Delmont Public Library’s story time to feature critters
Who wants to hold a giant hairy spider?
Any fourth-grader who does will have a chance Nov. 25, when the Delmont Public Library hosts “Critters & Crowns Story Time,” where children will have a chance to meet “Beauty” in the form of Westmoreland Fair Queen Abby Gillis and Fair Princess Lydia Kepple and “The Beast” in the form of science teacher Andrea Redinger’s pet tarantula.
Funded through a Consortium for the Public Education Great Idea Grant, the fair royalty will read stories to children and introduce them to some of the 20 animals Redinger houses in her Greensburg-Salem School District classroom.
“My classroom is like a mini-zoo,” Redinger said. “We’ll bring the tarantula, our spotted gecko, and also possibly a bearded dragon and a few (Madagascar) hissing cockroaches.”
The “Critters and Crowns” program is the outreach component of the $5,000 grant, Redinger said. In her plant and animal biology class, she includes an animal-life unit, and at the end of the course, fourth-graders are brought into the classroom to go on a “critter cruise,” during which Redinger’s students teach their schoolmates about the animals.
“They are so excited,” she said of the children who’ve participated in the classroom and library programs in the past. “Their eyes light up. I bring my own kids to the program, as well. From an educator’s standpoint, I’m excited to see my students actually teaching younger children what I taught them. That’s the best way for me to assess if they really ‘got’ what they were taught.”
And how do 9- and 10-year-olds feel about handling a spider the size of their hand?
“Some will maybe shy away, but the curiosity is still there,” Redinger said. “I haven’t ever had anyone go running. Honestly, the parents are usually the ones who are a little more concerned and squeamish than the kids.”
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365.