Yesterday was Veterans Day, and I’ve been thinking about one of my all-time favorite authors, the late Kurt Vonnegut. In fact I love his Slaughterhouse-Five so much that I had its philosophical catchphrase of impermanence tattooed on my arm (see below).
Born out of Vonnegut’s own hellish tour of duty in World War II, Slaughterhouse-Five tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a mild-mannered optometrist who comes “unstuck in time” after the firebombing of Dresden. Slaughterhouse-Five is a famous indictment of war. But re-reading the book, it’s clear that as much as Vonnegut hated warfare, he loved and admired his comrades at arms: “The nicest veterans…the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.”
Oddly enough, Vonnegut did not approve of Veterans Day. He longed for its precursor, Armistice Day, from his youth, which commemorated the sudden end of fighting in World War I with a moment of silence at 11:11 AM on November 11th. And even more oddly enough, it turns out that November 11th was also Vonnegut’s birthday.
So won’t you join me in a belated moment of silence to remember Vonnegut, Armistice Day, and all the veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country?
All the best,
Our award-winning program by children’s librarian, Amanda Winter, came back for two days this week! Led by our tech librarian, Joseph, and Miss Amanda herself, the program started out with a hands-on exercise in which the kindergartners and first graders used pearl-shaped stickers to write their names in braille. After the warm-up, they were taught how to create different codes using on-screen and off-screen activities in which the children used stickers, directional arrows, and colors:
The off-screen activity included creating a code by utilizing colors to represent different actions in the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” The children then rearranged the order of the colors to create a new code and were challenged to sing and act out the song by following the new code. The on-screen activity consisted of the children learning how to use the app ScratchJr in which they used directional arrows to tell a character on the screen how to move.
With the help of the activities, Amanda was ready to introduce everyone to our new Finch bot– a small robot that can be directed to move around by using directional arrows on a computer screen. Working together, Amanda, Joseph, and the children used code to direct the finch bot tell the story “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by having the robot move to pictures on the story mat of the different objects mentioned in the story.
11/7 | YAKETY YAK
Composed of second and third graders led by Miss Amanda, this month’s Yakety Yak group discussed the book The Littles and the Big Storm by John Peterson. The story centered around Littles, creatures that are six inches tall and have tails, and the Biggs, a human family. During the discussion, the children used critical thinking to analyze the pros and cons of being a Little, ultimately coming to a majority decision that it would be difficult to be small and have everything around them be so much bigger than themselves.
At the end of the discussion, the kids got to have fun and recreate a scene in the book where the Littles use a sailboat to cross the flooded basement to fix the sump pump. Using origami to fold boats out of tinfoil and out of wax paper, Miss Amanda and Miss Diane assisted the children create their boats and added a tiny dot of liquid dish soap at the back end of the boats to make them move. The group learned that the water molecules bond with the soap, disrupting the surface tension of the water and causing the boat to move forward.
11/8 | TINY BOOK SHOW and WORKSHOP
The Creativity Caravan returned to teach a room full of eager crafters how to create Tiny Books! The instructors, Amy and Maya, shared their suitcase full of fascinating, colorful miniature books they travel with to raise the excitement in the room. Next, they provided materials and gave detailed, step-by-step instructions for each participant to craft three different styles of tiny books.
The final products were absolutely beautiful! The attendees were thrilled as they discussed the myriad of uses for their adorable little books: Thanksgiving place markers, books of gratitude to gift their children, books of poetry, as vacation mementos, and so much more!
Interested in making your own book? Here is a how-to video from the instructor’s website for you to enjoy!
11/10 | ACT PRACTICE TEST
Hosted and run by Teen librarian, Karen Dewilde, this free, three hour ACT practice test was full of high school students sacrificing their day off to become better prepared for the exam.
Before starting the test, Karen explained how the it would be conducted, how much time the students would have, and gave them advice on specific aspects of the test they should be paying most attention to. One of the most important topics she touched on was time: she encouraged students to mark where they finished the test at the end of the three hours to see if they needed to work on finishing faster.
Make sure to check our calendar for more ACT, as well as SAT, practice test dates.