One of the truths of youth librarianship is that there is never a break. In the midst of summer reading, you have to plan out fall and winter programming to get publicity rolling enough in advance and to start thinking about using whatever you have left in your budget. Plus, as soon as summer reading's finished, you want your kids to know what's coming up in the fall.
I've been planning and brainstorming for a month or so about programs for the fall, and last week, I turned in my final plans and ideas, and I thought I'd share them, perhaps spurring some ideas for others who are scrambling or for those who can offer me some tips and ideas in advance.
First and foremost, we're offering up two story times again, one for toddlers and one for preschoolers. I don't do in-house story time, but I will be doing outreach story time again. So far, I'm going to the elementary school 4K classes again twice a month, and it's likely I'll be doing the same with one of the local parochial schools. I love getting out and reaching the kids in the classroom, and I'm excited for a couple weeks to plot out my themes and pick out my stories and crafts. I'm going to try a bunch of new ideas and techniques this coming year, especially since I'm now a storytime veteran, rather than a storytime newbie. I don't feel like I'm going in blind and clueless now -- I've got it down, and I LOVE the preschool/4K age group. They're fun to see regularly.
We're offering Lego Club again on Monday afternoons twice a month. I think this year will be a great start, since the kids are already familiar with it, and I'm debating whether I want to mix it up with offering themes/challenges or if I want to keep it as it is, which is a complete free build.
I'm starting up a new program this fall that I am extremely excited about. I planned it without funding in mind, but I did receive a small grant from Kohl's, and the funds will go toward it. It's my Exploration Art Studio, geared for preschool through first graders. The goal is to have an open art studio for the little kids, where we'll offer 2 or 3 different art stations and ideas, and the kids can get messy. It's once a month after school. For our first session in September, we'll be painting with glue and making sticky collages; in October, we'll be doing nature weaving, leaf rubbings, and other nature art; in November, we'll be having a huge Play Doh creation session; and in December, we'll do rock painting, food painting, and bubble painting.
We have three sorts of age groups for stand along programming, and that's all ages, tween, and teen. We're offering something for every group every month.
For September, we're doing a stuffed animal sleepover on a Thursday night, so our patrons can pick up their animals the next morning, which is when our preschool story time is. They'll come in their pajamas for a night-themed story time, then we'll make a small craft, followed by a night in the library (with photos!) for their toys.
October means we'll be doing our pumpkin carving program again, and this time, we're doing it so that we clean out the pumpkins during the day before hand (when the kids don't have school) and then the carving will be the day after (another day off school for the kids). I'm hoping this cuts down on a late night at the library and entices a larger group of kids helping clean out the pumpkins.
In November, we're going to do Giant Monopoly again. I did it in the spring to a good size group, and they were super eager to keep playing. I figured since we have all of the pieces, we might as well do it again. It's a free and easy-to-run program, and one that's a lot of fun.
In December, we're switching things up. The idea of doing a gingerbread house making program turns my stomach a bit after last year. It's SO costly and labor intensive, and I really don't care for it. Instead, we're doing the traditional program of bringing Santa to the library for pictures, and while that's going on, we'll also be making ornaments for the kids to keep and ornaments they can hang in our trees outside the library (oranges and pine cones to attract the birds).
I've become quite serious about the idea of giving kids things to do during their school breaks, since it's when they ask for things to do (and when they tend to get dropped off at the library), so I'm also offering a pizza and a movie during the holiday break. I'm not sure what we'll watch yet, but that's one of those things I can figure out a couple weeks before and be fine.
After having such great turnout and excitement for this programming during the summer, I'm continuing it in the school year once a month. All of these programs involve making something, which is what this age group LOVES doing.
In September, we're making wrapped bracelets and marble magnets to celebrate school being back in session.
October is when we'll be combining our tween program with a teen program, and we'll be having a Monster Mash. We'll make monster bookmarks, monster tubes, and felt monsters. The kids will be able to make one or all of them.
I'm actually mixing it up in November and doing something wild: steal bingo. They'll play a normal game of bingo, but instead of picking out a prize, they'll pick out a mystery present that'll be wrapped. A lot of them will be weird things from the dollar store or left over summer reading prizes. After playing for a while, the kids will all open their prizes, and then the fun begins -- we'll keep playing bingo, but this time when someone wins, they can steal a prize from someone else. It should be a blast, since this age group sees this as fun instead of competitive.
December's program will be a recycle. Since our duct tape program was so popular this summer, we'll be doing it again. It'll be right before Christmas, so we'll make duct tape presents, naturally.
Again, since I want to offer something during the winter break, we'll be doing an additional program in December for tweens (and teens): bleached shirts. The kids'll bring a dark shirt, and we'll provide some creative ideas and bleach pens. Easy and fun.
It feels like I offer a lot of teen programs, but that's because the book club meets 2 or 3 times a month in addition to other programs. This fall/winter, we'll be reading I am J, Clarity, Rot and Ruin, Glow, Want to Go Private, Small Town Sinners, Between Shades of Gray, Brooklyn Burning, Divergent and My Beating Teenage Heart. I think it's a great mix of mystery, paranormal, realistic, dystopian, and historical, and they're all titles my teens were eager to dive into.
In September, we're doing a lock in that my teens have pretty much planned out for me. We'll be doing some craft-y stuff (non-pressured at tables they can choose from if they want to), gaming on the big screen, music, food, a pinata, and we'll also be doing cover redesigns. I cannot wait to talk about that because my kids came up with the idea. Oh, and we'll also be giving Justin Bieber a makeover. Ahem.
In October, we'll be celebrating Teen Read Week by having a week-long contest for the teens, and we'll be offering programs that include the Monster Mash (with the tweens), Pizza and a Movie (we'll be watching I am Number Four and serving pizza since one of my regular teens is obsessed with this book), and perhaps the program I'm most excited for, which I'm calling If It Floats Your Boat. We'll offer up stuff for making root beer floats and playing book trailers on loop. They can enjoy a treat and pick out books without any pressure.
November's program is going to happen on 11/11/11 and it is -- wait for it -- Minute-to-Win-It. My teens loved the Death by Chocolate Party, and when I proposed this idea, they were equally as excited. Wacky minute long challenges in the library? Who could resist it?
In December, the teen program will be the same one as the tween program with bleach tee creation.
Both my tweens and teens will be able to help out with pumpkin cleaning, which I am billing as a program itself. They'll get pizza and pop and help gut pumpkins all while earning volunteer hours. I did this last year, making it sound more like a program than a volunteer event, and I had a good turn out. I'm hoping by doing it on a day off school for the kids and advertising it in advance, we'll get a bigger turn out and it can become an event itself.
I can't wait to put these plans into action, as I feel like the line up of programs is really strong. And if you're curious, I have started plotting out next year already, too, and I'm super excited about those as well. Now that I've been in the job for a year (and in the field for three now!), I feel like I'm beginning to get a good grip of what works and what doesn't work. I'm also able to gauge what my skills are and whether I need them or not to make something happen -- see the Superhero Party, where I had no idea or background whatsoever and feel like I put together something fun and exciting for the kids.
What's on your plate for the fall/winter? Anything you're excited about? I'd love more ideas, so spill 'em if you've got 'em!