Fall LEGO Building Challenges

Thousands of tiny LEGO pieces on the floor… kids working to recreate a photo from tiny bricks…kids and caregivers taking a break to have a moment of time where their only responsibility is to be creative…and lots of requests for photos of their completed work. Sounds like a great Kids’ STEM Lab to me! We hosted a fall themed LEGO building challenge, and even though it was super low prep, I think this was one of my favorite programs so far! We had a small handful of kids at the beginning of the program, but the open-ended nature of the project drew in more kids who did not know there was a program going on, but wanted to join in!

The skinny: This was a FREE program for us because we already had the LEGOs. The STEM Laboratory offered a free download of photos representing fall objects (black cat, tractor, pumpkin, apple pie, among others). You need to give your email address to access the free download. This program was very open ended, so it would make a great activity if you know kids will drop in, and not necessarily be there at the beginning.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Party: The Getaway

The 12th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Getaway was released yesterday, November 7, 2017! Could our library let an occasion like that go unnoticed? I think not! We hosted a Book Launch party complete with games, activities, mom bucks, and presented a copy of the newly released book to a very happy elementary school student. Definitely a lot of fun. Definitely, something I want to do again (and, as quickly as Jeff Kinney seems to be able to get these books out, that will not be long!).

This is the first DOAWK party that I have planned, so I looked to my colleagues for inspiration and support. After an internet search, I found many blog entries incredibly helpful in brainstorming some ideas (I included a list of blog posts and resources that were especially helpful at the end of this post. Check it out!).

On the day of the party, I set out a copy of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid paper scavenger hunt from Thrive After Three as well as a drawing page for kids to be able to design their own book covers so that kids who arrived early right from school would have something to do.  Both of these documents needed a little editing. I cut off the bottom of the scavenger hunt form and updated the information to promote The Getaway. I also cut off the top of the book cover design page, and just ran off copies of my physically shorter page. The kids never knew the difference.

When the kids arrived at 4:00 p.m.  it was party time! We began by sitting in a circle and I asked each kid to tell me what their favorite Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was, and why. Then, I told them just briefly that The Getaway is about the Heffley family spending Christmas vacation in Mexico, and instead of it being a relaxing trip, everything goes wrong. I then asked the kids to tell me about a trip that they went on where things either went well and they had fun, or things went wrong.

These conversations took up maybe 8 minutes, but they were a great way to get started, and it gave us some time for kids who were coming in late to feel that they were not missing anything.

Then, we transitioned to a game of Cheese Touch. It is like the game, “hot potato”. I asked the kids to remind me what the cheese touch was. After hearing how they described it, (“It is like being infected”) I showed the kids the Moldy Cheese bean bag I had made. This is just a bean bag covered in yellow felt. A friend used markers and white-out to create the mold effects. I told the kids that I was going to play some music, and they needed to throw the bean bag around to each other. I would randomly pause the music, and the child holding the beanbag, or the last person to have touched it, was out. I used the “Capitol Kids Christmas” CD and used the Twelve Days of Christmas track because it had the faster beat that I wanted to keep the energy up. The kids loved this, and we played three games. When I do this over, we will spend more time on this, because it was a favorite!

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Creepy Crawlies! Spiders! Webs in the dark! Does it give your give you goose-bumps just thinking about it? Add kids and a few lessons about the science of arachnids, and you have a program that gives new perspective on a creature that inspires most to squirm…or scream!

The skinny: We hosted this program days before Halloween. I wanted to give the kids who came a different way of appreciating spiders, because I used to be very afraid of them myself. This program lends itself to a host of fun ideas, but in the end we read a book together that give great information on spiders in a humorous information style, walked through an interactive Prezi presentation, and finally tried our hands at building our own spider’s web while working on some fine-motor skills and problem-solving techniques.

The cost: Pennies. Literally. I would estimate that we paid about $0.05 for each child for the single paper plate and the yarn.

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