Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Unplug and Recharge With Screen-Free Fun at the Library

Screen-Free Week Banner

International Screen-Free Week (May 6 – 12, 2024) is wrapping up tomorrow and it seems like a good opportunity to talk about ways libraries and library workers can support children and their parents and caregivers in this very important aspect of media literacy – developing habits around media use that support healthy development and wellbeing.    Screen-Free Week is an annual celebration in May that encourages children to turn off screens in order to connect with family, friends, nature, and their own creativity. The organizing nonprofit, Fairplay has a wealth of resources for libraries, schools and communities who wish to participate, including organizing kids, pledges, handouts, and a list of fun screen-free activity ideas (I shared these at storytime this week).   Conversations around screen time can be fraught with worry and judgment, so I love any opportunity to celebrate the joy of unplugging and share resources without shaming parents and caregivers….

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TikTok as a Form of Advocacy

Despite the fate of social media platform TikTok still being in limbo, librarians, authors, and educators continue to embrace it as a place for advocacy. As social media has grown and evolved over the past two decades, one thing is certain: people will always find ways to gather and create community on these virtual platforms. And while many parents and educators lament their children’s time being consumed by smartphones and social media, #BookTok seems to be having a positive impact on people’s reading habits.  Below is just a small sample of the types of community being centered around libraries, books, and intellectual freedom via TikTok (and Instagram). If TikTok is indeed banned, there is no doubt people will find other places to gather in community, but as of right now, the advocacy work continues.  This is just a selection of people/institutions doing the advocacy work. You do not need a…

Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Creating and Implementing STEAM for Homeschoolers

According to NHERI, the National Home Education Research Institute, there were 3.7 million homeschooled American children in the 2020-21 school year. The number of parents opting to teach their children at home spiked during the pandemic and although it has since come down, it is still significantly higher than pre-COVID predictions. Homeschoolers are traditionally big library fans because libraries offer access to free materials to support their lessons. But we can offer so much more: we can bring them STEAM! More specifically, we can offer homeschoolers STEAM programs that are often beyond the abilities of their parents or other informal teachers. Let’s take a look at how we can leverage library resources and staff to bring the less accessible parts of STEAM – technology and engineering – to the homeschoolers in our communities. Step 1: Program Planning When designing a homeschool STEAM program, one thing to keep in mind is…

Children & Technology

Children’s Makerspaces in Public Libraries

In the last several decades, the landscape of public libraries changed from what one might consider a stereotypical book storehouse to an eclectic gathering space not just for materials, but for people. To remain relevant in their communities, public libraries adapted to this shift in focus, working to provide more versatile and technological resources for their community members. One trend in particular that has sprung from this change is  the concept of makerspaces. A relatively young concept as far as technology goes, this  idea has taken root  and managed to establish itself in libraries across the country. It is believed that the concept of “making” was first discussed in 2005, as part of an article in  Make – a magazine that published information regarding maker projects. Since then, many libraries have taken the steps to build their own makerspaces filled with different types of technology.  At the very least, most…

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Promoting Healthy Tech Use in the Middle School Library

The “elevator pitch” I often use for my job is that I act as a bridge between youth technology and the school library. I integrate myself into class projects, ensuring smoother tech components, and teach a digital skills class covering topics such as device 101, email etiquette, and responsible research. During the pandemic and remote learning years, this “bridge” work ranged from directing students to the correct Zoom link to join class, to assisting students in accessing our digital Sora collections when our physical library was not accessible. Fortunately, it seems that with each passing year, we are re-entering a more normal version of school. However, while challenges with technology have changed, they haven’t disappeared, and in many cases, educators find it more important than ever to integrate healthy and responsible technology use into our learning environments. At the start of this school year, I organized several faculty development sessions…

Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Computational Thinking, Preschoolers, and Work It Out Wombats

Children’s librarians play an important role in encouraging early literacy through instruction and modeling. But we can go beyond reading literacy and introduce early learners to 21st century competencies that will help them navigate their connected world. One key competency is Computational Thinking (CT). CT is a way to break problems down into parts in order to find a repeatable solution. Although CT as a process can be applied to coding, it also works in other situations. It’s easiest to think of it as a tool for solving problems.  Typically, it’s defined as four processes, as Kaitlen Siu shared in the 2022 Teach Your Kids to Code article What is Computational Thinking:  Making the Connection, a July 2020 article in Public Libraries magazine, shares that by incorporating CT skills in our work with young children, we can support “twenty-first-century competencies of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication for the young…

Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Celebrating Diwali with a STEAM Activity: Fostering Cultural Competency in Libraries

A photograph of the diya card fully decorated and with the LED lit.

As librarians, we strive to create inclusive spaces that celebrate diversity and promote cultural understanding. Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Typically lasting for five days, it is observed by Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and some Buddhist communities. Diwali is a time of joy, gratitude, and hope for millions of people. Embracing this multicultural event enhances our understanding of different traditions and creates a welcoming environment for families that celebrate Diwali. A fun and easy Diwali STEAM activity that you can do at your library is to create a paper circuit diya card. A diya is an oil lamp that is lit during the holiday to symbolize the triumph of good and light over evil and darkness.