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.

Program Blurb:

Refresh your Barbie's hair at this pop-up salon where we will wash and detangle her hair while you wait.

Supplies needed:

Prep work:

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.

Program agenda:

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.

Supplies needed:

Prep work:


Geological Dig

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.

Supplies needed:

Supplies not strictly needed, but would be fun:

Prep Work:

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.”

Extra enrichment:

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.

Ninja Training

Book: The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Craft: Paper bag ninja puppets from []. 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. 

Pony Show

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.