I have to start this post with a little bit of bragging. Allen County Public Libraries are incredible. Mr. Crum works in the basement of the main library, so we have ample opportunity to visit when it's time to pick him up from work. The boys love spending time at the library, not just in the "early learning center" but all through the children's services area. They even enjoy displays outside of the children's section of the library. I've bragged to my mom (Nana) about our library many times and hope she gets a chance to visit some time, for now I'll share pictures and brag a bit about our free education! If you are in the Allen County area and you have children, please - take them to the library, you'll thank yourself.
This is the view from the entrance of the ELC (early learning center). The large tree in the middle has the alphabet hanging from its branches. Around the trunk there is a table covered with a variety of puzzles. To the right of where I am standing is the exploration area for non-walkers. Ahead and to the left is an area for coloring and writing, and spread throughout the room are several activity stations.
Crackers is inside a fire truck while he plays with cars on this maze. It is fun to try and figure out how to move the cars in just the right direction to end up where you want to go. This has toys on the inside and outside - Crackers spent about 10 minutes with it this visit.
The house has a fence, there are apples that can hang on the tree. Behind the house are boxes of building blocks and puppets. Monkey was attached to a stacking birthday cake this day, he carried it the entire time we were visiting. While he was playing behind the house, he let me know that I couldn't come in because there was a fence and he couldn't leave his house because the fence was in the way.
We love this barn. There are doors on either side that are big enough for the boys to crawl through, the roof hinges open. There are a variety of animals to play with in the barn as well. As I said earlier, Monkey carried the cake around - he was building it in the barn until his brother joined him.
This is a small part of the foods area. To the left is a shelf full of costumes, to the right is a kitchen set, and next to me is a store counter. A family of 4 kids had just finished arranging the food by groups - I loved listening to them, "is an artichoke a fruit or a vegetable?" (It's actually a flower if I remember right). I was pretty impressed at how well they categorized things though.
The reading corner is a favorite for my boys. I thought we would never get them out of the library once daddy was done with work. Crackers kept bringing him more books.
Monkey is starting to get interested in writing. He drew some lines and circles on this day, then deposited his paper in the play mailbox.
The fish tanks are in the back of the Children's Services area. There are 3 large salt water tanks and a wall of bubbles. Crackers love the bubbles. Monkey loves looking for the starfish. I recently learned that you can get a paper from the librarian to help identify the fish (I kept wondering if I could find something to help us out). To the right of the fish tanks is a computer lab just for kids - my boys don't really even know it's there. To the left is a touch screen display with earphones that reads parts of books to the children. Monkey loves this "game".
This is the "playground" according to Monkey. It has steps leading up to a platform with a couple of toys on the walls and a carpeted "slide" going down. Underneath there are a couple of wall toys. The boys think this is one of the most amazing play areas. They also love sitting on the benches in this part of the library to snuggle mama and read books.
And there's more. There is a reading tower - like a giant space ship tree house sort of thing - for the "big" kids. There are games to be used near the fish tanks. The library offers amazing programs for kids in the afternoons, and for homeschool during the day! What an amazing resource for free educational fun!