Ask a Storytime Ninja: Best Tech Devices

It’s Tech Tuesday! Ok, that’s not actually a thing for us, but it was fun to say. Have any suggestions for our questioner?

 

The Question:

 

What is the best tech to use in order include ebooks and apps in storytime? I’ve heard of librarians using apple TVs (with a projector or wide screen), smart boards, or just ipads, but I haven’t been able to find an in-depth review of all the options out there.

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The Answers:

 

From Ashley:

 

I think it’s great that you know what your end goals are: share ebooks and apps with children in a group setting.   I have the same goals! (still working on attaining them…) But before you go hunting for the “best” way to accomplish this, you’ll need to look carefully at your space, budget, size and administrative landscape.  How you define “best” probably depends a lot on these things.  For example, having plenty of iPads to pass out to the group to share may be ideal, but you can’t afford it.  And size matters: do you need to share the ebook with a group of 8 kids or 80?  Perhaps showing something on a big screen is best for you, but you don’t have wall space for a mounted TV.  But maybe your library already has a pull-down screen and overhead projector that you can hook up to?  Or maybe all of this is a moot point because you share one tech person with the entire town government and adding something to the plate is a non-starter.  All of these site-specific limitations are why there is no “best” way to go about sharing ebooks and apps with groups of kids.

 

But librarians are wonderful at idea sharing, and one great resource is Little eLit (www.littleelit.com).  There are photos and blog posts of librarians around the country using technology in story times.  If you see or read something that you think will work for you and your space, you can reach out directly to that librarian to find out more specifics about how she set up her system.  Check out their “Programming” section for write-ups of different technology-infused storytimes, and see their “Gallery” (lower right hand side of page) for photos.

 

We’re about to start construction on a brand new library (with a dedicated children’s programming room! Woot!), and I’ve been combing through Little eLit for ideas myself.  Personally, I like the idea of a mounted screen that projects its own light versus a pull-down screen that light is projected onto.  I think the latter solution can lead to issues with having to make the room dark in order for kids to see the screen, making it harder for them to see me.  For now, I tend to share apps with small groups of children, so I just hold up my one lone iPad and let the kids come up to take turns interacting with it.  I tell myself having them wait to take a turn is even better because then we’re practicing executive functioning skills like impulse control. 😉

 

Whatever solution ends up being “best” for your library, I hope it goes well!

 

From Anne:

 

By the time in-depth reviews on technology come out it’s always too late! So we test and guess and hope that whatever we commit our precious budgets to will be the best option. We went with iPads and have found a number of program opportunities.

 

During storytime, we primarily use the iPads to project rhymes so parents can read along. For more details on this, check out this article my co-worker wrote for Little eLit. We also project eBook versions of books that are too small to share in print form. There’s a couple of apps that have been pretty fun to share like Mother Goose on the Loose, Felt Board, and Peek-a-Zoo.

 

We have 7 iPads for small group programs. Last month, we hosted a Daisy the Dinosaur program where each child had an iPad to share with his or her parent. The kids explored basic concepts of computer programming. Next month we’re making sock puppets and shooting video of sock puppet sketches with iPads.

 

I think we’ve just started to see the possibilities of using iPads in youth programming. So, take the risk. Get yourself a fancy new tool and have fun using it.

 

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