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The Evanston Public Library is thrilled to bring Literacy Labs to Evanston’s early childhood professionals. This innovative training series for preschool teachers and home providers will share a new approach to literacy that can be practiced immediately with preschool kids and their parents. The Library is pleased to be partnering with the Evanston Community Foundation on this program.

The first Literacy Lab on February 26th, 2011 focused on Play Literacy with a construction theme. The Library’s LEAP (Literacy Education At Play) Team trained seven preschool teachers and home providers in play literacy, a program that harnesses children’s natural desire to imitate adults thereby leading them into play packed with literacy activities.

After the training, the library staff and newly trained teachers hosted 26 children and their parents. The kids created building plans, built those plans out of blocks and narrated the “story” of their buildings. The Lab concluded with lots of energized budding construction engineers and invigorated teachers and parents.

Many participants had positive experiences with the program. One teacher said, “I will be planning to use the information in the classroom when I return to work!”

“I like the format of the workshop with teachers and parents; the children had a lot of one-on-one time,” said one parent, Jeanine Brownell. “Perhaps most importantly, the children had a great time; I liked my hard hat and liked building.”

Three more Literacy Labs are scheduled for this school year. Spaces are available for interested childcare providers, preschoolers and their parents.

  • Welcome to the Zoo with Ann Gadzikowski, editor at Letterpark Press on March 26, 2011.
    • Play Literacy: Cars! with the Library’s LEAP team on April 30, 2011.
    • Highly Usable Music with Carole Peterson of Macaroni Soup on May 21, 2011.

Ann Gadzikowski is the editor of Letterpark Press’s Storypath curriculum for preschools as well as an expert on story dictation in the classroom. CarolePeterson is an expert on children’s music for preschoolers and is the music specialist at three area preschools.

The Library’s LEAP Team includes Rick Kinnebrew (Children’s Outreach Librarian), Laura Antolín and Martha Meyer. These three talented Children’s Librarians have years of experience in play literacy and are happy to bring their skills to the children of Evanston.

This year, the Broad Foundation (advised by Northwestern University President Shapiro) generously provided funding for Evanston Head Start LEAP – an important piece of the team’s outreach work.

The LEAP Team and the Evanston Community Foundation hope to continue expanding the number of trainings available so that all Evanston early childhood educators and their students can be a part of this exciting program.

For more information, contact Martha Meyer at msmeyer@cityofevanston.org. Preschool teachers or home providers may register for a Literacy Lab by contacting Laura Antolín at lantolin@cityofevanston.org or by calling Rick Kinnebrew at 847/448-8613. Parents may register their children for a Literacy Lab at the Main Library Children’s Room. Stop by in person, call Children’s at 847/48- 8610 or register online at www.epl.org.