Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let's go to Canada!: A Tween Program

This year's cooperative library summer theme for children is "One World, Many Stories." As part, I've incorporated a few (and I emphasize few) programs that involve travel or foreign activities. I'm not a stickler for themes, as I think they can be a bit stifling, but I took today's tweens-only program straight from the theme: Canada Day Celebration!

Like the US, Canada has a big independence day celebration, held every year on July 1. We got in on the celebration by offering up three crafts and a treat for our attendees.

First up, treat time!

I purchased a maple leaf shaped cookie cutter from Amazon, and it cost me less than $1.50. My coworker volunteered to make the cookies, which were simple sugar cookies, and I picked up 2 cans of white frosting and 2 shakers of red and white sugar crystals. Total cost was under $10, and we had between 80 and 90 cookies.

I set the supplies out and let the kids make their maple leaf cookies however they wanted. Most looked like this:

Then it was on to one of three crafts. Myself, along with a coworker and my intern, manned the craft stations. I handled the fireworks bookmarks. For this, I cut black construction paper into 1/4 strips. I hole punched the top of each and gave the kids red and white ribbon to tie. I ended up doing a lot of the tying but it wasn't a big deal. They wanted their ribbons to look like my sample.

I then let the kids lay down thick lines and shapes in glue however they wanted to. Then, they put their glue-covered black paper into a paper box lid and were given free reign over glitter.

Their creations ranged from things that kinda looked like the fireworks I made to something else entirely. I am a huge proponent of letting the kids make whatever art they want to make, so as you can see, it was a little everywhere. And little did I expect how popular this craft would be -- some kids made 4 or 5 book marks because they loved the free access to glitter.

The next craft the tweens did was make Canadian flag magnets out of fuse beads. My lovely intern was given the assignment to figure out how to turn red and white fuse beads into a Canadian flag, and she did an amazing job. We had only two of the small beds to do the flag making on, so this station was a slower one, but the kids who did it got a kick out of their final products.

Apologies for the blurry photo! If you're curious, that flag is made up of 93 red beads and 60 white, with 17 columns and 9 rows. I've included the actual pattern below (thanks Mary!):

We did the ironing of the flags when the kids finished putting the beads together, and then they were able to pop the small magnets on the backs themselves. A lot of the tweens found this to be the harder/more frustrating craft, but they all loved the end result (and let me tell you how fun it is to see a bunch of Canadian flags around the library).

The very last craft we had was a beaver pin. I found the pattern for this one right here. I picked up all of the small beads at Walmart, but let me tell you this: finding the pins was not easy. I went to multiple stores and had multiple trips before finding enough of the right size pins. Because the right size base pins were essential to fit all of the beads onto. But! There was triumph and we had all of the appropriate pins come program day.

They turned out extremely cute, and for the kids who didn't get a chance to finish, we were able to pack up some of the beads and pins for them to take home. Some of the kids wanted to make other things with their pins and again, we were game. One girl made herself a gold medal, even.

We had both guys and girls come out to the program, and it was enjoyed equally by all. We ended up having 22 kids, which is smaller than duct tape was, but still an extremely good showing for limiting the program to 9-12 year olds only. Plus, we got to celebrate Canada and the kids really got a kick out of it. It was familiar enough and foreign enough to them to be a total blast. I think the total cost was around $50 or $60, and we had a ton of left over beads and craft supplies for another program in the future, since we planned for almost 40. You could do this program on the cheap, especially if you have a lot of the supplies already.

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