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Library exhibit tells kids, parents to `Go Figure!'


Caryn Meyer measures her son, Jeffy, 5, at one of the exhibits inside the Toledo-Lucas County's Main Library.

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Go up the stairs, through the big glass doors, and enter a world just for children.

Five big books, tall as a grown person, loom in the entranceway, enticing those who go inside to explore the Children's Library.

Frog and Toad, The Quilt, The Doorbell Rang, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Arthur's Pet Business all welcome the library patrons who find their way through the adult sections of Toledo-Lucas County's Main Library into a child-size world of mathematical activities.

Go Figure!, organized by Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul, Minn., is in Toledo's library until July 31. The library added its own activities to the nationally traveling exhibit, which complement the practical math theme.

For Troy Simpkins, 4, the table with the blocks is the most attractive.

Sitting alternately on his mother Michelle's lap and in his own little chair, he counts out the number of blocks to match the number on the card Geneva McCoats gives him. Ms. McCoats is a foster grandparent who's volunteering at the library for the summer.

Then he starts to play with other toys on the table, trying to match the squares with squares, circles with circles.

“See what Sissy's doing?” Mrs. Simpkins asks him when he has trouble.

His 10-year-old sister, Ashley, is there too.

“Okay, you found one. Good!” Ms. McCoats tells him as he starts to get the hang of it.

“What shape is that?” his mom asks.

“It's the same one,” Troy replies.

She asks again, and he finally says “Square!”

Mrs. Simpkins and Ashley move on to the next table where Clifford the Big Red Dog resides in big, bigger, and biggest forms. Troy eventually joins them.

They measure Clifford in inches, centimeters, and Milk Bone dog treats.

The biggest stuffed Clifford is 311/2 Milk Bones long - each Milk Bone is 21/4 inches - the three conclude together.

The two tables interest many of the patrons after they've gone through the exhibit.

Most children first stop at The Quilt, where the computer touch screen lets them make patterns from different quilt blocks, creating their own design on the screen, librarian Nancy Eames said.

But the little guys head for the cookies.

They count the cookies or the chocolate chips, and then make a big decision - if they want the cookie with one chocolate chip in it or two?

“The idea is that parents and children work together,” Ms. Eames said. The young children can do some activities; the older children do the more advanced ones. And everybody can check out a copy of the books, of which the library ordered extra.

Go Figure! is on a 75-library tour.

The Children's Library, which sees an average of 500 to 600 visitors a day, has had several days when the number has exceeded 700 since the exhibit opened, Ms. Eames said.

The exhibits and activities, along with a pamphlet filled with ideas for home activities are in Spanish and English.

Starting this month, the library offers storytime to enhance the exhibit.

Interested patrons can contact the Children's Library at the Main Library, 325 Michigan Ave., to register.

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