Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's the kick off....and it's good!

Blue, 42, set, hike! The Reading Railroad is kicking off the school year with some help from a few guys who know a little about a good kick! Come and join the Reading Railroad and the Logansport Berries football players as we host ‘Meet Me at the Carousel: Meet the Football Players’, this Sunday night at the carousel in Riverside Park, from 5:30-7:30pm. The Berries football players will be on sight to read football-themed stories, and help host fun football-themed literacy centers. There will also be free books given away, and free carousel rides from 6:30-7:30pm. Our fun is geared toward PreK-2nd graders, but the whole family is welcome! So grab your football helmet, pom-poms and jersey, and come join in on the fun, as we kick off another year to love literacy! We’ll meet you at the carousel!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beyond Alphabet Soup

This Saturday, people from all around Cass County will follow their rumbling tummies to Little Turtle Waterway, anxious to delight their taste buds on a stroll through the many vendors at this year’s ‘Taste of Cass County’. And for those of you who have kids, whose appetites crave both food and fun, Reading Railroad will be on hand to serve up a taste of different sorts; we’ll be serving heaping portions of literacy fun!

You can find Reading Railroad in our ‘A Taste of Literacy: What’s Cookin’ With Laura Numeroff’ area, located in the gazebo next to the Depot. Come enjoy special story times, as local community leaders read ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’, and other food-oriented, fan favorite, Laura Numeroff books. Then, stick around after the story time to put your literacy skills to work, by creating your very own cookbook! We will have pre-made recipe cards, featuring recipes inspired by Laura Numeroff’s stories, and scrapbooking supplies available so you can create your own cookbook to take home. After all, cooking and literacy go hand in hand; like chocolate chip cookies and milk, you can’t have one without the other!

Admission to the ‘Taste of Cass County’ is $1 per person, and kids under six are free! Which means, the kiddos can come and check out what’s cooking with Reading Railroad, at little or no cost to you. Plus, Reading Railroad will be giving away free books, while supplies last! Sorry parents, the cookbooks are for the kids, but please come and join them as they cut, paste and create!

So, if you’re hungry for literacy, come and get your fill! Who knows, maybe a little taste is all it will take for your child to develop a life-long appetite for literacy! Bon App├ętit!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back-to-School Mode

With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, we want to offer some back-to-school tips to prepare your child for the transition. It is so important to integrate the skills your child has picked up (or will be picking up) at school into activities at home so they may benefit from the continued practice. Doing crafts with your child can give them a chance to work on their cutting and pasting skills, handwriting, or coloring inside the lines. And of course, keep up on the reading - 20 minutes a day! - and practicing the alphabet. Check out the links below, as well as those listed on the sidebar, for some ideas to give your child a head start on the school year.

In other news - the Reading Railroad Train Station Literacy Center wrapped up its summer schedule last Monday with an end of summer Hawaiian Luau. The Train Station will be closed the next two Mondays in preparation for the school schedule. We will be back in action August 16th for a Back-to-School themed Literacy Center held from 1-6PM at the Logansport library. Mark your calendars and come out to join us in kicking off the school year.

If you haven't already done so, click the Follow button on the sidebar to become a follower of our blog. And as always, be sure to check back for updates on Reading Railroad events, as well as more tips for spreading literacy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Forget to Eat Breakfast!!


With school creeping closer and closer I thought I would give a little plug for the most important meal of the day....Breakfast. This meal is not only important during the school year, but all year round as kids get up and prepare for a day full of non-stop activity.

By eating breakfast you can easily enhance your performance throughout the day in all activities. From literacy activities to physical activities, eating breakfast can set you apart from other children. This article from Kid Health gives multiple suggestions for a healthy start to your day as well as research examples to prove that breakfast is a vital part to everyones day.

Check it out!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Welcome New Friends


If you are viewing our blog for the first time or for your hundredth time, welcome. We are excited about this new opportunity to reach the parents and children of Cass County to let them know about all of the exciting things the Reading Railroad has going on throughout the year. Since its inception the blog has been used to spread the word about or weekly programs, give reports of how those programs went, tips for packing fun and healthy brown bag lunch ideas, literacy ideas to keep kids active throughout the summer and website suggestions for parents trying to find helpful ways to keep their kids active in literacy.

Throughout the year we hope to continue the blog's regularity and keep it up to date several times a week. It has been a bit easier this summer having two summer interns in the office to take care of such tasks, but as the summer draws to a close it will all be back in the hands of Nikki Reed, the program director. However, she is looking forward to using this valuable resource to reach all of the fans of the Reading Railroad and spread the news of all the good things we are doing.

If you are a first timer, check out the side bar where you will find interactive website suggestions that are good for kids to link up to, as well as childrens book author suggestions. These authors are some of our favorites here at the Reading Railroad and ones your children are sure to enjoy. We update both of these whenever we receive word of something new and exciting. If you know of an author or website we do not have listed, please contact us at and let us know. We are always looking for ways to better the literacy experience for the children of Cass County.

With all of this being said, make sure to stop by daily and see what we have going on at the Reading Railroad. It is an exciting time in Cass County as we start to turn over a new leaf in the era of social media. Don't miss the opportunity to be a big part of it by following our blog.

In Reading 20 minutes every day,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Link-Up at the 4-H Fair

Hello All-

The Reading Railroad has been out at the Cass County Fair all week, and will be out there through Friday in merchang building 1. Make sure to come out and see us and take the pledge to read 20 minutes a day. By doing so you can add a personalized link to our evergrowing chain that will be placed in the library at the conclusion of the fair.

Plus we have several other things to offer. We have a supply of free childrens books for kids of all ages to stop by and choose from. We also have bookmarks and several other goodies to choose from. We are located right next to the United Way booth in Merchant Building 1 so stop by and see us. Tonight is bracelet night, so hopefully we will see several little ones looking to take the pledge and link up with the Reading Railroad. See you tonight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

StoryBook Success!!!

Hello All-

We are back in action here at the blog. It was a long week of preparation for our StoryBook Festival last Sunday, but this week make sure to check back daily for your Reading Railroad updates.

Our StoryBook Festival that took place on Sunday was a huge success. There were children all over the park and each one seemed to be having a great time. With all of our planning finally coming to a head on Sunday at the park it was a great feeling for us here at the Reading Railroad to see everyone having such a good time.

We had plenty to offer the children as the park was turned into something straight out of a fairytale. Our theme for the festival was "Once Upon a Time." The kids were able to make their own crowns, wands, bookmarks, illustrate their own fairytale story, create their own fairytale music, joust like knights and even take in a puppet show. There was no shortage of entertainment. Not to mention the delicous cookies, popsicles and popcorn that was donated from our gracious sponsors. All in all it was a fantastic day.

Another benefit of attending the festival this year was that each child who participated in the festival received a free children's book. All they had to do was visit our book distribution corner and choose from the hundreds of childrens books we had to offer. This festival gave us a chance to reach out to the children and families of Cass County and spread the gift of literacy. It was a true display of what the Reading Railroad is all about. Seeing children have fun with literacy is one of the most gratifying gifts on can give, and that is exactly what we get to do every day here with the Reading Railroad.

Thanks to all of our sponsors who provided donations to help the festival come together as it would not have all been possible without them. A big thanks to all of our volunteers and the families who showed up as well. This is something that we look to continue building on in the future and hopefully everyone comes back to join us in future years.

However, the festival DOES NOT mark the end of our summer programs. Don't forget to join us on Mondays for our literacy centers, Tuesday and Thursdays for Brown Bags and Books and Wednesday nights for our Story Nights at the Story House Depot. Two more weeks left. Let's finish up strong. Check back tomorrow for some Brown Bag ideas.

Friday, July 2, 2010

StoryBook Festival

What do you think of when you read the words ‘Once Upon a Time’? I would venture to say that some of you may think immediately of princesses and dreams coming true, while others may think of dragons and knights facing daring feats. Whatever thoughts these four words conjure up, I am certain that we all have heard them, spoken them, and anxiously awaited the story that follows them. ‘Once Upon a Time…’, these are very powerful words. Once spoken, anything is possible!

It is this magnitude of magic that we, at the Reading Railroad, hope to capture at our upcoming Storybook Festival. Our theme for this year’s Storybook Festival is, you guessed it, ‘Once Upon a Time’. As with many Reading Railroad events, our vision for this special day is to create an environment where children and families can engage in activities and experiences that help foster a love for literacy. And on Sunday, July 11th the Reading Railroad crew will transform Spencer Park into a storybook land, perfect for all the princesses and brave knights (and their royal families) from across the land, to come and enjoy.

We will have three main entertainment areas at the festival. In our “Lyrics and Literacy” area, Jarrett Binney will be performing live music and allowing kids to interact with different types of instruments, as he sings and teaches kids that songs are stories put to a tune. Across the park we will have a puppeteer on hand who will offer two marionette performances of the classic fairytale, ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Head back to the wooded area of Spencer Park to find our third main entertainment option; a few professional storytellers from the Bloomington Storyteller’s Guild will be joining us to perform live storytelling to all intrigued listeners.

If all of these great entertainment options aren’t luring enough, we have oodles of hands-on activities to suit your fairytale fancy. We will have the traditional fairytale activities for you and your family to enjoy, like making your own crowns, wands, and leather story-bookmarks. We will also be offering some extra unique activity options; in our ‘Glass Slippers and Seeds’ area, festival attendees will get to choose a shoe and turn it into a flower pot, by filling it with soil and then planting some seeds. If Cinderella can turn pumpkins into stage coaches, we can certainly turn slippers into miniature flower gardens.

If your children enjoy stories more for the action and adventure, rather than the glitter and glitz, the Storybook Festival will have a handful of activities for this too. There will be a number of active play areas, designed to inspire imaginative play. Check out the ‘Princess Castle’ and ‘Pirate’s Cove’ play areas where kids can easily pretend to be the main character in their own fairytale. And, you won’t want to miss out on our favorite activity at this year’s festival, ‘Noodle Jousting’; you’ll have to stop by the festival to see what that is all about!

No fairytale would be complete without a happy ending. And the happy ending for our Storybook Festival is that all this family fun is FREE for all festival attendees! There will also be free snacks available, as well as free books distributed. Children are encouraged to dress-up like their favorite fairytale or storybook character, to help bring the magic of this day to life. To take part in all of this fairytale and storybook fun, join us for the Storybook Festival, July 11th from 1:00-3:00pm at Spencer Park. Come out and see how with literacy, we are one step closer to living happily ever after.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Can Eat a Rainbow....Can You?


Today is Thursday, and the holiday weekend is almost upon us. We have one more literacy event planned for the week, so make sure to come and visit us at the Story House today for Brown Bags and Books from 12-2. For today's Brown Bags blog I am going to talk about the importance of getting your children to "Eat a Rainbow." Check out this catchy tune to get your little ones inspired.

Although it seems like pulling teeth when trying to get your children to eat vegetables, it is well worth the pull. Not only do raw fruits and vegetables come packed with vitamins, minerals and all important phytochemicals, but they are a phenomenal brain food. These foods will be sure to keep your children healthy and on top of their game while they are in class. So when you and your child are packing up a brown bag to come to the park or even packing a lunch to take to school make sure to pack a rainbow. Send some vegetable sticks such as carrots and peppers or include some cucumbers and grape tomatoes. Mix in some fruit salad with apples, oranges, pineapple and grapes. All of these suggestions will go great on their own or are even better when mixed together with other fruits and vegetables. They make an easy side to go along with a sandwich or whatever else it is you are packing for lunch that day.

I would encourage you to let your kids get involved in packing their lunch. It gets them excited to eat whatever it is they are packing, and will even help get them excited to eat those fruits and vegetables we often struggle with.

Hope everyone has a safe and relaxing holiday, and don't forget to take some time and eat a rainbow while you are with your family and friends this holiday weekend.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4th Of July Literacy Activities

It's always fun to do crafts with the little ones to go along with the holidays. However, we often overlook the day our nation gained its freedom as being a day to do some fun crafts. I know, it's always so nice on the 4th and no one wants to be inside, but trust me, if your kids see these fun activities you have in store for them they will be sure to come inside for a little while to partake in the fun. It doesn't have to be an all day event, just take a little time to spend with your little one working on their literacy skills, all while enjoying the time together to teach them that the 4th of July is more than grilling out and fireworks.

Paper Roll Windsocks
What you need
•Toilet paper rolls
•Blue paint
•White star stickers
•Red and white streamers, or ribbon
•Yarn or string
•Hole punch

Provide your child with an empty toilet paper roll. Let them paint the roll with blue paint. Let dry. Have them add white star stickers to their roll. Cut white and red streamers into strips and attach to one end of the paper roll with glue and a stapler. On the other end, punch two holes opposite each other and thread a long piece of yarn. Tie off to create a handle from which to hang the windsock. Hang the windsocks outside and let children enjoy watching their American flag windsock blow in the wind. Take it outside and enjoy your new creation

Bring the fireworks inside with Firework Art

Place various colors of diluted paint into small bowls. Give each child a straw and white piece of paper. Have children dip their straw into the diluted paint and blow the paint onto their paper. This makes a great fireworks effect!

Star Rubbings

Cut star shapes from paper doilies or sandpaper. Tape stars to table. Have children place a piece of thin white paper over stars and rub a crayon over the star.

After doing one or all of these craft ideas your little one will definitely be in the mood for a delicious snack. So why not continue with the theme and help them with the creation of a fun patriotic snack.

Graham Cracker Flags
What you need
•Graham crackers
•White icing
•Blue food coloring
•Red licorice
•white chocolate chips
•Small bowls
•Craft sticks or plastic knives

Show the kids a flag or a picture of the flag. Talk about what the flag means. The fifty stars represent the fifty states. The thirteen stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. The color blue stands for justice, or fairness; the color white stands for purity; and the color red stands for courage.

Mix some of the white icing with blue food coloring. Place white and blue icing in separate bowls. Provide each child with a graham cracker and craft stick. Let them spread the white frosting on the cracker. Add some blue frosting to the top left corner. Pull the red licorice into small strips and cut into pieces. let them add the licorice for the stipes and decorate their graham cracker so that it resembles a flag. Add white chocolate chips or star sprinkles for the stars.

Enjoy these fun patriotic literacy activities with your kids. Have a great literacy filled holiday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brown Bag Craft Ideas

Today I am going to take a break from the brown bag lunch suggestions and instead give everyone some fun ideas for crafts to do with your little ones using a brown bag. These crafts are all easy to do and will bring the kids hours of enjoyment after they are finished with their creation. After creating your brown bag craft please feel free to comment on our blog and let us know how the craft goes. We would love to see pictures of your little one with their craft.

There you go folks, take some time with your little ones and enjoy these fun activities. Share your successes with us. Happy Brown Bagging!!! See you today at the Story House Depot from 12-2.

Great Day at The Big Dig


Yesterday we hosted our second Literacy Center at Riverside Park, and it was a huge success. The theme for the day was "The Big Dig," and everyone sure seemed to dig what we had to offer. There were several different dinosaur themed activities for the kids to participate in and take home and treasure for years come. The activities that we offered were: Dig for Dinosaur eggs, Create your own dinosaur mask, Dinosaur Fossils, Piece it Together, the "D" station and finally the infamous Dinosaur Egg station followed up by a delicious snack of "Dinosaur Dirt Pudding." Everything seemed to be enjoyed by everyone who attended.

After our first day at the park just a short two weeks ago we were a little hesitant as to how good of an idea it was to have it away from the library. It was originally intended to draw the families who were unable to get rides to the library on Monday's. However, the first trip to the park did not see many people enjoying the literacy fun we had planned for them. But, we did not let that get us down and decided to continue to promote the park and literacy centers even more, and I think yesterday was proof that our efforts paid off. Yesterday we saw about forty kids come through our Literacy Center and it was great to see those type of numbers. We hope to continue to get more and more each time.

A couple of the favorite activities that the kids participated in were the "Dinosaur Egg" station, the "Dino Dig" station and the "Dinosaur Fossils" station. At the Egg station we had already hard boiled eggs for the kids to use as their canvas. We also had prepared Easter Egg die for them to color their eggs however they chose, after of course they put a cool design on them with Crayon. The designs the kids came up with were very interesting to say the least. We had multiple colors of eggs with designs that were previously unbeknownst to humankind. The kids also got a kick out of being able to eat their dinosaur. Some even took it to the extreme by cracking their eggs right on the spot and eating their egg before they left the literacy center.

Another favorite station was "Dino Dig" where the kids could Dig through our sandbox and look for matching Dinosaur Eggs that were buried in the sand. Of course this was a favorite for the kids because it gave them a chance to get their hands dirty as all kids seem to enjoy doing. The kids sat out by the sandbox and dug away for the longest time, often forgetting that we had plenty more to offer to them inside. It was a good time.

A last favorite of the kids was the "Dinosaur Fossil" station where kids had to make their own fossil dough using flower salt and water. This station allowed the kids to dive in and get their hands dirty while learning how to measure out the proper amount of the ingredients in order to create their fossil dough. After they had created the dough they were encouraged to use whatever they wanted to create a fossil imprint on their dough. We had toy dinosaurs for them to use, but they also had the choice of going out in the grass and finding pine cones or leaves to make their own fossils with. After going home they could put the dough in the oven for 10 minutes and it would bake the dough so that their fossil would be saved forever.

After the long dirty day at "The Big Dig" we at the Reading Railroad were extremely happy to see everyone that turned out. It was a successful day for everyone who attended and we hope to continue to see such a big turnout every Monday. And a note to all of my loyal followers out there, don't forget that next week out Literacy Center will be on Wednesday at the Library, not Monday. See you there!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

StoryBook Festival--July 11

For those of you who haven't heard, the CCRR is planning its StoryBook Festival for July 11 in Spencer Park from 1-3pm. This event is sure to be great fun for the entire family. The staff down at the Reading Railroad has put a significant amount of time into planning for this event and assuring a fun day for all attendees. Make sure to come and see us.

At the festival you will find a plethora of things to do. We have lined up a puppeteer who will be performing two shows during the day. Jarret Binney will be there performing "Literacy and Lyrics" throughout the day, in which he will us his music to show how literacy plays a major role in the creation of lyric. Storytellers from the Bloomington Storytellers Guild will be in attendance doing live storytelling every 20 minutes for your enjoyment. Not to mention the large number of crafts we have set up for the kids to participate in, as well as free food. Thats right, through the gracious donations of multiple area businesses we will have free popsicles, cookies, popcorn and water all for your enjoyment.

This is the second year for this event with the hopes of continuing it into the future for many years. It looks to be a day full of great times, so make it a point to come out and see us at the Park on July 11th from 1-3pm. Oh, and don't forget to dress up like your favorite StoryBook character. It is sure to be a magical time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Salad Sandwich

With today being Thursday it is of course time for some brown bag advice before we head out to Brown Bags and Books at Spencer Park at 12. Today I am going to talk about the summertime favorites; chicken salad, tuna salad, ham salad, egg salad...ect. These sandwiches are a delicious alternative to your typical sandwiches, however they tend to get a bad rap because of one of the main ingredients; mayonaise. Hopefully with these tips, your creations will be more sought after during the summer months and even on into the school year.

The salad sandwiches of today have come a long way from where they used to be. A chicken salad sandwich used to be leftover chicken between two slices of bread lathered with mayo. Appetizing I know. But, today generations of family recipes have been passed down that have been tweeked little by little over the years. With that being said there still is a steady trend among them all. There must be a bonding agent in all of them to give them the thick consistency to keep them on the sandwich. This bonding agent is typically mayonaise, and has been for years. However with the recent increase in health conscience parents, mayonaise has begun to be looked at in a negative light. So here are a couple other suggestions to use instead of using mayonaise. A popular choice is plain Greek Yogurt. This provides a significant health benefit without losing much taste at all in your salad. It is a great way to make your salad a bit healthier. Some recipes also call for PB to be used as the bonder. I know this seems a bit out there, but it has been noted to work. A last suggestion is to use avocados. To do this you clean a couple avocados and put them in a bowl. Mix them up in a bowl until they are mixed into a kind of paste. This works perfect as a bonding agent. Although it is almost like a guacamole of sorts with chicken, it is still delicious and a lot healthier than using the classic mayonaise.

PB Chicken Salad

2 boneless chicken breasts
Soy sauce and pepper to marinate chicken
3 T peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 T fresh ginger, peeled
1 T veggie oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed to 1 inch lengths
2 c sliced sweet peppers
1/4 to 1/2 a sweet onion, chopped
Spinach, to serve

Classic Chicken Salad

4 cups diced poached chicken, recipe follows
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup sweet onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup Greek Yogurt
2 teaspoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Tuna Salad Sandwich

1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
paprika to taste

Here are a few recipe suggestions for you and your little ones to try. However, you can easily mix up your own recipe by just replacing the mayonaise with one of the other suggested ingredients in mentioned above. Hope this works for everyone. Make sure to stop and see us at the Story House from 12-2 today. And bring a refined salad sandwich to eat while you read.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wedneday Nights at the Story House Depot

Hello All-
I hope everyone is enjoying my sandwich ideas, and is putting them to good use. I know some of theme seem to be a bit off the wall, but I can assure everyone they are tried and true favorites. With today being Wednesday I figured it would be a good idea to give a plug to one of our weekly activities we have going on at Spencer Park every Wednesday night all summer long.

Every Wednesday night from 6-8pm at the Story House in Spencer Park we have lined up community volunteers to come and read some fantastic childrens stories. These nights have been specially coordinated with specific storybook authors or themes. To go along with each theme, the local librarians have volunteered their evenings as well to do a special craft for the kids to go along with the stories that our community members have volunteered to read. So far this summer the Wednesday nights have been very successful and we here at the Reading Railroad are glad to see everyone who has come out to participate. However, we would still love to see more kids out there every Wednesday evening

I also want to give a big thanks to all of our community organizations and individual volunteers who have given their time to spread the gift of literacy throughout Cass County. So far Rotary and Judy McNarny have sponsored a night. So a big thanks to those individuals who participated in those nights. Tonight we have our lovely ladies of Tri-Kappa volunteering to come out and read. They have been an instrumental group in spreading literacy amongst Cass County particularly in their creation of Dial-a-Story. So make sure to bring the kids to the Park tonight from 6-8pm to listen to some great stories and to do a fun craft.

See everyone out there, and be sure to check back tomorrow for some great Brown Bag advice before meeting Sam at the Story House for Brown Bags and Books.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fairytale Success


Yesterday's Literacy Center at the library was a huge hit with all of the kids who stopped by to participate. Although the parents may not have been to happy with us here at the Reading Railroad, the kids sure seemed to be. It turned out to be a great day.

The theme of our Literacy Center yesterday was "Once Upon a Time." Since we are not doing the lettered themed literacy centers during the summer we have picked some fun themes for all the kids to enjoy. Yesterday was no exception. The kids had a wide variety of activities to choose from and they did not seem to be disapointed. The kids could build castles using icing and sugar cubes, decorate their own crown, make their own magic alphabet wand, do a fairtale puppet show, make an alphabet shield or practice drawing their letters and shapes at our writing station. The favorites among the kids seemed to be the crown, shield and wand stations.

At the crown station we had laid out sticker letters for the kids to sort through and work on spelling their names or anything else they wanted to stick on their crowns to make it their own. After doing that they could then decorate their crown with an array of sequins or beads that we had laid out for them to choose from. Everyone came into the literacy center a kid, but left a king or queen.

Another favorite station for the kids was the "Magic Alphabet Wand" station. Here the kids were able to create a special tool that would help them with their literacy skills whenever they wanted. We were supplied with paint sticks from our local Home Depot which acted as the handle for the wand. The kids were able to decorate it however they wanted. After decorating their handle they could decorate a star that was glued on top of the wand to enable it with magical power. The point of it being an "Alphabet" wand was so that the kids could choose a letter. After doing so they walked around and whatever they touched with the wand, that object then started with the letter they chose. For instance a kid chooses the "B." Now he touches the table but instead of it being a table it is now a "Bable" then he touches the floor and it becomes the "Bloor." This enables the kids to work on the pronunication of their letters.

A last popular station of the kids was the creation of their "Spelling Shields." Here we had cut out shields from cardboard boxes. The kids were then able to decorate the front of their shields, with the intent that they would use the letter stamps we had provided them to work on spelling out their name, or any other words they chose to practice. After decorating the front of the shield they then attached a handle to the back and were able to carry it into battle.

The day turned out to be great fun, and the kids seemed to enjoy everything we planned for them. We sent them on their way with a "Sugarplumb Fairy Wand" to eat on the way home. Which was a hit, as it was a pretzel stick covered in either icing or PB then smothered in a plethora of sugary treats. All the kids seemed to enjoy them, even though we got some dirty looks from the parents. All in all the day was a great one, and thanks to all the parents, grandparents and chaperones who took the time to bring the kids to the library. Keep it up and come see us at all of our weekly events. Don't forget next week we are Riverside Park in the old carousel building.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spicing Up the Classics

As part of the weekly brown bag suggestions, I have decided to talk about different ways to vary the classic brown bag lunch sandwiches. After last weeks exciting experiments with Peanut Butter, this week I will try to give some tips on how you can change that boring Turkey Sandwich into something your little one will get excited about every day. A lot of times the changes are so subtle one would not think they would even make a difference, but they truly do change the way these classics taste; in a good way.


Now if kids today are anything like I was when I was little their favorite condiment is ketchup. And if they are like I was then they would rather eat the ketchup than whatever it is they are putting it on. However, ketchup can get boring after a while. Another popular condiment for a turkey or ham sandwich is mayonaise. Although good, this condiment adds a lot of unneeded fat to your little ones lunch. A healthy alternative to mayonaise is hummus. It comes in a lot of different flavors and adds a lot of flavor to a turkey or ham sandwich. I have found the best way to get your kids to try it is sneak it on a sandwich without them knowing. They will be sure to enjoy it. Another yummy alternative is Nutella. This tasty spread is very popular in Europe and is slowly making its way to the States. At first it may seem odd that I am suggesting a chocolate spread to put on your kids sandwich, however, this spread is actualy quite healthy. Made from hazlenuts it makes a delicious addition to a cold meat sandwich. It can also be used like PB and be put on a sandwich with bananas to make a delicious Nutella and banana sandwich. A last suggestion is to put some Peanut Butter on your cold meat sanwiches. At first it sounds repulsive, but the combination of the two is actually quit delicious.

Vary the Bread

Such a simple suggestion I know, but kids get really fired up about the little things. With so many options of bread it never hurts to mix up what kind you are using for your childs sandwich. A favorite of mine was when I opened the lunch box and found a mini sub sanwich. It was almost like my mom was a professional sub chef. Plus it makes you feel different from everyone else who has their boring square bread. Another easy way to spice up a sandwich is to turn it into a wrap. Wraps are a simple effective way to mix up the day to day monotony of bread but keep the nutritional value we all want for our kids. It also perks excitement to cut the sandwiches into various shapes. This is easy to do by using cookie cutters to cut the sandwich into a fun shape. These are especially popular during the holiday seasons.

Healthy Additions

A last easy way to spice up the traditional sandwiches is to add Fruit. At first it may not sound very appetizing, but in fact fruit goes very well will most meets. There is something about the combination of the salty and sweet. Add a slice of pineapple to your ham and cheese sandwich. Or cut an apple into thin slices and add those to your PB and Ham sandwich for a delicious treat. Add some grapes to your turkey sandwich for a healthy addition to your classic sandwich.

Any other combinations that sound good, go for it. A sandwich can be anything you want it to be, so have fun with it. Your kids will love you for it, and they may even want to help you create one of their own magical creations.

I hope everyone finds these suggestions useful. I know some of them seem a bit off the wall, but I guarantee you will be the coolest parent at the lunch table when you are not sending the same thing everyday. It is almost like Christmas morning everyday at lunch, wondering what is inside the lunchbox. Take these new ideas into your kitchen and apply them with your kids. Pack them up in your brown bag and come see the gang at Spencer Park on Tues and Thurs fromm 12-2. See you there!!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tips for Struggling Readers

It's every parents worst nightmare to watch their child struggle with the ever important task of learning to read. For some it comes easy, but for others it can be a struggle. Research has shown that their is a brief window in which children are in their prime for learning to read. If this window is not taken advantage of then it is likely that the remainder of the road is going to be a bumpy one. The earlier a child learns to read, the better. As kids get older it becomes harder and harder for them to pick up on things as quickly as they did when they were young. Therefore, begin reading to your children as early as possible. However, there are resources out there to help parents if their children are struggling catching the reading bug. Here is a good website that gives links to several areas that will help you and your little one get aboard.

For any other help or support feel free to contact us at the Cass County Reading Railroad as we are always willing to help out with such struggles. After all it is our goal to get every child in Cass County reading by the time they enter 2nd grade. Hope anyone in need of help finds these tips useful. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pure Peanut Butter Goodness

Hello All,

As part of our Brown Bags and Books summer events we have promised some lunch suggestions to pack in your brown bag to bring to the park to read. Today I have quite the lineup to offer and hopefully everyone can find something to suit them. The focus of today is Peanut Butter. Whether it be crunchy, creamy, all natural or regular, it holds a special place in every kids heart. It can be used for so many different things, and has so many delicious combinations that you can't go wrong packing this in your childrens lunch. So, without further adu, here are some delectable Peanut Butter sandwich ideas for you and your little ones to try.

Crazy Caroline's PB and Banana

In this sandwich Caroline says she lathers up two pieces of bread with PB and then puts as much banana on the sandwich as she can without it falling apart. Caroline stands by this sandwich with a full guarantee of it being delicious and will not dissapoint.

2 slices of bread


1 Banana

Lauren's Little Treat

One of Lauren's favorite childhood memories is eating her mom's PB, Apple and Cinnamon Sandwich. When I asked her about her favorite sandwich she immediately got a huge smile on her face thinking about it. So, this one must be good plus it comes with the high regards of Lauren.

2 slices of bread


1/2 Apple

sprinkle of cinnamon

Joyce's Unique PB and Cheese

As I was asking about the office for PB favorites I stumbled upon this odd creation from our Executive Director, Joyce. She too got an enormous smile on her face after thinking back to her favorite PB creations as she told me, PB and cheese. I looked at her, shocked at the odd combination but after her vivid description it didn't sound to bad in the end. I'll let you guys be the judge of this one.

2 slices of bread


2 slices of your favorite cheese

Classic Fluffernutter

This classic is sure to bring a smile to the face of your little one. There is nothing like the combination of marshmallows and PB. Even better when you put them between two slices of bread. So here you go, keepin' it classy with the Classic Fluffernutter!!

2 slices of bread


2 TBSP marshmallow cream

Ants on a Log

This is a nice addition to send alongside any sandwich. It is something healthy that the kids can have fun both creating and eating.

2 celery sticks (cut into "logs")


1 cup of raisins

After cutting up your celery sticks into mini logs, fill each log with PB. Then take your raisins and sprinkle them on top of the logs. The raisins will look like little ants crawling all over a dead log. They go great in brown bag lunches.

I hope everyone finds one of these PB creations to suit their fancy. And hey, who knows maybe by trying one of the crazy suggestions we have given you, you will find a new favorite.

It is shaping up to be a beautiful day here in Cass County. Sounds like an excellent chance to attend Brown Bags and Books today at Spencer Park from 12-2. Stop out and see Sam and give some feedback on our sandwich creations. We'll see you out there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Avoiding the Summer Blues

No one wants to fall behind, no matter what it is we are doing. We always want to be the best we can be. However, it is easy to lose what you learned in school over the summer months. Here are six easy ways to assure what you achieved while in school will not be lost by the time the bell rings next fall.

Another easy way to ensure nothing is forgotten and that your kids are staying on top of their literacy game is to come and participate in all the fun summer activities the Reading Railroad has planned.

See you out there!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

As part of our weekly blog, the Cass County Reading Railroad will begin giving some fun lunch ideas for the kids to pack and bring to our Tuesday and Thursday "Brown Bags and Books." We hope that everyone finds these ideas as fun and delectable as we do. Some of them will be our personal favorites while others will be fresh new ideas for everyone to try.

Today's fun sandwich creation is one that is sure to cool you down on a hot humid day, like today.

Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwich

1 Tablespoon Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
1/4 tsp of honey
1/8 tsp of freshly grated orange zest
2 slices of whole wheat bread
2-4 strawberries (sliced)

Combine the Cream Cheese, honey and orange zest and spread on the bread. Place the sliced strawberries on the bread. Then chow down.

This sandwich is an easy and healthy addition to a brown bag lunch. It is easy to put together and will taste delicious to the little one when it comes time to eat. So, pack up your Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwich, throw in some fruit or even some vegetables on the side and stop by the park.

We hope this fresh new sandwich idea becomes a crowd favorite within your household. We will see you today at the Story House from 12-2 for our "Brown Bags and Books," with your cool new summer sandwich idea.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Activities for the Week of June 14


It is another beautiful week here at the Reading Railroad where we are looking forward to a week full of fun filled literacy activities. This weeks lineup looks to provide some great literacy fun for all the kids. Make sure to stop and see us every chance you get. The following is what we have going on this week.

Monday June 14- We will be hosting our first outdoor Literacy Center at the old Carousel pavilion in Riverside Park. The theme for this weeks literacy center is "All Aboard the Reading Railroad." We have set up tons of fun activities for the children to participate in along the theme of the Railroad. After the kids are finished with their activities they can sit down and enjoy a delectable snack. Make sure to come out and see us sometime today from 1-6pm. We will look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday June 15- Caroline will be at the Story House in Spencer Park again from 12-2 for our Brown Bags and Books. We have continually seen more and more kids each day, so lets keep this going. Pack up your lunch and come to the park to enjoy a good book while you eat. We at the Reading Railroad will even provide a blanket for you to sit on.

Wednesday June 16- Wednesday is our weekly night at the Story House, and this week we will be joined by members of Rotary who have gladly volunteered their time to come out and read to those willing to listen. The theme for Wednesday night is "POP Goes the Pop-Up Book." Come out and listen to our volunteers from Rotary read some fun Pop-up Books and then enjoy a fun activity with our lovely librarians from the Logansport Public Library.

Thursday June 17- Sam will be at the Story House again on Thursday for Brown Bags and Books from 12-2. He will be looking forward to seeing everyone there again this Thursday for some good eats and reads.

We have put together a jam packed week that is sure to be both beneficial and fun for everyone who comes. See you there!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Let the Fun Begin!!!

Yesterday we kicked off our summer Literacy Centers at the Logansport Public Library. Usually the theme for the day follows one of the letters in the alphabet; however, this summer we are stepping away from the alphabet and getting a bit more creative with the themes. The theme for yesterday was "Wild About Reading," and took the kids on literacy journey through the jungle. There were various activities that gave the kids a chance to work on their literacy skills. They had a chance to spell out some jungle terms, creat jungle snakes with plado, paint a tiger, create a puppet show with jungle animals, make a jungle snake with Caroline or have some Elefun with the Elephant who blew butterflies from his magical trunk. With so many options I don't know how they chose which activity to do.

The most popular of the activites seemed to be the Elephant who blew butterflies out of his magical trunk. The suspense of what color was going to come out next was fascinating to the kids. They were amazed by the magical powers of the elephants trunk and all that it could do. The game enabled the kids to work on multiple skills, from counting to working on their colors. We also put a focus on the letter E at this station as the word "elephant" starts with E. It was great fun.

Another fan favorite was "Snakes with Caroline." Our summer intern Caroline was a hot topic as she helped the kids create any snake they could imagine. The kids took paper plates and drew spirals on them which would be the outline of their snake. They then decorated their snake before cutting on the line they drew to reveal a slinky like snake that was guaranteed to make the fridge in any household. This activity gave the kids a chance to work on skills such as cutting, coloring and following directions. We also put a heavy emphasis on the letter S as the word "snake" begins with S. This station was a big time hit and seemed to be enjoyed by all.

After all of the literacy fun the kids were able to endulge in a snack provided by the Reading Railroad. Continuing with our Jungle theme the snack for the day was Fruit Ka-Bobs. The kids had their choice of bananas, strawberries and grapes to put on their skewers. The fruit was a sweet ending to an even sweeter day that provided the children of Cass County with multiple chances to better their literacy skills all while having some summer fun.

Make sure to come out next week to Riverside Park where we will have Literacy Center #2. The theme for next week is "All Aboard for Reading." We will be located in the carousel pavilion where the old carousel used to be in Riverside Park. See you there!!

Activities Going on for the Week of June 7th.

Hello friends,

Our activities going on this week are as follows...

Tuesday June 8- "Brown Bags and Books" at the Story House Depot in Spencer Park from 12-2. Pack a healthy lunch from home and come to the story house in Spencer Park to enjoy a good book. Look for the lovely Reading Railroad summer intern, Caroline, who will be glad to assist with anything you may need.

Wednesday June 9- We will be back at the Story House Wednesday night with a special guest, Judy McNarny, from Mcnarny and Wolfe Realtors. She has volunteered her evening to come and read to anyone willing to listen. She will be reading books following the theme of "Very Hungry Reader." Our author for the evening will be Eric Carle. Judy is excited to read to the kids and hopes to have a plethora of little ones there to enjoy her stories and the fun activity planned by the lovely librarians.

Thursday June 10-"Brown Bags and Books" will be at the Story House Depot in Spencer park again, from 12-2. Come and join our other Summer intern, Sam, for lunch and a good book in the park.

The staff at the Reading Railroad looks forward to seeing everyone this week at one or all of our fun summer activities.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Reading Railroad Made it to the 21st Century...Finally!!

The Reading Railroad has officially hopped aboard the social networking band wagon. It took us long enough but we made it. With the creation of our blog and Facebook fan page we are hoping to increase the participation amongst the children of our community at the summer activities we have planned. We will be updating our blog on a regular basis to include all of the fun activities we have going on weekly. Beginning Monday June 7th we will kick off our Summer Literacy Center nights. Every Monday from 1-6pm we will be organizing a literacy center that will incorporate valuable literacy skills with a fun theme. These Literacy Centers alternate locations with one week being at the Logansport Public Library and the next at Riverside Park. Also, we will be having "Brown Bags and Books" at the Story House Depot in Spencer Park every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-2pm. Feel free to bring your lunch and come out to the story house to enjoy a good book while you munch on your favorite summer treats. Lastly, every Wednesday night at the Story House Depot in Spencer Park from 6-8pm volunteers from the community will be present to read various books to the children. After listening to the stories from our community volunteers feel free to hop over to the craft area to join our library volunteers in creating a craft that has to do with our story for that evening. Make sure to check back on a regular basis for updates on our weekly activities and locations to come find us and join in the fun. Also, be sure to check us out on Facebook. Make sure to hop aboard the reading railroad this summer to not miss out on all the fun!!