Get it? "Check out" your local library? Just making sure.
Puns aside, if you have a library near you, you should definitely be popping in to see what resources they have for you. Even before we started homeschooling we spent a lot of time at the library, and now - well, they have really pulled through for us! Here are some of our favorite things.
1. Kits... Lots of libraries have pulled together kits for checking out. They could be for younger kids or older students. These are based around a theme, like dinosaurs, potty training, space, light and color, new baby, and pretty much anything you can think of. Ours come with books, a cd or dvd, toys or manipulatives, and usually some other things, like a puzzle. Each one also comes with a guide full of ideas for using the materials. We have used several of these over the years, both for fun and for school, and the kids love them. Here are the kids using some of the magnets from the magnet kit.
2. Playing in the children's area... Most libraries these days are kid friendly. All the ones I've been in recently have a dedicated children's area, with books, toys, and puzzles. This is a great chance to play with things you might not have at home, and to hang out with other kids on a dreary day. Also, you can occupy younger children in an informally contained area while you read or work with an older kid.
3. Storytimes... Our library has several different forms of storytime, from lapsit time for babies to sensory story time, to school age stories and activities. Some are busy, some have music, some have just a few kids, some have bubbles.
4. Space to get together... maybe you want to meet with some friends, or have a class, or meeting. The library is a great place to meet, you could snag a table, or some comfy chairs, or reserve a meeting room, or just sit in the children's area while the kids play or read.
5. Therapy dogs... A great program we have taken advantage of a few times is reading to therapy dogs. The volunteers (thank you!) bring in blankets and dogs, and sit quietly while the munchkin in question pets and reads to the dog. This is especially great for struggling readers, since dogs are definitely not the judge-y type!
6. Interlibrary loans... Sometimes I will see a book I really want to read or use for the kids' school, but not want to pay the price to buy it myself. Or maybe I will see a recommendation, but not want to buy it sight unseen. I can find pretty much any book I need by borrowing from libraries worldwide! They will send it to our local library (free of course!) and hold it there for me to check out.
7. Checking out books.... of course. Obviously. But this is really great for us right now, because it means we don't have to have wall to wall bookshelves to keep up with our oldest's voracious reading habits.
8. Programs and contests... This depends on the library of course, but around here there is something for everyone. I've seen Lego clubs, computer classes, storytimes, poetry contests, play groups, exercise classes, cooking, and everything you can think of.
9. Turtles and gerbils... Ok, this definitely depends on the library, but one of ours has pets. And since we don't here at home, they are a highlight of our visits!
10. Digital resources... Libraries often pay for online subscriptions to things like language courses and research magazines.
11. iPads, computers, and free wifi... need to work on a project, or have the kids do something on the iPad? You can either bring your own device and access the library's internet, sign in to one of their computers, or even check out an iPad to take to a comfy corner and use.
I know there are tons of other reasons to visit the library, but that is all I'm listing for now! What is your library like? Do you have a good one nearby, what's your favorite thing to do there?