Last winter, as the Children’s Room worked to bring back in-person programming, a ‘Stay & Play’ program was created for toddlers and preschoolers to play and socialize after Story Time.
“Before Covid, we took socializing for granted,” said Children’s Librarian Christina Paquette. “Many of our toddlers and preschoolers hadn’t met, chatted, or played with people outside of their inner circle and socializing was all new for them.”
According to Paquette, the value of Stay & Play was quickly recognized by families with young children.
“As the weather became warmer, it made sense to incorporate outdoor play,” said Paquette. “The Library staff began working with team members from the University of New Hampshire’s Play-based Learning and Coaching team to create a mobile play cart that would provide play opportunities for families.”
A rotating variety of nature and STEM supplies, loose parts and miscellaneous items, household goods, as well as large motor skill items are on the cart, in the garden, on Tuesdays and Fridays (weather permitting) from 10am-3pm. Children are encouraged to explore, be creative, enjoy the supplies and items, and socialize.
“To grown-ups, child’s play can sometimes look chaotic,” Paquette quipped. “But rest assured, when they grab blocks, chalk, plastic eggs, and scarves they likely have a plan for imaginative fun! If not, they’ll figure it out as they go!”
Families are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair and use the garden, sidewalk, and back lawn for play space. Although the staff cannot be outside at all times, they are available to answer questions. Paquette says the Children’s Room has plenty of garden windows and the staff looks forward to seeing families enjoy the cart.
The Children’s Room will host the UNH team this fall for a parenting program focusing on Play-based Learning. Date and time to be announced. In the meantime, if you would like more information please visit their website, https://chhs.unh.edu/early-childhood.
*This activity is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0060, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services