Sunday, December 7, 2014

Summer Program Recap Bonanza: Tween Programs!

I think I might finally be at the end of recapping my summer programs! Huzzah! The last programs I'll recap are those I did just for kids ages 9-12 (how we define tweens at my library).

Blinkybugs: my boss and I collaborated on the program, knowing that we wanted to take advantage of the science theme for summer reading and try to host several science-themed programs. She had done this program before and said it would be a piece of cake - all we needed to do was set a limit, order kits, and help the kids assemble them. If only it had been that easy! Turns out the kits were unavailable to order and buying all the parts piecemeal was going to be too costly. We began to scramble - what could we do that would be similar but not so expensive? We decided upon bristlebots - tiny robots made from the heads of toothbrushes. My coworker had also made these before, though I hadn't. We thought it would be simple enough. Well, we encountered trouble again, ordering the motors we needed online - and then they shipped from Asia, very close to our program date. Finding the right kind of toothbrush also turned out to be a challenge - the first ones we got didn't work, and neither did the second set. Finally, we found some and we were set. But how would we make the program last? Turns out that building the tiny robots with a roomful of tweens took slightly more time than anticipated. As they finished, we set up a little race course for them and they took turns racing each other. We also put down a big sheet of blank paper and paint and had them use their robots to paint designs on the paper. We still finished the program a bit early, but the kids had fun. So, despite the setbacks, the program was a success.

Homemade Candy: last year, I hosted a VERY successful candy science program. I didn't want to do an exact repeat this year, but I knew something similar would be a hit, so with the help of Pinterest, I came upon this program. It ended up being a bit more complicated than I expected, but the kids had a lot of fun and a lot of sugar. What we ended up making included: candy bars (each child received a plain Hershey's bar, which we then melted in the microwave. Next, they added the mix-ins (chocolate chips, caramel bits, sunflower seeds, coconut, etc.) they wanted, then poured it onto wax paper to set), candy buttons (a personal favorite of mine - I used this recipe and had the base pre-mixed; they added the flavoring they wanted and squeezed the buttons onto wax paper), mints (I never fell in love with the final texture of these, but had the supplies, so we went for it anyway), and rock candy (oh, rock candy - my greatest failure; I made several test batches with varying degrees of success but finally got one to work before the program. However, rock candy takes a long time, so I spent many hours boiling sugar and water and filling jars - which the kids had added flavoring and coloring to - only for none of the jars to set! As expected, most of the kids didn't come back for their candy, but I bought some store-bought pieces for those who did - never again rock candy!). The kids didn't seem to care about the actual success of each piece of candy - they were just there for the sugar! This program hit capacity, so definitely a big success!

World Records: inspired by Bryce Don't Play, I wanted to host my own record-breaking program. In one area, I posted life-size versions of the world's largest hand and foot, as well as a sheet marked with the heights of the world's tallest and shortest people, as well as the tallest dog. Not a big exciting station, but some kids couldn't believe how big the hand and foot were and measured their own against it. Some of the records we actually tried to beat were: sorting a deck of cards (they had to sort them by suit and arrange them low to high - some of the kids really wanted to beat this record!), solving a Rubik's cube (I think only one kid even tried this), most socks put on one foot in 60 seconds (holy cats, they loved trying this one!), sorting M&Ms with chopsticks (they had to separate the colors using chopsticks - some were definitely more skilled at this than others), and cup stacking (at the end of the program, I showed them the video of the world record holder and they were stunned into silence). It was one of my more low-key programs, but I think the kids who came had a good time.

One Direction Party: man, I worried about this program so much before it happened. It seemed that 1D wasn't as popular as they had been the summer before. But their tour was visiting Dallas at the end of this summer, so I took a shot. I'd say it was mildly successful - I had a group of girls attend who had never heard of the band, as well as a brother with very little interest. Overall, actually, most of the kids who came were not superfans like I expected, making the second half of the program a bit less successful than I wanted it to be. For the first half, we made 1D paper dolls (cut out of construction paper, with photos of the boys' faces to glue on and markers to make clothes) and filled in the lyrics (I left out some of the words from their songs and the kids had to try to fill in the blanks). I also had giant sheets of paper up with a few survey questions (favorite band member, favorite song, etc.) - Harry won, of course. For the second part of the program, we had some 1D Jeopardy - which was a complete bust. One girl knew all the answers and everyone else knew none. I probably should have just called it quits as soon as this became obvious, but I am a bit stubborn. After the trivia was over and prizes awarded, I put some videos up on the big screen and we danced and sang along. I think most of the kids had a good time; I just wish I'd had more actual fans in attendance.

Meet the Artist: I've posted about this program several times in the past. This was the first year I decided to continue the program over the summer. I had about the same attendance as during the school year prior. For our July meeting, we learned about Louise Nevelson and made assemblage art. The kids had a lot of fun with this and made some very cool pieces.

T-Shirt Art: I finished up the summer with a very easy and well-attended program. I offered Sharpie tie-dye (which we've done several times before and is always popular) and bleach pen art (my first time trying this one). Once again, the program was a success, though the bleach pens were in high demand and sharing was not a mastered skill. It was a good choice for the final program of the summer - easy and stress-free!

And that's it! I've finally finished recounting all my summer programs! Looking back, I can't believe how much I did - and I'm only a fraction of our department! We really busted our butts this summer to host a variety of programs for all ages and we were definitely successful! I can only look forward to next summer with a mix of excitement and trepidation - what will we come up with??

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