Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Elf Academy

Every season, my library has hosted some sort of holiday program. For the past few years, we've done a Polar Express program. This year, I decided to try to switch things up and host an Elf Academy. The basic idea is that the kids would complete various elf-themed crafts in order to become Santa's official elves. It was a huge hit! Here's the rundown:

Ages: We opened the program to all ages.

Days/Times: We offered 3 different sessions on consecutive evenings at 7:00 p.m. The program lasted about an hour.

Staff Needed: Me plus another staff member. I also had 2 teen volunteers each night.

Program Outline:

As the families arrived, I had them complete 4 different "Elf Activities". This took about 30 minutes for the majority of the kids to finish all of the crafts.

Elf Activity #1: Elf Hats


You Need:

  • Red poster board headbands
  • Green construction paper triangle "hats"
  • Elf ears (cut out from manila file folders)
  • Pom poms
  • Markers
  • Glue sticks
  • Staplers

All the kids do for this is glue the pom pom to the triangle, the triangle to the headband, and then staple the band to fit the child's head. I let the kids decorate their hats with the markers. I asked them to put their name on the front of the band (so that Santa would know their name).

Elf Activity #2: Reindeer Food

You Need:
  • Rolled oats
  • Birdseed
  • Decorator crystal sprinkles
  • Sandwich baggies
  • The reindeer poem printed on cardstock

Each child takes a baggie and adds a scoop of each ingredient. Place a copy of the poem in the bag at the end and close it up. Easy peasy!

Elf Activity #3: Ornament Creation

I just purchased ornament kits from Oriental Trading. I went with scratch art ornaments this year.


Elf Activity #4: Jingle Bell Bracelets

You Need:
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Jingle bells

Each child took 3 bells and strung them on the pipe cleaner. Then they wrapped it around their wrist and tucked in the ends.


As the kids finished the activities, I had them gather on the other half of the room on the floor, where I read a story. I chose Shhh! by Julie Sykes, which is one of my favorite Santa stories. It's interactive in that you can have the kids say "Shhh" at the right times in the story.



After that, my staff partner sang a fun song with the kids using their bells. 

Ring the Jingle Bells
(Tune: She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain)

We will ring those jingle bells so loud and clear
We will ring those jingle bells so loud and clear
We will hear the dingle, dingle
When they jingle, jingle, jingle
We will ring those jingle bells so loud and clear


We will ring those jingle bells so quietly
We will ring those jingle bells so quietly
We will hear the dingle, dingle
When they jingle, jingle, jingle
We will ring those jingle bells quietly

We will ring those jingle bells so fast and loud
We will ring those jingle bells so fast and loud
We will hear the dingle, dingle
When they jingle, jingle, jingle
We will ring those jingle bells so fast and loud

Then, one of us said something to the effect of "You know...I wonder if something magical will happen if we all shake our bells at the same time together." That ended up being Santa's cue to come out!

We have a fabulous volunteer who dresses up as Santa for us every year. We set out an armchair for him in the corner of the room to sit in while he talks with the kids.

After Santa's comes out, I announce that I'll be splitting the group in half according to last name. Half of the group will visit with Santa and half will decorate sugar cookies and have some hot cocoa. Then they'll switch over to the other group as they finish. Hopefully, this way the kids/parents won't get restless waiting for Santa.

Group #1: Santa
Santa sits in the armchair and greets each child. They can visit for a moment and tell him what they want for Christmas. The parents can take photos and Santa hands off a diploma and mini candy cane to each child for finishing Elf School. My coworker had a clipboard with the certificates and wrote each child's first name in marker as they visited Santa.




Group #2: Cookies and Hot Cocoa

While I read Shhh!, I had the teen volunteers clear off 2 of the craft stations and set up the icing and sprinkles. Before the program began, we had set each sugar cookie on a paper plate and had them on our kitchen counter. This way, kids could take a cookie and then go over to the tables to decorate them. We also had big carafes of hot cocoa. I had 4 carafes each night, which was a good amount for the 100+ people I had at the program.










What I Learned:


  • Originally, I allowed a maximum of 50 children for each session. Because it was so popular, I opened it up to 60 total instead. This ended up being too many people, even though we held the program in our large meeting room. Next year, I would stand firm on 50 and maybe open a 4th session instead.


  • I purchased red and green icing and sprinkles because I was thinking it would be festive, but I had some comments about concerns with the dye in the icing. So next year, I would probably also offer plain white icing.

You can click here to see more photos of the program on our library department's Facebook page!

2 comments:

  1. I also did an Elf program this year, with the popularity of Elf on a Shelf. I had a Pre-K program, and a school age program. Love your ideas, and your name!

    ReplyDelete

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