|Our themed projectiles.|
Haha. Oh, no.
|The building supplies.|
I had the best of intentions of making the STEAM elements of this program explicit in my program introduction: I mentioned the engineering inherent in building towers, the science of projectiles, the creativity of making crazy structures. I had the kids' attention for maybe five minutes before their pent-up energy demanded they be allowed to construct and destroy.
Our 45 minute program featured rapid cycles of tower-building and destruction. I initially encouraged the children to form small groups to create small towers; once they were satisfied with their towers, they worked together to project an Angry Bird at it to knock it down. I then encouraged them to pair with another group to try to build a larger, more structurally sound tower that wouldn't be knocked over by just one projectile. They happily obliged, building structures with solid foundations, but soon the cheers accompanying the destruction overshadowed most of my attempts to provide further guidance. They were having fun, though, so I didn't worry.
Finally, with just eight minutes left in the program, I shouted out the final instructions: children would form a total of three teams, and each team would strive to build the tallest, strongest tower. Then we'd all watch the demolition efforts together. All three groups made massive towers that touched the ceiling tiles--parents put small children on their shoulders to get the final pieces atop the towers. I was impressed by the dedication to the challenge.
The children gathered to watch the destruction of the first tall tower--then cheers. The children moved to the second tall tower to watch its fall--more cheers. But then...
The next thing I saw was a room full of maniacally laughing children, pieces of recyclables scattered at their feet, holding bits of cardboard and styrofoam over their heads and tearing them to tiny pieces. Total chaos, yet total joy. So many smiles as families left. So much vacuuming after they were gone.
So I would say, librarian friends, that in my experience an Angry Birds program is not for the faint of heart, especially in the winter. If you aim to offer one, look to those bloggers linked in the intro who seemed to have a calmer time of it. Yet all the mayhem of that evening was worth it, especially when a few kids stopped by the next day to say how much fun it was to build things at the library. It just goes to show that the things you build needn't be permanent for the enjoyment and informal learning to last.