Sunday, July 27, 2014

Program: Program Recap Bonanza - Again!

It's time again for a roundup of program recaps from this spring!

Valentine's Tea Party: so, last year for Valentine's Day, we hosted a Fancy Nancy tea party and it was insane - we had way more people than we anticipated and it got a little hectic. This year, we decided to try to tone it down a bit by just making it a general Valentine's Day thing and also holding it on a weekday instead of a Saturday. Nice try - it was only slightly less crazy than last year. This year, we mostly focused on making different kinds of valentines to give away. We made butterflies with lollipops for bodies, general cards with a variety of hearts and shapes and doilies, and hugs. The hugs were my favorite but also the most complicated - it required tracing each child's hand and measuring their arm span with string. Then, you attached the string to the handprints and voila! Long-distance hug (I actually received this from my niece and nephew and knew we had to use it for a craft project at work). The parents really loved the idea of this, but, as I said, it required the most work, so it got pretty hectic. We set up our red carpet for tea (pink lemonade) and cookies, as a way to take a break from the crafting chaos. Our final activity was a little photo op that I had seen on Pinterest (gotta love it!). I used a big piece of white paper and wrote "I love you because..." across the top in shades of pink and purple. Then we set a dry erase board, markers, and a bandanna (for erasing) next to it and encouraged kids to write why they loved their dad or mom on it. Parents were then invited to take pictures (nearly everyone had a smartphone) to turn into nearly instant valentines. They really liked this and it was hilarious to see the reasons kids wrote down (our favorite, of course, was "you read us books")!

Nursery Rhyme Olympics: I hinted at this one in my last program recap bonanza. This is a program that I'd seen quite some time ago on a listserv and thought sounded too awesome to pass up. So, with the Winter Olympics this year, the timing was perfect. The stations I used were Three Little Kittens (matching colored pairs of paper mittens), Jack Be Nimble (jumping over three "candlesticks" of varying heights), Humpty Dumpty (a puzzle of the egg-man that had to be put together), Ring Around the Rosy (a ring toss decorated to look like rose bushes), Jack and Jill (walking up a plank to fetch a cup of "water" - blue pompoms), and Mother Goose Waddle (holding a small ball between their knees and walking through a course). Each station had a sign with the nursery rhyme written on it and all participants got a scorecard when they arrived listing the various "events." Once they completed each, they received a stamp. When they finished them all, I gave out gold medals (made from foam and ribbon). The parents really loved this program and I think the kids had a lot of fun, too. They struggled with the Mother Goose Waddle - the ball we had was too big for their tiny knees, so I tried to just encourage them to walk like a duck, with varying degrees of success. Overall, this was a relatively easy and inexpensive program that came off impressive and a lot of fun.

Adventure Club: this is a program we've been running for two school years now, alternating it with American Girl Club. We've struggled with this one - we have a much harder time choosing a theme for each program and attendance is very hit or miss with this one. This spring, we had two Adventure Club programs, Captain Underpants and Big Nate. Considering the popularity of both of these book series, we expected successful programs. We were disappointed with both. For Captain Underpants, we had a toilet toss (tossing Tootsie Rolls into a fake toilet), underpants fling (exactly what it sounds like - we competed for distance), underpants decorating (we made giant underpants for the kids to decorate), draw Captain Underpants, and discover your underpants name. Attendance was extremely low for this program, a huge disappointment to us. A couple months later, we hosted a Big Nate version. For that program, we had creating your own comics, making fortune cookies (out of paper), an obstacle course (where they had to avoid the cats and collect the trophy), and a cheese doodle chopstick race (how many could they pick up with chopsticks in one minute). Once again, for a book series so popular, our attendance was very low. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be continuing this program next school year.

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