Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aussie Taste-Test

Yesterday I finally had my Aussie Taste-Test. Originally scheduled to be an Australia Party for Australia Day (January 26), then rescheduled due to snow for February 17, and then cancelled completely because of my car accident, this program was a long time coming.

In the early planning stages of the original January 26th program, I ordered a massive quantity of Australian goodies from Aussie Food Shop online. (Shipping was a lot of money). Then the program got cancelled twice and, when I came back to work after my time out on disability, I found the box of uneaten goodies under my desk, begging to be used. So we ditched the program's original name (Australia Day Party), renamed it Aussie Taste-Test (maybe due to me being superstitious, maybe not. Does it matter?) and stuck it in the schedule for August! And it really happened!

Here's the spread (pardon the wonky iPhone panorama alignment):

The kids tasted:

* Tim Tams (original flavor)
* Tim Tams (caramel flavor)
Vegemite (served on butter crackers)
* Shapes (Barbecue flavor)
* Shapes (Pizza flavor)
* Shapes (Cheddar flavor)
* Shapes (Cheese & Bacon flavor)
* Chicos

I set all the snacks out on plates with serving utensils, voting sheets, and crayons (as seen above). Then, when the kids came in the room, I had each one take a small plate and a water bottle. Then I split them into two groups. One group came with me starting at the end with Chicos and one group went with our clerk, Mary, starting with the Original flavor Tim Tams. We all made our way around the table, tasting and voting.

The voting sheets had a happy face, neutral face, and sad face, as seen below (left). There was one for each item. As they sampled each snack, I had each kid place a check in the appropriate column. Since I had anticipated a lot of ☺s overall, I also made the favorites voting handout below (right), so a true winner could be scientifically determined:

The consensuses:

Original Tim Tams: 12 like, 0 neutral, 0 dislike
Caramel Tim Tams: 12 like, 0 neutral, 0 dislike
Barbeque Shapes: 7 like, 4 neutral, 1 dislike
Pizza Shapes: 8 like, 1 neutral, 3 dislike
Cheddar Shapes: 8 like, 3 neutral, 1 dislike
Cheese & Bacon Shapes: 7 like, 4 neutral, 1 dislike
Jaffas: 7 like, 4 neutral, 1 dislike
Vegemite: 1 like, 3 neutral, 8 dislike
Clinkers: 8 like, 3 neutral, 1 dislike
Chicos: 7 like, 4 neutral, 1 dislike

And the overall favorite Aussie snack, according to second voting handout:

Tim Tams! Both flavors were tied for first (and some kids circled both). Is anyone surprised? They're delicious. For those wondering, second place went to Clinkers and third place went to Cheese & Bacon Shapes.

After the taste-test, we played a game of "Guess the Aussie Lingo," downloadable as a PDF here! This was a PowerPoint presentation I made that consisted of  words like "mom," "soccer," "elevator," "candy," and "parking lot," followed by their Australian equivalent ("mum," "footy," "lift," "lollies," and "car park"). I had the kids guess what each word would be and we all had a good giggle. They cracked themselves up when they guessed that "parking lot" was said "parking lot" with an Australian accent (and then that "mosquito" was "mosquito" with an Australian accent and "bathing suit" was "bathing suit" with an Australian accent.) There were lots of laughs and everyone really enjoyed this. Plus a girl who's family is from India informed me that sometimes her family calls "bell peppers" "capsicum" too! Cool! It's not just the Australians! Informative and educational.

Again, you can download "Guess the Aussie Lingo" as a PDF here!

After Guess the Aussie Lingo, I showed them the following YouTube videos in the ordered they appear:

(This video got such an uproar of laughter that the kids requested a second showing at the end of the program. I obliged. Future program idea: Make our own "Kids React" video.)

Last, I ended the program with boomerang decorating and letting the kids go back for seconds. The boomerangs were part of my original Australia Day Party itinerary, so I decided to throw them into yesterday's program too since we already had them, even though they weren't taste-testing per say. I mean, why not? They weren't the highlight of the program (you just can't compete with Tim Tams and a Kids React video) but I'm glad I did them anyway. I think it's nice to send the kids home with a craft.

At the end of the hour, as the parents came in to retrieve their kids, many of them also sampled the array of Australian goodies. It was exciting to have adults sample and evaluate things too. A few brave parents even tried the Vegemite--and most liked it!
Overall, this was such a fun program. It's even inspired me to make our entire Winter Reading Club (I know, I know) theme travel so we can end with a massive taste-test of snacks from all different countries! I mean... it's nice to have one measly thing to look forward to in the winter, you know?

What worked best: Guess The Aussie Lingo, the Kids React video, and the Tim Tams. It's a 3-way tie.

What worked least: The boomerangs were fine and I'm still glad that I included them, but they didn't excite the kids the same way the other stuff did. Some of the kids didn't understand what the boomerang was and I wasn't a great explainer. If I were ever to do this again, I would show them a YouTube video about boomerangs first so they'd understand what they were decorating. Even without it though, the kids had fun decorating something--anything, and they all left happy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Library Luau

Today I had a Library Luau, which was really fun--although not as fun as being at a real luau in Hawaii.

I started the afternoon off by reading the book Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawaii by Gerald McDermott. Previously, I had agonized over what to read. I liked the idea of using a story that came from Hawaii, rather than one that that just happened to take place there and I had narrowed it down to three decent options. The other two books up for consideration were The Shark God by Rafe Martin and Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale by Lee Wardlaw. Even though Pig-Boy wasn't necessarily my favorite book, it was the shortest of the three and I decided, ultimately, that shorter would work best timing-wise. Turns out that the kids really enjoyed it! One girl even said she had the same book at home and liked it! Success!

When we got to the end of the book, I turned on some Hawaiian music (a playlist made up of songs from Rockin' The Uke and Putumayo Kids Presents Hawaiian Playground) and it was time to play games! I had two games planned and I asked a page to assist me in the program so we could have both going at once (turns out I needed her about 100 more times too, so I'm glad she was there). The first game was Dolphin Ring Toss (this one from Oriental Trading), and the second was an actual Hawaiian game I found online called Ulu Maika. I had the kids split up, half at one game, half at the other, and they went back and forth between the two, playing and giggling, and taking turns really nicely. This group were seriously champions at taking turns, sharing, and being mature. They were an incredibly good bunch.

Anyway I ran the Ulu Maika game (and explained that it was a game used by young Hawaiian warriors to practice hand-eye-coordination) and Michelle (the super-helpful and generally handy to have around page I pulled in with me) ran the Dolphin Ring Toss.

Here's the scoop on Ulu Maika from a Hawaiian man on YouTube:

I was excited about being able to adapt an actual Hawaiian game for library play. To make this, I used old fashioned Tinker Toys (actually, they were the Makit Woodbuilders from Kaplan Toys) for the pegs and then Crayola Air Dry Clay (leftover from last week's What Pet Should I Get program) to make the Ulu Maika stone. I taped off a "court" with masking tape and we were set! This is how it looked:

I kept both games noncompetitive. The kids played against themselves, not each other.

As the games wrapped up, I handed outflip flop keychains (these from S&S) because everyone's a winner at the library! Then we moved on to the craft: Paper leis!

These took a bit longer than I'd anticipated and I hadn't expected some of the kids to not be able to string the flowers and straws without help. Did I mention I was grateful for Michelle in the room? As they finished stringing, I helped them each tie off their leis (some made bracelets too--more tying!) and then they posed in front of the photo backdrop (this one from Oriental Trading) that I taped up on the wall. Like at the Noon Year's Eve Party, the backdrop was a hit! I highly recommend these gems to everyone! They come in three pieces and they make programs so fun and festive!

At the end of the program, I served super-authentic pre-cut pineapple from the grocery store out of super-authentic Styrofoam bowls, plus water bottles (with these cute labels for extra festiveness) and two flavors of Hawaiian Punch (Original Fruit Juicy Red and Aloha Morning Orange Citrus) which I guess kids don't love and devour the way I did as a kid because there was a ton leftover. Kids today go for the water bottles. Over Hawaiian Punch! I don't understand.

What worked best: The games were awesome! I think this group could have played games the entire hour if I didn't cut them off to make leis. For many of them, as they finished their craft, they moved back to the games instead of sitting down and having pineapple and juice. Can't go wrong with a ring toss. Ulu Maika was fun too! (Plus, bonus, they liked making fun of my DIY Ulu Maika stone.)

What worked least: The leis were a little hard for some of the kids on the younger end of the age range, but even the smallest ones enjoyed picking out colors and letting me help with the stringing part.

What else worked least, kinda: I OVER-BOUGHT. Pineapple and Hawaiian Punch for all the librarians!

Anyway, this was truly a success! Isn't it great when things just work out exactly like you planned? The best!

Mahalo, everyone!