Big enrollment, lots of fun, at summer reading program

Photo by Daniel Jackovino Sydney Young, of the GRPL, displays a vertebral column made from a pool noodle, paper and string, for an anatomy lesson.
Photo by Daniel Jackovino
Sydney Young, of the GRPL, displays a vertebral column made from a pool noodle, paper and string, for an anatomy lesson.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The aptly-titled “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read” is the current summer-reading program at the Glen Ridge Public Library. The program highlights the human anatomy.

Sydney Young, a member of the children’s services staff at the library, heads up the summer program and has put together a number of fascinating workshops to teach student readers how their insides work.

“The anatomy workshops have been fun and we have received lots of positive feedback,” Young said last week. “The sessions we have had so far are the muscles, bones, the heart, brain and lungs.

The format is to have stations were the children do something different at each table on the topic.”

For the workshop on the brain, the children put together a paper puzzle, made by Young, of colorful brain parts. The kids would add a part to the puzzle at the activity station that highlighted the function of that particular part. In this way, they learned that the frontal lobe of the brain controlled problem solving and reasoning. For a related activity, the children were given puzzles to solve.

The cerebellum, they learned, controlled movement and balance.
“They had to walk on a piece of tape on the rug,” Young said, “and do a yoga ‘tree’ pose.”

At another station, the children placed their hand inside three separate sensory boxes, one with a common object; one with ice; and one with a heating element. This activity was done to highlight the function of the parietal lobe which regulates touch, temperature sensations and taste.

The temporal lobe provided the children with some easy listening to “Brain Power,” a children’s song about the body. The temporal lobe controls hearing.

One interesting fact about the brain that the children learned is that 90 percent of it develops by the time they reach the age of 5. And only 10 percent of the brain develops afterward!

“A child absorbs so much information, verbal communications and experiences,” Young said.

It was Young’s idea to do the anatomy workshops for the “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go” theme. But the theme itself is determined by the New Jersey State Library and an extensive notebook with ideas for activities is provided. But Young said her ideas came from the Internet and that she was helped out by her daughter, a physical therapy student.

“There’s a plethora of information for workshops online,” Young said. “For the bones we did something very cool.”

One of the cool things was making a human spine by cutting up a “pool noodle” and reassembling the pieces with paper discs, and nerves of string, between each “vertebrae.” Young also brought in X-rays and MRIs for the children to hold up to the light.

And the children sang the exercise song “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” using the names of muscles as lyrics.

Young said the summer reading program had signed up 487 children in three age groups: 2 to 4; kindergarten to fifth grade; and sixth to 12th-grade. There were 324 children in the kindergarten to fifth-grade group.

As of last week, 55 of the children reached the goal of the summer program: five reports on topics taken from 25 picture books or 500 pages.
“Roughly speaking, the children have read 2,245 books and we still have two more full weeks in the summer reading program,” Young had said.

At that time, the teen group had 43 participants and had read 1,320 books.
“The teen group is using Beanstack, a new online reading tracking program through BCCLS that offers a readers advisory and more,” she said.

On Aug. 9, at 2 p.m., the Essex County Environmental Center will be at the library to do “A Walk in the Woods,” Young said. At 6:30 p.m., there will be a yoga storytime. So, there is still time to enjoy the summer at the library.