I did an American Girl Tea Party once in the past when I worked (briefly) nearby at the Brentwood Public Library. It was this program's success that inspired me to do it again with the kids at Huntington. So, in honor of Thursday's American Girl Tea Party, I've decided to blog about my Brentwood-version of this program, as well as the changes I made when updating and adapting this program for Huntington.
First, let me say that Brentwood Library had one distinct advantage over Huntington: A collection of five historical American Girl dolls that the library received as a gift (Addy, Kit, Kaya, Josefina, and Kirsten) plus two Girl of the Year dolls on loan from one of our generous pages (Marisol and Jess). These were the perfect photobooth prop and the kids were so excited to sit with and admire these dolls.
I have a photobooth planned for Huntington also, but there will be no doll collection to accompany it.
Here is the Brentwood photobooth all set up:
Also pictured: the adorable tea set I used to serve iced tea to the kids. When it was snack time, I passed one tea set out per table and the kids really used them to drink from! It was fun!
We ordered different, ceramic teapots for the Huntington version of this program and accompanied them with pink, paper cups. I think either way, it's fun to pour a spot of tea from a teapot, yes?
Here are a few photobooth shots:
At both libraries, the first craft on the schedule was placemats. At Brentwood, I got lucky because I had 8" x 10" foam mats leftover from another craft, plus heart doilies leftover from Valentine's Day. So, immediately upon coming in the room, I had the kids start gluing doilies to the foam to create a placemat for their tea and snack later. This was a quick craft so they could move onto American Girl Bingo and then craft #2.
At Huntington, the placemats I have planned are totally different. I created legal-size coloring sheets from another (free to use) tea coloring sheet I found online here at B. Nute Productions. All I did was modify the image a little to fit the size I wanted. They look like this:
I also ordered these sheet protectors on Amazon. So on Thursday, when the kids come in the room, they can start coloring immediately, then slip their finished art into a sheet protector and viola! It's a placemat!
Bingo is always more successful than I expect it to be, so using this as many times as possible is a no-brainer, especially because it took several hours to make.
After Bingo, the kids moved onto craft #2:
They made beaded friendship bracelets and necklaces for both themselves and their dolls. I have a similar craft planned for the Huntington kids except I decided to 1-up it a little by incorporating these Best Friend Necklaces from Rhode Island Novelty (for the charms), this Pony Bead Bracelet Kit from Oriental Trading, and these Pony Bead Necklaces from Oriental Trading. My thinking is that they'll make best friend necklaces-- one for themselves and one for their doll, and the doll's will be made out of the bracelet. My lovely coworker was nice enough to make samples for me yesterday and send me a picture. Here is the result:
This is exactly what I was hoping they would look like! The Huntington kids will definitely enjoy this.
Last on the agenda: the snacks. At Brentwood we had iced tea from the tea set and animal crackers. Here are some kids illustrating a little known fact: that everything taste better from a tea set.
Thursday's snacks will probably be similar. There will definitely be iced tea from a tea pot. This is what's important.
What worked best: I'd say having all the dolls out in the photobooth was best, but Bingo was a close second, and drinking tea from a tea set was a close third.
What worked least: With a group of this size, I desperately needed a second set of hands. It all probably would have moved more smoothly, with less waiting-time for the kids (and less headache me the librarian) if I'd pulled a page in the room to join me-- especially at snack-passing-out time.
Overall this was a great, albeit hectic program. It was packed to capacity and there were almost no supplies left behind. Kids were giddy and smiling the whole time and I even heard one say, "This is the best library program I've ever been to," which was pretty much all I needed to feel good about myself for a month or more.
I'm sure this Thursday's American Girl Tea Party at Huntington will be just as good. I worked hard to make sure it would be fun and I am so so sorry to miss it.