Active Learning Centers for the Home!

A great language rich environment at home is important for the development of early literacy skills.  Library can help parents do this! Many parents come and Read, Write, Sing, Talk and Play in the library but how can we help them do it at home too? One way it to create kits with books, toys and music. St. Mary’s County Library has WOW Bags that help parents do just that. WOW Bags began with the Words on Wheels grant. They are see-through backpacks that contain a few books, an activity, and a music CD all on the same theme. Themes range from seasons, bears, occupations, colors to bags that are in Spanish or focus on Science topics. Baby WOW bags were recently created; all of these bags have board books and larger toys that do not pose a choking hazard. These small kits also include early literacy brochures and tips…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Imagine, Discover, Explore… with a Light Table

The light table is the “watering hole” of the Children’s room at Lexington Park Library.  Kids flock to it as soon as they enter the room. They gather with friends and strangers alike and begin to imagine, build and pretend together. Around the lighted table children can build a fort or a box or a slide or anything they dream up.  The light shines through the blocks and parents and children can have conversations about primary and secondary colors. You can put anything on the light table! We currently rotate transparent colored Lego blocks or blocks with see through centers to build with. This rotation adds some variety and helps to keep the blocks in better condition.  There are amazing buildings, vehicles, and other unique creations that are assembled each day. To add science concepts you can add transparent and opaque everyday objects you find to stimulate the conversation about the similarities…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Dig Into Reading Centers for Summer Reading

Why not set up temporary Summer Reading themed learning centers in your branches this summer?  It is ok to take down some of your current centers and give them a rest for the summer and put out some new fresh centers.  This will give you a chance to clean up and revamp some of your current centers and give your customers something new and exciting! Here are some great ways to incorporate “Dig Into Reading” into your language rich library environments. 1.  Ant/ Worm Farms Simply place an ant and/or worm farm on a table with some magnifying glasses and let the amazement begin. You can also put out observation sheets for kids to record what they see, provide a space to drawn and write about the ants and worms. This simple center invites kids and caregivers to talk about what they see and to write about it. Of course…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Magnetic Paint!

Turn any surface into a fun place to play with Magnets! There are several brands of Magnetic Paint on the market today. Pick the one you like and a space in your library and let the fun begin. At our Library we have several columns around the Children’s room. I was looking for a way to turn these columns into a useable space for learning when I found Magnetic Paint.  After 4 cans of paint, three coats on each column, I now had an inexpensive Active Learning Center. At first I purchased alphabet refrigerator magnets but found that the magnets used where too small and not strong enough to work with the paint for long. Then I found Melissa and Doug alphabet, number and animal magnets: http://www.melissaanddoug.com/magnetic-wooden-alphabet-learning, the whole back of these are magnetic and they work perfectly! Children spell their name, match the first letter of an animal’s name…

ALA Midwinter 2013

Why Common Core State Standards Matter #alamw13

Sunday at Midwinter, the Young Adult Reference Services Committee (YARS) of RUSA’s Reference Services Section (RSS) hosted a Discussion Group on The Common Core. Academic, School and Public Librarians filled the room to learn more about The Common Core and discuss its impact on the profession. I was privileged to lead the discussion with Rose Luna and Margaux DelGuidice. The discussion began with a three-minute video explaining the Common Core State Standards http://edupln.ning.com/video/video/show?id=4241570:Video:195143  followed by myself, Rose Luna and Margaux DelGuidice sharing an overview of the Common Core, how Librarians can support teachers as they implement the Common Core and a wealth of resources. The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education. These standards will require students to exhibit three essential practices across the all content areas. Demonstrate independence and perseverance. Construct arguments, comprehend, critique…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

NACHO cheese! 🙂 Cheesy jokes like this one make a great Language Rich Library environment for older kids. All you need for this center is a wall, end cap or flat surface, some construction paper, a printer and a list of your favorite G rated jokes! Simply print the jokes and some cute clip art and glue them to a folded piece of construction paper. The joke on the front and then the answer/ punch line on the inside. Laminate them if you can so that they are more durable.                 This is also a great way to post trivia, memorable quotes, words and definitions or just about anything that has a question and an answer!

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Community Helper Dress Up

Jump start your smallest customers imaginations with Dress Up!  Place a few costumes in a section of your library and the kids will do the rest. You can purchase costumes from a supplier like Lakeshore Learning, have a volunteer make them, hunt for leftover Halloween costumes or through thrift stores.  At my branch, we have a Firefighter, Pilot, Mail Carrier, Police Officer and a Doctor–complete with hats and all.       I think I just heard a collective groan when I mentioned that we put hats out for kids to wear! They are plastic hats and we have bleach spay nearby for germ conscientious caregivers. We also spray the costumes and  hats each night at closing with bleach spray (1 gallon water to 1 tablespoon bleach- will kill anything yucky and will not bleach the material).  The costumes get laundered monthly as well. I have seen these costumes used…

Blogger Amanda Roberson

Shhh! Whisper Tube!

This Active Learning Center is inexpensive, easy to install, space efficient and sure to be a hit! All you need is 1 ½ inch PVC Pipe and 90 and 45 degree joints to fit your space, PVC Glue,  plastic mounting brackets and a handy volunteer! All of the materials can be found at your local hardware store for a very reasonable price. Whisper Tubes use the same science of a doctor’s stethoscope–sound waves. The sound waves from your voice are trapped inside and vibrate through the tube and then are reflected on the other side to another person’s ear! In the library, a whisper tube can carry the conversation from a caregiver to child, from a brother to a sister, from tiny customer and a librarian and even between new friends. The conversations are often rich and hilarious or sometimes as simple as the words “I Love You.”  It is…