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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bugging Out at the Library

For the past year or so I've been a mentor in this great program we have at the library called "Ready, Set, Kindergarten." It's basically a storytime class for 3-4-year-olds with educational activities to help prepare kids for the rigors of kindergarten. (Which, no joke, is getting pretty ridiculously rigorous lately. But that's a story for another time.)

Saturday marked our final RSK program for the season. We read some picture books, sang some songs, had a great time with my terrifying handmade felt board activity Carl the Clown, and then did a bug-themed STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) craft to tie it all together.  

In addition to all the other STEM stuff, my intern and I put out a real bugs discovery kit (complete with magnifying glass) on one of the tables so that the kids could explore and be grossed out/fascinated at their leisure. Here's an extremely blurry photo of one of one of the bug-filled lucite cubes (which, incidentally, remind me of a prank ice cube I bought as a kid and used to put in my family members' drinks. I was HILARIOUS):

The Han Solo of the bug world. 

Most of the children thought the kit was pretty cool and took turns examining the cubes with disgusted delight. One kid, however, got a bit existential about the whole thing. (And, subsequently, threw me for a loop - especially when he basically accused me of INSECT HOMOCIDE.)

Kid: "What are those?

Me: "They're bugs covered in plastic so you can see what they look like up close."

Kid: "They're real bugs?

Me: "Yup!"

Kid (wide-eyed) "You...KILLED them?"

Uh oh. 

Me: "No, I didn't kill them..."

Kid: "Then who DID?"

Me: "Um...well, I don't really...I mean, I don't think..."


Seeing as how I didn't really have a good answer for him - (Exterminators killed the bugs? The bugs were already dead when they were encased in plastic? They sacrificed themselves for science? Anything I thought of to say in that moment would have felt severely insufficient, and the honest truth is I didn't KNOW the actual answer) - the kid wandered away. 

So, there are teachable moments you knock out of the park, and then there are teachable moments you totally screw up. This was one of the latter for me. I guess you can't win 'em all, right? But I will tell you this: the next time we do the program, I will have a VERY good alibi... I mean, answer...ready if/when a kid asks about the fate of those bugs. For I AM INNOCENT OF THESE ENTOMOLOGICAL CRIMES. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)


  1. The Librarian With No NameNovember 13, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    The bugs were thrown into bug jail after being convicted of terrible crimes by a jury of their bug peers. After a series of bug appeals, they were executed in a tiny little electric chair at the Sting Sting Correctional Facility.

    Their carapaces were donated to bug science, which is how they ended up in this exhibit.

    You might want to avoid mentioning the rumors that some of them are actually political prisoners from the Bugs' Republic of China. That would just bum everyone out.

  2. Funny you should mention rigor. NYSED keeps mentioning it is a good thing. Look it up in the dictionary. Rigor is not such a good thing. And...those bugs are suffering from rigor, too. Just sayin'.