Sunday, July 29, 2012

Program: Unsolved Mysteries

I'm in the home stretch now for my Summer of Tween - just one program left! Then I get to start planning all the fantastic (not to be modest or anything) ideas I've been brewing in my head for fall! My penultimate program (thank you, Lemony Snicket) focused on Unsolved Mysteries. Here's what I did!

Only three stations this time and this program was heavily hands-on. I actually chose the theme specifically so I could do the crafts I chose and I don't even think the majority of the kids looked at the information I had set up on the tables to make the theme more prevalent. Anyway, our stations were:

Amelia Earhart - her disappearance is still unsolved and her story still captivates us. Unknowingly, I held my program on the 75th anniversary of the day they stopped searching for her. I put out a sheet with short biographical information about Amelia and her disappearance on the table, and the rest of the station was devoted to our craft: paper airplanes (OBVIOUSLY). Not to brag too much, but I am an excellent paper airplane builder. I chose 8 different models for the kids to try, ranging from very easy to pretty advanced. Of course, I set out books as well and the kids were free to try some of the other designs if they wanted; I just only guaranteed my abilities for the 8 models I'd built as examples. Many kids stayed at this station the majority of their time and a good percentage of them skipped over the easy models and went straight for the tough ones. Of course, this meant that my volunteers and I spent a good portion of the program "helping" the kids with the airplanes. Fine by me. They loved it. My first group actually didn't even try to fly them; they just seemed content to build them and then check out the other stations. The second group got a little out of hand with the flying of their planes, so I had to put an end to it. Next time, I will build in an opportunity to take our planes outside for test flights.

King Tut - there are many theories as to how King Tut really died and my informational sheet outlined some of them. The craft at this station was actually two-fold: decorating miniature sarcophagi and creating our own cartouche. I ordered a bunch of plain white small boxes (they sort of looked like matchboxes) and had half-sheets of construction paper for the kids to make their cartouche. I provided a hieroglyphic alphabet and made an example for them. They just decorated to their heart's content, though this was the least popular station of the program.

UFOs and Aliens - I have to admit I'm a skeptic, but I gathered a bunch of information on UFO sightings and alien encounters and put it together for the kids. Then I encouraged them to make their own UFOs. I had Styrofoam bowls to tape together and various craft supplies for the kids to decorate their spaceships with. This station was almost as popular as the paper airplanes and a number of kids were feverishly trying to finish their UFOs before I made them leave. Many of the kids made sure to include aliens on their spaceships.

I also put together some information on various other unsolved mysteries (Bigfoot, Stonehenge, Roanoke) and had a display of books out, but the kids didn't really bother with this bit. They were happy with the crafts and this was a relatively easy program to put together. I do recommend that you have people helping who are actually good at origami/paper airplanes - many kids needed help and my teens were not so great at it themselves. Overall, though, I think we had another successful program. One left and then a much-needed break!

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