Explore the world with your toddlers

Asia Citro’s books give step-by-step instruction in a variety of creative activities and science experiments.
Asia Citro’s books give step-by-step instruction in a variety of creative activities and science experiments. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald


Hear stories told the old-fashioned way

Many parents share family stories with their children: How their ancestors came to the U.S., what family members did to survive the Depression, or simply what they liked to do when they were children.

“Storytelling has been around for thousands of years” as a way of early communication and to document history before there was written language, said Doug Banner of Bellingham Storytellers Guild, which offers free performances from 7-8:30 p.m. the third Friday of the month in the Fireplace Room of the Fairhaven Branch Library, 1117 12th St.

Banner sees the piqued interest in storytelling as a reaction to the omnipresence of the Internet, especially social media.

“The new connectivity still demands a human touch,” Banner said. “(Social media) doesn’t satisfy a basic human need. We’re herd animals — I think people are starting to realize that they still want human connection, and storytelling is a way to do that.”

A special program Dec. 18 will focus on stories of the winter holiday season.

“We’ll be telling solstice stories, stories of light, stories of winter,” Banner said.

In addition, tellers will spin “beautiful, touching, Christian-flavored stories, but I wouldn’t call them ‘church’ stories,” Banner said.

In February, a special program called “Ladders to the Moon” will offer stories, song and dance based on East African traditions.

For details about Bellingham Storytellers Guild, see bellinghamstorytellersguild.org, or contact Doug Banner or Lyn Spangler at 360-820-9631 or dougbannerstoryteller.com.


Rainy-day art, science projects

A dreary winter day is perfect for a science experiment or an art project, said Asia Citro, a Seattle educator and the author of the activity books “150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids” and “The Curious Kid’s Science Book.”

Both books are packed with fresh ideas for engaging young children, including recipes for play doughs and slimes, and simple DIY strategies for such toys as Hatching Egg Bath Bombs and a Recycled Car City.

“The flavor of the book is easy, budget-friendly ... quick and easy activities to set up,” Citro said.

She’s also fond of giving children the freedom to make a mess — within reason. At home, Citro uses drop cloths to protect her floors and furniture, and sets limits for messiness.

Science experiments encourage children to think for themselves, she said.

“I really want to remind adults that we don’t need a kids’ experiment to be accurate,” she said. “It’s OK to be at the level of a 5-year-old. It’s not going into Scientific American. The important thing is the experience and learning to ask questions.”

“Part of science is failure, or to get different results (than you were expecting). In science, in the lab, you fail all the time. But it’s still learning. It’s about saying, ‘That didn’t work. What next?’”