Category Archives: Summer of Learning

Summer of Learning: Get Ready to Read!

Did you know that you can help your child get ready to read? One of the most important things you can do to make sure your child is a successful reader is to read with them every day for at least twenty minutes. Reading to your child is so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently created a new policy for pediatricians to recommend reading aloud to infants from the time they are born. Reading to your child every day will help develop their early literacy skills.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

What are early literacy skills? These are the skills your child needs in order to read successfully. Experts have identified five activities that will support the development of your child’s early literacy skills. The five best ways to help your child get ready to read are:

READING: Shared reading is the single most important activity you can do to help your child get ready to read. Share a wide variety of books with your child such as nursery rhyme books, books with animal sounds, books you can sing, and books with rhyming and alliteration.

PLAYING: Children learn how to express themselves, the meaning of words, and other early literacy skills by playing.

SINGING: Singing slows down language so children can hear the smaller sounds in words. Sing the Alphabet song, songs with letters such as BINGO, and sing songs that highlight shapes and colors.

WRITING: Reading and writing go together. Writing activities help children learn letter names and sound out new names.

TALKING: Conversations help a child express thoughts, learn what words mean, and gain new information about the world.

Kitsap Regional library has an abundance of resources available to help you learn more and develop your child’s early literacy skills:

Visit  our Birth to 6 section of our website!

Check out books about developing early literacy skills!

 Attend one of the many storytimes we offer here at the library. Our Youth Services Librarians present fun storytimes that model many different activities that include Reading, Writing, Singing, Playing, and Talking!

Check Out an Early Literacy Kit!

Photo: Kitsap Regional Library

 Our early literacy kits consist of ten picture books, a parent resource book, and a toy. Each kit has a different theme such as shapes, colors, letters, and numbers. There are also kits that contain a selection of books from our book list, “100 Books Every Child Should Hear Before Kindergarten.”

Developing your child’s early literacy skills is a fun and amazing experience! If you have any questions about early literacy, stop by the library and talk to one of our knowledgeable Youth Services Librarians.

Summer of Learning Design Challenge #8: Yarn Art

Check in here every Friday for a new Design Challenge. We will provide you with ideas for a full summer of fun things to make and do. It is all part of summer fun for kids and teens at the Kitsap Regional   Library.

This blog post is by the Bainbridge Island Library intern, Morgan!

The word yarn, to many, suggests warm, cozy sweaters or fuzzy mittens, and during a summer with highs of 80 degrees crafting with it might sound a little undesirable. Lucky for you the yarn-projects we are sharing have nothing to do with that overheated yarn- stereotype!
yarn                                  Yarn Bridport by Lex McKee on flickr

Yarn has been in existence for roughly 20,000 years, and that means there has been a lot of time for people to create traditional or out-of-the-box uses for it! Here, we have collected the best mix of yarn art projects for your summer.

Transform a glass bottle into a yarn vase! Fill your vase with flowers or possibly your own yarn sticks!

yarnbottle           a perfectly pretty gift to make by Jessica Wilson on flickr

Using wood, nails, and yarn you can create a piece of string art to display in your home (you can even make Washington State)!

yarn butterfly                                   Butterfly  – Detail by Manu on flickr 

Use any design you like and be careful with your hammer!

Here are some additional ideas that you might try:

Draw a simple picture and outline it with yarn!

Start with a simple drawing and “paint” over it with yarn!

Make a yarn-block print! Try as many different styles of wrapping your yarn-block as you can. After stamping, hang your art on the wall or use it as a print in your next art project.

You can also explore a more traditional usage of yarn: knitting! First, learn how to cast on. After you can start knitting! It is fun to start with simple projects like scarves or headbands.

yarnheadband                                  100_9162 by verylisa on flickr

Once you know how to knit you can get involved with our “Yarn Bomb the Library” event:

What is Yarn Bombing? Search ‘yarn bombing’ on Pinterest or Google images for ideas and inspiration. Kids, teens and grown-ups: artists and creative types of all ages are invited to come turn the library into a gallery of yarn art. Knit, crochet, wrapping, pom-poms, macramé, etc.- any style of yarn art is welcome. Knitters and crocheters will be on hand to help teach or refresh skills. Monday we look at the phenomenon of ‘yarn or knit bombing’ and develop our design concepts. The rest of the week is dedicated to working on our projects. Children under 8 must attend with a parent. Friday evening the library will be open for a show of the work from ‘Yarn Bomb the Library’ as part of Bainbridge’s First Friday Art Walk.

yarnbomb                  Yarn Bomb – bike IYBD by Twilight Taggers on flickr

Check out “Extra Yarn” by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen for more examples of yarn bombing.

extra yarn

For more yarn crafts check out the book “Kids Knit!” By Sarah Bradberry or “Kids Learn to Knit” by Lucinda Guy or  any of the other yarn books at the library!

kids knitkidslearntoknit

We’d love to see what you come up with. Email your photos to Digital Branch Manager, Jean Charters, at for possible inclusion in a future blog post (under 1 MB file size please) or stop by your library to show off your creativity.

Ready Campers?

Research shows that without access to quality educational experiences during out of school months, kids and teens score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they would have at the beginning. Most students lose at least two months of math skills, and low-income students lose two months of reading skills. This is what has become dishearteningly become known as the “Summer Slide.”

The good news is that learning can happen anywhere, at any time, and you are already positioned as your child’s favorite teacher! Through the Activity Tracker and weekly Design Challenges, your Youth Librarians have created great starting points to inspire your child’s unique learning adventure. Did you make an amazing knight’s costume from as little as a brown paper bag? Experiment with catapults or medieval dueling techniques! Did you discover your inner fashionista with duct tape creations or rubber band bracelet creations? Learn how to sew or alter clothing and have an end of the summer fashion show! The possibilities truly are endless and we’re here to help with great books, online resources, and heaps of enthusiasm along the way.

CC Image Courtesy of Vancouver FIlm School via Flickr
CC Image Courtesy of Vancouver FIlm School via Flickr

One of my favorite activity tracker options is Google Maker Camp, a virtual summer camp designed to inspire a broad range of makers to “get their hands dirty, fix some things, break some things, and have a lot of fun doing it.” Campers of all ages (those under 13 will need to register with a parent) are invited to tinker around on a new DIY project each day, meet experts (including Buzz Aldrin!), and go on field trips through the comfort of their own computer. Check out camp FAQs for specifics.

This week’s field trips include a trip to the birthplace of LEGOS (Billund, Denmark) for a tour through the LEGO Idea House, as well as a behind the scenes look at Disneyland’s pyrotechnic displays. Campers will also learn about the evolution of Minecraft with Jens Bergenstern from Mojang as well as get instructions on building labryinths, mini foosball games, toothbrush timers, and a LEGO maze!

Daily instructions and videos are available throughout the summer, so investigate a project that speaks to you and have fun!

Summer of Learning Design Challenge #7: Cardboard Box

Check in here every Friday for a new Design Challenge. We will provide you with ideas for a full summer of fun things to make and do. It is all part of summer fun for kids and teens at Kitsap Regional Library.


Berry flat boxes on Greta's table. Photo by Greta.
Berry flat boxes on Greta’s table. Photo by Greta.

These boxes held yummy summer blueberries last week and I’ve been pondering what else I could use them for this week. I remembered one of my favorite picture books, Antoinette Portis’ Not a Box!


The bunny in this book creates all kind of cool things with a box:  a rocket ship, a pirate ship crow’s nest, and more.  I bet you have a cardboard box lying around on the recycling pile or in a closet somewhere – it could be as simple as a shoebox lid or as big as a washing machine box! What will you make out of your box? The possibilities are endless!


A cardboard box of any size

(You can use any other materials available to you as well – glue or tape might come in handy! – but the base of your creation should be just the box. )


1) Take some time to look over the box you have and think about what you could create.

2) Create it!

3) Share it! Show off a little bit and tell your sister, brother, friend,  grandpa, or aunt about what you made.  You could also bring your not-a-box to the library and share it with us, we’d love to see what you made!

You can also share your creation with us by taking a picture! Email your photos to Digital Branch Manager Jean Charters at for possible inclusion in a future blog post (under 1 MB file size please).

Summer of Learning – Alternatives to Traditional Reading

By now hopefully everyone is signed up for Summer of Learning and well on their way to completing their 10 hours of reading. For those who haven’t quite reached their 10 hours, or are looking for more options on their way to the 100 hour mark, KRL has plenty of alternatives to traditional reading:

Graphic Novels
You can call them comics, graphic novels, or illustrated books, just don’t call them less than normal books. A study recently showed that a graphical representation can help users retain knowledge at a higher rate(1). From Manga to Garfield, and Superheroes to Pokemon, we have all of the bases covered for graphic novels.

Audio Books
KRL has thousands of Audio books on CD, you can search for them specifically in the catalog by limiting your search to Audio-Book

Audio Books
eBooks and eAudio Books
In addition to physical audio books, KRL also offers digital eAudio books, which can be downloaded to a computer or digital device. Simply go to the downloadables section of the KRL website. And don’t forget about our eBooks as well, nothing beats the satisfaction of finishing a book, and downloading another without getting up from your seat.

(1) Graphic Presentation: An Empirical Examination of the Graphic Novel Approach to Communicate Business ConceptsBusiness Communication QuarterlySeptember 2013 76: 273-303

Summer of Learning Design Challenge #6: Free Video Game Design/Progamming Software: Microsoft Kodu

Check in here every Friday for a new Design Challenge. We will provide you with ideas for a full summer of fun things to make and do. It is all part of summer fun for kids and teens at Kitsap Regional Library.

We all like video games, right? Did you ever want to design your very own game?  Well, with Microsoft Kodu you can design and program amazing 3D video games easily. And the best part is, it’s FREE to download on any PC.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:



Kodu offers a wide range of design tools that let you build tons of different environments, add texture to your scenes, and create all kinds of creatures and characters to program.

Kind of looks like Minecraft.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: Ali Maggs,
Photo Credit: by Ariane Coffin,
Photo Credit: by Ariane Coffin,



Kodu uses a simple visual programming language to make the characters come to life. Simply click on coding graphics to write your first computer program. By writing these logic statements, you can make all sorts of amazing games. 

Photo Credit: Ali Maggs,
Photo Credit: Ali Maggs,



Microsoft has put together a great Kodu website, providing lessons and forums on game building. You can even view other gamers’ Kodu worlds. The site lets you open their games, play them and even look at their code.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:


To download the software and learn more about designing and programing with Kodu, go to

Happy Gaming!

We’d love to see what you come up with. Upload your video to YouTube and email the link to Digital Branch Manager Sharon Grant at for possible inclusion in a future blog post or stop by your library to show off your creativity.

Summer of Learning Design Challenge #5: Build a Geodesic Dome

Check in here every Friday for a new Design Challenge. We will provide you with ideas for a full summer of fun things to make and do. It is all part of summer fun for kids and teens at Kitsap Regional Library.

We have all seen domes–large ones, like the roof of  the Capitol Building, and small ones, like the ends of an egg.  But have you ever seen a geodesic dome?  Geodesic domes are structures  made up of interconnected triangles and that look a bit round, like spheres.  One of the most famous geodesic domes is the sphere-shaped Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center in  in Florida.

Photo Credit: Epcot by Kyle McClure on FlickrPhoto Credit: Epcot by Kyle McClure on Flickr

This type of geodesic dome may look familiar:

Photo Credit: DSC00305 on FlickrPhoto Credit: DSC00305 on Flickr

The great thing is that you can build geodesic domes out of lots of materials.  Try using gumdrops and toothpicks to build one:

Gumdrop GeometryPhoto Credit: Gumdrop Geometry on Flickr

Explore more about the science behind gumdrop domes at: PBS

Interested in more of a science fair project?   Visit  Scientific American Online

Or, to make a dome out of newspaper for a much larger dome, check out Dome Sweet Dome at:  Science Buddies

For more adventures in building, try:

123 I can build at KRLUltimate building book at KRL

We would love to see what you come up with. Email your photos to Digital Branch Manager Sharon Grant at for possible inclusion in a future blog post (under 1 MB file size please) or stop by your library to show off your creativity.

Now Playing…Legos and Snow!

The Summer of Learning is in full swing at Kitsap Regional Library and everything is awesome! Summer is a great season because it combines relaxation with exploration. What’s a better balance than to have a summer night at the movies fuel a day full of play?  If The Lego Movie and Frozen are vying for screen time in your home, here are blockbuster-inspired activities for all ages:

It is no secret that kids love Legos, and Kitsap Regional Library loves them too. Legos allow us all to become architects and engineers, set-designers and storytellers.  Playing with Legos, whether following a set of instructions, or building from imagination, requires creativity, critical thinking, as well as problem solving and cooperation.   In The Lego Movie the main character uses many of these same skills to save his beloved brick world from an evil tyrant.

There are plenty of opportunities for Lego lovers at the library:

Many of the branches have regular Lego program events.  Just type “Lego” in the search box on the events page.

Several library branches are going to show The Lego Movie and Frozen this summer, as well as other movies.  To see what is playing and where, limit the type of event to “Film/Movie” on the events page.

And of course we have tons of Lego books you can read to inspire more fun and learning.  Simply search for “lego” in our catalog.  Here are just a few:

LEGO super heroes : Batman visual dictionary

The LEGO book

The Lego movie Junior novel

Summer may be here, but fanaticism for Frozen has not thawed at all.  Based on a classic Hans Christian Anderson fairytale “The Snow Queen,” Frozen became a phenomenon featuring adorable snowman, catchy songs, and the love between two strong, dynamic sisters. As temperatures rise there’s all the more reason to stay cool with these fun science activities inspired by the film:

If you want to build a snowman try this recipe for “sensory snow” made with just water and baking soda (glitter is optional but it will make things more magical).

Or use this recipe for a slightly squishier version of snow using soap.

For a more explosive experiment, these homemade ice volcanoes take the baking soda and vinegar reaction to a whole new level of colorful, messy fun.

*Note:  You can simplify the process by making ice “mountains” instead.  Just skip the step using the golfball which creates the indentation for the “volcano.”

Or for another simple lesson on the impact of salt on ice, try these ice sculptures.

When it comes to fun learning this summer, the only limit is your imagination, so let it go!

Summer of Learning Design Challenge #4: Lego Stop Motion

Check in here every Friday for a new Design Challenge. We will provide you with ideas for a full summer of fun things to make and do. It is all part of summer fun for kids and teens at the Kitsap Regional Library.

Have you ever wondered how those zany stop motion movies are made? Well here’s your chance to make one of your very own with your favorite Lego toys!

Let’s Get Started
The most important element that you will need is a camera. You will not be using the movie option on the camera but only the still camera to create individual photos. If you have access to a smartphone, a tablet or a computer here is a list of free apps you can download that will make the whole process a lot easier:

Android                                  iPhone and iPad                 Mac
Funmotion                           Stop-motion Camera      FrameByFrame
Stop Motion Maker        Stop Motion Cafe              PC
Stop-Motion-Lite            Stop Motion Studio          MonkeyJam

Find Your Star
Now pull out those dusty Legos that you’ve been waiting to use for a new and improved project. If you seem to be out of Legos at the moment you could also use your favorite superhero, a stuffed animal or you can create your own character out of clay.

Photo credit: Lego-City-Folk by Dan Goodwin on Flickr

Set the Scene
Now that you have your movie star selected make a small background scene that will become the set for your movie.  Take your Legos and build a structure that will be placed behind your Lego actors. Or you can create a background from scratch with a piece of paper and some paint. The most important aspect of your scene is going to be the lighting. Make sure to use a bright and balanced artificial lighting source.

Photo credit: frontal by Valgarise on Flickr

Lights. Camera. Action!
To prevent your camera from shaking you can either use a tripod or simply set your camera down on a Lego tray and build your own! Next arrange your character in front of your backdrop. Get ready! You’re now ready to snap your first photo. This will be the starting point of your stop motion film so any photo you take from here will relate to that very first shot of your character. Now move your character and take another photo.

Photo credit: Tripod rocket 07 by Fco. Javier Fernandez on Flickr

Don’t Forget
Make sure to move your Lego person only a tiny bit in preparation for the next shot so think about what you what them to do.  Can you make your character fly? Can you make them run or scale a wall? Or will they walk across the scene with a little swagger in each step? Your imagination has no limits and sometimes you will come up with new ideas after you begin. The process can be long and tedious for a very short film but the rewards will be tremendous when you finish. Good luck and let your career in film making begin!

This is a perfect stop motion tutorial for beginners:

We also have several amazing stop animation films that you can check out from your local KRL library:

Chicken run       The nightmare before Christmas              

And don’t forget the books! Check out one of these impressive stop motion handbooks:

The animation bible : a practical guide to the art of animating, from flipbooks to flash       Stop motion animation : how to make and share creative videos       Stop motion : craft skills for model animation

We’d love to see what you come up with. Upload your video to YouTube and email the link to Digital Branch Manager Sharon Grant at for possible inclusion in a future blog post or stop by your library to show off your creativity.

Unstructured Time and Your Library=Great Things

Ah, the long lazy days of summer are here. Although summer days are no longer lazy for me (summer is our busiest time of year here at the public library) I still have fond memories of going on breezy beach vacations and sitting on my grandmother’s exquisitely tidy back porch in a big white rocking chair while I sipped ice-cold pineapple juice from a tall glass.

Photo credit:  Happy by daystar297 on Flickr

Conversely, summer can be an extremely busy time for children, too. My own young children are signed up for a nature camp, a cooking class, ballet camp, t-ball/soccer lessons AND swimming lessons. While I look forward to watching them experience new and enjoyable activities I was recently intrigued by a new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder which suggests that “…Children who spend more time in less structured activities—from playing outside to reading books to visiting the zoo—are better able to set their own goals and take actions to meet those goals without prodding from adults.” This goal-setting (and goal-meeting) process is called “executive function” (2).

This study, one of the first of its kind, also suggests that children who participate in more structured activities such as piano lessons and sports practice have poorer “self-directed executive function….” It turns out that executive function helps children deal with a wide array of challenges-everything from delaying gratification to managing anger. Executive function can also be a predictor of important outcomes (like academic performance, health and criminality) in the years that follow childhood (2). If successive studies uphold this study’s findings our society may have to change some of its ways. While it is clear that many structured activities, such as musical education, provide a number of extremely important benefits (increased reading skills being one of them) parents will need to make sure that they focus on providing unstructured blocks of time for their children in addition to structured blocks of time.

Fortunately, the library has oodles of activities going on this summer as part of our Summer of Learning program that will help ensure that your children have fun, educational (and unstructured) time. We offer programs that range from anime clubs, to henna workshops to wildlife education programs. In addition to our programs we also offer a HUGE collection of books, DVD’s and videogames. Take a look at the library’s Summer offerings by going to

Happy Summer (of Learning)!

1. Jane E. Barker, Andrei D. Semenov, Laura Michaelson, Lindsay S. Provan, Hannah R. Snyder, Yuko Munakata.
Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning. Frontiers in Psychology, 2014; 5 DOI

2. University of Colorado at Boulder. “Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals, study shows.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 18 June 2014.