GERING — Gering Public Library hosted their summer reading program wrap-up party Saturday, June 29 at Legion Park where youth and families enjoyed several space-related activities.

Despite the warm weather, children enjoyed playing in moon sand, playing moon golf, creating moons, completing an astronaut training course and soaring through the air in the bounce house.

Christie Clarke, youth services librarian, welcomed the community to the event and was excited the Gering library was able to provide this opportunity to the community.

“This is just for fun as we wrap up our summer reading program,” she said. “It’s a way to welcome the community out and be involved in some fun stuff that the Gering library is providing.”

As the youth rotated through the stations, sisters Evelyn and Gretchen Seay enjoyed spending time together making moons out of tin foil and creating different phases of the moon with Play-Doh.

“You learn the different types of moons and then you make a moon,” Gretchen said.

While they finished up making their tin foil moons and creating craters in the surface with quarters, Gretchen said her favorite activity so far was the tin foil activity.

“I like this one because we get to keep it,” Gretchen said. “We love Play-Doh, but it dries out or is mixed.”

Another station allowed youth to create craters out of moon sand.

Grabbing a rounded clamp, Cyrus Prokop packed sand together to make an asteroid.

“I’m making an asteroid,” he said. “I’m trying to make a huge one, so I can roll it around.”

Although the summer reading program is concluding, a Gering teacher said this year’s theme was engaging for her children and kept them reading. “I think a big part of it is the program keeps kids reading so they don’t lose those skills,” said Emily Rose, who teaches preschool at Lincoln Elementary. “This year, I really liked the theme, too. Even my own 3-year-old has learned so much about space. He knows all about the planets and knows several of the names. He knows that the space shuttle takes the astronauts to the moon.” Rose’s son Linus will be in preschool this fall.

Another popular station was the bounce houses and golf. Several youth said they enjoyed bouncing around because it gave them the feeling of flying and being weightless like an astronaut in outer space. Golf was more challenging as Carson Wynn hit tennis balls at a target.

“It was hard because I kept hitting the tee and I kept hitting it too hard and too high,” he said.

Throughout the program, Clarke said she tried something new by making punch cards for readers to track how many books they completed during the program.

“I did something new this year with little punch cards and I have displayed and kept on display specific books within the Universe of Stories theme and they have little star stickers on them,” she said. “They get a hole punch on their card for every one of those books they check back in.” After some many punches, based upon a child’s age, they can choose a prize out of a treasure chest. The treasure chest was a success and is something Clarke plans to continue for future summer reading programs.

With space-themed books featured throughout the library, Clarke enjoyed watching the youth choose the books they wanted to read. “It’s been fun to watch them try to find the books they want,” Clarke said. “I’ve had to keep the shelves filled up and replacing them on the displays very often.”

The teen program concluded Thursday with an escape room where the teens worked together to rescue Clarke. After 40 minutes, they cracked the code and saved her from the kidnappers. From the positive response about the escape room, Clarke is planning on a family event for next year.

“We’re thinking about maybe creating a family event out of it,” Clarke said. “It would have a fairytale theme, which would be really fun to have families come and do it together.”

The pool party was rescheduled due to weather for July 27.

As part of the Universe of Stories summer reading program, participants received another entry into the grand prize drawings, which will be held Monday, July 1. Prizes include: two telescopes, an opportunity to throw the first pitch at a Pioneers baseball game and a workshop with Noah’s Ark.

For the months of July and August, Clarke said the Gering library takes a break before starting up programs in the fall. They provide story times, Lego Club and LEAP. LEAP is a school readiness program.

lauren.brant@starherald.com

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.