When our younger visitors come into the library, they all seem to go straight to the same place--our AWE Early Literacy Stations. If you are unaware of the AWE Early Literacy Stations,
they are computers that come preloaded with educational software that is geared for our younger learners (ages 2-8). Combined with a mouse and keyboard designed for little hands, no Internet access for viruses to take root, and a buried and well password protected operating system to avoid accidental program damage, you have one great kids computer. We received one station through a grant in 2008. It was so well loved that when an opportunity came about this year to obtain the new touch screen models through another grant we did not hesitate to fill out the request. As luck would have it we received the newer model and are now the proud home of two AWE Early Literacy Stations.
Our stations are set up together at one table in the children's area of the library. However, we realize that many times parents still needed computer access while their children were playing on the kids computers. In order to promote togetherness our library has created a Family Station. Next to the AWE computers is a regular public access computer for adults to use when their children are playing on the kids computers. This has been a great solution for our families. Parents do not rush their kids off the computers because they grow bored waiting for their children. And the children don't have to wait for their parent to get done at the public computers before they get a turn at their own terminal. With a family station, everyone is happy!
The stations have had a great impact on our community over the years. They are programmed with educational software and many times we observe children having stories read to them on the computers or see them practicing matching skills and letter sounds. And now with the new touchscreen models they not only have the opportunity to practice the sounds, they can practice letter writing on the screen as well. During a recent storytime, we even played a game as a group where we created our own story complete with illustrations and had it read back to us.
These computers have allowed our younger learners an opportunity to practice early math, reading, and digital literacy skills by playing fun games on their very own kids computer that no one other than another kid is allowed to touch. Because of this ownership, the kids seem to flock to their space and play any of the any of the 60+ games available to them. And no matter how hard I try, I just can't quantify the value of kids learning and having fun while they are doing it. You just know the value is there when the kids master a new game!
Oakland City-Columbia Township Public Library
Oakland City, IN