Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Counting Ramp: Our new early literacy center

My library has a ramp leading into our children's area. The children's area is a few steps down from the center of the library, so the main purpose of the ramp has always been providing accessibility. It is an area of my department I've always had to keep a close eye on because the kids love to run up and down it. Until recently I have never thought of using it to promote early literacy.

Last week I  took a Michigan Library Association webinar on early literacy play spaces, presented by Anjie Gleisner of Kent District Library. During the presentation it was stressed that early literacy activities can be done on almost any surface. I was inspired by the idea of numbers and letters being placed on floors and other surfaces of the library.

Our "Counting Ramp" was the result:

To create our counting ramp, I first created colored circles with numbers using Paint and Microsoft Word. I placed the circles on the ramp in a repeating pattern of primary colors. Then I  used contact paper and book tape to stick them to the carpet. Originally I was going to use just contact paper, but that didn't seem to stick well enough.

The final step was making a sign with information for parents:

The sign details some of the ways counting on the ramp supports development of early literacy. Counting and patterns help kids learn about sequences, which are important in ordering the events in a story. Jumping is also a great way for kids to develop their gross motor skills. Finally, the discussion points on the sign are meant to promote talking between children and parents (one of the Every Child Ready to Read practices!)

So far our counting ramp has seemed to be a hit. It was very easy to make, and the kids seem to enjoying using it. As a side benefit, it seems to discourage running down the ramp at least a little. I'm hoping it holds up for a while. Once the numbers start to peel off I will probably change things up and add something else to the ramp.

In the meantime I will be working on adding early literacy components to some of our bookcases. Stay tuned for updates on how that goes!


  1. Thank you Kelly for sharing your counting ramp idea and the link to the Early Literacy webinar. I do a preschool storytime in two libraries in Nova Scotia, Canada. One in Windsor and one in Hantsport -- about 10 minutes apart. Would these early literacy webinars be open to someone in Nova Scotia? We have just opened a new library in Hantsport and we are very excited. For the past 5o years we shared the school library space. Although our new library space isn't much bigger it has been newly renovated and we can be open 1 morning a week, which we couldn't before.

    We are looking to include some early literacy/play activities and signage in our small children's area. I think some of the play boxes mentioned in the ALSC blog would be great for us !http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2013/03/play-boxes-mini-playspaces-in-your-library/

    Thanks for showing what you are doing in your library and the links you provide.

    On a side note, what do you use to clean your toys. I have read that bleach and water is the best disinfectant over more natural ones available, so I am still undecided!

    Thanks again, Kelly :)


    1. Hi Lois,
      Thank YOU so much for taking the time to comment! I especially appreciate your sharing the play boxes idea :)

      I'm not sure about the availability of the Michigan Library Association webinars outside the US, but it looks like most are available at http://www.mi.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-18668_63014-301245--,00.html. It couldn't hurt to try and see if it allows you access :)

      As for cleaning the toys, for most we mainly stick with disinfecting wipes. Puppets and scarves get washed in the washer, and seem to hold up well.

      Good luck with your new library space! Let me know if you ever have any further questions :)