Category Archives: Educational Resources

CultureGrams – snapshots of cultures around the world

ProQuest CultureGrams logo

OPLIN (Ohio Public Library Information Network) has an excellent new Online Resource for Ohio libraries to share with our communities: CultureGrams®

CultureGrams® is your source for concise, reliable, and up-to-date cultural information on countries of the world. Beyond the facts and figures, find an insider’s perspective on the history, daily life, and customs. Also covers US states and Canadian provinces and has a Kid friendly edition that covers cultures around the world.

CultureGrams homepage screenshot

All of the editions have a similar layout so college-aged students can comfortably search the other editions after they graduate from the Kids edition. A drop-down selector lets the searcher shift between editions based on the searcher’s need.

This resource is an excellent snapshot for students working on state or country reports or for travelers looking for a brief intro to a new country before their trip. Search categories are laid out clearly and the pages can be translated into other languages for non-English speakers. All of the editions include video interviews from average citizens, audio files to help with the pronunciation of common phrases, and photo galleries to help searchers envision each location. Classroom teachers can save information from CultureGrams directly to their Google Drive or can share the page to Google Classroom.


CultureGrams® has printable teaching activities and handouts as well as online scavenger hunts for use in the classroom or for homeschoolers.


How Beanstack Supports the Science of Reading

Beanstack supports the science of reading graphicWe have been very excited to promote the Beanstack app this year as a tool to help us help you track your reading while earning prizes. The app gamifies reading through reading and activity challenges. It helps track the titles you read, how long you read or number of pages read, and encourages writing reviews and competition among friends.

Beanstack has been identified as a tool that can help build a reading culture within the classroom. Teachers and parents and even peers help youngsters learn and build phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary. Discussion, and eventually written reviews, demonstrate comprehension.

Beanstack can be used within the classroom to help track reluctant readers. Earning the badges offered through the app encourage young readers build up their literacy skills. Challenges between classrooms can encourage higher level readers to help their peers who are struggling.

This online article from the Beanstack team is an excellent read. Other, supporting articles are  embedded within.

QR code for the beanstack app

Download the beanstack app here!

Teachers wishing to give Beanstack a try in the 2023-2024 school year can create a classroom group through our app!

Beanstack can be downloaded from our phone’s app store or you can find it through our online resources.

READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens

Nominations are extended until April 5 for OELMA’s annual READ On! Award for students. Nominations from anywhere in the state are welcome, but the award committee is particularly interested in seeing more nominations from southwest Ohio. Please see OELMA’s letter below and check this Google folder for additional resources.

The Ohio Educational Library Media Association (OELMA) is pleased to announce its READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens is open to nominations from Ohio school library media specialists and public library staff beginning February 1, 2023.

Created in 2015, The READ On! Ohio Award recognizes Ohio K-12 students who are enthusiastic readers and enjoy being in the school and/or public library using the many services available. The student must be enrolled in an Ohio K-12 school at the time of nomination.

The READ On! Ohio Award recipient will be selected from applicants and nominees who meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrates an enthusiasm for reading
  • Exhibits an enthusiasm for sharing books with others
  • Uses books for a variety of purposes
  • Reads independently on a voluntary basis
  • Uses the school and/or public library frequently

Recipients are selected by the OELMA Awards Committee.  Up to sixteen recipients are selected according to grade band (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) and region (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest).  See the list of READ On! Counties by region.

The recipients each receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card and commemorative certificate during the OELMA Annual Conference. Each recipient’s name will be announced through the OELMA listserv, website and social media. In addition, each recipient’s school’s public information officer will be notified through a press release.

To nominate a student, complete and upload the OELMA READ On! Ohio Award for Children & Teens application form which requires a 250-word rationale that speaks to how the student meets at least two of the following criteria: 1) demonstrates an enthusiasm for reading; 2) exhibits an enthusiasm for sharing books with others; 3) uses books for a variety of purposes; 4) reads independently on a voluntary basis; 5) uses the school and/or public library frequently. Nominations are due by 11:59 p.m. April 5, 2023.

The nominator of each winning nominee will be notified by email about their nominee’s selection for the award. The nominator is expected to contact the winning nominee with the award selection results.

Beanstack – help get kids excited about reading!

beanstack logo
The Library is so excited to introduce our newest app, Beanstack! Beanstack tracks your reading the same way a fitness app tracks your physical activity. With Beanstack, you can track the titles of books you read, time spent reading, and even follow friends to see who has read the most.

Beanstack is great for teachers who want to have a friendly (or fierce) competition with the classroom next door. Motivating students to read outside the classroom can be a difficult task, so why not make it fun? Teachers can create one account and sign up all their students so reading can be tracked by you, the teacher. At the end of a challenge, see which classroom has come out on top!

Read with Friends in Beanstack Add friends to share books, challenges, and stats

Participating in some of the Library’s challenges on Beanstack will even earn your students a prize. For instance, during the month of January, we held our Winter Reading Challenge for readers of all ages. Those who completed the challenge by reading a total of 450 minutes were able to pick up a 3D printed prize. Some of our challenges are just for fun; to encourage you to read those recommended 20 minutes a day and maybe even start a reading habit that will last a lifetime.

We’ll be using Beanstack for our annual Summer Reading Program, to keep track of minutes read, and so you’ll know when it’s time to come to the Library for a prize! Get a jump start on learning the ins and outs of Beanstack before the summer by signing up for a challenge today. Some of our upcoming challenges include: Black History Month; For the Love of Reading; Women’s History Month; Read to the Final Four; and more!

QR code for the beanstack app

Download the beanstack app here!

Download the Beanstack app and register for an account today to get started. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the Library at 513-932-2665 or send an email to Madi Staggs. More information can be found at this link.

Buckeye Children’s and Teen Book Awards

Looking for some new award-winning books to read to your children or students? Check out the winners of The Buckeye Children’s and Teen Book Award by visiting this website

The Buckeye Children’s and Teen Book Award program was started in 1981 to encourage collaboration among teachers, students, and librarians. Each of the winners of this award was voted on by students in Ohio in grades K-12. Teachers and librarians can nominate a book only if they are representing a group of students, but this program gives students the opportunity to use their voice. The winners for 2021 are as follows:

* Grades K-2: Happy Narwhalidays (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #5) by Ben Clanton (Tundra Books, 2020)* Grades 3-5: The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins, 2020)* Grades 6-8: Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic Press, 2019)* Teen: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020)

On the website, you can find the previous year’s winners, as well as information about how to help your students nominate their favorite books that have been published within the last two years. Click on the “Award Timeline” tab to make sure your students submit their votes on time.

So how does it work? In March, students nominate their favorite books. In April, the top five books for each grade range are posted. Over the summer, students can read the list of nominated books, as well as nominate new books. In the fall, students vote for their favorite books out of the top five choices. In December, the winners are announced.

To help your students vote, you can give them the bookmark ballots that are appropriate for their grade range, which are available under the “Resources” tab. The picture to the left shows what the K-2 bookmark ballot looked like for the 2021 voting process. As the teacher or librarian, you can vote on behalf of your students on the website using their ballots, or you can show them how to nominate a book on the website on their own. The process is quick and simple- just fill out a Google Form!

You can also view the previous nominees and winners since the year 1982 on the website. There are free spine labels with the award logo available on the website as well. You can stick these on your books in your school library or classroom library. Read these books with your students or encourage them to read them on their own to get them excited about the nomination and voting process. Help them to see how important it is to use their voice and recognize that their opinions are valued. This can help students to stay engaged with what they are reading and truly see the value in literacy.


If your students or homeschoolers love learning about the world, then they will love OLogy! OLogy is an interactive website created by the American Museum of Natural History that provides users with information about topics such as biology, human cultures, and Earth & space.

Users can simply click the menu button and choose a topic they want to explore. Each topic features videos, games, stories, hands-on activities, and quizzes. Choose any of the learning activities to learn more about the topic. For example, if your learner is interested in marine biology, they can read a story about a whale, learn about what they can do to protect the oceans, watch a video about colors in nature, and play a game that takes them to the bottom of the ocean. The content is geared toward K-5th graders.

There is also a section for educators that breaks down each of the hands-on activities by grade level.  OLogy has a partnership with ReadWorks, so this section features articles about science topics that are paired with vocabulary lessons and formative assessments for grades 2-12. Educators can click on the article for information about its intended grade level, word count, Lexile level, and ELA standards. Students will need to sign up and log in to access the articles.

Visit or download the OLogy app for iPad.


Looking for themed resources to do with your students or homeschoolers? Twinkl offers tons of FREE themed resources, like worksheets, PowerPoints, and activity packs. You can search by grade level, special education, homeschool, and world languages.

Each tab is further divided by subject, such as ELA, holidays, standards, and STEAM. Once you have created your free account, you can browse the activities and “save for later.” It’s like Pinterest for educational resources.

The themes of these resources are unique and relevant. For the month of February, you can find resources about the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year, and Valentine’s Day. Once you search for the topic, a list of related searches pops up to help you find more relevant resources. The beauty of this website is that it offers original resources with themes you may not have thought to teach about, like Pancake Day or National Wildlife Week.

The website also offers other tools, like a like an image library and a library of original Twinkl books. The resources are endless!

Check out the website, create an account, save your ideas, and have fun implementing the activities! Go to

Common Sense Education


Common Sense® has been providing valuable digital learning resources and information to families, educators, and students for the last 15 years. With the increase in distance learning, these resources have become even more valuable. In the Common Sense Education® section of their website, you can find a compiled list of 18 of the best tools for virtual and distance learning chosen by Common Sense®. The list includes apps and websites that will help teachers and at-home educators with lesson planning, virtual classroom creation, digital slideshows and video lessons, and more. Common Sense® provides a thorough review of each of the tools that includes the recommended grade levels, ratings, subjects, pros, and cons. It also describes how it could be used effectively and why it is good for learning.

Also on the list are two recommended apps for communication between teachers and parents. With so much uncertainty and the rapidly changing information we have been faced with over the past several months, clear communication is essential. The Remind App allows teachers to send mass messages to families to keep them updated and to stay connected. Similarly, Talking Points allows teachers and parents to stay in touch, but includes a translation feature to more effectively communicate with families who speak another language.


This page also links to the learning resources on Wide Open School, which is powered by Common Sense®. This page lists several resources on self-care, tips for families learning remotely, professional development and webinars, and many more helpful distance learning tips and tricks.


To access the Best Tools for Virtual and Distance Learning page, click this link:

To access Wide Open School, click this link:

Smithsonian Distance Learning

Smithsonian Learning Lab offers educators an organized list of education guides for all grade levels and core subjects on Google Sheets. The Google Sheets document is organized into tabs by topic. For the core subjects of English language arts, social studies/history, and science, each lesson plan provides the target grade band, topic, the name of the Smithsonian resource, the URL, and a description of the lesson. Additionally, each grade level K-8 has an individual tab that is organized into core curriculum topics studied in the fall, spring, and winter quarters in DC Public Schools. Each topic contains links to lesson plans from Smithsonian’s Learning Lab.

Spanish-speaking families can benefit from this Google Sheets document as well. Structured in a similar manner as the previously mentioned lesson plans and resources, the Spanish tab of this document is also categorized into subjects, which is then further broken down into grade band, topic, and link.

There is also a tab for tweens and teens to explore core subjects in addition to current events, maker activities, careers, and more. Caregivers of children in Pre-K-5th grade can access similar age-appropriate resources in the next tab.

This document is not just for school-age students. There is a tab for lifelong learners that lists resources for adults on current events, podcasts, and free online courses.

To access this document, visit this link:

Click any of the links to the grade levels.
This will bring up the entire Google Sheets document.

For even more educational resources, click on the link to the full listing of Smithsonian resources or Smithsonian’s Affiliations’ network.

Education Reimagined

Many families have been faced with the challenge of distance learning since the start of the pandemic. Fortunately, Education Reimagined has an abundance of resources available in their “Distance Learning Resource Center” to help ease some of that school-related stress. This resource center contains a compiled list of online resources that families have found helpful during their distance learning journey.

For user convenience, the resources are organized by topic.

The resource center is straight forward and easy to navigate. Resources include tips for distance learning for families and teachers, information about coronavirus, tools for students with special needs, virtual museums, STEM activities, and so much more.

If you have found an online resource that has helped your family through this difficult time, the website allows you to submit your own entries to the list.

To access the list, visit this website: