My Wisconsin colleague Terry Ehle is our guest blogger today. She took unprogramming to heart and shares the dirt...on dirt. Terry has been a youth librarian for 15 years in Two Rivers, WI population 11,696. She says this about herself, “The thing I love most about my job is that it's never boring. If I lose interest in what I am doing I can change it. "What we've always done" does not apply at my library and I love it. I am really passionate about early literacy and want every child in my area to enter school ready to read. I enjoy talking about books with young adult readers and get a secret rush when asked, ‘Do you have any suggestions?.’ I love Zombie fiction and the color pink. Being a librarian is the most challenging job I have ever had and I wouldn't want to do anything else!”
After reading the posts about Unprogramming, I decided to share a successful unprogram at my library based on the book “Dirt” by Ellen Lawrence and 2 ideas I found online. This book is a part of the FUNdemental Experiment s series by Bearport Publishing. Easy, inexpensive ideas in this book. We had 75 kids attend and my maintenance man is still talking to me so it was a success!
Egg Shell Geodes – Super simple even for a big group. The hardest part is getting the egg shells and that wasn’t even that hard. Crack the eggs near the top so you have more shell to pour into and rinse. Mix together 1 tbsp. hot (but not boiling) water and 1 tbsp. Epsom salt. If all the salt dissolves add a little more. Add a drop of food coloring if you want, pour into egg shell and stick in fridge for a couple of days. I put the eggs in Dixie cups for the kids to take home. See picture to see how they turned out. I also had some real geodes that the kids could explore.
Dirt Catchers – Create a frame using popsicle sticks, add a loop of yarn to hang, tape a piece of packing tape across frame so that one sticky side is facing out and hang in a corner to see how much diit is in the air.
Worm Discovery – Get 2 tubs of night crawlers from a bait shop and set out wet paper towels to put them on. Let kids use magnifying glasses to observe what the worms do. The book has some other things to try. I had an adult supervise this one.
Dirt & Water – Using baby food jars and a few different types of dirt dug up from around town, have kids put dirt in jar and add water. Cover, shake, observe. It’s weird but different dirt does different things.
Dirt Discovery – I made copies of a piece of paper with 3 sections – living, non-living, once living and gave each child a cup of dirt. They poured the dirt onto the paper and dug through it with a toothpick and tried to find things in each category. One child even found a worm!
The only talking I did was to let everyone know what the stations were. I had a volunteer at the egg geode and the worm stations. The only supplies I bought were worms ($5.00) and Epsom salt ($3.00). Everything else I had on hand. If it seems complex it wasn’t, other than gathering egg shells from coworkers and eating lots of omelets myself, I pulled this together in 2 days.