Boxes of books & activities

March 16, 2000


For information about the activity boxes available at Washington County Free Library, call Donna Parks, head of the children's department at Washington County Free Library, at 301-739-3250.

She is available Mondays and Wednesdays, 1 to 4 and 5 to 9 p.m.; and Tuesdays, 2 to 5 p.m.

By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

Broccoli and yogurt are prized in Calcium Land.

Though the land is imaginary, the nutritious foods in it have high value in real life, particularly in young, growing bodies.

cont. from lifestyle

The game is part of the calcium box, one of eight kits that will be offered to parents and children at Washington County Free Library by the end of this month or early in April. The other activity boxes will focus on fruits, vegetables, exercise, manners, food safety, the Food Guide Pyramid and gardening.


Inside the black plastic boxes there will be books, games, puzzles, videos and recipes children can help make. As with everything else offered in the children's department, the kits can be checked out for three weeks.

Donna Parks, head of the children's department at Washington County Free Library, saw similar educational sets in other libraries and thought they would go over well here.

"It worked for them. It will work for us," Parks says.

The Washington County chapter of Women Infants and Children is putting the boxes together with the help of Jill Allen, a student at University of Maryland, College Park. National Capital Area Chapter of March of Dimes provided the funding for the local project, says Arleen Shuster, a nutritionist with WIC in Washington County.

It was Allen who created "Calcium Land," a nutritional cousin to "Candy Land."

A junior who is majoring in dietetics, Allen heard about the WIC program through her college studies. She contacted Shuster last summer in hopes of learning more about the field of dietetics and nutrition and was asked to help with the activity boxes.

She created all the components of "Calcium Land," including the board and flash cards. Using molding clay, she created game pieces, which include kid-size milk cartons, yogurt containers, and pieces of broccoli and cheese.

"It's like making cookies," she says of making the pieces. The colorful shapes are baked to a hardened state so they're easy to move around the game board.

"I love children, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to do something for them," says Allen, whose parents have lived in Hagerstown for two years.

She also compiled lists of books and videos available at Washington County Free Library that fit within each of the box categories; the lists are inserted in the kits. At college, she dubbed audiocassettes that also will be included in the boxes.

The kits provide an opportunity for parents and children to interact and for both to learn about good nutrition and healthy living.

"For children to eat well, parents need to eat well," says Shuster, a registered dietitian.

The boxes are geared toward children up to the age of 5 and their parents, but Shuster thinks 6- and 7-year-olds also will be interested.

The kits feature handles so kids can carry them easily.

Those who want a sneak preview can peek into the gardening box, which is on display at the library. Inside, there are words to the song "I Can Grow a Garden," which is sung to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell." The song calls for children to imitate raindrops and the sun and to pretend they're pulling weeds and picking vegetables out of the garden.

Also included are recipes for fruit pizza, a vegetable sub, fruit cake that contains pinto beans, raisins, apples and nuts, and apple boats, which are filled with peanut butter, peanuts, crispy cereal and raisins and topped with Cheddar cheese.

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