Last month’s ALA Annual conference saw the arrival of a mostly school-age sibling to Guerrilla Storytime and YA Smackdown. On Sunday and Monday morning, Amy Forrester, Kahla Gubanich and Mary Pearl of the Denver Public Library and Multnomah County Library’s Danielle Jones gathered youth services librarians in the Networking Uncommons for a speedy discussion of easy, inexpensive programming for children from birth to age 12.
At Monday’s session, each participant offered an outline of a successful program, including crucial details such as accompanying snacks and the best ways to reuse old supplies. (This is how I learned some Minecraft enthusiasts enjoy perler beads. Thanks for the tip, Aaron!) The Denver Public Library contingent plans lots of passive programs–including animal science activities and a spy training event–which may require a bit more set-up but can appeal to kids of all ages, last for hours, and be reused. Danielle shared her preschool success with an Elephant and Piggie party featuring readers’ (or listeners’) theater complete with pig ears and elephant trunks. Elementary-aged kids at my library have flocked to our annual Field Day: relay races, water balloon tosses and other outdoor games topped off with a watermelon snack. Others mentioned older kids loving weeks-long shelfie competitions and Minecraft parties with origami, LEGOs, and the aforementioned perlers.
After a round of pre-proven ideas, we started a speed cycle of sticky-note brainstorming, scrawling suggestions and details to build on initial concepts. In two-minute bursts, we raced through emergent reader programs, superhero suggestions, preschool computer classes, imaginative play programs, and more. Check out convener Amy Forrester’s comprehensive list of the (legible) sticky notes for each theme on her blog. And don’t worry if you missed last month’s program-a-looza; just come join the programming party at Midwinter 2016.
Robbin Ellis Friedman is a Children’s Librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY, and a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Feel free to write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.