Construction Zone at the Bozeman Public Library! www.bozemanlibrary.org
AT the BPL Children’s Room, literacy (especially emergent literacy) is our business. And we have recently expanded our juvenile offerings to include a PlaySpace, where children ages 0-8 can play with materials that develop literacy.
Guess what our newest offering is? Three hundred and eighteen wooden building blocks from LakeShore (www.lakeshorelearning.com).
Unit blocks were developed by educator Caroline Pratt in the early 1900s, and have been found in homes, preschools and day cares ever since. Now libraries which serve the youngest populations are catching on. Our PlaySpace is primarily a creative construction zone with a huge array of modular blocks designed for children and adults to manipulate together. Research shows that parents can promote their children’s learning through play, and building together offers premium learning opportunities.
Why play in libraries? Why not? Play, the primary platform for children’s learning, can happen anywhere and libraries are places where learning is free and open to all. Through play, children develop language, thinking skills, physical skills, social and emotional abilities—all important proficiencies to help them succeed in school and in life.
Why blocks? Blocks encourage purposeful play and promote school readiness. Wooden blocks, especially those with a wide variety of shapes and proportional sizes, offer many quality learning opportunities for children. As children build structures and manipulate these blocks, they learn about math skills such as proportion, fractions, balance, geometry, classification, seriation and patterning. “Children practice science inquiry skills as they make observations, test their predictions, and draw conclusions based on evidence,” says Cindy Christin, project developer. “New vocabulary emerges with every building session. And children cultivate social skills as they plan and execute building projects together.” Cleaning up involves math too: sorting dissimilar and identical shapes, and organizing by size.
Our new PlaySpace is funded by our fabulous Friends of the Library, and modeled after Baltimore County Public Library’s Early Learning program (see Storyville at: www.bcplstoryville.org). Children’s staff and others working on this project hope to make PlaySpace possible in libraries throughout Montana.