Big Play@ MVLS


A program that can be scheduled for your library as often as you are comfortable with crowds of very young children!    

  • Every child or family unit of baby/toddler with siblings MUST have parent or caregiver accompany the youngest participant. 
  • Set up an entire area with “stations” for play – from a sensory corner to a “grocery store.” 
  • In each station, have instructions and prompts for parents and caregivers.  Also, stress safety issues for each activity. 
  • Here are some other ideas for “stations:” four zones: baby, active, blocks, and activity tables, each zone will have about 4-5 different activities. An example of each includes sensory crawl in the baby zone, a sticky wall in the active zone, cardboard boxes in the block zone, and pipe cleaner/colander sculptures on the activity tables. 
  • Still more ideas: sensory bins filled with rice, beans, or cooked spaghetti; as well as the messy and HUGELY popular “Un-Sand Box” a shredded paper-filled blow up pool. 
  • Sensory floor mats: tape together rug pieces with different textures from soft to rough; bubble wrap; shiny silver mailing envelopes. 
  • Activity center: drawing paper on the wall with crayons, markers, stickers all on the eye level of babies and toddlers. 
  • Sticky wall – tape contact paper with the sticky side out for kids to put items up on the “board” and see all the things that stick from cardboard shapes to paper towel rollers, egg cartons (cut-up), buttons (large ones!), pom-poms, lots of leftover craft supplies. 
  • Have a group of board books easily accessible to everyone.  You might have large pillows in a corner for the board book corner. 

The ideas are limitless – it is space and imagination.   

  • Start small, and let it grow by how it is received in your community.  If it is all positive (including from staff and janitorial staff), think about scheduling it more often.  There is nothing wrong with making it only an annual or quarterly program.   
  • Use some of your regular storytimes to include one or two of the activities, depending on what activities you include each week.  The hand-out “recipe” cards are perfect for people who want more.  The “recipes” are very simple for parents to do at home. 

Learn how to implement Big Play @ MVLS here.

Here are many resources that were used for MVLS’ “Baby Steps” program. 



Each bin includes some bubbles: use them when you want to move your family units to a new activity: “Follow the Bubbles!”

Let’s Go Shopping: The Grocery Store

2 Grocery Carts (pink and blue) with assorted food items

Cash Register (includes instructions)

Market Basket with assorted food items

Baby Board Books

Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters and Good Words to Use on display board


Touch See Hear Feel Smell:  The Sensory Corner

Colorpillar Sorting Mat

Feel and Match Sensory Fish

5 Giant Sight and Sound Tubes

Large Light Color Box; Small Light Color Box; includes finger paint (No Mess Fingerpaint) and cellophane (Baby Paper)

Mystery Bottles (do it yourself – instructions included; vegetable oil supplied by you)

Plastic Bin filled with supplies for do-it-yourself Sensory Play

See-inside Sensory Blocks (12)

Sensory Boxes (with crinkled paper)

Stack and Nest Sensory Toys

Sticky Rollers (use for sensory play box too!)

Unsandbox with pool noodles

Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters and Good Words to Use on display board

Useful Supplies to Have On Hand (most included in the Orange Sensory Bin)


Crayons/ Markers

Duct Tape

Paper Towel Tubes


Tissue Paper

Stuff from your recycling! useful to for toddlers to stick on the contact paper!


What Can We Build Today?

Bristle Builder Blocks

Jumbo Nuts and Bolts

Soft and Safe Mirror Blocks

Alphabet Foam Mat

Rainbow Stacker (12 pieces)

Baby Board Books

Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters and Good Words to Use on display board


Look What I Can Do: Practicing Motor Skills

Button Size Sorting Box

Lacing Keys Activity Box

Ocean Wonders Build  & Spin

Sort-A-Shape Activity Board

Simple Shapes Puzzle Board

Colander Sculpture (2) (Includes 2 colanders, pipe cleaners and straws)

Tugging Box

Ball Drop

Hammering Drum

Lots of Dots – 4 books and dots; paper supplied by you

Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters and Good Words to Use on display board

More Resources and Play Recipes are available at:
The Brooklyn Public Library Playdate:


Check the Equipment Calendar  for availability.



The below guidelines are just that – guidelines. We offer you all the flexibility possible. Call us with your needs!

  • BIG PLAY Kits check out for seven (7) days including delivery and return.  Let us know if you want for a longer time period! There are four kits included in the total BIG PLAY Package; depending on your available play space, you may borrow all four, or one (or more). Plan to schedule two days for the BIG PLAY Kits to arrive as the bins themselves are very large.

BIG PLAY Kit Bins are: 

Let’s Go Shopping: The Grocery Store

Touch See Hear Feel Smell: The Sensory Corner

What Can We Build Today?

Look What I Can Do: Practicing Motor Skills

  • BIG PLAY Kits may be renewed if no one is waiting.
  • Items in BIG PLAY Kits are to be used collaboratively by babies, toddlers, and their caregivers as a family unit. There are pieces in the kits which must be handled with care. Safety concerns are listed in each kit that should be stressed to caregivers. Vocabulary is important; one objective of BIG PLAY is for caregivers to talk with their babies and toddlers, using BIG WORDS. Possible words and questions are listed on the accompanying display boards.
  • Make sure you read THE BIG PLAY DATE instructions.
  • For best program use and planning, attend MVLS’s Baby Steps: STEM for Babies and Toddlers, with trainer Joyce Laiosa. The next workshop will be held in the Fall, 2019. Check out the handouts at:(put handout link here)
  • Damage and loss of kit materials will be assessed and charged with reason and according to impact on future use of kit.

Note: Each bin includes some bubbles: use them when you want to move your family units to a new activity: “Follow the Bubbles!” 

Feel free to add your own library equipment and resources. More Resources and Play Recipes are available at:  The Brooklyn Public Library Playdate: 

MVLS has three new professional books for more ideas for STEM activities with babies and toddlers. See:

  • Loose Parts 2 : Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers by Lisa Daly & Miriam Beloglovsky
  • STEM Play : Integrating Inquiry into Learning Centers by Deirdre Englehart et. al.
  • Baby Steps to STEM : Infant and Toddler Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Activities by Jean G. Barbre


Contact Heather Dickerson,, 518-355-2010 ext. 229 for more information regarding BIG PLAY @ MVLS


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