Looking for free fun for the kiddos? The library has SO much to offer! Check out this fun Dollar Tree lanyard craft, plus tips on how to get your kids excited for reading.
Want to know the hottest item in our house? Our library cards! Utilizing everything the library has to offer in the summer is a great way for budget friendly fun…plus your kids will keep learning when school’s out of session. Obviously every library is different, but be sure to check the schedules for free reading events, crafts and more! Plus, you can check out e-books and stream movies for on-the-go fun.
Last year, we tried a fun new activity we called “Where to Gumshoe?”, based on the old show Carmen San Diego. Every few weeks, we would learn about a new country and get stamps in homemade passports, plus try new recipes based on the locations. It was super fun for the girls! We weren’t able to finish all of the countries, but they learned so much.
This summer, with the baby coming in July, I’m going to focus on the girls’ reading comprehension. All three love to read, but it’s starting to become more of a competition about what page they’re on, rather than enjoying the book. We’re going to have journals and answer fun questions after reading each day. Since the twins are almost 3rd graders, I’m excited to introduce my favorites like Ramona, Matilda and Judy Blume.
One thing I’ve learned having readers is this: you can’t force them to love something just because you do. Every reader is different! We’ve found that Olivia gravitates towards non-fiction, learning about history and nature. Maddie loves fairy books and Junie B. Jones. As long as they’re checking out books that interest them, I’m a happy Mama.
To keep track of their library cards, we make a fun craft: library card lanyards. Best part? Everything is from the Dollar Tree! I swear, we have yet to lose our cards since making these. Last December, since Gabby became a reader in kindergarten, it was her turn to get a library card and make HER lanyard. Let me tell you, it was a HUGE deal to her. She watched her sisters make their lanyards 2 years before and has been itching to have her own since.
What you’ll need:
- Carabiner Clips (look for the ones with a keyring holder)
- Elastic stretch lace
- Beads- we love the colorful ones, plus alphabet
- Hole punch
- Library card!
All items should be available at your local Dollar Tree. I have found the supplies make at least 4, so you might want to grab 2 packs of the carabiners!
They’re pretty quick and easy to make. Simply measure out about 30 inches of elastic (you don’t want the lanyard to be too tight) and tie a bead at the end. Let your child string the beads as desired. To add the library card, punch a hole in the corner (making sure to avoid the bar code or magnetic strip area!) and add it to the metal key ring holder. Then, add the ring to the carabiner. Once the beads are all in place on the lanyard, put the library card key ring on there before tying.
With the library card comes household rules. This would be a great activity to do the same day or before heading to the library. Think about how many books can be checked out, where to store them and also talk about how to treat the books. We also covered what areas are okay to check out books. As much as they want to read “big kid” books, they have to pass the first page test: if they can read the first few sentences, they are allowed to try the book. You want them to challenge themselves, but not get too over their head with a super hard book!
- Do a tour of the children’s section to show them all areas they can enjoy. Showcase the different areas of non-fiction, books on CD and the movies. I like to share the bookmark tip too: let them carry a bookmark to hold the place on the shelf when they find a book they might want to read. Emphasize how important it is to keep everything in it’s right place.
- Let them check out their own books. We have a special code they need to remember and of course they love to get the receipt at the end. Show them when the due date is.
- Have a special bag dedicated for the library. We have a family bag and we store all library books in it to keep track of them.
Don’t forget the library can be fun for YOU too! I could spend hours in the library browsing, but obviously, that doesn’t happen too often. When I find a book I want to remember, I scan it with the Goodreads app, adding it to my bookshelf. So handy!
- Free eBooks. No need to leave the house, browse online at your library’s eBook selection. Not sure how it works? Ask your librarian next visit! You can use your Kindle or download the Kindle app on your iPad or other device. Our library uses the Overdrive app.
- Movies. When I know a movie I want to see is coming out on DVD, I place a hold online for it at the library. Forget Redbox when you get a movie for FREE and for 7 Days! Our library has TV series for 3 weeks–perfect time to binge a season. There’s also an app our library uses called Hoopla which you can stream up to 10 movies or shows a month. I love the workout videos on there!
- CDs/Audiobooks. If you travel by car a lot, get some audiobooks or new music to sing to! Yes, I still use CDs. I’m an 80s kid.
- Classes and Events. I’m always impressed when I see how much the library offers. Be sure to check your local events calendar! Many libraries offer computer classes and more! We also have weekly concerts in the summer, farmer’s market and outdoor movies.
What are your early memories of the library? Any good books we should read–both for me or the kiddos?