Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mud Day 2017

My favorite program of every summer! You know, while there is a big push for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, we still seem to skip over the necessary precursor - play! Having fun, seeing what happens, finding out what will work all on our own. Cause and effect. Textures. Mixtures. Messes!

Enter International Mud Day! Officially celebrated June 29, we have to play loose with the date to fit our schedule. This year it was on a HOT summer Saturday, the day after our blood drive (you know, when they tell you to take it easy and not do anything strenuous - like tote bags of dirt and shovel more dirt, in the hot sun. Oops.)

Each year is slightly different, but we have some basic elements:

Wading pools with funnels, cups, and sequins for the littles.

More pools of water scattered around.

Those stayed clean for approximately thirty seconds

Trash cans filled with water for squirt guns.

Pools of dry dirt with cars, small buckets, etc.

A slip and slide - large tarp covered with dish soap, hose or sprinkler at the top.

And, of course, mud! This year the city streets department brought me a yard of good top soil. I got here early in the morning to start shoveling it in, because it has been up to 107-109 in the afternoon. I'm not sure what it was today, but after an hour I was feeling pretty hot and stinky! Fortunately we had some early arrivals, and I put them to work tossing the bigger dirt clods in.

Then it just needed a little bit of water:

And a snake or two. Some buckets. A rubber lizard. The usual.

Finally, a dry spot for adults,

A place to rinse the dirt off (sprayer hose on gravel),

and towels by the library entrance.

I also had cases of bottled water out, because even if you are IN the water, it is super easy to get dehydrated in this heat!

And, they're off!

The slip and slide is easily my most popular spot every year.

Some preferred starting off with the water,

while others dove right in to the mud.

Extremely pale librarian toes

I love how he immediately made a canal. He is definitely one of my STEM-focused patrons!

Right before Christopher laid down in the mud. And then rolled over.

Remember the little boy who cried when he got dirty last year?

He got over it.

That cute yellow diaper was smuggling pounds of mud out by the end!

Lots of parents having fun with the kids!

This guy was running away from his brother, who had a handful of mud. Why? Why was he running?? Was he afraid his brother would get that one tiny missed spot at the top of his head dirty?

What do you mean I missed a spot?

If this big tree ever dies I have no idea what I will do!

We started a little early, so it was about 2 hours of fun - then time to clean up!

Some of us more so than others. I had some super volunteers and parents who stayed behind to help dump and spray and deflate. The soil was dumped over the tree roots that have been coming to the surface, and the grass enjoyed the extra watering after a month of construction and no sprinklers. There may or may not have been a round of popsicles for those who helped!

I hope everyone had at least as much fun as I did!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Teen Cafe - Construction Challenge

My oldest son, Christopher, has been enjoying the tweens group (grades 4-7). They do a lot of fun activities with Mr. Cliff and Sherry, and they are a fairly quiet, well-behaved group.

This past week, Christopher had to be with me at the library, so I let him join the teens (grades 8 and up). He discovered that the teens are...well, not like the tweens.

Our activity this time was a construction challenge. As they grabbed snacks and drinks, I nudged them into tables, which became their teams. Each team had exactly 100 pieces of uncooked spaghetti (yes, I counted) and one brand new roll of scotch tape. The goal was to build the tallest structure in the time allotted. The catch: It had to support a large marshmallow at the top (I would measure from the surface of the table to the bottom of the marshmallow.)

We ended up with three teams and three very different tactics. This team was all girls, and they went straight for height:

with a little bit of drama thrown in.

Okay, a lot of drama. And a lot of noise, despite generous use of tape.

They named their structure Bobert Robert the Seventh of the Germanic Tribe Nobert (also a unicorn). When he began teetering, they encouraged to think of his family, think of his cat!!! They even played the sounds of his cat calling for him, in hopes it would help him pull through.

I have very odd teens, is what I'm saying.

This team went with strength first, binding several spaghetti strands together.

And then they started laughing and couldn't stop, and never got it any higher.
(I had to cut part of the team out because I didn't meet up with a parent for photo permission, sorry!)

The third team (also without photo permissions) consisted of two teens who talked to each other nonstop, and a third who pretty much built the whole thing herself. Which pretty much describes every team project I have ever been a part of. Enjoy college, honey.

In the end, Bobert hung on long enough to win. And then ended up in pieces. His cat misses him terribly.

With only 15 minutes left, I let them choose if they wanted to try the second challenge - building with toothpicks and tiny marshmallows. A little bit more structurally sound this time around!

In other news, R. tried to give a teammate her best stern look:



You got it!

Aaaand you lost it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer Reading and Tall Paul

Magician Tall Paul is one of our perennial favorites. While his jokes are groaners for the adults, the kids are delighted by his antics (especially when they catch him 'cheating'!)

The temp was supposed to reach 107 today, but outside is really the only place we can fit more than 70 people - and as you can see, we had a few more than that:

I counted about 150, which is fortunately the approximate number of people our big shade tree will cover!

See that tarp back there? When I arrived this morning, the first thing I saw was a huge mound of dirt smack in the middle of the lawn. This dirt is for next week's Mud Day, and I was expecting it to be delivered...this afternoon. 

Good thing I know how to operate a shovel! I started carrying it bit by bit to the base of the tree, and a patron by the name of Joseph stopped to ask about our hours. He asked if I needed any help, and I told him thanks, but I only had one shovel. He went back to his house, grabbed his shovel, and came back to help! If anyone knows a Joseph with an Akita named Sophie, tell him thanks again for me!

We got enough moved that we could just toss a tarp over the rest, and everyone could see the show.

Especially if they sat on the pile!

As usual, he had the kids laughing pretty quickly.

 Then he started bringing up volunteers to help him out.

Most of my pictures of this one turned out blurry :( She had the perfect deadpan expressions to act as his foil!

This young man did a great job, even as the magic wands grew bigger...

...and bigger...

...and then he had to hold them all at once!

He's in there somewhere!

He finally got some help.

But the next volunteer broke his favorite wand!

I literally snorted when the wand magically went limp in her hand, and she immediately hid it behind her back.

Fortunately, the show went on, and everyone seemed to survive the heat. In fact, many people grabbed their lunch inside, and brought it right back out to eat on the grass! I hope everyone had at least as much fun as I did watching the kids giggle and shriek.

Now...back to shoveling dirt.