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Using Props in Early Learning Programs and At Home

In an article written for School Library Journal by Lisa G. Kropp, we discover how using props can add a new dimension to a storytime at home. Props are extremely useful for five reasons:

They make it easy to model play.  Using a simple prop such as a tissue box to pull out scarves or another surprise makes it more fun. Caregivers can easily do this at home.They don't need to be store-bought.  Use easy to duplicate flannel board pieces, made out of oak tag or card stock. Make stick puppets for children to act the story out or extend the book by creating a new ending. They help little ones sit through a rhyme or story. Sometimes young brains need a different visual than the book.  Perhaps they are sitting on a lap 15 feet away from you or the illustrations in the book are on the smaller side or very detailed. Having a prop, such as an enlarged photo, a puppet of a character from the story or a flannel board to supplement the "turn of the page", creates more interaction to …
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Here's a great App recommended in School Library Journal!

Tinybop Inc., 2017. iOS, requires 7.0 or later. Version 1.2.0 $2.99 PreS-Gr. 2

Using this app, viewers can explore the attributes of an African elephant, a Bengal tiger, a brown bat, a red kangaroo, and a two-toed sloth.  Interactive options allow for a look inside each creature's skeletal, muscular, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems and, for two of the animals, their urogenital system.

While exploring the digestive system of each mammal, viewers experiment with menu options to determine the foods each animal prefers. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores are represented in the group, and astute observers may notice that the stomachs of these animals differ.  Food intake eventually produces waste, which young viewers will no doubt delight in causing to happen. Urogenital systems depict an elephant fetus and a kangaroo's joey nursing.

Kids can also explore the animals' unique traits: the bat employs echolocation to determine what is flying wit…

8 High-Tech Toys for STEM-Savvy Kids

There’s so much more to digital toys than your typical video games and computer programs. These eight innovative picks bring STEAM education to life through coding, robotics, animation, and more—plus they’re alotof fun.  By Liz Schnabolk from

1 of 8                                              Jimu Robot Meebot Kit Not your average toy! Made by high-end robotics company Ubtech,Jimuuses cutting-edge technology and six impressive robotic motors to follow your child’s commands. Kids start by building the bot with help from the iOS app’s 3-D, animated instructions. Then they can make him wave, walk, dance, and more with three levels of play that help them advance from learning basic coding concepts to writing their own programs.Ages 8 and up, $130. 2of 8
Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar Preschoolers can learn early programming skills while this wiggly worm works his way across the floor! As little ones rearrange the pieces in theThink & Learn Code-A-Pillar's tail to creat…

7 Coding Toys for Little Kids

Coding isn’t only for big kids, and the basics—like learning cause-and-effect and problem solving—don’t have to be mastered on a computer. These fun picks will get your child thinking like a real programmer. By Michelle Crouch from
1 of 7                                               If This, Then That As simple as it gets! Color-match one of the figures to the correct spot onKid O’s Myland Houseboat tub toy and a light goes on. Place the other correctly to sound the horn.2 years+, $45. 2of 7

On the Right Path The Learning Resources Code & Go Robot Mouseset’s changing board challenges kids to direct the critter to cheese.5 years+, $60.
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5 STEM Products Kids Will Love

By Ellen Wall / Parents Magazine

What's the latest craze in kid products? Toys that teach (yep, that's right! Cue the Hallelujahs!). Even better? They're all centered on science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as STEM. Here are five of my favorites:

Ozobot,a tiny robot, follows lines to teach kids computer coding basics. Works on an iPad, too! ($49.99,

Snap Circuits, introduced in 2000, are classics. Since they were in elementary school, my boys have loved putting the pieces together to make all sorts of gadgets, including buzzers and fans. (Starts at $19.95,

How to Get Kids Started with Coding

By Berit Thorkelson from 

Your child may already be learning the basics of coding in school or an after-school program, but here's how to help her hone her skills at home.
Learning the language that computers speak can seem like a steep technical challenge for an adult, let alone an elementary-school kid. But learning to code is the kind of parent-approved “gaming” kids need more of: It builds problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and it’s creative too. “Computers are changing every field. Having a basic understanding of how this stuff works is just as important as learning math,” says Hadi Partovi, the tech entrepreneur behind Hour of Code and
The Basics Many experts recommend that kids begin with visual block-based coding, in which they use a mouse or a finger to “drag and drop” blocks of language on a computer or a tablet screen. Following commands that appear in each block, such as “move 10 steps” and “repeat 4 times,” programs the computer to c…

Good Spanish-language or bilingual books to read this summer!

The summer is the perfect time to check out some great bilingual titles with some fun themes. Included also are rhymes, finger plays and craft ideas.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by Isabel F. Campoy and Theresa Howell. Gr. 2-5: This book begins with a girl named Mira who tries to make her city less gray by giving colorful drawings to the people in the neighborhood.  She meets a man whose pocket is full of paintbrushes. He looks at the dull gray walls and sees something beautiful.  He gives Mira a brush. She paints and the neighbors join in, painting and dancing and singing to Latin rhythms. 
Mouse Paint/ Pintura de raton.  by Ellen Stoll Walsh PrS-K: When three white mice discover three jars of paint, the stage is set for children to learn how mixing the colors in different ways creates entirely new but familiar colors.

Paint Craft: Provide rojo, amarillo, and azul paints, crayons, or markers and blank sheets of paper for drawing.…