You may recall reading about MAF’s Build Imagination Toy Kits in our newsletters, website, or via our social media channels (or even seeing them in your local library in Michigan). One of those libraries, Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library, recently used their Build Imagination toys for a STEM Play Day event at the library on May 17. Parents attended the event with their children and engaged in hands-on and interactive building activities using the toy kit items.
The kits were actually developed by MAF’s Rae Dumke Development Fund, in partnership with Baldwin Library. Each Build Imagination toy kit (grouped for students in grades 1-3, and grades 4-6) is designed so that children can complete an activity with the toys in the kit in one hour.
“Our STEM Play Day went very well, and both kids and parents who participated had a good time, doing activities together such as building tall towers,” said Stephanie Klimmek, Head of Youth Services, Baldwin Public Library. “The children were excited to use their imaginations to create something they were proud of, and parents appreciated that the activities were both entertaining and educational.” Last fall, Baldwin Public Library resumed doing more in-person programming, after programs had been suspended due to COVID-related restrictions.
The Build Imagination Toy Kits include wooden Keva Planks, Roylco Straws and Connectors, Blocks and Blueprints sets, K’NEX 100 Model Imagine Building Sets, and CMS Magnetics Building Sets. The kit components can be used to construct structures, mazes, bridges, towers, ramps, and to create a Rube Goldberg Machine (for chain-reaction-based activities) – or as the foundation for countless other architecture-related activities based on children’s imaginations.
Stephanie adds, “Today’s children have so many high expectations of them, between grades and participation in extracurricular activities. With the Build Imagination toy kits, kids get the opportunity to have fun and learn in a pressure-free way.”
The kits are available at several public libraries throughout Michigan; each library determines how their patrons can use the toy kits, through checkout for home use; in library independent play; or for use as part of in-library scheduled programming (Baldwin Public Library uses their toy kits exclusively for in-library scheduled programming). Michigan libraries with MAF’s Build Imagination Toy Kits include the following (please check with your library for their policies surrounding their particular kit): Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham; Detroit Public Libraries (various); check your location for availability; Flint Public Library; Glen Lake Community Library; Grand Rapids Public Library; Hoyt Library, Saginaw; Capital Area District Library, Lansing; Leland Township Library; Mackinac Island Library; Marshall Library; Otsego County Library; Peter White Public Library, Marquette; Portage Lake Public Library, Houghton/Hancock; Traverse City Library; and Ypsilanti District Library.
Baldwin Public Library is also home to the MAF Build Imagination Book Collection for children. The Build Imagination book collection is a set of 100 fiction and non-fiction books about architecture, art, color, Legos, graphic design, shapes, and famous landmarks, with each selected to help foster children’s imaginations and raise their awareness about architecture.
The book collection was also curated in conjunction with MAF’s Dumke Fund. The books are available for loan to other libraries and for check-out by patrons throughout Michigan, via the state’s inter-library loan system. Visit https://www.baldwinlib.org/ for more information.
“We recently updated the collection with several new titles,” said Stephanie. The collection has been very popular: The books have gone out 391 times over the last two years and 180 times since last July. Over the life of the collection, the books have gone out 1500 times. This circulation includes the books that have been checked out directly from Baldwin, as well as Build Imagination titles that have been checked out at other Michigan libraries through the interlibrary loan system.
Stephanie continues, “It is so exciting to see the interest that children have in the Build Imagination toy kits and books, and in exploring the world through architecture and the built environment.”