Green Activities: A Guest Post

WebJunction Illinois /

This week we are featuring a guest post from Sarah Dolley, a Children's Librarian at the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook Illinois. Green programming they provided in March was a huge success. Thanks Sarah for adding such a lovely contribution to our blog series!

My library started a “Go Green Team” for staff as we were preparing to move into our new, LEED-certified building. One of the team’s responsibilities is to plan green programs for the public. We put together a special event called “I Speak for the Trees” Day in March that our patrons really enjoyed.

The program was a success partly because of timing. When we were planning events, we saw that a school holiday was scheduled the Monday after Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax was going to open in theatres. We usually have kids looking for something to do on those days, and green programs we offered on earlier days off of school were successful.

We wanted to offer activities for a wide range of ages. Two passive programs were available throughout the day: patrons could make a mustache on a stick or go on a tree-themed scavenger hunt.

Those who completed the scavenger hunt could enter a drawing for a chance to win a prize. Our regularly scheduled storytime had a tree theme that morning, and was followed by a truffula tree craft. In the afternoon, we offered a different hands-on activity—planting a Lorax head with seeds to grow “hair” like a Chia pet. Two gardening experts also came that afternoon to give a presentation to adults and older children about permaculture.

People really enjoyed the hands-on activities. We set up a table with the mustache-making supplies and simple instructions just inside the entrance of the library. Two cutout hands made with our Ellison die cut machine provided the mustache shape, and we offered a wide range of colors in addition to a Lorax-like yellow. We ended up needing to cut more hand shapes during the day, because patrons made more than two hundred mustaches!

The truffula tree craft was based on the instructions at, but with some small changes.

We had both large and small pom-poms, so we set out both. A staff member found that if you twisted two pipe cleaners together, instead of buying striped pipe cleaners, you could hold the pom-poms in place without using any glue. 140 people designed their own trees in all sorts of rainbow colors.

We advertised the afternoon craft as a “chia Lorax,” but we ended up using regular grass seed instead of chia seed because it was cheaper. Children stuffed a length of nylon stocking with potting soil and added features by drawing with markers or twisting rubber bands around bulbous “noses” and “ears.” They loved being able to design their own faces. We kept an abandoned chia head at the children’s services desk for a few weeks so everyone could see the hair in action. More than 100 people took home a little potted plant.

Unfortunately, we had a small turnout for the permaculture experts. In hindsight, scheduling them for a weekend or evening slot would have allowed more adults to attend. We were able to bring some of their presentation to a wider audience by blogging about it afterwards.

This was our biggest green program to date, with more than 500 people participating in activities. We began with less staff-intensive programs, simply showing a movie covered by our license and offering an activity afterwards. We are planning some new and different programs this fall, including a costume swap and a second try at a gardening program.