Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

(Low Budget) Program in a Post: The Floor is Lava

Planning for summer reading while programming for spring is tiring. This easy, low-prep, low-budget program is perfect for spring break and no-school days. Check it out!


“The Floor is Lava” invites families of all ages to take the classic living room and playground imagination game to the next level. They must use the available materials to make their way across the “lava” floor, but be careful not to touch the ground or be tagged by the lava monster. 

The combination of open play and nostalgia was a hit with both grownups and kiddos, with 60+ participants stopping to play between 10am-6pm. 


Use what you have on hand. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cardboard boxes 
  • Bed sheets
  • Story time cushions
  • Tables
  • Chairs & stools
  • Hula hoops
  • Plastic tablecloths
  • Inflatable pool toys 

Families will be creative with whatever you provide. Many things can be donated by local businesses (cardboard boxes!) or borrowed from staff.

Set Up

Spread the supplies out across the room. Families are encouraged to move things around to create their own obstacle course-like lava field. Imperfect piles work just fine.

This event probably works best in an enclosed room, especially if offered over an extended period of time. Expect some creative chaos and post guidelines for families to respect the materials and the space.

Turn on some upbeat music to set the tone.


Other than gathering your supplies, none! 


Overall, this program was a success. We will offer it again this summer, with some tweaks.

  • Offer a sensory-friendly option. At least one little girl said that the noise-level was too much for her and she needed to leave the room. Next time we will have an open session for a few hours, followed by shorter sessions that limit attendance and require registration. 
  • Check in regularly. Having a staff member present at this event for 8 hours wasn’t feasible and ultimately was unnecessary. Instead, we frequently popped into the room to check on families and do some minor tidying in between groups.
  • Be ready for noise! We could definitely hear shrieks coming from the room at times, but nothing that interfered with staff work or patron visits. Most of the time it was joyous shrieking and laughter.

The room was a glorious mess during the event, but the last group neatly stacked the materials before leaving, so cleanup was quick. Multiple parents thanked us for providing a space for their kids to be carefree and wild. 

Other Ideas

Looking for more program ideas for no-school days (hello, Spring Break!)? Read on!

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