|Kids of all ages enjoy a Play & Learn spot|
Last fall I embarked on a goal to enhance the early literacy area at my library. My vision to create several interactive experiences that encourage early literacy skill-building through reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing has, for the most part, become a reality. I wanted the activities to fit in our small space; change seasonally; have durability; be eye-catching, safe, and cost-effective; and have flexibility to be used with a range of ages. At the same time, I wanted to coach caregivers. I included signage on how to use the activities to promote early literacy with their children. I also bought prime real estate in the picture book section and created “Caregiver Cove,” a resource area where I can display pertinent information for caregivers such as storytime and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten flyers, Growing Wisconsin Readers brochures, the YSS Early Literacy Calendar, and lists of recommended titles.
|Color and word matching board|
My library board gladly granted me $1,000 to get the early literacy area up and running. I used the fall and early winter months to make plans, comb Pinterest for ideas, and buy materials. I combined the grand opening with a toddler dance party in February.
I knew the only way my Play & Learn Spots were going to work for the long haul was to be organized and plan in advance for the year. I decided to use the following categories for my
activities: Print Awareness, Print Motivation, Phonological
Awareness, Letter Knowledge, Vocabulary, and Narrative Skills. Then I placed
pins from my Pinterest board and other activities I’d researched into one of those early literacy
categories. From there I assigned each activity to a season, sometimes further
breaking it down by month (i.e. a different set of puppets in the puppet
theater each month). Now all I have to do in preparation for each season is
flip through my trusty, old-school notebook to see what is coming up. This
saves me the anxiety of having to create activities on the fly and helps me keep
the Play & Learn Spot fresh. It was a large amount of work to get started
but well worth it.
|A new cast of puppets each month|
|User response activity|
At any given time I have about seven different activities scattered throughout the children’s area. I use any wall and shelf space I can find. I found a patron to build me a custom tabletop for our Duplo table so now I can rotate its use with other activities such as a puppet theater. These activities will always be a work in progress as I discover which ones work and which need tweaking. For example, I’m learning that the pocket chart activities are not going over well, so I am considering switching that out for a large flannel board.
|You can't go wrong with Chrysanthemum|
Amy Larson, Youth Services Assistant Librarian
Sauk City Public Library, Sauk City, WI
Photos provided by the author