Thanks to Jerissa Koenig for this guest post!
The Amery Area Public Library installed two new learning spaces in the children’s room in January, 2017. The first is the Baby/Toddler Zone, which includes a playful area rug, seating for adults, and a shelving unit that houses a rotating collection of toys that are developmentally appropriate for children between the ages of 0-3. Most of the items are made of natural and durable materials and include shape and color sorters, sensory balls and blocks, puzzles, and more. The materials will be swapped out every few weeks to keep the space novel and valuable for patrons.
The second learning space is the Exploration Lab which features a rotating collection of STEM materials that encourage children to learn through playful exploration and experimentation. Examples of items include an engineer a coaster kit, science viewers, Magna-Tiles, microscope set, acrylic-encased specimens, mirror discovery cubes, programmable Bee-Bot, and more. These materials will be swapped out every few weeks to offer new challenges for users. In the near future, I will introduce art materials to make it a STEAM space because creative engagement with art is valuable for literacy development, problem solving, critical thinking, and more!
The Baby/Toddler Zone and Exploration Lab complement an already established play area at the library called Bud’s Creative Learning Center. The new spaces fill needs that are not met by Bud’s Creative Learning Center by offering a distinct space with developmentally appropriate materials for babies and toddlers and by offering ongoing opportunities for children to engage in STEM activities.
Though these spaces have only recently been implemented, the response has been enormously positive. I look forward to continuing to observe how these spaces are utilized and make changes accordingly. Do you have a Baby/Toddler learning space or a STE(A)M space in your library? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org