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Additional Programming Ideas – Children’s

Read on for more brief ideas for 2017 Summer Learning Programming!


  • Endangered Species – Host an evening of discussion about endangered species animals. Share books about endangered species (Lesser Spotted Animals is a great choice). Show videos of endangered species if available. Check out this website for other great resources and activities.
  • Body Science for Preschoolers – Suggested activities:
    • Digestion: Put out Ziploc bags, a crunchy food, and a squishy food (pudding, jello, etc.). Explain to kids that the bag represents their stomach. Have them put a small amount of each food in the bag and seal it, then draw a picture of what it looks like. This represents the stomach before digestion. Then have them smash the food up (you may want to seal the bags with tape first, or just have extra available). They can then draw a picture of what it looks like now (after digestion).
    • Heartbeat: Set out paper towel tubes. Have kids listen to their grownup’s heart. Then have the grownup do 10 jumping jacks and let the kids listen again to see what they notice.
    • Bones: Set out pre-cut person shape. Provide Q-tips for children to glue onto their person to represent bones.
    • Lungs: Provide paper bags for the kids to inflate and deflate to represent the lungs filling with air.
  • Floating Ball Activity – Trace a circle onto a piece of paper. Cut out the circle and make a cut, stopping halfway. Make a teepee or funnel shape and secure with tape. Cut a small hole out of the bottom and insert the short end of the straw. Place tape around the outside of the funnel to secure it to straw. Put the ball in the funnel and blow through the long end of the straw. Your ball should float as long as your airstream is steady.
  • Seed Jar Science – Fill a jar with paper towels. Water your seed jar, but don’t flood it. Push seeds down into jar so they are in view, make sure they are snugly placed. Kids can take their seed jars home and record observations. You can send them home with a list of observations to look for if you choose.
    • What do you see in your seed jar?
      • You are looking for a root to pop out of the side.
      • You are looking for root to push down into the soil.
      • You are looking for root hairs.
      • You are looking for the seed to push up while the root hairs push down.
      • You are looking for shoots to come up.
  • Color Sorting Train – Make a train out of different colors of construction paper and have the kids sort colored objects into the correct train cars.


  • Book Swap – Bring in a gently used book to swap with another child. Designate a time frame to collect books from participants. Give a ticket out to each participant for each book they bring in, so they can come back and “shop” later. Consider sending out invitations for the night of the swap. When participants come back with their tickets, have all donated books displayed for shopping. Kids will get really excited about “new to them” books!
  • Smoothie Bar – Host a smoothie making program with yogurt, fruit, and greens. There are many basic smoothie recipes online that you can find. Borrow some blenders and have a taste test of different types. Have participants vote for their favorite. Have them create a recipe from the basic smoothie rules to take home and try. Check out this website for some ideas:
  • Warm Fuzzy Challenge – Keep a jar in your library for “warm fuzzies”. Kids get a pom pom for each act of kindness they perform to fill the jar. When the jar is full, have a reward for participants. It can be as simple as a party, a movie night, or consider doing something for the kids (example: If our Warm Fuzzy jar gets filled, Ms. Annie will dye her hair pink!). Just be prepared to follow through on promises!
  • Service Projects – Many organizations have service projects that kids can contribute to. Start by hosting a discussion about the children in the culture that the service projects support. Then help the participants make or gather supplies to send to the organization.
    • Organizations to consider: Sole Hope (shoes for children in Uganda from old jeans), Level the Playing Field (collects used sports equipment for kids in the US), IAYS (used sports equipment for kids worldwide), Camp Dreamcatcher (collects camp items for children whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS).
    • Local ideas: Host a food drive at the library. Have participants do the planning and decorate boxes to collect items. Collect gently used stuffed animals and donate to the local fire department or police station to give to kids in emergencies. Decorate placemats for Meals on Wheels. Make bookmarks or another simple craft for residents of a local nursing home.


  • Pool Noodle Structures – All you need are some pool noodles and toothpicks. Before your program, slice up the pool noodles into discs approximately an inch thick. Cut some in half if you’d like. Provide participants with pool noodle discs and toothpicks and let them go to town. Issue them challenges if you’d like, or just see what they come up with.
  • Build a Truck – Provide participants with a variety of shapes cut from construction paper. Challenge them to build a truck with the shapes you’ve provided.
  • Loose Parts – Issue a series of challenges for participants using only craft sticks, clothespins, and binder clips to work with. Examples: Build a structure that can hold the most possible weight. Build the tallest structure. Build the tallest structure with the fewest clothespins. What can you build with triangles? Build a domino chain.
  • Paper Plate Pinball – Participants will build their own marble maze, inspired by a pinball game, with paper plates, paper (or pipe cleaners), scissors, marbles, and tape. Provide each child with one paper plate and various supplies. Demonstrate how to make a simple arch out of paper or pipe cleaner for younger participants. If students are unfamiliar with pinball games, watch some YouTube videos together first. Notice the different ramps, bumpers, and other elements of the game. See for examples.


  • Smile it Forward – Give kids printed “Smile It Forward” cards to hide around town or around the library. You can print them online for free:, or, to make it more hands on, provide cardstock for kids to design their own.
  • Human Hamster Wheel – All you need is newspaper, tape, and kids! Participants create a loop out of newspaper and tape, using teamwork skills to figure out the best way to make the loop and to test it. Then they try to get across the room in their wheel.
  • Pet Jellyfish – Take a clear plastic bag, cut it, form into a jellyfish, and put it into a bottle filled with colored water. Full instructions here:
  • Face Painting – Have a face painting party! Be careful with full face but try some mask-style designs.
Published inProgrammingSummer Reading