Library Block Parties Information
A Block Party is an hour long free play session with a set of universal blocks (350), people, vehicles, animals, scarves, photographs of buildings, and other accompanying materials where preschoolers have the freedom to build and play as they wish. An adult staff member or volunteer is present to model open ended questions and other supports for the adults participating. Young children learn best when they are able to construct knowledge through meaningful play. With the materials provided children will build and experiment, manipulate objects, work with others, count and measure, talk about what they are building and building vocabulary; all activities that will help children to achieve the Pennsylvania Learning Standards for early childhood in not only STEM areas, but also in language and literacy development, physical development and social and emotional development.
Library Block Parties began in Tacoma, Washington at the Pierce County Library System. The library wanted to reach out to at-risk families who were not using the library and were possibly intimidated by books and reading due to literacy and other issues. Pierce County began by working with Head Starts and other early childhood programs to bring kids to the library to play. Today, they are still doing that and more. Now each of the their branches has a set of blocks and provide Public Block Parties each month, some during the day, some at night and on weekends to reach working parents.
Pennsylvania Block Parties
Block Parties began in Pennsylvania in 2015 with selected libraries offering at least one Block Party to an early childhood program each month and one Public Block Party. This STEM program requires very little set up and yet can yield great gains. Parents and educators can see the growth of their child’s play and vocabulary.
- An open area for building in either the children’s department or program space that is at least 10’ x 16’
- Space to store the block unit that is about 47″w x 12″d x 28″h (it is on wheels)
- Make at least 15 of the books on the Block Party list available for circulation.
- Provide at least one 45-60 minute Public Block Party once a month that is not attached to another program (story time, play group, etc.). The intended audience is preschoolers with an adult. The materials can also be used in other programs and for all ages. Many libraries add them to their LEGO programs.
- Staff member or volunteer will prepare for the sessions by reading the materials provided about Block Play, descriptive vocabulary, and open-ended questions.
- Attend an hour phone conference in October/November 2019 and read accompanying materials
- Keep participant statistics for one year.
- Inform all staff about the program and its purpose
- Publicize the program
- Enforce only two rules: No throwing blocks; no knocking down anyone else’s building
If you would like to apply please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BlockParties
Deadline for completing the application is Friday, September 6.