In my part of the country, most students had spring break this week or last. I am always amused by the fact that when our local children have a break from school, we children’s librarians do not have a break from work. At my branch, at least, there may be less children in the building than the afterschool crowd, but the demands are higher. The kids have l-o-n-g days that are more unstructured than normal, and they are looking for something to do. And, many times, their parents are looking for something for them to do. Desperately.
Over time, my colleagues and I have taken several approaches to engaging children over spring break. The simplest is having a passive program like a make-and-take craft. Paper chicks are easy to put out on a table (I loved DLTK’s Crafts for Kids as a source for easy, printable crafts). It might be fun to make easy crafts with plastic eggs as well (just search Google for ideas—there are tons).
Next level up of programming is to hire a presenter for a large group; we’ve had a representative from NASA visit, a naturalist from our local park system (these both came for free!), and our local bubble lady (nothing is more fun than putting a child inside a bubble).
Art programs are always fun and can be relatively easy to do. We have a weekly art program, so we have not added during spring break, but kids love our easy projects. Using watercolors over crayons (which resist the paint) is always a huge hit, as is using a box lid lined with paper along with paint and marbles to create Pollock-esque masterpieces. Extra bonus—neither takes a lot of planning!
I have found that I get a great response from doing a mini-robotics camp during spring break. This year, we offered a two-day LEGO WeDo camp for 7- to 10-year-olds. We have the original “1.0” WeDo set, and did three builds over the two days, with the program running 1.5 hours each day. After some trial and error in years past, we discovered that was a good length for children this age.
Some kids struggle to complete those three builds. Others will finish them on the first day and do “free builds” the rest of the time. The facilitators must be flexible, but it’s a great option for a spring break activity. This year, we had 9 children out of 12 registered attend the program. All the kids were quick builders, and each did 4 builds over the two days. Two pairs teamed up, building the kicking foot and the goalkeeper for a competition (the goalkeeper won). The campers had lots of fun, all while learning some math and physics in the process…without even realizing it!
What does your library do over spring break?