Category Archives: things to do with the family

Fall Fun around Bolingbrook


Halloween Happenings at Fountaindale Library
Explore Goosebumps and other scary books with S’mores Book Club, drop in for a day of Halloween Happenings for children on October 28, make traditional crafts for Day of the Dead, or bring your preschoolers to a Teeny Tiny Halloween. You can see the full listing of programs for every age on the Halloween Happenings page.

Here are some other events going on nearby (please follow the links for details):


Johansen Farms
Pumpkin Patch, Petting Zoo, Amazing Corn Maze, and other attractions.

Storytimes at Barnes and Noble

Special dates:

October 21 Pioneer PTO Family Fun Fall Festival – Trunk or Treat

October 21-22 and 27-31 Bass Pro Shops Halloween Event

October 27 Parkie’s Pumpkin Patch

October 29 Trick-or-Treat at IKEA

October 31 Boardman Cemetery Halloween Open House

October 31 Bolingbrook Trick-or-Treat Hours

October 31 Candypalooza at Living Water Church

November 4 Pumpkin Pitch at Lewis University in Romeoville
Shred Documents & Catapult Jack-O-Lanterns

“Look, up in the sky!”

binocular-387319_1920It’s a great month to be an amateur astronomer! Not only do we have a solar eclipse to look forward to on the 21st, but did you know that you can also enjoy shooting stars every August? The Perseid meteor shower occurs every August (near my friend’s birthday, which is one of the reasons I remember it!) and it should peak this weekend. I just made a display of some books about meteors, shooting stars and solar eclipses, but there are lots of great online resources, too.

The Adult Reference blog has all kinds of information right now about the upcoming solar eclipse. Lots of it will be readable and interesting for older kids. There’s an excellent roundup of online resources from Sky & Telescope magazine which includes a short, printable guide aimed at science teachers.

If you’re looking for something aimed at younger readers, NASA has resources especially for students as well as the NASA Kids’ Club, a page about the solar system, and Space Place (in English or Spanish). Space Place currently has an animation on the front page to explain, “What is a solar eclipse?” If you click on it, you can also download a poster with the information. You can find a link to eclipse safety information, too. Going beyond the eclipse, there is also information on meteor showers and how to watch for shooting stars. We will be trying some of the website’s hands-on activities at the bilingual Noche de la Familia program on the evening of August 21.

For information on the library’s eclipse-related programming and the eclipse glasses giveaway, please visit the special Eclipse page on our website. Please note that there is a limited supply of glasses. The teacher guide I mentioned above has instructions for other ways to view the eclipse safely, including simple pinhole projectors made from easy-to-come-by materials like cardboard, aluminum foil, and a pushpin.

If you would like to follow up on a family interest in astronomy sparked by this year’s eclipse, you might enjoy checking out one of our new STEAMboxes. The Astronomy Set has been popular and has several holds on it, but keep in mind– the Bird watching kit also includes binoculars! Janice Van Cleave also has several books with space science activities to try. You might also want to recreate some of the activities from the Noche de la Familia program with craft books, the Star Walk app, or music.

Exploring natural history

Summer is a great time to visit museums. We have some books to help you get ready for a museum visit, and we also have books that are like a virtual visit to a natural history museum all in themselves.

Animalium by Jenny Broom; illustrated by Katie Scott
Like Botanicum and Historium, below, this is part of the Welcome the Museum series and has “galleries” of images that are like taking a tour of a museum.

Bees: A Honeyed History by Piotr Socha
Learn about the science of bees and how humans have interacted with them in this unusual book from Poland.

Botanicum by Kathy Willis; illustrated by Katie Scott
Showcases dozens of full-color plants from around the world in a gallery format, complemented by identification information and brief descriptions.

Evolving Planet: Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Erica Kelly and Richard Kissel
A book published in association with The Field Museum to go along with the Evolving Planet exhibit.

The Field Museum of Natural History by Joy Gregory
This would be a nice introduction before a trip to Chicago to visit the museum. The publisher provides online extras like audio and videos.

Historium by Jo Nelson; illustrated by Richard Wilkinson
Here you will find a collection of objects from ancient civilisations. Objects of beauty, functionality, war, life, death and burial.

How the Meteorite Got to the Museum by Jessica Hartland
From outer space, across the eastern US, to the roof of a car in Peekskill, New York, and thereafter to be verified, tested, and exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History. By the same author: How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum and How the Sphinx Got to the Museum.

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla
Charlie is struggling to get through a cross-country trip to see his father, who will undergo brain surgery. He’s coping by checking off birds from the list he and his dad made of all the species they hoped to see someday– at least one of which is rather inconveniently extinct. Perhaps the Field Museum can help?

Want to do more to explore museums? The Field Museum has online resources for educators (the specimens toolkit would pair nicely with The Someday Birds). You can use the Museum Adventure Pass for discounts at some local museums (call the Information Desk for more details). You can also look at Summer’s Free Museum Days in Chicago to find out when there is free or discounted admission at some of the big Chicago museums that aren’t included in the Museum Adventure Pass.


Holiday Memories: Family Outings

Do your children love LEGOS? How about trains? If you answered yes, you won’t want to miss the LEGO Train Show at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

The Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club sets up their magnificent train layouts annually in the Visitor Center.

My family has attended the show several times. There is so much to see! Lots of stories play out along the tracks. One vignette I remember was a crash between a Dunkin Donuts truck and a Krispy Kreme truck just outside a coffee shop. The street was full of donuts and police officers!

Lego trains on display at Cantigny

Star Wars, Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Harry Potter have all been showcased. Chicago landmark buildings, a concert in a park, gas stations, Ferris wheel, fire trucks and construction cranes may take the stage. Every year is different. Dads with children on their shoulders search out the stories and spy out superheroes in action. And, of course, the trains tie everything together to the enjoyment of all. Unbeknownst to most adults, below the main train layout, there are shadow boxes at a young child’s height – a secret world of delight for them alone!

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the show. It is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The show itself is free. Entrance to Cantigny is $5 per car for parking.

Cantigny Park participates in the Museum Pass program. Bring your Fountaindale card to the Information Desk in the lobby and ask if there are any passes for Cantigny. A pass is good for a week and saves a family money.

To learn more about the participating museums go to School vacation is a great time to go out and explore.

Halloween Happenings (and more)

We have some great Halloween Happenings coming up at the library, and there’s even more going on for children around the neighborhood!  Here’s a list of all the spooky fun we were able to find:

Johansen Farms Children’s Zoo & Pumpkin Farm Illinois
Visit the link for information on activities, times, and prices.

Friday, October 21
Family Halloween Fun Night and Parkie’s Pumpkin Patch at the BRAC.
The Bolingbrook Park District is offering activities for children and parents.  Our bookmobile staff will be telling stories!  Follow the links above for details, including cost and registration information.

Monday, October 24
Tweens can sign up for Spooky Tech in Studio 300 to experiment with LED lights and black light and make a glowing mummy hand to take home.  Free.

October 24-31
Bass Pro Shops is offering photos and free activities at their Bolingbrook store.  See their Great Pumpkin Celebration page for details.

Saturday, October 29
Dave Rudolf’s Halloween Spooktacular
11 a.m. at Fountaindale Public Library
Come in costume and have a “monsterously” good time in a not scary, totally interactive family show with the award-winning performer Dave Rudolf! Watch the kids do the Frankenstein Dance. See the little tykes try to assemble the Skeleton Bones. Be amazed at the Ghoul-Limbo.
Drop in until the room capacity of 90 is reached. All ages, preschoolers with an adult. Seating is first come, first served.  Free.

Monday, October 31
Visit the Village of Bolingbrook website for Bolingbrook Trick or Treat hours and a list of safety tips for families.

Saturday, November 5
Pumpkin Pitch 2016 at Lewis University in Romeoville
Composting your old jack o’lantern is way more fun when a catapult is involved!  Grown-ups can also bring old personal papers to be shredded.  Visit the Will County Green website for event details such as times, limits on what you can bring, and contact information for the organizers of the event.

Family Fun Spring Craft

Family Fun Spring Craft
Celebrate! Spring is finally here!
Sunday, May 15
2:00-3:00 p.m.
Cut an array of shapes with our Ellison machines and use them to create fun spring scenes! Make a menagerie of clothespin critters! All ages; preschoolers with an adult. Drop in.

Milkweed Seed Success


Waiting for spring to come?  Here’s a project you can start indoors now that will bring butterflies to your yard in warm weather.

The caterpillars that become monarch butterflies eat only milkweed leaves.  The number of monarch butterflies has gone down a lot in recent years, so many people are planting milkweed seeds to help the butterflies.

There are many kinds of milkweed.  Three that you can usually find in the Chicago area are common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed.

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The easiest time to plant milkweed is in the fall.  If you made a seed bomb at our Marvelous Mariposas program and planted it that night, then all you need to do is watch for leaves.


If you saved your seed bomb, or found some milkweed seeds this spring, then there are a couple of extra steps to take.  The seeds need a signal that winter is over and it is safe to start growing.  If the seeds have been sitting indoors all winter, that means that they need to spend time chilling as if they had been freezing outside.

To chill your seeds, wet a paper towel and wring it out. Spread your seeds on one half of the damp paper towel. Fold the empty half of the paper towel over the seeds to cover them. Put the seeds and paper towel inside a plastic bag. Keep the bag in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. You can plant the seeds once the danger of frost is over, around May 15.

If you’re trying to decide what kind of milkweed to plant and where to plant it, here are a couple of things to consider.

All milkweed plants need plenty of sunlight.  The big differences between common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed are their height and the types of soil they like.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the least fussy about its soil.  This is the type that you are most likely to see in the wild and the type that is mostly likely to “volunteer” in your yard.  In terms of looks, it is the tallest (typically 3 to 5 feet and up to 8 feet) but its flowers are not as brightly colored as swamp milkweed or butterfly weed.  It blooms between May and August.

Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed, as you would expect from the name, likes soil that is damp most of the time.  It is 2 to 5 feet tall and can have bright pink flowers.  You can sometimes find plants for sale in garden centers.  It blooms in late summer and early fall.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is much shorter than the other two at only 1 to 2 feet tall and has orange flowers.  It likes well-drained sandy or loamy soil and it blooms between May and September.  Seeds are relatively easy to find for sale.  Its pods are long and skinny, like this:


Save the Monarchs Bolingbrook has made free seed packets available at Village Hall (while supplies last), and I have had luck in the past asking the Bolingbrook Park District for permission to gather seeds near Hidden Oaks.  Seed pods for common milkweed are rounder, and this time of year have usually faded from green to gray:


Websites like,, and have more detailed information on creating a yard or garden that is butterfly-friendly.  In addition to planting milkweed, some other steps you can take are planting flowers with nectar to feed adult butterflies and avoiding pesticides that can harm these insects.  We will also be happy to help you find gardening books, butterfly books, and other resources at the library!