The theme of the week is no cost programming, and today's program at work was one of the favorites so far this summer: a recycled costume show.
I mentioned before that there are always programs you inherit when you start a new job, and this is one of the traditional summer programs at my library. I think it's a really cool program and one I plan on keeping around. It's easy to organize and cost free, and it lets kids of all ages express their creativity.
This is an easy one: anything recycled. But start saving things well in advance of your program, and have your staff help out. I had bubble wrap, packing paper, cardboard, tinsel, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, cereal boxes, soda bottles, and other regularly recyclable materials. My supplies also included most of last year's summer reading club decorations, which meant there were a ton of shark fins, some plastic shovels and goggles, and, perhaps the crowd favorite, the wicker luau fans like these.
I then pulled out glue, scissors, yarn, stick on foam shapes, craft fuzz balls, tape, duct tape, and a handful of other supplies I wanted to deplete.
In the past, this program has been held under our big outdoor tent, with a "red carpet" positioned in the middle so that at the end of creation time, the kids could walk the runway to the MC. That was the plan for this year until we had an extreme heat warning issued, and I decided it was best to keep this program inside. The contingency plan involved putting all the non-recyclables on the floor and the craft supplies on one table. We pulled together a punch of tables for the kids to create on, some with chairs and some without (as I've found, the kids are all different about their preference, so I leave it open).
I didn't want to miss out on the kids showing off their creations, so my contingency was a library parade. I told the kids 10 minutes prior to the end of the program, we'd go on a parade throughout the stacks.
Running the Program
Like with the beaded creations program, I made no plans. Instead, I made myself available to the kids for helping with cutting, knot tying, etc. I told the kids as they came to make anything they wanted to, and they did!
As soon as creation time was done, we lined up and took a tour of the library. Some of the kids thought this parade was the best part of the program because they got to have the attention of all the patrons. Everyone got to oooh and ahhh over their costumes. Costumes ranged from an incredible robot (body and helmit with a jet pack in the back!) to a mask with a straw attached (so she could wear a mask and still drink water), as well as crowns, wigs, and bubble wrap skirts. The teens who showed up made themselves an elephant hat (which she plans to wear for Halloween) and a mailbox hat. These kids were wildly creative and imaginative, and I'm eager to go through our photos, since I know I didn't get to see everything they made.
Once our parade was done, I took the kids back to our creation space and told them the program was over, but they should feel free to take any supplies they wanted to to continue their costumes at home. Lucky for me, many of them did, meaning I had fewer things to put back into storage for next year's costume show.
What I loved about this program was it really brought in all ages. I had very young kids and I had teenagers making costume pieces. They even helped one another out, which is always one of those end goals.
I had my intern helping me out with this program, but were I doing it again, I'd love more help. While it requires little in terms of set up and in instruction, it sure helps to have people around for clean up and for taking photos and helping kids with some of the harder tasks, such as cutting tape or making holds through cardboard, etc.
I'd also make the parade a bigger deal -- I can't get too down about this, though, since this was a serious last minute improvisation for the fact I decided not to hold the program outside in the heat. But the kids loved it so much, I do plan on doing that part again. The parents got a kick out of taking photos of their kids marching in the parade, and the kids liked to show off everything they'd made (and not all of them made costumes, so not having a runway show let everyone show off what they made, regardless of whether it was wearable or not).
This is a program I highly recommend for all ages, and it's one that can be done any time of the year, and one that could be particularly well done during April's Earth Week. What a way to encourage kids to recycle and to think about the ways the things they use every day can be re-purposed. We don't always have to teach through lecturing; sometimes, it's as simple as letting them create and discover.
Really, what do you have to lose?