The Summer Reading Program continued last week at the Atchison County Branch Libraries. Many children attended and had great fun exploring the universe through activities and books.

The 6 year-old group in Rock Port enjoyed the book “Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars” read by volunteer Courtney Meyerkorth. 

Rock Port

The three and four year-old group began their session by watching Tiffanie Gaines give a demonstration of how the Earth revolves around the sun at the same time the moon is revolving around the Earth. They learned some sun facts: it is not safe to look directly at the sun. The sun is the closest star to Earth, it is a giant ball of gas (not a solid surface), and the sun is over one million times the size of Earth. The sun is the center of our solar system, and the sun gives us energy and light for plants to grow. The temperature on the sun can be 10,000°F! Tiffanie read “Tops & Bottoms” by Janet Stevens, “Too Tall Houses” by Gianna Marino, “Pete at the Beach” by James Dean, and “Horsefly and Honeybee” by Randy Cecil. The children planted sunflowers, moonflowers and a “cosmos” flower mix to take home with them. They had fun decorating a rocket ship playhouse to put together in a future meeting. The children then decorated a cupcake with yellow frosting, candy corn and candy bits to resemble the face of the sun. They took home “A Universe of Stories” cup as their prize from the library.

Courtney Meyerkorth’s group of five and six year-olds focused on the study of stars this week. They played an introductory game of “Pass the Star.” The winning group chose a space action for the other group to perform, such as “spacewalk” or “jump to the stars.” Courtney performed an experiment that shows why stars twinkle. A bowl of water was placed over aluminum stars on a black background. The room lights were turned out, a flashlight was shone on the bowl, and the children “orbited” around it to see the stars “blink.” The light passing through the water acts similarly to starlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, as starlight appears to twinkle. Courtney read “Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars” by Douglas Florian, and she worked on listening skills by stopping strategically and letting the children fill in the next word. Courtney emphasized the constellations as she read the book. The children then made their own constellations using black construction paper and foil stars. The children took home “A Universe of Stories” cup and pencil. Courtney was assisted by Mackenzie Dougherty and Tawni Ellis. 

Shelby Garst began the first and second grade hour by reading “The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon” by Dean Robbins. This is the true story of Alan Bean. Alan flew on the Apollo 12 mission and he was the fourth person to walk on the moon. The children looked at his paintings and other pictures of space. They painted their own space pictures. The session was ended by playing a game. The children tried to release candy that was wrapped tightly in Saran Wrap while wearing gloves, plus trying to beat the clock as another person rolled doubles to stop the clock. The children received space scratch art sets as a prize.

Dixie Teten had prepared a delightful program for the oldest group of readers. Sadly, no one came to enjoy that program last week.

The kids at the Tarkio Library Summer Reading program’s Thursday early session learned about how the planets orbit the sun. Pictured above is teacher Judy Henson showing the students how to stay in a line while circling the sun. Students pictured are Kinsley Merriweather, Caroline Powell, Teagan Taylor, Harper Wood, Tucker Hurst, and Landry Hurst.


Jayne Martin’s three and four year-old group began their program by taking individual pictures in the space rocket. The children enjoyed dancing and singing songs, including “Rocketship Run.” The group talked about facts involving the sun, the moon, night and day. Jayne read “Kitten’s First Full Moon” by Kevin Henkes, in which the kitten mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk. The children sang the song “Aiken Drum” and did an activity page to go along with the song. After talking about being an astronaut and what it would be like to live on the moon, the kids had a snack of “mooncakes” (oatmeal cream pies). The children checked out books and received constellation lacing cards as a take home prize.

The five and six year-old group discussed facts about the sun and moon. They made a man-in-the-moon finger puppet. Instructor Jayne Martin read “Kitten’s First Full Moon” by Kevin Henkes. The children played moon toss with bean bags and muffin tins. This group colored the rocketship playhouse. They checked out books and received a wind-up astronaut and “A Universe of Stories” pencil. 

Judy Henson began the first and second grade session by handing out laminated “alien name tags” of names that the children created for themselves the first week. Judy read interesting facts to the children from the book “Planets” by Lauren Kukla. The group discussed facts from “Space Travel” by Aaron DeYoe, particularly facts about rockets. The children then made balloon rockets. The rockets shot along a string toward a “planet” at the other end of the string. They pretended that they were sending aliens home! The children received space scratch art sets to make something beautiful at home.

Whitney Martin’s third and fourth grade group decided to learn about the Hubble telescope. Whitney read “Hubble Space Telescope” by Jon Eric Hakkila as well as some excerpts from “Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Space Telescope Saw” by Elaine Scott. The children then started a Mad Libs, Hubble space telescope style! Each child took something the telescope saw and made up a funny story to go along with it. The kids loved doing this! They read their stories aloud and voted on whose story was the funniest. Finn Hurst won and he has a prize coming. The children checked out books and took home a splat ball as their weekly prize. 

Jo Hurst is one of the many Fairfax youth readers enjoying the library’s summer reading program.


Shelby Hurst hosted the three and four year-old group Wednesday morning. The children listened to “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood, “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site” by Rinker and Lichtenheld, “Look Up!” by R. Burleigh, “How the Stars Fell Into the Sky” by J. Oughton, and “Moon: A Peek-through Picture Book” by B. Teckentrup. Following the theme of the night and the moon, Shelby simulated the phases of the moon with Oreo cookies. The children put white laces through holes in black cards to form constellations as seen in the night sky. Their constellations were a take home prize. This group ended their day by playing a game called Star Pop.

A group of children ages five and six met with their leader Sarah Osburn. Sarah read “How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers: A Simple but Brilliant Plan in 24 Easy Steps” by Mordicai Gerstein and “Moon: A Peek-through Picture Book” by B. Teckentrup. This group looked through a lot of material about space shuttles. They had a good discussion before starting their project for the day, which was making powered space shuttles. They enjoyed launching their projects!

Crystal Schieffer led both of the Thursday groups this week. She read “The Amazing Universe” by Lauren Kukla to the grades one and two group, and she continued reading “Star Jumper” by Frank Asch to the third and fourth grade group. For their craft, both groups made galaxy bottles to take home. Water, glitter, oil and food coloring simulated the beautiful colors of the galaxy. This group played space race games and received glow in the dark sticky stars.