Pajamarama (ages 12 and under)
The libraries where I have worked have served smaller populations, so I try to cater programs to a wider age range. Pajamarama is designed to be a late-evening last hurrah to the day where kids (including a family with kids ages 0-12) can come together and do something fun. I usually aim for about a half hour and sometimes include a readaloud.
Barbie Hair Repair Clinic
Well-loved doll hair can quickly become a hot mess express.
You can be the hero that brings them back to greatness.
Not recommended for American Girl dolls or anything fancy.
Refresh your Barbie's hair at this pop-up salon where we will wash and detangle her hair while you wait.
Liquid fabric softener, unscented/free and clear preferred
Gloves if kids are doing it, or if you have sensitive skin
Make solution of one-part fabric softener one-part water and place in a spray bottle.
Make solution of one-part vinegar and one-part water and put it in a cup or little tupperware container. This is where you'll rinse out Barbie's hair.
Spritz fabric softener/water solution onto the doll and use comb to detangle. Rinse off in the vinegar/water solution. Squeeze dry hair into paper towels.
Put hair into the style you want it to hold -- if straight, just lay Barbie flat, or you can use pipe cleaners or craft wire to hold Barbie's hair into curls. Tiny braids will also give Barbie sweet beachy waves. Wrap in paper towel and leave to dry.
Dino Dig Parfait
Discuss timelines, dinosaur species, how the fossil record works -- and eat a nice pudding snack.
other fun pudding mix-ins, like sprinkles or crushed cookies
gummy dinosaurs with at least 3 different species inside. (Haribo brand has 4 species - t-rex, stegosaurus, brontosaurus, and triceratops. I'll be referring to these.)
Clear cups (like punch cups)
a large wall or handout to draw a timeline
make the pudding ahead of time and portion out small baggies for each child that include each specie of dinosaur.
Discuss how not all dinosaurs lived at the same time. The brontosaurus and stegosaurus lived during the jurassic period, but the t-rex and triceratops lived later during the cretaceous period. Older fossils would be further down in the fossil record, and newer ones higher. Have them practice this activity by making their own fossil record out of pudding and treats. For older kids, they can try and figure out for themselves the correct order, but younger kids will need help knowing that brontosaurus and stegosaurus gummies would go on the bottom, then some pudding, then the t-rex and triceratops gummies, then more pudding.
Create an interactive archaeological experience for children without having to leave the library or spend big bucks. Recommended for school aged children, or younger children closely supervised by caregivers due to a potential choking hazard from small items. It gets messy, so it is best for outside, or atop a tarp.
Large underbed storage containers OR a small kiddie pool
Small skewers that can be used as stakes, and any kind of string or ribbon
Sand, can be found at low cost at home improvement stores
Shark teeth or fossils, can be easily found online at low cost
Cups or bowls to place fossils in when found
Supplies not strictly needed, but would be fun:
Small plastic pincers
Small brushes, like paint brushes
Fill container with sand. Mix in fossils, making sure to spread them as equitably as possible. Use the stakes and string to measure off equal-sized sections of the “dig site.”
Create a picture sheet identifying the different kinds of fossils in the mix so children can identify what they’ve found. Have children estimate how many they think there are of each type, based on what they’ve seen, then create a wall chart to show how many of each kind were found.
Check the outside of your building, especially any stone work, to see if there are any small shell fossils visible in the rock.
Book: The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Craft: Paper bag ninja puppets from [iheartcraftythings.com]. I love how they measured everything out -- SO EASY. I already had most of the supplies and only spent about $5 on the paper fastening brads, paper bags, and googly eyes.
Activity: I used some donated red yard between two rows of stacks to make a laser obstacle course. If you cut the string into smaller strips and tape them across the stacks, there's less chance of a kid tripping and hurting themselves on the string -- if they fall, they just knock off the string.
Total cost per child: less than $1.
Book: The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Craft: Pool noodle ponies. [There are a ton of different ideas on Pinterest.] I bought pool noodles from Dollar Tree for $1 a piece, drew some cutesy eyeballs and laminated them, and set out a ton of yarn we had donated to us.
Activity: I used extra pool noodles ahead of time to put together an obstacle course similar to an equestrian competition, including a "ring of fire" using flame-colored streamers. I used duct tape to make a maze on the floor, and miscellaneous toys and stools around the library to make obstacles to jump.
Total cost per child: about $1.