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.

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Stephanie

Thanks for your kind offer, but small rural communities like mine don't have the resources for curriculum. In fact our library is completely operated by volunteers and I provide both my services and the materials for my programs at no charge.  I would love to have enough money to serve more of the small communities within driving distance from my home. But I just haven't had an opportunity to look for an appropriate grant to help meet my expenses. So at the present I am serving one community and hopefully this summer, I can add an additional community.  Small baby steps at a time!  

Stephanie Rach-Wilson said:

Cheryl, we'd love to support you as we created a Chipper Ambassador backpack last year and it has journals (recylced from local printers who were more than enthusiastic to participate), our eco-educational book series, badges, and a kit of ideas. Let me know if you would like to discuss or have one sent to you ...we'd love to partner up with you. www.letsgochipper.com and stephanie@itsallgoodmediainc.com

Cheryl Lynn Tatum said:

Thanks for the encouragement and two more great ideas! I've been wanting to approach the library board with my idea for a literacy enrichment backpack, but I think Suz's idea of an "experience backpack" takes my idea a step further to truly incorporate the environment. I wanted to put together a collection of materials that would encourage field study at the elementary level; journal, sketch pad, colored pencils, magnifying glass, ruler, and plastic tweezers, and binoculars. Children could check out the backpack and contribute their journal/sketch entries into the journal that would eventually become a collection and a book to be displayed in the library. While my objectives are probably really obvious to you all, it will be a little more obscure to a volunteer library board. But, if the children add their choice of a non-fiction/reference book from a list of pre-selected choice, the increase in readership of non-fiction/reference materials would be easy for the board to recognize. I'll put it together and see where it goes. Thanks 

 

Hi Cheryl,
We have underwriting for our Chipper Ambassador program. If you service kids toddler to second grade let me know because you can become an ambassador very easily and we send you a backpack full of wonderful books and activities - it's very sweet. The real responsibility is that you will hold activities and share your ideas in our newsletter or FB - it's been a very sweet program and the goal is to make the burden minimum and the joy high!

Email be if you are interested because it is no cost.
You can see the series at www.letsgochipper.com

stephanie@itsallgoodmediainc.com or connect@letsgochipper.com

Cheers! Stephanie

Stephanie,

Actually a large percentage of the children who attend our programs are in that age bracket, and it would be very easy to offer programs exclusively for them. 

Our library board meets next week and I will speak to them about your very generous offer.

Thank you

Cheryl Lynn

That's great - we would love to help out. Everything is correlated - teachers and park rangers (and grandparents especially) love the stories and program. Look forward to speaking with you.

Cheers and be well! Stephanie

I wish I could've commented earlier. But what a great point you make Deb. Living in the Mojave desert makes it very tough to promote outdoor activities in the summer, especially when the heat can reach up to 100 degrees F. But I have to say that the libraries haven't done as much as the community would've like to. Maybe that's because of funding and cutting many local programs. But the cities have incorporated natural preserves and conservations like these: Bird Preserve and Spring Preserve. It's tough to go outdoors during the months of May until Sept. But we find other creative ways to keep cool :)

Hi Barbara,

Point taken about both the climate restrictions and lack of connection with nature by libraries....indoors or outdoors.  Many of our followers, from Alaska to Arizona, have jumped into overcoming climate restrictions, in cold weather and hot, all in different and creative ways.  In hot weather (I was born and raised in Sacramento when summer temps averaged over 100 and there was no air conditioning....I am 68)), early morning and late evening activities could buffer the heat, but offering water games during the day might also help, all under watchful eyes to make sure the kids, and adults, are safe.  It is an interesting topic that might be an interesting discussion on this site: how to overcome hot and cold weather and still get ouside in nature. 

As for libraries, Rich asked me a couple of years ago to make something happen here on a national scale, and so far, I haven't made much progress.  Individual librarians and libraries are randomly getting involved with what we call "nature literacy" to improve the horrible reading statistics among our young people and get them outside at the same time, but it's difficult to get anything going on a national scale.  It's very disappointing because it is such a natural fit.  For now, one library at a time, and I hope your library is the next.   Thanks for sharing on C&NN Connect.  John
 
Barbara Mascareno said:

I wish I could've commented earlier. But what a great point you make Deb. Living in the Mojave desert makes it very tough to promote outdoor activities in the summer, especially when the heat can reach up to 100 degrees F. But I have to say that the libraries haven't done as much as the community would've like to. Maybe that's because of funding and cutting many local programs. But the cities have incorporated natural preserves and conservations like these: Bird Preserve and Spring Preserve. It's tough to go outdoors during the months of May until Sept. But we find other creative ways to keep cool :)

Hi Cheryl,

I was just passing back by the board and realized I don't think I heard back. We just finished up some great programs - building "Helping Hands" trees in the schools. If your library is interested in a fun book and activities, please let me know.

Cheers! Stephanie

Cheryl Lynn Tatum said:

Stephanie,

Actually a large percentage of the children who attend our programs are in that age bracket, and it would be very easy to offer programs exclusively for them. 

Our library board meets next week and I will speak to them about your very generous offer.

Thank you

Cheryl Lynn

I thought I'd pass along some progress happening at the library level to get kids outdoors. Here in Homer, Alaska, I met during the winter with library staff who oversee the youth summer reading program to see if there could be an element of outdoor reading incorporated into this year's activities. This discussion led to the summer reading program coordinator adding a couple new components to this year's Dream Big READ! program at the library - 1) an incentive for kids to read outside and document that outdoor time in their reading logs (those kids who spend at least 15 minutes reading outdoors each week will have their names entered into a special outdoor reading prize drawing the following week) and 2) one of the weekly events this summer will happen entirely outdoors. Here's a write-up on our library's outdoor reading efforts from Nature Rocks Homer's summer outdoor calendar for families:

=====================================

June 29     Stories & S’mores (a Summer@HPL: Dream Big READ! event)   

6:30 – 7:30pm at Bishop’s Beach

Ages 11 & under (with their families)

FREE!

From June 4 – July 28, kids are invited to read 15 minutes a day or more (indoors or outside), log your reading time to win prizes, and attend fun, free weekly programs like puppet shows, virtual star gazing, storytelling at the library and beach, Lego building, night life of AK wildlife, interactive comics, magic, and more. Don’t miss this particular summer reading OUTDOOR family program at the beach!

Bring your family to the Homer Public Library or go online at http://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/library/summerhpl-kids-0 to register and for more info.

Sponsored by Homer Public Library

=====================================

Hopefully this program will grow and more opportunities and elements will be added down the road.

Cheers,

Carmen

Just came across this Arboretum that has a link for "Nature Activity Backpacks" available for checkout at the local library! Perhaps you are already aware of this, or at least the idea, but Suz Lipman told me about this discussion, so I thought I'd share.

Here's the link: http://www.thebrentonarboretum.org/backpacks.html

Here's what it says:

Nature Neighbors:
Roy B. Este Memorial Library and the Brenton Arboretum

Use your library card to check out one of five nature themed backpacks available at the Dallas Center Library. Each backpack is loaded with field equipment, gear, games and books to help you discover nature on your next outing. 

Nature backpacks allow visitors to discover nature independently, on their own schedules, in their own way.  They can be used by a wide range of adults who care for children; parents, grandchildren, neighborhood childcare providers, church groups and scouts and offer an inexpensive and close to home experience. A nature backpack, properly packed, can provide the environmental education outcome we want – adults and children sharing frequent, positive, experiences outdoors in nature. 

This may be another way to connect underserved families as well. I really like the idea of the backpack coming along with the books, to encourage "real" exploration as well… another step along the way of connecting all kids and families and communities to nature! 

Best,

Janice

Thank you for sharing this, Janice! I posted upthread about two library backpack programs that I know of:

The large Oakland and Berkeley, CA, library system offers 9 Check Out Science kits from the Lawrence Hall of Science. (This might be an interesting partnership model.) Many of them are nature-themed, with activities that can be done in a park, yard or other nearby nature site:

http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/kidsite/collections-2/check-ou...

My own library in Mill Valley, CA, offers a birding experience backpack and has plans to offer more:

http://www.millvalleylibrary.org/Index.aspx?page=1254

This is an extremely rich area -- many libraries are increasingly serving as community hubs while simultaneously exploring options beyond traditional book lending and resources. And, of course, in the process, they're getting kids and families out into nature!

Does anyone else know of similar programs, in which libraries are offering resources or programs to get kids outside?

Hi Everyone, I wanted to alert you to another discussion on libraries that Janice Swaisgood, C&NN's Nature Clubs for Families Coordinator, has started on the Natural Families Network page in the hope of specifically exploring how library and similar programs can reach out to families and enhance their enjoyment and experience of nature. Please come join us!

http://childrenandnature.ning.com/group/natureclubsforfamilies/foru...

I volunteer at a nature center and saw there was open space/call for filling the display cases. I brought in several animals and other display items with an iSpy challenge associated with it. I also am working on a Hunger Games program with another local library, connecting nature to the literature elements of the book. It is still in the planning stages, but we hope to have a book discussion and games and then experiences with wild edibles, tracking, archery, nature journals, etc. that will be held at the center. 

In a previous city, there was a small nature center near the library. We read a fiction story about a topic at the library and then walked to the nature center for a fact story and hands on elements with animals and such. 

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