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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: play, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 170
1. A change of direction for "Seeds" - Mr. Bird fades in

Been adding to "Seeds" although not as often as I like or should. Progress is dependent upon sudden brain storms or those rare but very welcome "eureka!" moments that give clarification to the story line.

Somehow, and after reading over what currently exists, there seems to be - at least in my mind - that the direction the play is taking, is too predictable bordering on blech. The subject, an accidental meeting of two people in a park, one of whom seems to have what could be classified an unusual gravitation to pigeons, is interesting. However - as mentioned numerous times in this blog, it's always the 'howevers' in life that get you - it's too ordinary and needed a shake-up. So...

A new character has been added. Elwood P. Dowd had his rabbit, Harvey, and now Sylvia Perkins has joined his league with her friend of a feather, Mr. Bird, a pigeon.

Following yet another run in with Hal, a  park supervisor, who wants to maintain cleanliness and limit the appearance of pigeon poo in his territory, Julie feels a moral responsibility to help Sylvia. The two return to Julie's apartment and at the mention of the word "bath" and a failed attempt to remove Sylvia's weather-worn rain coat, Mr. Bird suddenly puts in an appearance, in a manner of speaking.  Maybe it'll work and maybe it won't - hav'ta see where this will take me, if anywhere.

Yet another snippet of dialogue from "Seeds." Julie attempts to convince Sylvia to stay for supper and warm up


How about a plain, old American cheese sandwich and a coffee? You can’t refuse that. Indulge me as your new friend. Look – it’s snowing out. Wait until morning. This couch opens up into a bed


You’re very kind but I can’t possibly stay. It’s getting late and my friends will be wondering where I am

(Turns her head to the side) ‘I know, Mr. Bird. I’m trying to explain our necessity to leave…’


Really, Mr. Bird, one night in a warm bed won’t make a difference in the scheme of things. Wouldn’t that be better than hanging out in a park or building heating ducts? This is getting more weird by the minute… I’m definitely losing it. Correct me if I’m wrong here, Sylvia, but there’s only two people in this room, you and me, right?

          SYLVIA Recoils in horror and backs away


How could you be so cruel? You’re just like all the other humans. No feelings whatsoever for those less-fortunate who have to survive living on the generosity of others and on the cusp of society. You have hurt Mr. Bird’s feelings for the last time. We are leaving (turns her head to the side) ‘I’m ready to leave if you are, Mr. B’


Please – wait. Perhaps I’ve acted too hastily. After all, we’re still at the getting to know you, stage, and I don’t want to threaten our budding friendship with misunderstandings. How about this: you and – um – Mr. Bird stay for supper and I’ll give you a bag of peanuts to take back. Don’t believe I’m actually making a deal that involves a…


(turning her head to the side)

‘What do you think? I mean, she is trying…then there is a bag of peanuts at the end… You’re in agreement, then?’ We have accepted your apology
          SYLVIA starts laughing

‘That is like…so funny. Where do you pick up those funnies? 


Am I missing something?


(continuing to laugh hysterically)

It’s Mr. Bird – he has such a weird sense of humor. He’s especially adroit telling jokes. He wants me to pass along his joke: you can never lose a homing pigeon. If he doesn’t come back what you’ve lost is a pigeon.

          (SYLVIA laughs uproariously)
You are such a joker, Mr. Bird!’ Mr. Bird wants to know what you think of his joke. It’s one of his best

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2. Incorporating Play-Based Learning in Writing Workshop at any Age- Part of #TWTblog Throwback Week

I am honored to share Beth's post today on Incorporating Play-Based Learning in Writing Workshop. We need to bring the joy back to our teaching, and Beth's post is a roadmap to get started.

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3. Pigeon feed - the story continues

"D'ya mind if I share this bench with you? If it's a problem I can sit at one end and you can sit at the other. We don't have to talk to each other. Some people are weird about speaking to strangers but not me. Uh-uh! I enjoy the give and taking of sharing ideas with new people. Are you a people-person?"

A while back, maybe ten years or so, came across a site that was calling for submissions to a video competition. Having recently completed a new short play, it seemed like a perfect vehicle for the competition in spite of being written in playwriting form. After a short communication with the producer/director, he told me to send it along anyway and he'd give it a look over. The long and the short of it as they say is that even though it wasn't the winner, it achieved a second honorable place, plus it had the distinction of being converted into a short film script.

The plot always intrigued me and over time and frequent read-throughs, it always struck me that there was more to the story then was told. I'm a big believer in timing and what was deemed a finished play can suddenly take on new possibilities when viewed in a new light. Such is the case with "For the Birds."

A comedy/drama, the story focuses on the accidental meeting of two lonely souls whose encounter in a park turns out to be an eye-opener, in more ways than one. At present, the two main characters are getting to know each other with overtures of friendship being more one-sided. How and why this "shorty" play has suddenly taken on a new life is a mystery but as mentioned, timing is everything in life.

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4. Incorporating Play-Based Learning in Writing Workshop at any Age: Starting With What Matters Most

Before you embark on the adventure that is your school year, you will want to consider: How will you fuel your teaching? What is it that inspires you? Why do you come to work each day?

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5. School's out!

Goodnight, pencil jars. 
Goodnight, lunchboxes. 
 School's out!
Hello, sunshine books.
Hello, swing seats. 
Hello, sandy feet. 

Summer is in session!

Summery reads:


 Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann
A Beach Tail by Karen Lynna Williams, ill. by Floyd Cooper
Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr & Michael Sampson, ill. by Melissa Sweet
Surf's Up by Kwame Alexander, ill. by Daniel Miyares
Ocean Sunlight by Molly Bang & Penny ChisholmIsland: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

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6. Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program

Environments are imbued with ideals and beliefs about the core values of their institutions.  As public libraries move to a more patron-centered approach, library settings become less formal and more available for collaborative and creative practices.  This year, ALSC President Andrew Medlar will share his vision for active and child-centered learning spaces throughout American Libraries at his Charlemae Rollins President’s Program:  Libraries: The Space to Be. 

Chicago Public Library is the home of Charlemae Rollins, and here at CPL, we see it as our role to enliven the spaces in our children’s rooms in order to encourage and promote what Fred Rogers called “the work of childhood” play-based learning. By creating meaningful and child-friendly spaces, we serve children and their families more deeply.  It is our goal to create active learning spaces that are a meaningful educator for our children and our communities.  Our libraries are considered pioneers in incorporating STEAM opportunities for child and parent engagement, and we are designing space across our system to meet the needs of 21st Century children and families.  This means age designated ‘neighborhoods’ areas for creativity, collaboration and lots of ways to encourage moments of sharing.  We believe sharing is learning and we want to encourage that in both formal and informal settings.  As our new flagship main children’s library opens later this year, we will roll out even more ways upon which STEAM, early learning and school-aged families can read, discover and create.

In San Francisco, our libraries are family destinations for discovery and community engagement. As part of the library’s early literacy initiative, we partner with the Burgeon Group to design and embed Play to Learn areas in each location.  These site-specific transformations are beacons of play incorporating colorful interactive panels, multilingual features, developmentally appropriate experiences, fine gross activities, texture and tracing elements all to spark spontaneous conversations and build key literacy skills.  (Stoltz, Conner, & Bradbury, 2014) From nook to cubes and the flagship installation at the Main Library, parents, caregivers and most importantly children know play is welcome at the library.

Successful play spaces are those that engage children’s interest; inspire creativity; allow physical movement; and encourage interaction with both materials in the space and with other children.  Many early childhood spaces are modeled on the Reggio Emilia approach, starting with a welcoming space that is arranged to provide opportunities for children to make choices and discover on their own.  Once children have explored, adults facilitate play around subjects or objects in which the child shows interest. This child-driven model is a natural fit for an active learning setting in a library, where children have free access to a variety of resources from books to toys to art materials.  Research shows that having quality books placed at children’s eye level supports literacy-related activities like those that occur when children play in library spaces. (Neuman, 1999)

The Reggio Emilia approach has also been shown to be equally effective for young children who do not speak English, a situation common in Chicago and San Francisco (Zhang, Fallon & Kim, 2009).  Leslie William and Yvonne DeGaetano note the importance of creating culturally relevant spaces based on children’s own communities in Alerta:  A MultiCultural, Bilingual Approach to Teaching Young Children.

Play is a necessary building block for children’s brain development, along with culture and the creative mindset. (Gauntlett & Thomsen, 2013) It is so essential for life that the United Nations recognizes play as a human right for every child.  Play allows children to explore and experiment with their environments, building synaptic connections in the brain and helping children establish problem solving skills as early as 6 months of age.  The American Library Association-Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) recommends that play be incorporated into library programming, recognizing the direct correlation between play and early literacy.

There are five general types of play that children engage in.  These can all be supported in our libraries, and each type of play supports both children’s general development and literacy in a variety of ways.  These include:

  • sensory play
  • constructive play with objects
  •  symbolic play
  • pretend play
  • rule-based play such as games.

Some of the elements that are shared by both Chicago Public Library and San Francisco Public Library include:

  • Creation of connections and sense of belonging
  • Flexible and open-ended materials
  • Materials that support the ECRR2 practices ( TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, PLAY)
  • Stimulation of wonder, curiosity and intellectual engagement for children and their caregivers
  • Symbolic representations, literacy and visual arts
  • Flexible furniture and arrangements
  • Different levels and heights of displays or tools
  • Nooks to read and/or work
  • Open-ended activities and tools that can be transformed by the child’s interest
  • Places for individuals as well as groups
  • Creation Station and maker areas for encouraging design, exploration and creation
  • Parent and caregiver incubator space
  • Areas and resources for constructive, dramatic and creative play
  • Appealing signage and parent tips to support family learning

As co-chairs, we are eager to have you join us at President Medlar’s Charlemae Rollins President’s Program to learn more about successful elements of library design for 21st Century Kids and hope to see you there!

— Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services, Chicago Public Library
— Christy Estrovitz, Manager of Youth Services, San Francisco Public Library


  • Stoltz, Dorthy, Marisa Conner, James Bradbury. (2014). The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces. ALA Editions.
  • Gauntlett, David & Thomsen, Bo Stjerne. (2013). Cultures of Creativity: Nurturing Creative Minds Across Cultures. The LEGO Foundation.
  • Nespeca, Sue McCleaf. (2012) The Importance of Play, Particularly Constructive Play, in Public Library Programming.
  • Zhang, Jie, Fallon, Moira & Kim, Eun-Joo. The Reggio Emilia Curricular Approach for Enhancing Play Development of Young Children.

The post Preparing for the 2016 ALSC President’s Program appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Purposeful Play: A Review and a Giveaway

In the new book Purposeful Play: A Teachers Guide to Igniting Deep & Joyful Learning Across the Day, Kristine Mraz, Alison Porcelli, and Cheryl Tyler have laid out the research and practical advice that many of us have been looking for.

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8. Purposeful Play: A Review and a Giveaway

In the new book Purposeful Play: A Teachers Guide to Igniting Deep & Joyful Learning Across the Day, Kristine Mraz, Alison Porcelli, and Cheryl Tyler have laid out the research and practical advice that many of us have been looking for.

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9. A book treat that parents and little ones can enjoy together, just in time for Spring!

0 Comments on A book treat that parents and little ones can enjoy together, just in time for Spring! as of 3/18/2016 4:26:00 PM
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10. It's new dawn...a new day... and a somewhat new re-writing of the play

It's been an on-off situation but there has been some advancement in re-writing "Old Soldiers." The characters, first introduced in a short story a while ago, caught my imagination and over the years the quartet of senior service veterans have participated in many theatrical scenarios. However - it's always the 'howevers' in life that get you - somehow there has been a lack of direction as to how their story should play out.

The necessity or impetus for turning it into a play was to enter it the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition a few years ago. The undertaking was made even more challenging since the medium of radio requires sound effects to accompany the dialogue, in place of visual movement. It was a challenge and in spite of a successful conversion, the play didn't win or receive recognition. Still, when it's all said and done or written, it was an interesting pursuit but probably something I will pass on in the future.

My philosophy in as far as rejections are concerned is to moan/groan and agonize the reason for them not recognizing genius when they read it, following which to forget about it for a while. This allows time for introspection and objectivity upon re-reading the play in preparation for the editing process.

To this end, some decisions have or are in the process of being made as to the story line. In the original version submitted to the BBC competition, there were physical transitions to various locales, which were plausible given the medium, whereas the story now takes place in one place being the pub or bar for the entire play.

- in the initial short story,  the main character, Joe McKenna had a dog, which has been added in the updated version - so far. The rationale behind including a dog is that as a lonely, elderly and cantankerous service veteran, the dog would be his reason for his existence.
- although most of the original characters remain, a few newcomers are joining the quartet: a food/drink inspector who comes to do a regular inspection of the bar premises, a small group of young punks who take an dislike to the old soldiers, especially Joe

Here is an abbreviated version of the synopsis, which supplies some background on the characters:

"As an ex-army man and soldier, eighty-eight year old Joe McKenna is a man of habit. A widower, he lives in a small apartment with his only companion, a 12 year old dog, Daisy. The aging process is taking its toll physically and emotionally, turning him into a bitter man full of resentment towards society and what he perceives to be life’s injustices. He is a lonely soul with too much time to think about the past and knowing that the future will leave him dependent on the kindness of others.

 His main interaction with the outside world is a timeworn friendship with a group of army veterans in the same situation, who cling to each other for support and companionship.

Every year since the end of the war, Joe and his group of army pals gather together in a local bar/pub to mark Remembrance Day and to attend memorial services held in the park. Conversation focuses predominantly on their various physical ailments and debilitations and what they perceive to be a lack of support by the veterans administration. They are relics of another time who regard death as their only escape from pain."
We'll see which direction the story line takes, which always makes the trip more interesting.

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11. OLD SOLDIERS - an excerpt of updated version

As shared in this blog many times before, this started out as a short story, which touched something deep in my writer's soul for lack of a better way to describe it. Over the years...many years and many re-writes, it evolved into a radio play that was entered and subsequently didn't win or even place, in the BBC International Playwriting competition and then back to a play. In spite of many attempts at 'putting it to bed' permanently, somehow, it always calls me back. Maybe there's a message there or perhaps merely wishful thinking on my part. It's still a work in progress.

Be that as it may...here is the latest edit . Changed the venue of the story to one place and gave Joe McKenna a dog. Characters are basically the same but adding a few more as the story develops.  Note that there is more spacing than normal to make reading easier.

In the way of background information, Joe McKenna is a crusty, old curmudgeon who lives with and for his dog, Daisy. A few times per week, he and his army buddies drop by the local bar to talk about old times, re-live past glories and complain about their aches and pains.










(to himself)

Yup…yup…yup… The way things are goin’, won’t be long before we’re all gone. Poor old, Perce. Died alone without anyone there to see him on his way to the big battlefield in the sky. ‘Here’s to you, Perce! You’ll be missed for sure!’

                                    Lifts glass in the air and lowers it

‘Refill, Vince.’

                                    JOE’S FRIEND, MIKE, DRESSED IN UNIFORM
                                    COMPLETE WITH STRIPES AND MEDAL, JOINS HIM
                                    AT THE TABLE


Freezing out there. Wind cuts like a knife. See you got a head start. Buying a round?


You just got here and already trying to mooch a free drink?



When it comes to mooching, bud, you got that covered and then some. When’s the last time you paid?


(pretends to take out imaginary book)

Let me check my diary here…last Wednesday, three in the afternoon. You buying or not?




You are a cheap bastard! I’m stuck with the bill, again. ‘Vince – two whiskeys’  

       -  Joe here is paying by the way -



Whatever. See you’re in full regalia.


If not today, when? Take it out once a year. Pee-ew! What’s that stink coming from your direction


Throw in a dozen or so moth balls when I store the uniform


At least put it out to air a couple days before you wear it. Really reeks

                                    VINCE, the bartender, brings over drinks


One of you guys forget to wash?


Joe here uses moth balls for his uniform


So what. Why should I share it with moths


No insult intended but you’re smelling up my bar. Wouldn’t hurt to go out and air yourself out a bit. You paying, Joe?


Put it on my tab. The man’s as cheap as they come. You’d think for a special occasion he’d spring for a round but that would be asking too much for his old friend


Nice if one of you would pay cash for a change. Your tab, Joe, goes back a year. Let’s see…you owe me $1500.34. I’m feeling generous today so drop the thirty-four cents and make an even $1500


You’re all heart. Where d’ya expect me to find that kind of money on my service pension?


At least give me something. Anything! I have bills to pay, too, y’know


Next check. I’ll give you a couple of bucks towards it. May have to give up some food items and my dog here will have to get used to eating just a few days a week…


Why don’t you lay on the guilt a bit more. Listen…about your Daisy…You know I’ve never objected to you bringing her here. I like her a lot but like I told you, dogs aren’t allowed in bars. I’ve closed my eyes up until now but there’s a new inspector and word has it that he goes by the letter of the law


She’s a service dog. Aren’t you girl?

                                    Daisy picks up her head responding to hearing her name

She goes where I go. Calms my nerves and watches out for me


How old is she, anyway? Getting’ on in years


What’s the difference? She’s there when I need her


She better be legally registered when or if the inspector comes ‘round


Don’t worry ‘bout my Daisy. I’ll just explain there’s extenuating circumstances


Don’t say I didn’t warn you


Mac’s supposed to meet us here


Seriously? The man doesn’t drive and uses a walker. How’s he getting here?


He wants to join us for Percy’s funeral


Amazing. Never lets his condition stop him from doing anything. Sometimes I wonder how he gets around but he does. Mind over matter I guess. It’s either that or give up and die. Mind you, sometimes when pain takes over, it don’t seem like such a bad idea


He just walked in. Poor guy can hardly move. ‘Over here, Mac!’


None of us are peppy anymore, in case you hadn’t noticed. My glass is empty by the way


Yeah and? I bought last time


So what. You owed me from all the rounds I bought before


It’s your turn, el cheapo!


(gasping to catch his breath)

Really…windy… out… there – and cold. Hope the wind… dies…down… for later. Hard to get around in this kind of weather, ‘specially with a walker. What times the funeral, anyway?


You really planning to attend, Mac? Not trying to discourage you or anything but it’ll be hard pushing your walker on grass and that wind…


I’ll manage. Old Percy was one of the last few members of our group. He deserves our respect and he’d do the same for any of us. Can’t believe he’s gone… Really cold out


You look like an ice cube and your hands turned blue. Why didn’t you wear gloves? How’d you get here, anyway?


By bus. Took me forty-five minutes if you don’t count standing at the bus stop waiting for twenty minutes. Damn busses never stick to their schedule


What’s in the package?


Got a treat for Daisy

                                    MAC takes a bone out of a bag


(cont’d. MAC) Found it in the trash in back of the supermarket on the way here. Look at it – a perfectly good bone with lots of meat. Probably even good enough for us to eat. You should see all the food they toss out there. Fruit and veggies with a couple of bruises and piles of bread. Cakes too!

                                    DAISY struggles to get up as MAC gives her the bone


The dog eats better than we do. You…you don’t take things from the trash…do you?


I personally don’t but what if I did? There are people in third world countries that wouldn’t think twice about eating it. ‘There you go Daisy. A perfectly good bone for you. Enjoy. ’Ouch…trouble standing up…back is out again. Stupid bus trip didn’t help none


Why didn’t you take a cab?


You hav’ta be kidding. Like I can afford a taxi? I’m here now so stop jabbering and order me something warm. No – make that hot. Gonna be freezing at the cemetery for sure. Not too many people will show up ‘specially at our age


There ain’t that many at our age, left. We don’t get to choose the kind of weather t’get buried. Funeral’s called for noon


What’s your pleasure, Mac? I’m paying


You’re buying hima drink? What about me?


He just arrived. The man needs to warm up and besides, he brought Daisy a bone. Anyone who thinks about my Daisy’s needs deserves a drink on the house


Remember I’m your old army pal who stayed with you in thick and thin?


I paid you back a long time ago. What’s your poison, Mac? Whiskey like always?


Neh. Hot coffee will do me fine


With a shot of whiskey t’give it flavor, right?


Plain, old hot coffee with milk and sugar


Straight coffee?  That’s it?

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12. Beth’s One Little Word for 2016

Play is at the top of my list for 2016, and I want to shout it from the rooftops. Pitting play against literacy is a false dichotomy. It's not either/or. The way to teach literacy is to provide time for kids to play, talk, dance and sing their little hearts out!

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13. #747 – ROAR! by Julie Bayless

Roar! Written and illustrated by Julie Bayless Running Press Kids     10/13/2015 978-0-7624-5750-2 32 pages      Age 4—8 “It is nighttime in the savanna, which means that it is time to play for one rambunctious lion cub! The cub tries to make new friends with the hippos and the giraffes, but roaring at …

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14. Plenty of Margins

Hi folks, fall is upon us. My husband Tim is going on an scientific expedition with JOIDES Resolution for the next two months. This is the link to his blog.  He is flying to Darwin, Australia today. I will hold down the home front for the next two months. I have all kinds of mayhem planned for this time period. I just released THE CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN with Caney Creek Books.  I hope that you give this a peep.

This week I will chat about the fab-ness of creating this book. Doodling Chickens is all about play for me. It's also about the love of the imperfect.  I have grown weary of machined edges of all children's art in these days.  There is a choking perfection in children's book making these days that leaves me cold. I am still thinking about the good times with Mr. Rodgers when he would dig a hole in sand, pour water in, and then watch the water disappear. You know, for kids.

Return to your inner child this week. Take some time to play. If you have some children, all the better. Blow bubbles, play cars, pretend to be dinosaurs...whatever floats your boat. Staying close to your early years opens up your work. Believe the impossible things. Don't listen to the voices that say no. Reconnect with the wonder of days. Reconnect with silly. We grown-ups do tend toward the deep waters of serious. Come with me and splash in the shallows for a while.

Don't orchestrate everything. Leave plenty of margins in your life. Be kind to yourself. The child-self forgives easily,is up for new things, and is open to new friends. May your days be filled with laughter. May you find surprising twists and turns in your plots. May your life be filled with sweetness, health, and peace.

THE CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN is all about homemade childhood. I had fun making this book. It's not the Mona Lisa but it is the

Buy the THE CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN written and illustrated by Molly Blaisdell on Amazon for $7.99. (Way more awesome than a Halloween card.)

Follow The Chickens on Facebook. I will be posting a new chicken doodle every day in October.

Here is a doodle for you. Spanish Girl

Here is a quote for you.

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. Mr. Rogers

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15. Encouraging Families to Play Outside

During the summer, libraries are a destination for families to play, learn, and escape the heat, but what about those beautiful sunny days when no one wants to be inside? This summer at the Fayetteville Free Library (FFL) we offered a new early childhood program simply titled: Play Outside. Families with young children were invited to join us in our library’s green space for free play fun. Our library does not have its own playground; there are no jungle gyms or climbing equipment, just an open, grassy field lined with trees and bushes. With a few new toys and some repurposing of old ones, we were able to turn this empty space into a rich outdoor play environment for a few hours each month.

play outsideOur play outside program featured a sand table and a water table that we made by borrowing two large plastic storage bins. We grabbed some plastic ocean animal figurines that adorn our children’s non-fiction shelves and brought those outside with us to play with in our “ocean.” We also incorporated many large manipulative toys including beach balls, bucket stilts, hop-along balls, jumping sacks, hula hoops, and a parachute. We also created a large seating area with picnic blankets, board books, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles. While our supplies were simple, their uses were varied and complex. One young child gave the toy fish “baths” with a bucket, while another built a sand castle, pretending to be at the beach. Two children enlisted parents and peers to play parachute games, and the group worked together to keep the beach balls in the air. On the picnic blanket, a mother read to her baby, while her preschooler drew pictures with chalk, next to them. As families moved organically from one activity to another, they connected with other families. Parents chatted and shared information about upcoming community events and new friendships were forged among the children. As the facilitator of the program, I also had the chance to have on-on-one conversations with parents and kids alike, and received valuable feedback on library programs and services.

play outside 2One of the great things about a program like this is that it’s easily customizable as there are no requirements except an outdoor space. Our program centered on a multipurpose open space and manipulatives, but other ideas include: wheeled toys, music and movement props, play houses, balance beams or stepping stones, flower or vegetable gardens, and much more. If your library doesn’t have an outdoor space, consider meeting at a local park or playground. But wait; can’t families just go to the park instead? We agree that families can and should still visit parks, but librarians who offer outdoor programs have a unique opportunity to bring their communities together to encourage a love of learning, nature, and a healthy active lifestyle. In fact, the Institute of Museums and Libraries (IMLS) has identified “improving family health and nutrition” as a national priority, because we know that children’s learning is inextricably linked to their health. Outdoor play encourages children to run, lift and carry things, to use their imaginations, and cooperate with other children. In fact a recent article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) states that, “Children who regularly play outdoors tend to be fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems, play more creatively, have more active imaginations, report lower stress levels, and demonstrate greater respect for themselves and others (Fjørtoft 2004; Burdette & Whitaker 2005)” (Spencer & Wright 28). With all these benefits, I encourage you to give outdoor programs a try.

Do you already offer something like this at your library? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

(All photos courtesy of guest blogger)


Courtesy photo

Stephanie C. Prato is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY. If you have any questions, email her at [email protected]

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16. Mermaid sightings

The twins are fast approaching ten!
"Tween twins!" Winnie reminds me.
"Double digits, doubled!"

And just like that, a decade ebbs with moon and tide.

Having soaked up the Emily Windsnap books lately, 
they want to be mermaids. 
So, I've been making art.
Mermaidy tattoos!
Painted shells. 
Waves of seaweed.
Glowy lights.  
Cupcakes + art = yummy.   

Mermaids, this way. Your party awaits.


The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Emily Windsnap, #1)

132391 18048914
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Anderson, ill. by Lisbeth Zwerger 
Breathe - Scott Magoon

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea - Steve Jenkins
Shh! We Have a Plan - Chris Haughton
The Storm Whale - Benji DaviesPlastic Ahoy! Investigating the great Pacific Garbage Patch - Patricia Newman
Shackleton's Journey - William Grill

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17. The ‘Golden Nikes’ for Greek tragedy

With Greek tragedies filling major venues in London in recent months, I have been daydreaming about awarding my personal ancient Greek Oscars, to be called “Golden Nikes” (pedantic footnote: Nike was the Goddess of Victory, not of Trainers). There has been Medea at the National Theatre, Electra (Sophocles’ one) at the Old Vic, and Antigone, just opened at the Barbican. There are yet more productions lined up for The Globe, Donmar and RSC.

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Why? Why must you torture me like this? What did I ever do to deserve this treatment other than heap undying love and devotion to your upkeep?

(MR. EVERYBODY glances up and returns to reading his book)

You seem to be dying slowly right in front of my eyes and I'm at a loss how to save you

(looking around)
You talking to me?

Fed you top of the line nutritional supplements and this is the thanks I get

I appreciate your cooking, honey. You make fantastic meals and really, I'm in great shape

You are not aging well, sweetheart


(gets up to examine himself in the mirror on the wall behind him)

For the record, I'm in better condition now than I was when we married. Sure there's a few extra inches on my stomach but that's due to your good cooking. Work out on the tread mill...

I fear it's time for us to part, sweetheart. You are halfway between this world and the next

Say what? Is it something I said?

You've given me a lot of pleasure over the years. Your nightly performance kept me riveted and it's something I will cherish all my life

Hey! There's still a lot of life left in this body! Is there somebody else? I can change, y'know!

(MRS. EVERYBODY turns around and stares at her husband)

It's just so hard to say goodbye! Did you say something?

You never said a word. I deserve to know who's the new love of your life!

Say what? What are you babbling about?

You're leaving me!

Are you insane? You thought that... That is really funny

There is nothing funny about being informed that your wife is leaving your for someone else. It's always the husband that is the last to know

Husband of mine - I was talking to my prayer plant here that is slowly croaking after 40 years and I'm about to replace her with a new one

How was I supposed to know? There was only you and me in the room and I never guessed you were talking to a...a... house plant

I've raised this houseplant from a small little stalk. Fed her...coddled her...and she gave me years of pleasure but lately she seems to have taken a turn for the worst. The writing is on the wall...or in this case, in all those brown leaves.

A plant is a plant is a plant. Don't know what the big thing is. Just empty the pot and replace it with a new one. Simple

How could you be so cruel and callous! You just can't...discard it like it that!

I dunno. Never bothers you to do that with your clothes

Besides, I read an article that said plants can sense pain and they react to it. How could I betray my friend after all the years we've been together? I feel like a killer! I feel like I'd be ripping out her guts and tearing her apart

Not that I pretend to feel what you feel but check this out

(MR. EVERYBODY shows her a page of the newspaper)

What's this? The Plant-a-atrium is having a sale on houseplants?

(turns to look at plant and at newspaper ad)

(MRS. EVERYBODY cont'd.)  'Parting is such sweet sorrow my formerly green friend. Go meet your other friends in the composter! Do not think badly of me for I shall remember you with great fondness.' I'm ready.

Ready for...?

To make new friends at the Plant-a-atrium, silly! We all gotta go some time. I mean, it's just a silly plant for heaven's sake...

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19. Still waiting - what does that mean, she who pens plays ponders...

As mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog, patience isn't one of my strong points. This usually doesn't work in my favor especially when it comes to waiting for updates/news regarding the fate of my plays. Many of them took cyber trips to numerous geographical locations around the globe in the hope that they would see a stage but so far, no response one way or the other.

According to the various playwriting related sites where this topic is discussed and digested, this is not a good sign but perhaps no definitive decision has been made as to their stage-a-bility. At least that's what I tell myself.

There is a pattern as to my follow up process, which includes avowing to myself that I will wait to receive "the word."

"Gotta give it time," I tell myself. "People don't respond because you want them to. Your plays are among hundreds, maybe thousands, that are submitted with dreams of production."

Patience today, patience tomorrow, inevitably, and when experiencing a particularly discouraging "why do I bother" or "maybe my plays suck" period, a follow-up e-mail is sent out. Usually, the end result is no response followed by a period of "why didn't I wait."

Upon reflection, perhaps a follow-up questionnaire to the submitted theatres would facilitate the process. Something to the effect:

Dear blah-blah (insert theatre name/producer/to whom it may concern),

Recently, (insert date that play was submitted), you were the lucky recipient of my play, blah-blah (insert name of play).

It has been (number of days/weeks/months/years/who remembers) since there has been any updates as to whether said play strikes your fancy. Perhaps the lack of communication on your part is a result of (pick one) a) stunning dialogue requiring further thought b) seeking a period of time in which to program the play to optimize audience participation  c) unable to open file.

When could a decision on its fate one way or the other be expected: a) days b) months c)years d) never (please circle one)

Yours forever in hope,

A. Playwright

It's worth a shot. Am I right?

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20. Snippet from Dead Writes - revised

Started writing this play a while back and have been slowly - accent on the slowly - adding-to and tweaking the play over time. Recently gave it yet another read and after deep thought and concentration, have finally come to what I believe and hope to be, a good ending. Still not finished, yet, but I've been making progress, which in itself is a good omen. Sometimes omens are all we have to propel us along.

I've shared bits and pieces of it here before but here is the latest incarnation. The cast list will most likely grow slightly. I've adapted it for this blog but the cutting and pasting isn't ideal. Comments welcome.

The story: Sometimes lessons in life come at a cost especially when the cost involves sacrifice on behalf of another.

By Eleanor Tylbor


CHARLOTTE PEMBROOK:     50-something; former reporter, deceased

JOSIAH:                 Heavenly "Spiritual Adviser - Disembodied Souls Division:

MIA STEVENSON:          Ambitious young reporter





SETTING:   A funeral parlor

AT RISE:   A group of people are seated in a funeral chapel, socializing for the most part, while waiting for the service to begin. A coffin is situated on an elevated stand in the middle of the room.

CHARLOTTE PEMBROOK, wearing a diaphanous flowing dress lays next to the coffin. Slowly she sits up, looks around in a confused, slightly stunned state. Touching her arms and body parts, she moves to an upright position and pulls at the material of her dress

                                  FX: SOMBER MUSIC


Really must'a tied one on last night. Weird, though. No hang-over like usual.
Stands upright, moves closer to coffin, straining to see inside. A funeral organizer passes by without acknowledging her presence. She pokes him in the back, to no avail.

'Scuse me…hello'? Could you tell me…? Wait a minute. Don't ignore me. You are so rude!’

He ignores her, focusing on the coffin

Lemme be blunt like the real me: who's the corpse?

         Man continues to ignore her

What is your problem? A name - that's all I want! It's not a lot to ask.  Fine. Suit yourself. I'll find out on my own…creep!

A man, JOSIAH, enters and stands directly behind CHARLOTTE. Dressed entirely in white, he glitters from head to toe


There's really no need to yell. I can provide you with that information
          Startled, she whirls around to face him


You could give a person a heart attack sneaking up like that. And I thought I looked bad in this outfit? If you don’t mind me saying, sir, you look like a bad case of indigestion after eating too many Halloween candies. I've been trying to find out what's going on but the guy over there is ignoring me. Some people just don’t have any manners



He can't hear you



It’s not like me not to remember some details of the night before but my mind is a complete blank. Not even a few flashes. Nothing



Not surprising. You’ll get used to it



I get it now! This place is one of those new theme clubs and you're the bartender, right? Explains a lot especially the look. So – like - you doing Liberace? That would explain my dress, too. Go figure a funeral parlor would double as a club. So where’s the booze?



The one thing I can assure you is that this is not a nightclub. You know…if you really want, Icould tell you who's in that coffin



How would you know that unless… What’s wrong with me? Here's me going on about nothing and you're burying someone who means a lot to you. That’s it, isn’t it? Sometimes I'm so dense. My sympathies.


You could say I’m related to that dead person. In fact - I'm close with most people that pass through



You work here, then?


In a way. Death is the human equalizer, don't you think? Everyone is on an equal plane no matter how important your life was or how much money you had or how much power you wielded



I suppose so - can't say I've given it much thought, lately. You wouldn’t happen to know how I ended up here, though, would you?



Do these mourners strike a familiar chord?

CHARLOTTE glances at the mourners


Vaguely... Hang on a minute!  These people work with me!

(Aside to mourners): ‘This is a surprise party, right? It's all a big joke. I should have known. Whose birthday is it? 'Ya don't hafta worry 'bout me giving it away!  Hello? I’m talking to you all!’

Weird. They're all ignoring me like I wasn’t here or something. Dumb…dumb…dumb. Ignorance, thy name is Charlotte! This is a "for real " funeral. That has'ta be it and this here is a real body in a real coffin! Okay –so – then - why am I here? Must be somebody I knew…

She strains to see in the coffin again without results


You seem to know a lot about this. Was it Don McGrath or Pete Winston? Don't know how many times I warned them both to slow down, but did they listen? ‘Course not! What does an old broad like me know, right? Burn the candle at both ends and you’re gonna burn your light out, I told them time and time again. Everyone thinks they’re gonna live forever



It wasn't either one of them



That's a relief 'cause we're the last three old farts left at The Sentinal. Started out together at the same time and we've seen 'em come and we seen 'em leave. Some on to bigger and better and some like this here person, in a wooden box. Things are sure different now. Back when we were in our prime, the only thing we had'da know was a keyboard. Nowadays everything is electronic - cyber this, cyber that. They'll soon find a way to replace us all with computer systems and you know what? Nobody will give a damn



They'll always be a need for the human touch



Look at 'em all…young kids just out of J-school. What do they know about getting’ a story? How can you write about life if you never experienced it?  This really is a real funeral, isn’t it?



Unfortunately, you are correct



Guess you were a friend of the corpse, then, or related?



I'm friends with a lot of people. You can say that I help them through a difficult period



So you're one of those - what do they call them - grief councillors? Bet you go to a lotta funerals



I can honestly say that I've never missed one






Never in all the years I've been assigned here



Have we met somewhere before, maybe a long while back? The more I look at you, the more familiar your face seems to me. Wait a minute! It’s so obvious as the nose on my face. You're a new bartender at Pat's watering hole. I'll pay my tab next week, I swear, it's just that I've been running a little short lately…



We've had a few close encounters in the past, Charlotte, but this is the first time we've met one-on-one. My drinking days are history in the true sense of the word but you seem very caught up with alcoholic beverages



Got it now. You own the new funeral parlor down the block and you're here to scope out the competition



Not…exactly but you could say I'm in the funeral business since I make a point never to miss any. In fact, funeral parlors are where I first connect with…



(backing away)

Hey! You're not one of those slimy creeps who pick up rich, lonely women at funerals. Listen buddy, I'm not rich and certainly not in the market to add a new man in my life.  Been there, done that, too many times. Know what I mean?




You're quite priceless, my dear. Trust me when I say my interest in you is anything but corporeal in nature. You do like games, don't you, with all your questions that I would be glad to answer. There really is no secret



It's my nature to snoop and dig for answers



You don't have to. I'd be most happy to supply you with the necessary information but if you insist. Have it your way



Strikes me that this corpse wasn't too popular in life judging by the amount of people who showed up here



It's all quite sad, actually. She believed she never needed people and in the end, seems that people weren't there when she needed them most

Mourner moves to front of room and stands in front of coffin

So the departed is a female. Looky who's here! It’s my friend and co-worker, Janice. Hey girl, we were supposed to meet for lunch yesterday! I showed up but what happened to you?



Miserable, lying witch! At last you made a useful contribution to the world and left it! Good riddance to bad rubbish



Is that the way to talk about the dearly departed? Even dead people deserve respect from the living. Your mama never taught you any manners?

JANICE touches the coffin and returns to her seat

(aside to JANICE): ‘Janice? You-hoo! It's me.’

(aside to JOSIAH) I'm not surprised! She was always a grudge holder. We better take a seat…the minister is here

Gives Janice "the finger" while passing her by and sits with others, accompanied by JOSIAH

(Cont’d. CHARLOTTE - aside to male, PETE): ‘Heeeey Pete-eee! So, how things goin' with you? Sorry 'bout that story, but I just couldn't help myself. In fact, I did just that. I'll return the favor in the future. You know how it is in our biz’


(PETE) ignores CHARLOTTE and talks to female on other side

(Cont’d. CHARLOTTE) Still mad at me, huh? See if I care! That’s the last time I share a lead with him, let me tell you



He can't hear you



What are you talking about? Of course he can but he's busy chatting up the new receptionist. Probably still pissed 'cause I stole a lead on the story he was after! Far

be it for me to beg forgiveness. He knows that's the way things work. First come - first served!


And you certainly helped yourself, a lot, didn't you?



Listen, if something falls into my hands, who am I not to take advantage? I needed a lead and Pete was nice enough to do the legwork for me. We're old friends anyway. He'll come around, won't you sweetie?



You find a way to justify everything. Has it dawned on you, yet, why you're here and that people are ignoring your presence?



What other reason than to pay my respects to someone in the paper 'biz. Really bugging me, though, how I got here and landed up lying next to a coffin. I've covered practically every kind of story but I can't ever remember spending the night in a funeral parlor. Maybe I was after a story but why is my mind blank?



Merely a temporary fog that will clear after you -


- sssh! Talk softer. We're gonna get kicked out and I'll never find out who's in the coffin

MINISTER steps behind podium




           Voice calls out:

'She didn't have any, so move on!'



..we are here to bid goodbye to one…

Another voice:

'Good riddance to bad rubbish!'



…a…good reporter, a good friend and colleague.


This dead person must'a really screwed them over but good, but she – you did say it was a woman? Like I was saying, the dead deserve some respect too.

CHARLOTTE stands up and addresses everyone

'That's no way to speak about the dead, you bunch of parasites. Have some respect!'



Is there anyone here who has something positive to say, about the departed? Surely there must be one person in this entire room that could say a few nice words about the late Charlotte Pembrook?



Excuse me? I can speak for myself, thank you very much… What's with this "late" junk?


No one? Then we'll proceed with the service


What in the hell is he talking about? 'I'm still among you, in the flesh! Look! I’m here’



Please try to control using the "H" word? I've been trying to tell you that no one can hear you – or see you, either


They're doing it on purpose to teach me a lesson. ‘Well, it won't work people! I'm on to you all!’

CHARLOTTE stands up on chair, waves and screams on top of her lungs


‘Charlotte is here! The old witch is alive and kicking. You can't ignore me forever’

JOSIAH walks to the front of the room and stands behind the coffin


I'm the only person who can see you, at least for now


Calm down, Charlotte. There’s a very simple explanation for all of this. I’ve had too much too drink and this is just a nightmare. Soon I'm gonna wake up and everything will be like it should. That’s it. A nightmare.


What’s the last thing you can remember?


Food! I was at The Rib Rack gnawing on a rib. Must’a been a bad rack or something to give me a nightmare like this. Alright – gotta calm down. I’m okay…gotta will myself to wake up…time to wake up now… C’mon body – wake up!


Come over here and take a peak inside

CHARLOTTE moves slowly to the front of the coffin and peers down. She jumps back


If this is a bad joke, I don't have a good sense of humor, today. Enough is enough, already. I don't know how you did this, Joey or whatever your name is to make a person look just like me. A dummy - it's a dummy, right? Hey - it's been a blast meeting you, but I got things to do, places to go…

           Aside to mourners

‘Okay you guys. You pulled off the ultimate practical joke. Got me fair and square. I give in. C'mon – don't be such grudge holders! You know I was only doing what you would'a done in my place’



It's you in there for real

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21. To Drive The Cold Winter Away by Tess Berry-Hart

It's still winter! The bone-shaking chill of a new January with its winds, ice storms, broken healthy resolutions and humourless deadlines (tax payments, school applications, etc) can make even the bravest of us want to curl up in a cave next to a blazing fire and hibernate until spring arrives.

And to some of us who suffer from depression (episodes of persistent sadness or low mood, marked loss of interest and pleasure) either constant or intermittent, winter can be one of the hardest times. Depression being a multi-headed hydra ranging from many states of unipolar to bipolar, I'm not suggesting that there is one single type of depression; for instance not all of us are affected by the winter or weather, while some people who don't even have depression in the clinical sense might be experiencing a mild case of the winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Creativity is like a fire that we can stoke to drive away the cold winter (whether physical or psychological, internal or external). So I'm deep in my cave trying to work out ways that I can stoke my creativity without resorting to biscuits!

Bibliotherapy's been around for a while now, and is the literary prescription of books and poems against a range of "modern ailments" - including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. A form of guided self-help, it's not exactly a new idea - the ancient Greeks spoke of "catharsis" - the process of purification or cleansing, in which the observer of a work of theatre could purge themselves of emotions such as pity and fear through watching and identifying with the characters in a play. All of us in the modern world can attest to the feeling of connection and joy when an author so precisely describes a state that we are ourselves experiencing, and the nail-biting, cliff-hanging state of knowing exactly what our heroine or hero is going through. We root for him or her because s/he represents ourselves battling our own demons in an idealised meta-state.

But how does bibliotherapy work? According to the various proponents, it helps perpetuate a shift in thinking, so that things are not so inflexible (black and white thinking, for all you cognitive-behavioural depressives out there!) which is crucial to tackling depression. Being able to gain distance and perspective by viewing problems through the lens of fictional characters means that in real life our fixed thought-patterns which contribute to our problems can start to become unpicked.

And of course, identification isn't the only joy to be found in books; good old-fashioned escapism is surely the reason why many of us read so avidly. A new world, a new family, a new life, perhaps even new biology or physics, takes us away momentarily from the mundane world so we can return refreshed, hopefully to see our lives with new eyes.

I've obviously been self-medicating for a long time, but I always called it comfort-reading. By comfort-reading I mean a well-known book that you can plunge into at will like a warm bath or a pair of slippers. At school when I was anxious about exams or bullies I would find solace in re-reading the heroic adventures of Biggles or the magical quest of Lord of the Rings; at university it was in the dreamy memories of Brideshead and the vicissitudes of Billy Liar or Lucky Jim. When I started my first office jobs I would read 1984 or Brave New World (odd choices for comfort-reads but I think it was to remind myself that things could actually be worse!) but when I started writing my own books, I ...er ... stopped reading for some years. I think my tiny little brain could only take so much exercise!

I started comfort-reading again when we first had our children; during long and frequently painful breast-feeding sessions my husband would read my childhood favourites Charlotte's Web and Danny the Champion Of The World to me as distraction and encouragement. And these days my prospective comfort list numbers hundreds of books; for me, reading is re-reading.

So what could I take to bolster myself against the winter chill? I've written myself a prescription but I'd be interested in hearing yours!

1) A dose of James Herriot's short animal stories, to be administered when needed (they are nice and short so you're not left hanging after a few pages) or chapters from Jerome K Jerome's Three Men In A Boat, or virtually anything by PG Wodehouse;

2) A daily dose of half an hour "joy-writing" - half an hour in the morning when I can sit down and let ideas spill out onto the page. (If it ends up with me writing about what happened last night then so be it. It can often lead to something more ...)

3) A small creative project on the horizon, easily identifiable and manageable, that I can look forward to; in this case getting a small group of actors together to read through a new draft of a play that I've written (there'll be a blog post on this soon so stay tuned!)

4) Connection with others - I'm a member of a local book group, which not only makes me keep on top of what new books are coming out, but also participating in the joy of discussion; there's nothing more frustrating than reading a good book only to realise that nobody you know has read it!)

So I think that's enough to start barricading myself up against the January snows!

But what about you? What kind of comfort-reads do you enjoy to drive the cold winter away?

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22. New Resource for creating Play Spaces in Libraries!

Are you thinking of incorporating play spaces into your library, designing a new library space or something in between?  If you are looking for a good place to start, some research to support play and steps to take to make it all happen, you might be having a hard time.

When I first started working to incorporate play in libraries 5 years ago there were little to no resources on how play might look in a library or how to get started. Since then there have been many ground breaking libraries who have presented conference sessions, written blog posts and posted information on webpages. Then the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read, released in 2011 included a great module on Learning Spaces in Libraries. Over the years, information has become easier to find as research on the value of play has become an important message in early literacy.  Best practices, ideas for types of play and practical steps for incorporating play in libraries are harder to find.

Stoltz_Power_of_Play_300“The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces” by Dorothy Stoltz, Maria Conner and James Bradberry is a great resource no matter how big or small your learning space project.  This practical guide provides research in support of play, steps to creating play spaces, planning guides, examples of play spaces and management tips.  The information in this book is applicable to any size library or play space project and highlights how these spaces are supported by research and early literacy goals. It is to read from cover to cover or to use as a step by step guide. I wish I had something like this when I was getting started!

I love this empowering excerpt from the book that highlights the true power of play.

“Play is a first step in life by which a child can mature into a thinking person….Although play is important, it is not an end in itself, or a time for avoiding chores or ignoring others. Play is “a jumping-off place” that can set in motion the possibility of learning. Socrates set the tone for this kind of play in his debate on the virtues of citizenship in The Republic. He asks Adeimantus to reflect on how the serious play of philosophical leaders who encourage original thought compares to the common play among certain tyrannical political leaders who are interested in manipulating and controlling the crowd. Socrates guides his student to think about how a city or society pursuing noble virtues compares to the individual doing the same—that unless play from earliest childhood is noble a man will never become good.  Plato likewise engages in noble play through his dialogues with his fellow readers to pursue the knowledge of the “Good.” He distinguishes between good play—that which leads to the good—and bad play—that which diverts the learner from this goal.”

You can purchase “The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces” from the ALA Store at http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=11157



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23. Uplift: The Infinite Possibilities of Imagination

Hi, folks! This month I'm calling the series Uplift. The idea of uplift is to improve socially, culturally, morally, spiritually, etc.  We are all hungry, our hearts beating, struggling for contentment and a sweet spot to thrive. This part of my journey for uplift. 

Short and sweet, this week, folks. I  have to say that my imagination is my biggest gift.  It bubbles around inside me. It is the best part of myself. I had a fun conversation with an imaginary friend this week, and bonus it was not my imaginary friend but Sam Garton's imaginary friend.  Sam is the otter keeper of Otter. You might want to check out this blog: I am Otter

I followed Otter this week.  You can too: 

Here is our conversation.

 I have to say, my conversation with otter was one of my favorite things this week. 

Here's the deal. My capacity for play has never diminished. I still have my favorite doll from childhood. I still color and draw almost every day. I never stop making up stories.  I love to imagine the possibilities. Even in my darkest days, the angel of my imagination stirs within me. 

There are journeys ahead, friends. Trust the infinite possibilities of your imagination. 

I hope that your are jazzed this week!  Please consider letting your imagination run wild. Let it take you beyond the possibilities to the impossible. Open a new door. Turn a new corner. 

I will be back next week with the last in the series. 

A doodle from me: Twos.

When you have exhausted all the possibilities: remember this. You haven't.  Thomas Edison

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24. Congress of Crows



As they come together and chatter about this and that the world watches to see if they can really fly or are just a lot of noise …

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25. Parents Just Don’t Know How to Play!

Toys scattered among the stacks, puzzle pieces askew, kids popping from mess to mess and over in a corner you see a parent on their cell phone or device. Does this scene sound familiar to you?

Libraries with play spaces often report that they have parents who seem disengaged from their children’s play. While this isn’t the majority of library users but seems to stand out because of the mess and noise children who are not engaged in meaningful play can create. While it is our intention that parents will use the play space to interact and play with their children, they often observe play or expect their little ones to discover the play on their own.

How do we teach these parents to use the play spaces provided as an interactive time to share with their little ones?

  • Model play! Library staff can often engage a parent by simply asking a question or starting a conversation with a child. When you see a child playing alone, ask them open ended questions that extend the play. When the parent sees the interaction they will become interested and then you can pull them into the play as well. We model how to share a book in story time, let’s model play on the floor.
  • Provide signage! Be simple with your signs and remember you are not posting rules but suggestions for play. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2012/03/instructions-included/
  • Keep it Clean, Keep it Organized! While children can look at anything and find the play in it, somewhere adults loose that ability. Make your play spaces clean, organized and obvious. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2012/04/keeping-it-clean/
  • Choose meaningful play! When selecting your play spaces and what is included think of what learning is going to take place and what values the parents will see in the play.

Your turn! How do you engage parents in play?

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