Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Passive programming table: 3 recent stations

I've been meaning to do more passive programming for quite a while, but as a smaller library we haven't had quite enough space to do it. Most of it has been stuff set out on our Circulation Desk, or in small available areas of the Children's Department. For instance, we do a yearly backpack raffle, as well as a few other occasional raffles. I've also set out early literacy activities in our children's department, including  some on the sides of our bookshelves.

Despite what I've been able to do with the space available, I still coveted a dedicated area for alternating passive programs, such as the Boredom Buster station found at Hushlander or the felt board table found at Thrive After Three. Needless to say, I was thrilled when recent renovations on the adult side of our library have opened up a table that I've put by our circulation desk.

So far it has been a big hit. It not only provides an avenue to reach more children as they come into the library, it also keeps them busy as their parents check out library materials. In the past few months I've been able to use it for three different stations, and I have ideas for many more. The first station I choose to do was origami, which was inspired by Hushlander.

This station was definitely something that appeals to all ages. Not only does it promote creativity, but in younger kids folding helps develop fine motor skills. It was also a wonderful way to feature the origami books in our collection. As of the point this picture was taken quite a few of these books had been checked out already.

For our next passive program at this station I chose something both seasonal and huge on the popularity scale: Frozen. I actually first put together this station when I found out that our local rec center (which is across the parking lot from the library) was having a Frozen themed party on a Saturday afternoon.

I knew I couldn't do any traditional programming because I was in charge of the building that day, but setting up some printable activities would at least give the kids something connected to do at the library. I printed out some coloring pages and other printables from Mommypalooza. I also set out some reindeer cut outs I had leftover from Christmas and materials to cut out snowflakes. The kids loved it, and got some valuable cutting and writing practice without even realizing it. It was especially useful when many families arrived early to the rec center party.

The current program I have out was inspired by the mail centers at Libraryland and Reading with Red. The basic idea is that I set out materials for the kids to write mail to their favorite book characters. To mail the letters, they place them in the bins (leftover from our Frozen Party last fall).

I tried to make sure a wide range of age levels could communicate with their favorite characters. The youngest kids could draw pictures. I provided a template the slightly older kids could use, and lined paper for any pretty proficient letter writers. What I love about this center is that it not only encourages writing, it encourages a love of books.

Some of the letters we have received so far.
These three stations have seemed to be very popular with patrons and staff. Just the other day I had a parent thank me for setting it up. I've also had staff mention how helpful it is at keeping the kids occupied during checkout. I'm definitely looking forward to creating further activities for this new addition to our library!

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