On Wednesday, July 31, the Barefoot Gardeners Club will be holding a children’s story time, with stories, songs and activities at the Fenwick Island Town Park at 10 a.m.
“The idea came up that we would start a butterfly garden in our local little park in Fenwick,” said Sue Clark, who co-chairs the club’s Youth and Community Development Committee. “Someone in the town had a suggestion that we hold a little story time for the children.”
For the past eight years the garden club has been reading to children in the park in the hopes of promoting gardening.
“It gave the children a little culture at the beach,” said Susan Henicle, who co-chairs the committee with Clark.
The story times are held every other Wednesday, usually in the Fenwick Town Park, and Clark said each reading has a different theme.
“Our first theme of the summer is always butterflies. We weave that into gardening and just teach them real basic gardening skills,” she explained. “This past week we talked about the flowers and the garden after we released the butterflies. We did a story about sunflowers and the children looked at a sunflower through a magnifying glass, and then we learned the parts of the flower — the leaves, the petals, the stem. Then they had the opportunity to put their little hands in dirt and put seeds in flowerpots and take them home.”
Along with the reading of a book, different activities will take place throughout the event, to give the kids a more hands-on learning experience.
“Last week we released butterflies into the garden. They were so excited. It was neat to see the children’s expressions and faces and to hear their questions when they saw the butterflies and the habitat. These children were just ecstatic to see them fly out of the cage and onto the flowers,” said Clark. “Last story time we sang a song about a caterpillar and we wrote a song about a flower. We have a variety of things we like to do. Sometimes we do a little art project. At the next gathering we’re going to be decorating litterbags.”
Henicle and Clark, both retired schoolteachers, are able to continue teaching youth through the program.
“Some of our local boys and girls who come, are to the point where they come back with their little butterfly net or little bug box, to check the garden before we even start. That’s very rewarding,” said Henicle, adding that she’s heard from families who ended up taking the lessons back home and to their schools.
“Sometimes we’ll have the parents get back to us later, ‘oh my daughter was able to do this because she learned it at your story time.’ It’s kind of nice for Sue and I, to continue the fun part of teaching.”
Clark said that on average the group gets around 15 kids attending the events, of kids two to seven years old.
“I feel like it’s one of the best-kept secrets in Fenwick. It’s surprising how many people find out about it and keep coming. We have some children who have been coming back for four or five years. It’s been fun.”
The last story time of the season will be held on Aug. 14 at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse at 10 a.m. Clark added that the story time is a chance for the gardeners to promote caring for the earth and gardening.
“It’s mostly just educating children about gardening and the earth and how important it is to take care of our earth and to learn about gardening. It’s a great pastime and we feel it’s very important that children learn the importance of gardening.”