LSC Journal Club Reflections: Not All Screen Time is Created Equal

screen time

Our second Denver Metro Area LSC meet up was a long-delayed blast! This time we munched on delicious snacks at The Denver Bicycle Cafe while we dug deep into the subject of screen time.

Julie (from Tales for the Tiny) started us off with an icebreaker where we shared our favorite personal apps. I’m always on the lookout for personal productivity tips, so I was excited to learn about Wunderlist! As a big fan of Trello, I’m curious how Wunderlist will compare. For the podcast people, Pocket Casts also looks amazing.

This was a great ice-breaker because it showed just how ubiquitous apps are in our everyday lives. The research article we read (Putting Education in “Educational” Apps: Lessons from the Science of Learning) stated that 56% of Americans own a smartphone, but PEW estimates that number is now closer to 77%.

I really enjoyed the article we read this month. As a former teacher, I love when educational theory is applied to what we do in library land. The purpose of the article was twofold:

  • Guide researchers, educators, and designers in evidence-based app development
  • Set a new standard for evaluating and selecting the most effective existing children’s apps

What is this standard? Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and her co-authors suggest evaluating educational apps around Four Pillars of Learning… plus one!

  1. Active Learning
  2. Engagement in the Learning Process
  3. Meaningful Learning
  4. Social Interaction
  5. Scaffolded Exploration Toward a Learning Goal

There was a lot of information to unpack in this article, and while we loved the deep dive, our immediate concern was how to share this information in a family-friendly format? Lu shared a great acronym to help us easily remember and share the components of a high-quality app for kids: G.A.M.E.S.


Questions We Explored:

  • How can we use apps in quality ways in youth programming, such as storytime?
  • How do we share this information and promote healthy, quality app use to our families?
    • Especially since so many apps don’t stay around long enough for in-depth study! How do we keep our lists current, relevant, and curated?
  • Should we hesitate to recommend apps that cost money?
    • Also, many free apps contain ads, which are distracting and detract from the quality of the app!
  • Do we only recommend “educational” apps?
    • Aren’t libraries all about reading for pleasure?
  • What about the other side of screen time research? We felt this article definitely glossed over the opposition.

Thoughts We Shared:

  • Technology is not a second parent! So often we see the iPad being used as the babysitter, but as Emily so aptly put it, technology should support (not substitute) parent engagement.
  • Recommending apps without explaining why is not enough. As Beth pointed out, we also need to empower parents to choose on their own.
  • With the increasing trend to remove/share/replace school librarians with paraprofessionals, we should also reach out to our local schools and educators.
    • I got all the feels when the authors mentioned the large number of schools jumping on the tablet bandwagon. I’ll never forget finding out ONE WEEK before school started that my kinders were getting a 1:1 iPad program… and I had never held a tablet in my life at that point!

Ideas We Had:

  • Host an “app-sit” parent/caregiver education series!
  • Does your library have a tablet? Create an “app of the week” exploration station…
    • …with signage explaining why it’s a good app for kids!
  • The picture book Tea with Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg is a great launching point for a media mentorship tip during storytime! This sweet story is great for toddlers or preschoolers and has a great twist at the end.
  • Encourage grown-ups to talk with their child about what they’re doing on their phones- e.g. “I’m reading about…”

Other Implications:

There’s a lot of good stuff in this article that has relevance not just to how we select and recommend quality apps, but also to how we plan and deliver storytimes and other youth programming. Are we making connections with children’s existing knowledge base? Do we encourage active participation from our audience (e.g. Do we give children enough wait time for responses? Are we respectful of their own active role in the learning process and naturally inclined problem-solvers? Do we show, not simply tell?) Are we building in scaffolding when we plan for storytime?

For example… Kathy Hirsh-Pasek cites Goldstone & Day and shares that “if learners have truly created a new understanding of a concept, they should be able to use that information to solve novel problems and flexibly transfer that knowledge to other problems.” She then gives an example, saying that if a toddler knows that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but NOT that 2 plus 1 equals 3, numbers likely have no meaning for that child. The child’s knowledge of addition is incomplete. They haven’t been able to transfer that knowledge to other situations.

Think about this in terms of the flannels we use in storytime. Are you always counting down from 5? What do you think would happen if you took away 2 little snowflakes instead of just 1 at a time? Would your children recognize that you took more than one away? This article was a great reminder to take a step back and think about how to be more intentional with moments like these. Use these moments to help children build a conceptual framework, not just rote memorization!

Additional Resources:

ALSC: Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth (White Paper, Blog Posts, Professional Development and more!)

Claudia Haines @ Never Shushed (fantastic starting place and loads of additional links to explore, including this great Evaluating Apps and New Media for Young Children rubric and the DIG: Diverse and Inclusive Growth Checklist for Inclusive, High-Quality Children’s Media)

Speaking of Claudia, she’ll be teaching an AMAZING class through Library Juice Academy this fall! Check out Media Mentorship in Storytime and Beyond: Supporting Newborn to Five-Year-Olds and Their Families!

AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning (love these lists every year!)

School Library Journal App Reviews (also including an annual top 10 list)

Madison Public Library (check out Carissa’s App Picks for Kids and the App Fairy Podcast!)

Best Practices for Apps in Storytime & From Apps to Robots: How to Evaluate Digital Media for Literacy Learning (archived ALSC webinars)

Who Are We?

We’re a local group of youth services professionals in the Denver Metro Area! Every two months, we meet up to discuss the latest and greatest hot topics and research related to our field. We’re a part of the larger Library Services for Children Journal Club, a nationwide professional development group initiative launched by Lindsey (of Jbrary fame) and her coworker, Christie, in 2017. To learn more and find a group near you, please check out

Interested in joining us next time? Use the Connect tab on top and reach out to me via Twitter or Email, and I’ll keep you posted! See you in April!

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Flannel Friday: I Lost My Sock!


I loved this book as soon as I read it! It’s a super silly, simple picture book that would be great for early readers. I LOVE the illustrations and Ox’s last line at the end. Unfortunately, I feel it’s a bit small for storytime…. which means it’s a perfect candidate for flannel! I’m pretty proud of this flannel- totally freehand. It took forever, but I’m so happy with how it turned out.

I lost my sock

Basically, Fox is freaking out because he lost his sock. Ox tries to help out and find it. I love doing this as a flannel because it’s a great opportunity to ask kids “How can you tell?” and encourage them to explain why the sock Ox holds isn’t a match. There’s a lot going on in this book with patterns, visual discrimination, compare/contrast, and vocabulary. At the end, we find out Ox has Fox’s sock- he’s been using it as a hat to hold things! Why wouldn’t Ox just use his pockets?



Anyways, many thanks to Lindsey at Jbrary for hosting this week! Be sure to check out the rest of the round up for more fun flannel ideas!

Have you heard? Flannel Friday is changing things up soon! Read the pinned post for more info and discuss story time/other youth services stuff on the Flannel Friday Facebook group!

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Flannel Friday: Shape Monster


One more math flannel to share this week!  Shape Monster is super fun and easy.  All you need is a sock puppet and some shapes!

Shape Monster, Shape Monster, hungry for lunch!

I wonder which shape you’d like to munch?


Credit: I found this shape monster rhyme (or something quite like it) in one of our storytime kits.  I’m not sure who to credit for the original idea, but I see that Deb’s Design has a slightly different and equally fun flannel shape monster activity!

I love this flannel because it’s a great opportunity to practice many different skills, not just shape recognition.  Maybe shape monster is hungry for a specific shape (like a star), or a specific color (a shape that is blue), or something round like a cookie.  I encourage the kiddos to use descriptive and directional vocabulary to help Shape Monster find the right treat!

After Shape Monster eats (and BURPS) a lot, he’s pretty thirsty!  I like to sneak in some more early math practice by asking the kids which juice Shape Monster should drink if he is REALLY thirsty.  What if he is just a little thirsty?  In the end, Shape Monster usually drinks all three and gets a tummy ache.  🙂


Many thanks to Lisa for hosting this week at Lisa’s Library Land!  New to Flannel Friday or need more flannel inspiration?

  • Check out the official Flannel Friday blog that includes schedules and other important information.
  • Search for fun flannels on our Pinterest page!
  • Discuss story time and other YS stuff on the Flannel Friday Facebook group!
  • Follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter!
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Flannel Friday: Walter’s Wonderful Web

walter's web

I’ve got another bookish flannel to share this week!  I absolutely love Walter’s Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood.  It’s a beautiful book as is, but I knew it would make an even more fun flannel.  This is a great one for a math, shapes, or spider themed storytime!

walter's web

This is a sweet story about a spider whose webs keep blowing away in the wind.  When I tell this tale, I have the kiddos shake their scarves and say “WHOOSH!” when the wind blows.  They love making Walter’s webs fly away and naming the shape of each new web he spins!

Many thanks to Lisa for hosting this week at Lisa’s Library Land!  New to Flannel Friday or need more flannel inspiration?

  • Check out the official Flannel Friday blog that includes schedules and other important information.
  • Search for fun flannels on our Pinterest page!
  • Discuss story time and other YS stuff on the Flannel Friday Facebook group!
  • Follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter!
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Flannel Friday: Hat Hiding Games


This is a great flannel or prop game for talking with the kids and building their background knowledge! First, we take the hats out and talk about them. What color is this hat? Who wears it? Then I hide a cat or a bat inside the hat and we play a guessing game! This is a fun activity that can easily be used with a variety of themes: rhyming, pets, cats, hats, Halloween, and so on.

Here’s the flannel version:


And here are some fun rhymes you can use:

My Friend Cat

My friend cat

Is hiding inside a hat!

Is my friend cat

Inside the cowboy’s hat?

(repeat with other hat types or colors)

Another option:

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat

Kitty cat, kitty cat, where could you be?

Is that you inside the black hat I see?

I actually free-handed these, but went back later and traced some hat patterns for y’all.

More inspiration awaits! Check out the rest of this week’s fun flannels at the Weekly Round Up!

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Flannel Friday: Could You Lift Up Your Bottom?

Is it just me, or is there an abundance of hat-themed books just begging to be made into flannels?! This one has been on my To-Do list ever since I saw it at Jen in the Library’s blog.  Thanks Jen for putting me onto such a fun flannel!23359850

I love this story because it can be used with many different themes: e.g. shapes, hats, food, frogs, elephants.  Frog is hopping along in his fancy hat, having a lovely day, until the wind blows… and an elephant sits on it! Will the elephant lift up his bottom? NO! Elephant thinks of different shapes that he is hungry for and refuses to move until Frog brings him a food of each shape. Eventually, Frog resorts to trickery to get his hat back.

Could you lift up your bottom

Check out the rest of this week’s fun flannels at the Weekly Round Up!

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Flannel Friday Round Up for January 26th


Hello and welcome to this week’s Round Up! I’m so excited to share everyone’s fun flannels.

Paola Opal animals

First up, we have some absolutely adorable kawaii animals from Mr. Keith. These cute creatures are based off the characters of Paola Opal. If you haven’t picked up one of Opal’s board books yet, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! These are the sweetest, simplest board books for storytime (unfortunately, they’re also very small). Of course Keith has some super fun rhymes to go with his awesome flannel! Head on over to Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime right now!


Wendy at Flannel Board Fun has a good old fashioned nursery rhyme to share this week! I’ve never actually used a nursery rhyme flannel in storytime before, so this is something I can’t wait to try. Thanks for the inspiration, Wendy!

Could you lift up your bottom

I have two hat flannels to share this week! The first is a great story called Could You Lift Up Your Bottom? This is a super fun flannel to use with a hats, food, or shape themed storytime.


In my second post I share a few fun ways to play a hiding game with hats with props or a flannel! I even have some hat flannel templates to share. Enjoy!

Looking to learn more about Flannel Friday?  Check out the blog, and don’t forget to join the awesome Facebook group too!  Can’t wait for next week and need more inspiration right now?  Peruse the Flannel Friday Pinterest boards!

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