Preschool Outreach- Dramatic Play

(I'm still a rookie at creating images in Paint. I kind of can't believe I'm going to put this out in the Interwebs. But trust me, the rest of the post is better than my Paint skills).

One of the fun things I've done with my outreach at a local preschool is how we incorporate their deposit collection into one of my visits to their site each month. The first year of our partnership, I was able to come every week, and brought new books every other week. This year, I've had to cut back to twice a month (because I've added an additional childcare center to my calendar), so I only bring books once a month. Rather than just being an exchange of items between myself and the teachers, we involve the kids in some dramatic play.

At the beginning of the year, I make fake library cards for all the kids. For the front, I used the same colors and logo from our real library cards, but added their school's logo too. On the back is a short statement: I promise to take good care of the books I borrow on this card, with a line under for them to write their name. There's a big window for their school photo, and then a barcode (a scanned copy of one of ours). I print them out on business cards and the school takes care of putting the photos and having them write their names. The school keeps the cards and one of the teachers pass them out to the kids as they browse for books.

When I bring new books, we set them up on the floor, tables, furniture, etc. and the kids "browse" for a book they want to keep at school. As they are looking, I set up a laptop and scanner. The items I bring are all checked out at the library before I bag them up to take to the preschool because we can't get access to our ILS on laptops, but the kids don't know that. Each kid brings up their card and we scan it and then their book. They love getting to hold the scanner and do it themselves. It's a pain to unhook a scanner and haul the laptop in addition to 70 books, so I've thought about looking into seeing if there's an iPad app that would beep when the library barcodes were scanned, but I don't know how to search for that? Any ideas?

At any rate, they love to check out books, and since they can't come down to the library and do it themselves, I also like that the activity introduces them to some basic library experiences-- getting a library card, browsing, selecting, and checking out books. Instead of check out receipts, they get stickers, which is pretty fun too. So many sad faces the day I forgot the stickers at the library.

We do occasionally have to redirect kids when they are arguing over the same book, or remind them not to walk on the books if they fall over on the floor, and that these are books to share, but overall, it has been a very positive activity for all the kids. And the teachers love having a stockpile of books for reading time that is separate from their curriculum.

Does anyone else do this sort of thing with their outreach sites?



  1. Amy I love that idea. We had some staffing cuts a few years ago that meant outreach to daycares only once/twice a year. We still deliver monthly bookpacks. I can "catch the possibilities" on how when we do that outreach, including additional books and dramatic check-out play would really be a great way to make a point AND provide bonus books that month!!


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