OTTUMWA — Dr. Seuss would have turned 116 years old on March 2. Wapello County 4-H & Youth wanted to honor him by throwing a birthday party for him Saturday, even if it was a little late.
County Youth Coordinator Cindy Emery said the purpose of the event was not only to provide fun activities based on some of Dr. Seuss’ books, but to promote literacy. Families read Dr. Seuss’ books before doing a craft or activity to go along with the book.
“We want to bring back the old-fashioned reading of the book,” she said, “so we promote Dr. Seuss’ books.
“I hope the kids enjoy listening to the books being read and the activities,” Emery added.
The activities were limitless. Some kids and parents made fish to resemble characters from Seuss’ “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” Others made “truffula plants” based off “The Lorax,” and others made “oobleck” from the story “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.”
Clint Kendrick and his 8-year-old daughter Payton directed a fish craft. The process wasn’t too difficult. All kids had to do was cut out paper fish, put them in paper bowls and color. Payton said she enjoyed helping younger kids with their craft and promoting the joy of reading.
“It helps them learn how to have fun when you read,” Payton Kendrick said.
As a 4-H parent, Kelli Anders was happy to help others make “truffula plants.” It didn’t take too much time. All kids had to do was take a pot, put some soil in, put the seeds in and watch for growth.
Making oobleck, a sticky substance similar to playdough, took a little more work. It didn’t bother Anders’ 11-year-old daughter Ali Perry and 10-year-old Jaxon McDaniel, though.
The oobleck from Seuss’ book is green slime. Perry and McDaniel made purple oobleck that smelled like hibiscus. Making it didn’t take much time. All they did was mix cornstarch, water and conditioner together until the dough was hard like Play-Doh.
“Oobleck is like a solid when you squeeze it and put pressure on it,” McDaniel explained. “You mix the soap in too or conditioner and it feels like you’re smelling hibiscus. It just smells good.”
McDaniel and Perry said they had a great time working together and celebrating Seuss’ birthday. Both of them said Seuss was one of their favorite authors. Like many at the party, Perry and McDaniel had favorite Seuss books. For Perry it was “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” and for McDaniel it was “Put me in the Zoo.”
Aside from all the crafts and activities — at the end of the day, Anders said no one should dismiss the importance of reading.
“Reading is so important for children because it helps them learn everything that’s going on in the world,” Anders said, “and helps them use their imagination. It keeps them to keep learning everything they need.”
Emery agreed. “Hopefully the parents will go home and pick some books and read to their children,” she said. “The reading, the learning and then the bonding with your family is something that I enjoyed when my kids were young.”