Interactive displays for families that build data literacy

The week before my wedding, I came up with a display idea for the children’s room. Not just any idea – an interactive, ties in with the strategic plan, incorporates data literacy display. You know, the week when I should be prepping my carts for ordering, and cleaning my desk, and spending all my mental energy staying calm-ish?

Fortunately, my amazing supervisor and coworkers encouraged me to work on the idea when I got back.

The Display

Bulletin board called “Walk ‘n’ Roll to the Library”  with map and lots of stickers

My “Walk ‘n’ Roll to the Library” display engaged at least 40 community members to record information about their trip to the public library. In September, the library celebrates kids and adults who walk, bike, or otherwise make a self-powered trip to the library with small prizes (think stickers, sticky note pads, and plastic cups).

The display extended that experience by inviting community members to mark their point of origin and whether they walked or biked/rolled. The supplies were simple –  a map that is a city giveaway, art from a previous summer reading program, and stickers.

Parents and kids were drawn to the map. I observed parents scaffolding their kids’ use of the map, pointing to the where the library is, tracing the streets, and pointing to where home is. They also used the map to reflect on the distance they had traveled. A dad proudly showed his son that they had come farther than most people on the map.

Incorporating Data Literacy

This display emerged from a few different motivating factors. It provided passive programming, as my library deals with serious business budget cuts. It didn’t hurt that it supported the city’s goal of being a walkable community. But the idea that resonated with me the most was to support data literacy.

My supervisor invited staff to create literacy-focused passive programming. Both early literacy and information literacy are very important, and so is data literacy.  Data literacy, or statistical literacy, is all about “learning and using quantitative skills within a particular context” (Hoelter, 2017).

For elementary schoolers grades K to 3rd data literacy can involve:

  • Classifying objects and then counting the objects in their groups (Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.a).
  • “Using and developing models… that represent concrete events” (Achieve, Inc., 2013)
  • Using both text and illustrations, like maps, to understand text (Common Core State Standards Initiative, n.d.b)

In the display, kids classified their trip as walking or biking. They could choose to count the stickers in each category. Both the map and the chart reflected a concrete event: their recent trip to the library. And by practicing reading the map with a trusted adult, the kids were preparing to draw meaning from maps in informational texts.

Note that these skills come from across the Next Generation Science and Common Core standards; data literacy is multidisciplinary.

Cultural Appropriateness

The Walk ‘n’ Roll display was engaging for kids and families not just because it had a map and chart. It was engaging because it tied into something they already cared about: walking and biking to the library. One way to put it is that the display was culturally appropriate.

In the Building STEAM with Día Toolkit, Amy Koester (2015) provides advice for libraries to create culturally appropriate programming:

  • Create participatory experiences
  • Engage kids in their own interests
  • Connect the STEAM practices to community issues
  • Provide connections to diverse practitioners

In my library’s community, many kids enjoy walking and biking, and reading a map connected to their experiences. But there are many other interests and issues in the community. Two that jump to mind are an annual hot air balloon festival and the wetlands in the library’s backyard.

I’d like to continue working on incorporating more information about diversity in STEAM in my displays. This display provided examples of diversity through the art – which included non-white and differently abled children – and also through bilingual text in English and Spanish, which aren’t all represented in the photo above.

Interactive Display Resources

For further ideas on creating an interactive display check out the following:

Other resources or ideas to share? Questions? Please comment below!

Works Cited

Achieve Inc. (2013). 2. Earth’s systems: Processes that shape the earth. Retrieved from

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (n.d.a) Mathematics standards. Retrieved from

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (n.d.b) English language arts standards. Retrieved from

Koester, A. (2015). Building STEAM with Día Toolkit. Retrieved from

Hoelter, L. (2017). “Introduction to statistical literacy.” In K. Fontichiaro, J.A. Oehrli, & A. Lennex (Eds.), Creating data literate students (7-24). Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Publishing Services. Retrieved from

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