Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Into Art

This program focused on modern, abstract art.  We started with a brief explanation of abstract art and then let the kids get to work creating their own.

Craft: Tape Resist
We gave each child a 6 x 8 canvas panel and some masking tape.  They could create any design they desired on their panel.  They then came up and selected 3-4 colors of paint to use.

Taping a canvas panel

Starting to add color

Adding additional colors

Sample shown to kids

Made by Miss Sandy

Made by Miss Jennifer

Craft: Duct Tape Pencil Pouches
We started with regular slide-open sandwich bags.  The kids chose their first piece of duct tape and placed it on the bag directly under the slider. They overlapped a second piece of tape directly below the first.  Then, they cut off the excess bag and ran a third piece of tape along the open bottom so that half was on one side and half on the other.  The did the same with the sides.  

Our sample pencil pouch

Some chose different tape patterns for each step.

Craft: Tin Foil and Yarn Art
This was a surprising hit with the majority of the kids starting with this project first.  Kids began by cutting slits along each side of a 6 x 6 inch square piece of cardboard.  Then, the wrapped a 4-5 foot long piece of yarn around the cardboard, catching the yarn in a slit along each side as they wrapped.  Once all the yarn was wrapped, a piece of tin foil (8 x 8) was wrapped over the front and secured to the back with tape.  The kids glued a 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 piece of card stock over the back to hide the extra yarn and tin foil edges.  On the front, they smoothed the foil carefully over the yarn to make the pattern stand out.  They decorated each section with permanent markers.

Getting started

Adding designs
Craft: Watercolor Circles or Kaleidoscope Painting

For our final project we prepared paper ahead of time (stamping overlapping black circles of acrylic paint across a piece of watercolor paper).  The kids used watercolors to paint each section a different color.

Sample made by my 5 yr old daughter

Hard at work

For a spring break program, this was well attended and the kids really liked the variety of projects.  The duct tape was hard to work with and cut, but the kids did really well and were patient.  As stated above, the tin foil and yarn art project was a huge draw.  It was so simple, yet they really got into it and even the parents were amazed.  The painting projects were fun and no two were alike, which made for interesting, fun results.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Earth Day

Snack: Dirt Pudding
Dirt Cups recipe

  1. Put two Oreo cookies in a plastic baggy and crush them.
  2. Spoon chocolate pudding into clear cup.
  3. Add half the crushed Oreo cookies to pudding and stir.
  4. Sprinkle remaining crushed Oreo cookies on top to make "dirt."
  5. Add two gummy worms on top.
  6. Enjoy
Crushing Oreo cookies

Mmm, mmm, good!

Craft: Decorate Canvas Bags

Craft: Magazine Weaving
  1. Using ruler, draw line vertically on one edge of black paper.
  2. Fold paper in half.  Cut slits from fold to drawn lines.  Slits can be zig zag, curved/wavy, or straight.
  3. Open up paper.  Weave strips of magazine pages through the slits, gluing down strips at either end and cutting excess magazine paper off.

Craft: Bug Hotel
  1. Cut both ends off plastic water bottle.
  2. Fill with sticks of varying sizes.
  3. Take home and place on ground outside for bugs to live in.

Craft: Egg Carton Pot w/Sunflower Seeds
  1. Fill egg carton cup with soil.
  2. Place two sunflower seeds in soil.
  3. Place cup in baggie for taking home.

DVD: Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

This was a great program, although some kids whiz through the activities and are done in half an hour while others took the full time.  We ended up doing the Bug Hotel only with the smaller evening group as a filler when others had finished.  We showed Diary of a Worm as a filler as well in both sessions and it was amazing how sucked in the kids got (even those who groaned at the title).  The bags were a HUGE hit and turned out really cute.  The magazine weaving worked fairly well and thankfully we had volunteers for our first session to help the kids with the cutting.  They did fine with the weaving, but we a had at least one in each session who wanted to cut along the drawn line.  They loved the snack, but we should have placed the program prior to Lent.  There were a few kids who had given up chocolate or candy for Lent and were good about not eating them during the program.  We did give them an alternative snack (fruit roll-up).  Overall a good program, but it could use a little tweaking to make it longer.  

Attendance: 33, 11

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wimpy Kid Party

We started this program by asking the participants to tell us what they knew about the Wimpy Kid series.  Since our programs encompass grades 1-5, we thought some of the younger kids might not know a lot about it.  As kids told us items about the books, we wrote them down on a large easel board for all to see.  Then we began our various activities, most of which pull heavily from the various Event Guides for the books.

We also used program notes from the blog Tiny Tips for Library Fun.

Activity: Shame Game
Everyone starts by standing up.  We read aloud a set of statements.  After each statement, the kids sit down if the statement is not true for them.  The last one standing is the winner.  We modified this and had the kids stand up again for each new statement.  they more fun watching others and commenting on the statements than there being one true winner.

Activity: Cheese Touch Game
We played this like hot potato.  We played music as a cheese slice (fake) was passed around a large circle.  When the music stopped, whoever was holding the cheese was out and now had the cheese touch.  Play continued until only one non-cheese touched person was left.

Activity: Personality Game
We passed out three slips of paper to each kid.  Each slip had a statement and a symbol on it.  They had two minutes to go around the room and switch slips with others until they had three slips that most represented their personality.  When time was up, we read aloud what character each symbol represented.

Game: Manny Cereal Toss
Flying cereal boxes!
Kids could throw mini-cereal boxes into a toilet seat set upon a crate.  The closest we could come to a reason for this activity is that Manny likes to eat his cereal on his potty chair in front of the TV.  When he is done, he pours the remaining cereal into his potty chair.  This idea came from Tiny Tips for Library Fun blog.

Craft: Wimpy Kid Masks
We downloaded masks from and made copies of them on card stock.  The kids could choose one mask to cut out.  There were craft sticks they could tape to the mask so they could hold it up to their face.
 Craft: Wimpy Kid Journals
Working on journals
Each kid got a blank 20 page journal we purchased from Office Depot.  On the cover we pasted a sticker of Greg with this saying...Diary of a ___________ Kid.  The kids got to choose what kind of kid they were and write it in.  Examples include: silly, cool, awesome, artistic.

Game: Mixed Up Wimpy Kid

Other Activities:
Cabin Fever word search
Make Your Own Comics
Draw Your Own Cover

This was a different kind of program for us in that it relied heavily on games instead of crafts.  However, it was very popular and the kids had a great time.

Attendance: 21, 16

Can never get enough of these books!

Knights to the Rescue!

Game: Save the Fair Maiden (from the Dragon) Relay
Need: two yard sticks, two balloons, two dolls, two chairs, one stuffed dragon puppet
Set up: Put the dolls on the chairs at one end of the room.  Put the dragon between them on the floor.

  1. Separate kids into two teams.
  2. On their turn, each child must keep their balloon off the ground with their sword (yard stick) while running to the rescue of the fair maiden and then carry her (and the balloon and sword) back.
  3. Programmers or Volunteers quickly return the fair maidens back to the other end of the room while the next player begins their turn.
Game: Slay the Dragon
Need: 10 unopened bottles of water covered with images of dragons printed on 8 1/2 x 11 paper
  1. Kids try to knock down the dragons with bean bags.
Game: Storm the Castle Catapult Game
Marshmallow Catapult
Pre-make catapults ahead of time using these instructions:  Instead of using a bottle cap, we attached a plastic spoon using another rubber band.
  1. Using the catapults, kids fired rocks (mini-marshmallows) at a cardboard castle.
Craft: Decorate a shield/coat of arms
We pre-cut shields out of 11 x 17 card stock.  From we printed off various  shield devices, which we then enlarged and reduced to allow for a variety of sizes.  We talked a little about the meaning of the colors used and of the devices.  Kids could choose whatever devices they wanted to add to their shield.

This program went well.  The kids enjoyed making the shields and we some very detailed ones as well as some very simple shields.  The catapults were a huge hit even though they did not work as well as expected.  We had to prop them up on some books to make the marshmallows fly far enough to even reach the castles.  Both Save the Fair Maiden and Slay the Dragon games were popular.  It was a good mix of activities and craft.

Shh! Spies!

Activity: Secret Spy Code Names
Each child chooses one slip of paper from each container.  Container one contains slips of papers with adjectives on it; container two contains slips of paper with nouns on it (ex. Stormy Castle).

Activity: Secret Agent ID Cards
We did this through out the program.  After the kids got their names, we wrote their information on their ID cards and took their pictures.  After the program, we printed out their pictures, attached them to the ID cards and laminated them.  We handed them out to the kids at the next program.  (The one problem with this is that some kids never returned to another program so we ended up throwing their ID cards away after a few months had passed).

Activity: Spy-Q
Test Your Spy-Q
Kids answer questions from this worksheet to discover if they have what it takes to be a spy.

Activity: Code Breaking--Caesar Cipher
We handed out a sheet from this website ( and worked together on it.

Activity: Fingerprint Analysis
Kids use a black ink pad to place their left and right thumbprints on a piece of paper.  They they tried to figure out what type of fingerprint they have.

Activity: Satellite Photo Identification
  1. Kids try to identify local places from satellite photos from Google.
    1. I got images of each local school, the library and a few other common local places.
Activity: Memory Training
  1. Let kids look at a tray of objects for one minute.
  2. Remove tray.
  3. Kids try to write down everything that was on the tray.
Object: remote, combination lock, Swiss army knife, scotch tape, Walkie Talkie, tape measure, disguise glasses, cell phone, SD card, pen, magnifying glass, pencil, post-it notes, flashlight, binoculars, mini DV tape, whistle/compass, newspaper

Activity: Stealth Training
  1. Start by explaining what stealth means (the act of moving, proceeding, or acting in a covert way).
  2. Kids try to make it through to the other side without touching/breaking the web of lasers (red streamers).
This was a jam packed program.  The Spy Code names, memory training, and stealth training were the most popular activities.  Spy Q was too hard for the younger kids, especially when it came to tallying up their scores.  Satellite ID was also a huge hit with the kids.  We never really got a good chance to do the code breaking.  It was an option toward the end of the program and the kids needed a lot of help to figure it out.  However, in a classroom situation, this would be a fun activity.

Get Messy with It!

Game: Vaseline Nose Relay

  1. Divide kids into 4 teams.
  2. Smear players' noses with a dab of Vaseline.  
  3. Player one from each team plunges their nose into a plate of cotton balls until one sticks to their nose.
  4. They then have to carry the ball across the room and drop it into a bowl without using their hands.
  5. The first team with 8 balls in their bowl, wins.
Experiments: Slime Making

Kids went to work on the other projects and were called over to the table in fours to help make one of the recipes below.
  • Rainbow Slime (1/4 cup liquid starch, 1/4 cup glue, 3 drops food coloring)
  • Cloud Dough (4 cups flour, 1/2 cup baby oil w/food coloring added)
  • Fluffy Stuff (2 boxes cornstarch, 1 can shaving cream, food coloring)
We made FLUFFY STUFF which is simply Summer snowball fight!    2 BOXES OF CORNSTARCH AND 1 CAN OF SHAVING CREAM!
  • Slime (Bowl 1: 1 cup glue, 3/4 cup water, food coloring.  Bowl 2: 4 tsp borax, 1 1/3 cup water)
borax slime recipe
  • Ice Cream Dough (3/4 cup conditioner, 1 1/2 cup cornstarch)
Craft: Blow Painting
blow painting
  1. Place watered down tempera paint on paper with droppers (about a nickel size amount).  
  2. Use straws to blow paint around to create patterns.
Craft: Marble Painting
  1. Place different colors of paint in each well of an egg carton.
  2. Kids place a marble into desired color in egg carton.
  3. Remove the marbles, place on paper inside box.
  4. Roll marbles around to create your painting.
Craft: No Brushes Allowed Painting
A 'No Paint Brushes Allowed' paint station - part of the Kids Art Explorers project @
  1. Place a variety of objects on the table for kids to use as paint brushes (sponges, crumpled paper, Duplo bricks, straws, forks, etc.)
  2. Kids can use any of the items to paint their pictures.
Craft: Fingerprint Pictures
More good stuff for a creative play Easter basket.

  1. Use stamp pads to make pictures using only fingerprints and markers (a la Ed Emberley--have some of his books displayed for ideas)
This program was a MESS (pun intended!) and staff intensive.  One staff person had to help with all the other crafts while the other helped the kids with the slime.  Of all the slimes, the Ice Cream Dough was the easiest and worked the best. The Rainbow Slime and regular slime didn't work well due to the consistency of the glue used (I think we got a really bad batch...lumpy instead of smooth).  Fluffy stuff needed a much BIGGER container.  The kids got it all over the floor, although they did have a great time with it.  This was a fun program but one that needs a lot of tweaking to make it less staff labor-intensive and to control the mess a little more.

Balloon Mania

Divide kids into groups of about 4.  At each table have one empty water bottle, a cup with 2 oz vinegar in it, a funnel and a balloon.

Activity: Are You Gassy? Science Experiments
carbon dioxide balloon experiment with vinegar and baking soda
  1. Have kids pour the cup of vinegar into their bottle.  Next, have a couple teen volunteers go around the room with baking soda.  At each table, the kids measure out two teaspoons of baking soda, which they put into their balloon using the funnel.  Next, have the kids attach the balloon to their water bottle being careful not to let the contents of the balloon enter the bottle.  As a group, have them tilt their balloons so the baking soda goes into the vinegar.  What happens?
The following experiments were demonstrated in front of the kids.
  1. Put 2 oz water into the water bottle.  Add 2 tsp baking powder to a balloon.  Attach balloon to the water bottle and empty into the bottle.
  2. One bottle clear soda (Sprite/7-Up).  Add one package pop rocks to a balloon.  Attach balloon to soda bottle and empty into the bottle.
  1. While kids are eating their snacks, have them tear tissue paper into small pieces.  Scatter tissue paper pieces on the floor.
  2. Each person gets a blown up balloon and a bowl.
  3. Have the kids rub the balloon in their hair and use it to pick up the tissue paper and place it in their bowl.
  4. The person with the most tissue paper in their bowl wins.
Game: Balance the Balloon Relay
  1. Divide into teams.  Half of each team should be on opposite sides of the room.
  2. One person gets a fly swatter and must balance the balloon down the room to their counterpart, who must then balance the balloon back to the other side of the room.
Game: Balloon Popping Relay
  1. Use the teams from the previous game and give every person a balloon.
  2. One player from each team places a balloon between their legs and walks it across the room to the finish line.
  3. They then sit on the balloon and try to pop it.
  4. Next they run back to their team and the next person goes.
Craft: Balloon Yo-Yos
Simple balloon Yo-Yo: This springy toy is fun to play with, easy to make, and can be created with things that you may already have in the cupboard. It can also teach children a nice lesson in resourcefulness, helping them understand that toys can be invented from simple objects.
  1. Using funnels, fill a balloon with uncooked rice.
  2. Tie closed.
  3. Use three rubber bands attached together to create the yo-yo string.
This was a super fun program.  The Static Electricity game, while fun, created a HUGE mess.  The balloons didn't pick up as much of the tissue paper as desired, so there was a lot of clean up involved after the programs ended.  Both relays were fun and caused a lot of laughter from the participants.  The science experiments worked well.  We had the kids all do the baking soda/vinegar experiment while one of us demonstrated the other variations.  We then compared the results to see which combination made the biggest balloon.  The balloon yo-yos were also a big hit.