Kids Blog: Summer Reading Club


Don't run from these snake filled activities!

Recommended Books


Make a Snake
For a springy spiral craft snake, use this template on cardstock or a paper plate. Or try creating your own spiral snake, making sure to mark the spiral with a wide head at the outer part of the plate and a relatively smaller part for the tail. You could also attach a bell to the tail to create your very own "rattler".

Once you have completed your very own spiral snake, have fun with your friends by reciting this Shell Silverstein poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

"Boa Constrictor" by Shel Silverstein
Oh, I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor, a boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor and I don't like it--one bit.
Well, what do you know? It's nibbling my toe.
Oh, gee, it's up to my knee.
Oh, my, it's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle, it's up to my middle.
Oh, heck, it's up to my neck.
Oh, dread, it's upmmmmmmmmmmmmffffff...

Thanks for coming to this summer's booktivities. Check back during the school year for more fun activities!

Great Reads for Grades 3 to 6

Every year, when I visit elementary schools in May, I take along two huge bags of books. I talk to everybody from Pre-K through 6th grade, so the titles I read or that I show are quite varied. Here, I would like to share a few of those books that are appropriate for students from 3rd grade through 6th.

First of all, for the 3rd and 4th graders, there is the popular Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel. This year, I showed Bad Kitty for President. This series is funny and easy to read. If you like this one, you might like:

Even if you haven’t seen the movie yet, it might be fun to read The Adventures of Tintin: a novel. This 2011 book by Alexander Irvine brings together some of the adventures of the original comic book stories by Hergé. It will leave you breathless and ready for the next installment.

The Day-Glo BrothersA non-fiction book that I read and booktalked this year is The Day-Glo Brothers: the true story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s bright ideas and brand-new colors. Chris Barton tells the story of a couple of brothers who dreamed up a product that nobody had seen before and how useful it became.

Three books that would be appropriate for all children from grades 3 to 6 are The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 amazing authors tell the tales. Famous authors each wrote a short story after seeing the story starter pictures that were first published in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. This is a story-starters or plot-your-own-stories book. Children can dream up their own stories from The Mysteries or see what authors have developed in The Chronicles.

One of next year’s Bluebonnet books is getting a lot of attention for its uniqueness and I certainly enjoyed it. That book is Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith If you think you’re having a challenging summer vacation, just wait till you read about this boy who thinks he is just going to help his grandma at her bed and breakfast hotel. Wow!

For the older set, students in grades 5 and 6, I suggest a funny but touching coming-of-age book by Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt. This is the best juvenile book I’ve read all year. Granted, it is a “boy” book but I loved it all the same. It has adventure, mystery, an interesting family, comic writing, driving without a license and all sorts of twists and turns of plot. Reading it is well worth the ride.

My second suggestion for students about to start Middle School is to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. The Arlington Public Library has this “classic” in an easy to read paperback or in a nicely illustrated version. A new movie version of this book is coming this December (1st installment) so reading this book ahead of time will make the movie even better and then you might have the patience to wait another year for the 2nd installment. It is being filmed in New Zealand, so it should be a visual delight.

Whatever you read this summer, enjoy!

Booktivity...Your Family Tree

Discover your own past with a Family Tree!

Recommended Books


Make a Family Silhouette
Tape a sheet of white paper to a wall. Seat a family member, facing sideways, on a chair in front of the sheet of paper. Shine a light on the seated person, casting a shadow of the person's profile on the sheet of paper. While the seated person sits very still, use a pencil to trace the outline of their silhouette. Color or paint the silhouette. Or cut along the outline of the head and glue on colored paper.

Play an old-fashioned game.
Like marbles, or hopscotch. Or play with a hoop like Colonial children would have. 

Old Family Photos/Keepsakes
Look at old family photos and point out the change in hair and clothing styles. Find family keepsakes and discuss its history and personal importance.

Create Your Own Family Tree
With the help of you parents fill out a simple family tree.

Visit Working Farm
If farming is in your family's history, visit a working historical farm like the Penn Farm in Cedar Hill State Park.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Snakes on July 31st at the Central Library!

Booktivity...Native Americans

Make history come alive!

Recommended Books


You will need: a sturdy paper plate, yarn, a hole puncher, scissors, and some craft beads and feathers. Try using this dreamcatcher pattern.

Birchbark Canoe
You will need: brown construction paper or brown paper from a grocery bag, crayons, tempera paint/markers, scissors, yarn and a hole punch. Use this birchbark canoe pattern.

Totem Pole
You will need: a paper towel tube, a small scrap of poster board, a posicle stick, and 3 animal patterns. Look for patterns in the Kids Multicultural Art Book.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Family Trees on July 24th at the Central Library!

Booktivity...AAAAAHHHH!! Shark!

Discover the wonders of the ocean's fiercest predator through these activities!

Recommended Books


Copy this pattern onto cardstock and glue a second layer on the back. When the glue is dry, laminate if possible. Then cut the 7 pieces and use them to make a shark pattern. Still having trouble? Check out this tangram shark pattern. After you have mastered putting the shark together, you can try other easy patternsfound on the Internet and in books. Try more tangram patterns on your own!

Critter Cards
Find "critter cards" from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Print a double set of cards on cardstock. Cut them out creating your very own game of concentration. Not interested in creating your own memory game? Try printing out some of the Aquarium's coloring sheets.

Shark Exhibit
From now until September, a special exhibit will be at Dallas' Museum of Nature and Science called, "Planet Shark: Predator or Prey." Make a day of it and watch the Imax show, "Sharks" by Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Native Americans on July 17th at the Central Library!

Booktivity...Dream Something Big

Dream Big and Read with these fun filled activities!

Recommended Books


Artistic Towers.
Make some artistic towers of your own using pipe cleaners or floral wire, glue, assorted beads/buttons/foam shapes, magazine clippings and perhaps some scrap foam that can be used to stand up the towers. Simple instructions are included at the back of Dream Something Big. For more information on the Watts Towers check out this online timeline.

Marshmallow-Spaghetti Houses
Each house can be built on a flat piece of cardboard. You will need uncooked spaghetti and small marshmallows. Challenga other kids to make a stable house, establishing a time limit for when the houses will be judged. For more ideas check out this onlne guide.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Sharks on July 10th at the Central Library!

Booktivity...Frightening Lightning

Celebrate the summer break with these frighteningly fun lightning activities.

Recommended Books


Easy Experiments to create realistic thunder and lightning sounds.

Light Up Lifesavers
This experiment let's you shoot lightning sparks

Make the recipe in the back of Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake.

Make Lightning
You will need:
-aluminum pie pan
-small piece of wool fabric
-styrofoam plate
-a pencil with a new eraser
Push the thumbtack through the center of the aluminum pie pan from the bottom. Push the eraser end of the pencil into the thumbtack. Put the styrofoam plate upside-down on a table. Quickly rub the underneath of the plate with the wool for a couple of minutes. Pick up the aluminum pie pan using the pencil as a handle and place it on top of the upside-down styrofoam plate you were just rubbing with the wool. Touch the aluminum pie pan with your finger. You should feel a shock. If you don't feel anything, try rubbing the styrofoam plate again. Once you feel the shock, try turning the lights out before you touch the pan again. Check out what you can see!

Why does this happen? It's all about static electricity. Lightning happens when the negative charge in the bottom of the cloud, or in this experiment your finger, is attracted to the positive charge in the ground, or in this experiment the aluminum pie pan. The resulting spark is a mini lightning bolt! For further information check out the National Weather Service.

Mini Cartoon Optical Illusion
You will need:
-a pen
-white or colored paper
-cardboard (cereal boxes are good)
-crayons or markers
-mathematical compass or jar lid to trace
1. Trace a circle of cardboard with a diameter of about one and a half inches (anything goes as long as it's not too big--experiment!).
2. Cut it out, and trace two paper circles the same size as the cardboard.
3. Cut them out. On one circle, draw and color a lightning bolt. On the other, draw and color a cloud.
4. Glue one picture on each side of the cardboard circl.
5. Punch two holes in the cardboard on opposite ends from each other.
6. Thread a piece of string through each hole.
7. Tie a knot in each piece of string to make two loops.
8. Twirl the disk by twirling the strings. As you twirl, watch the pictures. Like magic, the lightning bolt will be coming from the cloud!

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity, Dream Something Big on July 3rd at the Central Library!


Celebrate the summer break with these fun filled camping themed activities.

Recommended Books


Make a pretend camp.
Use a blanket and a large table as a tent or set up a real tent in the backyard. Make a meal you might eat at a campsite (ex. hot dogs, baked beans, s'mores, etc.). Keep a nature journal with the types of animals (real or pretend) you find around your camp.

Make a miniature campfire.
Use old CDs and add small sticks, stones, and tissue paper fire.

Create your own camping scene.
Print, cut and color the shapes to your very own unique creation.

Or bring nature to you, by making a pine code feeder.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Frightening Lightning on June 26th at the Central Library!


Celebrate the summer break with these fun filled superhero themed activities.

Recommended Books


Make a superhero cape out of an old tote or a plain back t-shirt.
Instructions for cape from tote.
Instructions for cape from t-shirt.
Use fabric paints to decorate cape with your favorite superhero logo.

Make a superhero blocking bracelet.
1. You will need construction paper, glitter, star stickers, glue, 1 toilet paper roll per person, yarn, scissor and tape. Prepare the toilet paper roll by making one cut lengthwise from end to end. Make another cut in the middle from side to side. This will make 2 bracelets.
2. Cut the sheets of colored paper 2 inches wide and 11 inches in length. Wrap one piece of paper around each toilet paper roll half and tape paper to roll.
3. Decorate the outside of the bracelet with glitter and stickers. Then hole punch 1 hole on each cut end of roll and tie a piece of yarn from one hol to the other. Place one bracelet on each wrist and tie.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Camping on June 19th at the Central Library!

Booktivity...Summer Celebration

Celebrate the summer break with these fun filled summer themed activities.

Recommended Books


Make a summer memory/scrapbook out of a shoebox.
Cover and decorate a shoebox and fill it with memories of summer (i.e. tickets to Six Flags or Rangers Stadium, lyrics to a favorite song, vacation pictures, book titles, etc.)

Try some food experiments.
A package of yeast, some warm water and a few leftover ingredients can make a Yeastly Feast or try Mighty Morphin' Milk.

Make your own fresh-squeezed lemonade.
For this recipe: Combine 1 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Grate one lemon for 1 tablespoon of lemon zest. Then squeeze the juice from at least 6 lemons to make 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice. Combine all ingredients with 5 cups of ice cold water. Chill and serve.

Make a Father's Day Card
Go to father's day cards and print out a card (on card stock if possible). Either print in black and white and color yourself or print in color.

Don't forget to attend the next booktivity all about Superheroes on June 12th at the Central Library!