Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bookshelves as Early Literacy Centers

Back in May, I took a Michigan Library Association webinar on early literacy play spaces, presented by Anjie Gleisner of Kent District Library. I loved the message about how early literacy activities can be incorporated into any library surface. The first creation that resulted was our counting ramp. By taping numbers onto the ramp into our children's area, I turned it into a place kids could explore numbers and patterns. The counting ramp was a big hit with the kids, but recently the numbers had to be removed so the carpet could be cleaned.

The next surface I wanted to take advantage of was the sides of our bookshelves. We have five shelves in our Juvenile Easy area, all of which face out into the library and have a reasonable amount of space in front of them. I thought this would be the perfect place to mount some early literacy related activities.

My first thought was that I wanted to take advantage of a Lego board I got through the Lego "Read, Build, Play" program. I had our maintenance person mount it on the side of the book shelf, along with a plastic bin I got at my local dollar store.

By playing with the Legos, preschoolers are developing fine motor skills, which will be needed when they learn to write. They are also getting practice with patterns, counting and other math related skills. I wanted the parents to know all this information as well, so I added a sign on the top of the bookcase.

For one of our other bookcases I decided to add a flannel board. It was made out of an extra summer reading lawn sign that I covered in felt.

At this center, kids can practice storytelling, counting and color recognition skills. I plan on switching out the accompanying flannel pieces periodically and changing my literacy tips based on which pieces I have set out. Right now I have my "Five Little Cupcakes" pieces out.

I am hoping these centers will be fun for the kids, and at the same time increase the awareness of early literacy practices among parents. They were easy to make and cost next to nothing. Another benefit is the versatility of this idea. You could use bookcases to  create many other types of early literacy centers, such as one to play with magnetic letters.

Is anyone else using surfaces of your library in a creative way? I would love to hear about it.

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