Each summer, I both look forward to this super fun program and dread it at the same time (just a teeny tiny little bit -- mostly because of all the advance prep required.) With all the other programs, visits, library work, etc., it can feel like a lot. BUT every year, after the program is over, all I can say is: it is soooo worth it!
So, before the program, I try to be sure to...
-choose some bedtime themed picture books, flannel stories & crafts
-prepare stuffed animal name tags
-advertise the program & register kids (duh)
-print the pages I will give the kids after I attach photos of their stuffed friends
-plan out what kind of poses I will use for the photos & gather any props I need
Sometimes this can feel a little overwhelming!
I set the program time for 6:30 pm so I have plenty of time for setting things up AFTER everyone leaves, which works out great! Everyone started arriving in their pjs, stuffed animals in hand. As usual, we began with some great stories:
Bedtime for Chickies - Trasler (so cute!!!)
Nighty Night Little Green Monster- Emberley (very fun!)
Do Super Heroes Have Teddy Bears? - Coyle (was hoping this would be the perfect combo of our super hero and teddy bear themes but some of the kids seemed kind of bored. might be better with two readers?)
Touch the Brightest Star- Matheson (another interactive title from the author of Tap the Magic Tree. WONDERFUL for bedtime, the kids LOVED it!!! May become an annual part of this program.)
I also sang along to Ellwand's Ten in the Bed. I usually find that throwing in a sing along title can really bring back the kids' attention after a few non-singing picture books. I passed out card stock teddy bears to each child and we rolled our hands & bears when we sang "Roll over! Roll over!" After the book, I invited the kids to bring their bears up to me one color at a time and we tucked them under a scarf and said good night to "all the red (blue, purple, etc...) teddy bears."
Now for the crafts! First, each child made a name tag for their stuffed friend so we'd know who was who AND who belonged to who. I also printed some doorknob hangers for kids to color & cut.
My favorite craft of the night was stuffed animal capes. I really wanted to give this a try but I needed capes that were quick, easy and inexpensive. Every child got a sheet of felt (unless their stuffie was very small-- then we just cut the sheet in half.) I gave everyone foam stickers to decorate the capes while i punched 2 holes in the top corners of each one. we tied a ribbon thru each hole and tied the ribbons together around the neck of the animal. it was super easy and looked amazing!!!
While everyone was finishing up, I read Bed Bugs by David Carter. Then, we tucked all the stuffies under my blanket and sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" together.
Some kids did not want to leave their animals overnight which is perfectly understandable. The ones who stayed had a fun filled night of music and mayhem in the library! I posed everyone in a few shots & uploaded the pics to walgreens.com. I picked them up the next morning on my way to work and popped them into the booklets that I previously printed out. I set everyone up in the program room with a few small prizes and they are ready for pick up right now!
So, another fun program all over until next summer. My favorite parts were the felt cape craft and Touch the Brightest Star book. And once again, it really was all worth it!
P.S. getting great feedback today from all the families picking up stuffed animals! one mom told me that last night her daughter actually thanked her for registering them for the program (-: