Blogger Abby Johnson

Creative Play at the Library

Of course our Children’s Department has books.  We also have early literacy computers, internet computers, CDs, and DVDs.  But one of my favorite things that we have in my department is a wooden box filled with foam blocks.

What I love about these blocks is that they inspire kids to be creative.  Almost every day, I walk past castles, cities, towers, and other wonderful creations.

I’m not even sure where we got these blocks – they’ve been there longer than I have – but they’re nice because they’re lightweight enough not to hurt when someone inevitably uses one as a sword or throws one at her brother (behavior to which we quickly put a stop).  They’re not easy to clean and they tend to invite biting, but they are sturdy enough to hold up to moderately heavy use.

And they’re different colors and different shapes.  Working with different shapes and discussing how they’re similar and different helps kids with letter recognition down the line.  And I can only imagine the happy time a child had corralling all the squares:

As I pick up the blocks for the millionth time, I remind myself of all the good they do in our department.  They give kids a chance to use their imaginations and create something unique.  And now I wonder, what do you have in your library that allows kids to be creative or express themselves?

— Abby Johnson
Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Jennifer

    We have squishy vinyl blocks, in different colors and shapes, from Lakeshore Learning Materials. They are easy to clean (although we really don’t clean them often enough…) and have lasted almost 3 years with only a teensy bit of wear showing. We also have duplos and a duplo table, a train table, a bead toy, puzzles (wooden for the smaller kids, big pieces for older children), simple card games, Candyland, and a sort of learning center thingy someone donated. We keep coloring pages and crayons at the information desk a few shelves away, as well as lots of board games for older children. We also have a magnetic poetry board for the teens upstairs (They used to have a bulletin board, but they didn’t use it for months – and then used it…heh, inappropriately, so now it has reading suggestions covering it. Every inch.)

  2. public relations

    We only have books and some important files in our library. And for my kids, they have their drawing book, drawing materials, papers and pencils. My kids are fond of writing and drawing. I can see that they are very willing to learn on how to write and draw so I am teaching them. These were only the usual things that they do but I guess if I have those blocks like yours, maybe it could help my kids to be creative too. Thanks for sharing…

  3. Sandra Wallick

    We have a puppet stage with puppets & small plush creatures they can use. It’s fun to see them putting on little shows for each other or an adult. So far we’ve been using donated plush animals and puppets from the dollar store that can be discarded once they become dirty or torn.

  4. Kara Cervelli

    About three years ago our library was fortunate to undergo a renovation that included the children’s area. My goal was to make the room as inviting and stimulating as possible. We have a good many homeschool families and we get some nasty winters. It is very nice to have an area where families can come and stay for quite some time and have plenty to do for all ages.

    For the little ones we have wooden blocks, a large collection of plastic dinosaurs, wooden puzzles, stuffed animals, plastic farm and zoo animals, bead mazes, cars and trucks, a hopscotch rug, megablocks, etc.

    For the older kids we have magformers builders,
    a giant abacus, a US states puzzle, lava and oil tubes, alphabet and number learning games, and so forth.

    I too enjoy having an area that fosters creative play and imagination. Not one toy in our area need batteries.

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