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Things will be a little different this month because I want to share some things from our new children's museum as well as some of our usual links. 

I'm going to take a break in December to think about what I want the 4th year (!) of Think Outside the Stacks to look like, make stuff, and prepare myself emotionally for American Crime Story: Versace. ;-)

If you want to browse back issues they are available here with older issues here

As always I love to hear feedback and suggestions for content at or @BethReads on Twitter. 

A visit to the Children's Museum of Cleveland

Two years ago our children's museum lost their lease and began the process of renovating and recreating themselves at a new location. My daughter and I were able to attend the preview day for members before the grand opening and there are many things I want to share with you that could be recreated on some scale in libraries. 

I won't share everything but you can see more general pictures at 

A large focus of the facility is on pretend and dramatic play. There is a miniature city with areas set up as a market, house, Dr/Vet office, garden, autoshop, and construction zone. 

Obviously, most of us can't recreate something of this scale in our own facilities but there are many ideas on Pinterest and in previous issues that you can use to create smaller opportunities for the same type of play. 

Now, here are a few things that might make it on to your wishlist:

This dollhouse is mounted on the wall on a floor that houses a display of dollhouses and other miniatures and lets kids have a hands-on experience in addition to the visuals. 

There are lots of unique cubbies, nooks, and slides. The house is supplied with simple wooden peg dolls and small squares of fabric for play. Not only do they encourage imagination, but they are cheap and simple to replace. 

This play table has a similar concept, but note the variety of areas. 

Another big area is sensory play. I think my daughter would move into the water area if she could. There are two things in the is area that I thought would work for libraries. The first is a large light table. 

Light tables are expensive for families, especially since they aren't quite an everyday item. This one, that can easily accommodate multiple children was a real hit. 

Another thing that could be done as part of a play or storytime program is painting with water. A big chalkboard surface is supplied with brushes in little cups of water. Simple and effective. 

I really liked these guides for families to encourage interaction. The back side has prompts for other age groups. The play area for the smallest visitors is still in production but I expect there will be parental prompts there as there were in the old facility. 

Of course, when dealing with big groups of families in a public place there are some practical matters.  

I love this branded hand sanitizer station.

And these handy bags scattered about for germy toys. 

Now on to our links for this issue:

Playing Together: Using Apps to Augment Relationships Between Adults and Children(via Joan Ganz Cooney Center)
Joint Media Engagement or adults and children using media together is key to the meaningful use of digital media. Here are some cool examples, as well as a list of what apps and developers can do to encourage this kind of use. 

Alexa, Are You Safe for My Kids? (via NPR)
After the holidays more homes than ever will have digital assistants, but what does that mean for kids? Hint: joint engagement is important. 

3D Paper Faces (via Krokotak) 
This a cute art project and kids can either do a self-portrait or a favorite character. (Psst, You can get a construction paper pack with 10 different skin tones at SSWW.)

Pre-Writing Skills: Essential for Early Learners (via Liz's Early Learning Spot)  Lots of good info on pre-writing and related motor skills as well as some ideas for activities to help improve them in early childhood. 

Age Appropriate Videos to Explain Consent to Kids (via LifeHacker)
Like most things having to do with sex and relationships, an ongoing age-appropriate dialog is important. There are plenty of book tie-ins for teens. 
Galaxy Snow Globes (via Wee Warhols)
De-holiday a holiday favorite with these galaxy globes. Even better, the author found the globes at Dollar Tree. 


Assistive Technology 101 (via Reading Rockets)
A good overview of what Assistive Technology is, what it is used for, and how to find out more. 

21 Sweets and Bakery Books for Little Learners (via Pocket of Preschool)
Wouldn't baking and bake goods make a nice holiday adjacent display or storytime theme? 

Stories as Mirrors and Windows (via Crawling Out of the Classroom)
The first post of a series about unpacking Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop's concept of books as mirrors and windows with students all of which you should read. There are some great ideas here for anyone that talks about books with young people. 

Easy Unicorn Horn for Pretend Play (via Fun WIth Mama)
Unicorns are great and all, but I couldn't help think about all the fun Narwhal books that have come out lately. 

Brrrrriliant Winter Books (via Imagination Soup)
Chill out with these recent winter picture books.

Pumpkin Piano with Makey Makey
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