Blogger Amanda Roberson

New Resource for creating Play Spaces in Libraries!

Are you thinking of incorporating play spaces into your library, designing a new library space or something in between?  If you are looking for a good place to start, some research to support play and steps to take to make it all happen, you might be having a hard time. When I first started working to incorporate play in libraries 5 years ago there were little to no resources on how play might look in a library or how to get started. Since then there have been many ground breaking libraries who have presented conference sessions, written blog posts and posted information on webpages. Then the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read, released in 2011 included a great module on Learning Spaces in Libraries. Over the years, information has become easier to find as research on the value of play has become an important message in early literacy. …

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Parents Just Don’t Know How to Play!

Toys scattered among the stacks, puzzle pieces askew, kids popping from mess to mess and over in a corner you see a parent on their cell phone or device. Does this scene sound familiar to you? Libraries with play spaces often report that they have parents who seem disengaged from their children’s play. While this isn’t the majority of library users but seems to stand out because of the mess and noise children who are not engaged in meaningful play can create. While it is our intention that parents will use the play space to interact and play with their children, they often observe play or expect their little ones to discover the play on their own. How do we teach these parents to use the play spaces provided as an interactive time to share with their little ones? Model play! Library staff can often engage a parent by simply…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Read, Write, Sing, Talk … PLAY!

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…

Blogger Amanda Roberson


I cannot count how many times I get asked the question “Where do you come up with your ideas for Active Learning Centers?” I usually answer with something like “it is simple, it just comes to me” or “I don’t know, just around.” As I think more on this question I have a few places that often spark inspiration for low cost learning spaces.  Here are my top three… 1. Catalogs- While looking through Lakeshore, Constructive Play Things, Discount School Supply and the other educational catalogs that come across my desk, I am inspired! There are plenty of idea in those catalogs and you don’t have to buy a single one!  Look at what they are selling and ask yourself … 1- Do I have the budget for this? If no? 2- How can I make this myself? 2. Pinterest! There a lots of great ideas for parents, caregivers, daycare…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Imagine, Design, Build- Block Play!

Why Blocks? Constructive Play is a valuable experience for child development and for the acquisition of early literacy skills.  When children play with blocks they are engaged in the use of fine and gross motor skills, developing problem solving skills, hand eye coordination and visual/spatial awareness. Beyond these developmental skills needed for growth and school success block play also allow children to develop social/ emotional skills.  Children can learn conflict resolution, build self-confidence and engage in open ended play with free expression.  By creating new worlds, designing imaginary stories, engaging in identifying shapes and relationships between them while playing with blocks, children are developing early literacy skills. Block come in all shapes and sizes! LEGOS  Wooden Blocks Foam Blocks Cardboard Blocks Including Blocks in your Library Select the blocks that work for your branch. Think about the space you have to allocate and the noise level you prefer to keep….


Bringing the Outside In!

Each Summer, we hire an Intern to work with our Children’s Librarians and programs with the aim of giving them some experience in a library and learning about Early Literacy. Each Intern typically completes a project over the course of the summer that enhances the library services to our youngest customers. This summer, our Intern took on the project of planting of a Native Butterfly Garden for the Library, turning it into a Language Rich Library Environment and planned an accompanying program to celebrate the new space.  The native plants were donated from a local non-profit nursery, ELM Environmental Center’s Native Plant Nursery. The garden was planted outside the windows of the Children’s Section. Paper butterflies with fun facts decorate the inside windows, and a nearby felt board with butterfly life cycle pieces is nearby. During the planning and planting process of the garden, butterflies were raised from caterpillars in…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Alone, Messy, Loud and Broken- What to do!

Libraries across the nation are incorporating play into their children’s spaces. Inviting families to play at your library will often create some undesired consequences. It is important to be prepared to deal with issues before they arise. Parents leaving children unattended–When you create a child friendly environment with toys and activities for kids, some parents may think of it as a safe place to leave their children, they may even think of the librarian as a childcare provider.  Research your State law regarding unattended children. Make sure you and your staff are able to recite the law to parents when they attempt to leave their small child. You may also want to research the law on children supervising younger children. At our branch we post a sign with both laws and enforce them when necessary.  Have a policy in place so that you are prepared. Increased noise level–When children play…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Kids Say the Darndest Things

One thing that having Active Learning Centers at the library has provided is some great laughs! Kids say the most amazing things when they are at play. They are using their imaginations, growing their vocabulary and pretending to be grown ups! At our “Set the Table” center one little girl was quietly setting the table when a little boy she doesn’t know walks up to the table and throws himself in a chair in a huff and then says “Bring me some coffee!” The little girl looks around shocked. The little boy repeats, “I said, Bring me some coffee!” The “Post Office” center provides endless giggles and warm fuzzies from the letters that are written to the library or story book characters. These are a few great p0st office letters!   The conversations that happen over the “Whisper Tube” are sweet and adorable for the most part but they can be…