Today, I am finally going to tell you about Boo’s latest library class. No last minute changes or discoveries to lead me astray. As it turns out, this is actually excellent timing because non-resident registration for the spring session is coming up in just a few days on March 19th (residents already registered March 8th-13th). So if you like what you see, there still may be time to get your wee one enrolled.
First of all, if you need a little refresher about the Welles-Turner Memorial Library in Glastonbury, check out my post from last December. It gives you all the details on the wonderful children’s section (as well as a sneak peek at the Whole Foods across the street, which has a food court and a kid’s play area–not kidding!).
Library classes are definitely a resource I should have tapped into sooner. For starters, they are free (well, I guess if you want to get technical, we all pay the taxes that fund the libraries, but you know what I mean), and many of them are open to infants practically from birth. In fact, it was Mandy telling me all about her wonderful baby class at the West Hartford Library that inspired me to finally check out my own library’s offerings.
Unfortunately, our first attempt at a baby class last fall was short-lived because Boo, 14 months and fully mobile, ended up in a class full of 8-month-olds who were still learning how to sit up straight. You can read more about that experience in my previous post on the library.
But you know what they say about getting right back in the saddle after you fall off the horse. So I dusted off my insecurities and checked out the list of library classes again this past January. Still, I was conflicted to see the description for the One is W-One-derful class:
“This lap sit program for ages 15-24 months introduces children and their parents or care givers to books, nursery rhymes, finger plays, bounces, and songs. Our goal is to foster an early love of books and to remind parents of the importance of reading to children.
This group meets for approximately thirty minutes in the Children’s Program Room. Parents and caregivers actively participate in all activities, so dress comfortably. You will be sitting on the floor with your child on your lap. In order to devote full attention to your child, no siblings, please. “
The content sounded good, but the words “lap sit” gave me panicked flashbacks to that first class where Boo was more interested in running in circles than sitting in one. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t seriously apprehensive going into our first class.
Well, I am happy to report that this kind of “lap sit” program is a horse of a different color. It’s actually more like a “lap-sit-then-run-around-then-sit-for-a-second-then-run-around-some-more” program. And the teacher, Mrs. Pease (who is also the head of children’s services for the library), will tell you over and over again that it does not matter if your little bundle of energy is standing halfway across the room or running around in circles (or in Boo’s case, he liked to commandeer the armchair that was her seat), they are still listening and learning. Awww. We (heart) Mrs. Pease 🙂
So let’s take a brief look at the class, which ran for six weeks. It met every Friday, and we attended the 10:30 a.m. session (there is also a 9:30 a.m. session for you early birds out there). Here are a couple of pics of the storytime room, which is located at the back of the play area in the children’s section and is absolutely adorable. Parents will especially love the risers because it is so much more comfortable, not to mention easier to get back up, than sitting on the floor.
The library suggests getting there a few minutes early so your child can “unbundle,” which I think is as much a literal thing (take off their coat) as it is a metaphorical thing (get acclimated to their surroundings). The first couple of weeks, we would try to get there early enough for Boo to have some time to play in the children’s section for a little while, which is what most of the parents do.
Unfortunately, this strategy soon backfired because the children’s section become so exciting that Boo wasn’t interested in going into the storytime room for class. After one particularly embarrassing kicking and screaming incident, I decided from then on we’d arrive as close to 10:30 as possible so we could zip right into class. Of course, that wasn’t always successful either. Boo would climb up on this chair, sit at this table in the play area, and refuse to budge. Great.
But eventually he would always make it into the room, especially once the singing started.
Before we went into the storytime room, we would grab Boo’s pre-printed name tag from a sheet of name tags that were always tacked up on a post in the play area. I would usually put it on his back so he couldn’t peel it off.
What’s kind of funny is that all the kids had name tags every week, but the parents never did. So by the end of the session I knew all of the kids’ names, but not a single parent’s name! That’s a little awkward, especially when you start to run into them around town. I think it might be nice if everyone got a name tag.
Class would always start off the same way, with the same song. And then Mrs. Pease would go around and let every child say “hello” to Chocolate the Bear, her co-teacher.
Then it would be time to check “the mail” and find another special friend in the mailbox. I won’t completely ruin the surprise, but I will say that this itsy bitsy (or sometimes eensy weensy) toy critter would always inspire the next round of singing.
After that, it was time for the story. Mrs. Pease would usually read from an oversized story book, and it was a different one each week. As she read the story, she would slowly circle around the room, bringing the book to the children rather than expecting them to sit still and pay attention to her. Some children would sit in mommy’s lap and listen attentively. Some children would run up to Mrs. Pease and point at things in the book. And some children, like Boo, would run around and occasionally stop to listen in. Pretty much anything goes.
After the story, we would do a movement activity like Ring Around The Rosie. One week we played with a colorful parachute. Another week we played with brightly colored scarves. Sometimes Mrs. Pease would break out these egg-shaped maracas, turn on some music, and the kids would dance and shake the eggs. Sometimes Boo would dance, and sometimes he would run around and collect any eggs that his unfortunate classmates had happened to drop or put down for a moment 🙂
The structured part of the program would last roughly 30 minutes and the class would always end the same way, with the same activity and the same song. Then, Mrs. Pease would bring out the big bin of toys.
The kids, with their parent with them of course, could stay and play as long as they liked. A lot of moms had to run off quickly to pick up their older children from school, but there were a handful of us who hung out for a half hour or so and enjoyed a few moments of relaxation and adult conversation while our kids amused themselves with all the fun toys.
Of course, Boo has a lot of these same toys at home, but apparently they are much more interesting to him here at the library.
Due to the repetitive structure of the class, I definitely noticed an improvement in Boo’s attention span from one week to the next. Once he started to know what to expect, he had a much easier time participating. He was also much better at sharing toys after all those post-class play sessions. I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on library classes after that first awkward experience. We’ve come a long way, baby!
Oh, and I almost forgot. At each class there would be books lining this shelf along the wall and also on a little cart by the door.
The kids could grab them and “read” them or play with them before, during, or after class. On the last day of class, we got to pick a book to take home with us. A gift from the library! How cute is that? Here’s the one we picked:
All in all, I’d say we spent about an hour at the library for each class, and Boo loved every minute. Then it was time for my favorite part: a quick stop at the drive-through for a latte on our way home 🙂
Tell us: Have you been to a great library class lately?
The Welles-Turner Memorial Library
2407 Main Street, Glastonbury, CT
Children’s Desk: (860) 652-7718
Lending Desk: (860) 652-7719
Get directions here:
Click here for session dates and times for the One is W-One-derful class and other programs.
Click here for general library hours. Note that the library has different hours in the summer, from Mother’s Day to Labor Day.
Hints & Tips:
- This class is for registered participants only (you cannot just drop in).
- It is open to both Glastonbury residents and non-residents, but residents receive priority enrollment.
- You must register for this class in person by filing out a registration form and returning it to the desk in the children’s section. Forms are available there.
- If it is your first time registering for a class at this library you will need to provide proof of your child’s age. A birth certificate is the most obvious choice, but the only thing I could locate the morning we registered was a form from Boo’s latest check-up at the pediatrician that happened to have his birthday listed on it. That worked fine.
- At the time of registration you’ll need to provide an email address OR a self-addressed, stamped envelope so the library can inform you about the status of your enrollment.
- Some exceptions to the indicated age for enrollment in a certain class may be made if there is space left in that class after registration. Consult the library for more information.
- A note about that “no sibling” part of the course description: we had a mom in our class who also brought her little bitty newborn in a baby carrier when she accompanied her toddler to class. Not a problem. Although, her baby was a very good sleeper…
With temps as high as 80 forecast for next week, we’ll show you some great new places to get outdoors and play.