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Wednesday, April 11, 2018


water in a stream with stones sticking out
photo credit:  Pixabay
I attended a Brain Conference yesterday that had all sorts of amazing information I'm excited to share in little bits with you.  One of the sessions was about Mindfulness.  We've probably all heard of mindfulness, it has become quite a popular thing to talk about, and everyone from coaches to medical professionals to neuroscientists are advocating it as a way to be healthier and more effective. 

If you want a very brief, entertaining, and simple explanation of mindfulness, check out this 2.5 minute hilariously animated video, Mindfulness Is a Superpower, narrated by Dan Harris (animated by Katy Davis).  One of the really great benefits of it for everyone (kids, parents, people who work with the public, humans in general) is that it allows us to put some space between stimulus and response.   So, if something makes you angry or upset or anxious, mindfulness practice gives you some skills to not just react immediately, but rather check in with your body and mind and take a moment before deciding how to respond.

I'm not an expert in this, by any means, but I'm pretty interested in the idea of finding more tools to help me live the way I want to live, with more intention.  I'm looking into delving into a few tools, including:
Mindful.org, which includes several guided meditations and articles
Stop, Breathe, & Think, a free app designed for kids, but relevant for adults, too
University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Healthy Minds has a lot of information about how mindfulness affects the brain, and how it can be applied to every day life.

Also, check out this webinar our colleague Colleen Allen from Luck did for SirsiDynix earlier this month about offering mindfulness practice at the library!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Scranimals at the Library

Thanks to Samantha Carpenter for this super-fun guest post!
a copy of the book Scranimals, a tiny stuffed dog, a plastic carrot, a drawing of a Carrot + Dog= Carrog, a soup pot

Youth Services is preparing to host 1st grade field trips at LEPMPL, and I thought I’d pass along a fun activity that kids this age group invariably loves. It’s a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month and can be an active or passive program.

I read a couple of poems from Jack Prelutsky’s Scranimals (“The Detested Radishark” is deliciously scary!) and then let the kids combine a collection  of library toys to create their own silly creatures. I put some hard plastic food and  small, soft stuffed animals into a big soup pot. I hold the pot above kids’ heads and ask them to pick one hard toy and one soft toy from the pot. Then I write the names of the toys on a white board and ask them to help me combine the two words into a new word/creature. Sometimes I attempt to draw a picture of the new creature (usually the most hilarious part of a very funny activity overall). If the group isn’t too big and I am sure everyone will get a turn, I let the kids draw it. Or I ask the teachers! The kids love that, too.

There are several things I like about this activity:

  • It uses materials you probably already have. You can use a chalkboard or paper and crayons instead of a whiteboard. A paper bag instead of a soup pot. And whatever toys you have at hand, though food tends to lend itself to the silliest result (it’s also nice if you pick things that are fairly easy to spell, like “apple”).

  • It encourages kids to sound out letters and words as we make the new animal’s name.

  • It highlights our poetry collection, which is sometimes a hard sell.

  • Scranimals includes some REALLY challenging vocabulary—words I am sure none of the kids know, like “detested”. But they always get the gist of the poem. I hope some of the classes come away from the visit with the idea that they can enjoy books above assigned or assumed reading levels. Or just the feeling that big words are FUN.