Last week Rochester Public Library (MN) celebrated the grand opening of our Minnesota Children’s Museum Smart Play Spot. The installation is the tenth of eighteen Smart Play Spots that will be installed across Minnesota by the museum as part of their community outreach efforts. So what makes it Smart? The space is designed to encourage preschoolers and their grown ups to play, sing, read, write and talk together.
The space includes a bookmobile, with a singing prompt, a magnetic map, a spin a story, a book return and shelves filled with board books.
At the canoe are fishing poles and magnetic fish so kids can “catch” a letter and drop them into the cooler, which is labeled with _at, _it, _ar, _in, to create words.
The post office includes a sorting area, a writing area and even a PO box. Mailboxes are distributed throughout the Smart Play Spot and there is even one at the information desk so staff can receive fun mail.
The tree is also a puppet theater and includes realistic animal sounds. My office is located close enough to the Smart Play Spot that I can tell you that the bee sound is the most popular.
The farmer’s market area includes a garden where food can be planted and harvested as well as a market stand with a cash register. The installation also includes some end caps and a puzzle cube with a variety of early literacy activities.
The Smart Play Spot at Rochester Public Library has only been open a short time, but it has already become a destination for area families. Children ask to visit the library and once they are here they never want to leave. Rochester’s Smart Play Spot was largely funded by the State of Minnesota, Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with matching funds provided by the Rochester Public Library Foundation and Friends of the Rochester Public Library.