School Age Programs
This boys' literacy program was created simply to encourage boys to read over the summer AND have fun in the process. Each week's activities were also (sneakily) planned to provide them with opportunities to practice their writing and reading skills. It is held once a week for an hour throughout the summer with one session for grades 3-4 followed by another for grades 5-6. Attendance ranged from 5-20 boys per session.
The weekly outline looks something like this:
Record summer reading minutes & discuss what they read over the past week
Listen to a readaloud
Physical activity or game
Literacy based activity or game
Time to choose/discuss books for the next week
Each program began with the boys recording the number of minutes they had read over the past week in conjunction with the library's Summer Reading program and filling out weekly guessing jar slips (aka a weekly opportunity to practice writing their name, phone number, and a numerical guess) as we waitied for everyone to arrive. Next, I would read a short story, picture book, or chapter aloud that went along with the day's activities or simply provided some laughs. This would be followed by a physical activity/game to get these restless boys moving. After that we would do a literacy-based activity/game and end the progam with 5-10 minutes to book talk a few titles, ask the boys if they have any recommendations for each other, then let them loose to choose their own titles to read over the next week. Below you will find my favorite read alouds, physical activities, and literacy-based activities.
For more detailed lesson plans and activity ideas, check out my partner in crime's website at SarahJeanMeyer.weebly.com. Educator Sarah Jean Meyer helped me plan and run Boys Club this past summer. Her classroom management abilities and excellent education insight helped create a more fun and effective program.
I would also encourage you to bring in male speakers from the community to share their thoughts on reading with the boys. We've brought in teachers, businessmen, local state representatives, the dads of staff members, and pretty much any guy willing to share their own reading interests. It's not only a great opporunity for the boys to see that other dudes read, but a fun and new experience for the men in your community. A couple very accomplished businessmen mentioned that they have no problem speaking to groups of 100+ shareholders, but 15 minutes with 15 boys was nerve racking until they did it! Give each presenter a few talking points to consider, but once they get going they will feed off the interests of the kids. Don't be embarassed if the boys just want to know if the presenter plays video games or has pets. The boys may not have experience interactng with male adults, so any opportunity is a good one. The talking points given to each presenter were:
A line or two about who you are and what you do.
What did you like to do for fun as a kid?
What did you read as a kid?
What do you read now?
Does your job require you to do any reading? (ex: emails, reports, etc.)
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Great introduction to the adventure genre or game day.
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds
Vile Verses By Roald Dahl
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Chapter one will get them hooked and prepared to discuss the differences between the versions of fairy tales they remember and the originals.
The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett
Reading chapter one will be enough to hook them.
Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka
The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg
This mesmerizing picture book will keep them guessing.
Help! We Need a Title! By Herve Tullet
Read this one before Mixed Up Silly Stories and illustrating activities.
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Great introduction to get them thinking about guys in their family who may be everyday heroes.
Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier
When Leon discovers that all the toilet paper is gone, he must find something else to use. Lots of giggles and a fun twist at the end.
The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell
Louis has been eaten by a Gulper and it's up to his sister, Sarah, to rescue him! A fun, repetitive read aloud. Boys will enjoy making burping sounds at the end.
Xtreme hopscotch (outside) - Use chalk to create a hopscotch obstacle course that includes words written on the ground (that they must read to accomplish the course!), like "Spin 2 Times", "Touch Your Toes", "Hop on one foot to the next chalk star", all while being timed by a stopwatch to see who can complete the course the fastest.
Freeze tag with silly string (outdoors) - Boys must run from one point to another without getting sprayed with silly string. If you get hit you must freeze.
Shake Your Own Ice Cream - Boys must read and follow recipe steps to get it right! Each boy is given a gallon plastic ziploc bag for salt and a sandwich bag for their ice cream ingredients. Then they shake their bags like crazy to complete their concoctions. Napkins, spoons, bowls, chocolate syrup, and sprinkles were also provided. Here is a tried and true recipe:
Add ½ cup half-and-half, 1tablespoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon of vanilla to smaller ziplock bag.
Add 3 cups crushed ice and 1/3 cup rock salt to gallon ziplock bag.
Add smaller bag to gallon bag and seal the gallon bag.
Shake for 5 minutes!
Mixed Up Silly Stories - Cut out strips of paper with a variety of character names, actions, settings, and conclusions written on them. Fold the strips and put them in four different paper bags. Feel free to download, print, and cut mine. Ask the boys to close their eyes and take one slip from each bag. Next provide the boys with half sheet paper booklets (Print the paper booklets double sided so you end up with two sheets of paper. Cut both sheets in half horizontally and assemble into a four sheet booklet, stapling them together to make a spine.) On page one they will write their character name, page two their action, page three their setting, page four they can make up their own action, and page five their conclusion. Pass out colored pencils for illustrating these silly stories and add titles to the cover. OR Let their imaginations run free and use the character names, actions, setting, or conclusions as story starters.
Make Your Own Comics - Printable blank comic sheets like these are free and perfect, but we were able to use grant money to purchase The Blank Comic Book Panelbooks and give one to each boy. I also created a Comic Book Starter Sheet to get their creative juices flowing.
Opening Lines Balloon Pop - Insert tightly rolled strips of paper containing the opening lines to children's books ("Where's Papa going with that axe?") into balloons and inflate. Feel free to download, print, and cut mine. Instruct the boys to pop two balloons by sitting on them and then choose their favorite of the two opening lines to read aloud. Unleash a barrage of balloons at the boys and let the fun ensue!
Chalk Monsters - After reading Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty to the 3rd & 4th graders, we went outside to draw our own. Split the kids into groups of 3-4 kids and assign each one a part to draw...body, head, arms, legs, eyes, mouth, nose, hair, eyebrows, and a monster name.
Jon Scieszka's Guys Read web-based literacy program is the cream of the crop for book lists and stats to encourage and get the fellas reading.
Getting Boys To Read Blog by Teacher-Librarian Mike McQueen
Penguin's Books 4 Boys site offer free downloads, videos, and tons of reading suggestions.
Connecting Boys with Books: What Librarians Can Do by Michael Sullivan
Mixed Up Silly Stories
Choose a character, action, setting, and conclusion from each bag. Add another action of your own and you've got a silly story!
Mixed Up Silly Story Lines
Let the boys make up their own line for page 4.
Assign someone to draw a body, head, arms, mouth, ears, etc, and of course give him/her a name.
Comic Starter Worksheet
A worksheet to get the boys thinking about what their comic book or strip will be about.
The perfect program for summertime or to brighten up your winter! The description used on our website and in promotional materials was: "Join us for an indoor beach party! Enjoy tropical games, crafts, snacks and more. For grades K through 4."
Each child received a cardstock 1/4 sheet Beach Party Activity Card (with yarn attached to wear around their necks) listing all the activities and craft stations. Once all activities and crafts were completed they received
a prize! Stickers or bookmarks are great choices, but I found a random pack of shark teeth in library's supplies closet and gave them out as prizes.
Hula Hoop Competition - Set out a few hula hoops and call it good.
Sand Pail Ring/Ball Toss - Set out three sand pails, a few objects (perhaps plastic rings, balls or bean bags), mark a line with tape on the ground for kids to stand behind, and see who can get the most objects into the pails.
Beach Ball Spin - Inflate a beach ball and use a sharpie to write actions in each color panel, such as 5 Jumping Jacks, Touch Your Toes, Spin 3 Times, etc. Kids toss the beach ball in the air and must do whatever action lands up.
Pool Noodle Boats - Idea from OurFamilyofSeven.com, but with paper instead of foam sails. Set out boat making supplies and challenge kids to create a boat that floats and wind powered (by blowing into the sail). Cut a pool noodle into 2-3 inch discs, stick a straw in the top and add a paper sail (with holes punch in it) onto the straw. Set out tubs of water (aluminum pie tins or foil pans work great) and set sail!
Hula Dancing - Halfway through the program I gathered the kids and led them in some basic hula dancing moves (which I learned from this Howcast video) and then played a little "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" from Disney's Lilo & Stitch Soundtrack.
Beach Scavenger Hunt - Print out pictures of beach themed objects and hide them around the room. On walls, on the backs of chairs, wherever!
Hawaiian Leis - Supplies include string, brightly colored straw pieces cut about 1.5 inches or so long, and paper flowers with holes punched in the middle.
Tiki Masks - Mask template from PrintableTreats.com printed on cardstock, decorated, cut, two holes punched on either side, and strung with string to secure around the head.
Painted Seashells - Idea from PinkandGreenMama.blogspot.com, but I added googly eyes. Supplies include seashells (purchased at Michaels), paint, paint brushes, tacky glue, and googly eyes. Paper plates were provided to set the shells on while decorating and drying.
Blue Ocean Jello Cups - Clear cups filled 3/4 with blue Jello. Kids can add graham cracker crumb "sand" (crumb can usually be found near the pudding/pie filling area at the grocery store or let kids smash up actual graham crackers), teddy bear swimmers, and tropical drink umbrellas.
Beach Party Activity Card
Print on cardstock, punch holes on top, string yarn to wear around their necks.
Beach Scavenger Hunt
Print images and hide them around the room. Cross images off once they are found.
Celebrate with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang! This program was held in November to celebrate Peanuts creator Charles Schultz's birthday, but can be done any time of year. The description used on our website and in promotional materials was: "Join us for a story, crafts, snack, and cartoons as we celebrate Charles Schulz's birthday. For ages 3-8."
Each child was assigned one of four Peanuts characters upon entering the room (Lucy, Linus, Woodstock, and Snoopy) and provided with a cardstock 1/4 sheet picture of that character to wear around their neck. We began with an introduction and a reading of Snoopy and Friends (The Peanuts Movie) by Golden Books to properly introduce the Peanuts gang. The pages are small so each character mentioned in the book was also displayed on a screen via Powerpoint.
In addition to the hobbies mentioned in the book, the Peanuts gang also loves to dance! Get the kids moving by teaching them a few of the characters' favorite dance moves. Assign a dance move to each of the four characters and encourage kids with that character to stand up and do their moves, then turn on the classic Peanuts tune and have a dance party! Since the screen and projector were already set up for the story, we also played a video of the Peanuts dancing so the kids could see the Peanuts in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1LUXQWzCno
After an epic dance party, we introduced the following craft and activity stations and let the kids roam free to complete each one at their own pace. Finally, no Peanuts Party would be complete without showing a classic cartoon or two. Once the kids had been given 10 -15 minutes to make a party hat or complete a few activities, we announced that we would be showing A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The kids were invited to sit and watch the cartoon or continue enjoying the stations.
Comic Strips - Blank comic strips or Peanuts comic strips with blank word bubbles for the kids color and come up with their own stories.
Snoopy Ears Party Hats - White strips of construction paper to wrap around the head and two black snoopy ears to glue or staple on to the strips. Decorate the white strips (head bands) with markers and pictures of Woodstock.
Red Barron Clothespin Plane - Color 2 jumbo craft sticks, one clothespin, and one mini craft stick with markers. Use craft glue to glue the two jumbo craft sticks to either side of the clothsepin to form wings and the mini craft stick onto the back of the clothespin to make the rear wings. Photo found below and inspired by the blog Passengers on a Little Spaceship.
The Great Pumpkin Toss - Try your hand at tossing pumpkins into buckets. Set out 3-5 buckets, 5 foam pumpkins, and a taped line participants must stand behind.
Photobooth - Print out large word bubbles with Peanuts sayings in them (feel free to use these ones) and tape them to craft sticks for kids to hold up. Make your own Snoopy dog house out of cardboard (as seen here) or purchase this one for $24.99 from Oriental Trading Company.
Dancing Steps - Print numbered footprints (laminate them if possible) and tape them to the ground. Kids must walk or hop from footprint to footprint to learn a goofy dance and become Peanuts dancing pros. Our steps were created with Publisher and can be found here.
Comic Reading Corner - Set out a variety of Snoopy and Peanuts books for kids to check out and enjoy.
Cupcakes - In The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown is tasked with bringing cupcakes to the dance. Challenge the kids to put their cupcake decorating skills to the test by setting out unfrosted cupcakes, frosting, and sprinkles.
Popcorn - To be enjoyed while watching cartoons. Plus, it's one of the things Snoopy and Charlie Brown know how to make for Thanksgiving dinner.
Print out blank comics panels or Peanuts comics with blank word bubbles.
Red Barron Clothespin Planes
Decorate 2 jumbo craft sticks, one clothespin, and one mini craft stick with markers and stickers then glue together.
Word Bubble signs and Snoopy's dog house for play and photos.
Snoopy Ears Party Hat
Staple or glue 2 black ears to white strips and decorate with markers, stickers, and Woodstock pics.
Tape numbered steps to the ground for kids to follow and get moving!
The Great Pumpkin Toss
Toss foam pumpkins into buckets/bins.