"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

15 December 2016

Star Wars Programming Jedi Training Camp

This year I was able to hold a Jedi Training Camp at my library. We did this in early December before the release of the newest Star Wars movie. I knew people would be thinking about and talking about Star Wars this December, so I planned this event even though there are lots of holiday-related things going on in the community.

Several months before this program, I contacted the 501st Legion to see if they could attend my event. The 501st is a group of adults who have movie-quality Star Wars costumes that they wear to parades, library events, etc. Their time is valuable, though, so I wanted to make sure to get my request in before they were booked.

The program itself cost very little. We used black butcher paper and some gold-foil stars that we already had to make a backdrop for a photo booth area. We also displayed our Star Wars books (all of which were checked out by the end of the day) and had a Star Wars themed scavenger hunt. I regularly do scavenger hunts in my library, so none of this was that unusual. A volunteer made giant origami Star Wars ships, which we hung from the ceiling. He also made us a giant origami Jabba, which we placed in the entryway. Again, none of this cost us anything - we just used materials we already had around.

For the day of the event, I cut pool noodles in half so that kids could make light sabers out of them. We wrapped one end of the pool noodle in grey duct tape to make a hilt, then I provided colored duct tape and electrical tape for kids to customize their hilt. I spent maybe half an hour cutting pool noodles in preparation for this event, and we bought the pool noodles at the end of summer when they were on clearance at the dollar store, so we were able to get two full boxes of pool noodles for about $12. We already had duct tape on hand for teen programming, so I didn't need to purchase any more.

I also created a "training course" for the kids to go through once they made their light saber. I used materials we already had in the library and didn't purchase anything special. First, kids had to walk across a series of boards single file, as that's the way that sand people walk. Then they had to crawl through the trash compactor - this was an area of our library that I filled with crumpled paper, balls from our toy collection, paper cups, and building blocks. I even threw in a monster puppet to be the trash monster. After getting out of the trash compactor, kids crawled through a tunnel to Yoda's Hut. I used the play tunnel we pull out during baby story time for this. Then they hopped on paper "rocks" I had taped to the ground so they could get out of the swamp. Finally, it was time to destroy the Death Star. The Death Star was a giant piece of cardboard cut in a circle and covered in grey paper. We cut a hole in it and kids threw beanbag "thermal detonators" at it to destroy the Death Star.

This is our trash compactor.

Combine the obstacle course with the light sabers and the addition of the 501st Legion, and we had a very successful program. Saturday mornings are usually very quiet for us, but our library was packed to the gills and everyone had a great time.

I highly recommend doing Star Wars themed programming, and doing so without purchasing a ton of supplies. Kids have great imaginations and are very happy with simple things. With a bit of creative thinking, you can turn your library into a training camp as well.

Even our visiting Jedi tried to destroy the Death Star.

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