PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2015 and while it should still give you a good idea of the overall experience of this activity, it is possible that some information may be out of date. Please be sure to check the Cragin Memorial Library’s website for the most up-to-date information (make sure you check out the link for the “Monthly Newsletter and Events” for a schedule of programs and other happenings), especially concerning things like hours and schedules. And if you see something in this post that needs updating, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to make those updates. It takes a village, right? 🙂
Currently (winter 2017) the sensory table is open Fridays from 10:00am-1:00pm.
There is a wonderful article in the March 2015 issue of Hartford Magazine about how libraries are becoming the new town greens/community centers in our state. Did you see it?
Well, Mandy and I couldn’t agree more! In our travels we have discovered that local libraries offer so many wonderful resources and programs for Connecticut residents…and it’s all FREE! It’s no wonder that residents are flocking to their local libraries for everything from kids’ classes to movie nights to book talks and more.
Every time I visit a new-to-me library I am so impressed with all the wonderful features I find for little ones and their parents, and today’s adventure is no exception. Welcome to one of my new favorite libraries: Cragin Memorial Library in Colchester, CT.
Colchester is a quick trip down Route 2 for me (I live in Glastonbury), and yet, it’s taken me such a long time to finally make it to the Cragin Memorial Library that I have heard so many good things about from both friends and readers. I think it is all this endless snow that finally pushed me over the edge with the need to find a new and exciting morning activity for me and the little guy since it’s clear that playgrounds are not going to be an option for at least another couple weeks as snow melts and then the resulting mud puddles dry up.
One of the wonderful things about this library (and there are many!) is that they publish a monthly newsletter that is accessible online and lays out all the fun events that are happening at the library that month, including a special page devoted to children’s activities and events.
So it was super easy for me to check our their March edition and see that they have a special toddler/preschooler activity for kids ages 3 and under every Friday from 10:00am-2:00pm. Something fun just for my little guy (who is 19-months and usually has to settle for just being carted around to his older brother’s activities)? I was in!
I dropped Boo off at preschool, and the little guy and I made the easy 20-minute drive to Colchester. After a few attempts, I finally found my way into the Cragin Memorial Library parking lot. I blame all the huge snowbanks for making it hard to see where I needed to turn 🙂
There is parking at the rear of the library (where there is an entrance), and also some overflow parking in a lower lot that’s only a (very) short walk away. One thing that’s a little confusing is that it’s likely your smart phone or GPS will give you directions to the street address of the building, which is 8 Linwood Avenue. But the parking areas are around back down a side street named Cragin Court. (Please don’t take these arrows to be exact representations; I am directionally-challenged enough when I am at street level let alone trying to visualize things from an aerial view. Ha!)
Getting to the children’s library couldn’t be easier. It’s right in front of you when you enter!
Also convenient, there is a set of restrooms located just down the hall (straight ahead as you enter the building) in case you need to make a pit stop before heading in. I know there is a changing station in the women’s room, but I refrained from checking the men’s room 🙂
But if your kids make a beeline for the children’s library, no worries. There is also a family restroom in here (though I completely forgot to check if there is a changing station inside; oops!).
Okay, now that we’ve taken care of all the logistics, let’s go have some fun!
The children’s library is such an amazing space. There is so much room for kids and parents to hang out and read and play together.
Here’s just a sampling of things you can do with your little one:
1. Train Table Fun:
This train set is particularly exciting because not only is it custom built (by the local Eagle Scouts) with two large platforms and a connecting bridge, but all the pieces are removable so kids can build their own train layouts. No glued-down tracks here!
2. Rotating Play Area:
Today it was LEGOs, but the library staff swap out this activity for a new one each week.
Also note the parenting material is right here too so you can do some reading while your little ones play.
3. Early Literacy Area:
This space is designed with all sorts of fun objects to encourage conversations between little ones and their parent/caregiver and allow children to practice with letters and words.
These are fun letters that kids can “trace” with a magnetic “pen” (which moves around a little ball that is enclosed) to practice their letter-writing skills with zero mess. How can I get some of these for home??? 🙂
There are also these giant felt boards over here. A big hit with the little guy! Great for early literacy and fine motor skills…
4. Coloring Station:
5. Craft Station:
6. More to Explore!
7. Tiny Tot Table:
As I mentioned earlier, we were headed to the toddler activity table. This is definitely unique. Every Friday from 10:00am-2:00pm this area is reserved for toddlers and preschoolers though age 3 so they can play and explore without having to worry about getting elbowed out by an overzealous 5-year-old.
Right now (in the colder months) this table is filled with rice and all kinds of interesting tools and toys that the kids can play with. Come summer, this will be a water table. You know, when we no longer have to worry about turning our little ones into kidsicles on the way to the car in sub-freezing temps 🙂
The little guy was delighted by all this. He could have stayed in here for HOURS.
And don’t worry, they totally expect that the rice is going to end up all over the floor 🙂
In addition to all these engaging and creative activities, the children’s library has taken some remarkable steps in order to make reading accessible even to small children who are not ready to read on their own yet. For one thing, they have organized the picture books by subject matter so that your truck-loving little one will have no trouble finding a story about vehicles (in the “Transportation” section), and your animal enthusiast will easily locate books on his or her favorite creatures (in the “Nature” section).
They have also created these specialized book bins (and notice how they are down at ground level) with collections of books organized by character.
My little guy went right up to the Curious George collection when he recognized one of his favorite protagonists!
Clifford is a close second 🙂
And just a reminder: you can check out books from any library in CT and return them to any library in CT. So even if you are just visiting Cragin for the day, you can check out books and return them to the CT public library branch nearest to you.
Cragin Memorial Library also hosts a variety of children’s programs starting from, well pretty much birth.
Registration is required for most of them, but you do not need to be a Colchester resident to participate! (The registration period for the late winter session–March 2-April 9, 2015– has passed, but you can join a class at any time if there is still space available.)
Also check out their drop-in storytime, “Pajama Power Story Hour,” for kids ages 2-6 on Monday evenings from 6:30-7:15. It’s free and open to all! Needless to say, wearing pajamas is highly encouraged 🙂
The library also has some special events planned for the April school break:
And, during the summer months, the library offers a fun activity EVERY DAY. That’s right, every day all summer long there is a fun kids’ activity going on! I know where I am going to be hanging out this summer 🙂
So do yourself a favor and get to know the Cragin Memorial Library now. With so many wonderful programs and activities for kids of all ages, you will want to visit there often!
Main Phone: (860) 537-5752
Children’s Phone: (860) 537-7201
Wed. & Thu., 10am-8pm
Fri., 10am-4pm (Tiny Tots Table open 10am-2pm)
See website for most up-to-date schedule information.
Check out their current special events and storytimes here.
- Stroller Friendly: YES. There is plenty of room to maneuver a stroller, and there is an elevator located just to your left as you enter the library in case you are interested in going up to the main floor.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES. Coffee in covered containers and sippy cups are permitted. And there is even a nearby Starbucks AND Dunkin Donuts. Woohoo!
- Restroom: YES. There are restrooms located just outside the children’s library in the hallway, and also a family restroom in the children’s library (just to your left as you enter).
- Baby Changing Station: YES. There is a baby changing station located in the women’s restroom in the hallway just outside the children’s library (and possibly in the family restroom in the children’s library–I forgot to check. Oops).
- Parking: YES. Parking is available behind the building both in front of and to the sides of the library entrance, and also in a lower lot that is only a (very) short walk away.
- Food for Sale: NO.
- Outside Food Allowed: NO.
- Cash Required: N/A
- Dress Code: NO. But just be advised that the Tiny Tot Table will be filled with water during the summer months. You may want to pack an extra set of clothes 🙂
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- Discounts: Can’t do better than FREE!
- Birthday Party Venue: NO.
- Bounce Town – This popular indoor play destination now has two ultimate bounce centers to choose from with awesome giant inflatables that will have your kids jumping, bouncing, running and laughing the whole time: Bounce Town in South Windsor, CT and Bounce Town in Canton, CT (NOW OPEN!).
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The state’s only free-standing hospital that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Based in Hartford, Connecticut Children’s also provides services at several locations throughout the state.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
- Sleep, Baby, Sleep – Based out of Farmington, CT, this website is dedicated to helping babies and toddlers sleep through the night. It provides tons of great articles and information addressing the most common baby sleep troubles, customized baby sleep plans, and one on one support to help parents and babies get more Zzz’s.
Want to keep up with things to do with kids in Connecticut?
Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we dish up more Momsense for getting out and about with your little ones. Don’t have time to check back in? Let us send you an automatic notification of new posts straight to your email inbox by signing up here. Also, you can like us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest posts and get some extra tidbits we share only through those sites.