One of the goals in our Youth Services Programming Plan this year was to add some more programming for the dreaded tween population (they’re not really dreaded, but what do you CALL the kids ages 10-12?). My library has tried programming for kids who aren’t quite teens before in all kinds of ways, but it never took off. Or, it would take off for a while, and then the numbers would quickly dwindle to 1 or 2 kids a week. All our previous efforts, though, were on Saturday afternoons, which are a pretty busy time for lots of families. Realizing we had a huge audience already using the libraries on weekday afternoons right after school, I wanted to try launching some programs during that time for kids ages 8-12. After seeing a post on Art Afternoons over at Library as Incubator Project, I knew I wanted to brazenly rip it off.
I even settled on one of the artists mentioned in the post for a nice, easy start: Eric Carle. To prepare, I threw together a quick slideshow that featured some examples of Eric Carle’s work, a video of Carle working, and a short definition and history of collage. I also posed the following questions on the last slide:
What do you want your collage to look like? Take a few minutes to sketch out your animal or bug before you start cutting. Remember that big, simple shapes will be the easiest to cut out.
What colors do you want to use? Do you want to make a realistic-looking brown dog? Or a fantastical purple elephant?
How do the different layers of paper change each other? Can you put two different colored papers on top of each other to make a new paper?
What textures do you want to use? What happens if you rip your paper instead of cutting it? What happens if you wrinkle your paper up a little while the glue is still wet?
Because I wanted this program to be a fun and focused experience for our young artists, we requested that people register and capped registration at 30. By program day, all 30 spots were filled and there was a waitlist of five people.
On the day of the program I set up three rows of three tables each, and set out thirty chairs. I also set out a row of chairs in the back for parents who wanted to stay. Each table was covered with our trusty tablecloths, and I set up two tables along the side of the room for supplies. One table held every kind of tissue paper I could find in our craft closet, and the other held scissors, plates with glue, brushes, and big sheets of construction paper.
As kids arrived, my co-worker and I checked them in. Although 30 people had registered, we had about 20 kids show up. Because our registration form requires kid’s ages, we actually had a full group of kids in the specified age range, which is pretty cool! Our librarian who focuses on younger kids will be doing a session of the program with the same artists for the under 7 set later this week, which helped prevent little bitties from joining us for our more intense session. Parents were invited to wait in the back of the room or browse for books in the rest of the library.
Once the time for the program to roll around started, I introduced myself and welcomed everyone. I read The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse to the crowd, making sure to take time on each page to point out different techniques Carle used and give people plenty of time to see the art. After I was done reading, I showed my slideshow. I was really impressed by how well the kids paid attention.
After the slideshow, I passed out scrap paper and pencils to everyone and invited them to sketch out what they wanted to make before they started. I let each table go to the supply table and pick out what they wanted one at a time, to prevent a mad dash and pandemonium. Once everyone had their supplies, kids could go back to get more paper as many times as they wanted.
This program was a great success! People were already asking about next month, and the art these kids made was incredible! The kids were a joy to work with, and it was practically free. We had tons of tissue paper, glue, and scissors on hand, so it was a good stash buster activity, too.
Next month, we’ll be doing scratchboard art. I’m still debating whether I’ll have teen volunteers make the scratchboards or if we’ll buy kids. Either way, be sure to check back soon for another episode of Hushlander brazenly copies a library program to great success!