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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Reading program is going 'On the Trail' this summer

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Ann Thompson, children's librarian at the Sikeston Public Library, adjusts a Lewis and Clark exhibit.
SIKESTON -- Ann Thompson remembers learning about Lewis and Clark in grade school, but it wasn't until recently when she began researching the events of the famous explorers that, once again, she became hooked on their fascinating adventures.

"I've gotten so into it," admitted the children's librarian at the Sikeston Public Library.

From the amazement that only one death occurred along the journey to the fact that Lewis and Clark decided to take Sacagawea along because they thought having a woman with a baby would be more of peace offering -- it's this same excitement Thompson hopes to bring to young area readers as they participate in the Sikeston Public Library's summer reading program this year.

The weekly reading program is scheduled to begin June 28 for grades K-2 and June 29 for grades 3-5 with this year's theme being "On the Trail With Lewis and Clark."

"My main goal is to get the children in here and since more than likely they'll be learning about it next year in their classrooms, I want them to get the feel for it here," Thompson said. "We want them to learn in a fun, hands on way so they'll be able to retain it."

Thompson has even made a keel boat from card board dividers that she pieced together and painted. She dressed up three puppets and placed them in the boat.

With so many celebrations of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition taking place around the country, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to incorporate the fun locally.

"I got so excited about planning the summer reading program around Lewis and Clark, and then I got excited about reading the materials," Thompson said. "I went through and pieced together facts that I thought would appeal to the children. I'm trying to think on their level and be really appealing to them."

For the program, Thompson has broken the "Corps of Discovery" into five sections.

"The first three weeks we're going to be on the Missouri River," Thompson said. "We're going to try to put ourselves so they can really get the feel for what it was like."

Each week participants will eat something Lewis and Clark ate along their journey such as molasses spread, apples, dried fruit rolls and dried beef jerky.

After the third week, children will cross the mountains and pick up Sacagawea. Thompson said: "We'll hit the Columbia River and travel out to the Pacific Ocean and meet with the Clatsop Indians and that's where we're going to build the fort."

Boys and girls entering grades kindergarten through second grade will join the journey with Lewis and Clark by painting a mural of the different encounters on the journey.

"With the younger kids, we're going to start in the community room and journey all along the wall," Thompson said.

Children will begin painting the keel boat full of supplies to take along the way and venture along meeting animals and American Indians. After crossing the Bitterroot Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, they'll end their journey along the mural and enjoy life at Fort Clatsop.

Although the boys and girls entering grades three through five won't be painting murals, Thompson said their journey will resemble that of the younger children.

"The older age group is at a higher level and we'll go a little more in depth," Thompson said. "We're going to play games like the Indians played."

Some of the crafts for the younger age group include making small keel boats, buffalo robes and American Indian head dresses and for the older kids, they'll be making moccasins and building a Fort Clatsop.

Thompson is hoping the children who attend this year's summer reading program will get just as exciting reliving the journey of Lewis and Clark as she has. She said: "I want them to be able to close their eyes and get into the feel of it."

Children will be eligible for prizes through giveaways. Registration is not required. For more information, call the library at (573) 471-4140.