Thursday, August 6, 2009


Like many of you public librarians this summer, our Summer Reading Club theme was Be Creative @ Your Library. To encourage kids to be creative, one of the prizes we gave out upon completion of the program was a decorate-a-mask kit.

The kits were cheap, fairly easy to put together (a great volunteer activity), and a big hit with our kids. We took small plastic bags and filled each bag with a cardboard mask, feathers, stick-on jewels, and a paintbrush. This kit is infinitely customizable. You could add stickers, glitter (brave soul!), pom poms, yarn, pipe cleaners, confetti... or whatever else you can dream up! The kids took the kit home to decorate their mask and then brought the finished mask back to the library if they wanted to enter it in our mask contest. Many kids used only the materials in the kit, but many also added things they had at home.

The mask contest was a bigger hit than I could have imagined. I think we got close to 200 entries and they were fabulous! I love that each mask was different and they were very creative. We made a gallery of the finished masks in our programming room and invited the Friends of the Library to judge the contest. (I'm so glad I didn't have to judge the contest - we had so many great entries, I'm sure it was very hard to choose!)

We divided the masks into four age groups, Preschool/Kindergarten, 1st/2nd grade, 3rd/4th grade, and 5th/6th grade. Based on the scores given by the Friends, we selected two winners from each age category as winners. The winners of the contest got to choose a prize from our prize table. We had a selection of good quality donated books, pop-up books or finger puppets that we had ordered for the department and decided not to use, toys that had come with books, and a couple prizes that we bought.

Then, on the last day of the Summer Reading Club, we had a Masquerade Party! We invited the kids to wear their masks (or not) and come to the library to play games, eat snacks, and generally hang out and savor the end of summer. At the party, we had a small ceremony for the winners of the contest.

The mask contest was a fairly simple, fun, cheap passive program that the kids (and librarians) really enjoyed. And I am all about simple, fun, cheap programs. :)