Friday, July 31, 2015

Superhero Training: Elementary School Kids

I broke my superhero trainings into two groups: the preschoolers and the school-aged crowd. I wrote about my preschool one here. These are the modifications I made for the older group.

Craft Stations

Things I kept the same: 

Superhero capes

Superhero masks

Things I did differently:

1 - Superhero Names

I printed out several superhero name generators of the kind that match your initials to new fun superhero words and had the kids write their new super name on a nametag. Warning: some of these had words that weren't really appropriate for kids - Erotic, for example, or even Kick-ass. Rather than face the maelstrom over those words, I just substituted others. Worked out fine. Thank god for whiteout.

2 - Create a Sidekick

I wanted a craft that had side-kick in it, but I didn't want just a paper bag puppet (we had been doing those all week at our passive program craft station), so instead I found a template for moveable superheros and used those instead. You need brads and a whole punch, but they came out pretty cool.

3 - Shields

Out came my trusty Slick Stix for the superhero shields. I had ended up with lots of colored plates that failed to be masks for our Act Out! program (more on that soon) and we colored them and stapled a strip of paper to the back so they could hold the shield on their arm.

Training Course

The Laser Maze (longer and more complex this time)

Can you navigate the maze without getting caught in the tape?

The Tunnel (longer and made out of boxes so it was also a tighter fit)

Do you have the courage to crawl all the way through the tunnel?

Bowling for Villains

Knock down those Disney villains!

Might Muscles

Can you lift a bean bag over your head?

Animal Rescue (longer path with more bends in it)

Walk the path and bring the animals to safety. Be careful not to touch the lava!

Leaping Over Buildings (I used bigger boxes so the buildings were higher)

Can you leap over each group of buildings in a single bound?

The Wall (I put it higher up to match the height of our kids for this program, but the build-it-back-up portion was still part of it)

Test of strength: knock down the wall. Test of Kindness: build it back up. 

A former co-worker of mine at another library and I always did station-based programs around specific themes and every other time, we included a game where you had to pin the nose on the gnome or the teeth on the vampire or the tail on the bunny or... you get the picture. (For the record, I ran across my very favorite one of all time - created by the inimitable Sarah here). So when we were planning we would always add "Oh, and a pin-the-on-the." And that's what I've called them ever since. 

Here's the one I bought at the party store for the superhero party:

All in all, a great party and the kids who came out really enjoyed it. One was flying around the room saying "I'm SUPER BOY!" and really, what more can you ask for. (No, not literally flying. But his cape was fluttering behind him, so it was a good imitation). 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Superhero Training for Preschoolers

The summer reading theme is superheroes? Of COURSE I have to do a superhero training course. It's practically mandatory (and super fun!).

I decided to split the groups into preschool (under 5s) and elementary (5 and up). I could probably have done them at the same time, but I wanted to make some division, especially because I had a training course in mind and what a 7 year old can do is vastly different from what a 3 year old can do and I didn't want anyone to be too challenged or too bored. 

Here's what I did with my littles (the preschoolers). 

Craft Stations

1 - Superhero Capes

I cut plastic tablecloths from our local party store into cape shapes (I got six capes out of each tablecloth) and printed out some emblems for the kids to color. These were then taped onto the capes, strings were added to tie the capes on the kids, and stickers were added (if they wanted them). Simple and oh so fun. Everyone is allowed to choose which stations to do and in what order to do them, but everybody chose to do this particular craft. 

2 - Masks

I bought bear and butterfly masks from Michaels (I really like the ties that come with them) and the kids decorated the masks with markers and stickers. I cut the sample mask (in the photo below) to have cat ears, hoping to encourage the kids to create different shapes (or cut the ears off entirely for the classic mask look).

 3 - Superhero Cuffs

This was a last minute addition when I panicked that maybe I didn't have enough activities (well documented case of "must have 43 things to do or else we all fail!!", see also the block party). The kids really liked it, though, and I ended up having to cut more cuffs because they were getting used so quickly.

I put out Slick Stix for the kids to color - I find they make the best decorating tools for cardboard.

4 - Coloring Sheets

Self-explanatory and surprisingly popular.

Superhero Training Course

The second part of the program was the training course. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out which obstacles I could do with the materials that I already had and which obstacles I had done recently that might a) be boring or alternatively, b) be squished into the superhero theme.

These are the ones I ended up with:

1 - X-ray Vision

I put a different object into each wipes container and had the kids stick their hands in the top to guess what was inside. They could then open the container to see if they were right.

2 - Bowling for Villains

Someone donated a bowling set (yay!) so I printed out pictures of Disney villains, taped the suckers on the pins and had the kids knock them over with the bowling ball. Very satisfying.

3 - Mighty Muscles

Can you lift a bean bag over your head? Not as easy as it sounds. :-)

4 - Rescue the Animals

The kids walked along the tape line (without touching the lava!) to the stranded animals on the stool. They picked one and brought it with them the rest of the way to the purple land of safety. 

5 - Leaping Over Buildings

Can you leap over the buildings in a single bound? (Or four single bounds?) I wrapped cardboard bricks from our building set in black paper and then added small post-its for windows. 

6 - The Laser Maze

The kids navigated the maze without getting stuck in the tape. Note: have them take their capes off before they go through. The tape not only caught on the capes, but it stretched them, too. 

7 - Test of Courage: the dark tunnel
Crawl through it. This was made with chairs and sheets and was lots of fun to crawl through. I make shorter, lighter, easier to escape tunnels for the littles, in case of panic moments. 

8 - The Wall

The kids knocked down the bricks - either punching or kicking. Some of them really got in to it and we had lots of flourishes as they punched (and sound effects!). My favorite part of this wall, though, was the set of instructions immediately following it on the course: The Test of Kindness - can you rebuild the wall?

I had about 40 preschoolers and their parents come to this activity and it turned out that I had the perfect number of things to do. 

Thinking ahead, I may modify this training course for next year's health and fitness theme.

 p.s. Radio silence on here due to my severely misunderestimating (yup, made that word up, it describes my feelings perfectly) how much of a drain Summer Reading was going to be. I've only been doing this for like ten years.... Excuse: I block the bad parts and remember the good. Hmm... maybe that's not entirely a bad thing. What have we learned? Scheduling posts is a good thing. 
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