Blogger Abby Johnson

Elephant and Piggie Day

We’ve been diligently sharing Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie books with the kids at our afterschool groups this school year and they love them and ask for them again and again. What else is there to do but offer an Elephant and Piggie program over the summer? But since the books have become so beloved in our community, we were a little wary about having overwhelming attendance at such an event, so we decided to go another way.

On Friday, June 22 (a truly random date, not one that has any particular relation to Mo Willems), we held Elephant and Piggie Day at our library. Instead of having an event with a limited number of kids for a limited amount of time, we set up stations all around the Children’s Room that we left up all day long. Families could bring children of all ages to do crafts and play games throughout the department. There was quite a bit of prep work to do, but we could do it far in advance and then the workload was relatively light on the actual day of the program. Plus, we were able to accommodate many more children than if we had held a regular library program.

Here’s what we had available for patrons:

Cardboard stand-ups for photos.

ETA (8/4/13): More info about the cardboard stand-ups in the comments!

We took some with our camera for the library’s Facebook page and many families also had phones or cameras to take pictures. You can also see the hats we made for Children’s Staff to wear on the day. (We got plain baseball caps at Hobby Lobby and printed out pictures on cardstock to velcro on.) My fabulous Miss T made the stand-ups and hats.

An Elephant and Piggie craft. We put out tables with all the supplies and posted the instructions on the wall and on the tables. We purchased cardstock, fun foam, and colored bags for this craft. This was also the most staff-intensive station as we had to replace craft supplies as they were used up.

An I’m -Invited-to-A-Party game. I got this idea from Mel’s Mo Willems Party and the kids loved it. Since our program was passive, we simply set out the costume boxes, instructions for the game, and the game cards that Miss T created. I think mostly kids just loved dressing up, but at least some of them played the game.

This is another game I stole from Mel!

We ran off some of the printables from Mo Willems’ website. Check out the Elephant and Piggie Party Kit (opens a pdf) and the Happy Pig Day Event Kit (opens a pdf). We also had a table set up where kids could draw a picture for Mo Willems and we’d mail it to them. After the event, I mailed the kids’ drawings to Mo along with some pictures from our event.

Of course we had a book display with lots of Mo Willems’s books! It was funny to me that we had people show up for the program who had no idea that Elephant and Piggie were actual book characters (I guess they thought we were just randomly celebrating elephants and pigs?). We also had people who came to the library not knowing there was anything special going on. Before the event, I ordered multiple copies of all the Elephant and Piggie books and we set some aside specifically to display at this event. These copies are still continually checked out!

We had planned to do readalouds throughout the day whenever there was a crowd in the department, but we only ended up doing one when a family asked for it. Most of the time people were there, they were involved in the activities and we hated to distract them and ask them to stop what they were doing. If we do something like this again, I would like to try to do more reading. We did notice lots of families grabbing Mo Willems books from the display and reading them together on the couches in our department.

It was a very successful day for us, with over 100 kids coming through the department. We kept track of statistics by keeping count of how many craft supplies we were putting out and by giving out Elephant and Piggie bookmarks. Between the two measures we were able to gauge our attendance pretty well. This format actually worked so well that I think we’ll try this for other events in the future. Since most of the work was done beforehand, my staff could relax and just have fun with the kids coming in all day. There was a much lower stress level than, say, our winter break Pinkalicious Party.

Happy Elephant and Piggie Day!

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN 


  1. Marge Loch-Wouters

    Thanks for sharing! We are going to be doing an Elephant and Piggie party in December and your ideas are golden.

  2. Melissa ZD

    Hooray! I’m really excited to learn that the activities we used in a traditional program worked just as well in a drop-in program…good news! I love that you saw families reading in and around the other activities. Good job!

    1. Tina

      Thanks for the Elephant and Piggie ideas! Lovely photos! These will be so helpful. Will be sure to add my program ideas once my program is designed! I was planning on doing a traditional one hour program, with camp style games and a craft. One of my thoughts had been to do a Funky Chicken type song, asking the kids to show their waving trunks, big huge ears, curly tails, snorting snouts, etc.

  3. Kindree Knoepfle

    What a great program! I love the cardboard cutouts. Did one of your staff members draw them, or did you manage to find large enough images to have them printed somewhere?

    1. Abby

      My Miss T drew the pictures for the cardboard cutouts. I’m lucky to have such a talented staff!

  4. Julie

    Great timing Abby! I was just thinking of an Elephant and Piggie program for one of this year’s school vacation weeks. I love the idea of all day stations. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  5. Mary

    I love these ideas. Thanks! I can just imagine the kids enjoying the “Walk with a bird’s nest on your head” activity.

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  7. Abby Johnson

    Hey, some people have been asking about the cardboard standees we used for our program. One of my staff members made them! We save large cardboard boxes and I believe her usual process is to trace an illustration from a book and then use our overhead projector to project it onto the wall. She tapes the cardboard up on the wall and can then trace the picture at a much bigger size. Then she paints and adds details.

    If you need cardboard, try your local furniture or appliance store. They’ll often have large boxes and might be willing to donate (or ask if they have any damaged boxes – there’s still a lot of cardboard you can salvage!).

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