Let's talk superheroes. Every kid loves them, and every kid wants to be one. So why not play into their interests with a super hero party?
That's precisely what I did for one of my spring break programs, and I did it station-style. I had very young kids and teenagers come, and everyone had fun. For many attendees, it was the thrill of coming somewhere dressed up.
When families entered the program room, they were given a golf pencil (those are in heavy supply in any library) and a check list of stations. Each one tested a superhero skill, and when all of the stations were completed, the new superheroes were given a certificate of graduation from superhero academy and then were given a superhero treat.
First up, every superhero needs a mask, so station number one was where the kids could make masks. I printed out two templates here, and with standard felt sheets, I could fit three templates on one. I traced the templates with permanent marker, cut them out, then left those, along with string and stick-on jewels and shapes, for the kids to decorate.
After mask-making, the superhero trainees were able to treat themselves at the food station. I purchased pre-packaged fruit snacks -- the local grocery store had superman, spider man, batman, and transformers. I was a little disappointed in the lack of representation of female superheroes, but I don't think the kids thought twice. In addition to the fruit snacks, I also had out m&ms, skittles, and jelly beans (you'll see why in a second).
To really give the kids something cool to see, I made colored ice cubes. In regular ice cube trays, I dropped 3-4 squirts of food coloring in red, yellow, and blue. After they froze, the colors looked really strong, and then I asked the kids whether they wanted squirt to drink or water. When the colored cubes were dropped in, their drink changed colors. In squirt, it was really cool to see what happened when two ice cubes dropped in: the color would split down the middle, so half the drink was blue and half was red. It's worth noting that you will get food dye on your hands, so serve them with a spoon or tongs, and don't worry about ruining an ice cube try. The dye will rinse off easily.
Our next station was one testing target skills.
For this station, I made up buckets and pulled out bean bags for a little bucket game. The kids love this, and they will do it again and again until they get them all. It is not as easy as it looks!
Another station I had set up was for testing brain power. How, you ask? I made up three jars filled with jelly beans (yellow and red), m&ms (blue), and lemon heads. I counted out how many of each I put into the jars, and I had the kids guess how many were in each, writing their guesses on the sheet at the station. The kids with the closest guesses would win the buckets. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of this station for me was that none of the kids were anywhere close to the right answers.
And then, I let them get out some aggression at the battle station.
I cut a pool noodle in half, and I blew up a few balloons with the hopes the kids would play with the balloons. Many chose to hit each other, which was my original intention, but I didn't know how parents would feel about it. Since the parents didn't seem to mind, I let them go at it. I think for most of the kids, this was a favorite station for obvious reasons.
Then it was brute strength training.
I set up a wall of mats from our children's room and let the kids have at knocking them down and building them back up.
I didn't have enough strength training here, so I decided one more strength test was necessary. And this station was, surprisingly, the most pricey to put together:
I spray painted two Styrofoam balls, then painted "500" on the sides of them. Holding them together was a simple rod. When I picked up the Styrofoam at the craft store, I was informed that the prices on these bad boys went up because they're made with petroleum. Thought that was worth passing along to anyone who may use similar materials and wonder why it costs $8 a pop for these.
I had one more station in the programming room for the program, which included these:
Why yes, those are spider webs. Throughout the children's area, I taped cut out cartoon villains and had the kids "capture the bad guys" by finding them, then taping them onto the spider webs.
Because our programming room is small, I moved a couple of stations into the actual children's area. These two were some of my favorites.
First, kids tested their agility by jumping through hoops:
Then they had to practice their balancing skills by walking up and down the aisle with a pair of books (superhero, of course) on their heads. And then, they had their biggest, most important superhero challenge.
It was time to save a life, of course.
This station took me the longest time to think through and plan. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn't want to make any purchases for it, so I had to scour our building (including those crevices in the storage closets) for the right materials.
Does that not look like the coolest lava pit ever? My coworker covered the sides of a blow up wading pool with black construction paper, then created flames and embers around the sides. I pulled out two milk crates and a wide, thick board, sturdy enough to walk on. I had another coworker test out walking on the set up a few times before we decided to put bricks behind the milk crates for added stability. Voila! That was a heck of a cool lava pit, and while most people would want to save a baby, I thought saving a rabbit would be better (or a suitable substitute given the lack of baby dolls we have). This was another station that the kids loved, and some of them insisted on carrying the bunny over it more than once.
As I mentioned, as soon as the kids finished all of the stations, they came and found me back in the programming room. I awarded them their own superhero academy certificate (complete with their names and my signature as Queen of the Superheroes) and a tootsie roll pop.
The bulk of the cost for this program was my time -- I made fancy signage and certificates. The fruit snacks cost a bit, as did the Styrofoam balls, but otherwise, everything was stuff we owned. You could do this cheaper, too, and you could easily modify the stations. I was going to have kids make capes, having received a nice donation of fabric from our Friends group, but time wasn't on my side in planning.