If you are unfamiliar with our Play to Learn program, it is a station-based early literacy program where children and parents can interact together. It is not librarian-driven. While I create the stations and set everything up, I am not in front of the room reading the story or telling people what to do. They can spend as long or as little as they want at a particular station. Each station has a sign that explains the activity and why that activity is important to early literacy. By running this type of program, we hope to give parents the tools to take home and use with their children.
We register 20 kids, ages 2-4, for each session of Play to Learn and we open the room up for one hour. If it is a really popular program, we will register additional kids and start them 30 minutes into the program. We want each parent and child to be able to spend time at each station and you can't do that in a crowded room.
Station 1: Make a Nametag
I used an AccuCut die to cut brown bears to use as nametags. The kids then can then write their name on it. To help those kids who are not quite ready to write their name, I type out all of the first names in list form so they can see the letters. At this station, as you may have guessed, we are working on the writing skill.
Station 2: Read the Book
Since we are a library, I feel that the book is the most important part of the program. I pull just about every copy from all of our locations that I can get and we put them out for parents to read to their child. At this station children are practicing reading, which encourages them to learn how to read on their own. By sharing reading with their child, parents are helping them to develop vocabulary and comprehension, nurturing a love of reading, and motivating their child to want to learn to read.
Station 3: Flannelboard
Now that the kids (and parents!) have read the story, they can retell it in their own words at the flannelboard.
Station 4: Make a Book
I couldn't think of anything clever to come up with on my own so I went online. Making Learning Fun has a printable book. I think it is important for the kids to make and take home some type of book in this program.
Station 5: Make a Teddy Bear Puppet
I used die cut shapes, sticker eyes, crayons, glue dots, and craft sticks to make teddy bear puppets. To make things easier on the kid, the glue dots were attached to the craft sticks ahead of time.
I also provided the words to The Bear Went Over the Mountain for kids to sing and act out with their puppets. Since songs slow down language, the children can hear the different sounds in words and learn new words.
Station 6: Make a Map
I put out various parts so kids could create their own maps. I included crayons and these awesome mini stampers.
After the kids created their maps, we talked about what they added. Plus, it was always fun screaming when we got to the bear.
Station 7: B is for Bear
I drew a bear cave on our giant whiteboard. Then I created various pictures (some start with B and some do not) and added magnet tape to the back. Kids were asked to add the B pictures to the cave.