Early Learning Center

The Early Learning Center (ELC), located in the Children’s Department, is a unique space for kids to interact with different learning opportunities. From the Art Studio to the apples trees to the vegetable garden, the ELC is a colorful, interactive place where kids can discover the fun of learning. Come for the storytimes, stay for the arts and crafts, and watch your child get excited about all the hands-on activities within reach.  It’s a one-of-a-kind Waukegan experience that you and your child will come back to again and again.

Tour of the ELC

Art Studio - Come and create a farmyard masterpiece in our Art Studio.

Sound Barn - Press the colored buttons to hear the farm animal sounds and lift the windows to find the animal that has made the sound.

Apple Trees - Place and pick an apple off the tree.

Crawl Space - Little ones will explore the world around them in this interactive, sensory filled Crawl Space.

Maggie the Real Milking Cow-Pretend you are a farmer and learn how to milk Maggie.

Vegetable Garden - Plant pretend play vegetables in the ELC garden.

Take a look at our Farm Fun Grand Opening Party on December 8, 2013!

ELC Programs

Have you visited the Waukegan Library’s Early Learning Center (ELC)—A Children’s Learning Museum right here in Waukegan! It’s open during library hours and free to the public. Chech out our free family programs.

No registration required. Please accompany your child to the ELC programs!  All ELC programs are for 3-5-year-olds and their parent/caregivers, unless otherwise stated.


  • Monday

    • Drop-in Storytime - 10:45-11:15 a.m.
  • Tuesday

    • Two-Year-Old Storytime - 10:15-10:30 a.m.
    • Drop-in Storytime - 10:45-11:15 a.m.
    • *Los Bilingüitos (4-7 year olds) - 6-7 p.m. (Sept. 3,10, 17; Oct. 1,8, 15; Nov. 5, 12, 19; Dec. 3, 10, 17)
  • Wednesday

    • Drop-in Storytime - 10:45-11:15 a.m. and 6:30-7 p.m.
  • Thursday

    • Babies and Books - 10:15-10:30 a.m.
    • Drop-in Storytime - 10:45-11:15 a.m.

*Los Bilingüitos - The first three Tuesdays of the month,  a new theme is introduced to children ages 4 - 7.  There is always an element of surprise.  One week there could be a craft project, or a storytime, another week it could be a library scavenger hunt or other games.

Early Learning Center Camps

Free, fun and informative, these camps have at all!  Each features different activities, such as counting game to back to school crafts and a preschool sing along.  Recommended for children ages 3 - 5.

  • Mondays from 6:30 - 7:00 p.m.

    •   September 9 Alphabet Arts and  Crafts- How well does your child know his or her ABC’s? Join us for a variety of alphabet crafts using glitter, sequence, and foam. 
    •  September 16  Colors and Shapes Celebration-Participate in a number of color and shape games such as Color and Shape Musical Mats and create a colorful necklace.    
    •  September 23 Once Upon a Farm-Help us retell our favorite stories such as Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming and create your own storytime mask. 
    • October 7 Letter Sound Fun and Games-Does your child know the beginning sound in the word “cow”? Come and play an assortment of letter sound games such as Pin the Beginning Sound on the Farm and create an alphabet letter bracelet. 
    •  October 14  What’s My Rhyme?-Take part in a variety of rhyming games such as Rhyme Time Memory and create a rhyming headband. 
    •  October 21  Fabulous Fall Arts and Crafts-Join in a number of Halloween and fall craft projects using feather, glitter, yarn and more. 
    • November 4  Little Authors-Participate in a hands-on storytime and parents and children will write and illustrate their own mini book together.

    • November 11  Food Mystery-Follow the clues and figure out which food come from what plant or animal on a farm and participate in a food taste test.

    • November 18 Messy Art-Showcase your creativity and create a number of art projects using glitter, rice, feathers and more!

    • December 2 Marvelous Math Sing-Along-Help us sing a variety of zany math songs such as Five Green and Speckled Frogs and Shapes in Action.

    • December 9 Are We There Yet?-Learn about the different ways people travel around and create a transportation craft.

    • December 16 Wintertime Games-Take part in a variety of wintertime games such as Mitten Match and create a sparkly snowman craft.

    • December 23 Winter Arts and Crafts-Celebrate the winter season and make an assortment of art projects such as colorful mitten and a snowflake necklace.

  • Tuesdays from 11:30 - 12:00 p.m.

    • September 10 Back to School Arts and Crafts-School is back in session! Make a number of art projects such as a sandy crayon and a back to school collage.

    • October 8 Fabulous Fall Arts and Crafts-Celebrate the fall season and make an assortment of art projects such as glittery candy corns and nature collage.

    • November 12 Messy Art-Showcase your creativity and create a number of art projects using glitter, rice, feathers and more!

    • December 10 Transportation Art Time-Create a variety of transportation art projects using paint, beads, rice and more!

Sensational Sixes & Sevens

Mondays from 6:30 - 7 p.m. Once a month our sensational 6 and 7-year-olds will try a sensational new project!

  • September 30 Hispanic Heritage Crafts-Come and join us and create various Hispanic heritage crafts using feathers, beads and more.

  • October 28 Halloween Fun and Games-Come and play a variety of Halloween games and create a variety of Halloween crafts.

Lake County Farm Bureau Programs

Early Learning Tips

Great Books

Choose from thousands of books in the ELC collection specifically designed to help your child read and learn.  Below is just a small example of the wealth of knowledge available to spark your child’s interest and imagination.

Board Books

Picture Books

Early Readers

What People Are Saying about the New ELC…

The ELC room is a great area for children to enjoy themselves in a safe area. While at the same time they are constantly learning about the different theme they change every year. The ELC room educates, entertains, and definelty motivates children as well as parents to bring their children to the fun activities the library provides.”– Elizabeth Cordova 

My kids never want to leave. There’s plenty to keep them playing and learning for hours.” – Christy Porter

There is nothing like this at any other library. My grandchildren can’t wait to visit and use all the wonderful learning centers. It is presented in a way they have no idea they are learning. It is always well kept and the staff is very helpful and encouraging.”

The ELC is more fun then McDonald’s Play Land.” – Naomi Adams

ELC in the News

On November 2, 2008, the Waukegan Public Library unveiled its new Early Learning Center (ELC), a hands-on environment where the children of Waukegan have a place to actively learn. Modeled in part after the Kohl’s Children’s Museum in Glenview, the ELC provides five stations—music, nature, science, craft and pretend play—each with theme-related books easily within reach.




North Shore Gas - http://www.northshoregasdelivery.com/company/community.aspx

Waukegan School District - http://www.wps60.org/

EPIC - http://schools.wps60.org/epic/

United Way of Lake County - http://www.uwlakeco.org


Early Learning Center Camp: Summertime Celebration

Past ELC exhibits

Early Learning Center: Oink, Baa, Moo Farm Fun