Screen-Free Week is coming – can you go a week without screens?

Today’s post is by Children’s Librarian Lauren:

“Have I told you all about the time that I got sucked into a hole through a handheld device?” So goes a lyric on the Arctic Monkeys’ technologically ambivalent album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. This line repeats in my head every time I find an hour of my life has been lost to compulsively scrolling through Instagram or following clickbait articles. So much of our lives is mediated through screens, and the side effects aren’t always as light as lost time and an earworm. Night-time screen use has been linked to insomnia, and studies are linking excessive social media use to anxiety and depression.

For kids too young for Snapchat, studies have tied screen use to developmental delays. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under 18 months and 1 hour max for kids under 5 years old. The more time toddlers spend silently watching screens, the less time they spend talking, playing, moving, and learning. Likewise, the more time parents and caregivers spend with screens, the less time we have to facilitate those crucial experiences for our kids.

To combat the negative effects of screen-based entertainment, some folks came up with Screen-Free Week, an annual week of unplugging and re-discovering the joys of real life fun. From Monday, April 29 to Sunday, May 5, families and individuals will be closeting the iPads and shutting off the backseat DVD players. Sound like something your family could try? Here’s some ideas on how to amuse yourselves while the screens are away:

Be bored! Boredom provides kids with an opportunity to get creative. Lin-Manuel Miranda – the creator of Hamilton and one of the most creative folks around – fondly recalls being left to his own non-screen devices. If you’re not up to writing an award-winning musical, though, provide your family with open-ended materials like art supplies, the contents of the junk drawer, and your backyard. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Clash your clans in a fantasy book! Look in the kids section for the blue sticker with a unicorn. Magic Tree House and Percy Jackson are classics that work as family read-alouds, or check out a new book like The Cryptid Catcher. We also love us some Neil Gaiman, especially Coraline, a delightfully creepy tale that begins with a super-bored girl who, to put it mildly, finds a way to amuse herself.

Go outside for a walk! This is one of the best times of year to hang out around the canal trail, when birds who migrated south are coming back and starting to make nests for the spring. You can see turtles, beavers, and snakes at Lock 12, and in the last couple weeks I saw diving kingfishers, big herons, and colorful wood ducks in the new section of trail north of West Main Street. Sleeping Giant State Park is still closed from tornado damage, but nearby Brooksvale Park has salamanders, frogs, and even farm animals, as well as easy hiking trails. The library has free maps of local trails, as well as wildlife guides for kids and adults to borrow.

Take advantage of the spring birds & blooms that are popping up all over this time of year, as close as your own back yard! Ask little kids to point out colors, compare sizes, and count petals on flowers. Explain pollination and photosynthesis to big kids – or, better yet, let them explain it to you. See how many different kinds of birds you can spot.

Take a break from Allrecipes and Epicurious, and follow a recipe from a book! Whether tacos or teiglach are more your speed, you can find a ton of family-friendly recipes in cookbooks designed especially for kids. Some cookbooks specialize in classics and others offer a history of food. Wherever your interests lie, head to the 641s for your cooking needs.

After you’ve cleaned up the kitchen and the kids are busy writing their own history-based raps, you might have a few minutes during Screen-Free Week for some adults-only reading:

Will you be participating in screen-free week from April 29 to May 5?

It’s National Keep Kids Creative Week

September 24st – 30th, 2017 is “National Keep Kids Creative Week”. The holiday was started in 2003 by author/illustrator Bruce Van Patter to restore children’s innate ability to “think outside the box, not “in front of the box.”

 

During National Keep Kids Creative Week, parents are encouraged to eliminate or at least cut down on kids’ screen time, and help them brainstorm creative activities instead. Write a story or create a recipe together. Challenge them to come up with their own superhero, cool invention, or fun game to play.  Bruce Van Patter’s website has some great ideas to get the ball rolling.

Cheshire Library has a lot of resources to encourage creativity, too, as you might imagine. Let’s get those creative juices flowing!

Art Lab for Kids : 52 creative adventures in drawing, painting, printmaking, paper, and mixed media by Susan Schwake

The Artful Parent : simple ways to fill your family’s life with art and creativity by Jean Van’t Hul

You Can Write a Story! : a story-writing recipe for kids / by Lisa Bullard

150+ Screen-free Activities for Kids : the very best and easiest playtime activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! by Asia Citro, MEd

Tinkerlab : a hands-on guide for little inventors by Rachelle Doorley

365 Things to do with LEGO Bricks by written by Simon Hugo

ChopChop : the kids‘ guide to cooking real food with your family by Sally Sampson

Smart from the Start

Let’s face it. Toddlers are adorable, but they’re a pain in the kneecaps when you have to keep getting up to chase them. Like an overcaffeinated octopus in a waterpark, they get into EVERYTHING. Once a baby starts to creep, your time to sit and relax evaporates. So what do you do to keep them busy long enough to check your email without having to hold them, yet manage to keep them from banging on the keyboard?

The worst thing you can do is plug them in. No child under the age of two should be parked in front of a TV or – and I see this every day in one store or another – a cell phone. Babies and toddlers need to DO. They need to use their bodies – crawling and climbing and running for gross motor, and touching, poking, pulling, pushing to develop not only fine-motor skills, but tactile, sensory integration, mental mapping, visual-motor integration, social expectations, and spatial memory – things they cannot develop from passive observation of a flat screen.

And that is not an easy task. Walk through Toys я Us or Walmart and almost every toy is merely a piece of plastic that beeps or flashes when you push a button. Maybe it sings a song or says the ABCs. Cute, but useless, really. Learning without context is gibberish – it has no meaning. If I suddenly switch to кириллица alphabet, and give you no explanation, ქართულად წერა, most of you will never clue in to my meaning*. These are no better than a cell phone or endless Dora. But the toys that ARE geared for actual learning are not usually found in stores but educational catalogs, and those are  often overpriced because they expect a school system to pay for them – like these awesome 32-pc clear plastic magnet builders, for $53. My favorite toddler toy is the Bilibo chair, an artfully designed piece of plastic that has endless imaginary uses: a chair, a stepstool, a rocker, a doll bed, a helmet, a bucket, a turtle shell, and it creates a vortex really well – but at $30, these two toys alone are close to $100 without shipping, making Christmas a stretch.

One of the memes making the rounds of the internet is one Dad’s solution, which is genius. Give the kid all those things he wants to explore, but in one safe location: a real-life busy board. Phones, switches, calculators, all those forbidden things, right in reach, and no one yelling. Finding myself the unexpected guardian and caretaker of an infant and starting all over again, I wanted one of those. As she started to crawl, I built one, too. Wheels for spinning, latches, jingly keys (and old dog license tags), a push-on closet light, a light switch that turns on an actual LED, a small baking sheet for magnets (we use photos of relevant family and friends), interchangeable carabiners with a pacifier, a fun keychain, a small measuring tape that retracts, a mailbox flag that goes up and down, a brush for sensory input, Velcro dots for sticking pictures to (and they feel fun), a light-up keychain, numbers for counting and matching clothespins, an old TV remote, and most importantly – the springy door stoppers that go BOING when you whap them. Fastened to the wood, they make a very satisfying sound. Another important item was a small grab bar fourteen inches off the ground. This allows the beginning stander and walker to hold on and pull, and feel secure while standing and playing. All this, on a 2  by 3 foot piece of plywood attached to the dining room wall. The only other thing we did was add three mirrored tiles at baby height on a different wall.

Now, raiding your garage or your family’s may land you half these items, but to buy them all from scratch is not cheap – easily in the $100 range, as the plywood section alone was $20, and all those $5 items add up. Of course, you can start off with just a few and add on. A toddler’s toy that can’t be thrown, lost, and actually occupies them over and over while letting them explore and learn? Priceless.

Today it’s building the busy wall; tomorrow the treehouse, then the race car, the playhouse, and the sandbox. Are you game? Then check out these books on simple building projects, and things to keep your toddler busy.

        

 

* by the way, the above is the word Cyrillic in Russian, and the words writing in Kartuli, which is Georgian Russian.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in December

Thanksgiving is but a memory as we move full steam ahead into the December holiday season. We hope you can take some time out of your busy schedules to spend some time with us this month! Here are a few of the programs scheduled for December at CPL:

gallery_image5The Nutcracker by the Brass City Ballet

Saturday Dec 3, 2016,  11:00   –  11:55 AM

This FREE program will be a shortened version of the beautiful classic and will take place right here at The Cheshire Public Library. Children and adults alike are sure to enjoy the up-close and personal performance by the dancers. For all ages,  no registration required.

ar-161029988-jpgmaxh400maxw667‘Remembering Katharine Hepburn’ with Ann Nyberg

Saturday Dec 3, 2016, 1:00  –  2:00 PM

Please join journalist, author, and news achor Ann Nyberg as she shares her latest book Remembering Katharine Hepburn: Stories of Wit and Wisdom About America’s Leading Lady. Nyberg interviews and shares stories and photos from the people who knew Katherine Hepburn and cared for her––her friends, her fans, her family, and her neighbors.  Books will be available for purchase and signing. Registration required.

img_7638Sunday Concert: Connecticut Yankee Chorus

Sunday Dec 4, 2016, 2:00 PM

The CT Yankee Chorus is an all-male singing ensemble based in the Meriden-Wallingford area and has been a part of the Barbershop Harmony Society for over 60 years. Join us for a concert of cappella four-part harmony chorus and quartet singing featuring traditional favorites and holiday music. Free and open to the public, no registration required.

facebook-holiday-logoFacebook For Everyone

Monday Dec 5, 2016, 6:00   –  7:30 PM

The Holiday Season is just around the corner. Come to the Cheshire Public Library and learn how to create a Facebook account, connect with friends, family, share photos and videos, send messages, get updates and more. Registration required.

img_7578Retro Holiday Movie Nights

Thursday Dec 8, 15, and 22, 2016, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Ugly holiday sweaters strongly encouraged but not required. Light refreshments will be served for this adult program.

Kids Create: Homemade Gifts

wrapped-gifts-600Saturday Dec 10, 2016, 2:00  –  3:30 PM

Kids are invited to craft and create from 2 to 3:30 pm. Library staff and teen volunteers will be on hand to help little elves create and wrap their gifts. Caregivers are encouraged to help their children craft. If children wish to work with the volunteers instead, parents must remain in the library during the program. For ages 5-11, registration required.

jewelryJewelry Jam

Tuesday Dec 13, 2016, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Come for a free, fun evening of jewelry making. Seating is very limited and registration is required. Please register online or call 203-272-2245, ext. 4. This adult only program is sponsored by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library.

new_tech_gadgets_hitting_store_shelvesEmerging Technologies – presented by Verizon

Wednesday Dec 14, 2016, 6:00  –  7:30 PM

Do you ever wonder how to stay on top with the latest technologies? If yes, come to the library and find out what the newest technology trends are and how to select the right device for you or for your family members. You will learn about: Computers, Cell Phones, Tablets, WiFi and much more. Registration required.

jacket-aspxFab Film: The Polar Express

Saturday Dec 17, 2016, 2:00  –  3:45 PM

Come enjoy some great box office kids’ movies with Fab Films at The Cheshire Public Library!  Watch The Polar Express and enjoy hot chocolate! Rated G | Runtime: 100 minutes. All Ages. No registration required.

santa-storytimeHolly Jolly Christmas Family Storytime

Tuesday Dec 20, 2016, 10:00  –  11:00 AM

A Christmas-themed storytime for children of all ages and their families. We’ll read stories, sing some classic Christmas songs about snow and Santa, and create a craft together. All ages. No registration required.

parent-child-yoga-11Family Yoga

Tuesday Dec 27, 2016, 10:00  –  10:45 AM

Connect with your whole family with an all ages yoga class that is presented by Lani Rosen-Gallagher from Full of Joy Yoga. These classes are fun for the whole family! We will do lots of partner poses, group poses and of course relaxation. All ages, families are welcome. Registration required.

 

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What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in July

As we head into July’s  hot & muggy days, remember that Cheshire Library is an official “Cooling Station” – come in, get out of the heat, and enjoy some great programs while you’re here!

Please note: Cheshire Library will be CLOSED Saturday July 2 and Monday July 4 for Independence Dayjuly-4th-13-flag-happy-july-fourth-facebook-timeline-coverSummer Saturday hours (9am-1pm) are in effect starting Saturday July 9.

maxresdefaultThe Head-to-Toe Movement Show

Wednesday Jul 6, 2016, 10:00  –  11:00 AM

This movement-focused 60-minute performance is designed to engage children in physical activity using awesome music, original stories, incredible visuals, exciting games and interactive music technology to promote fitness, healthy eating, going to your library and celebrating music! For children ages 2 & up and their caregivers. Please register on our website.

k18408634Family Yoga

Friday Jul 8, 2016, 1:00  –  2:00 PM

Lani Rosen-Gallagher from Full of Joy Yoga will present a yoga class that is fun for the whole family. Kids of all ages are welcome. We will do lots of partner poses, group poses and of course relaxation. Connect with your whole family in a fun class. For all ages, no registration required.

imageStorytime at Cheshire Park

Tuesdays:  Jul 12, 19, 26,  2016, 11:30 AM  –  12:30 PM

Meet us at the Cheshire Park Pavilion this summer for a special program! Bring your lunch and we will read stories and have fun with our parachute. Look for our Cheshire Public Library banner. If it’s raining, we will see you on the next sunny Wednesday! Please use the entrance located at the intersection of Highland Ave. and Stony Hill Rd., Cheshire, CT 06410. For ages 3 & up. Drop-in, no registration required!

imageAfternoons of Awesome

Tuesdays:  Jul 12, 19, 26,  2016, 4:00  –  5:00 PM

Every Tuesday afternoon is awesome at the Library! School-age kids are invited to have fun with art, science, technology, and games. We’ll explore something new every week! For ages 7-12, please register on our website.

exps20852_PSG143429D03_05_4bCookbook Club

Wednesday Jul 13, 2016, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

It’s a new kind of book club – welcome to the CPL Cookbook Club!

  1. Check out a cookbook related to our July theme: Summer Side and Salads. (Visit our “Summer Sides & Salads” display near the catalog computers in the lobby.)
  2. Try one or more recipes at home.
  3. Come to Cookbook Club. Wednesday, July 13th at 6:30pm in the Mary Baldwin Room. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Ages 18 and up only.  By registering for this program, you acknowledge that you may choose to consume food that has not been prepared in a commercial kitchen.
  4. Share your thoughts (and dishes). Join library director Ramona Burkey and Deputy Director Deb Rutter to discuss your cookbook reviews and all things culinary. Bring your cookbook and a prepared dish (if you can) to share with the group.

75062f43caaa6f7be5b9f5e3183a70dbMove & Groove with Mr. Gym

Friday Jul 15, 2016, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Get physically fit through music and creative movement with “Mr. Gym”, a children’s singer and songwriter from Connecticut. For ages 3 & up, no registration required.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 2.27.59 PMStretching and Balance

Wednesday Jul 20, 2016, 6:00 PM
Are you concerned about falls? Learn ways to improve balance and flexibility with simple exercises you can do anywhere!!! Come to the Cheshire Public Library and attend 40 minute workout combining stretching, balance and coordination activities presented by Donna Paxton, Health & Wellness Instructor from the YMCA Cheshire Community. For adults, no registration required.

1166007.largeHow to Attract Hummingbirds, Songbirds and Butterflies to Your Garden

Thursday Jul 21, 2016, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

Join us for a presentation by Shaun Roche, Visitor Services Manager at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.  He will share a few simple tips to make your home into a refuge for wildlife and learn the essentials of a good habitat, food, water, shelter for hummingbirds, birds and butterflies.  Please register on our website.

Zingalingz Music and Fitness Class

Diverse group of children in a dance fitness class

Friday Jul 22, 2016, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

Circle of Friends Music of Southington is proud to present Zingalingz, a music and fitness program for children ages 5-12. Our specially designed movements and activities can help kids gain the important benefits of increased fitness and greater learning power. No registration required.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.00.23 PMThe Healing Power of Meditation

Wednesday Jul 27, 2016, 6:30 – 7:30 PM

Matthew Raider, MD presents the latest clinical research on how meditation can improve our physical, mental and spiritual health. This evening you will have a chance to practice some simple techniques that can reduce stress, enhance relaxation and promote inner growth. For adults, no registration required.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 3.05.45 PMShell Craft Class

Thursday Jul 28, 2016, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Please Join Gail Farrar as she demonstrates how to make a seashell craft.   Each attendee may choose one object to make (Frame, Box etc.). Her shell craft hobby started as a gift idea and has grown into a thriving business in her retirement.  Class is free but space is limited. Please register online for this adults-only class.