Thursday, June 27, 2019

Unicorn Party

I had TWENTY kids from grades K-3 at my Unicorn Party last week! That's a record for school-age programming for me and, despite my (sort of secret) lack of enthusiasm about unicorns, everyone had a great time at the program-- even me!

I had lots of activities planned for the evening-- too many in fact! Kids were taking piles of stuff to go because they didn't have time for the snack or the second craft. The funny thing is that I was worried that I didn't have enough to do. In fact, I was mad-dash, last-minute Googling "Unicorn Party Games" up until about an hour before the program when I finally had to tell myself to just cool it and let the chips fall where they may.

We started everything with unicorn names on unicorn name tags. This was at check-in, before the kids actually came into the program. Thanks 100% to this The Frugal Sisters blog post, I printed this sheet full of names and these tags to fill in. This was a great way to have a good little ice breaker right away. It uses the first letter of your first name + the month you were born to determine your unicorn name. Here are a few kids with their silly name tags:

In case you're on the edge of your seat wondering, my unicorn name is Shimmer Peachy Pie. My daughters are Royal Midnight Truffle and Starlight Peachy Pie. My husband is Sunshine Midnight Truffle. My cat is Prince Lemon Drop. Anyway...

It took me TWO HOURS to set up the room for this program! I had two crafts, two snacks, a couple of decorations, and a small storytime and Bingo area in the corner. Here are some set up pics:

The first thing we did once the program officially started was read a story. And the best part about this storytime was that the book I read was a brand new book that was just released 2 weeks before the program! So it was new to everyone! In fact, I actually read the kids the advanced reader copy! It was such a cute book for this age range with a positive "love everyone" message:

Unicorn Day by Diana Murray

The kids really liked the book! For some reason, I am always sort of surprised when my books go over really well with large groups (Is that a horrible thing to say?), but I definitely love when it happens! The kids all caught on to the story immediately and even liked pointing out things that they saw in the illustrations-- mostly the baby unicorns, but also the horse who was not having too good of a time, and the tiny fairy that appeared on some of the pages. One boy even got up to point out the "teenager" unicorn he spotted. Enthusiasm!

Next up was Unicorn Bingo. I made this! 

Program fun fact: Kids always always always love Bingo! I went a little all out and used these fun pink and purple unicorn M&Ms as Bingo markers and then gave out these cute, bendy unicorn toys as Bingo prizes -- both from Oriental Trading!

Big shout out here to my HELPER who stepped over and around the crowd to help me distribute prizes as needed. One of my favorite library families includes an awesome big sis who's just aged out of many of our programs, but who's offered to "help out" instead. My goodness, I had no idea how much help I needed when I accepted her offer that evening. Zara, if you ever read this, YOU WERE A LIFESAVER!

Once each kid won a bendy unicorn, we moved on to crafts. There were two. The main craft was unicorn mask making, which was a collaging craft. We used these kits and the kids really liked it.

A little note, if there is even the slightest chance it'll help someone: There are a lot-- I repeat, a lot-- of pieces to punch out in these kits. Especially since I had two of them. Learn from my mistake and PRE PUNCH THEM OUT.

 Here are a few finished products:

It was at 5:15pm (which was the technical end time of the program) that we all sort of scrambled to get everything else that we hadn't gotten to in. Another huge thanks to my helper, Zara, as well as our clerk, Mary! It was at this point in the program when things started to get super busy and I really leaned on them! They cut elastic cords, poured cups of water, and collected the Bingo cards from around the room. They opened the plastic bags that craft #2 were in (this super cute wooden unicorn wind chime from Oriental Trading), served cookies, and helped kids glue pieces. This madness would have been actual utter chaos if not for Zara and Mary!

Basically, from 5:15 until 5:30-ish, the kids grabbed and ate cupcakes and cookies, finished up their masks, took pictures, and colored their wind chimes. Phew! Whatever they didn't get to, they scooped up to do/eat at home. We ended in a total whirlwind but everyone loved it and all the parents were super happy at pick-up!

Here are two cute, colored-in wind chimes:

What worked least: Even though this program was a major success, I can think of a ton of ways that I should have run it differently. First, I really should have pre-cut the string for the masks but I just did not anticipate the kind of turnout and madness that I wound up having. Yet this was a small step that I could have taken and, I think, it would have prevented a good amount of craziness. Next, I should have skipped the wind chime craft completely. It was too much. I bought the wind chimes about a week before the program thinking that the mask craft wasn't enough, but I think I would have relaxed a bit if it just wasn't even there. The mask was PLENTY. Third, I needed a person on food duty. Because the end of the program got so rushed, the food serving wasn't very organized and a designated food-server would have made things go more smoothly.

What worked best: Despite the full on paragraph of "what worked least," this program was awesome! The kids loved it and the parents loved it! One mom told me that "everyone was talking about the unicorn party." I love a good program compliment! That's a win!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Little Crafts, Big Kids: A Super Short Blog Post

Overall, I blog about, I'd say, close to 75% of my programs. I'll skip a post for things like, open play and variations of open play; I only rarely blog about my weekly Musical Kids program; and occasionally I'll skip a post because I'm just too lazy! Anyway, it's been several months since my program called "Little Crafts, Big Kids" for children in grades 1-3 and I wasn't going to blog about it, but I've been thinking about it lately. It was super simple, but it was kind of a cool idea, and maybe it's worth noting here quickly.

Little Crafts, Big Kids was literally just that. I set up a bunch of "baby" crafts (one thing at each table) and let the school age kids enjoy. I only had 3 kids show, but everyone had fun!

There was play dough...

...Color-Your-Own Tote bags...

...Finger paint...

...And foam picture frames (these from Oriental Trading) with assorted foam stickers (these from Oriental Trading and these letters, also from Oriental Trading), but nobody did this craft-- except me!

What worked least: I guess this one's simple. Nobody did the picture frame craft so I guess it was the least appealing thing I had out.

What worked best: The play dough by a LANDSLIDE. If I ever do any variation of this again, I'd probably get some more complex play dough toys and just do a play dough for big kids program, skip all the other stuff entirely.