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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Some the state parks in Virginia have started taking interpretive programming into the libraries. Rangers visit the libraries with stories, songs, information and cool tactile things like animal pelts, tracks and scat and even live critters where permitted. It's a great partnership - allowing the libraries to offer programs they don't otherwise have the resources for and the parks an opportunity to invite people from the local community to visit them - a great bridge to getting them outside and exploring by giving them a taste of the wonderful things to see and explore in nature. And I must say, a turtle sure does liven up story time:).

Cheryl, your  library's programs sound wonderful and it's great that there is an adjacent park so that reading, programs and nature can be combined. I'm on the board of my local library and we're also finding that libraries can be marvelous community centers. In addition to wonderful books and resources, some of them are now providing hands-on programs, including opportunities in nature.

My library in Mill Valley, CA, loans Experience Backpacks, which get people outside and exploring. There are two currently - a Birding one and a Local History one - with more planned. They've been very popular. Of course, there are some issues with getting outside (younger children require a parent or guardian) but the backpacks are terrific at offering rich experiences beyond the library's walls. (Our library also has the fortune of being situated in a park, though the birding info is for a different area.)

Experience Backpack info is here: http://www.millvalleylibrary.org/Index.aspx?page=1254

The Oakland and Berkeley, CA, libraries (a large system) also offer nine Check Out Science kits from the Lawrence Hall of Science. Many of them are nature-themed, with activities that can be done in a park, yard or other nearby nature site.

Check Out Science info: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/kidsite/collections-2/check-ou...

It's so exciting to see the convergence of nature, reading and library-promoted nature activity. I hope you'll all continue to share what's happening in your community or sphere.

Suz, these are great initiatives on the part of California libraries that will help kids reconnect to nature and use the natural world as a classroom for both reading improvement and science education.  The Children & Nature Network is still trying to form a national coalition and obtain funding to capture the best of these new local initiatives and scale them to every library in every community.  Children's literacy is a huge issue and getting a lot of attention to get kids ready for kindergarten and get them at grade level by the 3rd grade.  I love the idea of themed backpacks that include nature-based books and nature-based materials and activities.  Thanks for sharing, and I hope others weigh in with their ideas and suggestions as well.

Your heads up on young children requiring parents or guardians is a good one.  Perhaps the growing grassroots network of children and nature followers, coalitions, and "Natural" groups, including Family Nature Clubs, can substitute when parents or guardians are not available.  This would probably require some permission process.  Child Care providers could also connect with libraries for group field trips.  They already have parent permission slips.  Please keep the ideas flowing.
 
Suz Lipman said:

Cheryl, your  library's programs sound wonderful and it's great that there is an adjacent park so that reading, programs and nature can be combined. I'm on the board of my local library and we're also finding that libraries can be marvelous community centers. In addition to wonderful books and resources, some of them are now providing hands-on programs, including opportunities in nature.

My library in Mill Valley, CA, loans Experience Backpacks, which get people outside and exploring. There are two currently - a Birding one and a Local History one - with more planned. They've been very popular. Of course, there are some issues with getting outside (younger children require a parent or guardian) but the backpacks are terrific at offering rich experiences beyond the library's walls. (Our library also has the fortune of being situated in a park, though the birding info is for a different area.)

Experience Backpack info is here: http://www.millvalleylibrary.org/Index.aspx?page=1254

The Oakland and Berkeley, CA, libraries (a large system) also offer nine Check Out Science kits from the Lawrence Hall of Science. Many of them are nature-themed, with activities that can be done in a park, yard or other nearby nature site.

Check Out Science info: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/kidsite/collections-2/check-ou...

It's so exciting to see the convergence of nature, reading and library-promoted nature activity. I hope you'll all continue to share what's happening in your community or sphere.

John (and others), I will explore the system at our library, regarding permission to take kids out with Experience Backpacks. It may not be so much that a parent or guardian is needed legally, but that an adult is needed practically, to take advantage of the program.

Christen, I also want to acknowledge your post, which highlights a wonderful partnership between libraries and parks that it would be nice to see more of. And, yes, it's fun when turtles come into the library! Keep us posted!

Hi,

I'm so happy to see this conversation as we have created such a wonderful program for libraries and schools and we'd love to be more involved with C&NN. Our play-based programs offer interdisciplinary activities and learning opportunities. Our eco-educational series is delivered by Chipper, the ambassador of the great outdoors. Through storytime, song and stretch activities, recycled "clean" crafts, and when appropriate walks right around the library we are offering a very positive experience in nature. We have a Chipper Ambassador program which puts storytime kits into the hands of librarians or volunteer parents. Puppets come into play and many times a real visit by Chipper the squirrel.

We invite you to learn more about our program which is correlated in science, arts & literature, and social skills. Let's Go Chipper - it's become a park ranger favorite as the social skills element helps foster meaningful conversations and true connections between children and nature, and with each other.

Please let us know if you would like to learn more or participate. ...Suz knows how enthusiastic we are as we support many outreach programs in California.

Here's to a great new year and many adventures on the paths with kids.

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I really love the Experience Backpacks idea from libraries and am glad to see libraries and parks partnering to make literacy and outdoor education a part of kids' lives. My experience in southwest Florida is that those families who have means provide many outdoor experiences for their children through travel and families activities, but those who are less fortunate financially depend on public resources like libraries and parks. I'm currently working with a non-profit land trust where we are providing free nature-based literacy events for families. One is a star-gazing and story-telling night and the other is a Birds, Bugs, and Bears nature hike using field guides. The local libraries have offered to advertise our programs, and we are using books from the public library system to make book lists for parents to take away from the events, so it is another way to connect reading and the outdoors. One step at a time.

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 

 

I love all these ideas and am so cheered to hear about all the progress everyone's making in this area.

Stephanie, thank you for all the wonderful work you are doing to connect kids with the outdoors.

Deb, I think you're right to point out that the library may be the place where a lot of kids get their nature experiences. Your partnership and program sound great. Please keep us posted.

Cheryl, your backpack idea is wonderful, in that it encourages active participation and allows the project to come full-circle when the results are displayed in the library. Great idea! (I think I'll take it to my local library.)

Let's keep the ideas coming. This is all very exciting. It seems the time for Naturebraries is now!

One more note: We just published this story on our C&NN News site. I think this group will enjoy it. It offers a lot of great nature reading suggestions:

Winter Reading can Rekindle a Love of Nature

http://www.childrenandnature.org/news/detail/winter_reading_can_rek...

I loved this article! ...We think the connections made inside and out help excite a new generation of kids into the great outdoors. Preparation is key and play-based learning is the best. Our indoor library, school, and community activities have been so well received and our goal is to grow our program in 2012. We would love to support programs through our storytime, role playing and music activities, and recycled craft activities. We have great Chipper Ambassador kits which are turnkey for your programs.

If you would like a sponsored backpack filled with books and ideas to support your programs please let me know as we have some in our give back program which I would be happy to offer to this group.

Learn more at Let's Go Chipper or email me at stephanie@itsallgoodmediainc.com

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Hi - I didn't see my note post so I just posted again (sorry if it duplicated) ...it is very lively and so inspiring. I'm going to post pictures of our class recycling programs which are so easy for everyone to do and they help raise funds for your programs ...it's going to be a busy, craft-filled weekend!

Suz Lipman said:

I love all these ideas and am so cheered to hear about all the progress everyone's making in this area.

Stephanie, thank you for all the wonderful work you are doing to connect kids with the outdoors.

Deb, I think you're right to point out that the library may be the place where a lot of kids get their nature experiences. Your partnership and program sound great. Please keep us posted.

Cheryl, your backpack idea is wonderful, in that it encourages active participation and allows the project to come full-circle when the results are displayed in the library. Great idea! (I think I'll take it to my local library.)

Let's keep the ideas coming. This is all very exciting. It seems the time for Naturebraries is now!

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 

 

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