Get families moving throughout the library with indoor mini golf! Rent or purchase golf holes and supplies from a vendor or do it on the cheap with ideas found below. Many of the supplies mentioned below may already be hiding around your library or in a supplies closet. This program works great as a single event or passive program.
I typically do this program in February to provide families with an opportunity to be active during the chilly winter months. This also means the local mini golf centers have putters lying around getting dusty. I called a nearby golf center and they were willing to lend us their putters for free! I simply promised to mention their generous donation on our website, facebook page, and to the program’s attendees. The attendees also signed a Thank You card for the center.
As for the golf balls, the golf center would likely provide them too, but I happen to be an avid golfer and decided to personally purchase some brightly colored balls knowing I would use them over the summer.
To construct the holes, we utilized buckets, cardboard tubes, weeded World Book Encyclopedias, toy blocks, cardstock paper, solo cups, and lots of duct tape. If you aren’t feeling creative or inspired by your supplies closet, ask Teen Volunteers or TAB members to create the holes for you and BAM, you just saved yourself two afternoons of tinkering.
Solo cups were cut in half and taped down to the floor to act as the holes. Flags designated each hole (we numbered them, but you could create fun names) and were made with cardstock, duct tape, and old paints sticks.
Instead of designing an entire course, just set up a few holes and leave them out for a week…your custodial staff won’t love you for it, but the patrons will! Kids can stop by the youth desk at their leisure to get a ball, scorecard, and putter. Traffic at the youth desk increased the week we did this as adults and kids kept asking, “why the heck is there a cardboard tube decorated like a train tunnel in the DVD aisle?” As an additional incentive, kids who participated were entered into a drawing for a $5 Target gift card.
An alternative, which your custodial and security staff will greatly appreciate (“What do you mean it won’t be easy to jump over my 2-foot-high cardboard Very Hungry Caterpillar to get to the exit in an emergency?”), would be an event with a 9 or 18 hole course. Kick things off by gathering attendees for an introduction (“Here are the putters and balls…there are 5 holes in this room, 4 more downstairs, etc.”) and a warm-up. The parents were surprisingly willing to do a few jumping jacks and toe touches to warm up and stretch out with the kids. Next, families chose the hole of their choice to begin. A few waited around to start at hole #1, but the rest were happy as clams to choose their own starting point.
Mario Mini Golf Hole
Building blocks taped together to form tunnels with Mario Bros characters.
World Book Mini Gold Hole
Weeded World Books arranged to form tunnels and lanes.
Give a Mouse a Cookie Mini Golf Hole
Cardboard tubes and laminated pictures of Characters and objects from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.
DOWK Mini Golf Hole
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hole with laminated characters and a moldy (paper) piece of cheese.
Mother's Day Tea & Crafts
Mother’s Day is all about celebrating and honoring the most amazing woman in your life, whether that be mom, an aunt, grandma, or a friend. This program is for children of all ages and moms of all types. We typically hold it on the Saturday before Mother's Day at 2pm for 24 individuals. The ideas found below can easily be adapted for larger crowds as well.
"Welcome children and mothers! Today we'll begin with a story to polish up our tea time etiquette, followed by a craft that will ensure we are dressed appropriately, and finally enjoy some treats and play a game.
My mom is an important person in my life because she is caring, kind, and always willing to help me. What are some things your mom does for you? [You will be pleasantly surprised by the things that pop out of children's mouth's, but if you get crickets, try these questions...] Who drives you places? Who gives you food? Who washes your clothes?, etc."
Introduce tea time etiquette with Tea for Ruby by Sarah Ferguson The Duchess of York and Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Ruby is invited to tea by none other than the Queen! Ruby tells everyone she meets about her engagement and each one reminds her to polish her manners. However, the Queen turns out to be someone who loves Ruby no matter what...grandma!
After reading the book, use the following questions to lead a quick discussion about the story and manners:
Who was the queen? (Her grandma!)
What manners did Ruby need to learn for tea?
Chew with your mouth closed
Say “please” & “thank you”
Use a fork & napkin
Remember to wait your turn
To not interrupt or shout
Sit up straight
Dressing appropriately is another important manner. Ensure everyone is dressed in their finest by making wearable crafts.
Fancy Flower Headbands - Fold, fluff, and tie tissue paper flowers to thin plastic headbands (headbands available at most dollar stores or Wal-Mart) with pipe cleaners.
Paper Ties - Print the outline of a tie on cardstock. Let attendees cut out their ties, decorate them with markers, punch a hole on each side of the tie knot, string yarn through the holes, and tie around the wearer's neck.
TEA & TREATS
Get to the tasty treats already! Delectable finger foods to offer include melon balls, shortbread cookies, strawberries, and mini pastries, such as petite eclairs which are often available in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Cucumber sandwiches are a tea time classic as well. A sweet alternative would be raisin bread and apple butter sandwiches. Assemble full size sandwiches and cut them into fours with a sharp knife to make finger sandwiches. If you are low on funds, ask local bakeries or staff for tasty donations.
Minimize caffeine intake for the kids by offering an herbal tea opposed to a traditional black tea. We served herbal raspberry tea and were surprised to find the kids were enthusiastic to try it. Many lined up for multiple servings! Also offer ice water and/or lemonade as an alternative.
Questions To Ask Your Mother - Set discussion questions out on the tables to get mom and child chatting while they enjoy their treats. The following questions seem simple, but it may be the first time young children become aware that their parents have interests too!
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?
What makes you laugh?
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be and what would you like to see?
What were your favorite things to do as a child?
Flower & Gem Bingo - We were inspired by the blog Shower of Roses and created our own bingo cards using clipart images of flowers and gems. Provide one bingo card per family to encourage families to play together. Print pictures of each image and place them in a hat/basket. Pull images from the hat at random and have participants cross off each image as it is called out. Once participants get five images crossed off in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, they must stand up and shout "I Love Mom!" We provided winners with "fancy" plastic beaded necklaces (Summer Reading leftovers), but stickers or high fives will do!
Noon Year's Eve Party
Don't keep the kids (and library staff) up until midnight. Throw a Noon Year's Eve Party at 11:30 am on or before December 31 with crafts, games and treats.
This program featured craft and activity stations throughout the library for families to visit at their leisure with a countdown and balloon drop at 12:00 pm!
Shimmering Fireworks Art - Use chalk to draw fireworks or the message of your choice on black construction paper. Next, drizzle Elmers glue onto the paper then sprinkle glitter/sequins on top. For less mess, set out foil pans or trays for kids to set their paper in prior to adding glitter and/or sequins. For more inspiration and examples, check out the blog Felt Magic.
Party Hats - No party is complete without one! Print out a hat template on cardstock and decorate with markers, stickers, sequins, tissue paper, or whatever embellishments you've got. Cut and roll the hat into a cone shape, then tape it together along both sides of the seam. Punch a hole on each side near the bottom of the cone and string yarn through to use as a chin strap.
Noise Makers - There are countless ways to make a noise maker from folded paper plates to pie tins, but we had a surplus of toilet paper tubes just begging to be us a design from Classic Play. Cover one side of the tube with a layer or two of aluminum foil and secure it with duct tape or a rubber band. Add 15+ dried pinto beans or beads and seal the second side of the tube with aluminum foil and duct tape or a rubber band. Add stickers to the tube or decorate it with markers and shake, shake, shake!
Year in Review Worksheets - Inspired by the Resolution worksheets for kids found at Thirty Handmade Days.com, I created quick and easy worksheets for kids and parents to record their favorite memories from the previous year and what they hoped to learn and accomplish in the new year. These sheets were a great way to spark discussions and even led to some fun surprises for the parents.
Snowman Toss - Set up a bean bag toss board, but cover it with paper and turn it into a snowman! We are constantly creating new covers for the library's bean bag board depending on the season and theme of our programs. Creating "snowballs" out of white plastic bags or foam instead of bean bags would be even more festive if you (or an awesome teen volunteer) have the time.
Months of the Year Memory Match - The set found below was simply created via Microsoft Word. Print two sets of your cards on cardstock and cut them out. Turn the cards face down. Flip two cards. If they're not a matching pair, flip them back over. If they do match, leave them face up and try to find another matching pair. Find all the matching pairs to win!
Photo Booth - Let your participants show off their party hats and get some fun family photos! We covered a wall with black butcher paper and taped on printed "Happy New Year" messages" and fireworks. Provide fun props, such as cardstock mustaches and lips taped to kebob sticks.
Balloon Games - At 12:30pm we did a countdown and let 100 balloons loose in the library's events room. The balloons had been blown up the day before with good old fashioned carbon dioxide from an amazing group of teen volunteers. Not having enough time to construct an epic balloon drop from the ceiling, a couple parents joined me in the fun by emptying 4 extra large garbage bags filled with the balloons on top of the participants. Kids from ages 3 to 80 cannot resist a room full of balloons. It was nothing but smiles and laughter. We challenged participants to:
Keep as many balloons as possible in the air.
Count how many balloons they could get floating at one time.
Catch a balloon on the rim of a Solo cup.
Performed relay races while holding balloons between our knees.
NOTE: Prior to releasing balloons, announce that you will be doing so as some children may have a latex allergy OR simply have a fear of balloons popping and prefer to leave the room.
Cupcake Decorating - Funfetti cupcakes, frosting, and sprinkles were provided for kids and adults to decorate and enjoy.
Sparkling Sherbet Punch - Equal parts Hawaiian Punch and 7up, or another Lemon-Lime soda, with scoops of rainbow sherbet on top make for a delicious and bubbly treat.