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Lights Out Craft (ages 5 to 10)

New directions, my friends! Here is the what: I have had a transitional period in which I was promoted (officially a librarian, yay!) and have been given a new branch to cover-in addition to the programs I am already doing at my original branch. Hoo-Ah!

As of now, this blog will be less about book reviews and more about programming (which was always really the point around here anyway, just look through the archives for anything tagged crafts or programs).

The new reality? The budget that  was always kind of thin is now crazy skinny so the focus will be on entertaining up to 30 kids for very little money. The goal: to make kids love the library more than they did before!

I present to you my "Lights Out Craft"! Of course, I forgot to grab an SD Card on my way out the door, so I have very few photos, but here goes.

I had a big group: about 24 showed with an average age of 9. Some little bros and sis's from the crowd rounded out the group.
I gave each child a flashlight (my brother bought these for me from Home Depot last fall: 30 mini flashlights for ten bucks and they came WITH batteries). I have used them for lock ins etc. I just take the batteries out each time and it has been fine.

Once everyone's flashlights were on, we shut out the main lights (note, it was a sunny day and I had covered the windows with black tablecloths to get the room dark enough). It was not pitch black in there, or scary, but just right. See hideous pic above.

I have a lightning bug in a jar that I got for Christmas and I introduced him as "Fred" and I shared a story about what we do at my house when the lights go out (shadow puppets, tell stories, fire up the grill, etc). Here's a link to a much cooler bug jar (I only have one bug in mine).

Then I read:
What Was I Scared Of? the Glow in the Dark edition.


I had hidden objects around the room ( a playing card, a small trophy, a dollar bill, etc)
and I had the kids find the objects with the flashlights (from their seat on the floor) and turn their
light out when they found it. I had volunteers offer to point it out if the search went on for too long.
They LOVED this. See the pink dinosaur in the second pic at the top. In the dark, he was super hidden!

Then I collected the flashlights, turned on the lights, and explained the craft.
We made candle holders out of the bottoms of milk cartons and I cut the sides of the lantern out of cereal boxes to give them a nice crafting surface. I had cut a window in each side and the kids glued a tissue paper square over the window, and then they colored the outside and added sequins. After about twenty minutes, when the kids were mostly finished, I handed out little battery operated candles I picked up at the dollar store for 3-for-a-dollar and they put them into their "lanterns".
I waited a bit more and then asked them to fire up their lanterns, and join me on the floor. We turned the lights out again and admired how pretty they looked on the tables! Some moms even clapped!
Then, I announced an impromptu dance party! I fired up Call me Maybe, etc, and turned on the bubble machine.

Yes, I have a bubble machine! I got it for three dollars at a thrift store. I was missing an instruction manual, a cord, and a bubble tray. My brother sorted that out for me, and now I plan to use this machine often.
Note: I bought the glow in the dark bubbles, but the solution looked cool when I poured it in the bubbles themselves did not glow. When they popped on the kids' hands however they left little orange glowy specs so the kids LOVED them. The package said that the glow would last for twenty minutes. And, I was super careful, but two kids had bubbles pop near their eyes. No harm was done, but I felt bad.

The breakdown:
Materials: free (collected milk cartons from home and staff)
tissue paper, on hand

Flickering battery operated candles: $11 for 33 at the dstore

Glow in the Dark bubble mix: $3.99 at Walmart (probably would not buy it again)
Cookies and lemonade: $3.00 for cookies, I buy lemonade in a powdered mix and make fresh pitchers each program. I am seriously considering reusable cups and the paper goods budget is slim as well. Or eliminating drinks. Sad, I know.

Total: $18 bucks

The entire program lasted an hour and they could have danced in the bubbles for hours if I let them. Ten minutes was more than enough for me. You have not lived until you have seen a bunch of eight year old boys breakdance to One Direction.


Christi said…
Awesome program idea! we should get together and do a brainstorming session--the children's librarian at my branch would have LOVED this for this summer!

My teens are doing a stuffed animal sleepover tonight for kids. Wonder what kind of trouble those stuffies will get into tonight? LOL

Glad to see you're doing so well, miss you!!

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