Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Lessons Learned from Play & Read Groups at La Crosse Public Library

Submitted by Brooke Newberry, La Crosse Public Library and Rebecca Sutherland, AmeriCorps

La Crosse Public Library Play & Read (part of a collaboration between AmeriCorps Serve Wisconsin and the Department of Public Instruction) successfully facilitated six (6) Play & Read groups with 2-6 children in each group. Through stories, songs, crafts, and play each group learned early literacy skills, such as letter recognition and phonemic awareness, and concepts, such as colors and shapes.

A few things we learned along the way:

  • Start with what they know! Name sticks were a regular part of each of our groups as a soft landing project. The kids would come in and work with their grownups on matching clothespins with letters on the ends to corresponding letters that spelled out their name on a colorful paint stick.
  • Sensory bins keep us busy and engage our fine motor skills! The kids loved sorting and searching for colors and shapes in buttons, beans, shredded paper, and even snow! These sessions were always difficult to wrap up, in a good way.
  • Boxes are the best! Our Found Object lesson led to trains, towers, tunnels, and more all made from boxes provided by area businesses. Paired with books like Meeow and the Big Box and This is Not a Box, it made for a very creative time.
  • Offer odd hours! Two of our groups met in the evenings between 5:30 and 7pm. Late for many families, but those who made it were happy for the late times. Due to odd working hours they would have never made the other groups.
In addition to the Play & Read groups, we were able to do outreach story times to local day cares, head starts, and preschools. In total, we brought storytimes to 15 centers along with the farmer’s market over the summer months. Through the Play & Read project we were able to reach hundreds through our outreach efforts and programs. We continue to offer our outreach story times and have a growing relationship with community partners in reaching families with opportunities for learning together.

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