Early Literacy Spaces

This post originally appeared on the Wisconsin Library Association Youth Services Section blog here, and here.

I started at my current position as Youth Services Coordinator in June, and since then I’ve been adding little early literacy activities and awareness to our children’s section. Some of the things I came up with, a lot of them were suggestions from my amazing staff, and many were inspired by other libraries!

Here is some of what we’re doing. Anything not mine includes a link to the original idea whenever possible!

Early Literacy Tips
This grew out of the idea of posting early literacy tips during storytime. I don’t do our regular in-house storytimes, and I wanted the opportunity to explain why we offer so many different activities. I typed up a TON of tips, some taken straight from ECRR, some adapted from The Early Literacy Kit, and a few more that I specifically wanted to address. I put them in speech bubbles, laminated them, and now I have a backlog that I can pull from every time I change a display or put out a new activity.

Activity Board
The inspiration for this idea originally came from Brooke. I copied her idea, adding in the Spanish language since we have a growing Spanish speaking population and I am working on ways to increase our services to these patrons. At first I just taped it up to the pillar, which quickly failed, so then we added a magnet board in order to have more options.

 The next activity at this station was something I came up with for a simple matching game. When I used this game in bilingual storytime, a kid quickly corrected me from “diamond” to “rhombus!”

 Play Table

 One of my staff who specializes in early literacy saw a post on this blog about a felt table, and suggested that we try it. I covered our table in felt (you need a LOT of tape), and pulled out some of basic felt pieces and wooden props to set out. The kids and families have LOVED this one. One child made us additional props for the animals scene using paper and crayons, and the flowers are getting sorted by color almost daily (on the other days they end up in a big pile on the floor. Those are the days I eat a lot of chocolate).


Desk Display

 We used the front of our desk as display space when we were raising butterflies this summer, and I realized it was a great way to get kids and families looking at a display. The first day that we had the alphabet up, and a toddler was walking up to the desk with his mother and exclaimed, “Mama, sing my abc’s!”


 The READ posters were fun because the kids would look from us, to the poster, and back, and try to figure out what they were seeing!


 The emotions idea came from here, and it has had a good response. One kid only wanted to name the “positive” emotions (happy, excited, sleepy) and wouldn’t mention the “bad” ones (sad, angry, scared). Luckily, he was joined by a parent who picked up on that and talked about it with him.


More Spaces!

 These footprints grew out of a desire to fill and empty spot and having something for the slightly older kids to do while a parent was busy with a younger sibling. We are on our second set of footprints, since even laminated footprints get pretty worn out after being stepped on that many times! I was also surprised to find that they get rearranged quite often. One day I came in to find they had turned a corner!

My staff member got the ideas for both our stairs and bathroom from Hennepin County. Again, I added Spanish to the stairs, and we hear the kids coming up and counting on a daily basis. This is one of the additions that I have gotten the most compliments on from community members.

 The library I worked at as a page in library school had a growth chart in front of the circ desk, and it was incredibly popular. Kids measured themselves and their families constantly, and I thought it would be a neat addition to our children’s room. We have a library wide mural on one of our walls, painted by a local artist, and I asked her to do the growth chart.

 As I was putting up my five practices tips the other day, I realized the singing is something that we do a TON of in programming and less so in the children’s room. Thus was born our “song of the week” station. I put it up on a day I worked alone, and then asked my staff to pretty please play along and sing if anyone asked them. So far I’ve definitely seen parents reading the sign, and the images match my song cube that I take to daycare storytimes, so some kids might start to recognize that!

1 thought on “Early Literacy Spaces

  1. What an exciting program from nuts to noodles and more. I am very proud of my eldest grandchild for putting such stimulating material in front of children.I am sure that it is all a reflection of the imagination of her KY grandmother. (And probably her Mom and Dad as well). I wish my children would have had the experience of hearing Miss Holly read to them. I know their brains would have grown by mega inches, or what ever it is that brains grow by.
    Suzy Post, Louisville, KY 40206


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s