Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Construction and Building Competition


For the past three Julys, my coworker, Corinna, and I have planned a fun, Summer Reading Club-themed competition at our branch library. Two years ago we hosted Super Hero Training Camp; last year we hosted Olympic Training Camp. And this year, we did a Construction and Building Competition. They have all be SO MUCH FUN. (But I am already racking my brain for activities to accommodate next year's music-theme and coming up completely empty).

To start, we gave each kid a hard* hat that was labeled "Construction and Building Competition" on the front and had their name written on the back, which, to be silly, I wrote as their first initial and their last name (ie: S. Jones).

*Hat was not actually hard at all.

We sat them all down and talked to them about things like how Corinna and I were the "site managers" and how they had to follow our rules in their construction projects. Then it was time to begin the activities, which went as follows:

Marshmallow Towers


The goal of "Marshmallow Towers" was to create the most aesthetically pleasing marshmallow-and-toothpick creation possible. It didn't have to be big. It didn't have to be strong. It just had to look pretty. We gave them 10-minutes, and off they went. When the time was up, we had to declare a winner. Corinna and I knew for sure that we wanted one winner and no "loser." We also knew that we didn't want to be the decision-makers. So we had the kids come up to us one at a time, whisper their favorite (other then their own) in our ear so nobody could hear, and then calculated the results. Luckily, there wound up being a clear winner.

Bridge Building



Split into two teams (Boys vs girls, naturally), the goal of Bridge Building was to make a bridge between two tables that supported the most weight. It didn't matter how ugly or pretty it was-- it just had to be strong. We gave the kids 15-minutes for this one (they kept asking for more and more time!) and had them use piles of popsicle sticks (both the thin kind and the thick kind), masking tape, and sticky putty (this kind).

They did a great job and I was surprised how much weight the two bridges were able to bear. Once their time was (finally) up, we tested the bridges--first with one rock, then with two rocks, then with a whole pound of rocks. Although the 1 lb bag had to be place strategically on the strongest part of the boys bridge, both bridges were able to hold an entire pound of rocks! How exciting! Then we tried two pounds and, of course, both bridges broke. So it was a tie!

I got the idea for this contest from The Ardent Teacher.


Human Bridge Tester


The wood plank and baby pool, in some form or another, have become summer competition staples. Two years ago, in Super Hero Training Camp, we dyed the pool water red, called it a lava pit, and had the kids cross over the pit on the plank. Last year, in Olympic Training Camp, we had the kids run through  the pool as the "swimming" portion of our "triathlon" and used the plank as a balance beam. But this year was the easiest! We filled the baby pool with water, put the plank of wood over it (attached with duct tape to two stools), called it a bridge, and had the kids "test" it by walking across it and making a silly pose/face in the middle. There was no judging or winning for this event; it was just for fun.

Ultimate Oreo


The goal of Ultimate Oreo was to build the tallest Oreo cookie possible in 5-minutes. I found this game on Stumingamescom, but decided to have the kids work individually instead of as teams. Using nothing but a bunch of Oreos and a plastic knife, they had to make the tallest, craziest, most ultimate Oreo cookie possible. They needed to have one cookie on the bottom, as much frosting as possible in the middle, and one more cookie on top. Then, after 5-minutes, we stacked the "ultimate cookies" up next to each other to see who'd made the tallest one. This was what it looked like:


Spoon & Block Catapults


This was a catapult building contest that involved wooden blocks, plastic spoons, rubber bands, and  ping-pong balls. The kids had to band the spoons to the blocks, then use that to catapult ping-pong balls across the room. Initially, this was a contest to see who could get theirs to soar the farthest, but it quickly just became noncompetitive catapulting. In fact, it became more of a cooperative game, as the kids were encouraging and helping each other! Great to see!

Cookie Head Tower


After lots of Googling for ideas, this was the last game that I found, here. Again in teams (and again, boys vs girls), the kids had to choose one member from each team to be the "cookie balancer" (ideally, this is the person who can lie on the floor the most still and not laugh). Then the other two members of the each team had 2-minutes to stack Chips Ahoy on the cookie balancer's head, as high as possible. If the cookies fell, they had to start over. The boys definitely giggled less, but in the end, once both towers had fallen and been rebuilt several times, the girls squeaked by--2 cookies to 0 cookies. Mostly though, this was just about having fun and giggling.

Tower Destroying


As a "reward for all their hard work," this final activity gave the kids a chance to destroy something instead of build something. Except the irony here is that, after the tower was destroyed once, the kids were all excited to rebuild it for the next person in line. Again, cooperation and helping each other were big themes here!

At the end of the hour, we gave the kids certificates, took a group photo, and let them snack on some (clean) Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies.


What worked least: I think this may have been the last year for our wood plank. While everything worked out totally fine, the Human Bridge Tester activity gave me a bad case of wood-breaking anxiety. Our wood plank had a great, three-year-run, but I am ready to say goodbye to it.

Work worked best: Totally surprisingly, Bridge Building was awesome! It was so satisfying to see the kids work in teams (with other kids they'd never met before) and make bridges that could support a whole pound! And they really enjoyed it much more than I'd expected them to!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sadie's Top 5, Ages 6-9 months


The big theme of Sadie's 6-9 month book selection is GIGGLES. All the books on this list are books that lend themselves to using funny voices, elaborate kisses, lap bounces, and tickles! My Sadie loves to giggle! As usual, I couldn't totally decide this month and wound up changing her picks up until my self-imposed deadline (today!) but here we go...


1. Hello Bugs! by Smriti Prasada is full of fun sounds and tickles. Each high-contrast page presents a shiny bug and simple text--"Hello, Bee! (buzz, buzz)," "Hello, Snail! (slide, glide)" or "Hello, Beelte (scuttle, scuttle)"--until the last page, which says, "Bye bye, Butterfly! (flutter, flutter)" This book has it ALL. Not only does it mean mom makes silly bug noises (Sadie's favorite is "zuzz zuzz" for "Hello, Dragonfly!" which comes with a lot of bonus belly tickles), but the bugs are SHINY. And the pages are otherwise black-and-white. Doesn't get better than that! Ace in the hole, my friends, ace in the hole! (Sidenote: There is another very similar book called Hello Animals! by Smriti Prasada and Sadie likes that one a lot too!)


2. Tap Tap Bang Bang by Emma Garcia is, like Hello Bugs!, full of fun sounds and tickles. Plus, in Tap Tap Bang Bang, we get to slap the pages of the book a bunch of times too. Each page features a different tool and what the tool "says." For example: "We can cree craw, cree craw, cut with the saw and chippety chip with the chisel," "We can zzz zzz make a hole with the drill and twizzle and twist with the screwdriver." Then at the end, we find out that, all this time, we've been making a go-cart! I don't know if it's the tools themselves Sadie likes or if it's just the silly noises and things I do with her while we read that make her giggle (although it's probably the latter). Her favorites are "zzz zzz" with the drill (which amounts to me tickling her belly and saying "zzzzz"), "grabbety grab" with the pliers (which means that I grab her) and "lift lift" with the jack (which means that I lift her up as high as I can). She also seems to enjoy when we "slap and slosh" with the paint brush (which means that we slap the page of the book). Emma Garcia's books really appeal to Sadie, as this is the second one that's appeared on one of her lists!


3. Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson resonates with Sadie because, like most of the other books in this post, it involves singing, bouncing, kisses and tickles. But it's not only that, she's drawn to these pictures too! This whole book is basically chant that, to me, seems to pretty clearly to follow the beat of Pat-a-Cake. It starts with, "Baby cakes, baby cakes, I love you. Baby cake, baby cakes, yes I do!" Along the way we get to "Kiss my little Baby Cakes on the nose/Smooch my little Baby Cakes on the toes," "Nibble little Baby Bakes on the feet/Oh my little Baby Cakes taste so sweet," and "Laugh with little Baby Cakes, Ha, Ha, Ha/Sing to little Baby Cakes, La La La." Of course, like most books for kids this age, it ends with Baby Cakes going night night. This book always draws Sadie in, while a lot of other books I try to read her, really don't. Even when she's super tired and cranky, this book can pull her in for one last hurrah before bed. I also have a feeling that, as Sadie gets older, she's going to continue to like this book and the chanting and tickles that come with it.


4. Baby Parade by Rebecca O'Connell is a book that I've used in baby storytimes many times. It works great for groups, but it also, apparently, works well well one-on-one! The majority of the book's pages say things like, "Wave to the baby in the big, red wagon!" and "Wave to the baby in the bright orange backpack," which is great because Sadie likes my extremely cheery "hello voice" as well as watching my hand while I wave (though she is still a novice waver herself). Of course, we wave and say hi to all the babies as they go by in the parade, which is fun and keeps Sadie's attention completely. But the very best part of this book is the first page! It says, "Here come the babies! It's a baby parade!" and I read it to Sadie in my very silliest announcer voice. She loves it! Sometimes even when we're not reading the book and I'm just trying to make her giggle, I'll say, "It's a baby parade!" and it does the trick!


5. A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy is full of kisses! But not just regular kisses, silly kisses! One of Sadie's most favorite things is when I sort of "come at her" from a few inches away while making a funny noise and then kiss or tickle her. This book is ALL about that. Each page has a different type of animal kiss: "A giraffe kiss is gentle and tall. Like this! *kiss*," "A mouse kiss is quick and small. Like this! *kiss*," or "A bee kiss is fuzzy and buzzy. Like this! *kiss*" So many different silly ways for me to kiss Sadie! PLUS the last page has a big super-shiny heart that is basically a baby magnet. This book is awesome!

My next installment of Sadie's Top 5 will come when she is ONE YEAR OLD. That is wild. I can't even believe it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Campfire Stories for the Fourth


Last July, I did a program called Campfire Stories, where we read stories around the "campfire," did a fire-themed craft, and made s'mores. It was mostly a success (aside from me not being wild about my story choices or really loving my craft).

So this year, I brought out the campfire again, but to alleviate my issues with last year's version of the program, I made the program less "campfire-themed" and more about July 4th.

When the kids came in the room, I had the lights out, the campfire set up on the floor with logs around it (care of my husband's wood burning stove stash), books set up, and pieces of foam mats (borrowed from my Share & Play Babies program) as spots to sit on (because I will forever associate campfires with Girl Scout camping, where we had to tote homemade situpons through the woods so we'd have a cleared-off spot to plant our butts).

Here's how it looked:



I had each kid plop on a mat (with the flashlights they'd brought with them) and I began to read. Before the program I'd pulled five books out and decided that I'd choose my stories based on the group. I wound up reading Red, White, and Boom! by Lee Wardlaw and Should I Share My Ice Cream?: An Elephant & Piggie Book by Mo Willems.

Red, White, and Boom! was only okay. I kind of felt like I had to read a Fourth of July book since this was a Fourth of July program, but when I looked through a bunch of them, I didn't find one that I absolutely loved. I picked this one because it was easy, the illustrations were nice, and it rhymed. But I didn't love it. And from the looks of the kids, I don't think they did either. Maybe if I start looking now I'll find a better book for next year.

Anyway, it's good that I read this book first because the kids had a pretty good attention span at the start of the program and, once I announced that  I'd be reading Elephant and Piggie next, all was right again with the world.

I may have bragged about this before but I have to say, I do a mean Should I Share My Ice Cream? monologue.

I considered reading a third book but decided to skip it since there was so much else to get to. Still lined up I had two crafts, a photo backdrop, and s'mores!

The first craft was fireworks painting, stolen from CraftyMorning.com.


It's so easy! It's just toilet paper rolls with slits cut vertically along the bottom so you can fan them out to make burst-shapes. I did change my version of this craft a tiny bit from CraftyMorning. I swapped out the white paper for black (way cooler!) and traded the red, white, and blue paint for the similar-but-prettier magenta, white, and teal. I also put out white crayons so the kids could add details if they wanted to and, at the end, I offered red or green glitter (which was only to be applied by adults) to top off their fireworks!

It didn't occur to me that I had already put out the 4th of July Self-Adhesive Shapes (these from Oriental Trading) in preparation of our second craft, so many of the kids wound up sticking these on their fireworks scenes as well. Luckily we had plenty (500 to be exact), so this was no big deal.

Here are a few of the beautiful fireworks scenes. They came out really nice!

  

Next it was time for craft number two! Picture frames! I used these frames from Oriental Tradingthese Fourth of July stickers from Oriental Trading, and this fireworks backdrop from Oriental Trading. Here are two of the results:


This was fun and cute, but not without a hitch. The plan was: The kids were supposed to come up to the backdrop one-by-one as they were working on their crafts, get their photo taken, and then I was supposed to email the pictures really quickly to our clerk, Mary, who would hop into her office, print them out and then come back and deliver them to the children before the end of the program.

"I don't think so!" said the library's wifi!

The kids were happy to make their various crafts, then sit around the fire with s'mores, but unfortunately, everyone had to wait for their pictures until I could make my phone and the wifi play nicely with each other.

S'mores around the fire was the last thing I had lined up the night. Like last year's program, I used marshmallow fluff, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. No, the chocolate bar doesn't melt next to fluff the way it does next to a roasted marshmallow, but my options were limited here without access to anything hot! And I wasn't about to have a line of kids at the microwave.

Anyway, does this look like it didn't work to you?


Nope. It worked perfectly! And do these kids look like they're upset by their non-melted chocolate?


Nope. They were enjoying themselves completely!

As the program came to a close, Mary started to appear with some of the printed photos. The wifi finally cooperated! The parents and kids were actually totally content to wait a couple of minutes extra so they could take home their pictures. What a great community I work in!

Here are few of the cuties against the backdrop:


What worked least: The pictures! What a mess that whole thing became. While it all worked out fine in the end, it certainly wasn't ideal for me to have to send the photos to Mary three times or for the families to have to wait around an extra 10 minutes after the program for the pictures they were promised. This needs to be ironed out if I decide to repeat the program next year!

What worked best: The obvious answer here is the s'mores, because the snack is pretty much always what works best in these types of programs. The insightful answer here is the fireworks painting paired with the foam stickers, because it was the perfect mix of process and product, it was mixed media, and it included the use of recycled materials (and then, of course, countered that with foam stickers. Oh well.)

Such a fun program! Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Solstice Stories


June 21 is my favorite day of the year--the summer solstice, the longest day of sun, the OFFICIAL start of summer, and the day before my birthday! Last Wednesday, to mark the day, I did a program called Summer Solstice Stories with my favorite age group, the 3-5 year-olds.

I started by reading three summer themed books: First, How Will We Get to the Beach by Bridgitte Luciani (which I lost my felt board for! It was such a good visual aid in the past and I was afraid the book wouldn't work without it, but luckily, the kids totally got it anyway), then Duck Dunks by Lynne Berry, and last, my favorite, Elephant and Piggie: Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems, of which I must say, I do a mean dramatic reading.

These books worked. I wasn't completely confident about Duck Dunks going in, but even that one was a total success.

Then it was time to decorate beach balls. I ordered these from Oriental Trading. I made sure to include in the newsletter description of the program that we would be using Sharpies. This is not exactly my craft medium of choice with the pre-k crowd, but I really wanted to do this craft and Sharpies are the only thing that will work on this material. It worked out fine. I made sure to tell everyone that these markers did NOT come out of clothes and to be very careful. They were.


The kids LOVED decorating the beach balls! Most decorated it after their parents/caregivers inflated it first (I don't have the lung capacity to pre-inflate more than one or two beach balls) but a few chose to decorate it flat and blow it up after.

After they were done coloring, they kids just loved bouncing and tossing their balls around the room. Like playing with the balloons in the Unbirthday Party was, this was probably the best part. It's always the simplest thing that is the most fun!


What worked least: This program was simple and successful. There wasn't really anything that didn't work! Yay!

What worked best: The craft. I was worried about the Sharpies but everyone was careful and, in the end, they got to take home something cool! Better still, they got to play at the library with something cool. And play catch with the librarian! Super fun!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Book Storytime


I've talked about this thing I do a few times on this blog before. It's this thing were I plan a program and then, as soon as I commit to it (newsletter commit to it), I immediately regret it and don't feel any excitement for it whatsoever. New Book Storytime was one of those programs. I thought it was a smart idea when I came up with it, but as soon as it was in stone, I was like, Ugh, WHYYYY did I sign up for this? The good thing about this thing that I do though, is that most of the time, the program is fun and successful anyway. And luckily, that was the case (for the most part anyway) with New Book Storytime.

The newsletter description of the program left a lot of room for flexibility: Do you feel like you've read every book in the library? This storytime is for you! We'll read a new book or two, plus some old favorites, then make a craft. 

Despite all that flexibility, for whatever reason, I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm for this program.

In planning the program, I knew I wanted to do a different theme each week. However, instead of my usual first choosing themes and then looking for books to fit in that theme, I perused the new book section of our library for good new books, since that was the ultimate requirement-- at least one new book per week.

The program was for ages 3-5 and was 3-weeks-long. That meant that I needed at least 3 books appropriate for that age group from the new book section. After a lot of reading, the ones that piqued my interest were: Chicken Storytime by Sandy Asher, Go to Sleep, Monster by Kevin Cornell, and Bitty Bot by Tim McCanna.

This meant my themes were:

Week 1: Chickens
Week 2: Monsters
Week 3: Robots


Then it was time to fill in the details. I needed 2 more books and a craft for each theme. Here's a break down of what I did each of the 3 weeks:

Week 1: Chickens

Books:
Chicken Storytime by Sandy Asher (New)
Egg by Kevin Henkes (Also pretty new! Bonus!)
If You're Happy & You Know It (Unrelated song break!)
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Craft: Found on Pinterest here, I had a page do all my cutting--egg halves in all different colors and little yellow chickens. When I set up, I put one chicken and one paper fastener out at each spot, plus crayons and leftover foam stickers (these from Oriental Trading) for each table to share. Then I came around to each kid and had them choose their two egg halves from the stack (mostly because there was a distinct top half and a distinct bottom half which would be easily confused, but also because I learned this as a tip for letting kids choose at a workshop I attended about a year ago). Here are a few of the results:



In conclusion: This was a good week. All three stories were great, totally age-appropriate and engaging and also, the craft (while very simple) seemed to really be a real crowd-pleaser!

Week 2: Monsters

Books:
Go to Sleep, Monster by Kevin Cornell (New)
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (Unrelated song break!)
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly

Craft: I did a classic Go Away, Big Green Monster! craft this week. I put out paper plates and had the kids color them however they wanted, then loads of pre-cut shapes (thanks to our super cutter page) to glue on. Then, because I hate when crafts don't involve any element of creativity (and I didn't think coloring a plate was enough), I also put out popsicle sticks for them to decorate and and tape, so they could make their faces into masks. Here are a few of the results:

 

In conclusion: I was worried that the monsters theme would be too scary for the kids, but it totally was not at all. The kids liked all three stories, but I think they might have been a tiny bit too young to full appreciate Leonardo the Terrible Monster. The craft, though, was fun and totally age-appropriate for this group.

Week 3: Robots

Books:
Bitty Bot by Tim McCanna (New)
If You're A Robot and You Know It by David A. Carter
Wheels on the Bus (Unrelated song break!)
Robot Smash! by Stephen W. Martin

Craft: I made this week's craft up completely by myself, but I think it was possibly too complicated. I used a whole bunch of stuff for this: paper bags, old CDs, the tops of baby food pouches (like these), foam rectangles (for robot mouths), pipe cleaners, strips of paper, pre-cut printed robot circuit boards (this one, specifically), crayons, tape, and glue. Phew. This was my sample, which I think pretty accurately represents what I had in mind for the craft:


And here are a few of the finished products:



In conclusion: This was not such a good week. I felt like, other than If You're A Robot and You Know It, my books were too weird and probably also too advanced for this age group. PLUS my craft was way too hard. I even heard one grandma complaining about the glue not sticking. I wish I just did another theme entirely, but what's done is done. Just... thank GOODNESS for If You're A Robot and You Know It. This book works for a lot of different age groups but the 3-5's are definitely the perfect audience. It was really a light in a dark week of storytime.

What worked least overall: It's a tie between the book Robot Smash! and my robot-themed craft. I think the book totally lost them and the craft was way too hard and way too glue-y. You live, you learn though, right? Not everything can be the best.

What worked best overall: Again a tie. This time it's between If You're A Robot and You Know It and my Go Away, Big Green Monster! craft the second week.

Overall, this was mostly a fun program but I don't think I'll be having it again. Also, it should be noted that this program was at the exact same time and for the exact same age group as Musical Kids and every single week, the kids seemed to be disappointed that we weren't singing and dancing.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Unbirthday Party


I have been itching to do birthday party type stuff with the kids at work for a while and, finally, one week ago, I got the chance the host an Unbirthday Party!

First: Set up. I needed to accommodate a lot of stuff in this program--a dance party, parachute play, a photobooth backdrop, two crafts, and a pretty elaborate snack table. Our program room is a decent size but certainly not huge by any stretch of the imagination, so this required some planning. I wound up putting out crafts for 15 kids (5 kids each at 3 tables) with the tables shaped like an L, plus some extra chairs around the room for the grown ups. This left a big square of open space for a (somewhat tightly packed) dance/parachute party.

On the snack table, I put out, most importantly, our unbirthday cake! Also out were water bottles, happy birthday napkins, dessert plates, and pre-poured snacks (Goldfish crackers, Goldfish pretzels, and chocolate covered pretzels) for me to bring around to the tables at snack time. The craft tables (covered in these table clothes from Oriental Trading) were set with everything for our two crafts: Decorate-your-own party hat and color-your-own pinwheel. More on these later.


Like I said, this program had lots of different parts to it. We started with the dance party, which lead into the parachute play. This was my favorite part of the program and was probably the kids' favorite also. Plus it was SO easy! I just did all my favorite Musical Kids stuff! Like MEGA Musical Kids, except a little shorter (about 20-minutes).

Starting with the dance party portion of the evening was a smart move (if I do say so myself) because it helped to accomplish exactly what I'd hoped it would accomplish: a fun party vibe. When the kids entered the room, the very first thing they did was let loose and be silly. One girl even had to change into her dancing shoes.

Here's my playlist (red = ipodblue = sing):

Jumping & Counting by Jim Gill
I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner (shakers)
We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner (drums)
Toast in the Toaster (parachute + balloons)
Slow and Fast by Hap Palmer (parachute + balloons)
Wheels on the Bus (parachute + balloons)
Hula Hula Baby by The Wiggles (parachute + balloons + bubbles)
The Balloon Game by Music for Little People Choir (balloons + bubbles)

(For more on this, I discuss these songs a lot in my various Musial Kids posts.)

The balloons are what made this dance party special and different from just an ordinary week of Musical Kids (I used these from Oriental Trading, but any would be fine). The kids loved tossing and bouncing the balloons all over the room, even after they were done with their craft and snack. Sidenote: A balloon party would be a great program all on its own! Too bad I totally despise blowing up balloons.



After the dance party, it was time for the crafts: Decorate-your-own party hat and color-your-own pinwheel. Everything was out and I told the kids they could do the crafts in either order.

I took a cue from my Disney Princess Tea Party and kept the crafts free of super messy stuff like paint and glue, since the evening's events included eating. For the party hat decorating, I started with these party hats from Oriental Trading because they were simple, shiny, and good quality. Then I let the kids decorate them with these Rainbow Self-Adhesive Letter stickers from Oriental Trading and these Self-Adhesive Shapes, also from Oriental Trading. It was fun, but quick. Here are two of the finished products:


The other craft, color-your-own pinwheel (using this kit from Oriental Trading) was less successful. It was just wayyyy too complicated for this age group. In fact, it was even kind of complicated for me! First, the folding was sooo tricky! I wound up having to fold pretty much every kid in the class's pinwheel. Second, there were just way too many small parts for kids ages 3-5, including one itty-bitty, pencil-eraser-size cap per pinwheel that wound up just rolling off the table and getting lost in the abyss. So, the pinwheels, unfortunately, were kind of a dud (although probably would be nice for older children who could handle the folding and small pieces with less assistance).

That being said, each kid still colored, assembled, and took home a pinwheel (with help from an adult).

And no worries about any of that anyway because it quickly became time for...(drum roll, please)... unbirthday cake!


I had everyone gather around the cake (as seen above) and sing: Happy Unbirthday To You/Happy Unbirthday To You/Happy Unbirthday Dear Everyone/Happy Unbirthday To You. Then one little girl told me it was almost her brother's birthday so we also sang Happy Birthday to him too. Then I had everyone pretend to blow out birthday candles and it was time for snacks!

This was the best and most orderly food-serving I ever did in a program. I had a page cut little pieces of cake, while I passed around the plates, napkins, and water bottles. Then I gave each table one bowl of pre-poured Goldfish crackers, one bowl of pre-poured Goldfish pretzels, and one bowl of pre-poured chocolate covered pretzels. A minute later, our page started passing out the cake!


Everyone really had fun feasting and finishing up their crafts. I enjoyed seeing everyone wearing their party hats while they ate (seen above). It really seemed like a party!

Like every program I have ever done that involves balloons, the night wrapped up with just a lot of kids bouncing and throwing balloons around the room. You can't go wrong with this. Then I took a few pictures in front of the back drop (this one, also courtesy of Oriental Trading), and we all said goodnight!


What worked least: The pinwheel craft. It was just too complicated and had too many small parts.

What worked best: The dance party and balloons. Like Musical Kids and all my Toddler Dance Parties of the past, this is just a really simple, no-fail program that kids love. And the balloons too. They are so simple and so well-loved. Like they say, if it aint broken, don't fix it.

A big, giant thank you to Oriental Trading for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.