Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Early Lit Center Revisited

If you have been following me, you may remember a post from February about our new Early Literacy Center.  For the most part it has been great, but we did have to rework a few things.

1.  We removed the velcro labels from the post office sorting center and used Avery 5163 labels to label the cubbies.  For some reason, velcro labels encourage kids to take them off, move them around, take them home, erase the marker and write their own name, etc.  Who knew?

2.  Despite the signage that parents work with their children on their letters, we have learned that in reality, that doesn't happen.  Upon observation, many of the parents are too busy getting in, getting their items, and leaving, that they totally miss the point of the station.  It became an unsupervised babysitting project.  Sigh.  We got some great letters, but those were written by children who already knew how to write and didn't need supervision (1st and 2nd graders).  I got really frustrated when over a four-day period, the following happened:
    • We went through 1 ream of paper by children writing one line on each page.  While I understand that scribbling is a part of early literacy, it also has to be weighed against the paper waste.  I would have been happier if each page was filled with scribbled letters.
    • The pencils at the station were taken and whoever had them managed to scribble all over the station tables and a stack of books in the children's room.
    • 5 of the plastic envelopes that were reinforced with book tape, were ripped. (I have no idea how this happened, because I can't even rip through book tape.)
In the interest of my sanity and keeping the station going, we pulled the paper and pencils from the station and put it at the reference desk.  We now have a sign attached to the station for people to ask at the desk for pencils and paper to use with the post office.  The envelopes are still out and are often sorted and mailed with nothing in them.  We still have kids asking for paper and pencils, but staff have better control/knowledge over what is going on in the children's area.  We aren't going through near as much paper, but are still getting quality letters (see below).

What has been interesting is the amount of scrap paper that has been mailed lately.  We keep a basket of scrap paper and golf pencils at each OPAC.  I have been getting a lot more letters that look like this:

Neither of these letters are perfect, but they do make me smile because kids are practicing their early literacy skills.  

Our Post Office has been a great learning experience for me, while offering our public something new. 

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