Did you ever think you would be able to borrow a sewing machine or a fully functioning robotics kit with your library card? Well, at the Livingston Library you can, along with ukuleles, engineering kits, fiber arts, paper crafts, puzzles and more with our Ready, Set, Create! Toolkits for Emerging Artists and Inventors!
Each toolkit contains all the materials and instructions you need, just add your imagination.
Our available Toolkits include:
Ukulele: Learn to play the ukulele with instructions on how to tune and play it.
Sewing: A sewing machine, fabric and step-by-step instructions to get you started.
Code & Go Mouse Kits: A fun way for children to develop foundational coding skills. Create a maze, then program the mouse bot through it to reach the cheese!
LEGO Robotics: Build and program a robot with LEGO WeDo and Scratch.
Snap Circuits: This toolkit makes learning electronics easy and fun. Follow the colorful pictures in the instruction book to build projects such as FM radios, digital voice recorders, AM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells, and more.
Makey Makey: Turns everyday objects into touchpads, limited only by your imagination!
Strawbees: use engineering skills to build projects with ordinary drinking straws.
Paper Marbling: everything you need to create beautiful swirled designs on paper.
Quilling: Art form in which strips of paper are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. Quilling can be used to decorate cards, pictures, gift bags or boxes — the list goes on.
Puzzles: Alphabet puzzles, dinosaur, number and animal puzzles and continent puzzles for those looking for a little more of a challenge.
The cold, winter months are the perfect time to experiment and learn something new. Stop by the Youth Department and take home a toolkit today!
For May’s Nursery Rhyme Time, Gina shared stories, songs and sign language to introduce language patterns, body parts, colors, and nature.
In Tiny Toddlers, Anna shared stories and songs based around Early Learning Concepts to hone concentration skills in addition to science concepts to recognize patterns.
For Little Listeners, Amanda shared stories and songs that helped to build math skills and self-confidence.
5/2 & 5/14 | Intro to Soft Pastels
Under the competent direction of artist and instructor, Sarah Canfield, thirty participants learned to paint using soft pastels. Sarah began with a thorough overview of the medium, explaining the varieties/types of pastels, the unique qualities of pastel, and their drawbacks.
Participants brought an original color photograph: their first step was to sketch out their drawing using pencil or a light pastel. The group then gathered around a table and Sarah demonstrated how to apply the pastel color, including how to blend and layer color that are unique to the medium.
Intermittently, Sarah spoke of different tips and tricks , the various papers that can be used, and the challenges of the medium. She patiently helped participants and answered questions. A few participants tried to copy pictures from their phones or tablets, a few used pictures from books, and one had a pic of her pet dog that she was painstakingly trying to recreate.
Everyone had a good time, were engaged in their work, and several said this was the first time they tried this medium but were sure to go back to using it again.
5/4 | Teen Mindfulness Afternoon with Miniature Therapy Horse
Our Teen Librarian organized an afternoon of mindfulness. Teens had a place to write out stressors as they entered, then made squishy stress-relief balls, enjoyed refreshing mindfulness tea with fruit juices, and had a chance to bond with Noble, a mini therapy horse!
5/6 | 12 Dependable Perennials
Horticulture professor and expert, Marc Zukovich gave an excellent presentation on some dependable perennial plants and shrubs that we could plant in our gardens for year round beauty and enjoyment.
Some of the topics Professor Zukovich discussed were:
—Deer resistant plants (A useful title he suggested is called “50 most beautiful deer resistant plants”).
–The criteria for dependability for perennials, which are long blooming, tolerate less than perfect conditions, require low maintenance, are disease and insect resistant, and not invasive.
Marc’s dependable perennial plant list included: Lady’s Mantle, Echinacea, Hosta, Shasta Daisy, Salvia, Stonecrop, Lamb’s Ear, Catmint, and Russian Sage. He also included perennial shrubs like Abelia, Barberry, Buddleia, Spirea, and Weigela.
One patron remarked that she came expecting the presentation to be boring after a while, but Marc made the session both informative and fun.
5/8 | X-treme Readers Book Club
Miss Gina’s 4-5th grade book club read Katherine Applegate’s touching novel, Wishtree. They enjoyed discussing the themes of the book outside in the warm Spring air.
Children wrote their wishes down and hung them on our tree, creating our very own “Wishtree” on the Grace Chen Children’s Terrace!
5/12 | The Missing Stories with the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
Samip Mallick, Executive Director of SAADA, explained the work that SAADA does preserving South Asian American history. Mallick explained that 1 in every 100 Americans traces their roots to South Asia, yet South Asian American history is rarely preserved. He went over some stories in the archives, such as Dilip Singh Saund, who became the first Asian American elected official in 1952, and Bhagwan Singh Gyanee, whose name was recorded incorrectly by Congress as “Bhagwarr,” so SAADA had to do investigative work to piece together his identity. All participants were excited to learn about SAADA’s work and asked both for help preserving their families’ histories and also to be added to SAADA’s mailing list.
5/17 | Toddler Yoga
Sarah Elbell of Smarty ‘Kins led a full house of Sensorimotor, Art & Yoga for toddlers!
5/17 & 5/19 | Story Coders
Second and third-graders, along with their parents, enjoyed learning about basic coding concepts using the Finch Bot and ScratchJr. For both activities, Amanda and Joseph demonstrated how one character can be used to control another. Joseph demonstrated how the Finch Bot could be coded to send a message to the character or object on the screen. A different message was sent depending on how the person held the Finch Bot.
The children took turns using the Finch Bot to control the paddle on the screen to play the game Pog. Amanda also demonstrated how one character can control another using the ScratchJr App. She led the children in selecting one character for each direction that they wanted to have the Cat on the screen move. Amanda explained how to code each character to send a message when tapped to the Cat and have the Cat move in a particular direction. The children then chose a background, an object to have the Cat move toward, and a story to create their very own game. To test their logic skills, children and parents worked together on two puzzles from the game Rush Hour Jr.
To do something different this month, the Yakety Yak members were asked to read and bring their favorite book to discuss at the book club meeting. Most of the second and third graders chose fiction stories, but one child brought his favorite book, a non-fiction book about the history of flight. To begin the discussion, youth librarian Amanda asked the children to share why the book they brought was their favorite. During the discussion, children rolled a giant dice that had questions printed on each side. They then had a chance to answer questions about their fiction book’s setting, genre, and their favorite character. For non-fiction books, the questions included what the child’s favorite fact from the book was and whether or not this book was a good book about the topic.
The Video Game Design program kicked off its first session with a great group of kids (ages 9-14) and some teen volunteers. These kids will meet every week through April and May to learn about computer programming while creating their own video games. During the first session, the kids created a simple animation as an introduction to the coding platform, Scratch. Next week, they will be making a racing game.
4/3 | Xtreme Readers Book Group: Grades 4-5
The group read Tim Federle’s hilarious and heartwarming Better Nate than Ever, a story about a Broadway musical-loving eighth grade boy who is sure his stardom awaits if he could just leave his unfulfilling small Pennsylvania town and dysfunctional family behind, and head to NYC. The group enjoyed the book and are eager to read the sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate!. Youth librarian Gina discussed topics such as families and siblings, best friends, bullying, musicals, and New York City. She also presented the author’s biography for a look into his own experience in Broadway. Readers enjoyed watching Federle promote Better Nate Than Ever in his interview with the president & producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, Thomas Schumacher as they ate their snacks.
To celebrate uniqueness, Miss Gina taught the children how to create salt painting name art.
4/5| Springsteen and His Layered Lyrics
Facing a crowd of Bruce Springsteen fans, Professor Prudence Jones from Montclair University presented a lecture on Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen’s music, focusing on the lyrics and the folk songs his own music stems from.
Some examples Professor Jones presented were: Blind Alfred Reed’s song “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” was about the hard times of the Depression, but Springsteen borrowed the last refrain from that song and used it in the context of Hurricane Katrina; Springsteen borrowed from Irish immigrant Patrick Glimore’s song, “When Johnny comes Marching Home” ; and other artists that influenced Springsteen were Woody Guthrie, Curtis Mayfield, Hank Williams Jr, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Clarence Clemons, and Bob Dylan.
Another interesting fact Professor Jones pointed out was Springsteen’s use of Appalachian English in his lyrics, with words such as “we’uns,” “you’uns,” “y’all,” “them’s,” “young’uns,” and “hain’t.”
To start the program, kindergartners, first graders, and parents worked together to solve the tangram challenges. Using the seven shapes, children and parents had to recreate the shapes shown on the challenge sheet.
For the next activity, the children practiced breaking down tasks into smaller steps. Joseph, pretending to be a robot, explained that there was a problem with the code, (directions he used to complete the “get ready for bed” activity) and he needed their help to rewrite it. The children had to use step-by-step directions to tell “Robot Joseph” how to use a brush, read a book, use toothbrush and toothpaste, and drink a glass of water. With guidance from parents, Amanda, and Joseph, the children learned that their directions to a robot needed to be more specific than when they give directions to another person.
The library’s new Code & Go Mouse Bot was also revealed, which was a hit with the kids. Amanda explained that the mouse bot needed to be given directions using different color directional arrows. The mouse bot could be directed to go forward, backward, turn left, and turn right. While reading the story “The Journey” by Arnold Lobel, Amanda helped the kids retell the story by directing the mouse to move from picture to picture in the maze, with each picture representing a different part of the story. The children planned out how the mouse should move using arrow cards for each part of the maze, then Joseph input the commands into the mouse bot. Just like the mouse in the story, the mouse bot navigated the maze to go home and have some cheese!
3/10 | Makers Day
Despite a recent snowstorm and trees down in the parking lot, the library’s third annual Makers Day was a huge success! Approximately 500 people participated in the event, making slime, drawing spin art using LEGO machines, viewing robotics demonstrations, looking through telescopes, and more.
The Library benefited from partnerships with the high school robotics team, Livingston Robotics Club, Morris Museum Astronomical Society, Montclair Learning Center, and Bricks 4 Kidz to make this the best attended Makers Day at Livingston.
3/11 | Eco Friendly Lawn Care
This was the second installment in our “Know Your Garden” series with presenter, Marc Zukovich, a professor of horticulture at County College of Morris and a storehouse of knowledge on all gardening and botanical matters.
He began by saying that the lawn is America’s contribution to landscape architecture and is a $40 billion industry in the USA. Marc’s talk focused on the cultural practices associated with lawn care and gave many useful tips on conscientious lawn care and maintenance.
Mowing, aeration, seeding and over seeding, watering, topdressing, dethatching and soil texture analysis, which are different elements in lawn care, were highlighted. Marc spoke of the importance of soil testing and advised all lawn owners to use the services of the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory. The lab will analyse the nutrients and PH levels of a sample of soil from your yard, which is extremely beneficial when creating your lawn care regimen.
The importance of nitrogen to plants, how to read fertilizer labels (numbers like 5-10-5), types of fertilizers (organic vs inorganic), and when and how to fertilize was discussed. Marc also recommended environmental friendly organic products, such as Epsoma fertilizers and using corn gluten as a weed killer. He spoke of the environmental dangers of using synthetic fertilizers, especially “weed and feed” brands.
Read more about lawn care in a Rodale’s Organic Life article that was distributed, titled The Dark Side of Lawns.
3/12 & 3/13 | Stuffed Animal Story Time & Craft
Children, ages two-years-old to seven-years-old, along with their stuffed animal friends, enjoyed a special Story Time with Miss Amanda. They listened to stories about a girl who learns to love a pink, stuffed armadillo that her grandmother knitted, and a story about a rescued dog who can’t sleep without her collection of stuffed toys. The children counted teddy bears that fell out of bed as Miss Amanda sang the song “Rollover” and named the colors of a teddy bear’s clothing as he got dressed.
For the craft, the children chose the colors they wanted to use. With help, they put together the bear ears and paper strips to construct their teddy bear headband. Teen volunteer Lizzi Tesoriero helped the children with the craft.
3/14 | Creativity Blooms: Making Book Page Blossoms
Artist and instructor Donna Drew led a workshop using sustainable design concepts and showed the audience how to turn discarded book pages into pretty paper flowers. Using pages from recycled books, a flower template, and materials like a thin wire hook, glue, brushes and pens, she instructed the eager participants in cutting, folding, gluing and shaping the pages into petaled blooms.
Thought parts of the craft were challenging, everyone had an enjoyable experience, appeared engaged in the process, and each one took home a pretty paper flower. One participant commented that “this library has such great programs, offers a lot, and I love it!”
Some audience members admired the jewelry made and worn by Donna and asked about having her back for a jewelry class. You can view more of Donna’s art on her Triangle Designs Facebook Page.
Every Fall, a list of nominated books (published three years before the award) is created by a committee that is part of NJLA’s Children Services Section. According to the GSCBA’s page, members of the committee select these books based on their “literary merit and appeal to readers.” The four award categories for author and illustrator are: “Easy to Read”, “Fiction Series”, “Fiction”, and “Nonfiction.”
The winning books are announced at the NJLA conference in late spring where children then have an opportunity to vote at the Livingston Library– or at their public school in Livingston– for their favorite nominated book. Children who vote at the library are entered into a random drawing for a prize, with this Fall’s winner being Samay Malde!
The Livingston votes have been counted! Here are the top three titles for each category:
Second and third graders, along with their parents, enjoyed learning some coding basics using the Finch Bot and ScratchJr. The well-attended program was divided into three parts and the children and parents played tic-tac-toe as an icebreaker activity.
After introductions, Amanda and Joseph invited the group onto the story mat for the Finch Bot activity. The story mat was set up for the story If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff. The Finch Bot acted as the mouse in the story and the children had to direct the “mouse” from picture to picture following the sequence of the story. For this activity, the Finch Bot was only capable of moving straight.
Joseph explained that sensors on the front of the bot acted as the bot’s eyes. The children could direct the bot to turn left or right by placing special cards in front of the bot. Children took turns figuring out how many space the bot should move straight and which direction it needed to turn in order to reach the next picture.
For the second activity, Joseph demonstrated how to make a simple story following the If You Give a Mouse a Brownie pattern. The children and parents worked on creating their own versions of the story while Amanda and Joseph answered questions as needed. At the end of the class, the children had an opportunity to share their stories.
1/8 | Charcoal Sketch Workshop
A cold, snowy day didn’t discourage this group of eager artists to show up for our Charcoal Sketch Workshop led by Livingston Art Teacher extraordinaire, Christine Wittlinger.
Many of the students were using charcoal for the first time; they followed the teacher’s detailed instructions on how to hold the charcoal, where to draw the lines, how dark to make each line, and how to use the blending tool to create the desired effect.
1/9 | Yakety Yak
The well-attended book club for second and third graders discussed Asia Citro’s Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows. One of the reasons the children gave for liking the story was that it mixed fantasy and science. They liked that the story was both fun and educational.
During the story, Zoey made and tested hypotheses to figure out what the dragon liked to eat and how to make him better. For the activity, children used modeling clay to create their own dragon eggs and decorated them using food dye and beads.
1/11|Story Time with Live Guitar Music
Guitar Joe sang songs and told musically-based stories, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and a small bongo-like drum. Anna helped by showing picture books & puppets based on some of the songs.
The kids were encouraged to participate, such as helping with the distribution of maracas during the reading of “Drum Dream Girl,” which describes different forms of percussion, and encouraging the children to match the various rhythms in the story. The children responded enthusiastically (though, thankfully, not too rambunctiously) to both the music and the stories, all while receiving lessons in subjects like counting, spelling, and gender equality.
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.
Run by the Friends of the Library, BookFEST! is our biggest sale of the year. Just like last year, crowds filled the room each day of the event. The program room was arranged with tables full of books, puzzles, toys, video games, dvds, art, and other miscellaneous items. BookFEST! may be centered around books, but there was definitely something for everyone!
Although it was raining, our most popular day was Bag Day on Sunday: customers could buy a Friends bag, fill it up with books instead of purchasing the individual items. Talk about a good deal!
Proceeds from the sale support great library programs for children and adults all year long.
An exceptional program led by LHS female coder volunteers, Codergals started on October 16th, and continues on until November 6th. In this program, girls in grades 3-5 learn new coding techniques each week, such as creating their own emojis, opening their own blogs using WIX, exploring objects & variables in coding with the dancing Yeti project, and this most recent week, in the spirit of Halloween, the group practiced their coding skills with a zombie game. They also began learning about app coding using the bitsbox system.
On the last day of the class, they will present their completed blogs containing all of their work. With the technical field expanding and growing every year, this is a fun opportunity for girls to learn about some of the latest programs, apps, and pages used for coding.
10/31: TRICK OR TREAT AT THE LIBRARY
If you were looking for a fun place to visit on Halloween, the library was it. Our librarians dressed up for the occasion, many donning traditional witch hats to celebrate the day. Hundreds of kids showed up in costume, said the magic words– “trick or treat”– and received candy either at the circulation or the children’s desk. Kids with allergies and food restrictions were given non-sweet treats. Make sure to keep the library in mind when planning your Halloween adventures next year!
11/1: NATURE HEALS WORKSHOP: SEASONAL EATING AND HERBS FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT
Run by herbal specialist Jenna Henry Hansen and yoga instructor/nutritional therapist Jenn Dorney, this incredibly informative workshop focused on the ideas of ancient eating, specifically the practices of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Jenna and Jenn went over specific grocery items to purchase based on the season, including sample recipes for everyone to take home with them and sample foods and drinks to try at the event itself. There were also many packets handed out with information on the properties of many foods and herbs with information on how they help strengthen the immune system.
Here is an immune boosting recipe from last night’s program that you may find useful as we head into the colder months. Be sure to let us know if you try it out!
ZESTY IMMUNE-BOOST ELDERBERRY SYRUP Take 1 tsp 3-4x daily at the first sign of a cold.
1 Cup fresh or 1/2 Cup dried elderberries
1/4 Cup rose hips
1 Cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2-3 Whole cloves
Zest of one orange
3 Cups water
1 Cup organic raw honey
1. Place the berries, rose hips, cinnamon, orange zest, clove and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and mash up the mixture.
4. Strain the mixture though a cheesecloth or strainer, making sure to squeeze out all the goodness from the herbs.
5. Stir in honey. Add more or less to taste.
6. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
11/2: TEEN ADVISORY BOARD
Did you think that those awesome teen programs happen by themselves? Of course not! That’s why we’re giving you an inside look into a planning meeting of the Teen Advisory Board. They are working to finalize the plans for Night at the Library: National Treasure. The group tested the puzzles, worked on the clues and ensured that the event will be fun for all!
11/2: MARTY SCHNEIT LECTURE – THE BORSCHT BELT
Historian Martin Schneit lectured to a packed house about the Borscht Belt, the nickname for the summer resorts that existed in the Catskill Mountains in parts of Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties in New York. He displayed many colorful slides of Grossinger’s Hotel, with its grand dining room and indoor swimming pool. Marty shared stories from his time as a busboy at Grossinger’s; displaying a photo of Bess Myerson, the 1st Jewish “Miss America,” being crowned in 1945, sitting at one of the tables. He dazzled the crowd with interesting facts, such as basketball player Wilt Chamberlain worked as a bellhop at Kutsher’s Hotel. The crowd enjoyed musical clips of Eddie Fisher singing “Sunrise, Sunset,” and of Jimmy Durante singing “Make Someone Happy.” Marty had the audience heartily laughing along to jokes originally told by Rodney Dangerfield and George Burns.
Representatives from the New Jersey Division of Taxation, as part of the Taxation University Series, in cooperation with the New Jersey State Library presented Online Business & New Jersey Tax to small business owners.
They explained the NJ Sales and Use Tax, how to properly report and pay taxes, helpful publications and useful contact information. Participants were able to ask questions and both representatives provided useful information.
This is the first in the It’s Your Business Series of business and personal finance programs. Registration is open for the next program in the series, Fundamentals of New Jersey Sales Tax.