Since my last post (ahem, almost two years ago!), I was promoted to full-time Children’s librarian status! My wonderful coworker and mentor retired in August 2014, and thus the promotion. My in-house and outreach programming was going to be dramatically increased as a result, starting in Fall 2014, and as I was planning over the summer, I was looking for ways to provide amazing programs to the school-agers but to also get a little bit of a programming break. So, I started looking around my area for places that would come in to do programming either for free or at relatively low cost. I found that my local children’s science museum, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, has several grant-sponsored programs on a variety of topics that they were glad to bring to the library for no cost to the library! I scheduled two programs with them: “T.R.A.S.H.,” about trash and recycling, and the other called “No Bones About It.” Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away the week of “T.R.A.S.H.,” so my coworker took over for the program. She said it was a fun program that the kids really enjoyed.
“No Bones About It” was an awesome program! The presenter brought a life-sized, realistic-looking skeleton of a child, x-rays of different bones in the body, as well as x-rays of animals, books and other information for the kids to look at, and helped the kids make a paper skeleton. He was a wealth of information and answered every question the kids asked.
I also found out that our local parks system, Five Rivers MetroParks, has education kits available for educators to borrow for a refundable $25 fee. I was able to borrow a kit about Ohio fossils, which included sample Ohio fossils, a skeleton head of a raccoon that was found in one of the parks, molds to make our own fossils, books about fossils, and a three-ring binder with information and activities about fossils for the educator. By the time I used this kit, I had gotten to know the kids who were coming to the program, and knew I needed to spice it up to keep them interested, as the program started right after school. And I’ll be honest, science is not one of my favorite subjects, so I didn’t feel as confident leading this program as others. My goal with these programs (or any of my programs really) is to make learning fun without being like school. Here’s what we did:
- Activity One: DVD clips about Fossils
- We watched how fossils are formed and how they are preserved
- Reading Rainbow clip “Let’s Dig Up Fossils” (I remember this one vividly from my younger years!)
- Activity Two: Examine a Recent Bone (Raccoon Skull)
- I asked questions like: Is it a fossil? Could this skull become a fossil? How can a mold be created from the bones?
- Activity Three: Look at State Fossil, Trilobite, and Fossil Collection
- We talked about and looked at a replica of the state fossil: Ohio’s is the Trilobite. We talked about the parts of the Trilobite’s body, and I asked if the kids had ever seen a Trilobite. Since they are extinct, that led us into a discussion of other animals that are extinct. We then examined the fossil kit.
- Activity Four: Paint Fossils
- I made salt dough models from the fossil molds provided in the kit the night before. The kids could paint the different models with watercolors and take them home.
My last collaboration for the fall semester was from the Glen Helen Ecology Institute, whose Raptor Center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases raptors, owls, and other birds. The presenter brought three owls: a Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, and a Screech Owl. She talked for a short time about the Raptor Center, Ohio owls and owls in general, and then brought out each of the owls. We got to see the Great Horned Owl panting to keep cool and the Screech Owl coughed up a pellet! The presenter patiently answered all of the questions the kids asked and just like the presenter from the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, was a wealth of information about owls!
I’m already looking forward to this spring because I have two programs scheduled with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: “Food, Fun, and Fitness” and “SunWise,” which is a program about how students can protect themselves from harmful UV rays. If you are looking for fresh ideas for programming at your library, try collaborating with area museums, nature centers, and businesses!