Fuzzy Mud: Book Club

Fuzzy Mud again! Yes, ma’am! Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar is the first book I chose for my 4th-6th grade STEM Book Club.

Once a month I am going to be hosting, at the library, a STEM themed book club. This club is for 4th-6th graders as we will be reading challenging, yet fun, elementary school reads. The book we read each month will have some sort of STEM theme–weather, coding, geology, etc. The meeting will consist of 30 minutes of guided discussion about the book, including the STEM theme. And then we will do 30 minutes of a STEM activity that goes along with the theme of the book.

I chose Fuzzy Mud as my first book because it’s a fun read and a solid 4th-5th grade level book. I also chose this one because many of the elementary aged students might have read this book last year. It was a nominee for the Maryland Black Eyed Susan Award and a lot of the elementary schools read the nominees. This way, any last minute sign-ups might already be exposed to the book. Figured this would be a good thing for a first meeting.

I decided to create a hand-out with guided discussion questions. This way the kids have something to take home to further think about the book and we also have some things we can go off of if we have trouble getting started. Here are the discussion questions I came up with:

1. What is this book about? What are the main themes found throughout?

2. Why would we consider Fuzzy Mud, a fictional book with STEM themes?

3. On page 15, Tamaya remembers something her teacher once said, “Courage just meant pretending to be brave.” What does this mean? Do you agree?

4. Ecology is a main theme of this book. What is Ecology? How does this book incorporate/involve Ecology?

5. On page 131, Tamaya says, “No one’s all bad.” Do you agree? Can someone who does bad things be a good person?

6. Although, Biolene isn’t real, scientists are looking for clean, renewable energy sources. What is renewable energy? What are some examples?

7. When Marshall and Tamaya were lost in the woods, Marshall kept scolding himself for saying things he didn’t mean. Why do you think Marshal was doing that? Have you ever taken your feels out on someone who didn’t deserve it?

8. (Page 62) – Professor Alice Mayfair was more concerned with population control then the potential danger of Biolene. Let’s talk about this. What are some ways we can replace the resource we consume?

9. (Page 68) – “The worst part was the waiting.” Why is this? Why do you think waiting for something to happen is worse than the thing itself?

10. On page 144, Tamaya starts to lose her sight. What would you do if you suddenly lost one of your sense?

11. Page 177 – What was Hobson’s Choice? Why does the Committee on Energy and the Environment thing they’ve been presented with a “Hobson’s Choice?” What are the choices and can you think of another that might be better?

Also on the handout is an outline of the activity we are going to do. This week we are going to make out our fuzzy mud but creating magnetic slime.

Supplies: 1 (4oz) bottle of school glue; 1 tbls of baking soda; 1 tbls of contact solution; 1 tsp+/- iron filings; Neodymium magnets; big bowl; craft sticks.


  • Combine the glue, baking soda and iron filings in a bowl and stir until well mixed.
  • Once mixed, add contact solution. Mix well.
  • Once you start to see a slime-like consistency—it will be less sticky now that the contact solution is added–remove the slime and knead it with clean, dry hands. **Wash your hands immediately after playing with slime or wear gloves**
  • Your slime should be ready! Grab a strong magnet and see what happens!

Observations: Imagine our slime is a living thing and the magnet is the environment or an outside force acting upon it (remember the definition of ecology!). What observations can you make about the slime itself and the changes that occur when the magnet is introduced?

How’d it go: We had 13 kids show up for the book club and I think it went really well. The discussion part pretty much went like I thought it would. The kids needed to be prompted with questions but once I started asking questions, they really responded well. Our slime “experiment” was another story. I swear the experiment worked at home!!! But only two of my kids got their slime to be actual slime. But it was fun and we got to experiment with different binders. Hey, scientists don’t always get it right the first time!

It was, however, really messy. Even the kids were like wowwww. The parents came in at the end and were laughing. But fun was had and I think this is going to work out really well!

That’s all for now!


WANTED: Banned Books!

Hi Guys,

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week! Banned Book Week is:

an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

This year, on top of having a book display, I wanted to create a window display to inform our patrons a little bit about why books are banned. To do this I decided to highlight a few specific books in a sort of “Wanted” theme.

I wanted my display to look like those old fashion, western, “Wanted” boards with “postings” of banned books.


For each banned poster, I included the title, author and a short sentence telling why the book was banned. I think I picked a good mix of classic banned books and newer titles to show that books are still being banned today.

Here’s two examples:

Then to make sure no one thought we were actually banning these books, I posted little starbursts with a short explanation about banned book week.


This was a really easy display to put together and one that I think will be informative too. It always seems to shock patrons when they find out why these children’s books were banned.

That’s all for now!


Family Storytime: Dinosaurs

Hi Guys, I’ve got a double whammy this weekend. Family storytime in the morning and a special storytime I am doing with Maryland DCDL in the afternoon. I’ll post about that one separately. This week my theme is Dinosaurs! I can’t believe I’ve never done a dinosaur themed storytime before!

Here’s what I planned:

  • SONG – Top of the Morning
    • This is a fun tune and great for waking up and doing a little stretching. It’s called Top of the Morning.
  • HELLO RHYME – Say Hello
    • This is a great rhyme for saying hello because we get to do it in so many fun ways!
  • MOVEMENT SONG – Skidamarink
    • An easy song almost everyone is familiar with, with easy movements to get that blood pumping!

Then we get into our theme:


    • I also teach my group a few American Sign Language signs to go with every theme. This is great to help frustrated little ones communicate but it also helps make our world a better place by fostering communication with each other. We have a large deaf community near my library so learning just a few signs are great! I usually use Signing Savvy or Baby Sign Language.
  • Stretch – This is Big Big Big…
    • This is a great one because we can practice the signs we just learned.

This is big big big Hold (arms out to side)
This is small small small (cup hands together)
This is short short short (hold hands with palms facing each other)
This is tall tall tall (reach one hand above head)
This is fast fast fast (circle fists quickly)
This is slow slow slow (circle fists slowly)
This is yes yes yes (nod)
This is no no no (shake head)

  • Book – Crunch: The Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap & Greg Pizzoli
    • I LOVE this book! I bought it to read to my daughter and you know I have to use it for storytime. It’s so interactive for the kids too, which is great.
  • Song – We are the dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner
    • Can you even do a dinosaur themed storytime without this song?
  • Prop – 10 Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland
    • We don’t have this book in our system but I thought it was great for the rhyme and counting elements. So I “stole” ten dinosaur toys from our discovery room and am going to use them as props along with a flipchart for this one.
  • Book – Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein
    • This is just a short cute one.
  • Puppet Rhyme – Oh, Diiiiinosaur!
  • Shaker Song – Dinosaur Rock by Dancin’ Magic
    • An upbeat shaker song because we can have a storytime without some shakers.

Finally, we finish up with:

  • Movement Exercise – If You’re Happy and You Know It
    • I tell the kids that I want to know how happy they are.
  • Rhyme – Say Goodbye
    • This is the same rhyme we started with, so the new guys are familiar with it by the end of storytime.
  • Song – Clean It Up! by The Laurie Berkner Band
    • Everyone helps put our shakers away
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell my Friends by Music Together
    • I always put this one on as I go to open the door. Its a nice, slow, peaceful song to wind down on.

How’d it go: This was a really fun one. I mean dinosaurs, yea. I think I’d like to make a flannel board next time but overall, a fun storytime!

That’s all for now!


Drop-In STEAM Fun!

Hi Guys,

This summer we are running two separate drop-in STEAM programs. For those who don’t know, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math. Basically, we plan fun crafty or activity activities for the kids that are about an hour long. We target these programs toward elementary aged students.

For this one, I decided to go with the Engineering theme but you could definitely make a case for the other STEAM elements as well. I adapted this program from FamilyVolley.com. Broadly, we are going to be working together to build “shelters” out of news paper and masking tape. But don’t worry, there’s a catch!

Give your attendees a few minutes to show up. Once you have a nice sized group of kids, split them up evenly into groups of four. You may have to make bigger groups depending on the number of kids you get. In my case, I have enough masking tape rolls for between 6-8 groups. Once you have your kids grouped nicely, you give them their prompt…

Imagine, you are trapped on a deserted island. There are no trees, no big rocks, nothing but sand and ocean. The sun is beating down on you! You need to build a shelter. Good thing you were shipwrecked with a boat full of newspaper and masking tape, right?!

Along with your fellow castaways you must use the newspaper and the masking tape to build a shelter that has a roof and everyone in your group must fit in it. You have ten minutes to build your shelter using the supplies in front of you. 

BUT WAIT!!! You’re on a deserted island with NOO water. You are thirsty. So thirsty! You’re so thirsty, in fact, that you can’t speak. You and your group must build your shelter without talking. If you talk, a typhoon –in the form of Ms. Maranda’s watergun– may come and destabilize your shelter. 

Are you ready? GO! 20180726_191625

Yes, you read that right. The kids have ten minutes to build a fort out of news paper and masking tape that MUST have a roof and the all have to fit under it. AND they have to build it all without talking or I will shoot their fort with a squirt gun. Best, STEAM activity ever!

You definitely want to reiterate the rules. The fort must have a roof and everyone must fit inside.

After the first ten minutes if no one is successful you can mix it up by telling the kids they can talk or if they really need help, that they can build off of their first shelter.

How’d it go: 20180726_191342

This program was an example of going with the flow. I started everything just how I said and I never had to use my water gun!! Seriously, I said they couldn’t talk for 10 minutes and they didn’t! I was literally shocked. After 10 minutes though, no one was even close to building their shelter, so I gave them another 10 minutes where they could talk and the adults could help.

By the end of the twenty minutes, I had one group make it and just barely. I never specified that their whole bodies had to be in the shelter did I? This helped a lot of the groups and by the end of the hour all the groups had shelters that could stand on their own for 30 seconds, had a roof and they fit in, in some way.

This was a lot of fun and took literally no prep!

That’s all for now!


If you give a kid a book…

Hey Guys!

I was trying to hold out and leave my “Reading ROCKS!” display up until the end of the summer but I got board, so you get a new bulletin board from me.

My inspiration for this one was the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie picture book series. I wanted to come up with something bookish and this what I got:

If you give a kid a book,

He will probably become a reader.

And if he becomes a reader…

Anything is possible!

I tried to copy the series font and sort of style on the bulletin board.  Then I cut out some cute silhouettes of children reading and images of the “If you give a…” picture book covers.


Overall, I think it came out pretty good!

That’s all for now!