Outdoors With Librarians encourages community members to get out and explore what the outdoors has to offer, like the Maring-Hunt Library Community Garden and playground. The area features a slide, sandbox and garden that grows flowers, fresh herbs and vegetables.
Muncie library connects learning with outdoor exploration
Temps may be dropping, but outdoor activities at Maring-Hunt library in Muncie aren’t slowing down any time soon.
Every Friday the local library, located at 2005 S. High St., hosts Outdoors With Librarians, also known as OWL.
OWL is led by youth services assistant Troi Watts, who comes up with a different theme each week related to the great outdoors. Watts said the free events are about exploring all that nature has to offer.
“It’s a lot of fun. The kids seem to enjoy it and it’s really practical learning about nature,” Watts said. “We are in nature every day, so it’s really good for kids to understand how to operate in that environment.”
At a recent OWL event, kids explored fun facts about clouds. Through different reading and craft activities, they learned about evaporation, precipitation and the different types of clouds that form in the sky ranging from flat, featureless stratus clouds to puffy, cotton-like cumulus clouds.
After completing a shaving cream rain cloud activity, the kids bundled up and headed outdoors to explore the Maring-Hunt Library Community Garden and play area.
“OWL is not too in your face, educational, and I think the kids absorb a little more that way,” Watts said. “It’s really good to go and experience that unstructured outdoor play time. If you are not having a lot of time you can take your kid outside, this is a good, structured area to do it.”
Five-year-old Eugene Preston-Helms is one explorer who visits the library every week. His favorite part about OWL is going outside and finding “cool stuff” for his hideout.
“I also found a piece of a butterfly wing,” Preston-Helms said. “But, the next day when I came to the garden, I couldn’t find it anywhere.”
Youth Services director Shannan Hurd said the library encourages a lot of free play, “since kids don’t always do a lot of that” in general.
According to Child Mind Institute, children spend on average four to seven minutes a day outside and seven hours in front of a screen.
“We do frequently get a lot of the kids after school, and they really enjoy digging holes in our hill and in the sand box and running around using our garden space,” Hurd said. “It’s just a lot of fun. It’s a chance to learn something new, play outside and make new friends.
OWL, which runs from 3-4 p.m. until Nov. 16, is open to children of all ages. A library membership is not required.