Coincidental chess…

Sometimes life just throws unexpected coincidences at you.

I finally got around to watching the fabulous 2014 New Zealand film The Dark Horse (better late than never right?), featuring Cliff Curtis as Genesis Potini, former chess champion and battler with mental health issues. The film follows his attempt to coach the local kids’ chess club The Eastern Knights, and get them to the national chess championships in Auckland.

No sooner had I watched this movie, then the very next day when working at Linwood Library, a young Māori boy invited me to play a game of chess with him. Having never played, I sat down with him and got a super fast education in what can move where and which piece beats all others.

Unsurprisingly I was beaten in no time flat. Perhaps I might need to nab a one of the many chess books we have for a crash course in how to play, or better yet try learning by doing, at one of the Chess clubs in Canterbury.

However, given the length of time it took me to see a movie about chess, I’m not holding my breath about learning to play anytime soon! Have you tried playing chess?

Cover of Chess and The Art of War Ancient Wisdom to Make You A Better Player Cover of The Batford book of chess from beginner to winner Cover of The chess player's bible Cover of Test your chess

Further information

What languages do you speak?

There are approximately 6900 languages in the world today. That’s right – six thousand, nine hundred! That’s A LOT of different languages! How many of them can you speak?

World Languages magazines

CoverWe all learn a language when we are born. That’s our ‘mother language’ – we pick it up from our family and friends, and learn it without too much effort. Some New Zealanders speak English as their mother language, some speak te reo Māori or New Zealand Sign Language, and others speak one of those thousands of other languages. To quote that well-known song, Aotearoa New Zealand really is a great big melting pot of cultures!

UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day (21 February 2017) is a chance to celebrate the different languages we all speak, and to encourage people to read, learn, and share ideas in their native language.

CoverHere at Christchurch City Libraries we have heaps of resources you can read in your mother language – books, newspapers, magazines, online resources, you choose! Our World Languages collections have books and magazines in languages from Afrikaans to Vietnamese.

PressReader lets you read newspapers and magazines from Albania to Zimbabwe, and our selection of language eResources can help you study, relax, or learn English or another language.

Check these resources out, and maybe by next year you’ll be able to say you speak one more language than you do now!

Mask Making at the Makerspace Workshop

Come and check out our mask display at the South Learning Centre. Students at the Marker Space Workshop afterschool programme investigated the meaning behind masks and why people wear masks. They then researched and drafted their own mask ideas. Their brief was to incorporate an accessory that could be 3D printed.


Marker Space Workshop afterschool programme delved into the World of Wearable Arts (WOW). But it was more than just costume making – it involved a trip to Creative Junk and sewing lessons with a sewing machine – but also circuit making with LEDs and Arduino chips.

Students were asked to create an Kiwiana outfit which included an electronic circuit with flashing LEDs.


Booking and enquiries

To book a place on one of our courses please phone (03) 941 5140 or email:

Animals at the library

The eagle-eyed among you might have spotted a theme in our school holiday events – toy animal sleepover, making owls, snakes on a plain – yes, we will be busy with animal-themed programmes and activities.

School holiday programmes

If your kids enjoy watching the wildlife, there are plenty of books and DVDs in our collection as well as the following resources:

Animal names

Find out the words for male, female, child and groups of different types of animal.

New Zealand birds and animals

New Zealand has an amazing amount of wildlife, we’ve collected some facts and resources in New Zealand birds and animals.

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National Geographic Kids

Learn about the natural world us with National Geographic Kids magazine online.


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There’s a collection of Children’s animals eAudiobooks and eBooks on OverDrive for Kids.

Want more animal stuff?

Reading to dogs

Christmas traditions and amigurumi

9781452103600OK, so as I write this I’m munching away on Easter chocolate, and Christmas is so last year already, but I’ve been wanting to tell you about one of my family’s Christmas traditions. Every year, I make each of the kids a handmade gift. I didn’t even know that they’d noticed, or cared particularly until two Christmases ago when I said to Miss Missy that I didn’t think I’d be able to make her anything because I was running out of time.

But Mum, you ALWAYS make me something for Christmas! It just wouldn’t be right if you didn’t!

Wow, OK kid! I just couldn’t say no after that, could I? So at the last minute (and I mean seriously – I was stitching at like 5 minutes to midnight Christmas Eve) I whipped up a patchwork and applique cushion for her bed.

This Christmas (or is that last Christmas already now?) my problem wasn’t time, it was coming up with what to make. Miss Missy is a newly minted teenager – the smocked dresses, applique T-shirts, or cutesy hair accessories of years past just weren’t going to cut it. What to make was on the back of my mind for months, when I found the perfect thing: a crocheted amigurumi unicorn.

Now I had a new problem: I don’t crochet.

I don’t mean that I CAN’T crochet. I can; I learnt how years ago when I was in school (Steiner education, you know). I just never got good at it. My first attempt was supposed to be a hat for myself. But I gave up in disgust when the other kids in my class were wearing their beanies already, and all I had was a misshapen things that looked like a floppy sunhat – not for my head though, all it would fit was my Sindy doll (if you don’t remember Sindy, she’s about Barbie’s size!). It suited Sindy but I wouldn’t call the hat a success!

d2364bbd-d097-4ee7-80c4-9e70d8bce6f7A few years – and many successful non-crochet craft projects later – I tried again. This time, I decided to make some snowflake Christmas tree decorations.  They looked so pretty in the pattern book I thought it was worth giving crochet another try. Well. I stuck at it, and made three snowflakes for myself, as well as a few for friends. But sticking with it didn’t make it any easier. I was constantly making mistakes and having to undo everything. I had to concentrate so darn hard I couldn’t enjoy it.

No. I decided I liked crochet about as much as going to the dentist.

9781784940645But, for Miss Missy, I put all that aside, and set to with her gift. Turns out, I still don’t like to crochet, but I really do like amigurumi! They are so cute, it makes the frustration worth it! In fact, I decided to make another amigurumi as a gift for a friend. And when I saw a copy of  Boho Crochet I decided that the Christmas tree really could use some more crochet decorations too. Maybe crochet isn’t quite as bad as the dentist…(though I don’t love it enough to crochet myself a trophy head for the living room wall).

After beating crochet into submission, I’ve felt drawn to books on crafts I’ve never tried. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who’s keen to learn new crafts, so I’ve put together a list of some craft and hobby books that struck my fancy. Some I’m an old hand at, some I’ve never tried, but all gorgeous!

Related Resources

“Science is about doing” – an interview with Geni McCallum of Science Alive!

Kids getting excited about science is a wonderful thing. Thanks to Geni McCallum – Marketing Manager and Community Educator at Science Alive! for answering our questions ahead of next week’s Under 5 Science Fest. For older kids, there are Science Snippets in the library in ten of our libraries after school.

Under 5 fest

What are some of the events at Under 5 Fest you reckon will get the kids excited?

At our annual Under 5 Fest, kids get the chance to explore a wide range of hands-on science-based activities. You can pat farm animals; build in the construction zone; explore basic scientific principles; listen to stories; play with puppets, and much more. We have 15 brand new exhibits this year so there is bound to be something for everyone – it’s a week full of fun, chaos and adventure!

The construction zone is always one of our most popular areas, not only with the children but also with adults. What could be more fun than exploring engineering principles by building a giant house?! This year we’re featuring more blocks and activities and promising more opportunities for exploration and creativity.

Also new this year is the Nature Zone, especially for the budding biologists out there. Kids will be able to pretend they are a scientist in the field and examine and classify different objects, all the while learning about what makes New Zealand flora and fauna so unique.
More info can be found on our Facebook event or Science Alive

How can parents and caregivers help their kids get more into science?

The beauty of science is that it really is all around us, just waiting to be explored – there are ample opportunities in everyday situations to teach your kids about their world. Children (and adults!) often learn extremely well with hands-on activities. Often the teaching of science is simply about looking at the world from a scientific perspective, learning to think critically and asking lots of questions. People often forget that there is science within cooking, from raising dough (baking soda/powder chemistry reaction) to simmering a pasta sauce (evaporation), these are lessons just waiting to be taught!

As parents, we are asked questions constantly; it really is the brilliance (and sometimes the bane) of parenthood that you are their first and most important educator. Making a concerted effort to explain an answer, or delve into researching to find an answer with your kids creates a wonderful foundation for future learning. My daughter once asked me how bricks were made, I realised I hadn’t the foggiest idea and so I stopped what I was doing, we opened the laptop and looked it up online – it’s never too late to learn new things with your children.

And remember, it is not just about answering questions, but also asking them. How often do you stop and bounce a question back to your child? ‘What do you think?’ Getting your children to really think about what is happening and come up with their own explanations, however creative, is just as important as providing answers.


How does Science Snippets in the Library work? Are there some examples of kids who are having success from it?

After the earthquakes, our centre was no longer able to house the thousands of children we educate each year in our education programmes. It became clear that if we were to continue our ethos of teaching the community about science, we would have to turn to outreach programmes and venture out into the community on a regular basis. Our community team turned to teaching science topics within the libraries and thus, ‘Science Snippets in the Library’ was born.

My colleague and I travel to five different libraries each, covering ten Christchurch Libraries each week. We bring our own supplies and teach topics that cover Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy and Physics to kids from 5 to 10 years old. Each class runs from 3:30 – 4:30 pm and covers a lesson with plenty of discussion and question asking, and activities in which the kids can create something to take home with them. These free classes have proved to be very popular. We even have some volunteer helpers to aid with the bigger groups of kids, and we have many children who attend every week.

I believe that the success of our programmes is teaching that science is about doing, it’s not just in textbooks. We aim to foster the natural curiosity and excitement that children have at a young age. In the end, it doesn’t matter if they’ve learnt a fact they can relay off, it’s much more important to me that they associate science with fun, exploration and excitement. I brought a real monkey’s brain into class a week ago for our Brains topic; the amazement in the kids’ faces is what reminds me that this is what ‘Science Snippets in the Library’ is really all about.

Science Alive

What do you think about libraries?

I have personally always loved libraries. From a young age they were my safe haven away from the rough politics of the playground – no matter what, the library was always there and my favourite books were just waiting to be read yet again. I strongly believe that a child’s first independent thoughts and opinions are collated through reading and collecting that breadth of book knowledge. It’s one of the only times that they are alone to think, question and discover of their own accord. Libraries give children the opportunity to do that in a safe and positive place.

In modern times, libraries have become so much more to the children and adults who are able to use facilities, which they may not have access to at home. They house knowledge that you can explore, no matter how old you are or how much money you have. They’re an inclusive community resource that is so important to so many. The digital access they provide is fantastic, but the real gems are found in the shelves and shelves of books. Next time you visit your local library, take a second to realise how lucky we are to have such an incredible resource within our neighbourhoods.

Thanks Geni and the Science Alive! team for their stellar work in bringing science to Christchurch kids!

Cover Cover Cover of Slithery snakes Cover

See Geni’s list of top science books for kids.

Geni also recommends:
Splish! Splosh! Why Do We Wash?: Experiments in the Bathroom (4 yrs +).
A book full of illustrations, humour and kid-friendly experiments.
The Kingfisher Young Discoverers Encyclopaedia of Facts and Experiments (yrs 9 +)
A great resource book for science experiments, that are fun, safe and easy to create with everyday objects.
Are You a Snail? (4 yrs +) A simple picture book with attractive illustrations, to keep young kids engaged in the science of snails.

More science for kids

High Fives at South Learning Centre

A few wee things to celebrate at South Learning Centre.
Ep9 Trigger

HNN (Hillmorton Network News) finished off their year in style. I am so proud of their film and media progress, learning and confidence. The students presented to their Year 7/8 peer group. This was very nerve wracking for them with over 100 pairs of eyes scrutinizing them. This was followed by them presenting to school staff – who fired many questions at them ranging from their cross-over learning into other areas, what new skills they learned, and where could their skills take them?

Look out for HNN 2016!

HNN Episode 7

HNN Episode 8

HNN Episode 9

HNN Episode 10

HNN Episode 11

The second celebration is for Beckenham Centennial Film School. This was a hugely successful experience working alongside Beckenham School learning all about their 100 year history. We discovered some great stories of the past, devastating details of the fire and some exciting plans for the future of Beckenham.

Beckenham of Old

Beckenham Now

Beckenham Fire

Future Beckenham

In our Learning Centre, students experience eLearning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or


Big Science Day 2015!

Pyrotechnics, Martin Jetpacks, MSLB Simulators and YikeBikes will take over Cathedral Square on 31 October. The occasion? Science Alive’s inaugural Big Science Day, an all-day Science and Technology extravaganza suitable for families and people of all ages.

Big Science Day logoThe displays, demonstrations, science shows and workshops planned are too many to list, but here are some of the exhibitor highlights you can look forward to:

  • EVolocity will have a roped off circuit where people can take small electric vehicles such as bikes, low powered go-karts, scooters, etc. for a spin. If you own an electric bike / scooter / motor bike / go-kart / car, EVolocity invite you to exhibit your vehicle (if you are keen to bring your vehicle along, please email, or call Rob on 021 728 875).
  • Martin Jetpack – yes, the one that can take off and land vertically!

    Martin JetPack
    Photo courtesy of @Martin Jetpack
  • COBi Digital will demonstrate its aerial filming capabilities. Using the latest UAV cinema technology, a camera can be mounted on top of the drone allowing unlimited camera angles.
  • MSLB Simulators will show its fully immersive, motion enabled boat simulators to recreate the experience of driving a small boat.
  • Code Club Aotearoa will be running learn to code sessions for children and adults throughout the day. Build your first piece of working software and share your creation on the internet.
  • YikeBike will exhibit its fully electric folding bike – check out the way in which many of us could be moving around in the not-so-far future.

As well as showcasing cool stuff and Canterbury innovation, the Big Science Day will reveal the many possible career paths in the area. Be inspired by the exciting courses offered by CPIT, the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, and see how science and technology are used by the Police, the Defence Force and the Fire Service.

Photo courtesy of @CPIT

Make sure also to pop in to The Imagination Station at Cathedral Junction – if you haven’t discovered it yet, it’s heaven for Lego enthusiasts of all ages. There’s a huge Lego pit with tens of thousands of Lego pieces, as well as a Duplo area for the wee ones, plus computers for those who like their Lego digital.

Connecting Christchurch educators – 31 days of blogging with ChchEd

Are you a teacher, or interested in education? There is a group in Christchurch doing fab work – they’re called Christchurch Connected Educators or Chched. You might see the hashtag #chched on Twitter. Their aim is to create connections between educators across the Canterbury region. It is a strong forum for sharing ideas and making things happen.

This month they bring you 31 Days of Blogging:

A celebration of the awesome things happening in Canterbury schools.

Danny from our South Learning Centre will be posting on 3 October.  I’m interested to hear what he has to say – read his previous posts on hoverboards, Living Walls, 3D printing, and Minecraft.


So subscribe to the Chched blog – get ideas, inspiration, and encouragement.

A spot of science, a splash of arts, and a tonne of fun – Introducing Fun Palaces 2015

We are super excited to report that Fun Palaces are in Christchurch this year! Free, pop-up ‘Fun Palaces’ will be hosting exciting arts, science and culture activities for people of all ages and abilities. In the weekend of Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October (2nd weekend of the school holidays), we will be the first place in the world to get our Fun Palace on!

You can win too – snap a selfie at any of the Fun Palaces and upload to your social media accounts with the hashtag #funpalaceschch and you are in the draw to WIN a bicycle worth up to $2,000!

Be There lists all the local Fun Palaces and our Central Library Peterborough will play host to 12 events over the weekend:

Fun Palaces at Central Library Peterborough

Saturday 3 October

Fun Palaces - augmented realityAugmented reality 10am to 12pm
Colour in images in the “old school” way and watch them come to life using Quiver Augmented Reality technology with an iPad that will transform your pages into a magical and engaging 3D experience that is sure to have you entranced. Presented by Christchurch City Libraries.

Spider phobia demonstration 10am to 4pm
Don’t miss out on this experience to have virtual spiders creep and crawl all over a desk and up your arms! Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

Augmented reality - Fun PalacesAugmented reality kiosk 10 am to 4pm
Come check out the latest in Augmented Reality! Bringing virtual images into the real world. See comic books and colouring books come to life right before your eyes! Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

Nao robots 10am to 12pm
Robots robots robots! Swing by play with real humanoid robots and learn how to program them too! Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

3D printing demo 11am to 2pm
Come in and see one of the Library 3D printers in action during a live demonstration. Learn a little about how they work, what material the Libraries use and some interesting facts about this exciting technology. Presented by Christchurch City Libraries.

Minecraft Fun PalacesMinecraft 12pm to 3pm
Create your own Fun Palace. Come and build your own “Fun Palace” in Minecraft. Build something exciting on your own or in collaboration with friends during a 3hr session aimed at creating the most fun environment you can think of within the minecraft realm. Redstone disco light floors, minecart roller coasters or massive waterslides the more fun it is the better. Unleash your creativity! There will be 20 computers available and will be on a first in first served basis. Presented by Christchurch City Libraries.

Oculus Rift 1pm to 3pm
This is Minecraft on a whole new level. Experience Minecraft as if you were really there using the Oculus Rift. Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

Sunday 4 October

Augmented reality kiosk 10am to 4pm
Come check out the latest in Augmented Reality! Bringing virtual images into the real world. See comic books and colouring books come to life right before your eyes! Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

Spider phobia fun palacesSpider phobia demonstration 10am to 4pm
Don’t miss out on this experience to have virtual spiders creep and crawl all over a desk and up your arms! Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

Nao robots 10am to 12pm
Robots robots robots! Swing by play with real humanoid robots and learn how to program them too! Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

3D printing demo 11am to 2pm
Come in and see one of the Library 3D printers in action during a live demonstration. Learn a little about how they work, what material the Libraries use and some interesting facts about this exciting technology. Presented by Christchurch City Libraries

Oculus Rift 1pm to 3pm
This is Minecraft on a whole new level. Experience Minecraft as if you were really there using the Oculus Rift. Presented by HIT Lab NZ and Christchurch City Libraries.

And if you visit Be There, you will see heaps more Fun Palaces to explore. Grab bookmarks and flyers from your local library. See you there!

Comics and colouring in

You can go online and make your own Fun Palaces comic. Or do some colouring in:

Fun Palaces