Friday, February 27, 2015

Update on me + Stuffed Animal Sleepover

So quickly after I've started it up, my new LibraryLaura blog has come to a halt. I was in a debilitating car accident last week and am completely out of commission. While my injuries aren't going to be permanent (and I am so grateful for that!), they are going to be for a while and, unfortunately, I am out of work for a good chunk of time as I slowly, slowly work on recovering.

As if there would be any doubt... I miss the library! And I also miss blogging. Thankfully, I have a pretty decent collection of old programs I can blog about to hold me over until I am back at work. So for today, here's one of my all-time favorites-- Stuffed Animal Sleepover!

I've run the Stuffed Animal Sleepover twice in the past and have another scheduled for the spring. The program itself is actually a pretty simple storytime and craft but the real fun starts when the kids go home and leave their stuffed animals behind for an overnight sleepover party!

Both times, I had the kids fill out name tags for themselves and their animals on their way into the program. (This helps me keep track of things later.) Then I started the program off with a book. Once I used Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and once I used Where's My Teddy? by Jez Alborough. The kids like both books and I like them too because, not only are they cute and age-appropriate, but somewhere in my head "bears = sleep."

After the book, we did one or two quick songs, always including Five Little Monkeys with the monkey mitt. Then the kids made "sleeping bags" for their stuffed animals to sleep over in. These are just pillow cases from Oriental Trading decorated with permanent markers.

As the kids finished up their crafts, I had them come back to the story area to quietly read board books to their stuffed animals as we waited for the whole group to be done. When everyone was finished, we wrapped up with another song or two. I ended the program by having the group sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and then sing it again as quietly as possible so the stuffed animals could drift off to sleep. Then the kids kissed their animals goodnight and left them for the evening.

There's a very important behind-the-scenes step that comes next. I think it's actually essential to photograph each animal with its sleeping bag (and, in case they fall off, its name tag too). That way, when the children pick up their stuffed animals the next day, you can match everything up right.

Now on to the fun! Here's what the stuffed animals did during their sleepover:

Played computer games

Ate snacks

Played cards

Built with Legos

Put together a puzzle

Made copies of themselves on the downstairs copy machines.

Choose books to read individually
I also included individual pictures of each stuffed animal enjoying a book solo:

The next day, when the kids came back to the library to pick up their animals and their pillow case sleeping bags, I gave them each a print out of the photos from their animal's night out. The kids liked the print outs... The parents LOVED the print outs. This was true both times. I say, hey, nothin' wrong with happy parents!

What worked best: The board books. The first time I did this program (last August), I didn't put board books out and the kids who finished decorating their sleeping bags first had nothing to do while they waited for the other kids to finish. Often I'll have a coloring sheet or something similar to fill in here, but for some reason, I just didn't anticipate it right in August. But adding the board books in the second time not only helped with timing, but really helped create the feel of putting the stuffed animals to bed- much more than a coloring sheet would have. Plus, duh, they're getting a little early literacy in so the books are just a win all around.

What else worked well: Singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and then singing it again quietly so the stuffed animals could "fall asleep." This was a good, natural way to say goodnight and end the program.

What worked least: I genuinely think that once I added the board books in, the program itself was pretty seamless. However, the biggest challenge in doing this program has been trying to do so much of it after hours. I've found that I just can't do the photos while there are patrons in the library; there are only so many (very few) places you can set up stuffed animals without disrupting patrons. Plus, I kind of just don't want any of the kids to see me do it because I want to keep a little magic alive a little. So I've done most of the hard part after the library closes... propping up all the stuffed animals, taking all the photos, matching all the stuffed animals back up with their sleeping bags, and preparing the photo print outs (a 2-3 page Publisher document). There's this nagging go home feeling in me while I'm working (and as it's getting closer and closer to 11pm) that I wish I could figure out a way to fix. But I can't think of a better way. How do other people do this?

Anyway, overall, this is a fun, mostly-easy program that is a straight up patron-pleaser.

I'll see what other programs of the past I can revive since it's going to be a while until I'm back at work. I want to keep blogging! And hopefully these injuries won't keep me out for more than a month. Until next time!


  1. Dear Library Laura, I just loved seeing what kinds of things the stuffed animals were doing when no one was watching them. I really enjoyed reading this post and I hope that you will share more as you begin to feel better.

  2. Awesome program idea. I did a version of this last night but called it the Superhero Stuffed Animal Sleepover to incorporate the SRC theme. The kids had a blast, although I had a few who had to be convinced to leave their stuffed animals behind. I thought of you as I was still working on this hours after we closed. However you were correct in that the look on the children's faces today more than made up for my lack of sleep.

  3. I am so doing this in my family day care over a weekend! Thanks!