Library and Park District Partner to Bring Kids Nature PlayPacks

Posted on: August 29, 2018

Play is an essential literacy skill and an important part of how children learn. With the library’s new PlayPacks, kids can check out toys to take home, just like they do a book.

Libraries across the country are starting to circulate items besides books and audiovisual items. “We’ve seen significant research that says how much of an impact play has on growing minds,” said Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian. “It seemed like a natural fit for us to make toys available for checkout because play can have direct benefits to literacy development.”

PlayPacks are carefully curated to offer sensory play experiences that build early literacy, developmental skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and social skills. Each PlayPack is centered around a theme and features items such as toys, puppets, puzzles, games, or pretend play sets. They also include tip sheets featuring additional activities, extending learning moments and allowing children to apply existing background knowledge to a new subject.

Since their debut in 2016, PlayPacks have circulated over 430 times.

And the library recently partnered with the Glen Ellyn Park District to bring four new nature-themed PlayPacks into the collection. “Learning happens everywhere, inside and outside,” said Almendinger. “Glen Ellyn has wonderful parks and nature reserves that are perfect for budding scientists and explorers.”

The library looked to the Glen Ellyn Park District for help in deciding what would be the best items to select for the new nature-themed PlayPacks. “Renae Frigo, Glen Ellyn Park District’s Naturalist, selected items so families can experience meaningful outdoor play opportunities,” said Almendinger. “She also created fabulous scavenger hunts and other activities that are unique to Glen Ellyn’s park system.”

Each PlayPack can be checked out for three weeks. Below are details on the four new nature-themed PlayPacks.

  • Animal Tracks: Learn pattern recognition, observations, vocabulary, critical thinking, fine motor skills, and the ability to assess risk by looking for and identifying animal tracks that are encountered in parks.
  • Backyard: Learn pattern recognition, observations, vocabulary, writing, critical thinking, cause and effect and fine motor skills by exploring nature in your backyard.
  • Pollinators: Learn vocabulary, visual tracking, critical thinking, cause and effect, and problem solving by exploring insects and spiders.
  • Trees @ Lake Ellyn: Learn pattern recognition, observations, vocabulary, critical thinking, cause and effect, fine motor skills and gross motor skills by exploring trees.

For more information, please contact the Glen Ellyn Public Library.