Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Offline and Feeling Fine: Ideas for Programming Unvirtually

Grand Rapids (MN) Library FB page
As the stay-at-home orders, library closures and social distancing have gone on, we have all begun to realize that reimagining our services is something we will need to continue to do well past a mere few weeks. As we often hear, it is the coronavirus that ultimately sets the deadlines.

Once we re-open, providing service to large crowds will not be something that is safe for us to do. Library staff and library leaders have imaginatively responded with a plethora of ways to virtually reach our families and kids  - digital storytimes; virtual read-alouds; youtube craft and activity programs. We know this type of programming will continue into summer and perhaps beyond.

But we know large swaths of our families and communities lack access to the internet, computers and reliable connectivity. At the same time, we recognize that, especially for school-aged kids, screen-time fatigue is very real. This is where our ability to think outside the box is really being called upon. More ideas on how to do non-virtual programs and services in our community are popping up often with a focus on getting kids outside.

The following are just a few ideas that are being shared among library staff on ways to move away from screens to create service models, partnerships and programs that help us reach more of our non-connected community kids and families. A big thanks to colleagues in MN, WI, NH, on Storytime Underground and Imagine Your Virtual Story FB pages for sharing the following ideas.

Stay Home Superhero
Three times weekly, the Grand Rapids (MN) Library posts a new challenge on Facebook (see graphic above). Challenges can all be done at home: finding bears; playing charades; drawing a picture; searching outside for everything of a certain color; growing a secret garden. Youth Librarian Tracy Kampa shares that kids can collect a bead or dog tag for each challenge finished when the library re-opens.

Grab and Go Kits
Many library are pulling together small "kits" containing STEM activities, crafts and other take-and-makes. Using small plastic bags, lunch bags, envelopes (purchased in bulk) and even manila envelopes with 4 activity bags inside (one for each week so the pick-up is for a month), bins are placed outside the library or at school or community meal sites for families to pick-up. The CSLP Pinterest page has many ideas - as does Pinterest in general! Keep in mind that some homes may not have the supplies as you put these kits together.

Check with local copy shop for blank yard signs (they should be able to laminate your pages too).   Put your stories around the library or just the pages in your library windows or in a few local businesses' windows. Or check with your Parks Dept to see if you can ziptie laminated pages to a chain link fence around kids play area in a park. The name Storywalk® is trademarked  so be sure you are acknowledging it's origins correctly if you use it.

Mobile (AL) Public Library's
indoor scavenger hunt
Scavenger Hunts
Create backyard scavenger hunts; around the house scavenger hunts; coordinate community scavenger hunts asking community members to place a picture or object in window that changes each week for families to find on walks.

Library Window/Door Games (can include Storywalks® )
Hide-an-Object around the community and post a picture of what the kids should look for on a library window or door. Post an I Spy display/poster with list of what to look for next to it. Place a trivia question in the window weekly.

Paper Chain Reading Challenge
For each book read, families add a link to their chain. Library  collects chains when open again; quarantine them for x days and then hang as decorations.

Rock Painting/Chalk
To encourage kids and families to get outside, organize kindness rock painting and stashing and themed chalk drawing. Consider making free sidewalk chalk and paints available for families to pick up.

Activity Sheets
These can be downloaded or printed out and left outside library, at meal sites, grocery stores, in local newspapers; in take-out bags of local eateries, etc. Might include different types of weekly bingo cards; scavenger hunts; writing or drawing prompts; experiments and STEM activities.

Create "badges" that the kids can earn - "nature explorer"; "having fun"; "I Spy Guy;" "helper; etc" and include a list of activities that kids can do to earn the badge they can pick up once the library re-opens.

Is this time to bring it back? I'm thinking yes!

Getting the Word Out
Besides publicizing over your social media platforms, consider radio; public access TV; information or materials left at essential service sites (grocery stories; gas stations; post offices)  and meal sites; sharing through your schools' student platform and as mentioned above, post on your library doors and windows!

What are you planning/doing offline for your kids and families? Share in comments!

No comments: