Summer Reading: New Storytime Books

7 06 2012

We recently got some new Storytime books. Do you have any new favorite books? Let us know what books you’d like to see us read in the comment section. Here’s just a few of our new books and why we like them:

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

This sweet, bed time, rhyming book features all our favorite vehicles who work so hard all day at the construction site. After doing all the heavy lifting, Bulldozer, Cement Mixer, and all the other trucks and tractors are ready for their well deserved rest.

Watch Me Throw the Ball!

by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie are back for more fun. Gerald’s ball rolls up to Piggie, just asking to be thrown. But when Piggie’s throw is far from perfect, how will the dynamic duo recover? Silly fun abounds in this book by the author of the Pigeon series, Knuffle Bunny, and other favorites.

Little Owl Lost

By Chris Haughton

Our favorite thing about this book is the beautiful illustrations – the jewel tone, cut-paper collage imagery tell a classic tale with new vibrancy. Owl falls from the nest and gets separated from Mom. An overly helpful squirrel eagerly helps with Little Owl’s search.

National Police Week

1 05 2012

The third week of May celebrates National Police Week. During this week, you are encouraged to be thankful for Police Officers who have worked hard to keep America safe. National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. This week was established in 1962 and has taken place at the same time every year since it’s creation. It’s slogan is “In Memory of Many, in Honor of all”.

As well as recognizing police officers, May also holds days dedicated to other hard working professionals such as nurses, teachers, receptionists, and those who serve in the armed forces.

National Nurse Week takes place starting May 6th, with school nurses getting their own recognition on May9th.  The week draws awareness to the importance of the care , comfort, and well being that nurses bring to us,  especially our children and the aging, and those in poor health.

National Teachers Day takes place on May 1st and is dedicated to those hard working, patient and understanding people who look after us and out children throughout most of the week. National teachers day values professionals working as teachers and teaching assistants through Kindergarten to college.

National Armed Forces Day is on the 19th May and was created in August 31, 1949 by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. This is a day specifically designed to remind everyone of the hard work and dedication that the armed forces do every single day. It is to congratulate them on all of their hard work during training and to thank them for their bravery during risky and sometimes perilous missions for freedom and country.

Hans Christian Andersen

23 04 2012

April brings us so many exciting things, like Easter, April Fools Day, and National Garden Month. But April is also home to the birthday of the great author, poet and children’s story writer Hans Christian Andersen!

Andersen was most famously known for creating popular stories such as Thumbelina, The Ugly ducking, The Emperors New Clothes and The Princess and the Pea.

Andersen lived from April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875 in Denmark. Within this time, he wrote an incredible 168 tales most of which have been translated into many different languages.

A movie was released in 1952 starring famous actor Danny Kaye. This movie incorporated many of his fairy tales. The opening scene of the movie describes it best: “Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales.”

What is your favorite Andersen tale?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

24 02 2012

With the new movie The Lorax being released on March 2nd 2012, the date that would have been Dr Seuss’ 108th birthday, we thought we’d take a closer look at the issues that the movie is trying to tell us about.

The story, originally published in 1971, pays great attention to how the environment is being damaged in order to make other things. Trees, truffula trees in this case, are being chopped down  to make clothing and carpet. In real life, trees do get cut down every day, even if we don’t see it happening.

The Lorax shows us how every action causes a reaction. In this case, because the trees are being cut down, the other characters in the book are not able to eat because it is the trees that grow their food. With no trees, there will be no food.

It is also mentioned that because of the factory being built to create more items from the trees, the birds are being effected – they cannot sing and have to fly much further away to get out of the smog.

In the final section of the book, the lorax shows how the water around the factory is also being harmed by the chemicals that are thrown out of the factory. The images also show the amount of damage that factories can cause to the environment. In this particular case, fish are jumping and climbing out of the oil filled pond as quickly as they can.

So in the end, The Lorax is trying to get you to think about how your actions are affecting the environment, and what you could do to help the environment.

Do you recycle?

Recycling is a great way to start helping the environment! Start by cleaning up your room and recycling everything that you don’t need or use anymore.

Here is a short list of just some of the things that can be recycled:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Cardboard
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Magazines
  • Metal
  • Newspapers
  • Paper
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic bottles
  • Steel cans

These are items that would will find everyday in your own house. Just find yourself a large box/bin to place all these items when you are finished with them. You could even decorate the large box and label it ‘Recycling‘ so that even visitors can see that you are trying to help the environment.

But other than recycling, how else can you help the environment?

  • Walk or cycle to school
  • Take shorter showers
  • Make sure all lights are switched off when they are not needed
  • Reuse water bottles etc, instead of throwing them away once you’re done.

2011 Texas Book Festival

20 10 2011

Now that’s it’s getting colder, we can think of nothing finer than snuggling up with a blanket and reading our favorite books. And with that in mind…

The 2011 Texas Book Festival is here! Bringing authors and readers together for literacy, ideas, and imagination, this is a free public even that happens every year at the State Capitol here in Austin. This is the 15th annual Texas Book Festival and it will be taking place Saturday and Sunday, October 22-23.

To kick-off this exciting festival, here at ACM we’ll be hosting an event Friday October 21st from 3:30-5:30 where you can meet Doreen Cronin author of  M.O.M. and Eileen Christelow author of Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed.

Happy reading!

Summer Reading Club

8 08 2011

Finding ways to spend your vacation is half the fun of summer. But after many, many days without school sometimes you may find yourself bored. Well, writer Jenny Rosenstrach was taught by her mother that “Only boring people get bored”.

Have you ever thought about the challenge of a summer reading list? Jenny has playfully created a point system to encourage her children to entertain themselves with fabulous books whether it be a picture book, a chapter book or even a comic book. After reading a few books and obtaining a specific number of points, her child will be able to collect prizes. Here is Jenny’s detailed account of her Summer Book Club.

Scholastic gives kids the task of logging the minutes that they read not just how many books that are completed. Scholastic invites kids to Read for the World Record and attempt to have the name of their school placed in the 2012 Scholastic Book of World Records.

If you’d like a list from Scholastic of books for ages 3-5 click here!

Ages 6-7? Click here!

Ages 8-10? Click here!

Ages 10-12? Click here!

Take a look at how we use children’s stories here at the Museum.

Read the rest of this entry »

History of Fingerprinting

28 07 2011
At ACM’s Get a Clue camp, campers sharpen their  logic and detective skills by investigating mysteries, solving riddles and cracking codes.  One of the favorite activities at camp is to take each other’s fingerprint.
Imprinting the friction ridges of a person’s fingertip onto a surface is an easy way to uniquely identify someone.  No two people have been found to have the same fingerprint and because of this, fingerprinting is used for many purposes, including crime solving.
The first modern, official use of fingerprinting as a way of identifying people was July 28, 1858 when a British magistrate, William James Herschel in India requested a local businessman put his hand print on the back of a contract.  Herschel developed to the system because he thought locals felt more bound to a contract through this personal contact than if it was just signed.  After 40 years of observing the fingerprints over time, Herschel also determined that fingerprints never change with age.
Although fingerprinting had been used as early as ancient Babylonia to seal clay tablets, this was the first time a government made fingerprinting a protocol to use to distinguish people.  Almost 40 years later a policeman in Argentina began to keep fingerprints on file of criminals for investigating crimes.  Now fingerprinting is a fundamental technology used in criminal investigations.
You can take your fingerprint at home.  All you need is some tape, a pencil, some white paper and a magnifying glass. Read the rest of this entry »

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM

25 07 2011

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States declared July National Ice Cream Month!! Take a peek at the proclamation that makes this month so creamy and delicious.

Do you want to enjoy ice cream as much as this little guy? There are many delicious ice cream places in Austin that you can try. This week, campers in the Museum’s Home Grown Cooking camp will take a field trip Amy’s Ice Cream and see where the famous Austin establishment makes their ice cream. Stop by Amy’s sometime and try one of their seasonal flavors such as Girl Scout Thin Mint or Fresh Peach (with peaches from Fredricksburg).

If you’d like to be a Creator of Flavor, you can make Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag from this recipe:

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or half & half
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons rock salt
  • 1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
  • 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
  • Ice cubes

Tip: A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don’t increase the proportions more that that — a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

Here is a list of fun-to-read books about ice cream you can all read together!

Did you know?

  • It takes an average of 50 licks to polish off a single-scoop ice cream cone. Challenge your family to a Lick-A-Thon, and see who finishes first.
  • The biggest ice cream sundae in history was made in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1988 and weighed over 24 tons.
  • Of all the days of the week, ice cream is mostly bought on Sunday.
  • The United States produces the most ice cream in the world.

We hope you have enjoyed National Ice Cream month and find a smile in a good ice cream cone.

The Legend of Amelia Earhart

24 07 2011

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

–Amelia Earhart

May 21, 1932, Amelia steps off her Lockheed 5B Vega in North Ireland

On July 24th we celebrate the historic adventure of a daring soul on Amelia Earhart Day. Amelia had courage and willingness to prove she could do something that no woman had ever attempted before. Throughout her career, Amelia broke several records such as:

  • the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo
  • the only person to fly it twice
  • the longest non-stop distance flown by a woman
  • a record for crossing the Atlantic in the shortest time

All four of these records were broken in one flight! This woman was fearless. Her life of breaking records and flying around the world was not always the plan. Born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897 to Edwin and Amy Earhart, Amelia (Millie) soon became an older sister to Muriel. After schooling, Amelia began working as a nurse’s aide during World War I at Spadina Military Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

After moving to California to be with her parents, Amelia picked up flying as a hobby. In 1922, after receiving help from her mother and sister, and working a few odd jobs, Amelia was able to afford her very own airplane.

Amelia Earhart's first plane

To read Amelia’s full biography check out Pitara’s Magazine for Kids.

Amelia Earhart is a role model to women because she had a goal she felt destined to achieve and made every effort to do so. She is a historic legend because on July 2, 1937 Amelia completed nearly two-thirds of a flight that was meant to go around the world with her navigator Frederick Noonan but then went missing. The  result of their final flight is still a mystery to the world. There are several beliefs about what could have happened to Amelia Earhart, but this may be one mystery that never gets solved.

Play and learn about Amelia with this trivia game!

ACM believes Amelia Earhart is a powerful heroine that we can all look to as a guide for perseverance and determination, no matter if you’re a boy or a girl. She paved a path for bravery and dedication that anyone can follow. ACM also celebrates a girl’s interest in science and making history. August 15-19 we are holding the Girls Explore Science camp here at the Museum and there are several spots open. This camp gives girls a chance to experiment and learn about science in a hands-on way. If you’re interested in registering, contact the Museum at 512-472-2499 x201 or sign up here!

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”–Amelia Earhart

One Giant Leap: Moon Landing Anniversary

20 07 2011

On July 20th, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. Inside the Lunar Lander were astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. On this day in 1969, they landed in the Sea of Tranquility, a lunar basin. On July 21st, Neil and Buzz became the first humans to walk on the Moon!

NASA would go on to land a total of six missions on the Moon, the last of which took place on December 7th, 1972. Only 12 people have ever walked on the moon.

Earth only has one moon (some planets have many!). The Moon orbits the Earth in a synchronous rotation, which means we always see the same side of the Moon.  The side we can see is called the “near side” and the side we can’t see is called the “far side”. It takes about 28 days for the Moon to orbit the Earth.

The Moon may looks different from Earth depending on its relative position to the Earth and the Sun. As the Moon orbits the Earth, the Sun illuminates one half of the Moon. Depending on Earth’s position related to the Moon and the Sun, we see some of the sunlit Moon and some of the shadowed Moon.

Depending on what day you look at the Moon, you might see a Full Moon (totally round and bright), a Crescent Moon, a Quarter Moon, a Gibbous Moon, or the New Moon (when the Moon is totally dark from Earth).

Download and print your own copies of these Lunar Phase cards to play Moon Phase Memory!

To learn your Lunar Phases, download and print our Moon Phase Memory Game. Click on this link to download the pdf: Moon Phase Memory Cards

Then print two copies of the sheets (you should print 4 pages total – so that you have 2 of each Lunar Phase card). Cut out the cards. If you can see the shape of the Moon through the back of the paper, glue the cards to a thicker paper (like cardstock).

Once all of your cards are made, find a friend (or two or three!) to play Memory with. Shuffle all of the cards and flip them upside down on the floor in front of you. Take turns turning over 2 cards per turn. Try to remember which card is where. When you find a match, you get to keep those cards, and take another turn. Once all of the cards are paired up, the person with the most pairs wins!

Inspiration to All

27 06 2011

Our mission here at the Austin Children’s Museum is to create “innovative learning experiences for children and families that equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers”.

Wolfgang is a 9-year-old child who attends Barton Hills Elementary School. His 3rd grade class was assigned to build a landmark that they have been to in Austin. Wolfgang chose the Austin Children’s Museum. When asked why he chose the museum Wolfgang expressed that he “really likes to come here” and “has been for many years”. Here are pictures of the model and of the inspired kid who built it:

To build the model, Wolfgang used materials such as sheet rock, cardboard, foam, markers, glue, and paint. He also wrote an essay explaining why he chose to build the Museum and what he is inspired by. If you’d like to read what Wolfgang wrote about us, click here:

Wolfgang’s ACM Model

We were very pleased when this child came to us with pride and told us about his project.  Wolfgang has even been kind enough to let us keep it. If you are interested in seeing the Austin Children’s Museum Model, stop by and ask to see it. Please let us know if you have used the Museum in any papers or school projects. We’d love to find out!

Reading with Babies: ACM Book Drive Continues

20 04 2011

Olivia is one of our favorites! Wed love a copy of "Olivias Opposites" for our library!

Here at the Austin Children’s Museum, we’re in the middle of our April Book Drive. We’ve received some generous donations already – thanks to everyone who has come in to the Museum and brought a book and all those who have donated money to the cause. Check out our book wish list and our first post about the Book Drive to find out more about how you can participate.

Since the focus of this book drive is the Museum’s Early Childhood Library, we wanted to post about reading with babies and toddlers. Reading aloud to babies and toddlers does a lot for their development. According to, reading aloud:

  • teaches a baby about communication
  • introduces concepts such as stories, numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way
  • builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills
  • gives babies information about the world around them

Reading is also a great way to bond with your baby – starting a reading routine is a great habit that can continue long into a kid’s childhood.

Classics like "Corduroy" would be great additions to the Early Childhood Library.

When we do story time for early learners here at the Museum, we look for simple books that have nice pictures. Books that have repetitive structure, words and sounds are particularly fun.

For big groups of kids, we look for books that have interactive elements. For example, in a book about farm animals, the reader can ask “What sound does a duck make?” and everyone can chime in with their best “Quack, quack, quack!”.

What are your favorite books to read with babies and toddlers? What are your best tips and advice for engaging story times?

Don’t forget to bring your little readers the Museum during Baby Bloomers on Mondays and Cub Club on Saturdays and participate in the book drive!

Book Drive!

7 04 2011
Here at ACM, we’re having a book drive during the month of April! We’re hoping to expand our collection of early childhood books, which are used in our Baby Bloomers and Cub Club programs. We talked with Vy, who is our Education Program Intern and one of our staff members running the book drive, to find out more.

What types of books is the Museum looking for?
Vy: Children’s books for ages 0-3; visitors are more than welcome to share their child’s favorite books that they are willing to donate.

What qualities make a book great for ages 0 – 3?
Vy: Books that are colorful, have simple rhymes, and beautiful illustrations!

Why is it important to read to babies and toddlers?
Vy: Books give children a chance to learn about this amazing world. You find yourself talking with children about many topics that don’t usually come up in daily conversation. This adds to their knowledge and improves their vocabulary. They also learn about how to read. These pre-reading skills include everything from how to hold a book, which ways to turn the pages, even the direction that print is read. Reading to children gives them a chance to listen to rhythm and rhyme of words. This will help children learn phonics, which is the connection between letters and sounds. All of these skills will help the children in your care become successful readers. It’s never too soon to begin reading. Some people think that since babies won’t understand all the words, you shouldn’t read to them. But babies love books. Babies develop eye muscles by looking at pictures and learn many words from books.

There are several ways you can get involved:
  1. Bring 1 new or 3 gently used books in exchange for free admission to Cub Club or Baby Bloomers!
  2. Donate books for ages 0-3. We would especially love books from our wish list!
  3. Give spare change, and we’ll buy books. Several businesses have agreed to collect money on our behalf. So far, Texas State Optical, New Mandarin Chinese restaurant, and Chicoine Chiropractor (all three on S. Congress & E. Oltorf) have collection cans for the book drive. We’ll also have one here at the front of the Museum!

Vy’s favorite books to read at Storytime are The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. What is your favorite book?

Writing Poetry with Math

2 04 2011

The month of April is commonly known as National Poetry Month and  Mathematics Awareness Month.

While poetry and math seem to be very different, they actually have a deep connection.

In most poetry, math helps to create the poem just as much as language does. Mathematical concepts create the shape of the poem, the length of the lines and the pattern of the poem’s rhythm and rhymes.

You can see how math helps the rhythm and rhyme of poems by looking at the patterns of a limerick. A limerick is a short, funny poem with a specific rhythm and rhyme scheme (a-a-b-b-a). You can hear the rhythm of a limerick when you say it out loud.

Here is an example from an anonymous poet:

A circus performer named Brian
Once smiled as he rode on a lion.
They came back from the ride,
But with Brian inside,
And the smile on the face of the lion.

Can you hear the rhythm? Do you recognize the rhyme scheme?

To celebrate this month, try making your own limerick or finding the patterns in rhythm and rhyme in other poems.

You can also download an April calendar with fun math and poetry tasks here: Poetry and Math in April.

Dr. Seuss Book

2 03 2011

For Dr. Seuss’s 107th birthday, we wanted to feature one of our favorite Dr. Seuss books, The Lorax.

The Lorax

This is a great story about how we effect our environment. In this book, a character who calls himself the Once-ler moves to a town and cuts down all of the Truffula Trees to turn them into garments. The Lorax doesn’t agree with the Once-ler and what he is doing. He speaks for the trees and tells the Once-ler that he must stop. The Once-ler doesn’t listen however, and the town becomes completely treeless, and the Lorax leaves. In the end, the Once-ler gives a young, boy the last Truffula Tree seed, so he can plant it and create a whole new city full of trees.

This book reminds us about our impact on the environment and that we can each do our part to help.

Which Dr. Seuss books inspire you?


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