State Library Services is pleased to announce the Play and Learn Space LSTA Mini Grant awards. With a maximum award of $5,000, the projects establish or enhance engaging and welcoming spaces for children ages 0-8 and their caregivers in public libraries. Each Play and Learn Space offers a variety of play activities that support early learners’ growth and exploration across the six domains of Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress.
With grant funds, Anoka County Library will expand its Play Matters project in four branches, Crooked Lake (Coon Rapids), Northtown (Blaine), Johnsville (Blaine), and North Central (Ham Lake). Four new rotating kits will be created, consisting of prompts and props to promote open-ended play interactions between young children and their caregivers.
“Discovery Kits and Learning Centers”
Through this project, each Carver County library building will receive furniture to serve as a flexible learning center for early literacy activities. The learning centers will feature a rotation of Discovery Kits that contain themed early literacy play materials. With the Discovery Kits, young children will develop early literacy skills and caregivers will learn ways to extend early learning into daily home life.
LSTA grant funds will support the purchase and installation of seven interactive play panels from Burgeon Group in the Wentworth (West St. Paul) Library. This is the first stage in creating a larger children’s play space aimed at early learning and social interaction among young children and their caregivers.
“Opportunity Community Play and Learn Space”
To encourage families and daycares to spend more quality time at the library together, grant funds will support the creation of a play and learn space at the Cambridge Library, tying into the city’s motto, “Minnesota’s Opportunity Community.” Play props and interactives will include a puppet theater, hometown façade with mailbox, career costume set, space saver dress-up center, career-themed puppets, and more.
Grant funds will help to create a welcoming, inviting and playful space for young children and caregivers of Bagley and Clearwater County. Funds will purchase comfortable furniture for caregivers and children, child-sized furniture, and interactive toys for the children’s area in the new Bagley Public Library.
“Imagination Station Kits”
Library staff will work with staff from the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota to create Imagination Station Kits filled with table top activities that enhance emergent reading, emergent writing, fine motor skills, and more. Kits will rotate monthly and will also be shared with the Taylor Library Bookmobile. iPads will be purchased and uploaded with learning apps and made available for use in Taylor Library and on the bookmobile.
“Indoor Play Space”
With grant funds, South St. Paul Library will add a play space that includes comfortable seating for children and adults and interactive toys that promote constructive, imaginative, and language-rich play experiences. A “Day of Play,” featuring appearances by local celebrities such as the mayor, school principals, and more, will celebrate the opening of the new space.
LSTA funds will make possible a pilot program series of sensory storytimes for children ages 3-6 who are on the Autism spectrum. Sensory storytimes will include built-in play time with attention to noise and volume control, have visual guides using Boardmaker software, sensory tactile props, and more. Small bins with fidget toys will be available both during the storytime and in the children’s area when storytime is not in session.
“Play and Learn Area”
Activity centers will be created with interactive props such as a Lego Duplo play table, a light table, puppets and costumes will be added to the Waseca and New Richland public libraries. Playful learning kits for preschoolers through elementary-aged children and their caregivers will be designed to enhance early literacy and STEAM skills.
“Play and Learn Space”
An interactive play and learning space will be created at the Park Grove branch to provide a learning-rich environment for young children and their caregivers. The space will include an art cart, a rotating thematic book display, a writing center, a miniature post office, an interchangeable imagination station, and a corner just for babies. Activities will support emergent reading and writing, imagination and invention, cognitive development, and fine motor skills.