Lend & Learn is Reopening Indoors!

Lend & Learn is Now Open by Appointment!

You can now sign up online for indoor play time at Lend & Learn! Come explore our new, larger space at 1002 Fay St, Columbia, MO.

What is Lend & Learn?

Lend & Learn is a program of First Chance for Children that strengthens family well-being through PLAY. It provides a free and safe place for children ages 0-5 to do playful learning activities with their caregivers, interact with other children and caregivers, discuss parenting and child development with staff, and have fun! Lend & Learn has two physical sites in Columbia and Centralia.

How has Lend & Learn been affected by the pandemic?

During the pandemic, our indoor sites were temporarily closed to slow the spread of Covid-19. Instead, we provided hundreds of play-at-home kits with a month’s worth of activity instruction pages, ideas, and supplies for families to pick up curbside every month. These kits encouraged positive parent-child interaction, developmentally-appropriate growth, and reduced stress of caregivers.

For toy checkout, our team created a catalog of 36 toy sets with 3-4 toys, a puzzle, and a book around pretend and skills play themes. Families could reserve toys sets and pick them up curbside for up to two weeks. As communities began to open up this summer and fall, Lend & Learn shifted to in-person events and organized outdoor play activities at parks and playgrounds all over Central Missouri.

What is the Lend & Learn indoor play area like?

Lend & Learn moved to a new, larger building at 1002 Fay St, Columbia MO this summer. There is a wide range of fun toys to play, arts and crafts supplies, a dedicated infant space with a chair to feed and rock your baby, and a large kitchen with snacks and drinks. Outside, there is a large, fenced-in play area with slides, swings, and ride-on toys. Additionally, families may borrow toys, games, and hiking child carriers to extend play at home from the checkout closet.

Our Lend & Learn North in Centralia is a large room with fun toys, arts and crafts area, and snacks. Lend & Learn North will be open to Northern Boone families on the second Mondays of every month this winter from 10am-12pm. Additionally, families may check out toys from the play room and receive one package of diapers and wipes per child during the monthly events. No appointments are necessary for Lend & Learn North events.

How do I sign up for a play time at Lend & Learn?

Sign up times for the Columbia Lend & Learn are available in December on Tuesdays & Wednesdays 9am-12pm, and Thursdays 12-3pm. Lend & Learn checkout is also available during these times. Spots are limited, so sign up today!

Lend & Learn infant room
Lend & Learn infant room with rocking chair, shelf with board books, and infant toys

How is Lend & Learn protecting family safety?

To protect safety, Lend & Learn has strengthened our cleaning procedures. Families are making online appointments in order to limit the number of people at our indoor space. We ask families to respect our illness policies such as adults wear masks when indoors and rescheduling your play time if you have symptoms of illness or have been in close contact with a person who is ill. Also, we are working to accommodate families who are concerned about playing indoors with others they do not know. Caregivers may contact the Lend & Learn Coordinator at quinnc@fc4c.org to arrange a private play time.

How do I check out toys?

Families may borrow toys, games, and hiking child carriers to extend play at home from the checkout closet. You may borrow up to four items for two weeks and return to our toy library. To save time, we created toy sets that you may check out. Your child can pretend, play, learn, and explore at home with our baby or toddler toy sets! Each toy set comes with a handout that shows you how to extend your child’s play and learning. You may view and reserve the checkout items online at the following links:

Lend & Learn Checkout Closet
Lend & Learn toy closet with toy set bags and items for checkout

The toy sets may be borrowed for two weeks and then returned or exchanged for a new set. Use the main entrance at the First Chance for Children building (1002 Fay St) and ring the doorbell for assistance. We ask all adults to wear masks when entering the building. 

Contactless, curbside pickup and return is available on Tuesdays 9am-3pm, Wednesdays 9am-12pm, and Thursdays 12-3pm or by appointment. Text/call our Lend & Learn Coordinator, Charity Quinn, at 573-340-1341 when you arrive in the parking lot, and she will bring the checkout items to your vehicle.

Hiking Backpack Child Carriers

Lend & Learn has five backpack child carriers for hiking that will be available at no cost for checkout! The child carrier is for children weighing between 16 lbs. to 40 lbs. A child must be at least six months and able to sit upright unassisted. Checkout is for one week to allow for many families to utilize the carriers. Click here to learn more.

woman with child in backpack carrier, holding child on her front, smiling
Family using the hiking carrier at a summer event

Home Visits

Families who have difficulties with transportation or who work during our regular hours can sign up for home visits! Our Lend & Learn Coordinator is offering in-home and virtual visits to share support, tools, and resources that will strengthen your family. We can help with play activities, social and emotional growth, language and motor skills, family stress, transitions, child development screenings, mental health resources, and more! Reach out today!

Diaper Assistance

First Chance helps families with diapers through our Baby Bags Diaper Bank program as a way to lower stress and help you change your baby’s diaper as often as you need. You may receive one package of diapers and wipes per month, per child. Request diapers through our Lend & Learn program during your next visit. We also have monthly diaper drive thru events. Follow our facebook page to see what’s coming up.