Monday, July 25, 2011

Chocolate Olympics & Death by Chocolate

While last week I talked about programs that didn't cost money, today I'm going to share two programs I did (that were essentially the same thing) that ran me about $90 together. For drawing 60 kids, I think the cost was definitely worth it, but I think this is the kind of program that could probably be modified in many ways to be cheaper.

This is also a staff intensive program, unless you run it in a more competitive way than I did. I chose to do stations, rather than group events, except for the final contest. I had myself, two volunteers, and an additional staff member to help out, but again, I think modifications can easily be made.

I have photos from my tween stations, but I'll talk, too, about the other events I did for the teens.

The Set Up

I brainstormed and researched different ways of running this program until I found the right combination of events for my tiny space. I did plan it with the intention of doing it outside under our big tent, but with the weather throwing us a heat wave (and, um, chocolate not being good under those conditions), I had chosen the right activities to modify it for primarily indoor space.

- Dark chocolate bars (I bought 2 of the 10 packs, but you can do more or less)
- 15 different types of candy bars (you can use more or less)
- 2 bags of mini candy bars for prizes
- 12 boxes of chocolate pudding
- Sour gummy worms
- 2 family size bags of plain M&Ms
- 1 family size bag of whoppers
- 2 large containers of chocolate sprinkles
- 2 family size boxes of oreos
- 1 or 2 bags of Hershey kisses
- Plastic cups
- Plastic spoons
- Pie tins (these were the most expensive items I bought)
- Napkins
- Construction or other painting/drawing appropriate paper
- Masking or Duct tape

The Program

Let's go station by station. At the tween event, two of the stations were set up to be unmanned, though we ended up manning one of them out of sanitary sake. In no particular order:

First up: the "Chocolate Puzzle." This was our unmanned station that we used in both programs (reusing the same materials). I purchased 15 kinds of candy bars, ranging from well-known Snickers and Butterfinger, to Kit Kat, and to the hard-to-guess Mars bar. I cut them into pieces -- halves for the smaller bars and quarters for the full size bars -- then put them into bags with a number attached. I then made up a guessing sheet that had 15 blank spots for the kids to guess which which kind of candy bar was in each bag.

I didn't put a sheet out for the kids to see the answers. Instead, I made them hold on to their response sheets until the end of the program. I had them take a seat as I held up each numbered bag and they told me their guess. I had written on the sheets that anyone who got 10 of the 15 correct would win a prize, but seeing I had a ton of prize candy, I let anyone who got 5 or more right win.

The next station I'll talk about is the "Stack and Sort." This table had two events, since they were each shorter ones.

First, the "sort." I went through the bags of M&Ms and sorted them into 30-some bags of 75 M&Ms each, with a variety of colors. I didn't count out colors for equality, just the number of candies in each bag. For this event, kids paired up and competed against another pair to see which group could sort their M&Ms by color fastest. Not as easy as it sounds, since they're working together as teams and need to have a plan. When one team finished, they were winners and got to pick out a prize. Both teams then got to enjoy their bag of M&Ms before diving into the second activity at this table.

The "stack" also relied on team work -- the pairs each took turns adding one Oreo at a time to create a tower. They were racing against another team doing the same thing. Whoever made the tallest tower won a prize. The challenge to this was, of course, the team work and the fact that the team across the table also shook the table, making the tower bases a bit unstable. When the kids finished this task, they didn't get to eat the cookies. . . until everyone had gone. Then they were able to help themselves if they wished.

What we thought would be one of the less exciting stations actually became one of the favorites: the "Whopper Relay." As you can see, we laid a piece of tape across the floor, and we had two kids line up along the wall opposite that line. They were each given one Whopper, had to get on their hands and knees, and roll the Whopper with their nose from one side of the room to that line, then they had to turn around and roll it back. The first kid to make it both ways would win.

This was easily the funniest part of the program, as we learned some kids were pretty darn good at using their nose to roll a Whopper. Even the teens loved this station and found it as funny as we did.

One of our non-pictured events was called "Chocolate Pudding Pie Surprise," and it's one we used for the teens only (due to attendance). In this program, we made up 15 pies made of chocolate pudding and dropped 6 sour gummy worms inside each. Two kids sat across the table from one another, their hands behind their back, and they had to race to retrieve the gummy worms from inside the pie using only their mouths and teeth. They were given a cup beside their pie tin to drop them into, and when they believed they'd fished out all of the worms, they were able to call stop. The person who pulled all six out first won, and they got to get a prize. We also let the kids keep their pudding pies if they wished, and I have to say, I was pretty surprised everyone wanted to keep them...and the worms.

This station wasn't one everyone wanted to do for obvious mess reasons, which is one reason I think setting it up station style was a good way to go. And keeping it for a smaller group, too, helped keep the cost/mess down. We told all of the teens if they dropped their pie from the table, they'd be responsible for licking it up off the ground.

None of the pies ended up on the floor!

Because I still wanted Tweens to play with chocolate pudding, their station was Pudding Finger Painting. This station was one meant to be unmanned, but due to sanitary concerns, we did man it.

For this, we set up a big bowl of chocolate pudding, construction paper, plastic cups, spoons, and napkins out. We told the kids they needed to spoon their "paint" from the bowl and use their cup of pudding to paint. They almost all painted something about loving chocolate, then turned to enjoying the pudding from their cups. I had worries they would lick chocolate from their fingers or spoons and put it back into the big bowl, but no one did.

Another unpictured event we had for the teens was our dark chocolate Pictionary game. Using the same yellow construction paper and two packs of dark chocolate bars, the teens pulled a clue from an envelope (where my volunteer and I had created 40 different clues) and they were to draw the clue with the chocolate bar. This was, by far, one of the favorite events, as the kids loved how the dark chocolate drew just like a brown crayon (and they loved drawing things from Harry Potter to zombies to hotels and mail boxes).

When someone guessed the correct item being drawn, they won a prize and became the drawer. Eventually, though, this program became sort of self-directed, as the kids really just wanted to draw (then eat...) the dark chocolate. Fine with me!

For the tweens, we also did a "Chocolate Shuffleboard." As you can see, I lined up two tables, not precisely flush with the walls, and I had my volunteer put duct tape down as point lines. The kids got to pick their puck from the bucket (which had Baby Ruth, Crunch, and Butterfinger bars -- think different shapes and aerodynamics!). We made four point brackets, then two extra spaces indicated as X's on the tables, and the kids lined up in groups of 2-4 at the end of the table pictured. They had three shots to score points, and whoever in the group earned the highest number of points won.

Though this was one of those last minute adds to the program, the kids enjoyed it a lot and came back more than once to do it.

Finally, we did three "Chocolate Relays" outside under the tent, despite the oppressive heat. The first involved chocolate sprinkles and cups -- the kids lined up in equal teams (we did multiple rounds for the tweens and one round with bigger teams for the teens). The first person to go was given a cup of chocolate sprinkles and a spoon, and on the opposite side of the tent, there was an empty cup. The goal was for the teams to transport the sprinkles by spoon from their side to the empty cup on the other. When the first team emptied the cup they held, the race was over, and we judged which team had gotten the most sprinkles into the other cup. The point of the race, of course, is determining if going fast was better than going slow and steady or whether it was worth doing big scoops or small scoops of sprinkles.

After that relay, we did a second one. The kids stayed in their same teams, but this time, each was given a pair of oven mitts. The first person in each team put them on, then they raced down to the table on the other end of the tent, where a bowl of Hershey Kisses waited. With the mitts on, they had to unwrap the Kiss, eat it, throw out the wrapper, then run back to their team and swap mitts with the next person up. While it sounds easy, opening the Kiss is challenging with the mitts on, ESPECIALLY when the chocolate has begun melting from the heat. Because the adults were laughing so hard at the kids, we were challenged to try it ourselves -- and we did, like the good sports we are. It was challenging, but in a very funny way. The first team to have all their players complete the task won a prize.

The final relay we did only with the teens, and it was one we came up with on the spot. Each player on a team was given a spoon and instructed to put it in their mouth. The first player needed to come down to the table then scoop a Whopper out of a plastic cup with the spoon in their mouth (we held the cups for them). They then raced back to their team, where they had to pass the Whopper from their spoon to the spoon in the next player's mouth. Then that person ran down and deposited the Whopper into the cup again and so forth. It wasn't an easy one for them, either, as we told them if the Whopper fell on the ground, they had to pick it up with the spoon in their mouths. And yes, this happened more than once. As usual, the first team to finish the relay won.

Lessons Learned

I actually had a lot more chocolate left over than I anticipated, so I was very loose with my definition of "winning." I let anyone who wanted prize candy take it, especially in the end, so it would all disappear (and it did).

One of the things I was worried about was not having enough activities and the huge mess that would come at the end. Here's the thing: because it was so staff intensive and we couldn't lead kids around from station to station, it ended up working out perfectly. The kids picked where they wanted to go, and we let them do any activity they wanted to do multiple times. As far as the clean up was concerned, there really was no mess. The messiest activity was the sprinkle race, but because it was outside, we didn't really need to clean up much of anything. All of our indoor activities were done on tables covered in the $1 table cloths that made clean up as easy as wrapping up the mess on the table and tossing it. Simple!

Without doubt, this was fun for both me and the kids, and it's a program I would not only recommend but would do again. I have a ton of other activity ideas to keep it fresh if I did it in the future. It also gives me a lot of hope that my fall "Minute to Win it" program will be as popular as this one was.

Of Note

The thing that probably surprised me the most was that we had more boys than girls in both programs. And I loved how easily transferable the activities were between the age groups, too, and both the tweens and teens had equal amounts of fun doing the silly activities.

I think this is a program that could work for the whole family, too. Pricey, sure, but for an activity that brings this much joy to both the participants and staff (and not to mention the incredible photos we've got!), it's worth doing it.


  1. Sounds like such a fun program. So you must have had a lot of help. Did you use volunteers and/or staff?-Michelle

  2. @Michelle: HA! I have virtually no help for most of my programs. For this one, I was VERY lucky. I had one staff member running a table, and I had 2 volunteers running a table each, too. But this program could be done with one person - that is how I always plan them. Extra help is just a bonus for me.

  3. Thanks, Kelly, our annual chocolate party is this Thursday, and I'm running out of 'new' ideas!

  4. The Shuffleboard game do you unwrap the candy?