Board in the Library – Exploring the rise of tabletop gaming in 2018

When a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a board game cafe (The Board Room in Middletown CT) , I pictured three mind numbing hours of pictionary, or even worse, monopoly. I have a short attention span as it is, and pretending to be a tiny banker buying properties acrossboardgamesforadults-2x1-7452 the board and keeping track of piles of colorful money never really engaged me. In reality, I spent the next three hours curing diseases in Pandemic, creating train tracks that spread the globe in Ticket to Ride, and trading spices in Century: Spice Roads. I was floored that board games had evolved so much since I had played as a kid, the art was more engaging, the stories richer, and the play more involved. In the months following this revelation I’ve added over thirty board games to my list, and I’ve expanded my idea of what a board game can be.

Now how does this tie in to the library you ask? Well, board games have actually gained a large following in the library world, and both librarians and patrons are starting to take notice. Board games are one of the many tips-on-how-to-make-a-board-gameresources in a library that encourage community and collaboration. At a time when parents and educators are concerned about the rise in digital media and isolation, board games get people of different backgrounds engaging with each other across a table, solving problems, improving a number of practical skills, and having a good time. When you look at it that way, it’s no surprise that board games are a critical part of a libraries community, and a lifelong pursuit of learning.

If you’re new to board games, or like me, rediscovering your love of gaming, fear not. Here is a quick list of board games perfect for beginners.

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Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn.

 

  • Ticket To Ride suggests 2-5 players ages 8 and up with 45 minutes of play time.

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TsuroCreate your own journey with Tsuro: The Game of the Path! Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care. Other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction—or off the board entirely! Paths will cross and connect, and the choices you make affect all the journeys across the board. Find your way wisely and be the last player left on the board to win!

  • Tsuro suggests ages: 8+ , with 2-8 players, and up to 20 minutes of play time.

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Sushi Go! – Pass the sushi! In this fast-playing card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master!

  • Sushi Go! suggests ages 8+, with 2-5 players, and up to 15 minutes of play time.

Just like the rest of the library, board games are designed to challenge your current pattern of thinking and keep your brain young. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that playing board games was associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Board games are also great for those with anxiety as a way to step out and make new friends within a structured setting, allowing friendships to build over a collaborative goal. But, just like any other program in the library, it needs participants to thrive and grow.

Lucky for you, there’s a new board game club opening at the Cheshire Public Library this February! This club will be hosted on the first Thursday of the month, and each month will feature a new board game. Come and enjoy our freshly re-modeled third floor, have a hot chocolate and re connect with old friends, or make some new ones!

 

 

 

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.

Cloning Around

Cloning seems new, but it’s technically been around longer than man – identical twins can be considered clones, splitting a single fertilized egg into two or even four genetically identical individuals from that one egg. Modern cloning, wherein cells are taken from a living donor and a primitive cell is induced to become an organism traces back to just 1996, when Dolly the Sheep was cloned from a mammary cell of another sheep, the first time a body cell was used instead of a sex cell – an egg or sperm.

The success of Dolly induced a rush to clone everything. Companies still offer to clone your pet, so that when it dies you can have an exact replica. Zoos and conservationists tried vainly to clone endangered species. And, due to the discovery of some well preserved remains of extinct creatures such as the mammoth and Otzi, the ancient hunter, biologists, paleoarchaeologists, and dreamers leaped at the chance to resurrect ancient animals, or possibly even a Neanderthal (if you believe they are truly extinct. It’s been found that modern people of European descent may have as much as 5% Neanderthal DNA .

Is this even possible? Jurassic Park resurrected the dinosaurs, and outside of making a tidy sum for their producers (four films have brought in more than 3.6 billion dollars. Billion with a B, not counting book sales), we understand the havoc that created, substituting frog DNA for missing strands of dinosaur.

Two recent books discuss this possibility in thoughtful detail.

Resurrection Science, by M.R. O’Connor, is philosophical and easy to read. She discusses reasonable ethics regarding several endangered species, but leaves the questions open for the reader to decide. Should millions of people be denied electricity because a mere handful of frogs live only in six square feet of mist of one waterfall deep in the jungle? Should we be captive-breeding the Florida panther, only to release them into a concrete jungle so they can be hit by cars and shot by people freaking out when they see them? Species have been going extinct for millions of years; should we be trying to save them if we’ve destroyed the very environment that made them what they are? And by the time you artificially recreate animals, hand-rear them (because the parents are extinct), and then set four of them free – are they really the animal you were trying to save? Because they were artificially created, they don’t know what to do, how to attract mates, what or how to forage and eat, and can starve to death.

How to Clone a Mammoth, by biologist Beth Shapiro, is still easy to read, but contains a chapter on the hard-core dynamics involved in splicing and replicating DNA material. While Shapiro is among those who would love to see mammoths cloned, she’s deep in the know and admits it’s not feasible. Not only has not a single complete strand of viable DNA been recovered, no study takes into account the near impossibility of actually making the goal: in trying to resurrect the recently extinct Bucardo (a type of Spanish Ibex), using frozen cells taken from a then-living animal (not a 20,000 year old dried out one), 780 cells were transplanted to eggs, but only 407 developed into embryos. Two hundred eight were implanted into hosts, of which only seven became pregnancies (an efficacy rate of 3%). Of these, just ONE made it to term (0.4%). That one animal had a lung defect so severe it lived less than ten minutes. Cloning, depending on specie, has a terrible rate of success, with animals frequently dying of defects or cancers. Shapiro discusses the ethical concerns of what to do with a mammoth if you do create one – no one knows its behaviors. The MAMMOTH won’t even know how to act like a mammoth. Are they solitary or social? Will it pine in loneliness? What does it eat? Does that diet still exist? Where will you keep it? We’re bringing alive an animal we have no data on whatsoever. Is this fair to the animal? If not a mammoth, should we try to resurrect something else recently extinct whose absence IS having a deleterious effect on the environment? Shapiro paints a harsher ethical – and realistic – picture.

Technology is closer than ever to reaching de-extinction goals, and with increasing earth temperatures melting permafrost and releasing better-preserved specimens every year, the chance of finding usable DNA grows ever closer. Both of these books present a balanced side to the argument. Of course we WANT to bring back mammoths. The question remains: should we?

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in May

MAY we interest you in some programs this month? When you’re done groaning over that terrible pun, check out some of the highlights from May’s event calendar:

Friends of Cheshire Public Library Spring Book Sale

  • Thursday May 4, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  8:00 PM
  • Friday May 5, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  4:30 PM
  • Saturday May 6, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  4:30 PM
  • Sunday May 7, 2017, 12:00 PM  –  3:00 PM

Bargains! More Bargains! And don’t forget Sunday is Bag of Books Day – fill up a bag of books for one low price (bags provided) – $10 for one bag, $15 for two!

Tuesday Movie Matinees

Tuesdays, May 9, 16, 23, 30 at 1:00 PM

A different movie each week! No registration required.

Mark Twain in Connecticut

Tuesday May 16, 2017, 6:30 PM

Dr. James Golden of the Mark Twain House and Museum  explains the importance of Connecticut and Hartford to Twain’s life and work, including his famous neighbors, such as novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, travel writer and journalist Charles Dudley Warner, Civil War hero and senator Joseph Hawley, and female suffrage campaigner Isabella Beecher Hooker. Registration is required.

Writing Workshop: Story First (Plotting your novel)

Wednesday May 17, 2017, 6:00 PM

This workshop takes participants through the process of developing an idea into a workable premise that can generate a full story. From there writers will examine how to build a plot that will keep readers asking questions and turning pages until they reach a powerful and satisfying ending.  Presented by author Steve Liskow.  Registration required for this adult program.

Pet First Aid with VCA

Thursday May 18, 2017, 6:30 PM

Pet First Aid will teach participants emergency care procedures for your fur babies and provide tips for keeping your pet healthy too. Join us as Doctor Deborah Goul, Director of General Practice at VCA Cheshire Animal Hospital, and other VCA ER doctors,  Please be so kind as to leave your fur family at home. Registration required.

 Introduction to Microsoft Word

Wednesdays,  May 24 & 31,  2017, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

This class will provide an introduction to Microsoft Word and is divided into two sessions.You will learn basic navigation skills to effectively use the Microsoft Word program:

  • Create a simple document.
  • Edit text and check spelling errors.
  • Format the document.
  • Insert a picture; change font formatting and much more.

Please register separately for May 24 and May 31 sessions.

STEM Coffee Hour: Virtual Reality

Thursday May 25, 2017, 7:00  –  8:00 PM

STEM Coffee Hours are designed for adults who are interested in learning more about a particular science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topic. The general format is an informative presentation followed by group discussion. Facilitator: Dr. Tracie Addy, Center for Teaching and Learning, STEM Educator, Yale University. Please be aware that Coffee Hours are first come, first served. Please arrive 10 minutes in advance. If for any reason you are unable to attend, please cancel your reservation to open your space.  Register here (required).

Above and Beyond

Thursday May 25, 2017, 6:30  –  7:45 PM

Join us for the incredible documentary film of the escape from Nazi-occupied Europe by Jewish-American Pilot Bruce Sundlun and his subsequent return to support the French Resistance. Registration required.

Soccer Shots Mini Demo Class (ages 2-3)

Tuesday May 30, 2017  – Two sessions: 10:30 AM  &  11:15 AM

Soccer Shots of Central CT will be hosting a demonstration class for kids ages 2-3 years old. Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing young children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling and the basic rules of the game. Through fun games, songs and positive reinforcement, children will begin to experience the joy of playing soccer and being active. This program is presented by Soccer Shots of Central CT. For ages 2-3 years old with caregiver.  Registration begins May 9.

Look It up on lynda.com

lyndatutorIf you don’t have time to take a full class or just need a quick answer, lynda.com can help. For those who have never used lynda.com, it is a site of over 3,000 online courses available on the cheshirelibrary.com/elearning page of our website for anyone who holds a current Cheshire Public Library Card.

I frequently use the lynda online classes as a place to find answers to software questions. Need to know how to display all worksheet formulas in Excel? lynda’s Excel 2016 Tips and Tricks course has the answer. Simply scan the table of contents on the left side of the page and click on Display all worksheet formulas instantly. Three minutes and thirty seconds later you will have the answer.

That’s one of the things that is so wonderful about lynda.com. All courses are divided into short videos that are easily searchable. Word 2016 got you down? lynda has a course titled Word 2016 Essential Training. From getting started to formatting text, to using style and themes and many more complicated endeavors, this course has the answers you’re looking for. The entire course is five hours and forty-one minutes, but the average video chapter is only two to three minutes. Videos like Adding pizzazz with special text effects, Illustrating with WordArt, and Getting documents ready for sharing, can save you loads of time.

The number of topics covered in the lynda.com courses is truly astonishing. Photography. Game Design. Microsoft Office. Music. Test Prep. Business Topics. Educator Tools. And on and on.

You can access lynda.com from our website at cheshirelibrary.com/elearning. You must have a Cheshire Library card to login. Once you do, all the answers you need  are only a few minutes away.

Note: lynda.com charges libraries based on the population served by the library.  So when a library subscribes, lynda.com restricts access to those who have cards from that library. If you are not a Cheshire resident, check with your hometown library. More and more libraries are offering lynda.com to their patrons. If you are a Cheshire resident and do not have a card, you can apply for a card online or in person at the library.