Pollinator Project


This spring we started the Hays Public Library Pollinator Plant Project. We hope to attract butterflies, bees, and ladybugs. I began by consulting knowledgeable people including Andree Brisson (sustainability expert at Fort Hays State University), Carly McCracken (certified in sustainability), Keri Claudle (Fort Hays State University sustainability graduate student), Holly Dickman (horticultural expert with Kansas State University Research and Extension), and Margie Muller (Master Gardener).

There are some types of milkweed that can be controversial, and even the butterfly bush can ruffle some feathers. Annual tropical milkweed is controversial for a few different reasons, but since we had some donated, we planted it. This site goes into some detail about reasons for concern, and what to do.

Every spring, members of the Prairie Garden Club dig up plants from their yards and give them away. Some generous souls also start annuals from seed. There is a donation jar available, if you wish to donate. The best thing about the plants you get at the giveaway is their hardiness, they will thrive in this specific region. I got many different plants at the giveaway. Not all of them will provide food for the critters, but they will help create shelter for the pollinators and smaller plants.

Here is a list of some of the plants I got at the giveaway (common names): large sedum, small sedum, lamb’s ear, dill, ice plant, monkey grass, day lily, bee balm, golden rod, sweet pea, and orange cosmos. I also purchased: butterfly bush, portulaca, fennel, rosemary, lantana, blue-stem grass, and petunias.

The second stage of the project will take place at 10am on Wednesday, May 25th at the Hays Public Library.  Children and teens are welcome get involved in the project. We will have verbena for them to plant along the border of the garden. They will also receive a short educational talk about pollinators and a pollinator storytime.

You can register here.

Fairy Gardens


Last summer an extensive fairy town sprung up one day and dominated the activity room for almost a month. There was a Fairy-Mart and a Fairyot hotel. I wanted to revisit the fairy construction industry, so we had a fairy garden activity. Some materials we used included felt, beads, craft paper, ribbon, white glue, hot glue, and small pots. These were really small fairy cottages with gardens. There were ponds, bridges, and ladders. Note: In order to create a roof like the ones we had, you need to cut a half-circle of felt. Here are the steps using a paper template:

Marimo Moss Ball Habitats


While looking for habitat-related activities, I ran across Marimo Moss Balls. These spherical algae balls grow in slightly brackish (salty) lakes in Japan. They were first made popular in Japan as “pets.” They require very little care; you just need to change the water every other week. I ordered them online and re-hydrated them when they arrived. The activity involved decorating mason jars with colored shell pieces, glass pebbles, tumbled glass, ribbons, or lace. Most decorations were hot glued on the outside of the jars, but some people made interior decorations. Here is a link to a Marimo care guide. Marimo can live up to 200 years if cared for correctly! Our teens were very excited about their new pets.


Drawing Club

This spring we started alternating our Monday activities between Drawing Club, Fama Club (film and drama), and Comic-Mon (like Comic-Con, but smaller and held on Mondays). We had a lot of fun ideas for Drawing Club which included exploring calligraphy, charcoal, Spirographs, 3-D Doodlers, pastels, graphite, and tracing paper. We also thought we could offer fake fruit for people to draw or get mirrors so they could draw self-portraits.

So far, we have had a not-so-successful pastel day, a great calligraphy day, and the Spirographs are a hit. Charcoal and graphite were also very interesting mediums to explore. However, the fake fruit has not been entirely successful so far, mostly people ask if they can eat it instead of trying to draw it. In addition, we have not yet mastered the 3-D Doodler, I will let you know when we have. We decided not to buy the mirrors for self portraits, but if you do, let me know how it goes. Overall, it has been fun adventuring with the Drawing Club participants. It is a time  and place for the teens to kick back, relax, and draw whatever they want. Here is a link to the post that inspired us:

Open Drawing Session at MPPL


Trash’n Show Fashion Show

It has been more than a week since our wonderful fashion show. The local paper featured us, which was awesome. The teens were excited and nervous before the show, elated afterwards, and proud of themselves for doing so well (and rightly so). It was a great way to get to know everyone a little better and let their light shine.

Here are some things I learned:

  • It is always better to allow for more time than you need. We transported the teens to and from the Hays Academy of Hair Design. In the future, I hope to allow more time for this part of the activity. The teens love going to the salon, so it is really worth it to help them get there.
  • Not everyone is a crafty critter. Some folks just want to be in the show, and some folks just want to make costumes. I let some people make things, and others just be in the show.
  • It is messy! We had to store the costumes and supplies in our activity room, which meant that it was pretty messy until the show was over. This was fine with me, but if you have to share space with another department, or you only have a small space, you may want to think a bit about storage.

Thanks to the Hays Academy of Hair Design, Hays Daily News,teens, HPL staff, volunteers, and audience members who made this a special event.

Trash’n Show Fashion Show Prep

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Every other spring we alternate between having a fashion show or a talent show. This spring we decided to have a Trash’n Show. The teens have been busy creating fashions using reused and recycled items. Here is a list of some of the materials we have on hand: large aerial maps (donated when city offices moved), packaging peanuts, packing paper, bubble wrap, fabric scraps (donated by the local thrift store), t-shirts, tulle, peacock feathers, paintable masquerade masks, hot glue, fashion magazines, and acrylic paint.

We included some items like the masks and feathers to help give the teens a place to start their journey in fashion construction. In addition, I felt that a masquerade theme would give us all a little direction and focus. I have learned that masks are extremely popular, regardless of their quality. Some masks were thick plastic molded into pleasing and imaginative shapes. These were painted because they had a more porous surface while others were thinner plastic and definitely needed some aesthetic assistance. The thinner masks had a layer of paper hot glued onto them, so that they could be painted more easily.

As you may imagine, making great clothing out of this variety of items takes a little imagination. Here are some simple steps for making a dress:

trash n show prep 0011. Start by cutting the arms and neckline off a t-shirt.

2. Rip your paper (in this case aerial maps) into long strips.

3. Hot glue your strips onto your shirt front in a pleasing pattern. You can also add paper loops on the shoulders like I did.

4. Add a skirt of additional fabric using hot glue. You can experiment with pleats as you attach your skirt material.

5. Decorate your skirt with more paper strips.

trash n show prep 002


There are also some easy ways to create skirts. You can make a skirt using accordion folded images from a fashion magazine.The accordions in this skirt were hot glued at one end to create fans. Then the fans were hot glued to a skirt which had been donated by a thrift store. It looks great when you twirl!

trash n show prep 003


You can also create this skirt by stapling rolled paper tubes to a thick ribbon. Of course, you need shorts, tights, or leggings to go with this skirt.



As for costumes for the guys, I had thoughts about covering vests or jackets in paper or other materials, but they requested tunics or invented their own unique outfits.

There was a lot of enthusiasm about making outfits for the Trash’n Show. It is a great way to get everyone involved and thinking about ways to be creative with items we might otherwise discard.

Build Your Own Roller Coaster

As part of our Spectacular Science series, constructing roller coasters was a good activity for builders and makers. It required ingenuity, patience, and a little luck. The object is to create a roller coaster using 3/4 inch foam pipe insulation, masking tape, and marbles. The roller coaster should have one loop and one hill. Ideally, the marble should end up in a cup at the end of its ride.

While our teens were a little reluctant at first, they were soon captivated, learning about centrifugal force, potential energy, and kinetic energy without even realizing it. They were even able to make a diagonal loop and a roller coaster with three loops. I had thought that we would have teams compete against each other, but people trickled in, so they completed their roller coasters in a more staggered fashion. At the end of the activity, all the tubing was compiled into one mega roller coaster, which was really cool.

Check out the cool video Scott made.