For what has been a few months now, I have been assisting in weekly programming events in the Youth Services department, especially in “Medieval Mania” as part of the summer reading program events. The best part of this experience is that I was given the chance to plan, implement and run a program of my very own. I had 60 minutes to entertain children in 3rd through 5th grades and I was so excited (as much as I was nervous about being sure I had enough to fill the time).
What they don’t teach you in library school, however, is the fine art of children’s crafts! The stories I chose to read, games to play and activities during the program came second nature to me. Yet, OH how I deliberated, searched online and in the library’s enormous and stocked craft storage for what was going to be my inaugural craft of the summer! How I laughed with my friends and family that I was nervous of these kids liking my craft because I not only wanted it to fit the theme of “Fractured Fairy Tales,” but also be a simple and fun activity and age appropriate.
My program was a huge hit! The children loved the story titled, “The End” by David La Rochelle and understood both the humor and the sarcasm in the book. The story is a simple and original fairy tale, told backwards beginning with the words, The End and ending with Happily Ever After. It was inventive and the kids laughed when we read it aloud. This was a great choice for a read aloud story because of the humor, as well as offered an alternative to the traditional fairy tale, which can sometimes be either too commercialized or too complex for storytime.
The game we played was a relay race, and the twist was that the race was backwards! With about 40 children in attendance at the program, there were at least 7 teams; each team had to walk backward with a spoon holding a ball. In retrospect, this was a bit tough for the kids to play and I would have had another game as a backup. However, some of the kids really liked the game and even chose to play again!
The craft was a Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread house. Using a die cut machine, I cut out craft foam houses and luckily used them all! Then, the children had access to glitter glue, ribbon, beads, foam shapes, buttons and markers all in a large variety of colors. I even had small self-stick magnets to put on the back if they wanted to make the house into a magnet for their refrigerator or desk. This was a great craft because each child could be creative and use their imagination, while it also connected to the Fairy Tale theme. Boys and girls alike loved inventing their own house and many surprised me with just how thoughtful they were in their placement of objects. I also allowed about 5-10 minutes at the end of the allotted time to give children who didn’t finish the craft, time to finish which turned out to be a great strategy.
Turns out, 60 minutes quickly expires when a program is run well! I would attribute it to not only observing my fellow librarians over the past weeks to see what works and what doesn’t, but also research and planning! In addition, my many years in event planning really paid off in being able to control the crowd, keep things moving along and engage the children.
Knowing at least 3 weeks in advance was also a big help in determining what I could test out to be sure it would run smooth. Questions I kept in consideration included asking myself:
- if the activity would hold the child’s attention span
- is the craft or game too easy or too difficult
- will the story make sense to a child of this age
- what is the flow of the program and is the scheduling fluid to accommodate on the spot changes
When I asked the kids as they were leaving if they had fun, the majority said YES…what I think is a fairly good gauge of a good time!
Check out my Gingerbread House example.
Program Outline: Storytime, Game and Crafts by Jennifer A. Peterson
June 2011; Grade 3-5/Ages 8-10 Theme: Fractured Fairy Tales
The program will begin with a general welcome and question to the kids if they know what a fairy tale is and what their favorite fairy tale is. A fractured fairy tale will be briefly explained. Aproximately 10-15 minutes.
The story, The End by David LaRochelle will be read. The question will be asked if they know the tale of “Hansel and Gretel.” Aproximately 15 minutes.
Then a game will be played. 10-15 Quotes such as “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff” will be given and the kids need to guess which famous fairy tale person said the statement. Aproximately 10-15 minutes.
The craft will follow the question game. It consists of a craft foam blank gingerbread house decorated as the kids wish, with buttons, glitter glue, markers, beads, ribbons. Aproximately 15-20 minutes.
A relay race game will be played but backwards! Teams will be divided and each child will race backwards with a spoon and a ball. If kids don’t want to play the game, they can continue to work on their craft. Aproximately 10-15 minutes.
Additional books and crafts will be used if time allows:
- Beware of the Bears by Allan Mac Donald.
- The Truth About Hansel and Gretel by Karina Law.
- The Three Silly Billies by Margie Palatini.
- The Frog Prince Continued or the Stinky Cheese Man story both by Jon Sczieka.
- Additional craft to make will be an origami frog.
Gingerbread House: Using the die cut maker, various colored foam in the shape of a blank gingerbread house will be available. Materials such as buttons, beads, ribbon, markers, glitter glue, and foam shapes will be available for the kids to use to decorate their house. Small magnets are also available if the kids want to stick them to the back of the house to create a magnet.
Origami Frog: Square sized, green and red paper, small google craft eyes, black markers. There are two types of origami frogs the kids can choose to make, one is more simple than the other.
- Craft foam, decorating materials, glue, scissors for craft; Approximately $1 in cost per craft
- Large spoon and ball or round object for the game
- Power point and laptop for the question game
- Three tables on the stage for craft
- 1 table on the floor for miscellaneous
- Computer for power point game