|All 12 kits, ready to go to branches.|
Early Literacy Play Kits.
In my library district, we created twelve distinct Early Literacy Play Kits--enough for one to be at each of our twelve branches every month of the year. These kits are basically boxes of toys: there's a puppet kit with three boxes of puppets, a puzzle kit, a play food kit, a baby activities kit... Our team of children's librarians had some lively discussions about what types of toys we would like to incorporate in our branches if we had funds and space, and we created our list of twelve theme kits from there. We were able to collaborate and select items that we knew would be used by children in our libraries.
We selected kits that cover the whole pre-reader spectrum. We've got baby-safe stations like bead mazes; juggling scarves and wrist ribbons perfect for dancing two- and three-year-olds; blocks for children of every age; and a mailbox to encourage writing among the set who are really into working on their letters. We intentionally tried to incorporate dramatic play, basic math, letter recognition, and diverse vocabulary across the spectrum of all our kits.
|The free play station in Picture Book City at my branch.|
Is your interest piqued, but you're afraid the process of purchasing, creating, sharing, and maintaining the kits is too burdensome? Let me assure you that the logistics of the kits aren't that difficult.
I love toy deliveries.
- Purchasing: After securing a $3000 grant from our Library Foundation, our selected toys were purchased and delivered to my branch.
- Creation: Volunteers helped label every toy piece with the library's initials, and I separated our toys into plastic containers with locking lids. The final containers contain box inventories, age and cleaning recommendations, and a schedule of the kit rotation--everyone always knows what kit they'll have which month.
- Sharing: Each branch has a kit for a month, at which point the kit travels to its next branch via our delivery crew (they already run materials and supplies deliveries every day, so the addition of a kit or two doesn't add undue strain on the system).
- Maintenance: Staff are responsible for using the kits as they see fit, then cleaning and inventorying the boxes at the end of each month before sending it on its way. Once a year, all kits will return to me to update inventories and order replacement items if necessary.
It's really pretty simple: a variety of toys that promote early literacy while requiring minimal work and space constraints. Give Early Literacy Play Kits a try in your library system. I would bet you'll hear positive things from staff--who have new, fun items to use in programs--as well as kids and caregivers who enjoy the toys in your children's spaces.
Incorporate more play in your library!