Grant Opportunity: Mind in the Making

Mind in the Making: Engaging Young Children in Interactive Learning and Doing

Establish or improve play spaces for young children.

A small child plays with a toy.Grant Amount:


Time Range:

1 year


Public Libraries

Staff Contact:

Lyndsay Forbes

Program Description

This grant allows libraries to carry out a program to establish or enhance play spaces for children ages 0-6 in public libraries. These play spaces are aimed at early learning and social interaction among children and their caregivers.

Suggested components include:*

  • Creating an interactive play and flexible learning space
  • Designating a space for tinkering and invention
  • Offering activities such as a Countdown to Kindergarten program, family programs on “Brain Building in Progress”, or creation of Creativity Kits to be borrowed by parents and caregivers and used in local preschools
  • Purchasing materials supporting emergent reading, writing, and fine motor skills
  • Developing collections of print, digital materials, and realia

For example, the Playroom at the Bedford Free Public Library was designed around themes to prompt imaginative expression and intentional engagement between children and caregivers. The finished play space welcomed families at whatever times during the week that work best for them, and provided a screen free spot for relaxed, unhurried interaction. The PLAY (Possibilities, Learning and You) project at the Beverly Public Library refreshed resources, facilitated social interaction and enabled opportunities for “quiet together” time to encourage a lifelong interest in reading, discovery and learning.


Ellen Galinsky’s book Mind in the making highlights the seven essential life skills children need most: focus and self-control, perspective taking, communicating, making connections, critical thinking, taking on challenges, and self-directed engaged learning. In their report Growing young minds, IMLS highlights how libraries can support these types of skills through hands-on experiences. By providing play and inquiry-based programs, libraries increase the opportunities for young children to participate in activities that will help develop critical skills and result in their becoming more confident and engaged learners.

*Create a circulating library of toys or “make and take kits” and items that support social-emotional learning development for toddlers and pre-schoolers, or creation of kits such as Beverly Public Library’s kits.

Provide augmented virtual programming using library staff and outside performers.

Develop a regular kids “Pop-up library” either outside library building or in designated community location.

For More Information

Robert Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development
617-725-1860 x237
857-488-6590 (Mobile)

Amy Clayton, Administrative Coordinator
617-725-1860 x228
857-488-6408 (Mobile)