Early Out......two words that were part of the library tradition in my library when I started work in this city. People chattered about it like it was common knowledge (which it was if you lived here), but it was a foreign concept to me. Eventually, someone brought me up to speed by informing me that the sacred Early Out program ritual, was the third Wednesday of each month during the school year, when the children are released early from school so teachers could hold meetings. I have worked here for 11 years now, and I can tell you it can be challenging to plan these monthly events for several reasons:
1. Kids have been in school all day and are ready to rumble.
2. Attendance can vary dramatically, so paying for a performer or spending time and money preparing food and materials may or may not be a good idea.
3. Ages of kids attending. Even though this is intended for early elementary kids, siblings and parents usually are along for the ride and join in, depending on the program.
I should explain that I have been working alone in the children's room at our library for most of my 11 years, and soon will be on my own again. This means that a craft activity for 75 kids can be tricky. It also means you may have popcorn from here to eternity if you decide to make those creepy Halloween hands filled with popcorn, as well as dealing with a fire alarm being set off from the smoking popcorn machine. It also means a chunk of program money might be spent on a performer and four people show up, OR a cookies and cocoa program that brings in 120...and yes....I feared for my life that time!
All of the planning, preparing, comparing, and contrasting we do, and guess what I have learned? Programming is a crap shoot. You just never know what you will end up with on any given day. Happily, it works really well to treat youth services work as a roller coaster ride....just sit back and enjoy the thrills. Which leads me to telling you about the fabulous, inexpensive,easy peasy, on my own,lots of fun, pre-holiday (which means everyone may or may not have left Dodge), early out program.
Cheap after school fun program that we named -----Just Chill.
Turkey craft table
BeyBlades and arenas
Minute to Win It Games
The quiet girls headed to the turkey table to craft turkeys filled with rice and a recipe. This craft was leftover (pardon the holiday pun) from the week before.The boisterous boys (and girls) headed for the BeyBlade tops and had a thrillingly great time. We purchased the BeyBlades for last summer and never used them. I found them in the basement when I was searching for activities. In between, Lego creations were built, and then we all gathered for Minute to Win It games that I had left over from the teen event.
Great times can be as simple as just letting the kids enjoy some free play time with the things on hand. Turned out to be the perfect Early Out program and I will definitely be doing something similar in the future. It was really satisfying to have such a good turnout, lots of boys, and something for everyone.
P.S. Animals or food always brings in a crowd if I have money to spend.