I’ve been offering preschool outreach for 14 of the almost 15 years that I’ve worked in the library field. For the last few years, I’ve appreciated the challenge of reimagining what preschool outreach could look like. Although I still provide traditional storytimes, the different approaches I added have reinvigorated me and captivated the preschoolers I serve.
Our Summer Reading Program (SRP) kick-off date is just around the corner. I like to think of SRP as all about connections!
The ALSC blog has a category of posts labeled “Children’s Librarians Are Experts.” This label recognizes the many and diverse talents of children’s librarians. I employed a version of this when I asked my talented and awesome colleague, Cristina, to run archaeology programs for our homeschool students. The homeschool students absolutely loved getting to learn from a real archaeologist. Cristina loved leading a program about a passion of hers. And I loved not having to lead a program getting to watch a colleague shine!
Many of my homeschool programs focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts. But I truly love art! So I’m grateful when I come across an artist who so intrigues me that I’m able to focus on another important acronym: STEAM. Aminah Robinson was just such an artist. When I discovered her art on the Columbus Museum of Art’s website, I knew I had a unique and wonderful homeschool art program just waiting to be shared.
While thinking about a blog post topic for this month, I realized my post would go live on Valentine’s Day. What a perfect time to talk about my love for poetry! I recently offered two virtual poetry outreach programs for 2nd graders, and we all had a great time. Reading and writing poetry can be interactive, mathematical, engaging, and, most of all, fun!
It all started with a tweet. A thought-provoking thread on Twitter by Ann S. Her post got me thinking about libraries’ focus on quantity when it comes to programming. The day after I read Ann’s tweet, I ran a homeschool program for three students. Inspired by both of those things, I tweeted the following, which went my level of viral.
I offer two homeschool book clubs, both based on the Illinois Readers’ Choice Awards. The younger students read books from the Bluestem list, and the older students read from the Caudill list. Recently, I was struggling to create engaging and fun book-based activites that would work in a virtual setting. My niece, Amanda, came to the rescue! Amanda is a brand-new (and, proud aunt brag, fantastic!) elementary school teacher and had created a cool activity for her students. She graciously shared the idea with me. I’ve now adapted it into multiple versions. Each time my homeschool students have said things like, “This is the coolest thing ever!” and “Can we do this again next week?”
When I was growing up, I remember that our local dime store (yes, that was a thing) had a little dish of pennies next to the (manual) cash register. The sign above the dish said, “Take a Penny! Leave a Penny!” As a child, I was fascinated by that little dish and its sign. My dad had to explain the concept of making change and how just one penny might make a difference, might make it easier for the cashier to make change. Given that we all might enjoy some uplifting content, I decided to tweak that old-fashioned sign for one of my own: “Take a Smile! Leave a Smile!” Sharing stories that bring smiles to each other is priceless. In that spirit, enjoy these stories…and then please leave one of your own!