Skill Toys and the performing arts at Rowan Public Library

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 2, 2016

By Emma Rose

Rowan Public Library

Most people are very familiar with Rowan Public Library’s materials that can be read, listened to and watched. But did you know that the library also has Skill Toys – items that you can throw, catch, spin, kick, twirl and more?

Skill Toys are a variety of hands-on props that improve participants’ hand-eye coordination, sense of balance and reflex speed and accuracy.

Anyone between the ages of 11 and 17 is eligible to check out a Skill Toy from RPL’s collection. The Skill Toys available at the library include yo-yos, flower sticks, hacky sacks, the Kendama, juggling balls, spinning plates, jitter rings and the Diabolo.

Most of these items include an instructional element such as a DVD, book, and/or booklet explaining how the skill is performed. To check out a certain Skill Toy, simply visit your nearest library branch and let a children’s or teen’s staff member know that you would like to browse through the collection. Skill Toys may be checked out for two weeks.

Skill Toys, also known as Variety Arts Toys, were introduced at RPL through a North Carolina-based group called Flow Circus, which promotes active learning and play through the juggling arts. Mastering a skill toy not only provides gentle exercise and improves rhythm, but it can also give you an entertaining act to rely on for community events, parties and talent shows. In addition, this type of stimuli improves personal development and brain functioning.

Developing positive habits that can increase brain health and functioning is invaluable to young adults as their brains mature. Skill Toys can aid personal development in many ways, providing a sense of achievement upon learning new things, improving problem-solving skills, increasing concentration ability, building self-confidence and provoking an interest in lifelong learning. They can also directly benefit physical health. For example, studies show that juggling has a positive impact on the brain’s structure.

According to a study published in the science journal Nature, “Mastering the skill (of juggling) increases the amount of gray matter in areas of the brain that process and store visual information, proving what was not thought possible – that new stimuli can alter the brain’s structure. A comparison of brain-imaging scans of non-jugglers and other volunteers before they learned to juggle and three months later revealed an increase in gray matter in certain areas of the newly trained jugglers’ brains.” Skill Toys offer RPL patrons an opportunity to experience these health benefits firsthand.

Aside from the aforementioned benefits, Skill Toys are just plain fun. This is especially true if you enjoy acting and other performing arts. Those interested in Skill Toys might also check out some of these other items available at Rowan Public Library that can help in any and all endeavors to amuse and amaze:

“Balancing Magic and Other Tricks,” by Ormond McGill;

“Performing Arts,” by Z.B. Hill;

“Comedy Scenes for Student Actors: Short Sketches for Young Performers,” by Laurie Allen;

“Circus Skills,” by Stephanie Turnbull;

“Crafty Juggling,” by Nick Huckleberry Beak;

“The Kids’ Guide to Magic Tricks” by Steve Charney;

“275 Acting Games, Connected: A Comprehensive Workbook of Theatre Games for Developing Acting Skills,” by Gavin Levy;

“How to Make Art : A Book of Ideas, Inspiration, Theory and Practice,” by Mel Elliott.

2016 Book Cover Contest for Teens: This contest is for middle and high school students in grades six through 12. Entries will be accepted at any library location through Oct. 10. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place winners in each age group for the best original book cover design for a published book. See the official entry form for detailed instructions. For more information, contact Hope at 704-216-8258 or Sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library.

Lego Saturdays:  The library’s collection will be available for free play or bring your own. All days, 10 a.m-1 p.m. Oct. 8, East branch, Rockwell; Oct. 15, South branch, China Grove; Oct. 22, headquarters.

Tractor Mac Story Time: Oct. 15, 10:30 a.m.-noon, East branch. For children 3 to 8 years old. Participants may come in their coveralls, boots and hats ready to enjoy a morning of stories about Tractor Mac. Program includes crafts, activities and light refreshments. Questions? Contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Adventure Club: Saturday, Oct. 15, 11 a.m.-noon, Headquarters. Hands-on science based activities and crafts. One-hour rogram is for second- to fifth-graders.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join provide input on teen programming and book selection, as well as discussing current events and issues. Meets once a month at each library location from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Members can count hours of participation toward school community service requirements. Oct. 10, East branch; Oct. 13, South branch.

Anime club: For teens, Oct. 4, 4:30-5:30 p.m., headquarters, all things Anime.

Doctor Who’s Days: Oct. 11, 4:30-6 p.m., headquarters. Travel through time and space with screenings of the classic BBC program, “Doctor Who.”

OctoberTour Storytime: Oct. 8, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Headquarters. A special time for all children interested in history. 30 minutes.

Friends of RPL Fall Book Sale: Oct. 14-17, headquarters. Friday, 6-8 p.m., Members Preview; open to the public Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; Monday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Healthy Living Series: Oct. 3, 10 a.m.-noon, South Regional, China Grove. Improving human health through foods with flavor and function. The series, offered by N. C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, focuses on disease prevention and healing through food choices and preparation methods. Discussions will include prebiotics, probiotics, inflammation, PH balance and fermentation. Register at or call 704-216-7734. This event is free and open to the public. Also Oct. 10 and 17; each class has different information, but you do not have to attend all classes.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Oct. 25, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme.”The Devil in the White City.” Need a copy? Call 704-216-7841.

Money Mondays: Protecting Against Common Types of Fraud, Oct. 3, 7-8 p.m. Learn to recognize and understand common types of financial fraud such as identity theft, tax refund fraud, debit and checking account fraud, credit repair fraud and online fraud. Learn what to do if you are a victim.

Technology Tuesdays: iPad Basics, Oct. 11, 7-8 p.m., headquarters. Become a confident iPad user in this free class. We’ll discuss components, navigation and the use of apps. Must bring your iPad (fully charged) with you to class. Seating is limited. To reserve a spot, please call 704-216-8248 or email

Meet Gale! Introductory Course: Oct. 4, 7-8 p.m, headquarters. In this class, a librarian will review information about Gale’s online, free course offerings and discuss the technology requirements and usage. Participants will also be able to register for their chosen classes and receive help as needed.

Displays: Headquarters, Family Crisis Council — Domestic Violence (purple shoe display) and NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness Awareness; East, historic photos, Tim Linker; South, jminiature doll houses, Donna Deal and Terri Correll.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7-9 can practice their reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Reading therapy dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations recommended, not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m., call 704-216-8234 for details; East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m.,  Oct. 10 and 24, call 704-216-7842 for details; South, selected Saturdays, 10 a.m., call 704-216-7728 for details.

Weekly events for children through Nov. 18

Baby Time: A loosely interactive program of simple stories and songs for infants up to 23 months with parent or guardian. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Char’s Little Stars, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Tiny Sprouts, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South, Miss Pat’s Tiny Tots, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: Sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills for children 18-35 months with parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Reading Rumpus, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Tammie’s Tot Time, Mondays at 11; South, Miss Pat’s Wee Readers, Tuesdays, 10:30.

Preschool Time: Encourages the exploration of books and builds reading readiness skills for children 3- to 5-years-old with parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Noodle Head Story Times: Children of all ages can listen to silly books and tales together. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays at 4 p.m.; East, Mondays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Activities and instruction based on various themes and media vary by branch. Pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Bethany’s Brushes, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Emma’s Easel, Wednesdays, 4:30.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at East branch meeting room, Tuesdays, 5 p.m., through May 2017.