Monday, August 3, 2015

9 Weeks of Pop-Up Programming for Summer

This summer, we offered weekly pop-up programs in the main entryway to the youth services department at my library. We changed up the activities each week and harnessed the power of summer teen volunteers to keep the pop-ups running smoothly. Full details ahead!


What activities did we offer?
Over the course of our 9-week summer reading program, we offered the following activities:
  • Monster page-corner bookmarks
  • Catapults
  • Card Making
    • Materials: assorted colors paper and card stock, assorted die cuts, markers, glue sticks, and joke books
    • How-to: Invite kids to make cards for time-appropriate occasions; for us, that was Father's Day and/or graduations. We also had plenty of joke books on hand for kids who wanted to just make "anytime cards."
  • Fingerprint Art
  • Origami Dinosaurs
  • Balloon Rockets
  • Postcard to an Author/Book Character
    • Materials: postcard-sized paper and markers
    • How-to: Encourage kids to write a postcard to their favorite author or book character. If you're able to, take photos of the kids' cards and tweet them at the authors and/or publishing houses.
  • Planet Buttons
    • Materials: button maker with appropriate button-making tools and materials as well as images of the planets sized to fit the button maker
    • How-to: Encourage kids to choose their favorite planet (we did this activity to celebrate New Horizons and the first clear photos of Pluto) and then make a button to share it proudly.
  • Optical Illustions

When did pop-ups take place?
Based on the calendar of scheduled programs and a rough guess at general patterns of foot traffic in the summer, we opted to offer pop-up programs on Thursday afternoons for approximately 90 minutes. After a few weeks of running the pop-ups from 4-5:30, with seriously dwindling numbers for the last half hour, we adjusted the time to 3:30-5 p.m.

Who ran the pop-up programs?
While I (or another staff member, the week I was out of town) was present in the youth department for the duration of the pop-up programs, a team of teen volunteers actually facilitated the pop-up activities from start to finish. I had a team of 5 teens who took turns rotating roles: one would be designated in-charge; one would make sure to take count of participants; one would move about the department to alert kids and families that an activity was taking place; and everyone would assist kids in completing the activity.

Who was the target audience for the pop-ups?
We wanted to offer activities that were accessible to children ranging in age from preschool through early junior high. Recognizing that that is a really huge range in age and ability, the litmus test for a program activity was whether a first grader might be able to complete the activity on their own/with little mediation. The volunteers were more than happy to assist kids who needed it, but we didn't want activities to be frustratingly complicated.

How were the pop-up activities received?
Really well! While there were some fluctuations in the number of attendees from week to week, we had a solid number of participants for every activity, and always a handful of kids at minimum who expressed really enjoying the activities.

Would we offer summer pop-ups again?
You bet! For next summer, I'll be considering not only what activities might be well suited to pop-up times, but also the best possible strategies for staffing them (volunteers? or part-time programming staff who can spend some work time making activities as well as leading them?) and when we offer them (scheduled? or truly pop-up, when we see lots of bodies in the department but no program on the calendar?). Lots to think about, including potential implications for school-year pop-ups.

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What have been your most successful pop-up programs and activities for kids?


4 comments:

  1. Amy, you say " For next summer, I'll be considering not only what activities might be well suited to pop-up times, but also the best possible strategies for staffing them (volunteers? or part-time programming staff who can spend some work time making activities as well as leading them?)." Did the teens not work as well as you had hoped, or were you looking for additions to them? The reason I ask is that I thought it would be a good suggestions to make for volunteer teens we get in the summer, unless it didn't work well for you?

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    1. This method of doing pop-up programming worked quite well. If I modify anything, it will be to add the possibility of being flexible with when the pop-up programs happen. With volunteers, I have to tell them in advance when to be in the library to help out. With part-time programming staff, who are in the library much more frequently and at different times, I can empower them to feel comfortable grabbing a pop-up activity any time they see a crowd of kids in the library with no formal program on the schedule. Volunteers would bring the consistency, and part-time staff would bring an element of meeting unexpected demand as it rises. I think some combination of the two would be ideal, but working strictly with volunteers was certainly excellent.

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  2. I just stumbled upon your blog. I love the ideas you have! As an Exceptional Children's teacher, I think incorporating pop-ups in my reading classes would be great for my struggling readers. Love your creativity!

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  3. We did this too! Science experiments were another popular one for us and seemed to fit the model well. Thanks for the ideas!

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