Sunday, August 16, 2015

Backpacks full of reading, activities and fun at Windham Public Library - By Walter Lunt

There’s something new in the children’s room at Windham Public Library. It’s called The Backpack Program. Four colorful backpacks await patrons who enjoy local history, science, games and nature.
Children’s librarian Laurel Parker explained, “We have an adult section and a children’s section, but this is for the whole family.”

Each variegated pack contains a different theme and is filled with entertaining and informative reading, materials for a variety of activities and creative and unusual ideas.

The multi-colored “tire tracks” pack has several books on Windham history, two CDs - one featuring current and historical maps, another featuring a narrated history of the town - and a trail map of historical places to visit, along with the stories about each location.

The “circuits” decorated bag is the magnets backpack, which offers unique and creative activities using magnets of all shapes and sizes. Included are books on the science of magnets, unusual uses (singing magnets) and games like Jishaku that will test memory and mind, and Magformers that uses square, triangular and pentagonal shaped magnets that connect for constructing buildings, towers or satellites. 

The games backpack will likely be a favorite. Parker says this quirky colored orange and blue patterned pack contains non-electronic table top games for all ages – not the usual board games found in most homes. All offer family fun and friendly competition. Suspend, for example, challenges players to balance and perform “tricky hangs” with the game pieces. Don’t let it fall! Flash is a lightning fast dice game, and Terzetto is a head-to-head marble match that sharpens visual discrimination, spatial reasoning and fine motor skills.

The camouflage bag is the “bird pack.” It has field guides, trail maps and colorful bird, butterfly, tree and flower identification books and prints.

A fifth backpack on the seashore is anticipated soon.

The backpack program is designed to promote many hours of family learning and entertainment. It was funded by an anonymous donor and dedicated for use by the children’s room for the purpose of “expanding young minds through fun and education.”

A backpack can be checked out for a one-week period. Parker warned that each pack contains many individual pieces and that patrons should be prepared to monitor the contents carefully. Each item in the packs has a price tag if lost. The bird pack, for example, has over $200 worth of contents.

Topics for the five backpack themes were selected by a community survey. Check them out.

The Neal family examine the contents of the History Backpack at the Windham Public Library. Kim (Mom), Isabelle, 7, Nathaniel, 10, Benjamin, 5 and Sam, 1. The children are home-schooled and very excited about the program.

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