Youth Programming Ideas from Spring Institute 2013

On Friday, Sara, Anna, and I presented "The Time-Crunch Librarian: Low-Cost, High-Yield Programming to Save your Sanity" at the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute Conference. During our presentation, we collected index cards with attendees' favorite current programs from their libraries. We also brought some random junk that we had out to see what kind of programs they might inspire. I promised to collect all of the suggestions into one post, which you are currently reading. I can't really elaborate on any of the ideas, as all I have to go on are what people wrote down, sorry! I added some notes in italics.

Favorite Current Craft or Programs  
  • Grab bag crafts (Use up old craft supplies/kits)
  • Butcher block paper murals
  • Toddler dance party
  • Lego Creation Day (drop-in, make something, put up on display within the library)
  • Rubber stamps (can use over and over)
  • Pet Parade Storytime (March around the library with dressed up pets, prizes, a story, and photo booth. Very low cost and fun. Just need to make sure people are supervising their animals. I'd also add that you might want to restrict very small/easily scared animals like gerbils from attending as I personally librarians who have had pets die at events like this.--Anne)
  • Cave Drawings for SRP (Recycle the crinkly brown packing paper from delivered boxes. Lay it out on the table, have kids make their own cave drawings. Display in the library.) 
  • LEGO Challenge (Scoop random pieces of Legos into lunch bags. Each builder or team of builders has to try and make something out of the pieces they have and the challenge is to use all of the pieces)
  • Scavenger Hunt (Packet of 10 clues that take participants around the entire library. Encouraged to work as a family/small group. Done during the 4th of July week as a passive/stealth program. 
  • Shel Silverstein poetry (illustrate "Bear in Fridge" out of poster books. Read poems and books and have kids write poems or illustrate them.) 
  • Find community folks with special talent to come in. We've had a lady with an accordion and great singing voice, an alligator rescue farm, a storyteller, the fire department. 
  • Luau at storytime. (Decorated area like under the sea. Had grass skirts and leis. Took pictures with big fake fish with the kids.) 
Ideas Inspired by Random Junk
The instructions for this activity said to pretend you had an unlimited supply of the given item. 
  • Foam picture frames: Ring Toss, Ocean scene (using ocean themed foam stickers), sun catchers,(frame holds paint within a sandwich bag), use for DIY photo booth at program, decorate with stickers, bean bag toss or target,
  • Wand: Walking Tag, cat toys, give as souvenirs,
  • Neon glowsticks: firefly craft, lava lamp, glow-in-the dark scavenger hunt, cut eyes out of paper towel tube and insert glow sticks for spooky decorations, blinking alien ships
  • Board game spinner: fortune telling game, storytelling, station assignment, make your own board game program, use for actions in storytime (like "hop __3___ times" or give each a number and help them learn to recognize them), use to take turns during Mad Libs/storytelling, life size Clue, 
  • Crepe paper strip with star print: mummy, star collage, macrame, scarf activity at toddler storytime, octopus craft, windsocks, headband
  • Tiara: Fancy Nancy/Princess Party or Tea Party
  • Foam Stickers: Put on craft sticks to make puppets, paper plate aquarium,
  • Plastic planter: Gardening craft, Make flowers out of tissue/crepe paper
  • Contact paper: Sensory items, sand art, tissue paper art
  • All Items: Mermaids & Mummies Party, Under the Sea Princess Party