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Arts & Culture Newsletter

Letter from the Library Director


Every year around this time, I like to reflect on the past 12 months and think about the many blessings in my life and community and take the time to steep myself in gratitude. It helps me prepare for a busy holiday season and keep perspective when things get stressful. It’s something I look forward to every year.

And then came 2020 – a year filled with challenges, fear, anxiety and uncertainty!  All sense of normalcy has gone out the window, and I want to give everyone an award just for making it this far. Instead of awards, however, I will share my gratitude.

Our Library & Cultural Services staff members have been amazing. In the early days of the closure, they made thousands of phone calls to senior patrons to check on needs, connect them with resources, and find out how we could help during this difficult time. They adjusted to doing much of their work from home (many also balancing work and helping their children with online schooling) and providing all programs virtually instead of in-person. We’ve learned a lot in the past few months! We’re now offering multiple storytimes on Facebook Live, arts and music classes on Zoom, and many virtual programs – from Bingo to author programs. We shifted some funds toward our digital collection to ensure we had enough digital materials to meet the increased demand due to the pandemic.

In June, some staff returned to work onsite, and we launched our curbside pickup service for library materials, which has been a huge success. We also enabled patrons to place holds on items that are available on the shelf, which opened a huge range of items to choose from for curbside delivery and allowed our users to get their fix of books, movies and audio. 

While this was happening, we worked on several projects inside the library including inventory and collection maintenance as well as shifting nearly all our adult materials to new areas to maximize our shelving space for the collections that need it most. These are projects that are difficult to complete when we’re open 7 days a week, so we took advantage of the closure to complete them.

On the Cultural Services side, our staff coordinated a two-part community art project to express gratitude to the dedicated medical workers at Mission Hospital. They organized a safe, socially distanced outdoor environment for the art project and recruited community members and organizations to participate. You can see two sets of letters spelling out “THANK YOU!” in locations near the hospital. We also worked with local artists and our Friends of the Arts group as well as the City’s Public Services department to create an artful and welcoming outdoor seating space – “the Library Lounge” – near the Kershaw Garden. Wi-Fi is available in this space, which will provide socially distanced seating during library operating hours while indoor seating is unavailable. 

To top it off, we’re also winding up three different grant projects – a Disability Needs Assessment; Storytime Kit grant; and a grant to update the furniture and learning space in our Family Reading Corner. These projects will be a great benefit to our community for years to come. 

The library is now open by appointment and will continue to increase service levels as we move through the tiers of State guidelines. Our staff members have shown tremendous flexibility and creativity in continuing to provide as much service as possible during a challenging time, and I am so grateful for them all.

Our Friends groups continue to be a tremendous support. The Friends of the Arts group has been an integral part of the Gratitude Project community art effort as well as the creation of the Library Lounge space and our virtual arts classes. The Friends of the Library continues to support the library even while its main source of revenue, the Friends of the Library bookstore, has been closed. The members have been working with an auction house to sell some higher-value donations. The Amazon sales operation has recently resumed selling current inventory, and the Friends are hosting a great fall fundraiser this year.  We’re working to resume bookstore and genealogy docent operations as soon as possible while protecting the safety of our dedicated volunteers. Stay tuned for updates.

Thank you all for your continued use and support of the library and the arts. We’ve missed seeing you in person for the past few months! I wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

With gratitude,
Genesis Hansen, Director of Library & Cultural Services


Get making with Creativebug!

creative bug

Check out our new online resource Creativebug – offering thousands of award-winning arts and crafts video classes taught by renowned artists and creative experts. Classes are offered for every age and skill level, with new classes added daily. Creativebug offers painting, drawing, quilting, sewing, ceramics, and cookie and cake decorating classes, to name a few. There are also special topics for holidays, parties, and kids’ crafts. If that’s not enough, you can find daily practices and live instruction to keep you in the creative spirit.

Login today at https://cityofmissionviejo.org/departments/arts-culture/creative-resources. It’s free and easy to use. All you need is a Mission Viejo Library card. If you don’t have a card, you can apply online at https://cityofmissionviejo.org/departments/library/library-services/apply-card.


Joppity Learns Steady Beat: A free video that can improve fluency for early readers 


Beth Sussman, a master teaching artist with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, The Los Angeles Music Center and The Kennedy Center, developed a free video that can improve fluency for early readers.

The things that need to be in place for a child to be able to read and decode are still a bit of a mystery.  However, if your child becomes proficient in the following three areas, the groundwork will be laid for reading readiness.  

The first building block is for your child to understanding what a symbol is.  A symbol is something that represents an object or function.  It’s pretty easy to point out symbols to your child.  Examples include stop signs, railroad crossings, and the green, red or yellow lights on a traffic signal.  Letters and numbers are also symbols, so help your child make connections to the letters and the sound each letter represents. 

Second, your child must be able to cross the midline.  The midline is the imaginary line between the right and left sides of your body.  If a child is having trouble crossing the midline with her gross motor skills, then it might be difficult for her to move her eyes from left to right (crossing the midline) when reading. Observe your child when playing.  Is there difficulty or hesitation when having to cross the midline?  For practice, you can do some of these fun exercises or games with your child to work on this.  

Crossing the midline activities:

  • Draw a large figure eight and then rotate the paper 90 degrees, so that it looks like the “infinity” symbol.  Have your child trace the sideways figure eight with a toy car and challenge him to use only one hand, so that he will cross the midline.  This will also encourage your child to find his dominant hand.  If your child stops and switches hands to complete the figure eight, that would indicate more practice is needed. (Of course, continued practice of crossing the midline is a good idea even if your child seems to have the hang of it.)  
  • Have your child throw a ball to himself from hand to hand.
  • Put a colorful rubber band or hair band on one of your child’s wrists.  Then instruct your child to bring one hand across the midline and touch the other hand, referring to the hand you want he or she to use as either a “banded” or “un-banded” hand. You can also call out “over” or “under,” so the child knows the hand with the rubber band should be on the top or the bottom of the other hand.   

A variation on this is to have one hand “tickle” the palm of the other hand and then vice versa. For example, if the left hand has the rubber band, then start with it open on the left side of the body.  Instruct your child to use the “un-banded” hand (right hand) to tickle the banded hand.  The right hand would cross the midline, go on top of the left hand and tickle the palm. 

The “Joppity Learns Steady Beat” video has activities that involve crossing the midline.  Two sections in particular handle this quite well – “Joppity’s Jam” and “Silly Conducting.”

If your child is having trouble with this, put some painter’s tape or masking tape down the midpoint of your child’s shirt so he can get a greater sense of where the midline is.

The third building block is the ability to keep a steady beat.  This is a critical skill needed to read fluently. But remember, the goal is not to read with a steady beat, it’s to use these steady beat techniques to instill an inner sense of timing within your child so she is ready for a lifetime of reading.

Steady beat is a foundational concept in music. It’s the ongoing pulse, like a clock ticking or a heartbeat. Neuroscientists have found that steady beat and reading fluency are in the same part of the brain.  An article about the findings at Northwestern University can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3lDoM7a

The “Joppity Learns Steady Beat” video, which can be found at https://bit.ly/2qN3KMt, shows how clocks and metronomes keep a steady beat.  If you hear music and want to tap your foot or snap your fingers, the music has a steady beat.  

It’s not difficult to find the weak readers in a class, as they are often the kids having trouble keeping a steady beat.  Occasionally, it’s a coordination issue, but more often than not, the child needs to gain that inner sense of timing. Practice and repetition of the activities can make a tremendous difference in your child’s reading fluency! The sections of the video that focus on this are the Che Che Kule chant, Joppity’s Jam, Beatnik’s poem and Silly Conducting.  In addition, you can have your child dance, sing and clap to the beat of any music that he or she enjoys listening to.  If age-appropriate, encourage your child to try singing a song with a steady beat while jumping rope. Even reciting nursery rhymes can develop an inner sense of timing.

“Students often double, triple or even quadruple the number of words they can read per minute after participating in several steady beat workshops,” Beth said.  “In addition, their comprehension improves dramatically.  I’ve worked with many students who were struggling with reading and couldn’t keep a steady beat, but with practice, they were able to start feeling the beat and their reading quickly improved.”  

Steady beat is often the secret ingredient that’s been missing!

That being said, please don’t push your child to read before they’re ready.  Everyone develops at his or her own pace.  These methods work best when they’re fun and not a chore.  So, encourage your emerging readers to “play along” with the kids and puppets in the “Joppity” video.  Then come up with your own games and activities to practice steady beat.  

Joppity Video: https://bit.ly/2qN3KMt


Virtual Arts classes promote overall well-being

winter art classes

The City of Mission Viejo is offering wonderful winter classes that provide art and social emotional learning.

Especially during a pandemic, the benefits of art and social emotional learning are essential. Studies say this type of programming promotes overall well-being, maintains positive relationships, responsible decision-making, self-expression and inter-connectedness through fostering compassion and empathy. 
Register today and spark your creativity!    

Beginning Guitar 

Now is the perfect time to learn to play guitar!  Enjoy learning to play easy cords, fun melodies, strum styles and many popular tunes in a small virtual class environment. Grab your guitar and have fun! The classes are held from 5 to 6 pm on Tuesdays for ages 10 and older.  Supplies needed include a guitar, music stand (optional), and downloadable sheet music, which will be provided.

#71709 / February 9 – March 9 / $109

Beginning Ukulele

Just one strum of the ukulele brings a smile and soothes the soul during these uncertain times. Grab your ukulele and enjoy learning to play the world’s easiest string instrument in a supportive and small virtual class environment.  The classes are held from 4 to 5 pm on Tuesdays for age 10 and older.  Supplies needed include a ukulele, music stand (optional), and downloadable sheet music, which will be provided.

#71708 / February 9 – March 9 / $109

iPhone Photography

Learn everything you need to know to maximize your iPhone photos and videos. Focus, exposure, flash, HDR, panoramas, accessories and apps will all be discussed. For age 16 and older, this class is from 11 am to 1 pm on Saturdays.

#71710 / January 9 / $35
#71711 / February 13 / $35

Digital Photography 101

Learn quality digital photography - menus, resolution, ISO, shutter and more. The class covers how to shoot portraits, sports and night scenes. The classes are from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on Tuesdays for age 16 and older. A camera is required and manual recommended. 

#71713 / January 5 – February 2 / $70

Fun Art for Kids

Get ready for a fun-packed hour of language arts and fine arts! We will read a timely and fun story book and then do a directed draw based on the book we read.  The classes are from 4 to 5 pm on Wednesdays for ages 7-11.  Needed supplies include colored pencils and white paper

#71714 / December 2 – January 20 (no class December 23 & 30) / Free
#71715 / January 27 – March 3 / Free

For more information, contact 949-470-8470 or arts@cityofmissionviejo.org.