Advocacy Toolbox: Early Intervention and other Developmental Milestones Resources

HI all! This much delayed edition of Advocacy Toolbox is brought to you by a question I hadAdvocacy Toolbox with watermark (1) from a mom in a parent presentation recently. She was asking about speech delays – her daughter had one, she felt, and she was having trouble getting her child’s preschool to work with her to get her daughter evaluated. I referred her to the local free Early Intervention organization and she was happy to have another resource to try.


As youth librarians and early literacy advocates, we are experts in early literacy skills development and subsequently know quite a bit about how a young child’s brain develops. For some of our parents, however, that can translate into us being experts about all-things parenting related. I attended a focus group once, in which we were asking parents to use a new early literacy resource website, where we noticed something: parents don’t separate their parenting questions into separate “baskets.” It’s all one big basket, and into it goes every concern they have about their child: questions related to nutrition, discipline, learning, and more. So, naturally, when we answer questions about language and reading development it’s a natural progression for a parent to then ask a question about how their child is developing in other ways.


It’s easy to want to try and answer their questions but we know we can’t be all things to all patrons. So here’s where we do what librarians do best: connect them with resources that CAN answer their questions. Here are some I’ve compiled that might be useful for you:


Early Intervention: Most states offer this free service to parents of young children. The child can be evaluated for developmental delays, and if needed, get connected to services. Here’s a list of EI services by state.


Developmental Milestones: Often parents just need to be reassured that their child is developing on track. Here are some resources:

  • Learn the Signs: Act Early is the Center for Disease Control’s early milestones page. Includes milestones by age in months and printable and printed (free!) materials.
  • Zero to Three is an amazing resource with tons of information for parents on things like infant and child mental health, discipline, school readiness, and more.
  • You will have to wade past a few ads, but BabyCenter offers great information – categorized by baby, toddler or preschooler – about developmental milestones and more.
  • Your local children’s hospital – if you have one – may be a great resource for information about child development. Mine, the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, offers Babies 101 and Toddlers 101 to answer some basic questions.
  • PBS Parents offers sections on child development  up to age 8!
  • From the American Academy of Pediatrics comes, which offers great “ages and stages” information.



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Local Chapter of the Month: Arizona

Each month, we’ll be recognizing and featuring one local chapter. We hope this helps you discover new groups, get ideas for meet-ups and discussions for your chapter, and also reward all the networking that’s going on and the work that goes into that.

This month, we’re recognizing our Arizona chapter.


Arizona Local Chapter leader, Stacie Kopa is throwing out learning and networking opportunities left and right. Here are some of the things she’s come up with:

  • A post-summer Flannel and Wine Party
  • Extended invitations to participate in a library’s Music Together and First Things First training events
  • A casual breakfast
  • A first-time meet and greet

I’m so impressed by everyone’s commitment to learning and growing here. Members are sharing and commenting on articles and resources, sharing job postings, and sharing learning opportunities in the area.

With 45 members in just a few months, this group is growing quickly. Thank you to Stacie and all the members who are coming together, contributing feedback and ideas, and just making it all work. We love watching you grow and connect!


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Guerrilla Storytime Recap: Maryland Library Association Conference 2016

Here at SU, the joint chiefs get so much joy from hearing about all the Guerrilla Storytimes that are springing up all over the country. We encourage you to share notes, pictures, and videos with us, as well as any personal stories about what you’ve learned or experienced through GSTs. Don’t forget to let us know about your GST so that we can add it to the map and calendar, too!




Today we’re posting (some of) the recap from Maryland Library Association’s Guerrilla Storytime! You can find even more by clicking here. Check out the videos!


How do you incorporate number concepts and early math into storytime?

  • Counting songs
  • Flannel boards
  • Orders; use language to order concepts
    • First, second, third
    • First, next, last
    • Smallest, bigger, biggest
  • Organization of shapes; groupings of items
  • 5 little _____ songs & rhymes, counting up and counting down
  • mind parents of cardinal and ordinal concepts
  • Simple subtraction and addition of items- there were 4, one’s gone, now there’s 3.


How would you adapt scarves or shaky eggs for children with disabilities that can’t grip objects

  • Try another type of object
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Hold child’s hand around the egg and shake with them
  • Tie scarves to chairs
  • Attach item to a scarf or scrunchy that will go on child’s wrist
  • Noisemaker that goes on an arm or wrist


Favorite ways to use musical instruments in storytime

  • As children enter
  • Music playing during an extension activity
  • Music sometimes playing in the children’s area
  • Basket of instruments for free use
  • You can interact with kids as you play an instrument more easily than if playing a recorded song.
  • Playing an instrument provides more freedom to be silly and include children’s ideas
  • Ukulele, slide whistle, harmonica, accordion,


A child keeps pulling felt pieces off your board, what do you do?

  • Ask parents to keep control over kids (but say it nicely)
  • Put flannel board up high out of reach
  • Give each child a piece of flannel to add to the story


Favorite way to use puppets

  • Finger puppets- variations on “2 Little Blackbirds” (2 little [anything that goes with theme])
  • Waiting for families to file in, walk up to kids individually to interact with the puppet
  • Mother Goose’s “I Went Out for A Walk One Day” Uses animal sounds and not voices
  • Mascot puppet, puppy taps/kisses each kid on the head to count the kids


How do you get kids to do call and response?

  • Get very loud and excited
  • Talk to parents at beginning about participation and then call them out later (in a humorous way) if they don’t play along
  • Do a practice round
  • Have a partner lead the response part


What can you do with a stretchy band? Also called cooperative bands, & brand name “ElastaBlast”


  • Make a circle
  • Sit down in a circle with legs straight out, holding band, & do motions w/ band while seated:
    • Shake slow/fast
    • Storytime crunches/lean back
    • Row row your boat
    • Hold up high
    • Hold down low
  • Bounce to the beat of a song as you walk in a circle
  • What color are you holding? If you’re holding [color] then shake it. Then pass the band around to get a new color & repeat
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Guest Post Series: Guerrilla Moms

You Can Take the Mom Out of the Library, but You Can’t Take the Youth Services Librarian Out of the Mom

After 10 years in Youth Services I took a break to stay at home with my daughter who is now two and a half. Filling about 10 waking hours a day is often a challenge, especially when the weather in Ohio keeps us in the house. My professional training and interests very much influence the way we fill our time.


Unsurprisingly books are always available to her and we do a lot of reading, but it goes beyond that. I believe in learning through play and creating a language rich environment. I do not believe that being a good parent means you must spend every waking second entertaining your kid. I prefer to provide materials and situations that are what some bloggers refer to as “invitations”, opportunities for her to experiment and explore with different materials. We do have some screen time, because sometimes mommy has things to do. I just try to pick well, and make sure it doesn’t take over our day.


For example, I’ve recently been planning out the next two months. There are four different categories our activities fall into:


These includes smaller trips like visiting the library, neighborhood playground, or splash pad as well as bigger family trips once a week to the zoo, botanical garden, museums, or petting zoo. We are very sad that our Children’s Museum is closed for a move, as it was an easy bus ride away and lots of fun.

Outside Play

I am an indoor person, but I can see all the ways my daughter benefits from outdoor play.  This summer she will have access to a sand table, water table, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls, and other outdoor toys. The water table was a huge hit last year and I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to bring it back out.

Indoor Play/Toys

Another place you can find my librarian background is in the toys I seek out for my daughter. If it lights up, flashes, or makes noise you can probably assume I didn’t buy it for her.  We focus on toys that encourage open ended/and or pretend play like blocks, dress up clothes, and musical instruments.


Last summer I picked a different color every week and we did activities where the materials focused on that color.This summer I am not doing specific themes, but am scheduling one of these activities a day for four days a week, leaving one day for those bigger outings. Some days the activity will be a hit, and somedays it will bomb. I try hard to just let her lead and sometimes we’ll try again a few months later with more success. With a few exceptions these fall into four main categories themselves:


  1. Sensory activities are developmentally beneficial in a number of ways. This post from Not Just Cute sums it up pretty well. I usually present sensory activities to my daughter in a plastic storage bin or dishpan. Sometimes we even turn her baths into a new sensory experience with colored water or additions like pool noodle pieces, balloons, or glow sticks.greensensory
  2. Process art is art that lets children explore without a pre-determined result in mind. NAEYC has a great primer on process art if it’s a new concept for you. Process art can be messy, but an old shirt of mom or dad’s and a shower curtain liner from the dollar store can help contain the mess.paintingkiddobingodots
  3. Pretend play is pretty self-explanatory. So far, at 2 her pretend play has been mostly limited to imitating us with her play kitchen, tools, and doctor kit. This summer we will be looking for ways to expand this by setting up simple things like a stuffed animal hospital, ice cream parlor, and castle.
  4. Activities to help her develop fine and gross motor skills are generally things that challenge her dexterity, balance, and coordination. Whether due to being a preemie or just genetics she’s always done things that require large motor control at the tail end of the normal range. We’re fine with her taking her time, but I like to encourage her to challenge herself.  These activities can be as simple as tearing up pieces of tissue paper and putting them into the neck of a bottle or walking lines made of painter’s tape on the floor. Our homemade ball pit and  playground outings really help with this as well.




If you want to know more about the activities we’ll be trying this summer I’ve set up a Pinterest board to share them with you. Click here to take a look.



Beth Saxton has over ten years experience as a youth services librarian, most recently at Cleveland Public Library.  After graduating from the University of Western Ontario in 2002 she found a real passion for youth services with both little ones and teens and is an active member of ALSC and YALSA. When isn’t busy raising a little reader of her own, she’s reading,knitting, or participating in various fandoms. You can find her on Twitter (@BethReads) or her website (

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