Blogger Kirsten Caldwell

WAPL Conference Takeaways – Programs

I attended the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) conference a few weeks ago and got tons of new ideas. Learn about science-based reading, get ideas for pop culture programs that are becoming more popular, and learn how to add early math into your programming. I also presented as a PBS ambassador and shared their free resources with others.

Science-Based Early Reading

Wisconsin is adopting a new science-based early reading approach in schools. The goal is to introduce systematic and explicit instruction in grades 5k-3rd grade that consists of all of the following:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Building background knowledge
  • Oral language development
  • Writing
  • Comprehension
  • Vocabulary building
  • Reading fluency

Each child will have the opportunity to have a personalized reading plan created for them. I am super excited about this as an early literacy lover, and I hope libraries can get involved somehow.

Pop Culture Programs

This is a concept that I am really excited about! I want to host a Bluey party more than I want any other program right now.

A local library had a Bluey appearance at one of their programs last weekend and my daughter was star-struck.

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Caldwell

The speaker shared that these programs encourage library visits for patrons who may not visit the library often. Including these popular characters or celebrities like Taylor Swift helps boost attendance numbers. Circulation numbers also tend to increase by creating a display related to the event.

The Kenosha public library has had a Bluey Bonanza, a Minecraft event, Five Nights at Freddy’s night, a Pokemon day, Wee D&D, and more. These themes tend to draw in larger crowds and so having stations with crafts and activities spread throughout the library helps with the crowds. Keeping them simple in terms of craft ideas, printables that are already made online, trivia questions, and more keeps the program within your budget.

Early Math in Library Programs

Early math skills are the strongest predictor of later school achievement. As youth librarians, we tend to focus on early literacy which is important, but early math is equally as important and we can add that into our programming as well. Math anxiety in children can begin as early as 1-2 years old and we have the opportunity to provide children with basic skills, knowledge, and foundation for later success with math. We don’t have to teach them math, but we can create situations that make them feel comfortable learning it.

Early math can align with early literacy, too. Patterns and sequencing can help both early math and early literacy. Shapes can improve geometry skills and lead to letter knowledge. Library storytimes are a great place to expose children to early math skills because of the playful nature.

Some ways you may already be using early math are:

  • Count items on a page
  • Flannel board activities where you sort or count something
  • Dance to a song with directional language
  • Introduce toys or manipulatives with different shapes
  • For rhymes, bounces, and songs, use a pattern of varying claps, pitch, or speed.

For this flannel board activity, I used puffy paint to add numbers to the fish. We sorted the colors and put them in order before we sang the “Bubble, Bubble POP!” song. This is a simple and fun way to use early math in storytime.

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Caldwell.

Math may sound scary to some, but it can be fun and simple to include in your programming! A great ALSC blog post from last year talked more about math in programming!

Using PBS Resources in Your Library

As a parent, I think about the quality of what my daughter is playing and watching and I trust PBS to teach her skills while getting screen time. They have shows for social and emotional learning, math, engineering, world cultures, literacy, and more. As librarians, those are the skills we are helping young children learn and PBS has all of these resources already made. Everything on PBS Kids is also free which is a great benefit for parents and librarians.

In this presentation, we focused on Daniel Tiger and social and emotional learning because it is so personal to me. My daughter has been having big feelings lately and ends up hitting and there is one Daniel Tiger song that helps a lot (if you want to hear it, click here). When we catch her early enough, she stops and sings this song with me. All his songs help her learn skills, but this is the most notable one of late and I love him.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood ©2016 The Fred Rogers Company. All rights reserved.

There was a study by Texas Tech in 2016 where researchers had one group of kids watch Daniel Tiger and another group watch a nature documentary. Those who watched Daniel Tiger had higher levels of empathy, were better at recognizing emotions, and were more confident in social situations. The catch is that kids only experienced the above benefits when their parents regularly talked with them about what they were watching.

If you want to create PBS programs or get craft ideas for a program, head to this website! You can search by show or by topic and filter for specific age ranges. There are pre-made lesson plans, video clips, crafts, and printables.

Have you done a fun pop culture program you want to share? A PBS program? Add it in the comments because I want to know!

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