Play comes naturally to children, all we, as adults and librarians need to do it encourage it! Setting up play spaces in your library is just that simple. Select items that will encourage your little customers to play. Things that will spark imagination and creativity. As you select items for your play spaces keep it simple. Often times what you think is simply play can be so much more!
You would be amazed at the play that can occur from a simple box. Any time you have a large delivery, put the empty box in your children’s space. That box will be so many things from the time you set it out until you have to throw it away. The last time we put a box our in the children’s department it was a boat, then a race car and then a house, as the box got older we allowed the kids crayons to color the box and then finally, after it has been played with and was falling apart some older kids came in a made it into a ball game for the little ones to play. This box was the perfect way for many kids to play but also provided the kids a chance to write!
The other day, a small group of 3-4 year olds were making a tall tower in the block corner and they all decided that they should sing while the worked. So a chorus of “We must build the blocks, We must build the blocks” began as they built the tower higher and higher. It was just natural to them that they should sing!
Just like the kids with the blocks, a little customer was setting the table at a different active learning center when she started a conversation with another little girl. They talked about their favorite foods and then eventually decided to share a book with each other. From their play experience they engaged in talking and reading!
These interactions between little ones are so seamless in an environment which allows them the permission to play. Think about what your space allows kids to do? Does it encourage Reading, Writing, Singing, Talking and Playing?