Making pizza, teaching a caterpillar to dance, and making numbers come alive sound like simple games.

But in reality, those are just a few of the things Grove's newest library is using to introduce technology to some of the area's youngest students.

Introducing Tiny Techies, a program for ages 3 to 6, which takes place at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the Grove Public Library.

Organized by Kelsey Gourd, the initiative uses age-appropriate activities, such as the interactive games created with Osmo - an attachment for the an iPad or iPhone platforms.

For Gourd, the class - which began in December - is designed to introduce and promote technology-based learning among pre-school and kindergarteners - laying a foundation for future robotics

The idea formed after preschoolers began attending family technology nights and other events geared for their older siblings.

"It was either too difficult for them, or we didn't have enough items for them to use," Gourd said. "This empowers them to take a hands-on approach to see how technology works, and time to explore it."

A mixture of interactive manipulative and academic learning, Gourd designs  each session to include a mixture of lessons. At each session, she introduces one new concept for the children to learn.

This week, she introduced a beginning coding session using the Fisher Price Caterpillar Code. 

Students could use different colored "sections" to create a caterpillar. Each section or color told the caterpillar how to move. Some propelled it forward, while others sent the caterpillar into "dance party" moves.

"We try to give them lots of options," Gourd said, adding the session typically lasts 30 minutes - enough time for each student to try out at least two stations.

As an added bonus, Gourd said, the students also learn about sharing items - something which can be difficult at the young age.

Gourd hopes the sessions not only educate the students, but also the parents or grandparents accompanying them to the library.

"I love seeing them get so excited at all of the different learning options," Gourd said. "They are at a critical stage of their development and this keeps enticing their development."

This is just one of the several STEAM - or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math - activities Gourd has organized since joining the library staff. 

A STEM storytime, which takes place after school, helps introduce elementary aged students to the possibilities available in those learning areas. 

Future plans include adding additional teen technology programs, including a teen tech night and a night for teen coding. 

"Our goal is to help fill in the gaps and to supplement what the students are being taught in school with another point of access to technology," Gourd said, adding she works with Jeannie Smith, one of the Grove teachers involved with the GLARE - Grand Lake Area Robotics Education Program. 

Eventually, Gourd hopes, the library's STEAM offerings will help students not only gain an interest in robotics, but encourage them to join the GLARE program as they get older.

"We want to provide more opportunities for kids to learn and love [technology] and have a hands-on time with it," Gourd said. 

Supplemental learning

Elizabeth Cook brings her two sons, Cooper, 2, and Boyd, 4, as well as her daughter, Adelaide, 5, to the Tiny Techies program.

Cook, who home schools her children, said the technology offerings are a beneficial supplement to her curriculum.

She is considering adding an Osmo at home, because of Boyd's growing interest in technology.

While she limits her children's involvement with a lot of technology based activities, she likes the Osmo offerings because it provides an assortment of hands-on activities.   

On Tuesday, her sons worked together building two-dimensional pizzas based upon the customer's orders, which appeared on the iPad's screen.

"This really helps Boyd for his interest," Cook said. "He loves robotics and coding."