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…
In Massachusetts, the children’s librarians at Worcester Public Library (WPL) are weaving math learning into story times. Math, at the library? With toddlers and preschoolers? The answer to both questions is a resounding, YES!
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.
In 2015, I was working as a Children’s Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania). I had to produce and present a summer reading program with iPads for school age kids. This was part of a pilot program that summer to introduce children, especially inner city children, to iPads as a way to decrease the digital divide. STEM programming on an iPad? I had no idea what to do. I didn’t even own a smart phone!
If anyone were to go back in time and tell my high school algebra teacher that I was running math programs for preschoolers, I think he would have laughed in your face! I was SO not a math kid. Fast forward quite a few years. As an elementary school teacher, I had the opportunity to earn a post-Master’s certificate as a Math Specialist. This program taught me to look at math differently. And different turned out to be very, very good. I’m still not a math whiz, but I love highlighting math content in my storytimes and preschool outreach programs.
Last month, I began a mini-series on preschool outreach programs and wrote about a program on symmetry. This month, I’ll share a program with a physics focus.
As more schools add coding requirements in higher grades, offering coding opportunities for younger children can help give them a foundation for future learning. The need goes beyond success in middle or high school – it is also becoming important for career success. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, early coding experiences help children build skills that are “valuable for [their] future success in our digital world.” Fortunately for children’s librarians who are uncomfortable with coding in general, the options available for pre-readers are accessible and easily adapted to library programming. Coding Stories Coding stories are one way to introduce early coding in library programs. The NAEYC article linked below offers step-by-step instructions to retell familiar stories with coding. First, make a grid. Then work together with children to map out a character’s movements through the story. This helps children learn computational thinking concepts like…
I love doing traditional preschool outreach storytimes. Sharing great books and fun flannels? Singing and dancing to silly songs? I’m there for it. However, a friend at another library inspired me to expand my repertoire. I added preschool outreach programs to highlight STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering, and math) picture books and offer opportunities for preschoolers to engage in a different way than storytimes. Over the next few months, I’ll highlight some success stories and look forward to hearing how YOU shake things up in outreach!