Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Race Day at the Library

I am always looking for more ideas for bringing boys into the library (aren't we all?). Last week was Spring Break for our kids and I hosted Race Day at the Library! This program was actually really simple and a lot of fun. We invited kids in K-5th grade to design their own race track at the library.

Of course, I stole the idea from another librarian! A librarian from the Parker Memorial Library (MA) posted this idea on the PUBYAC listserv and I've been saving it for just the right time.

The bulk of our program was making race tracks and I pulled a large selection of racing-related titles to display. Since I had a captive audience of (mostly) boys, I did a little book-talking, too. I kept it short since I had some little ones there and I booktalked: 

  • Skinnybones by Barbara Park (honestly, one of my favorite Wimpy Kid readalikes)
  • Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka (to booktalk this, I just read the passage where they pee on the space heater)
  • 100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne (I keep pushing this one since it gets buried in our 600s. Everyone I tell about it wants to check it out!)
  • The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton (another of my favorites that tends to get buried!)
I checked after the program and every single book I talked about was checked out! Does anything feel better than that??

So, the craft! This is one of those crafts that I could set out all the supplies and just let families be creative and make whatever they wanted (i.e. my favorite kind!).

We made race tracks out of cardboard tubes (paper towel & toilet paper tubes). We had some volunteers cut many of the tubes lengthwise so that they would make troughs. We also kept some tubes uncut in case kids wanted to make tunnels or use the tubes to add height, etc. Kids could design their race track however they wanted. One of our local pizza restaurants actually donated some misprinted boxes that we used as the cardboard base. I put out construction paper, crayons, markers, stickers, scissors, glue, tape, and all kinds of scraps and let them go to town!

The kids and parents had a lot of fun getting creative and designing their race tracks. This is a great, cheap, easy craft that would work really well for family night programs. After each kid finished his or her race track, I let them pick out a handful of matchbox cars (purchased at Oriental Trading) to take home.

It was low-key, but tons of fun. I didn't have a huge crowd, but that wasn't too surprising since we had it in the evening. We tend to get low turnout for our evening programs. I put on some CDs (any excuse to listen to Ralph's World) and just generally chatted with the kids about their favorite books while they worked.

Most of all, I love how creative everyone was with their tracks! It was definitely a super fun night!