Wednesday, April 8, 2015

More Outdoors

Our guest blogger today is Aubrey Myers, the Youth Outreach and Programming Coordinator at Washington IN (a community of 11,000. She shares her plans for a program to get out and about. Talk about excellent planning!

This will be a DIY project started in June and continued to August. More Outdoors will be an onsite program with children encouraged to bring leaves, sticks and pinecones from home to help decorate. A combination of indoor and outdoor locations will be used but all will take place at the Washington Carnegie Public Library. This project is targeted for ages 2 through 6th grade. Children under six will need a parent to stay at all times. For 3 months, this group will meet two times a month. Due to a need for multiple times for parents to be to attend, one session will be in the morning (at 11 am) while the other will be at 6:30 pm.
Taking into consideration there are only 2 staff members in the Youth Department, staff involvement will be crucial. That being said, preparation is minimal. Each program session will last for 45 minutes. 15 minutes to read a story and discuss the plan for action and the rest of the time will be creation. I will not need a budget for this project as most materials are already available at the library and participants are encouraged to bring materials easily found at home. The library has an abundance of literary materials about outdoors. This series will include our books about nature and some books that are specific to nature in Indiana.
It is estimated that the initial preparation time for this series will be one hour. This includes finding all books that will be used for the 6 sessions. Also, a round-up of materials available will be needed. Construction paper, glue, markers, crayons, stamps, paint, brushes, ribbons, stickers other on-hand materials that may be used will be placed into a tote for easy access at a later time.
Beginning the end of February, I will print out flyers with information about the upcoming event. These will be available at the circulation desk in both youth and adult departments. The newspaper will be contacted to run a short story about the idea and social media will be used to advertise the event.
The first week of June, programs will begin. The first session will be a morning session. After parents and children are settled in, I will explain briefly what our goal is in doing this project. Not only will we be learning about the outdoors and Indiana specific items, for the younger children this will encourage sensory learning. Also, hands on activities involve a wide range of skills. Children will be encouraged to use their imagination and create projects that not only show off the materials used but also to showcase talent and perception.
The second item of business will be going outside to find materials to use for our projects. Children will have only the limitations of no bugs allowed and nothing that would be a health hazard (dead animal parts for example).
Once the participants have gathered materials we will go back inside to hear a story about seasons, trees, leaves, plants or animals. From this point, children and parents will use materials provided from staff and those which they acquired on their own to create a project related to the story. These projects may be as simple as a colored picture or as elaborate as a free standing tree made from buttons. Truly anything is possible when children are left to their own devices.
Staff supervision will be required at all times with constant walk-throughs for anyone who may have questions or need help.
After the projects have been created, there will be a showcase available for anyone who wants to have his/her project displayed.
The staff at WCPL feels that there is a need for both motion and stillness in programming. “Kids will be kids.” We recognize that children need to learn to sit quietly and listen. However, we are not a school. The library should be a fun place to come. We want to encourage talking, socializing, brainstorming and movement. Fine and gross motor skills will be necessary to create these projects.
As these projects continue, students begin to get a basic knowledge of nature. This basis is a wonderful starting point to begin (or continue) in school. Related books will be available after each program so that those who want to learn more have every opportunity. Also, the library will find websites that may be used to further educate children and have this list available and arranged by age group.
If this project seems to be a success, we will have further series type programs throughout the year. Projects available for use could include no-bake cooking, drawing and art, learning about the human body, history, science projects (think volcanoes), animals, planets, poetry, creating a game or acting one out, Where’s Waldo type projects where we look at Where’s Waldo or other hide and seek materials and then venture into the Children’s Department to find these objects. It is possible to use even fictional book series such as creating scenes from Mo Willems books or Curious George. The library could easily offer a Disney series of events where children can come to the library dressed in character. For a small budget, refreshments for a tea party of sorts could be served.
All projects that WCPL may offer will include literature found in the library as well as supplies available. The main component to success in these types of programs is patron involvement. Maybe they show up and we read the story and have a dance party. Maybe we learn parts of a square dance.
A good program is not based on materials but about not limiting yourself in ideas or capability. Too many times, we feel we cannot produce a project that will be well attended without a large budget. I have been challenged to prove this idea wrong. So I will.

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