Shrinky dink jewelry making: this is one of those program that I expect many libraries have already done. It is easy and simple and, amazingly, tons of fun! We provided the shrinky dink paper - each kid got one half-sheet at first (to make sure we had enough) and then a second when they had used their first. The number of items they ended up with depended on how wisely they had utilized their paper; I was able to make a pair of earrings, two keychains, and two magnets from my half-sheet. We also provided a number of print-outs they could trace - popular characters and general stencils as well. My colleague and I manned the toaster ovens and assisted with the jewelry assembly. This was a very popular program, one I don't think we'll ever get sick of running.
Soda tab bracelets: another craft I imagine most librarians have utilized in their day. Once again, we provided all the materials: soda tabs and plastic thread. We started a number of bracelets ahead of time, as getting the pattern started is often the most difficult part and we anticipated a large crowd. Thanks to this, we were able to get most kids off and working on their own relatively quickly. My colleague and I were there to help when kids got stuck or confused in the pattern and also to help tie a lot of finishing knots. I think every kid got to make two bracelets. Another very popular, very easy program.
Duct tape designs: if you can believe it, this was my first time crafting with duct tape; I never really got into it when I was younger. Because of my relative inexperience, the things I can create are limited, but not so limited as to not be exciting for the kids. At this program, our options were roses, wallets, and bows. I had severely underestimated how popular this program would be: I reached capacity within the first ten minutes, with a line of kids waiting outside the door for space to become available. Thankfully, I had a number of teen volunteers to help (though none of them had prior duct tape crafting experience, I gave them a tutorial before the kids arrived and they quickly learned on the job), as well as my more experienced colleague. A great majority of our time was devoted to tearing the duct tape for the kids, a skill that they seem to lack until at least high school age. We will definitely be doing this program again, probably with some different creation options.
Henna: one of the last summer programs we held and another one that has surely been done by many librarians before. Ours caused a bit of a last-minute panic, however. One of our colleagues is Indian and has assisted at these programs before, buying the henna supplies during her visits to India and taking on the majority of actual application of designs. That was once again our plan this summer, and the reason this program was one of the last - she would be in India for the majority of the summer, returning only shortly before the program was scheduled. However, a couple of weeks before the program, we discovered that she would not be returning to work until after our program - leaving us with no supplies and no one to actually apply the henna to our attendees. We enlisted the help of some teen volunteers to find out where we could acquire the supplies and
And those were some of my easy and popular summer programs! What simple but surprisingly popular programs do you run?