All About Explorer's Club

“What would it take to establish a colony on Mars?”

Scholars from WordPlay are building a human library to answer riveting questions like this one.

When a child receives a book, they get a key to another world. When a child has access to a library, they can explore many worlds. But what about when they have access to a library of humans - real experts with unique knowledge about the special world that each child is interested in? That’s how galaxies of imagination are formed. And that’s the idea behind WordPlay Cincy’s new after-school workshop that’s happening on Tuesdays in the writing center just next to Hoffner Park.

It’s called Explorers Club, a place where K-8th graders who are enrolled in the program WordPlay Scholars can choose subjects that they’d like to explore together. Through this practice, their role in learning is inverted. They transform from being students who must learn what is presented, into capable Scholars who determine not only what they will learn, but how they will so. And the Scholars love it.

“Where does cloth come from, and how is it made?”

“How does recycling work, and what is good for our environment?”

“What would it take to establish a colony on Mars?”

These are just a few of the burning questions that excited young Scholars threw out when their learning coaches introduced the new club in January. And it’s really working. Each week, one question is chosen as a theme for self-directed learning. WordPlay has guaranteed the group that they will deliver an expert with insight on any topic that’s chosen.

For questions about cloth, Silk Road Textiles connected WordPlay’s Scholars with an expert clothmaker. Green Umbrella made a guest appearance to help the Scholars learn about recycling and the natural world. And Mary Kay Carson, accomplished nonfiction author of a child-friendly series about the galaxy, brought a multi-faceted afternoon to the Scholars based on her Far-Out Guide to Mars.

The experts give short introductory presentations to ensure that every Scholar feels comfortable with the material, and then the kids continue from there to decide how they want to learn more. They aren’t alone in their studious endeavors. Mr. Francis (Pospisil), their Program Coordinator, sets up stations each week that offer different ways to approach learning. Stations can take the form of computers, videos, books & magazines, and especially activities or experiments that are hands-on.

Best of all, there is the human library. See, when subject experts come to share their wisdom, they aren’t just there to make an impersonal presentation to a room full of exhausted end-of-school day children. No, they are there to interact individually with each Scholar, encouraging each through their own approaches to understanding. After they finish presenting to the room, the expert will sit at a learning station and become a personally accessible source of knowledge themselves.

WordPlay’s Executive Director, Libby Hunter, first came up with the idea after hearing a segment about The Human Library Organization, which describes itself as “a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered.” The fascinating concept fit in perfectly with the organization’s emphasis on story-sharing and community-building across all walks of life. It didn’t take long for the Explorer’s Club to emerge from there.

The Scholars are the keepers of the valuables from the Human Being Library. Each will compile their learnings through a written or artistic project for the day, and -like good researchers- collect their many lessons into portfolios for future reference. These portfolios will be shared with the public during WordPlay’s End of Year Student Showcase in May, and excerpts will be printed in an anthology of student work shortly thereafter as well, making participants not just Scholars, but also published authors.

Here’s how you can help.

Are you an expert? We need you! In order to provide a pool of experts for students to meet and learn from, we need people like you to get in touch and tell us about your area of expertise. Please email to tell us about your area of expertise today.

Not an expert? We need you too! WordPlay couldn’t be successful without our amazing volunteer learning coaches - everyday people who we train to guide children through the learning process during our programs each day. Commitment is minimal, and we always could use more help! Please visit our website to learn about how to become a volunteer today.

By Reba Hennessey, Director of Development & Communications for WordPlay Cincy

WordPlay Cincy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located at 4041 Hamilton Ave. in Northside. For more information about enrolling a child or becoming a volunteer, please call (513) 541-0930, visit our website at or email

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