Families Get Literate @ the Library

First my update: I LOVE my new job!!! I should point out that I’ve only been there a week and only have tiny snippets of some of the duties. But I’m working with some awesome, innovative, forward thinking librarians – in a county that is making some things happen! They are receptive to me and my ideas. They are sensitive to me and how difficult it can be to come into a well established team. OK – all gushing aside… Here’s the real post.

The Children’s Specialist at my old system went out of town to the ever beloved¬†Ohio! She’s a buckeye too. All the cool girls are :) So she wasn’t available to offer her regular Tuesday night all ages program. On a whim, I said, we should have a Family Literacy Night! And they held me to it.

My Plan

I wanted an activity available for every level of literacy development. I wanted it fun and most importantly self guided. To start, there were brochures designed explaining the importance of a literature rich environment in the home for children’s success. It also had a checklist of stations with their locations. Each station had an instruction sheet that described that stage in literacy development and the instructions for that activity. Some stations had crafts and take home activities.

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Station 1. Sequencing. We had Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar available with a printable of sequencing cards. The families read the book, colored the sheet, cut them out, & glued them in order on construction paper.

Station 2. Environmental Literacy. This station shared the early stages of symbol recognition and how we depend upon literacy everyday. There was a printout of common logos that children recognize and use daily. Mostly businesses like Target, Toys R us. McDonald’s, etc. I also had a printout demonstrating to adults how frequently they rely upon this skill as well. Images such as take medications with water or without food, directional signs. The fun of this station was a scavenger hunt. I photographed informational signs throughout the library and the littles ran around to find them all & hopefully explain their meaning to their parents. I found a fun tool-kit that could make this step into a whole night of it’s own here.

Station 3. Blends and Rhyming. We made a word wheel at this station. Here‘s a great one FREE at Enchanted Learning. I love that site! We also had some rebus stories available at this station for the families to take home to read together.

Station 4. Was a story chain. I stuck a poster board on the wall and invited people to add sentences to build a story. It started with: Once upon a time at the library…. a couple of folks added to the story that night. We opted to leave it up beyond that night in hopes that we actually could get a whole story.

Station 5. FUN! We had an assortment of word games: Scrabble, UPwords, Hangman, Boggle, and trivia.

I love family literacy nights. First, because they are truly hands off programming – not that I don’t LOVE programming. We all know I do. But let’s face it, there are times when staffing levels just don’t allow someone to be actively engaged. Second, I think it speaks to the mission of libraries to support parent’s as first teachers. ¬†By setting up a great environment for them to explore together, they are having fun and supporting literacy goals. I encourage you to tuck this into your back pocket for next time you need a hands-off activity.

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