Giving Kids Choice, Power & Fun

Yesterday was Webkins Day at the Library! This meant a whole bunch of fun, chat and getting to know a group of kids in a very new way. Matthews Branch Library (Thanks, Trish!) here at PLCMC hosted two back-to-back Webkins Club programs for kids. I went with my colleague Emily to check it out. What a wowee moment! I got far more than I bargained for from these programs. One 4th grader, Samantha, became both my guide and teacher through the world of Webkins. All I had to do was ask her if she’d show me how to do something on the Webkins site. Any question I asked, she was able to answer. “How do you chat with friends?” With a slick click on the cell phone icon she showed me. “You can only do ‘dictionary chat'” she informed me and then continued to show me what that looked like. “Oh, look I got mail from my sister!” With a few swift mouse clicks she had opened her mail and responded. We later played a round of Webkins mini-golf. I played as one of her Webkins pets Taylor the Monkey. “You came in second at 7 points,” she told me politely when we finished. She had 22 points.
One of the things that was so subtly wonderful about these programs is that they were vibrant and cheerful and filled with learning moments–but they practically ran themselves! Trish would say something like “So, who has found out something new about Webkins games?” The hands would fly up and then a kid would continue on to explain her or his new discovery and then the beat would go on. Kids had a chance to make new buddies–both IRL and in the Webkins world as they would exchange Webkins buddy info at the end of the program.
Will Webkins continue to grow? Will this be just another fad that will fade as tastes and technology advance? It doesn’t really matter. Right here, right now we have the opportunity to meet kids (read: our whole community) where they are by reflecting their delights, their fancies–how about even their concerns. It creates connections, makes “our” world and their world collide in meaningful, deeper, and yes, FUN ways. That’s what this Webkins craze and these Webkins Club Days remind me of.
Later after the program when I had chatted with staff at Matthews Branch and was getting ready to leave the library with my equally satisifed colleague Emily, Samantha came running up to me to ask me if I’d share my Webkins info with her so that we could be buddies. Imagine my deflation when I had to tell her I didn’t have a Webkins. But I will soon. And Children’s Departments and Libraries everywhere else, spring for the $15-20 to get one for your staff to play with, explore and make some connections with the Samanthas and Evans and Scotties in your own library worlds. You’ll be glad you did! Posted by Picasa