Dog Day

We had a Dog Day this summer. This was a teen-run activity, which involved a teen bringing their dogs to the library. Some people were wondering what we would do with the dogs. The dogs didn’t know any unusual tricks, and we hadn’t planned activities for people and dogs. However, the dogs were enough entertainment just by themselves. People loved petting them! The dogs also were very good tempered. As you can see, we had the activity in a room with a floor that is easy to clean, which was a good choice. One of the dogs had a very large poop at one point, but we were able to clean it up right away. If you aren’t able to have the dogs in the building, you could try it outside, in a park, or in a dog park.

If you wanted to make it more educational, you could add some information about the health benefits of owning a pet. They are supposed to lower blood pressure and anxiety. There is also new research that indicates children in homes with furry pets might not be as prone to develop allergies. In general, it was a fun activity, especially for the dog lovers!

 

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Snake Day II

We had our first World Snake Day  (July 16th) program last summer, and it was a success. It is important for people to learn about snakes and their place in the ecosystem. While there are some dangerous snakes out there, not all snakes are bad.

This summer, we collaborated with the Children’s Department in order to create an all-day Snake Day event with activities for all ages. In addition to the sewing activity, the kids made clay snakes, and Sternberg Museum of Natural History visited the library with some of their snakes.

Click here to learn how I made the snake pillows. It is a good idea to have two sewing machines running, and also schedule participants in groups of four every 20 minutes.

Someone also mentioned making snakes out of old neckties as a good activity, but I haven’t tried that yet. Whatever you do, have a good Snake Day!

 

Murder Mystery Luncheon: The Last Straw

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This summer, our murder mystery luncheon was called The Last Straw. Here is the setting: The play takes place at a therapy dude ranch near Area 51. People come from all over the world to cure their unusual addictions by being out in nature and bonding with horses. At the beginning of Scene I, everyone has just returned from a horseback ride on the mesa.

This was our most collaborative script to date. We had four teens who contributed either by providing ideas, writing, or editing the script. We only had about a month to get it all together, so I am very proud of how hard everyone worked.

I think we have finally created the easiest and most popular menu for the event: salad (soup was very unpopular last year), roast chicken and mashed potatoes, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

I have also discovered these wonderful name tags that say “Hello, my name is…” which saves a lot of time typing, printing, and cutting name tags, which is what we used to do in the old days.

Here is our script. Feel free to use it for your own event 🙂

Butterfly Garden: Caterpillar

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We saw a caterpillar in our butterfly garden! According to the research I did, this caterpillar should turn into a Black Swallowtail. I have not seen the fellow for a while, which I hope means that it has formed a cocoon in some safe place.

The first time I saw caterpillars eating dill in a friend’s garden, I said “I think you have a problem.” She informed me that she was letting the caterpillars eat her dill on purpose because they were going to turn into Swallowtails.

We have had a little trouble with the hungry/thirsty birds. I created this very simple bird bath to help quench their thirst, and maybe stop them from eating the plants (and pollinators).

Here is more information about our Pollinator Project.

Pollinator Project

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This spring we started the Hays Public Library Pollinator Plant Project.  It is especially important to learn about threatened pollinators like the monarch butterfly, so that we can help them rebuild their numbers. We hope to attract butterflies, bees, and ladybugs while making a beautiful and educational garden.

Research is an important step in the process of creating any garden. I began by consulting horticultural and sustainability experts 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). They provided advice, inspiration, and seeds for the garden.

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. If you want to keep your butterfly garden full of native plants (and you live in Kansas), this is a great resource.

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, verbena, and petunias.

The second stage of the project took place on a misty Wednesday morning at the library.  Children and teens got involved by planting verbena along the border of the garden. They also received an educational pollinator talk by Carly McCracken and Holly Dickman and a had outdoor storytime with Cathleen Kroeger.

Thanks to everyone involved, and especially to Carly who initially had the inspiration for the project!

 

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.