Sunday, January 30, 2011

Easy programming: A movie birthday!

When I began my job in September, it was only a couple weeks into being the new kid I had to brainstorm programming for the new year. One of my philosophies as a librarian is to keep it simple. I don't see the point in creating something incredibly convoluted when something simple can be extremely effective.

So when asked what I wanted to do for one of my events during one of our school district's Fridays off in the dead of winter (stuck inside time with little excitement here in the cold snowy Wisconsin icebox), I thought throwing a birthday party for a movie would be a good idea. And wasn't I lucky that Disney's classic 101 Dalmatians happened to be celebrating its 50th anniversary? It always was one of my favorites and I thought, why not?

We set the party for January 21, and we were holding it at 1:01 p.m.

The party was extremely successful, pulling in 60 attendees, ranging in age from the littlest to the middle school crowd -- exactly the demographic I hoped to grab for this event. So what did we do?

I remind you: keep it simple.

First, I asked one of my coworkers to make up a spotted cake. I left it purposely vague, but I did suggest a spotted cake could be interpreted any way she wished, down to spotted frosting or even cupcakes (get it?). In the midst of thinking through other events, one of the local community members got wind of our event and came by my office asking if I'd be interested in having him bring his pet dalmatian to the party.

Now anyone who knows dalmatians knows they can be extremely high strung and aren't always the best parts. I spent probably half an hour with this guy talking with him about his dog, who happened to do events at the fire department periodically, and I decided to test my luck on having a dog at the event. I'm lucky enough to have not only a digital camera, but a digital photo printer, as well. I knew immediately we'd have an opportunity for the kids to each have their photos taken with the dog and take the souvenir home immediately. Any parent can tell you that a photo like that is more fun and valuable as a program takeaway than a plastic toy of some sort.

So, cake and a dog. What else could we do? At any good birthday, what do you do?

I didn't have to think too much or too long to come up with pin-the-tail-on-the-dalmatian. I did a little Googling and pulled up this dalmatian puppy image which featured an excellent tail, and then I blew it up using this program. When I printed the poster, I cut the tail out separately, then reprinted the poster post-photoshopping the tail out of the image (that way I got a full size tail and then a full-size poster sans-tail). Because the poster printed up pixelated from being stretched out, I took a black sharpie to it. Easy peasy. Now I had an image that I could tape together and make a larger poster.

At any good kid party, there's also face painting. I had a coworker kind enough to help out by manning a station to face paint the kids into dalmatians. We had a box of face crayons and pulled them out to use. We didn't limit the kids to black and white; we let them become green or purple dalmatians if they wished.

And last, but certainly not least, I brought 2 craft activities for the kids. The first was exceptionally simple: I printed out six different 101 Dalmatians coloring sheets and brought out my huge tub of crayons (which is a big deal, since we just have a small one in our children's area). I ended up moving this activity from our programming room to the children's room since our programming room has a capacity of 30 (and 60 is more than 30. . .) but no one complained.

The second crafty activity was making a dog tag. I used the die cut to make about 50 round tags (which look suspiciously like fish bowls when you don't put a hole punch in the top), as well as about 50 heart tags. I cut plenty of thread for the actual necklace part and pulled out a tub of glitter paint, glitter, markers, and stickers. This was a total hit, as anything that lets kids make a mess should be.

Tables were set up around the programming room, and the cake and cupcakes were on display in the middle with a couple of cool dalmatian posters. When the program began, we all sang "Happy Birthday" to the movie, then let everyone meander from table to table. The kids loved meeting the dog, playing pin-the-tale, and, of course, enjoying cake!

One thing I forgot to mention about the program: one of the original goals was to collect food donations for our local shelter. I don't think we did a great job advertising that, since we picked up only a couple of boxes of dry food. If I were to do this in the future, I'd plug it harder, but there is no denying that 60 in attendance was an awesome success for such a simple program. I think in total, it was about 2 hours of prep for the program -- and it was completely worth it. Parents and kids left happy, and we were able to involve community members, as well as play to the strength of employee talents we had.

If you're looking for an easy program and one with guaranteed fun, think simple. No need to do something wild. And as always, feel free to steal this. Remix it and make it your own or feel free to steal it 100%.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome idea! (and I love the idea of having the program at 1:01 pm!)