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8-Year-Old Teaches Coding Skills at Public Libraries with Her Invented Board Game, Coder Bunnyz

Kids playing Coderbunnyz

Effective teachers know that when you teach something new, it's helpful to connect the new material to something that is known and familiar to students. For young children, what could be more familiar than a board game?

Samaira Mehta, an elementary school student with coder parents, has invented a board game, CoderBunnyz, to introduce coding fundamentals to other young children. She has been visiting public libraries and other venues in Silicon Valley to teach her board game to children. Her teaching has garnered attention from as far away as Germany, which covered her on television, and EdSurge, a well-respected website that covers education innovations.

The Sweet Sound of Music and STEM at the Library

Making Music at the Ramona Library

There's that pesky stereotype about the library: it's a quiet, noise-free place and any music, noise, or exuberance will be met with a harsh-faced librarian saying "SHHHHHH." We know this isn't true, however, and sometimes learning needs to be a little noisy. And in the case of the Ramona Community Library and the Borrego Springs Library in San Diego County, sometimes learning means making music. 

The Connection Between Learning and Music

Music is actually a pretty normal thing in the library for babies and toddlers. A lot of story-time programs include a few songs at the beginning or the end of the story. There are also dedicated music-making programs for the younger set as well.

Music can teach early learners how to rhyme, new vocabulary words, and numeracy, and improve basic communication skills. A study from the Music-Science Lab at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev shows that young children who played hand-clapping song games are more social, write better, and have better cognitive abilities.

Both the Ramona and Borrego Springs libraries go beyond traditional early childhood programming. The library also offers music programs for older demographics: tweens, teens and sometimes even adults. At the California Library Association's conference, Michael Voss discussed how teaching teens to play music has increased self-esteem and confidence, teaches math, and improves teamwork skills.   

Your Library Can Do Minecraft; Here's How

Kids playing Minecraft

The Groton Public Library, part of the Finger Lakes Library System, runs a simple Minecraft program that has led to a boost in youth attendance and book circulations. Additionally, Minecraft has had a positive influence on the lives of the young patrons who play it, increasing creativity, teaching cooperation, and even helping develop social skills.

Why Consider Minecraft?

Minecraft is especially popular with elementary and middle school-age kids, and is a tremendous draw that can bring this age group into the library on a consistent basis.

Minecraft books are also immensely popular. Since the beginning of 2015, a number of Minecraft books rank near the top in total circulations at Groton. This includes both "how-to" non-fiction books and fan-created fiction.

Author Sean Fay Wolfe at the library

In September 2015, Groton hosted Sean Fay Wolfe, a rising star in the world of Minecraft literature. More than 50 youth turned out for this author visit, with each family getting a free autographed copy of one of Wolfe's books.

Minecraft players learn to cooperate with one another to survive, have their creativity spurred, and learn basic social skills as they interact with each other and library staff. A number of Groton kids have shown tremendous social growth from playing Minecraft — a benefit that has measureless worth.

Creating Children's Story Animations Using Inkscape and Animatron

I'm a big fan of the Inkscape vector graphics program, which is a no-cost equivalent of Adobe Illustrator and runs on all major computer platforms (Linux, Macintosh, and Windows). Back in 2007, I created a short promotional video showing the range of graphics that people can make using Inkscape.

Inkscape, when paired with Animatron (a freemium HTML5 online animation tool), can be used for creating narrated, animated children's stories. These tools might also be used to create multimedia motion graphics stories for libraries, nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and more.