Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Evolving an Early Literacy Area - Part 2

To read the first part of this post, jump over to Tiny Tips for Library Fun! Marge covers how our Early Literacy Area has changed in the past 3 years, and some challenges that have presented themselves. Now, I'll be talking about the work we have done to the area since I came to La Crosse.

When I came into my position a year ago, there was an established Early Literacy Area. It was called the "Play Learn Read" area. However, it was also called the "Tot Spot" and there was signage with these names used interchangeably.

The space was set up well, but everything looked a little beat up. There were laminated shoes on the ground that were peeling and cracked, a puppet theater who had seen better days, and a magnet story with about 40 pieces (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

I took a few months to get acquainted to both the space and the population who used it before I started making changes. The Youth Services team also discussed what could be changed or improved in the area during this time. We realized that it was primarily the same families coming into the library each week/month and using the area. While the kids enjoyed the space, parents were very bored of doing the same activity each visit.

With all of the above in mind, we decided to make some CHANGES! There were high quality items in the area, but they needed to be changed at a higher frequency and some more thought needed to be put into the activities that were being displayed. I explained my reasons for updating the area to our team and made sure I addressed the issues other staff members had mentioned to me. The staff was ready for a change and were very supportive during our transition period!

My first change was making the magnet board into a flannel board. I simply took a piece of flannel and covered it using Velcro. It didn't look the greatest, but it got the job done. Eventually, my boss took pity on me and bought an actual flannel board to attach to the wall once she saw how successful it was.

Next, we decided to make sure there was a parent messages included with every activity. I put them next to the flannel board, as well as other activities throughout the room. By including the early literacy tips, parents can immediately understand the affect playing can have on their child.

We decided to put a fun game on one of the pillar. I wanted this to be a bright item that captured their attention before they would leave the space.

We also took out the sad puppet theater patrons had been playing with for 6+ months and introduced a new activity. 

We are still working on a name for our area. Our original "Play Learn Read" is a bit of a mouthful and didn't catch on with the public or staff. The second try of "Tot Spot" was confusing to all, since our local grocery store provides a child watch service called this. Currently we're trying "Play & Learn" and we'll see if we still like it in a few months.

The most important decision we made was to keep the space updated and fresh. The flannel story and wall game get changed out monthly. The table activity usually stays out for 2-3 months. This has made the area appealing to both children and their parents. Best of all, everything is cheap! I've made every activity for the center, and usually with supplies I find lying around the library.

Starting a venture like an Early Literacy Center can be so rewarding! However, you have to think about sustainability when the decisions are being made. Will you reasonably be able to keep the space is good condition? Do you plan on updating it weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Set deadlines for yourself on how long you want activities to be out and keep them. You will be setting yourself up for success!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Come Be My Friend!!!

I have a job opening for you. Come and work at the La Crosse Public Library!

A pretty accurate depiction of
Brooke & Sara in the office every day.

Do you love youth services? 

Seriously, look at the cuteness.

Do you love working with the public?

Love programming for all ages?

Rocky works well with everyone.
You'll have an opportunity to work with fabulous staff members, 

live in a beautiful city,

Found on google images, but legitimately La Crosse, WI.

and do amazing things! In the 14 months I've been here, I've had numerous opportunities to try new things. The staff is willing to try just about anything once, and everyone pitches in to figure out what went wrong when programs don't work. The staff is one of the biggest perks of this job.

You'll have some amazing support behind you both professionally as well as in the community. Our department is always busy and each day brings new challenges and victories.

Also, you get to work with Marge Loch-Wouters! This woman is amazing. Her mentoring has been invaluable this past year and I've grown so much professionally because of it. This is the chance of a lifetime. 
So what are you waiting for? APPLY! If you have doubts then email me. As Sara Bryce will tell you, what's the worst thing that could happen? You don't get the position? Guess what, you'll never get a job if you don't apply for it. The position closes on May 2nd, so hurry up!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Early Literacy Center- Alphabet!

So this technically isn't located in our 'Play and Learn' area. In case you don't know, we have a huge boat in our children's room. It's awful. Kids love to run and jump on it all the time, but especially while parents are asking questions or checking out their books.

Earlier this month I decided to try and distract them by adding a fun new addition to the boat. We used our Cricut machine for the letters and found images online. When we were ready for them to be displayed, we just used contact paper to apply them on the surface of the boat. They've lasted for 3 weeks and haven't been peeled off yet!

They are at a perfect height for our favorite patrons, and they are spaced out over the entire boat. This gives kids an opportunity to still be moving, while keeping their attention focused on a specific task. This is great for early literacy game for a number of reasons. They're being exposed to letters and have an opportunity to trace them with their fingers, and they're working on their vocabulary with words like narwhal and yak!

Now instead of running, kids love to sing the alphabet to us, tell us about all the animals, or tell us other animals that begin with the letter they've discovered. My personal favorite is when a child goes to the letter their name starts with and says, "Look mom! They have my letter here!"

Our lovely college aide whipped these letters up in an afternoon and had them up by the next day. It's a huge hit and it was cheap and easy!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Flannel Friday Round Up – March 29th, 2014

IT'S THE END OF MARCH?! How did this happen to us? Oh well, we have some great flannels to share this week. Flannel stories make everything better.

I've participated and hosted round-ups before, but this batch is truly amazing! I am blown away at the array of ideas and ways to incorporate them into storytime. You all are wonderful! You make me want to...

First, we have the lovely Thrive After Three who made an amazing Superman Flannel board. Her pieces are awesome. There's even a Daily Planet flannel newspaper!

Ms. Jenna shares 2 great ideas. The first is a flannel version of Five Little Kites, inspired by Storytime Katie. The second is a Scroll Story about Spring! I personally have never seen this done before and I am in awe. Look at how amazing this thing is!

Anne over at Itsybistymom shares a fabulous Duck Memory Matching Game. The game is really great, but the spinner she uses is absolute genius. I'm making one as soon as I finish this round-up.

To celebrate Mr. Rogers birthday, SLC Book Boy made an amazing flannel game involving vehicles, finding a job, and Pigeon. I bet Pigeon needs to find a job because of his student loans payments– we sympathize Pigeon.

Kathryn over at Fun with Friends at Storytime is going to have a new grandbaby this year! Congratulations! To celebrate, she made an adorable set of flannel babies to use in storytime.

Miss Sue over at Library Village shares the classic There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout.  What a beautiful flannel set!

Bridget at What is Bridget Reading? made a gorgeous pair of crocheted elephant finger puppets. Look at how cute their little shirt and dress are. I've now decided in my free time I will learn how to crochet.

Christine at Felt Board Ideas shares two very cute flannel rhymes involving rain. If you're a visual learning she even includes a You Tube video!

The amazing Meg over at Miss Meg's Storytime shares a Pete the Cat game! You can never go wrong with Pete the Cat. Unless you dump your original writer and decide to illustrate and write your own books for mass profit :)

Storytime Katie, who I met IRL and was just as fabulous as she is online, made an adorable Ten Fluffy Chickens rhyme. I love all of the spring rhymes we're getting on this roundup!

Linda at Notes from the Story Room shares an original story "Raccoon and the Magic Fish". So many great options with this story!

Miss Tara at Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends found some amazing old flannel books. They were a little beat up, but she turned them into an great matching game!

Jane & Piper of Piper Loves the Library share a beautiful flannel Maisy! She makes some of the prettiest flannel pieces I have ever seen. Everyone should copy them immediately.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Flannel Friday Placeholder

Best Charlie Brown ever.

Hello all!

This is the placeholder for Flannel Friday this week. Please leave your Flannel Friday submissions in the comments below. Include the url for your post and anything else you want to say. I will have everything up by Saturday!

Have a fabulous day!
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