Superheroes are everywhere, from the blockbuster movies we see to the ever-popular Halloween costumes for both children and adults. There are even dedicated days to these comic book crusaders, such as Free Comic Book Day and San Diego Comic Con. Superheroes can inspire us to be greater; to be the do-gooders in the world.
With this in mind, I wanted to try a Superhero Training Academy for grades K to 5 this past summer. After asking for advice on the listservs and perusing some library blogs I decided to do self-directed stations. This would allow kids to spend as much or as little time as they wanted at each station. I was also inspired by the Unprogramming Conversation Starter that I attended at ALA Annual in Chicago.
I dressed up as Batgirl, which seemed the most obvious being that she too is a librarian.
As the kids arrived, they received a checklist of superhero tasks that they needed to complete. I explained that they could spend as much time as they wanted at each station, but only when they completed all of them could they come up to me to receive their graduation certificate and become an official member of the Justice League. I purchased a really cool PDF template from Etsy to use for the certificate, but you could also just make one of your own on Publisher.
These are the superhero tasks that I chose:
1. Make Your Own Mask/Superhero Identity: I found a mask template on Google and printed it off onto cardstock. Every superhero needs a secret identity, so I printed “My identity is secret. Please call me…” onto white address labels. I also set out some yarn and markers to let them color their masks and write their names. Voila! Super easy.
And because no superhero is complete without a cape, I found this handy tutorial online. I purchased red plastic table covers from my local party store and white elastic. I then found a shield template on Google. I enlarged the template 400% and printed them off onto 11″ x 17″ paper, which made them the perfect size for a cape.
2. Mighty Muscles: Each child was tasked with lifting a boulder and a barbell 5 times each. I made a barbell with a wooden dowel, 2 foam balls, and foam spray paint that I bought at my local craft store. For the “boulder” I simply used a black bean bag.
3. Tunnel Crawl: I set out our play tunnel and told the superheroes-in-training that they needed to prove their agility by crawling through the tunnel and back.
4. Spiderman’s Web: We had a spider web decoration for Halloween, so I just covered that with masking tape facing out. The kids had to stand behind the line and make 3 large pom-poms stick to the web. You could also just put the masking tape in an open doorway so that it looks like a spider web.
5. Strike Out the Villain: I covered empty soda cans with pictures of (in)famous villains and set out plastic play balls. The children had to test their aim by knocking every villain down.
6. Rescue Mission: My very handy husband built me a balance beam for this activity. I made a “lava pit” out of red paper. The object of this task was to walk across the lava pit without falling, pick up the baby doll at the end, and then carry it back.
7. Kryptonite Disposal: I found some green plastic balls in our toy area to use as Kryptonite. Using plastic spoons, kids had to carry 3 of the balls to the disposal area (a.k.a. a clean garbage can).
8. Brain Power: I put some jelly beans in a jar and the children had to guess how many there were by using their superhuman brain powers. The child who had the closest guess won the entire jar.
9. Super Refueling Station: Because even the best superheroes need to refuel after a long day of training, I set out Avengers fruit snacks, Spiderman graham crackers, and green Hawaiian Punch for a snack.
10. Photo-Op Corner: I found a roll of cityscape backdrop to hang up where the superheroes could take photos. I had a cutout of Iron Man to pose with as well.
All in all, the party was a huge success! The kids had a lot of fun showing off their super skills.
Have you ever planned a Superhero Party at your library? What activities did you do?
For more programming ideas, please visit the full Kickstart List available online.
All program photos courtesy of the Hudson Library.
Kimberly Castle-Alberts is a Children’s/YA Librarian at the Hudson Library & Historical Society in Hudson, OH and is writing this post for the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. You can follow her adventures as a youth services librarian at http://literarylibrariankim.blogspot.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.