Thursday, August 6, 2015

What do you do with 2000 tongue depressors?

You put on your thinking cap!

We’ve created a lot of fun, new interpretative programs this year.  The Jr. Ranger programs have continued to be very popular.  Having a lot of resources to use makes it a lot of fun for us also.  We have a wonderful volunteer coordinator (Errin) who is happy to get us pretty much anything we ask for.  We also buy supplies on our own, especially if we know what kind of program we want to create but are not sure exactly what supplies we will need.

Another interesting thing that happens to us is when staff and volunteers find something they think we would be interested in.  Several times we have had a volunteer come up to us and say “Here’s a skull/bone I found while I was out walking, I picked it up for you.”  Sometimes there is still a little hair and "ripeness" left.  But that’s okay, it’s nice of them to think of us!

Recently we were gifted with 2000 tongue depressors that one of the staff bought at a surplus sale.  We knew they would be useful for something, we just had to figure out how to incorporate them into a program.
We have a really fun Jr. Ranger program we call “Bring an Insect.”  We tell the kids to bring an insect and we will help them identify it.  Of course, we get a lot of ants and grasshoppers but the kids are always very proud of their bug (even if it’s not an insect). We bring a bunch of insects in jars and try to catch a few butterflies the morning of the program. Mark has been putting together a very nice insect collection that is still in progress.  Lately, with the hot dry weather we have been having, it is getting harder to find insects, or any critter for that matter.  So .... we decided we could just make our own.
Dragonflies!  Tongue depressor dragonflies to be specific.

A few hours and a lot of hot glue later, 80 tongue depressor dragonflies:
We’ll be doing the “Bring an Insect” program again soon.  We’ll bring all the crayons and markers so the Jr. Rangers can decorate their own insect.

Even after making all these dragonflies we still had a bunch of tongue depressors.  So, we came up with another project - bird feeders.  This one takes a lot more tongue depressors and also a lot more time.  It goes faster with two people.

One person lays down the hot glue:
The other person positions the tongue depressor and presses it in place:
(You might notice my tree slice necklace.  More on that another time.)
 We have quite the production going!
We’ll make 50 - 60 of these and take all the rest of the supplies with us to the program in case we don’t have enough made up.  We still need to add the string for hanging.  We’ll also give each kid a little baggie of sunflower seed to take home with them.

We’ll bring out the crayons and markers and let everyone decorate their very own bird feeder.

Here is one we hung at our place.  It didn’t take long at all for the chickadees and nuthatches to find it!
Red-breasted Nuthatch enjoying our hand-made feeder.


  1. Love the birdfeeder idea! Are you about hot-glued out? :)

  2. We love their hot glue gun! It has a trigger so you don't have to push the stick with your finger, and the glue sticks themselves are about 18" long so you don't reload very often. A high volume glue gun, indeed!!

  3. Looks like you are wearing a fish and wildlife shirt there. Good photo of you Teri.

    1. Thank you! Most of my wardrobe is free t-shirts!