Storytime Picks from Monday, June 25

Good morning! Maybe it’s the nice, slightly cooler weather or maybe the kids are just a little worn out from playing in the heat this weekend, but in any case, this may have been the most attentive storytime yet. After some stretches, shouts, AND yawns, we sat down to read one story and instead got two.

Once again, we were joined by Mo Willems and his pal, the Pigeon:

Pigeon is a kid favorite. Even Duckling has his own book too! If your kids love Pigeon, Duckling, and all the rest of the Willems’ universe of characters, why not consider throwing a Pigeon-themed Birthday Party? Here are some great ideas to get you started:

  • Check out Mo Willems’s Pigeon Presents website for coloring pages, activities, and online interactive games involving all of his characters. Check out the “Grown Up Stuff” for event kits and activity guides.
  • Use Pinterest? Check out Laura Polak’s awesome “Party with the Pigeon” board, complete with plushes,  paper crafts, activities, and more!
  • We did this simple and fun Pigeon craft last time we read his books for storytime (from This and That at the Library):
  • Mel’s Desk has a great entry about throwing a Mo Willems Party for her after-school group. Great ideas for simple activities!

Storytime is every Monday @ 10 am and is intended for all ages.


Art Group – Wednesday, June 20

Boy, it’s hot out there! We thought we’d cool off in Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group with a special painting project – Spray Watercolor Painting!

The process is easy – Using our liquid watercolors, we filled spray bottles with a diluted water-paint mixture that was then used on stencils and paper (as well as free form, without stencils). The results, while a little drippy, were fantastic, as our little artists were able to create instant pictures with a single spray.

For a project like this, any stencils will do, but the general preference was to use larger, half- to full-page stencils. The smaller and more intricate a picture, the less likely the watercolor spray would allow it to come out clearly. Bigger pictures with less detail work better with the drippy paint. Mixing and matching stencils in a single work is definitely recommended – just wait between paint applications to use a new stencil, otherwise the previous stencil picture will smear.

Also, the spray technique works best if the child stands a little farther away from the work. For very young children, help them direct the bottle toward the paper and assist with working the nozzle. Once they get the hang of it, they may be a little spray-happy. Table coverings are a must. (This is also a great activity for outside!)

Of course, not every kid wants to use the stencils. As sprayed freely on the paper, the paint leaves a beautiful pattern. Mixing various colors in little spray “clouds” is a beautiful and simple way to color a blank piece of paper. Wait for the paint to dry and use the work as a background for a drawing or a painting with tempera paints, or reuse as wrapping paper, place mats, or pieces for future collages.

Again, the closer the spray bottle is to the paper, the more concentrated the paint will be. Encourage your kids to experiment with standing farther from the work and spraying, then standing closer and spraying. Ask them if they notice the difference in the painting between distances.

For surfaces, you can start them on paper, but once they’ve mastered spray-painting the page, try out different options. Remember that denser papers soak up the watercolor faster than regular, printer-type paper. Larger spans of paper work especially well here, but you can also use the spray-watercolors on denser papers, diffusion tissue (like coffee filters), or lightly colored textiles. Use the stencil and spray-watercolors on a white piece of cotton and transform a scrap of fabric into a patch or tiny flag. The variations are endless and allow this activity to be fun for a wide range of ages.

The tactile experience of the paint application is doubled up here. First, kids get to use spray bottles, an action that, apparently, many take to very quickly! The second element of tactile input are the watercolor paints themselves. Getting to feel the paint in both spray form and on the page is a great way for kids to experience different levels of dampness.

And don’t forget – this process works great in reverse too! Have your kids flick tiny drops of concentrated watercolor on the paper, then spray with clear water from the spray bottle. The little bits of color become page-wide streaks.

(On really hot days, feel free to turn that clean water spray bottle on yourself and your kids!)

Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.

Art Group – Wednesday, June 13

It was a relatively quiet morning at the Toy Lending Library on Wednesday, so we spent our Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group hour once again sculpting, molding, smashing, scrunching, and otherwise handling playdough. With a fresh batch of green playdough for our activities, we used every tool in our arsenal to get the most fun out of this delightful squishy substance.

Because we have covered playdough in two other posts (most recently in March) instead of focusing this post on the basics of why and how to use playdough with kids, we’d like to use this post to reinforce a couple of positive actions when it comes to having your kids use the arts space at PTLL.

First off, it’s really important, even when volunteering, that you keep an eye on what your child (or children) are doing in all areas of the playspace, including the art area. Not only does this insure safe and reasonable behavior on the behalf of all children playing, it furthers the bond between parent and child by showing your kids that you are remaining actively engaged in what they are doing, even when you have other tasks to complete.

Another benefit of keeping an eye on your kids in the art space is that your presence can mean the difference between your child playing well, sharing, and even collaborating with other kids and not interacting or interacting poorly. You don’t have to mediate all your child’s interactions, but simply having that active engagement in the background is sometimes enough encouragement for more positive, agreeable (less aggressive) interactions with other children.

Don’t be afraid to create alongside of your children, especially when there’s few other children creating in the art space and supplies are plentiful. Grab a chunk of playdough and craft objects and modelswith your kids. Help them build upon their work and help them take it apart. You aren’t co-opting their creative process simply by including yourself. Rather, you’re increasing the chances that your kids will see arts and crafts as valuable activities actively endorsed by their parent or parents. If they see that you enjoy an activity, they’re more likely to engage in that activity as well.

Finally, make sure to help your children clean up after they are done in the space. This reinforces ownership over the activity itself and reminds them of the responsibilities attached to any activity. Try to use positive language in regards to cleaning up as it builds a better association with the act than nagging or otherwise negative tones.

Remember: The art area in the playspace are meant to be enjoyed by all visitors to the Toy Lending Library. Leaving supplies and the area dirty makes it harder for everyone to get the most out of the space, and, in some cases, can even waste or ruin supplies (like leaving paintbrushes in paint overnight). Being observant of your children in the space will also remind you of the items that need to be picked up, recycled, thrown out, or cleaned and stored away.

If you have any questions, concerns, or requests for the arts space, get in contact with the Art and Crafts Coordinator.

Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.

Storytime Picks from Monday, June 11

With summertime around the corner, the weather outside is getting hotter, the days are getting longer and longer, and the time is right for STORYTIME! What’s a better way to beat the heat then to come inside the Toy Lending Library for a little while and cool off with a story?

This week’s story takes place far away from the sun and heat of early June, to a land under the ocean waves where an awesome shark lives with his crab and fish pals:

I’m a Shark
by Bob Shea

Shark is so awesome. He’s got big teeth, big eyes, big fins, and best of all, he’s not afraid of anything! Not a giant squid or the dark or even a big, mean bear! But… then again… there’s always… SPIDERS! Could the unbelievably awesome shark be afraid of a little creepy crawly spider? Kids and parents alike will love the bright illustrations and absurd humor of this fun undersea tale.

Told with Shea’s signature wit and style, I’m a Shark will delight fans of Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime, as well as the Mo Willems Pigeon series and other clever-kid classic picture books.

School’s almost out (or out, for the lucky ones) and the weather is right, so now is the time to get out and PLAY! Swim in the pool, visit the parks, take a family bike ride on one of the many Pittsburgh bike trails, and so much more! For an overview of all the great summertime activities Pittsburgh Citiparks is offering, check out their website. Includes information on:

Cinema in the Parks

Swimming pools & Spray Parks

Community Festivals

Roving Art Cart

Programs at the Frick Environmental Center

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is offering programs for kids and families all summer long, including Pirates Tales summer reading and a weekly event at Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh. Visit your local branch or for more information. D

Storytime is every Monday @ 10 am and is intended for all ages.

Storytime Picks from Monday, June 4

Thanks to Memorial Day, we took a week off from storytime, a break surely well spent. But we’re back, we’re energized, and we’re ready to get blooming with another spring-themed story!

The Tiny Seed
by Eric Carle

The tiny seed is adrift – blown through Autumn and Winter, it finally finds a home in the Spring soil. There it grows into a beautiful flower, one that grows and grows and grows until it’s taller than all the people, taller than the houses, taller than the trees. When the Autumn comes, the flower’s seeds are taken by the breeze and the cycle starts anew. If your kids love Carle’s other classic booksThe Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, then they will love The Tiny Seed, with its vibrant illustrations and the way the prose poetically captures the changing seasons.

Want to find a few more bloomin’ books for your kids’ storytime? Try out these favorites of the garden (clicking on the image will take you to the book’s entry in the eiNetwork, the catalog for all Allegheny County libraries):

Did you know about the Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library, sponsored by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and based out of the branch in Lawrenceville? Customers can “borrow” seeds to use in their own garden and donate their own seeds in exchange. CLP also sponsors community herb gardens at several branches. Click the link to find out if there’s a garden growing at your local CLP library!

Storytime is every Monday at 10 am and is intended for all-ages.