Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Make new friends with a Stuffed Animal Sleepover!

My library has offered two stuffed animal sleepovers in the past, and they've both been hits. I think the premise works on multiple levels: it's undeniably cute; it responds to children's treatment of their stuffed animals as real; it raises intrigue about what happens in the library after hours; and it offers a slight variation on the usual story time format. All these interesting aspects combined create a fun and unique opportunity for early literacy programming.

I've shared full details of the logistics of this program in my previous two posts--animals dropped off the night before, me running around the library to stage sleepover pics of the animals, pickup at story time the next morning--so head to those posts if you're looking for point by point explanation of how a stuffed animal sleepover works.

Our pick-up story time went without a hitch, with the kids hugging their stuffed friends and listening like doting parents to what their friends did overnight. In our story time, we:

Sang some songs - We started story time with my traditional opening song, "Open, Shut Them." We also sang the "ABC" song because several children, when they dropped off their stuffed animals the night before, said that the "ABC" song was their animals' favorite. Adding little details like this--asking kids what their animals like, then doing those things--adds a whole other level of excitement and engagement in the event.

Read some stories - I shared two stories with the kiddos that I had "shared" with their stuffed animals the night before. We shared Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep by David Melling, as that story humorously deals with sleepovers. We also read Mo Willems's That Is Not a Good Idea!, which I said was the stuffed animals' favorite, and we talked about how what we thought was going to happen in the story isn't what really happened.

Viewed the slideshow of sleepover pics - I used the Haiku Deck app to quickly put together a simple slideshow of the sleepover pics I'd taken on my iPad. Haiku Deck allows creators to share their presentations to the web, which made it very simple for me to email the attending caregivers so they could view the slideshow again at home.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Breakfast snack - I passed around glasses of apple juice and some mini donuts. It's a post-sleepover snack, after all.

Craft time - I stapled together three-page books out of white computer paper and set out lots of stickers and crayons on each craft table. I invited the children to create books about their stuffed friends--about what they liked at the sleepover, about their favorite things to do together, etc. The creativity and thoughtful workmanship that went into these books was beautiful, as the children got very into creating accurate stories about their stuffed animals. At least half of the children wanted to read their stories to me before they left the library, and I was happy to hear them.

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This go-round of the stuffed animal sleepover saw a 50-50 mix of return attendees and new faces. From my perspective, that's a good indicator of a program to keep in mind for continued occasional repetition.


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