Solar Oven S’mores

Solar Oven S'Mores.jpg

Wow, it’s been such a long time since I’ve done a children’s program! I’ve been working the past year in a management position – so I’ve PLANNED programs, but haven’t delivered any.  In my current position, I’m back to doing children and teen programming. (YAY!)  Here’s a program that I piggy-backed off of one of my staff who did this last year. Solar oven s’mores!

Age: 9 to 12 years of age first group; 5 to 12 years of age* for the second group

  • *I would definitely suggest doing this program with the older kids from 8 to 12 years of age. The second group of kids – I had a few 5 or 6 year olds and they needed a lot of hands on. If you’re doing it with some younger kids, make sure you have 1 or 2 helpers in the room with you.


  • Pizza boxes (If you’re in Canada, go to Wholesale Club 50 pizza boxes for $20!) otherwise, ask your local pizza place for some donated boxes
  • Tin Foil
  • Black construction paper
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Wooden dowel
  • Markers or paint
  • Glue
  • S’mores kit 

This program cost me around $30.00 – including the S’mores Kit. It equals out to about $1.50 to $1.60 per child.


Always begin the program off with a lesson. Ask the kids some questions like:

  • What are some types of energy? (Heat, light, electricity, mechanical (moving), gravity, solar, chemical)
  • What type of energy does the sun give us? (Light)
  • Why do we need light? (to see; to heat things)
  • What are some ways that we cook food? (stove, oven, microwave)

I gave them a piece of paper and asked them to draw a pizza box and asked them to label where the tin foil would go, where the black construction paper would go and where the plastic wrap would go.

We then discussed how the oven works. What does the tin foil do? (reflects the sun)  What does the black paper do? (absorbs the light)  What does the plastic wrap for? (insulation so the heat doesn’t come out).

Then we began making the solar oven. For the instructions, please visit Steve Spangler Science

I would suggest that you cut out the tops BEFORE you hand them out to the kids.

Solar Oven S'Mores.png3.png

Amazing Race: Library Edition

Amazing Race: Library Edition is a program that I’ve ran twice before. It always brings out a huge crowd – and for those of us who have a small budget – it’s a great program to run!

For those of you who are not familiar with the show, teams race around the world completing challenges. The team that completes the challenges in the least amount of time, wins the race.

If you’re running this program in the library, the best way to do it is have the teams travel to continents: Europe, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, South America, North America.

Teams are given either a Detour challenge or a Road Block. In a Detour Challenge, teams have a choice of completing one out of two challenges. In the Road Block, teams have to complete that challenge.


I had four teams: Red, Yellow, Orange, and Green. One member was the “team captain” – and they were in charge of running the challenges to the pit stop and back (so there wasn’t a huge crowd). If teams got a challenge wrong, they were sent back to try again.

I wouldn’t do this program with anyone younger than 8 years of age.


Amazing Race - Envelopes

Download the template for envelopes here

I printed these on colored paper (don’t have a coloured printer here) and then glued them onto envelopes.


Amazing Race - Playing Cards

Download the game cards here

Road Block: In this roadblock one member of the team will draw their own version of a famous painting. I used Mona Lisa.

Detour: in this detour, teams will have a choice of making one origami butterfly or Chinese lantern for every person in their team.

Road Block: In this roadblock, one member of the team will participate in a boomerang toss. You will have to decorate a boomerang and toss it into the box.

Amazing Race - Boomerang Toss

Detour: In this detour, teams will have a choice between completing a cool quiz or an Antarctica Word Search

Road Block: In this roadblock, team will have to complete an African animal which is which quiz

South America
Road Block: In this roadblock, one member of the team will participate in a game called Canica. The goal is to shoot marbles into the doors of a shoebox. Each door has a number telling you how many points you earn if the marble goes into that door. Earn 10 points to get past the roadblock.

Amazing Race - Canica

North America
Detour: In this detour, teams will have one choice between creating ONE totem pole bookmark for everyone in the group OR completing a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet about North American landmarks.

Final Challenge
Label a map with all the continents that your team has visited.

Spy Camp

A mysterious detective dropped off some secret case files and it’s up to us to uncover the mystery! Learn how to be a secret agent by using some sneaky spy tactics.

Spy camp is now my favourite program to run. It was a sold out crowd on a Saturday for kids – I mean Agents- aged 8-12. I wouldn’t recommend this program to be done with anyone younger. They need to be able to problem solve at a high level.

Program Delivery

Spy Code of Conduct

Spy Code of Conduct

When the Agents arrived for training, I took their names as a form of security clearance. I assigned them an agent number  and they were given their badge. The badge had the Spy Code of Conduct on the back. I used the code of conduct from S.P.Y. Camp Sustainable Planning for Youth.

Once we recited the Spy Code of Conduct, we then moved on to cracking codes. I found a template for a cipher, or a decoder, and my lovely page assembled them for me.

And here comes the dramatic part…

Urgetn Pakckage

I had my circulation staff bring in a package with the case files inside. The agents had to solve the mystery!

I instructed my circulation staff to interrupt the Spy Camp with a mysterious package that had been delivered to the circulation desk. She said, “Sorry to interrupt, but this urgent package was delivered to the desk. I didn’t see who it was, they were in and out, but they need you to look at it immediately.”

Inside the package was a note from Detective Dalton. There was a bank robbery at Bruce Spruce Falls Bank and Detective Dalton needed the Agents to help him solve the mystery.

I separated the Agents into four groups. They were each given Dalton’s letter, a bag of mixed up clues, Case Report Analysis, and Suspect list.

Case Files

Case Files

Through a process of elimination, the Agents had to sift through the clues, write down the suspects, if they had an alibi, and if they were cleared.

Case Files

Case Files

I found the clues on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I did modify it quite a bit the case files to suit a Canadian audience. The file is $6.99, but includes 5 cases.

Lots of preparation went into this program, bit it was well worth it! The kids were so rowdy and into it. I will definitely repeat this program again!

Kids’ Club – Ooey Gooey Science

Catch a rainbow

Red, Yellow, and Blue food colouring placed in milk. Add dish soap and the colours mix together!

Kids’ Club was a program that I used to run at Windsor Public Library. It was too much fun for the kids and required little pre-planning on my part (….sometimes planned the day before). It followed the same format: read a chapter from a book, followed by an activity.

You don’t have to advertise what the activity is either. Sometimes it’s hard to plan 4 months in advance – especially when you pin some great ideas on Pinterest. It’s great that you only have to advertise it as “kids’ Club” rather than individual programs.

For the Summer Reading Club programs, I choose Gooney Bird Greene as the chapter book that we read. In other years, I’ve done Wayside Stories. Both stories are great because each chapter is sort of an individual story. So, if kids miss a day, they’re not missing the entire story.

For some great science experiments, check out Kitchen Science Lab for Kids by Liz Lee Heinecke ISBN: 9781592539253

Today, we did Ooey Gooey Science. It’s a program that my colleague ran before and the kids just were wide eyed.

I did four experiments with them. It took about an hour to read + do the experiments.

Erupting Playdough

Elephant Toothpaste

– I used regular drugstore Hydrogen Peroxide – you’ll have to put at least a 1 1/2 cup to get the results

Catch a Rainbow

Balloon Blowup

How it Went 

The kids were amazed at some of the experiments. I had two little boys who kept saying, “…but how? How?”

I made enough Playdough to give them some to take home in a little baggy. I also gave them a take-away sheet of all the experiments that we did that day.

catch a rainbow

Red, Yellow, and Blue food colouring placed in milk. Add dish soap and the colours mix together!

elephant toothpaste

Mix in hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and food colouring into the bottle. Mix in warm water and yeast. Pour it in to the bottle, and watch it explode!

Play Date With a Book

Summer Reading Club PLAY

Hooray! Summer Reading Club is finally here. I love, love, love the theme for this year. PLAY!

In February, I did the famous “Blind Date With A Book” for the adults, and the kids did feel left out. So, this summer, I decided to run the program “Play Date With a Book” and it went off with a hit!

How to Play

1. Each bag has 1 book hidden inside with descriptors on the outside

2. Kids choose a bag that they’d like to read.

3. Inside, I tucked in a survey and when they returned the survey to the desk, they got an extra ballot for the weekly prize.

Materials Needed

As you know, I’m a HUGE fan of low budget programming. Even though my current library has a healthy children’s programming budget, I still try to find fun projects that we can run on a low budget.

– Paper bags (40 bags for $1.25 at Dollar Tree)

– Markers

– Stickers (optional)

– Books

– Mailing labels (240 labels for $1.25 at Dollar Tree)

Bottom line, this program is cheap to run at your library!

How did it go?

I checked the books out onto my program card so I could track the stats. The circulation staff was instructed to override the checkout. If you’re running with SirsiDynix Symphony, this is easy to do. Otherwise, you can count them when you’re done.

We had them labeled them into three categories:

1. Preschool-Grade 2

2. Grades 3-4

3. Grades 5+

We made about 80 bags, and they all flew off the shelve. Later today, we’ll be making another batch of 80.

I highly recommend this program, it’s CHEAP and it will boost your circulation.

Much thanks to my Library Assistant Lori who took the time to write some of the cutest messages on the bags!


Play Date With a Book

Low budget display for Summer Reading Club

Play Date With a Book

Low budget display for Summer Reading Club


I put in this survey to get some feedback.