When I started working at my current library, the children’s programming consisted of two preschool storytimes and one Music and Movement program per week plus one Family program per month. Even though we have an elementary and a middle school right next door and the library fills up with kids for roughly 2 hours after school every day, we had nothing at all for school-age kids to do. With a background teaching art to kids, I knew I could fill an hour and a half once a week somehow, someway. I also knew that kids who are engaged are kids who aren’t getting into trouble, so one of the first things I did was to start an afterschool Kid’s Club. This has also allowed me to get to know most of the kids that come in every day and having that relationship with them has made it easier to get books into their hands.
In looking for other things to fill these programs, one of the best partnerships I made was with the county CSU extension (Colorado State University) 4-H program. They had a grant to provide free STEM programming to community organizations that address kids’ needs. So, we have had an awesome Americorps volunteer coming twice a month to provide fun STEM programs for both our afterschool Teen Club and the Kid’s Club for free!
Today she came and did Elephant Foam (or Elephant Toothpaste) and then we made slime. She does a great job of teaching the kids about the science behind the different activities she does with them, too. Today, they talked about each of the ingredients that were used and what exactly they each did to cause the chemical reaction. They all got to touch the foam and they were fascinated by how warm and even hot it became.
Then there was the fun of making slime! Again she explained each ingredient and why we were using each one to make the slime work. And then everyone just played and had a great time!
We had a great time and learned some science and can’t wait for the next thing!