New Play & Learn Center Brings Interactive Fun to Library Station
June 8, 2021 — A new Play & Learn Center inside the Library Station is expanding the way kids from birth through age 12 can learn at a library, with interactive toys, a giant light board and a kiosk that goes from being a puppet theater, to a food truck, to a vet clinic, and more with a little imagination.
The center opened to the public Monday, June 7, in the Children’s Department of the library branch at 2535 N. Kansas Expressway.
The center was funded with a $108,000 gift to the Library Foundation from The Stanley & Elaine Ball Foundation, managed by Central Trust Company. The Library was one of only 15 area, nonprofit recipients of the grants in 2019. Organizations were chosen based on their ability to enhance educational opportunities and /or provide support for disadvantaged children.
The Play and Learn Center incorporates durable and interactive furnishings, installations and toys paired with the Library’s children’s collection and programs. The area will emphasize the significant role of play while promoting interaction and movement.
Here’s what kids and families will find:
- The Imagination Station. This is a large, flexible play space that can be whatever a child imagines. This heavy, wooden structure can be turned into different play themes that include signage and special toys. The six themes will be switched out periodically: Theater with puppets for pretend play; Food Truck with food, pots and pans and dishes; Vet Clinic with animals, medical equipment and X-rays; Farmer’s Market with produce and gardening supplies; and Hardware Store with tools and building items. More themes can be added later.
All the individual toys and the overall themes were chosen specifically to encourage early literacy skills, social-emotional development and family engagement.
- The Everbright. This interactive art station has the appeal of a giant Lite-brite but without the removable parts. The illuminated dials twist to allow kids of all ages to explore colors, patterns and geometry. This device encourages creativity, problem solving and thinking skills with a blend of technology and hands-on learning. The Everbright comes pre-programmed with a series of challenges and a tablet that allows us to customize challenges and activities. Babies through big kids (and even adults) are drawn to this bright installation.
- The Tot Spot. Babies and young toddlers need soft, comfortable spaces to lie down, crawl, pull up and cruise. The new-baby area has attractive benches with places for all of these things along with interactive play panels to explore. There are two comfortable chairs set for caregivers to relax and share stories with their little ones.
- The Tire. Long-time visitors to the Library Station may remember the large tire in the Children’s Department. The original tire eventually wore out, and the design company Kidzibits recreated this piece. Now babies can pull themselves up and cruise around the edges, caregivers can sit and children can recline on top and play with toys or read.
The Imagination Station, Tot Spot and Tire are all creations designed specifically for our library by the design company Kidzibits. The Everbright is a creation of Hero Design.