Austin Kids' Directory Blog

Planning a Learning-Infused Children’s Party

Planning a Learning-Infused Children’s Party

Searching for creative ideas for your child’s upcoming birthday party or milestone celebration? Why not try something new this year and feature children’s books. Incorporating a dose of literacy learning into party planning can be easy; and, a great way to support an interest in reading and books.

As a language arts teacher turned event planner, I strive to integrate reading into children’s events I host. Whether a birthday party, community gathering, or childcare service, kids will find quality children’s literature at the center of the fun. Why? Reading is one of the most precious gifts we can offer. When we model a love for reading, we inspire a magical, lifelong relationship with stories.

Planning a literacy-centered children’s party can be enjoyable and beneficial for all. As a starting place, select an age-appropriate children’s title that presents an engaging party theme. A child’s most cherished reads work well for the initial brainstorm. Popular, best-selling titles also make great choices, as pint-sized party guests will likely have some insight into the characters, plot, and theme you’re going for, overall.

These lively, fan-favorites lend themselves nicely for a great theme party!

1. Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug by Evan Kuhlman (Bug/Insect Party)

2. Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin (Pizza Party)

3. Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell (Superheroes vs. Villains Party)

4. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (Dance Party)

5. It Came In the Mail by Ben Clanton (Dragon Party)

6. A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young (Unicorn Party)

7. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (Art/Coloring Party)

8. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems (Monster Party)

9. The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (Undersea Life/Ocean Party)

10. Is That Wise, Pig? By Jan Thomas (Farm Animals/Cooking Party)

Once you’ve decided on a title, consider the following party planning tips:

Use the book as a party ice breaker for a crowd of little ones with a fun, interactive read aloud. Read the story with expression and enthusiasm, add props, encourage movement, and invite the audience to repeat verses or sing along with the characters.

Conduct follow-up activities such as making crafts, playing games, or listening to children’s music related to the story.

Use the book as a centerpiece at each table, and encourage youngsters to chat about their favorite characters and parts of the story.

Have the story double as an autograph book and invite guests to sign or write a celebratory message.

As a party favor, gift your child’s guests with a copy of the book to take home for further enjoyment. Better yet, summon your child to compose a special message, or illustration if a prewriter, on the inside covers.

Instead of purchasing a gift, propose guests donate to a local Austin charity that supports early literacy, such as Literacy First.

In need of additional book suggestions? Consult the Austin Public Library’s “We Recommend” tab at library.austintexas.gov and peruse the children’s lists categorized by age, grade and genre. As well, the Texas 2x2 Reading List, sponsored by the Texas Library Association, names great titles for children age two to second grade. Some titles can be downloaded for free by clicking here. For slightly older children, the Texas Bluebonnet Award list, also compiled by the Texas Library Association, is a stellar resource aimed at grades 3-6. You can find the 2018-2019 list here.

Good luck, and here’s to building a community of enthusiastic, lifelong readers!

For more information on literacy centered children’s parties, events, and childcare, visit the Spunky Kids Website, connect on Facebook and Instagram @spunkykidsco, or call 512.914.8060.

This article was written by Carly Ferguson, owner and operator of Spunky Kids Austin. She is a toddler mom, certified Texas literacy teacher, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s and Adolescent Literature from The Ohio State University.

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The 2018-19 Childcare and School Guide is Here!

The 2018-19 Childcare and School Guide is Here!

One of the most important decisions parents have to make concerns the care and education of their children. The Austin Kid’s Directory helps parents find out what is available in the Austin metro area by publishing and distributing the annual Childcare & School Guide. The latest edition is now being distributed!

This guide is organized by area making it easy to find childcares, preschools and schools in your neighborhood or close to work. You will also find information about enrichment activities, after school care, drop in child care, tutoring and more.

Take a look at the new 2018-19 online edition of the Childcare and School Guide by visiting our website!

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Lemonade Day is Coming to Austin

Lemonade Day is Coming to Austin

The West Austin Chamber of Commerce has announced the upcoming date of Lemonade Day Austin, taking place Saturday, May 5th. Lemonade Day is a free, fun, experiential learning program that teaches kids how to start, own and operate their very own business – a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day has spread to over 67 cities in 23 states and three countries. Lemonade Day Austin’s goal is to register 1,000 youth who in turn will start new businesses all across Austin - on a single day.

“The West Austin Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring together a community of support to make this year’s Austin Lemonade Day a meaningful experience for everyone involved,” said Morgan Briscoe, president of the West Austin Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve worked hard to be able to welcome children, parents and organizations across Austin to register for this free, educational and fun event. We look forward to working with all of our partner organizations to help our young entrepreneurial Austinites prepare for lemonade stand success on May 5 and beyond as our future business leaders.”

Each child that registers receives access to an online interactive program, Lemonopolis, that teaches them the valuable lessons of Lemonade Day - including how to set a goal, make a plan, work the plan and launch their first business. Once a participant earns enough to cover the cost of expenses, just like in real life, they keep their profits. The average profit per Lemonade Day stand in 2017 was $224 with many earning more. Lemonade Day encourages kids to spend some, save some and share some of their earnings—teaching additional lessons in money management and social responsibility.

Anyone and everyone can be involved in Lemonade Day. Young entrepreneurs with lemonade stands need mentors, investors, business partners, great locations, and customers. Sponsors and volunteers are also needed to make Lemonade Day a success. Austin Lemonade Day’s 2018 City Champion is Cole Alredge, vice president of AV Capital. The event is sponsored by HEB Grocery and a group of generous local Austin area families and individuals with additional support from Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and a select group of graduate students at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.

To find out more information or to register for Lemonade Day Austin visit: https://lemonadeday.org/austin and follow Lemonade Day Austin on social media at https://www.facebook.com/lemonadeday or @LemonadeDayATX.

The West Austin Chamber of Commerce represents West Austin business while supporting its local communities and leaders of tomorrow. For more information about upcoming events and membership visit www.westaustinchamber.org or call (512) 551-0390.

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The Importance of Collaboration

The Importance of Collaboration

Collaboration is an important skill. Nearly every job, creative or otherwise, requires you to work with others. Filmmaking is no different. In fact, collaboration is the key to effective filmmaking. Making a film requires many specific skills and trying to do all of them yourself can take away from the quality of the final product.

A Hollywood film production may have dozens, if not hundreds of people on its crew. On a indie film shoot with a smaller crew, every professional relationship is magnified tenfold. This is also true for young filmmakers who do not have all the resources a big studio does. Instead of a team of crew members they may only have a couple friends’ help at their disposal.

At Summer Film Camp, we want campers to make the best films possible. That’s why we teach them how to work together. We do this by explaining the different roles in a production and showing them how they can work collaboratively to heighten the quality of the final product. Each group is typically broken down into the following roles:

Writer: The writer is the one who takes all the ideas the group has come up with for their story and writes them down as a screenplay.
Director: The director controls a film’s artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision.
Camera Operator: The camera operator is tasked with ensuring that the camera gets each shot just as he/she and the director have decided.
Sound Recordist: The sound recordist is the member of the crew responsible for recording all sound on set during production.
Editor: The editor is responsible for selecting and combining shots into sequences and ultimately creating a finished film.

If you want your young ones to learn how to work well with others and make a better film in the process, there is no better place to send them than Summer Film Camp. For more information and to register, please visit our website here.

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3rd Annual Austin Kid’s Directory Fair

3rd Annual Austin Kid’s Directory Fair

Austin Kid's Directory is hosting our 3rd Annual Spring Fair on March 17th from 10am-2pm. Come meet local businesses including: Mad Science, TLC Pediatric Dentistry, Rock Chiropractic, Austin's Capital Grannies, Wanna Play Playcare, Apple Blossom Center for Discovery, Harmony Public Schools, Skyhawks, SuperTots Sports Academy, Camp Einstein, Code Ninjas, Creative Brick Builders, Sonrisas Dental Center, Education First Exchange Student Program, Usborne Books and more who will be offering information about summer camps, birthday parties, schools, childcare, family activities, medical services and all things kid!

Bonzo Crunch, Baby Signs by Tina C., and Gymboree Play & Music, Art Beat Dance Center and Tiaras & Tea Parties will also be there to entertain the kids!

Admission and parking are FREE and there will be great prizes like a Catch Air - Anderson Mill Birthday Party Package for 8, tickets to Schlitterbahn New Braunfels and Playland Skate Center passes along with giveaways, freebies, hands-on activities, entertainers and more! Attendees can register to win by visiting all booths and turning in a completed entry form.

Great news! Our event is being held in conjunction with the huge Fairytale Threads Children's Consignment Event where you can shop for kids clothing, toys, books, baby equipment and more!

Hope to see you there!!

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