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  • Writer's pictureCarol Wiebe

A Weekend “Art” Project

I decided to go green with the library bags I hand out to students this year. Let me explain.

As a resource teacher at a small, special needs school, I have the enviable job of hosting story times with students every week. Many of you would no doubt find it amusing to see me singing, dancing, waving my arms (I gesture expansively), changing facial expressions as fast as clouds morph into different shapes (I speak animatedly), and having conversations with a fairly large muppet named Candy.

OK, Candy is not a real Muppet (as in Jim Henson Muppets), but she definitely has the personality of one. I am her straight man (straight person?). You understand, now, that though I am a professional librarian, I am everything but staid in the library where I engage in the activities listed above. I have never said “Shhhhh.” I do not wear a bun (in my hair). And I laugh as heartily as any of my students while singing silly songs and spouting ridiculous rhymes (many of which I write myself). I am a huge fan of picture books, and a firm believer that learning should be fun. There is an eminent doctor that agrees with me. He even has an Institute about play, and how it unlocks human potential.

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

Back to the going green part of this post. Every year I have handed out plastic bags with drawstring closures. They cost about $1.10 per bag (Canadian) and and I buy about 100 of them. I print out labels with students’ pictures on them, stick them onto the bags with clear tape, and hand the bags out. If you could see how eyes light up when bags are distributed, you would realize that getting a library bag with your picture on it, to hold your book of the week, is downright incredible.

I’m getting to the green part. This year, I went and bought the reusable bags from a company that shall remain nameless. These were $1.00 per bag (no, they didn’t give me a discount). I measured the label on the bag , and made sure that the labels I printed out were large enough to obliterate the advertising. This meant I could only get one label per page. After printing out the labels, they had to be cut out, laminated, and cut out again so that there was a clear plastic seam allowance outside each label. These were then pinned to the bags. Then they were sewn, with a zigzag stitch, requiring care that only the top layer of the bag was stitched through (this requires a certain way of maneuvering the bag on the arm of the sewing machine, not to mention holding my tongue and lips in a certain position.

The bags are all done: this was my weekend art project.

Privacy laws dictate that I cannot show you a bag, with the child’s name and picture, but if you listen, you might hear the squeals of delight as each bag finds its owner. It’s as much fun as a gallery opening, and every bag will be filled with a book that has a whole gallery of pictures in it.

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