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I am interested in hearing from others here at C&NN who have experience or stories to share about libraries in your area that are making an effort to get kids & families outdoors and / or that use their outdoor space for programming to help make the connection. can be school, public, academic - any kind of library.

If you don't have a real life story, what ideas do you have that could be shared with libraries?

Deb H.

Tags: &, Connecting, Library, NTNS, children, libraries, nature

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Hi Deb,

This is a terrific discussion and I know there is interest in this on the forum. John Thielbahr and others refer to the idea of "Naturebraries". Richard Louv wrote a column about them here: http://www.childrenandnature.org/blog/2011/03/02/how-libraries-can-.... At my own local library, in Mill Valley, CA, patrons can check out "Experience Backpacks" that include local field guides, binoculars, maps and other items to help kids experience nearby nature.

I'm going to announce this discussion in the Natural Teachers Group in the hopes of bringing more people in. Thanks again for starting it.

We work weekly and enthusiastically with libraries in our community and in other states with our eco-educational series Let's Go Chipper. Many libraries don't have the resources - staff or funding - to bring in programs and we come in with a comprehensive program that sends kids into the arms of their parents with new ideas to help connect families together, and in nature.

Within one hour our program gives kids and parents new, and simple ideas to take home. It also gets them to the shelf looking for new books to read. If the library has an outdoor space we spend time outside. It includes:

Storytime

Stretch and sing

Role playing

Craft activity

"What did we learn"

 

Our books have a "what did you learn" at the end and it's the perfect transition to role playing. We work with special needs to on-the-go families and the response is always very positive. Whether it's our book series or ideas you are looking for, I'm happy to share.

 

We have great Chipper Ambassador kits for libraries and schools which are underwritten for organizations in need. Please email me directly if you would like me to send you the complete packet and information stephanie@itsallgoodmediainc.com.

 

 

Google "Storywalks" 

It's a great idea from new Hampshire, I believe.  Here's the concept: Choose a popular children's story. Take a page from the story and line it up on a trail. Kids and parents hike from page to page, with adventure spots on the way.  It can be self-guided or led by a teacher/naturalilst. St. Paul Public libraries and St. Paul Parks and Recreation have teamed together and are offering it for the first time this summer.

 

Love it!

Thanks Suz - I have seen the backpack idea and love that! Some libraries are loaning fishing gear, too :-) Would love to see more ideas about how we can get more libraries involved in a variety of ways...

Suz Lipman said:

Hi Deb,

This is a terrific discussion and I know there is interest in this on the forum. John Thielbahr and others refer to the idea of "Naturebraries". Richard Louv wrote a column about them here: http://www.childrenandnature.org/blog/2011/03/02/how-libraries-can-.... At my own local library, in Mill Valley, CA, patrons can check out "Experience Backpacks" that include local field guides, binoculars, maps and other items to help kids experience nearby nature.

I'm going to announce this discussion in the Natural Teachers Group in the hopes of bringing more people in. Thanks again for starting it.

Beautiful program Stephanie... and you are so right...libraries and schools are way underfunded and often understaffed.... we have to work together to move this idea forward... synergy is good!

Stephanie Rach-Wilson said:

We work weekly and enthusiastically with libraries in our community and in other states with our eco-educational series Let's Go Chipper. Many libraries don't have the resources - staff or funding - to bring in programs and we come in with a comprehensive program that sends kids into the arms of their parents with new ideas to help connect families together, and in nature.

Within one hour our program gives kids and parents new, and simple ideas to take home. It also gets them to the shelf looking for new books to read. If the library has an outdoor space we spend time outside. It includes:

Storytime

Stretch and sing

Role playing

Craft activity

"What did we learn"

 

Our books have a "what did you learn" at the end and it's the perfect transition to role playing. We work with special needs to on-the-go families and the response is always very positive. Whether it's our book series or ideas you are looking for, I'm happy to share.

 

We have great Chipper Ambassador kits for libraries and schools which are underwritten for organizations in need. Please email me directly if you would like me to send you the complete packet and information stephanie@itsallgoodmediainc.com.

 

 

Love this idea Laura - would love to know more about logistics and how they are publicizing it. Do you have a link or other contact info for the program in MN? I would like to share this idea locally here in FL.

Laura Duffey said:

Google "Storywalks" 

It's a great idea from new Hampshire, I believe.  Here's the concept: Choose a popular children's story. Take a page from the story and line it up on a trail. Kids and parents hike from page to page, with adventure spots on the way.  It can be self-guided or led by a teacher/naturalilst. St. Paul Public libraries and St. Paul Parks and Recreation have teamed together and are offering it for the first time this summer.

 

Love it!

Hi Deb,

Sorry to be late to this important discussion.  You have seen some great ideas and posts already, in response to your post about nature-based libraries.  I am sure you have read Rich's blog about Naturebraries, the one Suz referenced.  In that blog is a story about Middle Country Public Library's Nature Explorium in New York, which inspired several of us to start a new pilot "Naturebrary" project in Huntington Beach, California for 5-12 year olds already registered in a STEM summer learning program, led by Lori Kiesser of Inside the Outdoors, one of C&NN's most active coalition members.  We will be reviewing the results of that pilot at our leadership gathering in San Diego in September.  Stay tuned for further initiatives that focus on nature-based children's literacy programs combined with related nature-based activities, along the lines of our "Where Nature Meets Story" section of our web site.  At some point, we want to pull all these library/literacy/writing ideas together for a national-scope program.  Many thanks for your interest in this, and keep sending good ideas out for others to share.  We have a Group site called "Storytelling About Nature."  Please join that group as well as the Natural Teachers Network.  Best wishes,  John

Yes, John. I have referenced the Nature Explorium in my presentations...your program sounds amazing and I look forward to learning more about it and seeing the results of your pilot. Thanks so much for the work you are doing and for sharing here. I will check out "Storytelling About Nature".

Thank you - I hope you are well Suz!

Stephanie

Suz Lipman said:

Hi Deb,

This is a terrific discussion and I know there is interest in this on the forum. John Thielbahr and others refer to the idea of "Naturebraries". Richard Louv wrote a column about them here: http://www.childrenandnature.org/blog/2011/03/02/how-libraries-can-.... At my own local library, in Mill Valley, CA, patrons can check out "Experience Backpacks" that include local field guides, binoculars, maps and other items to help kids experience nearby nature.

I'm going to announce this discussion in the Natural Teachers Group in the hopes of bringing more people in. Thanks again for starting it.

While highly structured programs are good for some things, much of the data about children and nature strongly suggests the importance of unstructured self-directed experiences. Carin Vadala and colleagues did indepth analysis of the life histories of natural history oriented young professionals published in the Journal of Environmental Education. They found two uses of media shaping play during childhood. Playing out stories of adventure and pioneer life found in books such as Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson, led to building shelters, make believe cooking and concocting medicines.  For instance Harry Potter books should motivate all sorts of fantasy play in nature. Literature that is nature instruction is not necessarily necessary and if forced on children could result in psychological reactance response. The second finding was the presence of field guides in the home (just lying around). These were found and taken up and read like novels. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the importance of children playing on their own, by their own choice, and they way they choose. We create environments where nature is available, but the most meaningful experiences are those that children involve themselves in through intrinsic interest. 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a new exhibit.  See story here.
I live in a very rural community with a small community library that allows me to provide summer reading programs designed to connect kids to the outdoors. There is a small park adjacent to the library so the kids and I go back and forth between the library building and the park throughout the program. The format of my reading programs has evolved to include exploration, literature, a game and experiential learning activity. Parents usually accompany the children so children’s literature that supports the program theme and concepts is displayed for library patrons. The program's goals incorporate both of our objectives; 1) to increase library use and readership and 2) encourage the kids to engage with the natural world around them. We’ve had programs about prairie insects and birds as well as farm animals and flower gardens. Everyone looks forward to our summer programs and I appreciate the opportunity to share my passions.  

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