Little known fact, even among my patrons: I oversee programs for two small branches in my system. This always surprises people, but the librarian in my position has always done so. One is much busier than the other, so it’s become my primary branch, and the other, much more quiet branch has become a secondary for me. I visit the smaller, less busy branch every Thursday and I typically do a storytime in one of the local daycares in the morning, a computer class in the afternoon, and, once a month, a school age or teen program after hours. Since the library closes at 6 on weeknights, I stage these programs at 6:30 and just leave the library open in the meantime.
Last month I did a story camp, a la Amy Koester and Marge. Only one family came to that event, which was still worth it. So when this month’s family night rolled around, I thought I’d better not put quite as much money or time into it. I went with a very easy plan for a Spy Night a la Angie.
First, I had a station where children could chose a code name by picking a word from each column. (This was plucked directly from Pinterest and this nice family’s blog.)
Then kids could navigate a laser maze made from red streamers, exactly like Angie’s.
Next, the kids could return to a table to crack a code like this: It’s a simple grid code, similar to bingo. You can download it here.This code revealed a clue: Behind the plant.
Kiddos had to look behind several plants. Was it the false banana tree, the ficus, or the fern? Behind one were three notepads, and I stayed near this clue to make sure that groups of kids only got one notepad. A clue had been imprinted on the notepads by writing (hard) on a top sheet and then I ripped it off. This left the letters indented on the next pages. I gave kids instructions to lightly scribble over the notepad paper with a pencil. This revealed the letters that had been written on top. Sort of the same idea as a leaf rubbing, but in reverse.
The words revealed on the notepad indicated that something could be found on the globe. It took kids a couple minutes to find the globe, where a sticky note had been attached to China, asking kids to look it up in the kid’s section of the library.
Once they got to the kid’s section, an encyclopedia had been pulled from the shelf (the Barefoot Books World Atlas) and displayed prominently on one of the tables. Flipping through it together, families could find a page about Asia and that page contained another clue, asking them to visit the front desk.
At their last stop, the front desk, I gave them a small goodie bag which had a tiny container of bubbles, a pencil, a bookmark, and a coupon for some free breakfast at a local restaurant.
Some families chose to leave after this, but a couple stayed to do an extra activity, which involved searching the catalog. I don’t have a picture of this one, but I explained that every good spy knows how to do her research. The paper I gave kids asked them to look up a kid’s book about spies, flip to the glossary, and write down a word they didn’t know before. If they did this activity, I gave them a sticker, too. You can download the document for this here. (Previewing is disabled for some reason, maybe because it’s a publisher file.)
Most families stayed for around 30 minutes, and I didn’t mind that at all, since I was ready to go home too. I had 16 people turn out for this one, which was about 6 families. MUCH better than last month’s and I only spent a few hours getting it all together.