Guest Blogger

Touch and Learn Hour–A Digital Non-Fiction Story time

I had the premise down pact–a STEAM-based hour where kids and adults could explore ebooks, apps, and other online content in a safe environment together as a family.  Thanks to a recent grant from the Arizona State Library & Archives and the IMLS, that vision is quickly becoming a reality.  In November, Yuma County Libraries are set to begin two Digital Science-Based story times a month–one at the Main Library and one as an outreach at the Cocopah Native American Vocational Center.

The grant consisted of 23 Ipads being mobile and usable by the public–one for the leader of the hour and 22 for families to use during the Touch and Learn period of an hour each. After much decision and indecision a formula was made up–actually mirroring a traditional “story time”  in its final formatted structure in several ways. Here’s part of the pilot story hour:

Lesson One–Dem Bones!

Announcements: Cellphones, Bathrooms, Proper Handling of Equipment

Give out Equipment

Introduction to topic (brief): Today we are going to talk about bones and fossils. Bones are found in a variety of species: Humans, Sea Creatures, Mammals, and even Fish! We’re going to be talking and thinking about skeletal structures and bones for the next hour–both of today in the past. At the end, we’ll have time for questions app! time. So, turn on your Ipads and  let’s get ready to learn about Fossils and Bones.

Book One: Barnum’s Bones by Tracey Fern and Boris Kulikov  Reading Out Loud as Group, Taking Turns


App#1: Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections–FREE

App#2: Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History-FREE

WATCH:What Are Fossils” by Dinosaur Days

The structure then repeats itself through another book and one or two app explorations, including a favorite of mine (Frog Dissection, 3.99). The use of video media is used by one Ipad projected on a screen to discourage confusion from multiple Ipads playing the same video. To assuage boredom, video clips are kept to one or two minute bites.

I attempted to include FREE applications as much as possible and listed prices so that parents could take the content sheet home and purchase applications they liked while observing Touch and Learn hour. Ideally, the parent and child will work on an Ipad together during this time, although I am already anticipating several children alone.  That’s okay; we’re encouraging digital literacy, educational content, and reading, so  whether accompanied by a parent or alone we’ll be accomplishing a great deal!  We’re starting the program for ages 5-12–that’s a wide–but I wanted to start wide and narrow it down as the pilot program continues.  Same thing with length–I do believe these will grow longer than an hour if discussion becomes more involved, but again, I can change that as the Touch and Learn pilot progresses and pick and choose if I need more apps, or less, etc.

At the end of this particular hour, participants are asked for a newspaper challenge: “Find an article relating to Bones or Fosssils using Safari from the last year and be prepared to share and discuss.” Each hour ends with some sort of challenge: a digital treasure hunt of sorts.  Encouraging the use of media and technology to discover accurate information is how we want participants to remember us: hopefully they will feel empowered by what they take away.

I am so far very pleased with the formula and only hope our patrons feel the same way.  I look forward to learning and growing alongside this new model and discovering what glitches and joys it has in store.  In the meantime, the District is getting ready to launch.  It truly is a new model of story hour and we are waiting with baited breath to see where it leads us as a community.


Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Today’s guest blogger is Emily Scherrer. Emily is the Youth Services Manager for the Yuma County Library District. In addition, she takes up a chair on the ECPS committee of ALSC.  When she is not blowing things up or on her Ipad, she likes to climb mountains with one of her three rescue dogs.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at

One comment

  1. DaNita Bell

    Thank you for this awesome idea. As a school media specialist I can see this working in a introduction to an inquiry reserach project.I want to try this with a class of 2nd graders using a class set of ipads as they research weather. I will let you know how this worked.

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