What is it?
After the library is closed, middle schoolers can come play active games throughout the library building. I like to really play up the fact that they will have the library to themselves, and be allowed to do things we wouldn’t normally allow. Hence the “extreme”…though of course, it’s all perfectly safe and legal. 😉 This is the program description I use: “Zombie tag in the Library? An extreme scavenger hunt in the stacks? That can’t be allowed…but we’re going to try it anyway! We won’t tell if you don’t.”
Anywhere from free, to however much you want to spend. If your budget it low, plan activities that use materials you already own.
Why Do It?
When you’re doing something unconventional like this, it’s a good idea to prepare for the possibility that your reasoning will be challenged. You need to justify it to administration as well as to any community members who may challenge you. Here are some reasons to hold this program:
- It makes the library a destination for a fun evening event, which builds positive associations with the library for kids.
- Allowing kids to use the library after it’s closed gives them a sense of ownership of the space.
- It is an opportunity for supervised fun, socialization, and healthy competition.
- You can work in educational activities that serve the library’s mission.
At my library, we e-mail for permission from the guardians of all participants a few days before any afterhours event. We allow parents to either respond to the e-mail giving approval, or to come to the door on the day of the event and sign a paper form. Check with your administration to see what your rules are about afterhours events.
This will vary depending on your space and resources. I hold it on a Friday night from 6:30-8. The program is open to 20 middle schoolers and has two staff members (myself and one other) to supervise.
I like to have some activities in our meeting room, and some in the children’s area, which is right next to the meeting room. Getting to use the library space for unconventional activities is a big part of the appeal, I think, so I recommend getting out of your usual programming spaces and onto the floor.
Websites for camp counselors and youth group leaders have some great indoor active games. Here are some places to look.
- Ultimate Camp Resource: Indoor Games
- Youth Group Collective: Group Games
- JonJolly: Group Games
I like to have a part of the night where we are all in the same room but playing different games in smaller groups, and part of the night where we are all together playing the same game.
Here are some games I have successfully used.
Tie a balloon to each player’s right leg. The balloon should be on the ground but not too far from the foot. The goal is to pop the other players’ balloons by stomping on them. Once a kid’s balloon is popped, they are out. (Have them pick up the bits of balloon left on the floor afterward. They’re a choking hazard for littler kids.)
Extreme Musical Chairs
Find the game here: http://www.jonjolly.com/extreme-musical-chairs/
Soda boxes are stacked in rows of three, facing alternating directions. Players take turns removing one box until the tower falls. Here is a photo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/183099541078021874/. I stuffed the soda boxes with weeded newspapers to give them some heft and help them keep their shape.
Giant Pac Man
This works best with about 5 players. Make a maze using tape on the floor. Balls (Pac-dots) are placed on the floor evenly throughout the maze. You will need a few larger-sized balls that the others. (Or, you would use some other object.)
-All players start in the middle. One player is Pac-Man, and the others are ghosts. Players can only move with their knees together.
-At the start of the game, Pac-Man leaves the middle, goes into the maze, and starts picking up dots and putting them in a bag or basket.
-When a staff member gives the word (after 7 seconds,) this first ghost goes out and tries to catch Pac-Man. Add more ghosts at 7-second intervals.
-When Pac-Man is tagged, they lose one life. Pac-man gets 3 lives.
-When Pac-Men gets a large dot, ghosts turn “blue.” Now, Pac-man can tag them. A tagged ghost must return to the middle and stay there until the leaders says they can leave.
This is exact race course is specific to my library, but you can adapt it to yours. Here’s what I did: time each person completing the relay course. The person with the fastest time wins. The course starts by the bathrooms, goes down the hall, turns left by the elevator, goes through the early childhood room, goes down the AV aisle, and turns left to exit back by the bathrooms. Relay activities: 1. Scoot down the hall to the entrance to YS on a yellow scooter. 2. Drop a beanbag in the bucket of the matching color in the YS early childhood area. 3. Rubber band a small cup full of buttons to your shoes and race down the AV aisle without spilling. 4. Push a ping-pong ball across the floor down the hall to the bathrooms using your nose.
Turn the lights so that they are mostly off. At the start of the game, all participants are given a glow stick and one kid is secretly designated the “zombie.” One person is secretly designated the “healer.” The healer cannot be zombified and should try to keep their identity secret. When the zombie tags their first victim, they both light their glow sticks and then try to get more zombies. When the healer tags a zombie, that person is healed and should hide their glow stick.
If you have any questions or want to talk to me about this program, feel free to leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.