To celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November, I decided to offer a make your own dreamcatcher program. A while back, another librarian had donated her supplies from a program she had done a number of years back, so I already had everything I'd need for running the program. I thought about making a handout or simple presentation about dreamcatchers but decided instead to just talk about them a little bit while we were making them.
This program was a success, I think, but also very frustrating. I wasn't sure how many kids to expect since I was holding it the day before Thanksgiving (kids get that entire week off from school here). I had about ten kids show up, so I was pleasantly surprised. However, maybe one or two of the kids were actually the right age for the program (advertised for ages 9-12, as nearly all my programs are). This is what led to the frustration. It was just me in the room for the first part of the program (we later roped a teen volunteer who happened to be here into helping) and most of the kids seemed unable to understand the instructions on how to create their dreamcatchers. I had a large scale hoop and rope to demonstrate what they were supposed to be doing, so I explained and also showed them. They did not get it. So, every kid was asking for individual help. That's fine, but not how I expected the program to go. The program was geared at 9-12 year-olds because they are more able to do this kind of intricate craft without as much individual attention. That's why I chose it. So, I was a bit flustered trying to meet the attention demands of all the kids I had in the room while trying to maintain control over the group as a whole. I also had one girl with a bit too much energy, who was irritating the other kids present by flinging her string and hair (her own hair) around and into their workspaces.
Completely my own fault, but I didn't practice enough making a dreamcatcher beforehand so I had to make up some MacGuyver-esque knots and such to keep everything in one piece. The kids really enjoyed choosing what beads and feathers to decorate their dreamcatchers with, though there were some arguments about differences in materials. They also really liked hearing the story of dreamcatchers; one girl had come to the program specifically because she'd been having nightmares and hoped the dreamcatcher would help.
All in all, it wasn't a bad program and I'd like to try it again (I still have leftover supplies!) but I'd like to practice more making dreamcatchers before trying to teach the kids.