Friday, June 19, 2015

Welcome Summer

I did a program last night called Welcome Summer. It was done in two sessions: one at 6:00 for ages 3-5 and one at 7:00 for grades K-2.

The sign-ups for both sessions were mediocre, and the attendance was, of course, even less still. I wasn't expecting the night to be as much fun as it was, because, well, it's usually just less fun with a small group, but these small groups really did enjoy themselves!

Both session had the same general plan:

20-25 minutes storytime
20-25 minutes craft

In the first session, the ages 3-5 one, I read How Will We Get to the Beach by Bridgitte Luciani (accompanied by a felt board I made a few years back) and then we sang Five Green and Speckled Frogs with the monkey mitt.

After the storyime potion, I let the kids decorate plain white beach balls from Oriental Trading with permanent markers (a scary concept with children this young, but it's the only way!) and, because some kids work really fast, I also put out some fan templates that I found on Aylee Bits.

It all worked better than I had anticipated. How Will We Get to the Beach has been a tried-and-true storytime favorite for me for years. It requires the children to pay attention. It's interactive, it's  silly, and it's a real story with a real plot. It's just all around perfect and always works. Last night was no exception.

Moving along to the craft: There have been times in the past where I've felt like the kids weren't into whatever craft I had for them. Or times where they finished it quick, got bored, and asked to leave early. I think it was this fear that drove me to put out the fan templates as a second craft. However, I didn't actually need them! As the kids finished decorating their the beach balls, they just straight up played with them. They threw them up and around and kicked them and bounced them and totally could not have cared less about whether there was a second craft or not. So simple! And they all had a really great time!

Next it was time for the K-2 session. I struggled a lot with planning this one because I got hung up with the fact that it was advertised as including songs. I've never done songs with this age group before and I agonized about what songs I could sing with the older children, mainly those who are in 2nd (and now almost 3rd) grade.

In the end, I decided no songs was best, and (at the suggestion of my colleague) replaced the singing with a giant group Madlib. Mostly, it worked.

Despite the kids at the younger end struggling with the parts of speech, they definitely enjoyed the Madlib. They weren't in complete hysterics for the entire story like I was when I did Madlibs as a kid, but they giggled appropriately when I read the line "Last summer, my little brother fell in a chalkboard and got poison sunflower all over his belly."

They were antsy though, so I moved them on to the craft after this.

Again, they could not have cared less about the fan craft. In fact, I don't even think they acknowledged the fans. After they colored the beach balls, they moved right on to playing with them, just like the younger group did. They were so funny and giddy, bouncing and throwing the balls all over and then wildly chasing them around the room. Why did I not realize it would be so simple? They were making a toy. Of course.

What worked best: I was nervous about using the Sharpies with the younger kids, but I told them to be careful and, somehow, they were! Also, due to the smallish sign-up, there was a lot of empty "playing space" in the room, and that also really worked. The time at the end of the programs when the kids played with their beach balls, was definitely the highlight for everyone.

What worked least: The Madlib with the second group was just ok. There was only one girl in the group had actually ever done a Madlib before, and although she had assured the other kids that it was "so fun and really funny," it felt a little school-ish for a while as I asked the kids to come up with various parts of speech on the spot.

Anyway, this was a fun night. Even though I wouldn't call it one of my all-time greatest programs, the kids definitely had a good time and left happy.

Welcome summer!

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