Truth: I read and respond to 99% of comments left on this blog. That’s time out of your day you spent giving me feedback (for better or for worse!) and I value hearing from diverse perspectives.
I recently received a comment asking to update our Passive Programs Throw Down because most of the links are broken. The link graveyard is full, y’all. In this updated post I’m sharing self-directed activities for kids and families at the library. To narrow the scope I’ve chosen activities that feature a literacy element. A huge shout-out to all the library staff who allowed me to highlight their amazing ideas!
Paths and Obstacle Courses
You can set these up inside or outside, make them long or short, and infuse them with literary references. Can you flap like the Pigeon, anyone? Here’s two examples:
The Crown Point Community Library created this interactive obstacle course that fit their Tails and Tales summer reading theme. Shout out to Youth Services super star Elizabeth Barnes for bringing this to life! I love how it gives families the sense of play associated with the children’s area even while many of those spaces are limited in nature due to the pandemic. You could even scatter these paths around the entire library!
Youth Services Department Head Amanda Fack says they printed it on adhesive paper using a large format printer and secured it with water-resistant removable vinyl. You can get the full 75-page PDF right here!
Kelly and Marsha from the Northwest Regional Library in the Lee County Library System in Florida created similar foot paths chock full of literacy and numeracy. The affirmations at the beginning are the cherry on top. Check out these videos to follow along the back-to-school adventure!
You can download back-to-school path files here. They also created a Choose Your Own Adventure path with counting, alphabet, and animal routes. Click the links to watch each path:
Susana Lewis, children’s librarian at the San Luis Obispo Library in California used coloured masking tape and painter’s tape to create this tape maze. A super simple way to get kids exploring parts of the library they have never seen before!
There are so many interactive display ideas out there. I did this book character guessing game a few years ago and I’ve seen many new iterations shared on Pinterest over the years. In particular I like that it holds the possibility of exposing kids to new stories and piquing their interest in an unknown character.
Another easy-to-create display is I Spy. Sarah Shaw Almond, the former children’s librarian at Roland Public Library in Iowa created this bulletin board from old magazines, stickers, and leftover craft supplies. Each week she posted a a clue and kids could submit the answer for a prize. You could up the literacy element by giving clues that relate to letter sounds or rhymes.
And if you want to take your I Spy game to the next level, try creating a 3D version. Nicole Ozanich, Youth Services Librarian from the Portage County Public Library shared in the comments below how her library turned a front facing display window into an interactive display that families loved! What a great way to make use of the toys and furniture that have been gathering dust during the pandemic.
Let kids hunt around the library for themed pictures or objects. There are so many options out there! Here’s a few:
Here’s a few more creative ideas for children’s librarians:
- Pokemon Scavenger Hunt by Ontarian Librarian
- Superhero Scavenger Hunt by Ontarian Librarian
- Kids @ Your Library Scavenger Hunts by ALSC
- Tween Scavenger Hunt by S Bryce Kozla
Finding places where kids of all ages can stretch those finger muscles helps build kids’ identities as writers. I encourage libraries to find ways of showing off the writing kids do.
The youth services staff of the Clark County Public Library in Kentucky made this amazing Where the Wild Things Are colouring table. Book-based and collaborative – double win!
Over on Mel’s Desk you can find this Write Your Own Poetry activity. My favourite part is the writing is scaffolded by providing pre-cut words so kids with varying levels of literacy can participate. Bonus: you can immediately display the poems as part of the display.
Lastly, check out this post office station set up by Sturdy for Common Things. She included a question of the week, but kids could really take this as far as they want. I did something similar at my library one summer and we exchanged the “mailed” letters with another branch. In this post office activity from the Lexington Park Library Amanda Roberson shares how they took it up a notch by creating mail boxes belonging to book characters, set them up around the library, and allowed the kids to write letters AND deliver them. What a great way to add an element of imaginative play!
Do you have an amazing asynchronous activity kids and teens enjoy at your library? Please share your ideas in the comments!