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!