Early in June I received an exciting message from the Arboretum’s School Age Programs Coordinator, Cait McHugh. Cait had a request: she’d like to send us the weekly themes for UW Botanic Gardens summer programs for pre-kindergarten, grades 1-3, and grades 4-6 and have librarians select and send a weekly care package of books to enrich their curriculum. Instructors would borrow the books about a week before the start of a new themed program, giving them time for lesson planning. Could we help? Of course! With our Story Time program on summer break, and most schools out for the summer, this would be the perfect way to get books from the Miller Library into the hands of kids and teachers.
I knew it would be fun choosing books, and the selection process would also be a great chance to work with library volunteers with years of outdoor education experience. For instance, retired educator and library volunteer Dr. Dorothy Crandell took a look at a recent week’s theme for students entering grades 1-3, Woodland Wonders, and set aside One Small Square: Woods (a picture introduction to biological sampling methods), Woodland Adventure Handbook (a new curriculum resource packed with ideas for outdoor learning and games) and Ancient Ones: The World of the Old-Growth Douglas Fir (a beautifully illustrated depiction of the layers of life in a Northwest ancient forest). For Northwest Naturalists (grades 4-6), a week focused on “living off the land,” Dorothy recommended we include resources like People of Salmon and Cedar (a picture book about Native people in the Northwest, and Keepers of Life (a full curriculum of Native North American stories and traditions), highlighting the heritage of the first people on this land.
Cait reports the books are being read and enjoyed by kids at the summer daycamps. “It truly cannot be overstated how much these books helped round out our curriculum and create daily rituals for our campers. One of our guides, Lise Ramaley, shared with me that she really enjoyed The Salamander Room and that all her campers really liked it too. Even campers that weren’t thrilled with the idea of taking a break to sit down and read really got into it. She told me that it’s a funny book and you learn all about different parts of an ecosystem, habitat needs, and balance within an ecosystem. Many of her campers told her ‘I want that to be my room!'”
Staff and volunteers at the Miller Library look forward to future collaborations with the Education department here at UW Botanic Gardens, supporting community outreach through School Age Programs, Fiddleheads Forest School, and Family Nature Programs.