Toddler Drive In Movie

Another program we had in December was a Toddler Drive-In Movie. This was inspired by an idea floating around on Pinterest, as well as Marge's blog post about hers. We needed another program to round out our offerings in December but it needed to be something easy to put together because we had one huge program (LIVE REINDEER) and a bunch of holidays and vacations among the staff. So I decided to put a Toddler Drive-In Movie together for ages 1-4. Here's what my daughter's car looked like:

It wound up being really easy and fun! At first registrations were slow, but then we hit a long cold snap weather-wise and everyone must have gotten tired of sitting around at home because then we wound up with a waiting list of a few kids. We were able to get everyone in since my building always has so so so many boxes in storage.

Speaking of boxes that's the hardest of supplies for this program to get together. So, if your library isn't swimming in boxes (mine is!), that will be the hardest part. I was very fortunate to find about 35 identical flattened boxes in perfect condition without even a logo on them just sitting in our box room. I don't know what I did to make the universe smile upon me that day, but it was amazing! You could also hoard copier paper boxes.

We set out paper plates for steering wheels and let the kids choose between dessert-size paper plates or similarly sized Elison cut outs for head lights. On the same table we had markers, crayons, and glue sticks for decorating. The paper plates also were used for wheels.
 On the next table, we had tons of paper cutouts (from our Elison machine) all left over from other projects. I grabbed anything that seemed car or transportation related. There were trains, stars, letters of the alphabet, more stars, and numbers in this pile. It was a great way to use up whatever we had taking up space in storage. The tape dispensers are all filled with double-sided tape, which is our secret weapon here. The tables were in the back so there was maximum room for creating on the floor! And then it was show-time!

Date: Thursday, December 12
Time: 11:15 am to approximately 12 pm.
Total number of people (including adults) who attended: 47
Marketing slogan from newsletter: Make a cardboard car and take in a show!
Movie shown: Weston Woods' Officer Buckle and Gloria (12 minutes, I would go shorter next time) Public Performance Rights included with the DVD, from the library's Parent/Teacher Collection. We do have a movie license for commercial movies as well, but the kids are too young to sit through a feature-length film.
The kids were amazingly good at sitting in their boxes and pretending to beep their horns. Parents also pushed the kids around a little bit and slid around on the carpet. Clean-up was pretty minimal but I did have to run the sweeper to grab the little bits of cardboard debris. Mostly it was organizing the remaining die-cuts to go back into storage. I let parents take home the extra boxes for other siblings. Parent feedback was extremely good on this program--lots of photos and videos being taken with phones and iPads. This is a great program for storytime session breaks to get this kids coming back in, but also have a simple program for staff to put together.


  1. I did this program in May and am going to repeat it again next year. I think I had around 36 registered and 30 actually attend, so it was a great program. And it was pretty easy! I read Mitchell's License to start, put out a display of transportation books and like you, provided scrapes of paper, plates, crayons and glue for the cars. Lucky you found so many unmarked boxes! Most of ours were book boxes from vendors, but the kids didn't care. I was worried I wouldn't have sizes for everyone, but they all fit. I showed Mo Willem's Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (because like you said, they don't need a full length movie!) The parents loved it and the kids spent a good amount of time decorating their cars and couldn't wait to take them home. I did mine for ages 2-6 and we had a blast. I can't wait to repeat it.


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