Letters to the Zoo

Adventures in Blurry Culture

Month: September, 2016

STEM – the first of many posts

Dear Zoo,

Here are some things I like: learning (duh), libraries (double duh), STEM…

This week I attended a children’s librarian conference in Palmerston North. A library conference basically goes like this…you enter a room set up for speaking and listening, you squee over your goodie bag and smile gingerly at your fellow librarians, you drink 20 cups of tea, and you sit in a chair and behave exactly like a sponge for the rest of the day/s. At the end you are…still like a sponge. Full and floppy. In need of Thai food, crap TV and the nearest bed. (It is known that at some conferences there is hair-down, shoes-kicked-off dancing that goes on into the early hours – not this one).

In short: you learn a sh*t-load of stuff.

One of the best presentations of this particular conference was by Adrienne Hannan of Wellington City Libraries, who talked about STEM.

STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and maths, taught in an interdisciplinary, hands-on, real-world manner. According to Adrienne, STEM is basically essential for the progression and success of our nation, and inevitably our children (and vice versa).

I’m not going to write anymore now. But I’ll leave this here because I stumbled upon it in post-conf research and it’s ace.

Kiwi kids share stories through coding and Te Reo.




Saturday Reading: Dahl

A quick note to say I thoroughly enjoyed this piece about Roald Dahl, written by granddaughter Sophie Dahl.

Dahl article on The Guardian.

Chocolate Cake and Group Hugs


Dear Zoo,

Well, it’s been a week. I’m actually writing from my bed, with a hint of sunshine poking into the room (it will rain soon). After what was a spectacular week of Roald Dahl madness, my final outreach visits, ophop wins, frantic school holiday planning and Moomins and I have succumbed to some sort of bug which I am trying to destroy with large quantities of Vitamin C.

This week had numerous high points and each of these made me think about how lucky I am to have fallen into librarianship. We celebrated what would have been Dahl’s 100 birthday with chocolate cake, afternoon tea, activities and prizes. One quirk of being a librarian is that you spend most of your time creating things that will hopefully engage your visitors without ever knowing if they actually will until you send them out into the world. This week was especially pleasing because the activities were all a hit. We had a quiz-meets-scavenger hunt on Dahl himself, book reviews, a BFG  dream jar collection, fox origami and word puzzles.

This week was also interesting because I had my last visit to the kindergartens. This experience – outreach – has been the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of my job here. My trip this week involved introducing children to lemurs through ‘Follow Me’, singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, with lots of frantic rowing, looking at other kinds of movement and meeting my friend Mr. Kiwi the hand puppet who likes gentle pats and pecking small children’s hands in search of worms. He was the star of the show. Librarianship is also often surprising and this week I was surprised with flowers and cards and a spontaneous giant group hug with one of my preschool groups. It makes me happy that children first learn to be loving and generous with their love before the world kind of tramples that out of us.

I’ll save the rest of the week for another post. And oh look, in the paper again. Fourth time in as many months.

Yours with 5 weeks to go,