Learning With LEGO®

Disclaimer: This Kids’ Blog post is aimed mainly at the parents of young children. Kids read on at your peril!

Kia ora!  Further to our recent post for kids about the wonderful world of LEGO®, we thought it might be a good idea to talk to parents about just how much value you can get out of a session of LEGO® play time with your kids.  We all know that LEGO® is lots of fun, super creative and a favourite of all ages, but one of the reasons we hold so many LEGO® sessions in libraries is because we use it as a tool for learning about literacy.  LEGO® is an excellent gateway to developing children’s literacy in a fun, informal way, and opens up a rich world of storytelling, world building, character development and language skills.

Hands picking up LEGO® pieces

We use several techniques to enrich LEGO® play time that you may like to try yourself next time you settle in to build with your kids.  Here are some examples:

20 Questions

As you build, play a game of 20 questions with your children where you each try to guess what the other is building.  Start with things like “Is it an animal?” or “Can I eat it?” and work your way through the characteristics until the item being built is guessed.  Throw in a few silly questions too, just to keep the interest going.

Theme setting

Set a loose theme for kids to build to.  For example “something you’d find in a city.” or “something with wings”.  This gets kids thinking about particular environments or themes and nudges their creativity into new pathways, particularly if your kids like to build the same thing over and over.

A LEGO® city scene

Searching and sharing

We’ve all had that moment where we’re looking for a particular type of LEGO® brick to build our creation, and are sorting through the pile to no avail.  Kids have sharp eyes, they’re excellent at spotting just the right brick.  But it’s also an opportunity to encourage sharing, kids that come to library LEGO® sessions often offer up bricks out of their own pile of LEGO® they are working with, or offer to break down something they’re working on to swap out for the brick another builder needs.  We always make sure to thank a child who shares the LEGO® and often ask them if there is something we can find for them.

It’s also an opportunity to work on colours, shapes and numbers.  Kids looking for a particular brick can count how many studs (the correct name for the bumps on LEGO® bricks) wide and long a piece is, ask them what colour, shape and size the particular brick they need is.  Or you can ask them to find groups of bricks, for example “I need red bricks.” or “Can you find me bricks that are square?”  Sorting and selecting LEGO® bricks develops many skills while also having fun.

Pattern making

When building with LEGO®, use shapes and/or colours to create patterns in your build.  Stripes, spots, indents, small and large – there are many ways you can incorporate patterns in your build, which in turn enriches skills like counting, colour, texture, shape and pattern recognition.

Emotions and expressions

An assortment of Lego minifig heads with different facial expressions

LEGO® minifigs and other bricks come in a large variety of faces and body decorations.  They are excellent in teaching emotions, expressions and facial features.  Ask your child if the character they are building with is a happy or angry character.  Ask them to find a minifig that has glasses, or has blue pants, or a tail.

Story and character building

When your child has built their LEGO® creation, spend some time encouraging them to tell you about what they have built.  Children approach LEGO® building in different ways.  Some like to build elaborate scenes, so you can encourage them to tell you the story of the scene.  Others prefer to build a character, like an animal or person, which you can ask them to describe the character’s personality, tell the story of the character, where they might live or what they might eat.  If your child builds machinery or architecture, ask them about the features of their build.  How does it work?  What is it used for?

There are lots of other ways building with LEGO® encourages learning through play, and it’s a fun way for you to spend time with them.  Kids love to build LEGO® with adults and it often creates a comfortable atmosphere for conversations about other things happening in their lives.  It promotes relaxation and concentration.  Depending on your child’s age and skill levels, you can scale the type of learning to suit and most importantly, have fun!  If you need a little more inspiration, we have lots of books about LEGO®, which you can find here.

Who knows, you might even discover you have some shared interests!

A row of Stormtrooper minifigs face away from the viewer, except the second in the row which is turned to face forward.

(Images in this blog post courtesy of Pixabay)

Olympians vs. Marvel/DC Heroes: Team Battle 1!

Our first Olympians vs. Marvel/DC Superheroes team battle is upon us. The kings, queens, and prodigal daughters of the Greek gods and superhero comic pantheons come face to face over the pages of their books — who will emerge victorious? That is for you to decide… once you read the books, of course!

1) Zeus vs Thor

The Greek God of Thunder does battle with the Norse God of Thunder in this epic meeting of the gods of the sky!

Starting with the first book in the world of the Olympians, in Zeus: King of the Gods readers meet the ruler of the Olympian Pantheon, and are told his story from his boyhood to his ascendance to supreme power.

Meanwhile in the Norse-inspired world of Marvel comics, join Thor as he battles with frost giants, goes fishing for sea serpents, and tries to figure out who has stolen his hammer. With the trickster god Loki tagging along on his quests, Thor will not only have to squeeze into a wedding dress but also test his strength against a giant’s cat that’s so big he can’t reach its tummy, even on his tip toes.

Pro-tip: This book is part of the Bloomsbury High Low series, which encourages and support reading practice by providing gripping, age-appropriate and illustrated stories for struggling and reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, or those with English as an additional language.

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics


You might also like:

image courtesy of syndeticsNorse myths : tales of Odin, Thor and Loki.

“The gods of the Vikings come to life as never before in this extraordinary illustrated anthology by Carnegie Medal-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland and artist Jeffrey Alan Love. These dramatic, enthralling and atmospheric tales are based on the Scandinavian myth cycle one of the greatest and most culturally significant stories in the world – and tell of Odin with his one eye, Thor with his mighty hammer and Loki, the red-haired, shape-shifting trickster. In this stunning collection of myths, the strange world of ancient magic, giants, dwarfs and monsters is unforgettably imagined.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsTreasury of Norse mythology : stories of intrigue, trickery, love, and revenge.

“Classic stories and dazzling illustrations of gods, goddesses, heroes and monsters come to life in a stunning tableau of Norse myths, including those of the thunder god Thor, the one-eyed god and Allfather Odin, and the trickster god Loki. The lyrical storytelling of award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli dramatizes the timeless tales of ancient Scandinavia. This book is the third in the trilogy that includes the popular National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology and National Geographic Treasury of Egyptian Mythology.” (Catalogue)

Also search our catalogue for more books about Thor and Zeus.

2) Athena vs Wonder Woman

Talk about taking sibling rivalry to to extreme! Half sisters, Greek Goddess, Athena and Wonder Woman (Amazon, demi-god and superhero) do battle over who can best fight battles using wisdom over strength. Who do you think will win?

Read the story of Athena, goddess of wisdom and one of the most complex Olympians. This graphic novel retells her many interwoven tales: how she killed Pallas, fought the Gigantes, aided Perseus, and cursed Arachne. Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Warrior showcases stunning Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince comic artwork and examines iconic characters as well as key issues and story lines. Packed with information on allies, enemies, locations, and much more, this book is a must-have book for fans of DC Comics, Wonder Woman comics and characters, and the Justice League of America.

You may also enjoy Diana and the island of no return. It tells the story of a very young Diana who hopes to persuade her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to let her learn how to fight when the world’s most powerful women gather on Themyscira for a festival to celebrate their different cultures. But at the start of the festivities, an unexpected and forbidden visitor — a boy — brings news of an untold danger that threatens Themyscira and all of its sacred neighboring lands. (Descriptions adapted from Catalogue).

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics
3) Hera vs Captain Marvel

Volume 3 of Olympians, Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, introduces readers to the Queen of the Gods and Goddesses in the Pantheon. This volume tells the tales of the many heroes who sought and won Hera’s patronage — in particular, the famous Hercules. Hera is majestic, proud, and at times severe and vindictive — but always she wields the unquestionable power of a queen of the heavens. So how will she fare in battle against the (unofficial) queen of Marvel heroes and heroines, Captain Marvel?

Join Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel : cosmic cat-tastrophe. Carol’s quiet night with BFF Jessica Drew (a.k.a. Spider-Woman) takes a catastrophic turn when Manhattan’s bodegas are suddenly overrun by a host of angry felines! And not just any felines – Flerkens, the most terrifying, pocket-dimension-holding, tentacle-devouring kitty-look-alikes in the entire universe! Carol’s paw-sitive she can handle the situation on her own, but questions remain: can she overcome the fur-midible foes before it’s too late? How well does the “Find My Phone” function actually work? And will there be more cat puns?! (Description from Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics


Zeus vs. Thor; Athena vs. Wonder Woman; Hera vs. Captain Marvel — which team won? Stay tuned for our next Olympians vs. DC?Marvel Superheroes team battle, where we’ll see more of these powerful beings in exciting literary action!

What do we do with all that poo?

All living creatures poo! Big ones like elephants do big poos, and little ones like ants do tiny poos, and human beings are somewhere in the middle! There a lots of more scientific terms for poo: ‘faeces’, ‘stool’ or ‘bowel movement’, and ‘scat’ is the term for the poo of a wild animal.

But why do we have to poo, what is it, and where does it all go when you flush the toilet?

Flush Toilet Illustrations And Hand Hygiene clipart drawing free imageThe purpose of poo is to remove waste from your body – especially the leftover bits of food that your body can’t use, such as fruit pips and vegetable skins. About 75% (three quarters) of a typical poo is water. The water helps to make the poo soft so it can get out of the body easily. The rest of the poo consists of broken-down body cells, fat and minerals and leftover food waste (those fruit pips and vege skins mentioned above). But did you know that your poos are alive?? Your intestines contain billions of bacteria that help digest food. When the bacteria come out in poo, about half of them are still alive. The live bacteria can make you ill if they get into your stomach. This is why poo can be harmful, and you have to flush it away and wash your hands.

The sewage / wastewater journey

Treatment plant at Moa Point.

Image: Treatment plant at Moa Point. Courtesy Wellington.govt.nz

Once you’ve flushed the toilet, this then becomes sewage. Sewage (or wastewater) is from all our sinks, toilets, laundries, kitchens and bathrooms. This waste flows through a network of underground pipes and pumping stations to one of the treatment plants in Wellington. There are two sewage treatment plants in Wellington – Moa Point and the Western Treatment Plant (Karori) – and a sludge treatment plant at the Southern Landfill.

At the Moa Point Treatment Plant, sewage travels through a series of screens, and tanks before being discharged as liquid into Cook Strait.

  • Non-organic – large materials such as toilet paper are first removed using screens. This rubbish is washed and compressed and sent to the Southern Landfill for disposal.
  • Solid sewage (sludge) – as sewage travels through the tanks, the majority of solids are removed. This sludge is taken to the Southern Landfill Sludge Treatment Plant where it is de-watered (water removed from solids).
  • Effluent – a series of tanks  use a combination of sedimentation and bacteria to decompose almost 70% of  material. Remaining liquid effluent is exposed to ultraviolet light (such as the sun) to destroy any harmful bacteria. The treated liquid is finally discharged, through a long outfall pipe, 1.8km into Cook Strait.

Here’s a really good flow chart that explains the process in more detail:

The Treatment Process


FAQs

Stinky Face Cliparts - Bad Smell Png , Free Transparent Clipart - ClipartKeyQ: Why is poo brown?
A: The brown colour comes from bilirubin, a chemical made from dead red blood cells.

Q: Why does poo smell?
A: The smell mainly comes from bacteria, and the gases and chemicals they release.

Q: Why does everyone think that poo is gross?
A:  We have evolved to find the look and smell of poo disgusting. this makes us avoid it, helping to keep us safe from infection and germs.


So if you’re not too grossed out by now, Wellington City Libraries have loads of books for all ages about this rather stinky subject! Here’s just a few…

You wouldn’t want to live without poo! / Woolf, Alex
“Learn the surprising truth about just how important poo really is: it keeps our bodies healthy, and can also be used to power our cars, heat our homes and help grow our crops.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Poo in the zoo / Smallman, Steve
“Zoo Keeper Bob is exhausted. There’s too much poo in the zoo – and he’s the one who has to scoop it up. Then one day, a mysterious glowing poo appears! Could it be alien poop from outer space? And what on EARTH will Bob do with it?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

My amazing poo plant / Simons, Moya
“Emma can’t have a pet as she lives in an apartment. Her mum loves pot plants and encourages Emma to think of having a plant as a pet. Emma isn’t interested until one day, when a low-flying bird drops a poo in an empty plant pot and her mum tells her if she waters it a poo plant might grow from the seeds in the bird’s dropping. Emma enters her poo plant into the most unusual pet category of her class pet show.” (Catalogue)

What do they do with all that poo? / Kurtz, Jane
“There are so many different kinds of animals at the zoo, and they each make lots of poo. So what do zoos do with all of that poo? This zany, fact-filled romp explores zoo poo and all of the places it ends up, including in science labs and elephant-poo paper–even backyard gardens!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The clue is in the poo and other stuff too / Seed, Andy
“A funny and fascinating natural history of animal droppings, tracks and other traces, exploring what we can learn about animals from what they leave behind. Fully-illustrated and in a large format, this will be a visually appealing book for any child with an interest in animals and nature.” (Catalogue)

Loos save lives : how sanitation and clean water help prevent poverty, disease and death / Boyd, Seren
“Who knew toilets were so interesting – and so important? You probably use a toilet several times every day. Flush, turn on the tap, wash your hands – then forget all about it. But did you know that 2.4 billion people across the world don’t have somewhere they can go to the toilet safely, and over 1 billion people don’t have access to any kind of sanitation or clean water at all? Poor sanitation and restricted access to a toilet is more serious than you might think. It prevents children (and especially girls) from going to school, it means communities may have to walk miles to access safe drinking water and it kills. Poor sanitation means poor hygiene, which means illnesses and viruses are more easily spread. Going to the toilet out in the open makes people vulnerable and puts them in danger.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Everybody poos / Gomi, Tarō
“All living things do different sorts of poo. Some are different colours, others have different smells or sizes. Some do it on land, some poo in water. This children’s book has a no-nonsense approach to the bodily function to encourage children not to be ashamed about potty training.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Laughter: The Best Medicine!

two, toddlers, sitting, grass field, holding, gray, laptops, children, laugh, study of, laptop, vietnamese, thailand, enjoy, boys, seat, the business, tablet, happiness, internet, indonesian, outside, the record books, myanmar burma, dom, people, asia, the computer, dear, the game, lifestyle, laos, funny, meeting, joy, kids, view, play, online, nature, talking, happy, communication, outdoor, two people, using laptop, technology, grass, wireless technology, adult, mature adult, men, computer, computer network, connection, males, working, plant, emotion, learning, using computer, outdoors, 4K, CC0, public domain, royalty free

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Spell
Spell who?
W-H-O!

Hahaha, hehehe, lol 🙂 🙂

With Wellington back at Covid-19 Alert Level 2, sometimes the outlook can look pretty bleak! It’s good to realise that having a good laugh is still OK and is in fact really good for you, even if it turns out laughing is a serious business!  It takes a combination of facial muscles, hormones, voice box, breathing, brain activity and awareness to make a human being laugh. That’s a lot of moving parts that all need to come together to produce even a snigger!

But why do people laugh, and what is funny, or humorous? The answer to this is complicated because scientists still aren’t sure exactly what makes us laugh! There are so many factors that might influence why we laugh. This might include our culture, upbringing, personality, physical environment, health, age, being tickled… the list is endless.

Did you know that the study of humour and laughter, and its  effects on the human body, is called gelotology?

“I only know 25 letters of the alphabet. I don’t know y.”  (tee-hee)


Laughter is good for your health by:

red, white, heart rate, monitor, heart illustration, heartbeat, illustration, heart care, medical, care, heart, health, medicine, symbol, health care, healthcare, heart health, medicine heart, hospital, doctor, sign, icon, love, cardiology, shape, help, disease, health background, heart hands, life, healthy heart, aid, medical icons, diagnosis, treatment, human, caring hands, ecg, pulse Trace, healthcare And Medicine, taking Pulse, pulsating, medical Exam, human Heart, heart Shape, listening to Heartbeat, cardiologist, illness, white background, valentine's day - holiday, no people, cut out, studio shot, positive emotion, indoors, emotion, white color, close-up, copy space, design, art and craft, still life, blank, creativity, ribbon, 1080P, CC0, public domain, royalty freeRelaxing the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Boosting the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Protecting your heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

“What did one wall say to the other?” “I’ll meet you at the corner.” (maw-ha-ha)


Further silliness 🙂

🙂 What’s a “Funny Bone”?

163 Elbow Bump Illustrations & Clip Art - iStockHave you ever experienced that weird pain and tingling in your lower arm and fingers when you bang your elbow? “Ouch! I’ve just hit my funny bone!”  But why do we call it this, when it clearly isn’t funny? Well…the funny bone is actually not a bone at all.  It is a nerve, called the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck all the way to the hand.  The job of the ulnar nerve is to tell the brain what is happening in your pinky and ring fingers. The ulnar nerve rests along a bone called the humerus.  Sound familiar?  This sounds exactly like the word, “humorous”, which you may use when describing something amusing or “funny”. That’s one theory anyway, but I think we can all agree on one thing: hitting your funny bone is no laughing matter!

🙂 Where did LOL, LMHO and ROFL come from? 

Rolling on floor laughing | Laughing emoticon, Emoticon faces, Laughing emojiLOL = Laugh Out Loud

LMHO = Laughing My Head Off

ROFL = Rolling On the Floor Laughing

These are all acronyms – an abbreviation formed from the first letters of other words and can be pronounced as a word. They became popular when texting was THE thing to do on mobiles that were forerunners to the smartphone. A whole new ‘text language’ sprung up as it was easier and quicker to shorten words and use abbreviations.

🙂 Why are Comic books called comics?

Book Jacket for: Garfield keeps his chins upThey were called comics or “funnies” because the were, for the most part, comical stories meant for light entertainment. The first “comic books” were collected versions of comic strips that appeared in newspapers. When Superman debuted in 1938, most comic books were still collections of comic strips.

 

Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food but no atmosphere! (LMHO)

 


Wellington City Libraries have loads of great kids’ joke books for you to try on your friends and family, and unleash the comedian inside. Jump onto the catalogue and simply search:

JOKE BOOKS JUVENILE … and get issuing and reserving!

Book Jacket for: You're jokingBook Jacket for: The treehouse joke bookBook Jacket for: The ultimate unicorn joke book.Book Jacket for: Roald Dahl's marvellous joke bookBook Jacket for: The world's yuckiest joke book


And when you’ve finished laughing your head off and splitting your sides with laughter, here’s a few more fiction books to get you tickled pink:

Funny kid for president / Stanton, Matt
“Meet the funny kid! Because every kid loves to laugh. Every kid wants to laugh, but Max is the boy who can make it happen. He’s the class clown, the punch line and he’s even volunteered his bottom to be the butt of the joke. Max is the funny kid … and he’s running for class president.” (Catalogue)

Mr Stink / Walliams, David
“Chloe sees Mr Stink every day, but she’s never spoken to him. Which isn’t surprising, because he’s a tramp, and he stinks. But there’s more to Mr Stink than meets the eye (or nose) and before she knows it, Chloe has an unusual new friend hiding in her garden shed.” (Catalogue)

The day my bum went psycho / Griffiths, Andy
“This is the story of a boy, his runaway bum and some of the most dangerous bums in the world including kamikaze bums; nuclear bums; and Stenchgantor, the Great Unwiped Bum. With the help of The B-team (a crack bum-fighting unit comprising three of the best bum-fighters in the business: the Kicker, the Smacker and the Kisser), Zack will risk methane madness crossing the Great Windy Desert, death by stink-bog in the Brown Forest, and the perils of the Sea of Bums before finally descending into the heart of an explosive bumcano to confront the most psycho bum of them all-His own!” (Catalogue)


Stick Dog / Watson, Tom
“Stick Dog and his friends, Mutt, Stripes, Karen and Poo-Poo have caught the scent of hamburgers and what hungry stray could resist that lovely meaty waft? All they have to do is follow the smell, find the barbecue and eat the hamburgers. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. The dogs need a ‘Master Plan’ and they’re not short of ideas. They’re just short of ideas that aren’t ridiculous, or dangerous, or just very very silly. With hilarious artwork, and an adorable four-legged hero, the story of Stick Dog’s quest for a delicious dinner is destined to be Top Dog.” (Catalogue)

I funny / Patterson, James
“Jamie Grimm is a middle schooler on a mission: he wants to become the world’s greatest standup comedian–even if he doesn’t have a lot to laugh about these days. He’s new in town and stuck living with his aunt, uncle, and their evil son Stevie, a bully who doesn’t let Jamie’s wheelchair stop him from messing with Jamie as much as possible. But Jamie doesn’t let his situation get him down. When his Uncle Frankie mentions a contest called The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic, Jamie knows he has to enter.”  (Catalogue)

Weir Do / Do, Anh
“My parents could have given me any first name at all, like John, Kevin, Shmevin . . . ANYTHING. Instead I’m stuck with the worst name since Mrs Face called her son Bum. Meet Weir Do. No, that’s not a typo, that’s his name! Weir Do’s the new kid in school. With an unforgettable name, a crazy family and some seriously weird habits, fitting in wont be easy . . . but it will be funny!” (Catalogue)

My dad thinks he’s funny / Germein, Katrina
When his son says “I’m hungry,” Dad says, “Hello, Hungry. Pleased to meet you.” Before slicing a cake for dessert, Dad announces, “There’s my piece. What’s everybody else having?”  So when nothing’s up but the sky, or when jumping in the shower sounds dangerous, it may be a good time to share this book with someone who doesn’t need sugar because, well, they’re sweet enough already. (Catalogue)

Sea shanties are trending… but what are they?

Image result for whalers clipartSocial media has been awash the last few weeks with the singing and playing of these earwormy (is that even a word?) songs called sea shanties.

 Melodies like The Wellerman and Drunken Sailor have been popping up in videos everywhere. And the trend all began with a postman named Nathan Evans, who started singing the songs in his bedroom in Scotland and posting them to TikTok.

Musicians all over the world have been jumping on board and adding their own parts to Evans’ vocals – even Andrew Lloyd Webber,  turned Evans’ rendition of The Wellerman into a duet with a piano accompaniment.

What is a sea shanty?

Sea shanties are a type of folk song historically sung by fisherman, whalers and merchant sailors to accompany the work they needed to do on board a sailing ship. The theme music to the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants is a great example of a sea shanty, which often uses the ‘call-and-response’, style in the song!

They’re believed to be around 600 years old, and the name itself is thought to derive from the French verb ‘chanter’, meaning ‘to sing’. They often used similar tunes to old Irish and Scottish folk songs and would typically have been sung a cappella – without instrumental accompaniment – across a crowded deck. Such songs were designed to match the rhythm of common jobs aboard a ship such as pulling rigs or mopping the decks; they synchronized the sailors and made their work more bearable / enjoyable.

A deep dive into The Wellerman and its link to NZ’s whaling history

The sea shanty which started this craze – Soon May the Wellerman Come – is thought to have originated in New Zealand and sung on whaling boats in the mid-19th century. The “Wellerman” refers to a supply ship (owned by the Weller Company) which brought supplies such as tea, sugar and rum to the men on the whaling boats. The lyrics describe a whale hunt. The whalers have harpooned the whale but can’t get it on board.

Whalers and sealers were among the first Europeans to arrive in New Zealand. The first shore based whaling stations were established in southern New Zealand in the late 1820s.

May be an image of tree and outdoors

Whale pots near the visitor centre on Kāpiti Island. Image: Courtesy Sue Jane

In 1839, the peak year for New Zealand whaling, approximately 200 whaleships were working in New Zealand waters. Kororareka in the Bay of Islands was the biggest whaling port in the southern hemisphere, with 740 ships visiting the port in 1840. The Kāpiti region had six whaling stations dotted around the area. Even Kāpiti Island  had a whaling station on it, as Southern Right Whales would use the channel between the Island and the Kāpiti Coast as they migrated north from Antarctica. Old whale pots used to boil the whale blubber to get the valuable whale oil, are still sitting on the island today.

 

 

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Code Clubs at Wellington City Libraries

Coding is everywhere, even behind the scenes of this very blog! Here’s a snippet of HTML from one of our most popular Kids’ Blog posts from last year — can you work out which one?

Did you know that you can learn how to code at your local library? That’s right! In collaboration with our friends at Code Club Aotearoa, we have been running Code Clubs across Wellington City Libraries since early 2018 — and this year, there is a new library joining the Code Club family — our He Matapihi branch, on the ground floor of the National Library in Thorndon!

Here is the full list of Code Clubs across Wellington City Libraries — click the relevant link to register (please note some of our Clubs are full already! You can still click the link to be waitlisted for the next intake of students):

  • He Matapihi Library Code Club — Wednesdays at 3.45pm (register here)
  • Johnsonville Library Code Club Level 1 — Thursdays at 3.30pm (this club is FULL; click here to join the waitlist)
  • Johnsonville Library Code Club Level 2 — Wednesdays at 5.00pm (this club is FULL; click here to join the waitlist)
  • Karori Library Code Club — Tuesdays at 3.30pm (register here)
  • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library Code Club — Saturdays at 2.00pm (this club is FULL; click here to join the waitlist)
  • Newtown Library Code Club — Mondays at 4.00pm (register here)

At Code Club, you will complete progressive coding challenges under the guidance of librarians and other coding experts! Most of our Code Clubs start off by covering projects in Scratch 3.0 (and it’s useful if you already have an account, but we can help you make one if you don’t!), with some groups moving on to cover other coding practices like Python and HTML/CSS (using popular multi-purpose coding platform trinket.io). Contact your local club if you want to find out more about what they offer, or you can check out some of the projects yourself here!

To finish up, below is an example of one of the simple games you could find yourself making after just a couple of weeks of attending Code Club. It really is fun! How many ghosts can you capture, ghostbuster?

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious : How Do We Get New Words?

File:People talking.png - Wikimedia CommonsEver wondered about the sounds that come out of your mouth and how amazing it is that the people around you can actually understand those weird and wonderful noises? How do you know what to say and how do new words come into everyday use? Commonly used words or phrases are like anything that’s trending – the more people use it, the more normalised it will become. In this techno-age you’re probably using words and phrases that your grandparents (and definitely your great-grandparents!) would have never heard of. Think “wi-fi”, “smartphone”, “internet”. Or the words and phrases you use now meant wildly different things in the past. For example, if you say “she’s sick” to your grandad, he’d probably be concerned that the person you’re talking about was “feeling poorly” and would not realise that what you’re really saying is “she’s awesome”, lol (yes, another newbie in the language department).

524 Hello In Different Languages Illustrations, Royalty-Free Vector Graphics & Clip Art - iStockThere are approximately 7000 different languages spoken throughout the world, with the top 5 (by total number of speakers) being English, Mandarin, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish and French. Of those 7000 nearly half are in danger of extinction this century. These endangered languages are often indigenous languages that are being taken over by a more dominant language, eg. English. Here in Aotearoa te reo Māori was made an official language in 1987 and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) was established to ensure that te reo grows and thrives.

Dictionary.com updates definitions, adds new words explaining COVID-19 outbreak

Image courtesy of dictionary.com

Each year, the major dictionaries publish lists of new and most commonly used words, and it’s no surprise to anyone that 2020’s word of the year was pandemic, followed closely by coronavirus and lockdown. The word pandemic has been around for a long time and is built on two words from ancient Greek – pan, meaning “all”, and demos, “people”. Coronavirus simply wasn’t part of most people’s vocabulary until 2020 – now we all know what it means! Like pandemic, lockdown was already reasonably familiar. But  it has taken on a new meaning in 2020 – confinement to the home in order to stop the spread of the virus – which means it will for ever be linked with disease control.

And if you’re still keen for more new words added to the dictionary in 2020, check out the following:


File:William Shakespeare sq.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsThe famous playwright William Shakespeare (think”Romeo and Juliet”, “Hamlet”, “Macbeth”) who died in 1616, so a rather long time ago, would simply make up words if he felt they were needed in his plays! And to this day we still use a huge number of his words in everyday language (over 1,700 of them). Words like “critic”, “elbow”, “lonely” all came from Shakespeare’s imagination. Shakespeare obviously like words starting with “un” because he created nearly 300 starting with this prefix. Here are just a few that popped into his, and now our, writing: “unaware”, “uncomfortable”, “undress”, “unreal”.

So, what is the longest word in the English language? Is it Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and is that even a word? It turns out that it only comes in at 5th place with Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis at 45 letters long, taking first place!

If visualiation is more your thing, maybe you could have a play around with some free word clouds. Word clouds create a pictorial representation of word frequency in a text.  The larger the word in  the picture the more common the word was in the written document. Here’s this blog post as a word cloud:


Wellington City Libraries have heaps of books and resources that focus on language and the written word – everything from cracking good reads to brain teasers. So don’t procrastinate! Immerse yourself in the verbiage!

Frindle / Clements, Andrew
Everyone knows that Mrs. Granger, the language arts teacher, has X-ray vision, and nobody gets away with anything in her classroom. To make matters worse, she’s also a fanatic about the dictionary, which is hopelessly boring to Nick. But when Nick learns an interesting tidbit about words and where they come from, it inspires his greatest plan yet: to invent a new word. From now on, a pen is no longer a pen — it’s a frindle. It doesn’t take long for frindle to take root, and soon the excitement spreads well beyond his school and town. His parents and Mrs. Granger would like Nick to put an end to all this nonsense. But frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. All he can do now is sit back and watch what happens.
This quirky, imaginative tale about creative thought and the power of words will have readers inventing their own words. Brian Selznick’s black-and-white illustrations enhance the humor in this unforgettable story. (Catalogue)

Jabberwocky / Carroll, Lewis
The award-winning first book in the Visions in Poetry series explores Lewis Carroll’s celebrated nonsense poem. An illustrated version of the classic nonsense poem from “Through the Looking Glass. The most celebrated nonsense poem in the English language, Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” has delighted readers of all ages since it was first published in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, in 1872. Stephane Jorisch’s stunningly inventive art adds a vibrant, surprising dimension to an already unforgettable poem. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wordplay : a Toon book / Brunetti, Ivan
Calling all bookworms! Go “outside,” “elsewhere,” and down the “rabbit hole” with this hilarious introduction to compound words. Young readers will fall in love with the English language as they watch star cartoonist Ivan Brunetti put his sly spin on vocabulary. The lesson here? Even “homework” is fun when you let yourself play with the words.

The 5 minute brain workout for kids : 365 amazing, fabulous, and fun word puzzles / Chamberlain, Kim
Our brains are an amazing organ! And just like our bodies, our brain functions best when it’s put to work. So get ready to give your brain a full workout each day with The Five-Minute Brain Workout for Kids! Inside, you’ll find 365 word puzzles and games to keep your mind active and in great shape! Have fun with your family and friends as you learn about acronyms, anagrams, definitions, parts of speech, rhyming words, syllables, word structure, and more with these fun puzzles. From Alphabet Teasers and Mini Word Sudoku puzzles, to Speed Words and Word Store games, even doing one puzzle a day will help you to learn new words, spell better, problem solve with ease, and have better concentration.
Oxford first rhyming dictionary / Foster, John
“The Oxford First Rhyming Dictionary has over 1000 rhyming words to help young children with writing rhymes and poems, and expand vocabulary. Have fun in the sun, drink lemonade in the shade and be inspired to write about pirates, kings and magic rings in the Oxford First Rhyming Dictionary. The dictionary contains a clear and simple alphabetical list of over 1,000 words that rhyme along with rhyming sounds, and an index to make finding words simple. John Foster’s lively poems accompany the rhyming sounds, and every page features bright and colourful illustrations. Children can expand their vocabulary, practice phonic sounds to help with spelling, and being to write their own rhymes.
Access even more downloadable rhyming games, puzzles, activities and much more at: www.oxforddictionaries.com/schools


Everyday words in Māori
This is a bright and busy book that will give Maori language learners of all ages hours of enjoyment. A pronunciation guide and an alphabetical Maori/English list of all the words in the book are included.

Oxford Roald Dahl dictionary
A dictionary of real and invented words used by the world’s best storyteller. The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary reveals what they mean, where they came from and how he used them in his stories. It will inspire you to choose and use each word brilliantly in your own writing – whether it’s a real word, a Roald Dahl word or your own made-up one! This is not an ordinary dictionary. After all, you wouldn’t expect an Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary to be ordinary, would you? Lots of dictionaries tell you what an “alligator” is, or how to spell “balloon” but they won’t explain the difference between a “ringbeller” and a “trogglehumper,” or say why witches need “gruntles’ eggs” or suggest a word for the shape of a “Knid.” All the words that Roald Dahl invented are here, like “biffsquiggled” and “whizzpopping,” to remind you what means what. You’ll also find out where words came from, rhyming words, synonyms and lots of alternative words for words that are overused.

How to talk to your computer / Simon, Seymour
Have you ever wondered how to get a computer to do something First you need to speak in a way it can understand! Read and find out all about how to talk to your computer in this updated edition with brand-new illustrations and simple engaging text that introduces conditions, loops, and functions. How to Talk to Your Computer comes packed with visual aids like charts, sidebars, an infographic, and a computer-less coding activity!

Discover Wicked Bugs for Summer Holiday Fun!

The summer holidays are here – sunshine, barbeques, swimming, staying up late… and mosquitoes biting, flies buzzing around the cooked food, moths beating against your torch as you try to read at night, and crickets and cicadas making a racquet when you’re trying to sleep in you tent!  Anyone would think bugs were put here to ruin your summer fun!

But did you know that we humans wouldn’t survive on this big, beautiful planet without our friendly creepy-crawlies to help us along? At last count it is estimated that there are ten quintillion insects alive on Earth right now, which means that for each one of us, there are two hundred million of them! But don’t panic! They all have a job to do, and if you dig deeper (and many of them do live underground), what the insects do for us and the health of the planet is pretty amazing.

File:Cook Strait Giant Weta (5601688959).jpg - Wikimedia CommonsTake New Zealand’s GIANT WĒTĀ (wētāpunga) for example. This big daddy of an insect features in the Guinness Book of Records as being one of the world’s largest insects, and some of them weigh in around 70 grams – about the same weight as a saddleback or sparrow! Department of Conservation staff refer to them as the ‘mouse of the forest’ because their equally giant poos help fertilise the forest floor and help with regeneration of native bush. What a hero! And the Auckland Zoo think so too and have joined forces with DoC and local iwi to reintroduce wētāpunga to islands in the Hauraki Gulf so that they can do their fertilising work and bring back the bush.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, did you know that the wētā’s ears are located in their knees?! Yes, really!


File:Chorus Cicada... (6926902643).jpg - Wikimedia CommonsYou really know Summer has arrived when the CICADAS start their noise! But why do they do it? And how?

The high-pitched ‘song’ is actually a mating call belted out by males. Each species has its own distinctive song that only attracts females of its own kind. This allows several different species to live together in one area.

Cicadas are the only insects capable of producing such a unique and loud sound, and they do it by contracting special muscles called tymbals in their abdomen. Some larger species can produce a call in excess of 120 decibels at close range (120 decibels is the equivalent of a thunderclap or a chainsaw)! Smaller species sing in such a high pitch that it cannot be heard by humans, but may cause dogs and other animals to howl in pain.


File:Housefly on Table.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsWe’ve all experienced the FLIES massing as soon as the barbeque is cooking and the salads are out on the picnic table. But why do they do this? The common house fly has a pretty powerful sense of smell and is attracted to strong smells – especially meat, and especially rotting meat! They like to lay their eggs in rotting material so that when their babies – maggots – hatch they have something to eat, yum! But just like the rest of us, adult flies have to eat too so that they’ve got the energy to fly. To eat their food, flies regurgitate (bring up) saliva from their stomachs, which dissolves the food until it is digestible. The house fly then uses its proboscis – like an attached straw where your nose should be – to suck up the liquefied food. Though they eat with their mouths, house flies taste with their feet. This is why they are always crawling on your food.

Lego Weta by EzraCRITTER OF THE WEEK: To tweak you interest further, check out “Critter of the Week”  on Radio New Zealand every Thursday in Afternoons with Jessie Mulligan.  Nicola Toki is the Threatened Species Ambassador for the Department of Conservation and a self-confessed “nature nerd”. Each week she talks  about a lovable member of New Zealand’s wildlife community, many of them our creepy-crawly friends. There was even a competition earlier in the year for you to make the most interesting critter out of Lego and send in a photo. Check out some of the entries here.

“An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment.”

(David Attenborough – natural historian, environmentalist and planet-hero)



Wellington City Libraries have loads of fantastic books about insects, creepy-crawlies and the people that study insects (entomologists). Take a dive into the fascinating world of bugs… go on! There’s nothing to be afraid of!

The genius of bugs / Pollard, Simon
This book contains a cast of amazing and unexpected bugs, from the killer brain-surgeon jewel wasp to the master-of-disguise orchid mantis, to the New Zealand favourite, the wētā.

 


New Zealand’s backyard beasts / Barraud, Ned
In the garden, creeping along branches, hiding under stones or flitting from flower to flower, a whole universe of creatures is waiting to be discovered. Butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, spiders. Did you know that  cicadas live underground for most of their life? That bumblebees have smelly feet? That some species of stick insect are all female? Or that earwigs don’t actually crawl into ears? In this book you can learn to identify some of the creatures most commonly found in the backyard.


The bug girl : (a true story) / Spencer, Sophia
Real-life 7-year-old Sophia Spencer was bullied for loving bugs until hundreds of women scientists rallied around her. Sophia tells her inspiring story in this picture book that celebrates women in science, bugs of all kinds, and the importance of staying true to yourself. Sophia Spencer has always loved bugs but when she was bullied at school she stopped talking about bugs altogether. When Sophia’s mother wrote to an entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter, she and Sophie were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response–letters, photos, and videos came flooding in. Using the hashtag BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted hundreds of times to tell Sophia to keep up her interest in bugs.


World's Biggest Baddest Bugs (Ruud Kleinpaste) Image at Mighty Ape NZWorld’s biggest baddest bugs
To find the good, the bad and ugly of the insect world, Ruud Kleinpaste – New Zealand’s very own BugMan – embarks on an entomological journey in search of the biggest and the baddest of them all in this two part DVD. From killer bees and army ants, to cockroaches and tarantula, Ruud explains exactly what makes the “stars” of the show so incredible. Through a series of deadly stunts Ruud reveals what makes these crawlies the kings of the bugs and how they are capable of so much more than just scaring us silly.


World’s strangest creepy-crawlies / Derrick, Stuart
This book includes 40 of the planet’s most bizarre species and ranks them in order of their oddness! With jaw-dropping facts and amazing photos, the pages reveal each creature’s seriously strange characteristics and the unusual ways they hunt, eat or defend themselves.   Inside World’s Strangest Creepy-Crawlies, you’ll discover the tiny terror that blows itself up to save its friends, a creature so well disguised even its own species can’t see it, and a giant spider the size of a dinner plate. And with the ‘strange-o-meter’, you can compare each animal based on its creepiness, fight factor and superpowers!


I’m trying to love spiders : (it isn’t easy) / Barton, Bethany
What do you do when you see a spider? a. Lay on a BIG spidey smoocheroo. b. Smile, but back away slowly. c. Grab the closest object, wind up, and let it fly. d. Run away screaming.
If you chose b, c, or d, then this book is for you.
I’m Trying to Love Spiders will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the seventy-five pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears . . . or at least laugh a lot!

Solstice and Yule: The Grandfathers of Christmas

Everyone knows the story of Christmas, but actually celebrations of this time of year go back thousands of years into the past. Two cultures, the Celts and the Norse each contribute to some of the world’s original festive celebrations at the Christmas time of year.

Two drawings of the Oak king and the Holly king.

The Oak and Holly Kings of the Celts. Image © Anne Stokes 2020.

The Celts celebrated the Midwinter Solstice (and so do the Zuñi and Hopi peoples of America), whereas uniquely the Celts feature the Green King which was even used in the later Medieval Period, despite the greater popularity of Christianity.

It centred around the dawning of the new solstice, when the sun would return from the darkness during Winter and the use of two figures namely the Holly King and the Oak King. These two deities would battle one another, triumphing for six months of the year to rule over the seasons until the next fight (in which the victorious king would then reign). This would be celebrated at Midwinter (and Midsummer) when the respective king for the season was at the peak of their powers and thus claim victory over the other.

The Druids of Britain would use holly as a sacred symbol of life during the dark Winters, and offered it as a blessing (BBC, 2006).

Image of the Norse God Odin riding Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt

The God Odin and Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt.

The Norse would celebrate the Wild Hunt, where the God Odin (or the All-Father) would hunt down trolls and other creatures as he gave gifts to children across settlements during Mid-Winter.

The winters in Northern Europe were dark and foreboding, and so it lent itself to the idea that Odin and his gang would ride across the winds, amid much howling and shrieking of the trolls and other creatures as they were hunted down by the party. Along the way, Odin – similar to and pre-dating Santa Claus – would send little gifts to the children he passed through the villages and towns during the Viking Age.

Odin could be seen riding on the winds, with his horse Sleipnir, the eight-legged child of the God Loki. He was the fastest and strongest horse in the world. Every year when the Midwinter sun came over the lands, it was said to be Odin and his party hunting down trolls and other nasty creatures. On this night in particular, Odin would leave gifts out for the children, and they in turn would leave a small parcel of food for Odin and of course a carrot or bits of hay for the horse Sleipnir.


If you’re browsing the shelves at your library for books on the Celts and the Norse, you can use the Dewey Decimal system to help you find the right book. Dewey Decimal numbers are magical numbers that help us organise which books go where. Here are some useful numbers for this topic:

And here are some of our favourite books in the collection about the Celts and the Norse:

Celts / Newland, Sonya
“Who were the Celts and who were their leaders? Why did they come to the British Isles and how did they live? Explore this ancient civilisation to understand how prehistoric people have influenced the way we live today. Discover the artefacts that give evidence of their way of life, and how historians have pieced together the evidence of their lives. Learn about the homes and communities that they lived in, the food that they ate, how they travelled and worshipped, and the influence of the Romans on their society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Myths and civilization of the Celts / Martell, Hazel
Myths and Civilization of the Celts focuses on life during the Iron Age period when the Celts dominated much of Europe before the rise of the Roman Empire. The book looks at their way of life, their arts and crafts, trade and transport, religion, food and entertainment. It also includes a map of the Celtic tribes of Europe. Using double-page spreads, Celtic myths are retold & followed by historical & cultural background material.” (Catalogue)

Norse myths and legends / Ganeri, Anita
“The world’s myths are filled with characters, creatures, and stories that have fascinated people for thousands of years. This series mixes dramatic retellings and non-fiction information to give a full picture of a culture’s myths.” (Catalogue)

Illustrated Norse myths / Frith, Alex
“A brand-new collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, the battles of Thor the thunder god, and the tale of Sigurd the Dragonslayer and the curs A collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, and the battles of Thor the thunder god.” (Catalogue)

Family Lockdown Challenge: Book Dominoes!

We’ve been thinking hard about fun, creative things we can do with our families or the people in our bubbles over the coming weeks, and after talking to the other librarians we couldn’t resist issuing you with the Book Domino Challenge.

It’s like regular dominoes, but more bookish!

How does the Book Domino Challenge work, you might ask? It’s simple — work together with your bubble-mates to take any number of books, stand them on their ends in a row, and try to create the longest unbroken domino chain you can. Don’t have enough books at home? Not a problem! You can use DVDs, CDs, playing cards, LEGO, blocks, TV remotes, pieces of wood, even actual dominoes — anything you can find that’s rectangular in shape and can stand on its end.

We’d love to see your dominoes too! You can take photos or videos of your Book Domino Challenge chains and tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Let’s be creative together in our bubbles!

Stuck for ideas? Check the videos below for two examples of book dominoes put together by your librarians back in 2013. Happy toppling!