During the hustle-and-bustle of Summer Reading prep lurks the mini-test of your Busy Summer Room abilities: Spring Break. The schools aren’t in session, the weather is getting better, and kids are itching for something to do.
Spring Break is a great time to try out some passive/stealth programming, which can run with minimal staff involvement. You’ll ensure the kids will be engaged no matter when they show up!
Leaving a few self-directed activities around the room during Spring Break tells kids and their families: “Welcome! We’ve been expecting you.” And since many of these kids may be new or less-than-regular visitors, this is a really strong message to send. It shows that the public library is a thriving part of the local community, in tune with what’s important to local families.
Need some last-minute ideas to be a Spring Break sensation? Here are a few sanity-saving kid-centered activities you can use right away:
- LEGO Check-Out Club: get out your box of LEGOs (or have a colleague bring some from home), and have each child add a LEGO (or a couple) to a structure in the room. Programs like this help the public visually understand the magnitude of library usage, and an enormous tower that your kid patrons built themselves is a pretty cool way to advocate for your library. This year, rather than bagging up the LEGO, we ended up just handing the kids some blocks. Here are two other iterations by Jenny and the Librarians in Washington, DC (find some more librarian thoughts and reblogs at http://jennyandthelibrarians.tumblr.com/) and Rebecca in Gretna, NE (check out her programming at http://hafuboti.com/).
- Interactive displays and writing prompts: a question or a challenge, some paper, and you’re good to go. Angie at Fat Girl Reading has used a Boggle display and a crossword display that have promoted an ongoing initiative while doubling as a passive program. Jennifer at In Short, I am Busy adds a writing prompt to an art table to highlight language and literacy (as well as decorate the room!). I also really love Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things’s “Draw a Yeti” writing prompt. In a pinch, you can never go wrong with a question and a table covered in paper!
3. Room Hunt: There are lots of ways to do room hunts. What I love so much about them is that 1) they are super easy to make, 2) you can print them on stock paper or laminate them and use them forever, and 3) they plug directly into kid patrons’ curiosity and autonomy. They’re up for the challenge and they want to do it themselves. Anna at Future Librarian Superhero has a fun room hunt using Diary of a Wimpy Kid characters. Brooke at Reading with Red shares a gnome room hunt that she deftly differentiated for use with preschoolers AND elementary kids. If you have more tweens hanging around, you might want to try an Adventure Time Fist-Bump room hunt!
What’s your go-to Spring Break program? Let us know in the comments!
Today’s guest blogger is Sara “Bryce” Kozla, Youth Services Librarian in Wisconsin and virtual member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Collaboration (SPLC). Bryce blogs about youth services programming and issues at http://brycedontplay.blogspot.com/. Email her at brycedontplay <at> gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at @plsanders.