Tuesday, May 5, 2020

"Grab-&-Go" Activity Kit Ideas

Looking for content to put inside “grab-&-go,” "take-&-make” and other activity bags for kids and families? Thanks to Erin Isabell, Youth Services Manager, Platteville (WI) Public Library who asked the original question on pubyac listserv and of her cohort colleagues from the WI 2019 Youth Services Development Institute, we have the following kit ideas. The ideas have been slightly edited for brevity.


Image by Trang Le from Pixabay


Recipes for simple things to make at home- clay, ooze, edible playdough, etc.
Puppets from bags or paper or socks
Beaded bracelets
Color your own bookmark or finger puppet
Simple paper folding craft
Button spinners and other old fashioned easy to make toys
Coffee filter or tissue paper flowers


We have not reopened yet but all of our in-person programs have been canceled through the summer. Since we’ll have access to printers again, I’m thinking about printable activities that we can send them home with. Maybe a community or nature or book themed bingo sheet. Or a craft from the CSLP Pinterest page that we can have printed on cardstock for them. We’re also floating the idea of allowing materials for an activity like making salt dough to be picked up during a certain time frame. Then we could do a Zoom meeting to make and share all together or maybe an instructional video on social media? But we think that raw materials might be cheaper since we’ll now need to buy plastic baggies!

We are going to put ziploc bags with a craft, written instructions, and a URL (for video instructions) and hand these out to patrons that are checking out kids books. We will have everything prepackaged and ready for those doing the curbside service. They will just pick 3-4 (depends on #of kids) prepackaged baggies and put them into the bag with the books.

The first five weeks of our SRP are going to be “Story a Week” bags with activities inside based around a story.  For example, for “Jack and the Beanstalk,” we will include the supplies to grow their own bean in a plastic bag and stick puppets to make at home.    We will be asking for registrations just to get a beginning head count to have (hopefully) enough bags to begin the program. 

Before our library closed, I went through my filing cabinets where I store leftover pieces of papercrafts and bagged the pieces with instructions in ziplocs for patrons to take.  When we closed, I took those and more to a local restaurant that was giving out free lunches to children during the week and they were able to give out most of them.  I kept it as simple as possible, so that the supplies required would be relatively simple to come by at home -- coloring supplies, glue sticks, scissors, tape.  I also grabbed any "ready made" kits I could find where even these supplies weren't needed.  I also created a pair of activity packs, trying to think of activities that could be completed by a variety of ages in a variety of home situations.  Many of our simple crafts can be found on our library's Pinterest.  

Our make and take bags will be available for pickup with curbside pickup, limiting one per family. We are using paper lunch bags and providing supplies so one week we give them markers, stickers, a slap bracelet, straws, cotton balls, beads and make a collage. Another week I am going to put paint (2 colors) in a small container and include a marble so they can do marble painting (put dabs of color on paper inside a box and have the marble roll through it to make art). I was also thinking using water beads, having them plant grass in a cup so they can cut it with scissors and such.   When we call patrons to set up a time for them to pick up their books, I will be asking if they would like a craft bag for themselves or for them to share.

We are doing "Take and Make" to-go craft programs through at least the month of June, preparing and bagging them in advance for patrons to pick up. We picked out crafts based on the theme for CSLP. Here are some the ideas we are doing: Dragon Windsock   Dancing Dragon (and this link)  Jack’s Beanstalk  Wolf and Pig Craft Stick Craft

I found this great solar system coloring book and facts book a few months ago when I was doing a big astronomy themed program. But I needed to remake it somewhat in order for it to be easy to print the 100 copies I needed, in the format I wanted (double-sided and folded in the middle). I cut out each page and put them together, turned them around, whatever was necessary to make the final product more book like. Here is the finished printable book. Some pages will look upside-down in the PDF -- they're supposed to! Print it out exactly like that and photocopy it double-sided in your copier's Automatic Document Feeder. Then your pages will match up properly so you can stack them and fold them and staple them.

We've been putting together ideas for "brown bag" programs for summer. The idea is to match up virtual book titles with activities with an easy craft idea. One idea is to read Paul Galdone’s Little Red Hen through Youtube and then in the brown bag have a few seeds with a peat pod for kids to grow at home. We decided on marigolds because they grow fast. We put together a growth chart - have the kids write or draw the growth they see about every other day, a sequence story retell, with a some songs. We also will be passing along some mask ideas for kids to print out and act out the story. We simply are encouraging exploring Jan Brett's masks for other stories because they are so cool. Kids might end up exploring her stories too, but you can use one character from one story to be in another story. It goes with the "imagine' theme this year and ties in a classic story with stuff we can give them and things they might have at home (we did get permission). We've also put together other ideas - like stacked structure art ideas - taking recycled cardboard and stacking it up and make a cool sculpture out of it. It's a matter of taking what you might do in-house and simplifying. What can they use at home and what can you give them with instructions? With this, we're giving them some clay to anchor a chopstick to kind of thread the cardboard on. In the instructions there are ideas of things to look for around the house to use, along with step by step.
Have fun! 

My library, though closed to the public, has continued to have rotating staff in the building with ongoing curbside pick-ups with flexible return dates.  In addition, our Children's Department staff have done several "passive crafts" or bagged activities that families can drive up and take home (one per child).  We have done some passive take-home activities/crafts during our regular operating days, so this was an extension of that and seemed to make sense for our community (where a lot of families are impacted by the 'digital divide').  When we do a take-home activity, we literally put them in labeled brown lunch bags, and include all of the materials that a child will need to complete the task (with an exception for something like a pair of scissors).  We basically let our supplies dictate our bags. We had a bunch of yarn, and I do a lot of science at my library, so thus far during Covid19, we have prepared the following take-homes for our families:
Our families have been incredibly appreciative, and the bags go like hot cakes! (We usually do about 30 or so in a batch).

We are going to have kits for them to come pick up before the program that have everything that they will need, then do everything together on Zoom. The goal is to make it as much of a normal program as possible with icebreakers (Harry Potter and Disney Would You Rather!), Madlibs, or a book reading for older kids. Each of our branches will be doing one specific program three times a week to include as many as possible. Since we are doing Zoom, we are able to accommodate more participants, so that's one bright side!


Links to YSS COVID-19 series:
Online Storytimes
SLP & Programming Resources
Re-Opening and Safety Issues
Permissions (Books, Authors and Music)
      Music Permissions? Look No Further  3/27/20; updated 3/31/20
Professional Development
Kids Resources
WI Online Program Data
Friday FAQs with Tessa Michaelson Schmidt
4/10/20 recording       4/17/20 recording          4/24/20 recording        5/1/20 recording               5/8/20 recording
Taking Care of You

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