It takes a village, the saying goes, to raise a child. Embedded within this age-old nugget of wisdom is the assertion that parenting is, at least in part, a public affair. From streets to parks, children learn so much from interacting with public spaces, both in terms of learning about their physical environment and interacting with other people. Kids have an insatiable curiosity; they want to touch, climb on, smell, taste, and otherwise interact with everything around them. In a way, they’re some of the best tour guides you could ask for, because they don’t miss a single detail when exploring a new place.
Recently, we came across a Amy Bowers’ MamaScout, a blog that “celebrates passionate, creative family living through posts showcasing open-ended play and projects, stellar resources, weird ideas, and gentle encouragements to slow down and embrace the ordinary.” Amy often writes about inventive ways that parents can use public space to spark their kids’ imaginations, with posts on everything from poetry bombing to hands-on exploration and the importance of wandering.
But it was a post on libraries that caught our attention last week, for how it exemplifies the kind of Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper thinking that each individual can use to activate their public spaces in new and exciting ways right now. Amy was kind enough to agree to let us re-publish her post, so without further ado, here are 25 mini-adventures that you can have at your local library—whether you have kids, or not!
We spend many afternoons at our neighborhood library. At one point our time switched from going to find particular books, to just hanging out.
Reading, exploring, asking questions, sharing, talking….
I wanted to share a quick list of fun things you can do at the library other than just check out books. Any of these ideas would be a great boredom buster. Just tell your kid you have an adventure in mind and embrace the mission with verve. You will have a great time!
Please share the interesting, fun or just odd things your family does at the library in the comments!
You can download a copy to keep in your purse or journal here.
1. Look at microfilm from your birthday, or a hundred years ago, or when grandma was born.
2. Look for the biggest book in the library. Take your picture with it.
3. Browse the travel section, find a place you want to visit, make some plans.
4. Go to the cookbook area, choose a recipe, go the store, get the ingredients and cook it that day.
5. Everyone find a poem, read it out loud and then copy it into your journal.
6. Choose a random CD, listen to it all the way through.
7. Kind Bomb
8. Scan the books of quotes. Find a good one and write it outside on the sidewalk with chalk.
9. Bring paper and colored pencils. Draw from the easy I-Can-Draw-Books for an hour.
10. Take a present to the librarians.
11. Leave a thoughtful review on a post-it note in a book you really loved.
12. Find out what services your library offers. Ellison machine? Study prints? Study rooms?
13. Occupy! Have a meeting, writer’s group, books club, homeschool co op, adventure planning committee at the library.
14. Make photocopies of your hand, funny book titles, weird images….
15. Make a list of suggested books and media for your library to buy. Make the library YOUR library.
16. Arrange a library tour.
17. Browse books on the flora and fauna of your area. Learn to identify something new.
18. Check out the corresponding children’s or adult section to your favorite area (reptiles, art, mystery…)
19. Ask about the special collections.
20. Read a biography from the children’s sections on someone you know very little about.(I choose Justin Beiber).
21. Find a baby name book, make a list of funny name combinations, choose a new name for the day.
22. Hunt for authors with your same last name.
23. Look in the reference section. What is the weirdest reference book you can find?
24. Buy old magazines, cut them up and make happy posters, rehang in the library.
25. Make sure each kid has their own library card and bag. Do not fuss about late fees. Ever.