Sunday, December 1, 2013

Program: Heroes of Olympus

After the raging discussion during one of my summer book club meetings about the books of Rick Riordan, I knew I would have to once again mark the arrival of his latest book with some sort of program. I threw a party last year (hit the link to see what we did), and, though I didn't really expect to have repeat attendees, I wanted to be sure to offer some new activities. Here's what we did this year!

Pin the snakes on Medusa: completely stolen from a Percy Jackson birthday party I discovered somewhere on the Internet, I really loved this idea. I had my lovely colleague (who is a far better artist than I could ever hope to be) draw me an appropriately disturbing giant head of Medusa. Notably, Medusa was missing her favorite hair. I printed out a bunch of pictures of snakes and cut them out, affixing double sided tape on the back. During the program, the kids had to stand with their backs to Medusa and use a hand-held mirror to try to pin the snakes on her gloriously bald head. After all, you can't look Medusa in the eye! I think a lot of the kids were surprised by how much more difficult this was than expected, but many kids did it multiple times to perfect their pinning skills. Every kid who visited this station got a goody bag, full of blue candy and a Percy Jackson trading card.

Slay the Minotaur (Ares station): I wanted to sort of have each station represent a different god, so I chose Ares for this station because he's usually portrayed as one of the most violent. This was, by far, the most popular station of the program. I bought a new bow and arrow set from Walmart and busted it out for the first time at this program. I taped a picture of the Minotaur to a wall, taped a line on the floor for kids to stand behind, and let them try to slay the Minotaur. It was very exciting when an attendee finally successfully hit the Minotaur and kids stayed at this station for a long time.

Make a trident (Poseidon station): I didn't want to go the shield route again, as we'd just done it last year and it was actually kind of expensive (we bought cardboard cake rounds for the shields), but I still wanted them to have something really cool to take home. Plus, I knew I wanted Poseidon represented at the program (he is Percy's dad, after all), so voila! We made the tridents out of aluminum foil (I bought a lot). This station involved a lot of trial and error and some kids were disappointed that they couldn't get theirs to look as good as mine. If I did this again, I'd either have bases started or create some sort of frame that they could wrap their foil around (I thought about doing this out of craft sticks, but I didn't really think it was necessary).

Puzzles and trivia (Athena station): I've said it before - I love puzzles and trivia and so do a lot of kids. This was a really simple station. I had a trivia sheet I'd made up and a few puzzles from various event kits at the table with some pencils and let kids try things as they wished. Since I never had a very large crowd of kids at any one time during the program, they didn't get competitive with each other about the trivia as I've seen them do before. Additionally, no one asked for the answers, which I had on a separate sheet off to the side. Maybe I should have left the answer sheet on the table (clearly marked, of course).

Camp bracelets (Minerva station): I always want the kids to have cool stuff to take home and I didn't want it to just be a weapon this time, so this seemed like a simple yet relevant craft to include. I had blank wooden beads for the kids to decorate, along with some sheets with ideas for them (Greek alphabet, symbols of the gods - that sort of thing). I also provided regular pony beads and leather cords. I made a sample for the kids to get an idea - I chose Athena as my patron goddess, so I drew her symbols on two of my beads and then the Greek letter sigma (for the first letter of my name) on the other. The kids liked this and many wanted to make bracelets for family members. And yes, I realize that Minerva and Athena are the same goddess from different mythologies, but she is the goddess of both wisdom and crafts, so I thought it was appropriate. Plus, the two personalities are at war in the Heroes of Olympus series, so it seemed like a good idea.

And that's what I did. I had about half the number of attendees as last year and I couldn't really tell you why, other than that this fall seems really hit or miss with program attendance. Any brilliant ideas I overlooked?

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