Happy Happenings for Children at the Pawling Library

There is some terrific programming at the Pawling Library for community kids. In this week’s spotlight:

Bilingual Saturdays

This amazing program is offered twice each Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. –11:00 am and 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 pm, for children ranging in age from four to eight years (preschool to fourth grade.) The program is, of course, free, but the best part is that this popular program does not require registration. Just drop in with your mini Pawlingite, and let them join the fun (in both Spanish and English) on Saturdays through November 18.

This innovative program is brought to the library by volunteer college student Aviva Thal. According to Neena McBaer, Pawling Library’s Children's Program Coordinator, “She is a senior at Vassar College and has partnered with us through their Community Engaged Learning Program, which gets Vassar students out into the Hudson Valley to help the community through volunteer action.”

Ms. Neena continues: “Aviva is originally from Jackson, Wyoming. She is pursuing a degree in Hispanic Studies, with a minor in Sociology. She is fluent in English and Spanish and has spent time teaching in both languages before joining our library. In addition to attending Vassar, she also works with the Spark Media Project in Poughkeepsie, a youth organization that encourages local youth to get involved with and critically analyze the media arts. She also has tons of experience with children, working at literacy programs and summer camps in Wyoming, as well as with children abroad in Mexico and China.”

Ms. Neena adds: “Over the next few weeks, her programs will focus on the seasons and emotions. She runs and plans the Bilingual Saturdays program each week. She’s absolutely wonderful! She encourages the children to learn vocabulary in both languages and comes up with fun projects that help connect the vocabulary to real life. Plus, they pull from the content of the stories we read in both languages. This makes the program accessible for both native English speakers and native Spanish speakers. The program’s focus is on connecting the vocabulary learned each week in both languages. This foundational work supports future language acquisition in school. Personally, I am very grateful to Aviva for volunteering to design and run this program, because I have seen native English speakers enjoy the challenge of learning another language and native Spanish speakers burst with pride at their previously not acknowledged knowledge base. They are so thrilled at the opportunity to share the Spanish they speak at home with their peers, and it shows.”

Neena concludes: “The ability to speak multiple languages is a huge asset. It leads to increased cognitive thinking, the ability to communicate with more people in more places, and even more job opportunities. When our community provides spaces for bilingual children to practice, teach, learn, and value the variety of languages they know, we are signaling to them that we value them and their knowledge; that what they know is important. This encourages them to continue to learn and appreciate their language skills, in both English and Spanish, which is, at the heart of it all, the goal of our programming.”

Harry Potter Night

On Friday, October 13, the Pawling Library celebrated Spooky Friday, as Professor Neena of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry brought the cleverest Pawling wizarding students together to help her solve a mystery. Harry Potter was on his way to the library to accept the award for Most Amazing Wizard Ever, when trickster Ghost Daniel grabbed the trophy and hid it! The wizards in training, (first through fourth grade) worked in teams of two to four to solve the series of challenges and puzzles the ghost had left for them, working out the clues to discover where he had hidden Harry Potter’s award.

The challenges asked the children to work together while integrating skills in math, science, motor skills, riddles, reading, critical thinking, and teamwork. They raced through the challenges, eventually all joining forces to discover where that pesky ghost had hidden the trophy. Turns out, he had hidden it behind the library’s giant stuffed panda.

Some of the challenges included a giant spider web maze (see photo), searching the children’s area for clues hidden in books, making magical goop out of unusual ingredients (like mermaid tears and centaur snot), and finally,

deciphering the hidden code. In the end, the children successfully collaborated to uncover the location of the trophy and were all awarded their very own “Star Hogwarts Student, Master of Magic” certificate for all their hard work. A magical time was had by all, including siblings and parents, who could not resist joining the fun!