Sunday, March 30, 2014

No Vets Required: Host a Stuffed Animal Pet Show!

A few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, I decided to host a Stuffed Animal Pet Show at my library for all ages. It was a lot of prep beforehand and a bit of a learning experience though overall, I would call it a success.

I required registration for this program so that I would know how much of the craft/snack items I should prepare. Thirty-six children registered for the program and 25 showed up. The entire program took about an hour.

As the children came in with their pets, I wrote down their name/pet's name on a registration sheet. Then I gave the child a sticky name tag with a number on it and their pet received a cardstock tag/safety pin with that corresponding number. The hope was that I was preventing any stuffed pet/child mix-ups.

Then I directed them to the 3 different craft stations:

1. Pet Collar Craft: I cut out collars from 9" x 12" craft foam sheets ahead of time. My collars were 9" long and 1 1/2" wide which seemed to be a good size for most of the stuffed animals. I also pre hole-punched them for the tag and yarn ties. But just in case, I left out safety scissors and hole punches on the tables so that the parents could alter the size of the collar as needed.

I set out foam stickers, jewels, and glue to decorate the collars. I also printed out hexagonal name tags/pipe cleaner pieces/markers for the kids to attach to the collar.

2. Grooming Station: I went to the Dollar Store and purchased cheap comb/mirror sets and several different kinds of hair accessories. The kids could stop here and make their pets runway ready before the show. This station was a big hit and some of them literally loaded up their pets with accessories!

3. Pet Runway Information: To better help me during the runway show, I asked that each child fill out a sheet for the runway show with the following information:

  • Pet's Name/Number
  • Child's Name
  • One Fun Fact About the Pet

After about 30 minutes of doing the crafts, I gathered all the kids to the center of the room to dance along to the song "Dance With Your Teddy Bear" by Greg & Steve from Jumpin' and Jammin'.

Then it was time for the runway show! I had set up half of the room with rows of chairs and a runway area. I had the families take a seat here and called them up by number (i.e. kids with the number 1 through 10). I put on some Kidz Bop music in the background to dance down the runway to and I used a microphone to announce the child, pet, and the fun fact about the pet as they strutted down the aisle. I found that most kids just ran down the aisle instead of strut, so it was difficult to get good photos of this portion of the program! I also didn't force any child to walk the runway that didn't want to.

After the runway show, it was time for me to make up the certificates. While I was doing that, I had 2 different stations: cookie decorating and a coloring sheet. 

I found a cute paw print cookie cutter on Amazon and decided to make homemade sugar cookies. Next time, I would probably use a smaller cookie cutter and I had to make 50 cookies and therefore when through a LOT of dough!

As each child picked up a cookie, they took it over to the decorating station where I had orange, yellow, and blue icing and sprinkles. I also provided apple juice for a beverage in a small attempt to make the snack healthy.

Then if they finished their snack early they could go color a teddy bear coloring sheet that I found online.

For the certificates, I made sure that each child's pet won in a certain category. I made up my certificate on Publisher.

Here are some of the categories. I had some written out ahead of time, but most I made up on the spot as I saw the variety of pets:

  • Cleanest Pet
  • Best Teeth
  • Best Accessories
  • Best Dressed
  • Grooviest Pet
  • Largest Pet
  • Smallest Pet
  • Best Hairdo
  • Pinkest Pet
  • Most Well-Loved Pet (this one went to a stuffed animal with one eye missing)
  • Longest Tail
  • Best Spots
  • Most Unusual Pet
After I had written out all of the certificates, I called everyone over to announce the winners. As I called them up, I handed them their pet/certificate and everyone applauded. The kids really seemed to enjoy this part.

What I Would Do Differently:

While the kids/parents all seemed to have a good time, it was my first time doing this program so it was a learning experience for me. 

1. The next time I would have another staff member with me the entire program. For most of the time, it was just me and the families and I wished I would have had another set of hands to help me. I would have had them help with the cookie decorating while I wrote out certificates and maybe take photos of the kids/pets as they received them. 

2. I would also maybe have a second involved craft, like the collars, at the beginning. I found a lot of families were done with the crafts not too far into the program and I slightly worried about them becoming bored. 

3. I had the kids line up their pets on the floor along the wall for me after the runway show so I could make up the certificates. What I found was that a lot of the kids wanted to sit there to enjoy their cookies and got a bit in my way as I was crawling around on the floor. The next time, I would set up tables for the stuffed pets to be displayed instead.

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