By Awnali Mills
Our library has a six month lead time on planning programs, mainly for promotional purposes. This is how we ended up with a Superhero Training Academy in January long before we knew that Superheroes was going to be the Summer Reading theme. Dagnabit!
However! This is good for the rest of you because you can take advantage of our planning to stage your own summer reading superhero blowouts. Didn’t that work out nicely?
There are So Many Good Things out there for superhero parties, and my coworker and I wanted to do All The Things, but it just wasn’t possible. Even so, we ended up planning a wee bit too much and had to abandon some things in mid-party.
The Academy had two main components: Creating Your Identity and Training.
Creating Your Identity:
1. Superhero Identity Card.
I based this off of Rachel Moani’s now defunct blog. There are other identity cards out there that you can use, but I ended up creating my own. You’re welcome to copy. We also printed out a “What’s Your Superhero Name” for those who might have some trouble being put on the spot.
2. Creating Your Mask.
Superheroes need to protect their identity, right? Many of our trainees showed up with their own masks, but made new ones anyway. It’s all good! We used the masks from First Palette. Just an interesting side note, Superhero Mask 3 was the most popular. Not what I would have guessed! We printed them on cardstock and cut them out, supplying yarn pieces for the ties. The kids got to color them with the option of adding foamies and construction paper to them if desired.
3. Creating a Call Signal.
Just like Batman, our heroes needed their own call sign. We used the idea from KidSpot. Take a piece of colored cellophane, stick on a peel-and-stick foamie letter, center it in the end of a toilet paper tube and wrap a rubber band around it. Shine a light in the end (I used my cell phone flashlight during the party which worked great) and see your letter show up on the wall! This got plenty of oohs and aahs.
4. Making Wristbands.
There are lots of tutorials out there on how to do this, and it is super simple. Make a slit long-ways in a toilet paper tube, then cut it in half. We tucked one piece inside the other and set them out with crayons and construction paper for kids to decorate.
1. Bowling for Villains.
We took this straight from Catch My Party. Just a tip—we put rice in the bottoms of the bottles to make them a bit more stable. This seemed to help.
2. Web Toss.
We actually purchased some superhero gliders from Oriental Trading before we planned any of the rest of the party, and then promptly forgot to include them in our planning until we discovered them at the last minute. I took another hula hoop and added construction paper flames. Once the kids put their gliders together, they could try flying their glider through the Ring of Fire. And yes, it is obligatory to at least sing Ring of Fire in your head whenever you think of, set up, or play this game.
4. Kryptonite Clearing:
This idea came from The Arena Update. Balls of aluminum foil were painted green. The idea was to divide the group into two teams and send them to pick up the kryptonite with two pencils and put them into pails. Whichever team gets the most wins.
When the kids were ready to leave, they each got a gold seal on their identity card to prove that they were certified superheroes. This was Very Important to the kids, and none of them blew this off.
1. We planned too much. If I had to do it over again, I might focus either on creating the identity or doing the training, but not both, or lessen each part of it. As it was, we never got to the Kryptonite Cleanup because there was just too much going on and too many people.
2. Although we advertised for ages 6+, much younger kids showed up with older siblings and expected to participate. The crowd got a little hard to manage (at least at the Ring of Fire) with little ones not understanding about taking turns and moms preoccupied with other kids.
3. The Web Toss only worked moderately well. I don’t know that we would repeat.
4. Although it was a last minute inclusion, the Ring of Fire was really popular. The only problem with the gliders was that many of the weights included wouldn’t fit on the glider properly. I had to break into other packages to get ones that would.
5. Have more help. We had so many kids that my co-worker and I couldn’t be everywhere. Everything worked out fine, but more would have been better.
Some shots of the party in action: