Even though Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year (my normal tween programming day) and I planned on having a program that day, I wanted my Halloween-themed program to fall a little earlier in the month so that the kids could take whatever we made that day and use it during the holiday. This program was a case of too many choices incapacitating my ability to decide what to do. I left the title and description purposely vague because I wasn't 100% sure what activities I wanted to include before we had to start publicizing the program. This may have contributed to my slightly smaller attendance number as kids didn't really know what to expect from the program. However, the kids who did come seemed to have a lot of fun. Here's what I ended up doing.
I really wanted to decorate pumpkins. I've seen (on Pinterest and generally around the interwebs) the amazing book character/book report pumpkins that kids have decorated and I thought it was a brilliant idea and something the kids would really enjoy doing. However, I had a hard time fully committing to the idea because of the costs. We generally don't run a lot of programs where we ask attendees to bring something and because I hadn't completely decided to go with this idea, I had no way of asking the kids to bring their own pumpkins. This left me with the job of providing pumpkins. They are expensive and, though I knew I wouldn't have huge attendance numbers, I also don't have a very big budget. I contacted a local nursery about getting a donation, but I submitted the paperwork too late (it had to be in 3-4 weeks prior to the program), so I missed the boat there. Finally, I just decided to go ahead and buy the pumpkins. I found the most goregously shaped little pumpkins for less than a dollar apiece. I only bought 20, knowing I'd probably have less than that number of tweens attending. Thankfully, I was right (I really didn't want to run out of pumpkins for participants). I bought my pumpkins the day before the program so that they would last longer.
So, for the program itself - it was pretty straightforward. I wanted the kids to hear a scary story while they were there, but I didn't want them to have to just sit there listening to a story (they've tended to get antsy during presentations before). I'm a big fan of audiobooks, so I decided that was my best option. When the kids arrived, I had them sit at the two tables I'd set up for decorating. I gave them a brief rundown of what we'd be doing and told them a little about the book we'd be listening to - Coraline by Neil Gaiman. They all seemed excited about the spooky possibilities of the title from my booktalk so, once I turned it on, they listened as they decorated. I had put pictures of some of my favorite book character pumpkins on the tables if they needed inspiration, but they basically just set right to work. We had Mary Ann from the Babysitter's Club, Piper from The Lost Hero, Iron Man, a clown, and two characters from a cartoon (whose name has slipped my mind). The program flew by as the kids worked diligently on their pumpkins and munched on the cookies and pretzels I'd provided as snacks. I had also decided I wanted to make the adorable monster page-corner bookmarks I'd found on Pinterest, just in case anyone didn't want to decorate a pumpkin or finished early. I needn't have worried. The kids devoted the entire hour to pumpkin decorating but all of them thought the bookmarks were too cool to not make one, so in the last five minutes, we scrambled to make our monsters. I provided scary bookmarks and pencils, as well as a horror booklist, for the kids to take home at the end of the program. I noticed that the copy of Coraline I had set on the display table also was gone after the program, so I assume one kid had liked the audio enough to finish the story. Overall, I think the kids had fun and the time flew by for me. (I made a Cheshire Cat pumpkin - of course.)
Next year, I'd like to do the program again, but I'd definitely want to get the pumpkins donated. I'd also advertise the program specifically as pumpkin decorating and I'd like to do it in two parts - first, have a program to decorate the pumpkins and then display them and have a contest for the patron favorite. I think we'd get a larger attendance this way, plus everyone would get a chance to see the creations the kids came up with. Have you done something like this at your library? How did it go?