Even before the popularization of the toy industry, children have always found ways to play. Sticks, rocks, and pinecones became the fuel for imaginations to run wild. While toys have certainly evolved, the core need to play has stayed the same.
Likewise, modern community libraries have been a staple in neighborhoods around the world for hundreds of years. These vital centers of information have had to reinvent themselves throughout the centuries to offer more than just a vast selection of reading materials. No longer are libraries only concerned with their circulation records, but have morphed into a true community center, where people of all ages and backgrounds engage amongst each other. Today, libraries must be innovative and work beyond the book to best serve the communities around them.
In this age of screentime and electronics, many modern libraries have had to question what truly belongs in a library and what purpose(s) they are working to fulfill. At their core, these centers have always promoted reading literacy, but many are now beginning to implement and encourage physical literacy as well. Fortunately, there are resources and materials available to combine these two vital cornerstones of development.
When playing with large loose parts, such as with the Imagination Playground Big Blue Blocks, patrons (especially children) benefit intellectually, physically, mentally, and socially. Furthermore, when a group works and plays together with loose parts, it encourages cooperation, problem solving skills, negotiation, and communication within the unit. When a group collaborates on their Big Block builds, imaginative minds work together to unlock a multitude of possibilities, including castles, rockets, musical instruments, and futuristic creatures.
So how can loose-part play be implemented more vastly in our libraries during this age of screentime and electronics? The answer is simple – make it engaging and more widely available.
Inside the Library
Data shows that communities that have public play areas available see students with better test scores, improved self-discipline, and fewer behavioral issues. Additionally, communities that have loose-part play systems publicly available see more community outreach engagement, whole family participation, and lower obesity rates. So how can you utilize more play within your library walls for your visitors? Here are a few ideas using the Imagination Playground Blue Blocks!
Toddler Story Time
-Break out the Blocks to bring a fun twist to your story times! Let each attendee choose a Block to sit on while they listen to the story to help with the wiggles, and when the story is through, have them work together to recreate or build something from the story!
Summer Reading Programs
-Tie the Blocks into whatever theme your reading program has that year, like this librarian did with their Fort Nite Challenge!
Bring the Community to You!
-Brainstorm creative ways different groups around your community could benefit and utilize the Blocks! For example, a local theatre group could use the Blocks to help stage their movements before their set and/or props are complete. Or, maybe a local senior citizen’s home is looking for ways to bring more active play to their residents’ and the lightweight Blocks are the perfect way to provide a larger-than-life experience!
Outside the Library
Today’s modern library goes beyond the buildings’ four walls and out into the community they serve. Outreach events assist in promoting library programs and services to those who may not be aware, allows the librarians to meet new potential patrons and interact with existing, serve the needs of their community, and reach those who may not have a way to visit the physical library building. These events help foster relationships between library patrons and the community at large.
Every day, libraries, family centers, and youth programs take their iconic Blue Blocks on the road to meet communities around the world. The best part is pop-up loose part play systems can turn any lot, park, or street corner into a playground space.
Here are a few of our favorite community outreach uses utilizing the Big Blue Blocks!
Fairs, Festivals, and Markets!
-Create a play zone at any local community with your Blue Blocks! Since the lightweight and durable Blocks can be used on a variety of surfaces, you can easily turn any space into a play space. Grass, sand, and even in water, the Blue Blocks act as a portable playground that instantly attracts the kiddos nearby.
-Libraries have creatively found ways to participate in all sorts of events within their neighborhoods to promote learning, togetherness, and positivity in the community. Some fun events a library could bring their Blue Blocks to for outreach include back to school bashes, block parties, and other celebratory events! We have even seen some of our library friends rent out or allow members of their communities to borrow their Blue Blocks for children’s birthday parties!
– Pack up your Blocks and visit your local elementary schools, childcare centers, or non-profit for a fun field trip! Use the Blue Blocks for teambuilding exercises or to help teach a math lesson.
Every person has a unique play personality, which is why loose-part play is appealing to all generations, cultures, and lifestyles. Libraries that offer play activities can enhance their literary experiences in an engaging and interactive way and are sure to increase public outreach, create a stimulating environment for all ages, and foster meaningful connections between library patrons and their communities.
Want to learn more about Imagination Playground’s USA-made, Blue Blocks and why they are perfect for libraries? Reach out to a dedicated Play Professional at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, BUILD ON!