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 bicycles to the train caboose, 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 transportation masterpiece in our Art Studio.

ELC Theater - Put on a bus driver or pilot costume and perform your own play in the ELC.

Flight Simulator - Turn the wheel, press the controls and watch the plane soar in the air.

Bicycles - Follow the map around Waukegan and see how much energy you can generate while pedaling one of our bicycles.

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

Zip Car Mini Cooper - Future mechanics, put on your tool belt and come repair our bright yellow Zip Car Mini Cooper.

Train Caboose-Ring the bell and climb all aboard the ELC train Caboose. Visit the ticket booth, pack a bag and off you’ll go!

Take a look at our The Places You’ll Go 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. Check 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

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

    • Two-Year-Old Storytime - 10:15-10:30 a.m.
    • Preschool Storytime - 10:45-11:15 a.m.
    • *Los Bilingüitos (4-7 year olds) - 6-7 p.m. (Apr. 1, 8, 15; May 6, 13, 20)
  • Wednesday

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

    • Babies and Books - 10:15-10:30 a.m.
    • Preschool Storytime - 10:45-11:15 a.m.
  • Saturday

    • Preschool Storytime - 3:30-4 p.m.
  • Sunday

    • Los Bilingüitos Stories and More - 3:30-4 p.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.


Preschool Learning Time

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

  • Mondays from 6:30 - 7:00 p.m.

    •   April 7 ELC Olympics-Take part in a variety of Olympic activities such as an egg balancing race and a tower stacking activity. TT
    •  April 14 Springtime Arts and Crafts-Create a variety of springtime art projects such as a colorful tree and a fuzzy lamb.
    •  April 21 Earth Day Celebration-Celebrate Earth Day through stories and earth friendly crafts and activities.
    • May 5 Mother’s Day Crafts-Show mom how special she is to you and create a variety of colorful crafts she will love.

    • May 12 Little Builders-Bring your imagination and see what types of buildings you can create using Legos, Lincoln Logs, 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!

  • April 28 Creepy Crawly Critters-Create a creepy, crawly critter using foam, pipe cleaners and much, much more.

  • May 26 Health and Fitness Fun-Participate through numerous events such as Human Body Bingo and exercise through a variety of whole group dance activities.

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



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