The Magical Moments of Summer

Really, summer’s almost over? But, I feel like we just got started! Yes, we are in our final week of summer programming, and I must say it’s been a wild, but spectacular ride. This was my first summer heading up the Children’s Room, and I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished. We encouraged kids to keep reading throughout the summer, and we provided programming that taught them more about STEAM-related topics such as astronomy, paleontology, physics, engineering, computer science and math. In all, we had 600 children who participated in the Full STEAM Ahead Reading Program and promised to read for three hours a week. If every reader did what they promised, that’s 14,400 hours of reading over eight weeks!

I am sure each member of the Children’s staff has their own magical moments that they witnessed this summer, but these are mine.

I loved watching the kids’ faces as I opened their reading logs to see what they had read for the week. They were so proud and eager to tell me about at least one of their favorite books.

DSCN2030In Cosmic Creations, Jenny made a comet with dry ice, dirt, ammonia and root beer and then used a blow dryer to simulate the tail of the comet! We had many future scientists in the audience who were eager to share their knowledge of space with Jenny. She listened to one boy tell her about black holes and other mysteries of space for about 30 minutes after the program ended.

On the day of our Elephant & Piggie party day, four-year-old Avery brought her favorite Elephant & Piggie book, Are You Ready to Play Outside?, to proudly read to Lauren. Even though Lauren was minutes away from needing to start story time, she happily sat and listened to every word of Avery’s sweet telling of the story.

DSCN2277While the Balloon-powered Raceway was probably one of our most challenging programs, the kids who participated learned a valuable lesson: making things often involves many failed attempts so patience is essential. The children built from water bottles or cardboard, straws, skewers, bottle caps, tape, and a balloon. When the races began, many of the cars needed major adjustments, but in time, we had many that rolled past the finish line! Success!

We created PeRLs (Personalized Reading Lists) for 108 kids entering grades 5 through 8 this summer. This program takes a lot of staff time, but is worth it. Not only do participating kids each get a list of books tailored just for them, but they also gain experience articulating their reading preferences to us. For some, it’s easy, but for many it’s the first time they’ve talked to an adult this way and it takes a lot of thought and courage.

DSCN2692Our Wednesdays on Stage performances offered many wonderful moments, but my favorite was during our last show when Steve Lucky and the five members of the Rhumba Bums paraded through the audience with instruments in hand and got the kids to follow them. This inspired many of the children and parents to dance for the remainder of the show. It was a great end to a wonderful series of magicians, musicians, acrobatics, theater, and storytelling.

This Friday, August 22, is our End-of-Summer Party, and it’s a fantastic way to bring the summer to a close. We’ll have crafts, face painting, free ice cream, hula hoops, bubbles and drummer Mika Scott who will lead a drum circle with the kids. The party is from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. in the Peter Dreyfus Garden and Outdoor Amphitheater. Hope to see you there!

-Jessica