I think Christmas cookies are one of the simple pleasures of the season. Last year I had vowed to have a bigger and better cookie decorating program and I think I can say that I am very happy with the turnout for this year. One key thing was filling wilton bottles with icing in different colors and putting them at each table. The bottles made it a lot easier and less messy to apply the frosting and I didn’t have to worry about knives either. I also put plastic shot glasses of different sprinkles and such at each table and the “special” toppings (aka the edible glitter) at the front table where I had one of the shelver stationed to guard the cookies.
Continuing with the Polar Express theme we did gingerbread trains made from this cookie cutter I found on amazon. I had each family pick up one train kit ass they came in and I had an example put together at the front of the room. I would say 1/3rd of the families skipped assembling the train and just decorated it flat.
I also gave each family 3 “cookie tickets” per person that I had printed on bright yellow paper. People could come up and turn in ticket for a cookie to decorate at their own pace. This really did help to pace the kids so they took a little longer and it helped because they had more choice on what cookies they were picking. I believe this year I made trees, stars, snowflakes, candy canes, stockings, and gingerbread men.
One thing to consider next year is more plates. I really thought people would decorate more than one cookie per plate, but most kids wanted a plate for each cookie, so I ended up running out. Also more tween/teens were signed up for this than normal so maybe I will consider a separate session for older kids or even adults.
Registrations: 50 (maxed out) but there was more interest if I had more room
Activity: Gingerbread Trains
Activity: Cookie Decorating
For the Christmas Workshop I wanted to try something a little different. I couldn’t decide on one Christmas craft that I wanted to do with potentially 50 people so I thought of setting up different stations where patrons could self-direct what they wanted to do.
I pushed a few tables together for each station so that 10-12 people could work on one thing at a time.
Fingerprint Christmas Light Cards
It wouldn’t be a cool program if I didn’t do something messy. And of course, messy activities are the most popular. I printed out some cards with a template of Christmas light cord as a border. The kids had stickers and such to decorate the inside of the card. Then I set out a few colors of finger paint so they could use their fingerprints to recreate the lights on the border.
Tissue Paper Water Art
This was one of the most popular activities and it is pretty simple. I gave each kid a small piece of watercolor paper and they got to draw on the paper with a black sharpie marker. Most kids drew snowflakes or snowmen. Then you brush water onto the paper and apply small pieces of tissue paper to the watercolor paper. I only put out shades of blue, pink, and purple. When the paper dried you peel the tissue off and the color from the tissue transfers to the watercolor paper to make some beautiful art.
This was probably the weakest activity, though I still ran out of supplies. I put out a bunch of blank gingerbread templates, white circles, and yarn. The idea was to decorate the blank gingerbread man, some peppermint candies, and make a banner by taping them to the yarn. A lot of kids wanted to do enough to represent their whole family.
Embossed Foil Snowflakes
To make embossed snowflakes I used some of the leftover embossing foil from the Hispanic Heritage Craft and cut it into large circles and punched a hole in the top. The kids used some leftover toothpicks to emboss a snowflake design into the foil and then picked out a ribbon to thread and hang their ornament.
Registrations: 50 (max)
Station: Fingerprint Christmas Light Cards
Station: Tissue Paper Water Art
Station: Gingerbread Banners
Station: Embossed Foil Snowflakes
I happened to know there was a sing-a-long version of Frozen because I went with my friends to the theater to watch it. As Frozen is still quite popular I scheduled our movie night to show the Frozen Sing-a-Long and I borrowed an Anna and Elsa standee to advertise it.
One of the shelvers helped me set up the standees and the photo background and was gracious enough to let me test it with her picture.
On the day of the movie I set up a little photo background so the participants could take a photo with the princesses if they wanted. This was one of the better attended movie nights, which I usually don’t write up because there is not that much to say about serving popcorn and watching a movie.
Hour of Code 2015
Minecraft is super popular with kids and if I thought I could install minecraft EDU on our work computers I would do it to have some more educational computer type classes for the kids. Unfortunately that is not an option so instead I advertised running the minecraft-themed hour of code on code.org. This is an introduction to logic and computer programming basics so you do not need to have any coding experience. The program runs on the code.org website and each participant can move at their own pace. You really don’t have to do anything other than walk around and help a kid if they seem to be stuck. The tutorial progresses in a series of puzzles with the new puzzle building on the skills of the last.
I hope you will check out the code.org website for more information but here is their brief explanation of the hour of code.
“The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. Check out the tutorials and activities. This grassroots campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide.”
I had quite a few people signed up, though I only have a few spots because we only have a handful of laptops for computer classes. Only 3 people showed up for the program but they did complete the tutorial and earned their hour of code certificate.
2015 Attendance: 3
Hour of Code 2016
For 2016 I advertised the hour of code more heavily as there were now more tutorials on code.org including a new minecraft, Frozen, and Star Wars. I increased the number of registration spots this year as the website actually encourages partnering kids together and was at capacity pretty quickly. But the day of the program I had two parent call to say their students were sick, and everyone else was a no show. I think I might try to incorporate the code.org tutorials into the maker programming I want to do instead of (or possibly in addition to) the one day event. I think December might just be too hard for my patrons to commit to.
2016 Attendance: 0