So, I'm full of ideas, like many children's librarians out there. One of my other new ideas for fall was to try hosting a bigger (in scope, time, and hopefully attendance) program once a month on a Saturday for my tweens, possibly collaborating with our teen librarian when it made sense. I liked the idea of tying the program into a book or series that is popular and I noticed that a few different series had new titles coming out this fall, so I decided to host the events around the release dates. With The Mark of Athena releasing in early October, I decided our September program should focus on Rick Riordan (I wanted to include all his series for kids since they are all equally popular). Thus, our Mythological Worlds program was born! I collaborated with our teen librarian and one of our library specialists to get this program going. We split the program up into two distinct portions, each taking an hour. Here's what we did!
For the first hour, we had stations set up around the room and kids could move among them in any order they liked, spending as much time as they wanted at each.
Parentage discovery - one of the big deals in the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series is discovering who your godly parent is. So, when kids first arrived at the program, they could spin a wheel to discover their heritage. We had four Greek gods, four Roman gods, and four Egyptian gods. The kids seemed to really like this one, even if they didn't always get who they had hoped for (most of them wanted Poseidon, no surprise).
Name tags - after discovering their mythological heritage, most kids moved on to making name tags. There were three options and kids could do just one to correspond with their parentage or all three if they felt like it. For their Camp Half-Blood name tags, they wrote their name (actually, a lot of them wrote their godly parent's name) in Ancient Greek. For Camp Jupiter name tags, we provided a list of typical names from Ancient Rome and their meanings; kids just chose which one they liked best. For their Fifty-First Nome name tags (yes, the nome of Dallas is actually mentioned in the series and is the 51st, though the library isn't technically in Dallas), kids wrote out their names in hieroglyphs.
Shield-making - no ancient warrior would be complete without a shield. Though they don't play a big role in the Kane Chronicles, a shield can always come in handy, right? The teen librarian and I made samples to inspire the kids, but I knew they wouldn't actually need any inspiration. Give these tweens a craft project and they will knock your socks off. The kids painted pretty much anything you can think of on their shields - abstract designs, their names, the names of their patron god, hieroglyphs - I even saw a Cerberus and a Pegasus! This was everyone's favorite part of the first hour of the program.
Puzzles - I have been surprised in the past with the popularity of good old pen-and-paper puzzles in my programs, so I figured it was a good idea to include them in this one, especially as you can download many different kinds from the web (diligent searching here). This was the least popular element of this program, though - we had so much other cool stuff going on that I wasn't surprised.
Constellation key rings - I started panicking the first week of September, thinking that we didn't have enough planned for the program (oh, how wrong I was...) and I'd seen this idea on Pinterest and thought it was really cool. Seeing as how a number of constellations are named after gods and figures from mythology, I thought it would work here. We re-worked a free template found online and printed the constellations out on cardstock. Then we provided hole punches and key rings for kids to make their own set. I didn't really notice how many kids came to this station but there was one very enthusiastic girl who thanked me multiple times for including this "really cool!" project.
Rune-making - since we knew we wanted to include all three Rick Riordan series, this seemed like an easy way to fit the Egyptians into the program. Each tween received a fair amount of clay and leather cord and then they could make pretty much whatever they want. We had some Roman, Greek and Egyptian symbols at the table for ideas but, once again, the kids did anything and everything you can think of. The cord was in case they wanted to make bracelets, which many of them did.
For the second hour, we pushed the tables to the edges of the room and gathered all the kids together in the middle for competitive games and prizes.
Trivia - trivia is a fun element to pretty much any tween or teen program, but tweens especially love showing off how much they know. We broke the kids up into four teams of roughly ten each for our trivia game. Each team was provided with a set of answer cards - all four sets contained the exact same cards. The kids would have to work together as a team to find the correct answer card and bring it to our teen librarian (who was reading the questions) before any other team. The first team with the correct answer card earned five points, incorrect answers incurred a five point loss. The kids got really into this and we made sure to move the teen librarian around the room so that no one team was situated closer to her than the others for an unfair amount of time. It was a close game but we determined a winner - all team members received a free Rick Riordan book (we had some from each series for them to choose from).
Lightning bolt toss - we love to give out prizes, so we came up with this idea for an individual competition. We had three targets - the Minotaur, a cobra, and a Gorgon (taped onto trash cans). In groups of three, the kids stepped up to the line and tossed their lightning bolts (glow sticks) at the targets. They had to get it in the trash can or get it to stay lying across the opening for it to count. The kid in each round who got the most in (they each had three lightning bolts) was the winner - ties were played as shoot-outs. We had 10 rounds and 10 winners; each winner received a glow-in-the-dark trident (which was a surprisingly popular prize).
And that was our Mythological Worlds program! We had about 70 kids show up, so I'd say it was a success!