DANCING AND WALKING WITH THE LIBRARY

Needham Free Public Library, Massachusetts, USA

By Paula Dugan, Children’s Supervisor

Dancing 
The Children’s Department of the Needham Free Public Library offers a Dance Me a Story program for children ages 1-5 years old. Princess Julia from the Joanne Langione Dance Center reads a story to the children followed by musical movements and dance. Princess Julia dresses up in a lovely princess outfit including crown. After the story, she leads children in simple dance moves. Children can follow along with her or make up their own dance to the music. So far, the program has been held virtually with Princess Julia Zooming from her dance studio. We have plans to offer this program in person at the library in the fall.

Impacts
Children have enjoyed both the story and the music. Several children dress up either in dance leotards and tutus or princess outfits. The dance portion is the longest part of the program and keeps children moving continuously throughout. Children learn dance and free expression through movement. They explore imaginative play.

Walking
Elise Katz, a Children’s Librarian at The Needham Free Public Library has created three StoryWalks® at parks around town.  Two StoryWalks® are located at playgrounds encouraging children to get out and play, using the playground equipment and enjoy a story as they walk around the perimeter. The third StoryWalk® is located on the Rail Trail, a popular walking trail that ends in a mural. The pages of the   StoryWalk® lead up to the mural. Families are able to enjoy the outdoors, a walk, a story and a work of art.  The StoryWalk® at DeFazio Park is located at a Toddler playground and is aimed at the youngest children, combining physical activity with early literacy.  The StoryWalks® at Mills Field and the Rail Trail are aimed at slightly older children.  This project was was made possible through CARES Act funding to the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  It was done with cooperation from Needham Parks and Recreation Department and with assistance from Family Access Community Connections.

Impacts
The walks are new, but include a QR code leading to a questionnaire so we can track  approximately how many  people use the  StoryWalks® and what they get out of the experience.

Learn More

Lessons learned: Consider a broad range of partners, including dancer, rails trails, parks & recreation, family resource professionals, and others. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Think creatively about how you can support your community. What resources does your community have? Parks, trails, and library meeting rooms are often available!

It can sometimes be hard to track outcomes, particularly with off-site programs. Don’t let concerns about evaluation keep you from starting a new program or partnership!

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