let them have the space and encouragement to explore.

Please enjoy the slideshow to see more discoveries the children made when playing at the park.

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The second of three Stories at the Park is planned for this Monday at 10:30 am at Hereford Park. I look forward to building on last week’s experiences.

– Miss KT, Youth Services Librarian


Fall Toddler Story Time Series


Hi everyone!

Today began our fall toddler story time series. Families enjoyed socializing, reading, singing, dancing, and playing together in a laid-back and engaging environment.

We began by welcoming each child to story time with our mirror song:

Where is (Miss JoAnna)? Where is (Miss JoAnna)?

There she is. There she is.

Say hello to (Miss JoAnna). Say hello to (Miss JoAnna).

Tap your knee. Tap your knee.

Next, we sang and signed “The More We Get Togegther”. Because repetition is so important at this age, both of these songs are sang every week to welcome each other to story time.

Next, we read Honk! by Demarest. Using our baby goose puppet, we shared the story together and called out each animals sound. Over and over again Goose called “Honk!” until he finally found his mom (spoiler!).

We used our shakers today to sing our ABCs and the Hokey Pokey. The children enjoyed trying to balance on one leg during the song and reach across the midline to shake it out. The Hokey Pokey benefits children by improving their gross motor skills as well as building their body vocabulary recognition.

Together, we read Campbell’s Dear Zoo and after each animal we said in unision “I sent him back!” This helped the squirmies focus towards the end of story time and stay engaged in the story. The repitition also helped the children predict what would happen next.

After we ended story time with our favorite bubbles, we moved into play time! This week, our play time focused on exploring the concepts of hard versus soft. In addition to the regular use of the toys in the toy cabinet, the children explored:


a table covered in construction paper and sand paper with chalk



a bucket filled with different types of rocks from outside and some empty containers for filling or sorting


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trays filled with a variety of soft and hard items (fake flowers, smooth rocks, corks, feathers, lids, shells) sitting on a piece of canvas



a kiddie pool filled with shredded paper.

I also put out cars and trucks and a sensory table filled with soft pom poms, feathers, and fake flower petals.

The children engaged with these materials in a variety of ways ranging from carrying them around to tracing them.

Please enjoy the slideshow below that illustrates some of the interesting ways the children approached the materials this week!

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Until next time,

Miss JoAnna


Active Caterpillars Attract Children


Our growing caterpillars continue to grab our patron’s attention. Today a number of children not only observed the caterpillars, but they also predicted what the caterpillars would look like when they turned into butterflies. The children’s drawings are displayed for our patrons to see.



Brother and sister, Honey (4) and Trenton (2), share a seat while they each draw their picture.


Ms. Kristi, the adult services librarian, loves talking about the caterpillars. Whenever a patron observes them, she is ready to discuss their care, growth, and even take one out of the aquarium for a close-up look.



We encourage you to come and see our growing caterpillars the next time you are at our Library.

– Miss KT, Youth Services Librarain