Wednesday, May 31, 2017

After-hours Special Needs Family Fun Night!

This month we hosted our 3rd after-hours event for families of all ages with special needs. It was held on a Friday night after closing, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Attendees could enjoy the library with a reduced number of visitors, which lowers anxiety and limits distractions for many individuals who struggle with sensory overload.

We provided additional accessibility, by placing visuals for each service area and activity around the library.

Our Youth Librarian, Andy, created some fabulous sensory bins for the Youth Room. Kids could dig through the cornmeal "sand" in the one side of this bin and play with sea creatures in a blue jello "sea" on the other side. A larger bin was also filled with water and sponge sailboats.

We also placed many of our adapted toys, books and kits from the Special Needs Collection on tables for families to try out and even check out later to play with at home. Simple crafts to help encourage fine motor development were also placed on tables.

Sometimes overstimulation can still occur, so we provided a "cool-down" space in our story room for folks to retreat to. We dimmed the lights and provided small weighted lap pads, sensory cushions to sit on, a pop-up tent with pillows for those seeking an "enclosed space" (tall enough to accommodate an adult),  a visual timer, sound reduction headphones, and fidgets for those needing additional sensory input to self-regulate or "chill."


Whole Foods Market provided some yummy gluten-free, casein-free, and nut-free snacks for the evening.

A yoga instructor from Belightful Yoga led a relaxing adapted yoga session for youth and adults with special needs alongside their caregivers. How often do you get the chance to do yoga in the middle of the library?!

The Adult Services area also had crafts and popular games in a larger format for those who may have difficulty with fine motor skills.

To wrap up the evening, our friendly circulation staff members helped our attendees check out their materials.

We were so delighted to see faces that we don't see on a regular basis at the library. Many families with special needs, who may have avoided visiting the library before, expressed their gratitude for this stress-free evening and are excited to return next time.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shake, Rhythm & Rhyme Story Time: "Feel the Beat!"

We were feeling the beat and dancing around the room this month! Shake, Rhythm & Rhyme is our inclusive story time for children of all abilities, ages 2 - 6. It is adapted with a visual schedule, dimmed lighting, and multi-sensory experiences (similar to our SENSEational Story Time). Here is this month's plan:

Welcome Song: "Shirt Song" (borrowed from Barbara Klipper)

Calling up the children by name, or bringing the board with the flannel shirts to a child with a mobile disability, I have the child choose the color shirt they are wearing and then place it on our large flannel board. We go around the circle until everyone's "shirt" is on the board.

___________ is wearing a (color) shirt,
a (color) shirt, a (color) shirt, 
and ________ is here with us today!

Yoga pose: "Dancer"
(I like to use the Yogarilla card set, which has the pose on one side and an adapted version of the pose on the other side.) I show them both versions, so they can decide which one they want to try.

ASL rhyme: "I Went to a Concert and What Did I Hear?"
(source: Storytime Stuff)
I taught them the ASL signs for piano, guitar, and drums to use when saying this rhyme:

I went to a concert and what did I hear?
The sound of a piano in my ear!
I went to a concert and what did I hear?
The sound of a guitar in my ear!
I went to a concert and what did I hear?
The sound of drums in my ear!

I also used the Garage Band app to play the sounds of the instruments for them. Love this app!

Flannel: "Five Dancing Ballerinas"

Five dancing ballerinas
prancing on their toes.
They twirl and spin and jump
then off the stage she goes.
Continue counting down.
(source: Storytime Katie and adorable tutus for flannel dancers made by our wonderful Clerical Assistant, Jennifer D.)

Story: I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
I gave one of our story time parents our drum to keep the steady beat going as it does throughout this rhythmic story.

Sensory diet rhyme with scarves: "Dance Your Scarves"
Dance your scarves up.
Dance your scarves down.
Dance them to your side,
And dance them all around.
Dance them on your shoulders.
Dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummies,
And put them to bed!

Story: The Nuts: Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants by Eric Litwin
Story time gold! It's got rhythm, repetition, and movement... and it's just so adorable!!

Story-related sensory activity: Doing the "Polka-Dot Dance!"
I handed out large colored dots to everyone and we did the Polka-Dot Pants Dance (located at the end of the story) waving our dots around. The best part about this dance? It can be done seated or standing!

Parachute activity: "Ring Around the Rosie"

Goodbye Song: "Tickle the Clouds"
Tickle the clouds.
Tickle your toes.
Turn around and tickle your nose.
Reach down low.
Reach up high.
Story time's over--
Wave goodbye!

Sensory craft and playtime: 
We made shakers with plastic eggs, rice, and colorful duct tape. And of course... we got out our instruments for the kids to play with!