During the first week of our summer learning program, we hosted a Superhero Training Camp in our kids’ library for kids 11 and under. About 30 people came to experiment, fly, design and maneuver. With three adults and my daughter, we offered nine stations. Families explored them at their won pace over an hour and everyone left with smiles. I finally got a chance to show off my cape and my illuminated mask! (The mask was a Tinker Tuesday program project using conductive thread). A reporter from one of the local newspapers stopped by and wrote an article about our Summer@HPL program.
A quick note about the stations- all of the materials for this program cost about $55. I scavenged many of the weird materials and had others on hand.
Spider Science (in honor of Spiderman)
This may remind you of the classic volcano experiment. Kids also were familiar with the bubbling volcano which helped them hypothesize about what was happening. I made 8 baking soda spiders out of baking soda, water, liquid watercolor and colored pipe cleaners the night before so they were frozen when the camp began. The spider thaws as it reacts with the vinegar. (Source: Fun at Home With Kids via What Do We Do All Day? which has a nice post about superhero science projects.)
- Baking soda spiders (made the night before)
- Rubber totes (We used 2 and had the spiders reacting at alternating times)
- Vinegar (Because of the tote size we used quite a bit. For 8 spiders we used 3 large bottles of vinegar.)
- Liquid Watercolor (darker colors worked the best.)
- Dish soap (Just a few drops is needed for each spider.)
We strung green yarn between two of the stacks in the kids’ library. The idea is for kids to maneuver their bodies down the row over and under without touching the yarn. Small bells on the yarn let kids know if they touched it and when they heard the sound they instantly returned to the start for another try! My Summer@HPL assistant worked at this station and started with a simple course, gradually adding more yarn as kids mastered the course. This was a popular station and some kids spent the whole hour here.
- Masking tape
At this station I had some fake weights for kids to lift. From afar, many of the kids thought they were real and were surprised to find they were easy to lift, even for the younger ones. What a great opportunity to talk about mass! The large “weight” was made with blue board (sprayed black) and a dowel. I glued the “weights” on to the dowel so they would stay put with the all of th rough housing. The smaller weight was made with a smaller dowel and two styrofoam balls sprayed black. I also glued these “weights” on to the dowel. I needed these weights to last an hour and they did, with just a bit of life to spare!
- wood dowels (two different diameters)
- 2 large styrofoam balls
- black spray paint
- Apple slices
- Cheese cubes
- Water pitcher and cups
- Red paper for table
I offered two different costume crafts to get our little superheroes outfitted. The mask template I found online at First Palette last Halloween and the wrist cuff idea I adapted from the blog Piper Loves the Library. These two stations were right next to each other so my daughter, who is quite crafty and works well with kids, could oversee them both. Several kids spent the entire hour moving between the three crafts.
- Masks on cardstock (cut out before event)
- Yarn (to tie the masks)
- Markers and crayons
- Sparkly decorations
- Colored pencils
Wrist Cuff Materials:
- Coffee cup sleeves (50 were donated by two coffee shops, but we only used about 30)
- Construction paper to cover the sleeves
- Tacky glue
- Letter or star stickers
- Plain paper for designing own emblems
I found this superhero paper doll template and thought it would be a nice addition to the program. I printed out templates on yardstick and put them on a table with the usual supplies plus brass fasteners to attach the limbs and a variety of scrapbook paper for some fun color. The superhero was easily customized.
- Superhero doll template on cardstock
- Markers, crayons and colored pencils
- Brass fasteners
- Yarn (for hair)
- Scrapbook paper in a variety of patterns
Without the lovely young woman who was hired as a Summer@HPL assistant, I could not have pulled off the backdrop for the photo booth! It took a couple of hours to design, cut and glue. I saw this on a Storytime Underground Facebook conversation and knew we had to have a photo booth like this one!
Kids laid down on the backdrop so it appeared as if their were flying over the buildings. The tie dye cape is something we made at home a couple of years ago and was one of a few props we had on hand for booth. Most kids had made a mask by the time they came to this station and wore if for the photo. Caregivers took photos if they had a camera/phone or we sent a photo to them.
- Backdrop for floor (made in advance)
- Superhero Signs (words like Pow! attached to craft sticks)
- Capes (made out of sheets, etc.)
Leap Over a Tall Building
I found some cardboard boxes and we covered them with the paper used for bulletin boards. The boxes were a huge hit both as hurdles and stacked as a singular building which was punched with superhero fists over and over again.
- Cardboard boxes in various sizes
Kryptonite Sensory Play
Green painted rocks were buried in rubber tote of beans and our little superheroes used their hands and x-ray vision to find the kryptonite. This was another idea from the Storytime Underground Facebook conversation.
Thanks to all of the librarians who shared their ideas!