3D printing, coding classes, ukulele lessons, LEGO clubs, cooking with bugs! Did you know that all of these exciting and enriching experiences can be found at your local library? Beyond books and story time, libraries have reinvented themselves to stand boldly on the cutting edge of all things fun and educational for kids. Read on to learn about some of the most inspiring, free programs in town for young explorers of all ages.

Photo: San Diego Public Library

Gaining STEAM

Library NExT (Network of Education x Training) program, in conjunction with Sally Ride Science from UCSD features classes where kids can master the modern digital world learning about robotics, circuits, “messy” science, 3D modeling and college planning. These fun, innovative classes are bringing circuitry through bananas and total awe to kids as they build their own huge-scale inflatables. Pilot programs are currently available at City Heights, Linda Vista, Logan Heights, Mira Mesa and Rancho Penasquitos branches. Look for more libraries to add this program in 2018. Preregistration is required. Hurry! These popular classes are gaining STEAM and fill fast.
For kids grades 6-8.
Sign up online: sandiego.gov/librarynext

NASA Solar System Explorers fires up future astronauts with inspiring presentations and hands-on activities about space. 3rd Wed. monthly, 3:30 p.m. Encinitas branch.

The Pre K Tinker lab allows little kids to get hands-on and freely explore science. Ages 3-5 twice/mo– Preregistration required. Carmel Valley branch.

Photo: San Diego Public Library

Experience the Future With 3D Printers

Everyone from beginner to expert is a maker with a 3D printer. Little techies will be awestruck by this innovative technology. You’ll find terrific, free programming classes at Poway and Spring Valley. Bring a laptop or one will be provided if needed. Explore the wonder of 3D Printers at many branches including: 4S Ranch Library, Alpine Library, Bonita-Sunnyside Library, Casa De Oro, Imperial Beach Library Lemon Grove Library Rancho San Diego Library, San Marcos Library Solana Beach.  Call to see if a library near you has a 3D printer.


Design video games with an instructor on staff. Learn programming, get creative, and have fun! For elementary and middle school kids. Every Tues., 3 p.m. Laptops provided. Spring Valley.

Join the Coding Club and learn basic coding in Java and Python. Ages 10+ Must bring your own laptop. Every Friday 4-5:30 p.m. Rancho Penasquitos.

Photo: Mission Valley Library Facebook Page


Future Master builders can create and stack for an hour’s worth of uninterrupted imaginative play at many local branches’ LEGO meetups. Check on the library website to find times for one near you.

Snapology teaches STEM concepts as kids design and build amazing creations. Snapology classes take place on the third Sat., monthly at 10:30 a.m. For kids ages 8-12. Preregistration required. Mission Valley branch.

Photo: Mission Valley Library Facebook Page

Handmade Brigade

Sure, you’ll find crayons and glue sticks at nearly every story time. But we’re impressed with these programs that make the glitter and glue crew happy to create til their heart’s content (and learn some new skills)!

Learn to sew and relax with like-minded creative kids at the Tween Sewing Club for grades 3-6. 3rd Wed. each month, 3:30 pm, Poway branch.

Join Knit & Crochet Fun on the first Tues. monthly, 3:30-5 p.m. Ages 7+ Rancho Penasquitos.

Kids have fun learning how to make unique seasonal items like glow in dark bracelets and henna tattoos at Crafty Creations. For kids ages 3 and older. Tues. weekly 45 p.m. Tierrasanta.

Photo: Rancho Penasquitos Library Facebook Page

Reading is FUNdamental

Want to connect in a new way with your little bookworms? Check out a mother/daughter or mother/son book club where you may learn something new about each other as you read and discuss together. Tues. evenings. Grades 2-5. 4S Ranch.

Healthy Cooking (and Edible Bugs Too!)

Cook up something healthy and have fun with Watts Cooking. Offered most Fridays at 3 p.m. each month. Check calendar for specific dates. Every third Fri. take on a special challenge when cooking turns to eating bugs with Fear Factor. Spring Valley branch.

Photo: Coyot on PIxabay

The Sound of Music 

Free music lessons at the local library? Sign the kids up pronto!

Learn to play the ukulele with Yes Uke Can! and enjoy a laid back musical experience. For all ages and levels. Second Sat. each month, 3 p.m. 4S Ranch.

The Students’ Association for Young Artists (SAYA) offers the unique opportunity for high school students to give free lessons to younger kids. Features lessons for -wind instruments, piano and violin. Ages 7-12. Register online Carmel Valley branch.

An Important note

Programs vary by library system, location and branch. You can look up current kids’ programs and events happening at your local library by visiting the sites below and selecting the appropriate branch and age range in the field or drop-menu.

San Diego Public Library

San Diego County Library

What are your kids’ favorite library programs? Share in the comments.

–Cherie Gough