Here is the room all set for my Candy Builders program last night. This program is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of candy, a bunch of toothpicks, and a bunch of kids who enter the room somewhat tame and leave like happy little sugar monsters.
I did this one once in the past and have righted some of my previous wrongs. Last summer, when I invented this program, I put the candy out at each table in communal dishes, like a (very unhealthy) family style dinner. In my head, this would allow for maximum creativity. So each kid could use whatever candy most inspired them.
But in actuality, this was gross. This meant they either couldn't eat the candy because too many sticky fingers had touched it, or ate the candy anyway despite the sticky fingers. No good either way.
I considered doing the unhealthy family style dinner method again this year, but then also giving them goodie bags with a few of each candy in it to eat, but then I had an idea: Why not just make all of it in goodie bags and take the unhealthy family style dinner away altogether? Yes, it would mean they all started with the same materials instead of giving them options, but in a way, that's probably more fair anyway!
So goodie bags it was. Each baggie had:
Long pink and blue striped marshmallows, candy Legos, watermelon Twizzlers Pull n Peel, peach rings, and gum drops. Plus they all got a stack of toothpicks.
The kids came in, I threw on a playlist, and the candy building began:
The sticky fingers problem was solved! However, it didn't occur to me that the kids might want to build something larger than the size of a paper plate. So, while we do wipe the tables down frequently, they probably should have been covered. There are so many things to remember when you deal with edible craft supplies! I'll get it totally right next year!
Anyway, everyone had fun. Even the few parents that stuck around enjoyed themselves! In fact, I would say that everyone actually had more fun than I was expecting! Here are a few stellar examples:
What worked best: The "goodie bag method" definitely worked better than last year's "unhealthy family style dinner method." And not one kid was upset about there not being options. It just made way more sense like this.
What worked least: This one just worked out. Turns out you don't need anything fancy when candy in involved. Yes, I should have covered the tables, but in reality, it didn't matter. Everyone had a blast!
I'm hoping to keep this as an annual event. So until next summer with this one!