Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Artsy Smartsy and 1,000 Books: Early Literacy in Dresser

In the fall of 2013, Dresser Village Library launched two new programs to complement Littles StoryTime and round out our early literacy program offerings: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and Artsy Smartsy.

1,000 Books Finisher
 We received a Growing Wisconsin Readers mini-grant to start a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program and had already begun planning when we discovered that another library in the same school district had received a different grant to start their own 1,000 Books program. Having collaborated successfully on previous programs, we talked it over and decided it would be in the best interest of our communities (i.e. less confusing) to join forces and launch the program together

1,000 Books Motivators
When a local author offered to donate several copies of his book, we had our theme and immediately set to work ordering froggy stickers, froggy finger puppets and fun frog squirts as motivators. Participants register at the library, receive a packet, track their reading at home, and return filled reading charts in exchange for the chart for the next 100. Upon reaching the goal of 1,000 books, participants select a book to add to the library collection and a nameplate is added honoring the child’s success. To date, we have had 53 children register through our library and they have read 9,300 books!

Artsy Smartsy Flier
Artsy Smartsy is an arts-based early literacy program for ages 3-6 and their caregivers. We were fortunate to receive a grant to launch this program, too, although it can also be done on a shoestring. Due to space limitations, participants pre-register as child/caregiver teams. Once a month, we get together to read a story, sing a wiggly song, and then settle in to work on two or three open-ended art projects based on the theme or illustrations in the book. We have all of the ECRR2 practices covered – we read together, sing together, play together, talk together and write together. It’s tons of fun! We have a morning session and an afternoon session to accommodate our area 4-year-old Kindergarten families, and both sessions are usually filled to capacity.

Artsy Smartsy MagnaTiles
Of the two programs, Artsy Smartsy is certainly the more labor-intensive. I’ve found that the more open-ended a project is, the less frustration is involved. I have to re-learn this from time to time, like when I thought it would be a good idea to make “stained glass windows” using contact paper, construction paper and dyed feathers. It required measuring, holding something down with one hand while doing something with the other hand, and carefully sticking things together. The kids put the feathers on the contact paper, no problem, but the majority of the rest of the project was done by the caregivers. That same day, we also used washi tape on cardstock triangles, made sculpture with Magic Nuudles, and built with MagnaTiles. The kids were much more engaged with those three activities because they could (mostly) do them on their own. And we all know how independent our young library users like to be!

Tiffany Meyer, Director
Dresser Village Library, Dresser, WI

All photos provided by the author