Getting ready for Tablet Time

photo by Angela J. Reynolds
photo by Angela J. Reynolds

Books, check. Craft, check. Apps, check. I’m getting ready to start a pilot project called Tablet Time. We’re scheduling it for seven branches, 4 sessions at each branch. Tablet Time is a way for families to get some hands-on experience with tablets while learning early literacy skills. I know this is a somewhat controversial subject: there are some who adamantly believe that libraries should not be promoting use of technology with young children. These programs are for families with children ages 3-6. While I agree that children under 2 really have no need to have a television, iPhone, or tablet in front of them, I do see the value in showing families good apps, how to use them with their children, and how to then extend those ideas into fun literacy games and crafts that they can do at home.  And our Family Literacy funding agency must agree, because they gave me money to run these programs.

Here’s the structure of our Tablet Time programs: Share a book, then do a literacy-based craft that families can take home and repeat, introduce an app that is based on or relates to the book we shared, and then hands-on time with the iPads. Built in to the program is time for parents to spend engaging one-on-one with their child and a tablet, time to ask questions of the presenter, and time to explore new technology. Children are, however right or wrong you may feel it is, expected to have some hands-on knowledge of technology use when they enter school. I think if they learn that at the library, that’s not such a bad idea. Our program is designed to model for parents ways to interact with their children around books, literacy, and technology. Gentle reminders about balance between technology and other activities will be stressed at each session.

So I’m nearly ready–I’ve got a stack of books, some new art supplies, and some great ideas for sharing literacy games with families, and iPads loaded with great early learning apps. Now I just need those eager families, and away we go!


  1. Stephanie

    Hi Angela,
    I think this is a great idea for a program. I’d be interested to know some of the app/craft combinations you’ve come up with, if you’d be willing to share!

  2. Danielle

    Ditto. Could you share your app/craft combos?


  3. Angela Reynolds

    Stephanie, I plan to do some blog posts about the sessions on Little eLit, so the crafts, etc. will be there! Also, I have been gathering some of the ideas I am using on this Pinterest board:

  4. Stacey

    This sounds like a great program! Have a few questions for you: Is it a bring your own device program? Or is the library providing the devices? Who pays for the apps that you use? What size group works best for the program?


  5. Angela Reynolds

    Great questions, Stacey. This one is not BYOD, but that would be a great idea! We have 6 iPads that we bought so we limit registration to 6 families. I’ve done a similar storytime with the 6 ipads and had up to 25 attending, they just shared. I had other toys & puppets available as well. We got a grant to help pay for materials and staff and apps.

  6. KathyK

    On what do you base your statement that children are expected to have knowledge of technology when they enter school?
    What behavior do you model? I am guessing it is talking. How do you model that? What is known about if or how apps support talking?

  7. Angela Reynolds

    Kathy: I know kids are expected to have some technology knowledge because I have heard this from teachers. I worked with literacy groups in order to develop the sessions. In each session we will explore a different app– writing, playing, and talking, yes. How do I model talking? I give parents specific questions they can ask and specific ways to interact with their child. Because our groups are small, I have the opportunity to sit with families and answer personal questions or make comments and MODEL for them ways to deepen the experience. I also develop a take-home literacy activity that is similar to what the app would do: this shows them that while the technology may be fun and cool and new and hip, they can do similar activities with plain old office or craft supplies.

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