Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm an iPad librarian!

Recently, my library purchased an iPad to be used for staff training and for me to use in storytime. I know there has been a lot of controversy recently on the ALSC list-serv and blog about using the iPad in storytime which I have been following eagerly. Here are some of the recent posts that have informed my thought processes when it comes to the iPad in storytime:

Early Literacy in the Digital Age
Try it! Or, Digital Green Eggs and Ham
I Work for Children, Not Technology
Face It! You are a Children's Librarian in the Digital Age

My library director has been very eager for me to try using the iPad in storytime. It was her idea to purchase it and have it available. Last week was my last storytime session for 2012 and I thought it might be a good time to try out something new, as my kids and I were winding down storytime in the library.

From Flickr user Lynn Friedman
After my library purchased the iPad, we had to decide how we were going to purchase apps for it. My library is part of the county but it does not have a county credit card that can be used to purchase apps. Neither I nor my director wanted to attach our personal credit card to the iPad. Fortunately there is a very easy solution to this dilemma. All you have to do is purchase an iTunes gift card and voila, you are set.

In deliberating what apps to purchase, I looked at the notes I had gotten from attending There's an App for That: Using Technology to Enhance Children's Librarianship this summer at ALA. I have kept my focus on the preschool age group, mostly ages 3-6 in deciding what apps to purchase. I did purchase a few Sandra Boynton apps that I can perhaps use with my baby storytime in the coming year. I purchased a wide variety of apps and also downloaded a few free ones that had been recommended at the program.

For my first foray into using the iPad at storytime, I decided to start with the app Simple Sort. I found it to be an app even the youngest of my preschool kids could use easily enough and there was a lot we could talk about. Before starting, I asked my kids how many of them have to help clean up their toys and books at home. I asked if they had special places to put certain toys and if they could tell me about where their toys go. There were a variety of answers. Then, I pulled out three baskets. I had taped a picture of a shape to each basket (a circle, square, and triangle) and then gave each child an item that matched one of the shapes. Each child brought the toy up to be sorted into its proper basket. I explained that they had just helped me sort or "clean-up" and now we were going to do it on the iPad.

Let me tell you, this thing was a hit. The kids wanted to play Simple Sort again and again. While I had to help a few of the littlest kids move their fingers across the iPad to drag the item to its proper basket, most of them just did it with no instruction whatsoever. A few of them would move it a bit, look at the projector screen, then move it again to try to SEE themselves moving it. It was quite sweet. When everyone had had a turn and there were only one or two items left to sort, I tried it and of course, did it incorrectly because I know the kids love to correct me. Lots of giggling as I tried to put a tool in the food bin.

This was nothing groundbreaking in terms of using the iPad in storytime but for me, it was a success first foray into integrating technology a bit more into my storytime. I won't be using the iPad at every storytime but I think it's useful for kids to see technology being used not only at home but at the library (and other locations) because they will be witnessing technology in every step of their lives as they grow up. I liked that in this case, I could tie it in with an activity that they are expected to do with their families: picking things up and putting them away.

I did not really try this first time to match the iPad to any ECRR2 activities. We had done singing and musical instruments already in the storytime and I always reiterate to my parents and caregivers how important it is that kids see you participating in storytime at the library and at home and in the car and in the store. EVERYWHERE. The iPad in this case was just for fun and for me to see how my kids would react to it.

It was a fun experience for us all and to me, that is what counted. The kids would have another positive library experience at their hands that they could take home with them and hopefully talk about to the dads or siblings that had been unable to attend.

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