Last night, in anticipation of the movie coming out next month, we had a Goosebumps party. I love when we can ride the coattails of the major media to promote books!
We only had a small group, probably a combination of back-to-school busy-ness and pouring rain. But the kids totally enjoyed themselves (as did the grownups who attended with their kids. We won’t discuss the two senior citizens who came in sans children and stayed for a while. Creepy.)
I had borrowed a small box fan from a co-worker (thanks, Jean!), made a square structure out of dowel rods to which I taped crepe paper flames and set the structure on the top of the fan. I then surrounded the whole fan with orange Christmas lights. When the fan was turned on, it made the “flames” flutter, so it was a nice little campfire. We had the kids sit around the campfire, and my boss Chris started by showing a trailer of the upcoming movie. Then, he read the first chapter from a Goosebumps book, and a short story from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz.
Then, we had everyone come over to the table where we had the witches’ brew game set up. Each person had 10 small pictures (apx. 1 ½” square) of Goosebumps characters, a straw, and a cup. They arranged their pictures around their cup, peeled their straw, and the game began. Using only the straw, they had to move all the pictures into the cup. Mr. Chris demonstrated what to do before the game so that kids would understand, using the straw and suction to move the pictures. As each child finished they were allowed to choose from a stash of leftover SRC prizes from previous years.
Next, we had a different table set up for making slime. We had small cups partially filled with glue, and other cups partially filled with liquid starch, one of each per child. I waited to fill the cups until right before we used them because I didn’t want the glue getting a skin on it. I let the kids choose whether they wanted white slime or green slime, and then added a dollop of green acrylic paint into their glue and had them stir well. Each child got a craft stick to stir with. I explained that we were SLOWLY going to add the starch to the glue, a little bit at a time, stirring well after each addition. I told them that if they added it too fast they would just get a hard, sticky glob instead of slime. While kids were mixing, I explained that we were causing a chemical reaction, and that our chemical reaction was making a polymer. So, I got my science in there. Once they had stirred a good amount in, they could put it in their hands and continue to knead it. This led to some experimentation, and some people put it in their hands before they really should have. So, lesson learned here? ALWAYS put a disposable tablecloth on the table first. (I didn’t). And ALWAYS have paper towels and baby wipes available for hand cleaning. (I did). Everyone got a baggie to take their slime home in. This was a really popular activity with both kids and parents getting their hands in and exclaiming over the goopiness. Over an hour later, I even spied one of the dads waiting on his daughter to choose a book while he strung slime from hand to hand. If I do this over again, I will have people put the slime directly into a baggie to knead instead of doing it in their hands. That would cut down a lot on the messiness and make it easier to add extra starch if needed.
Once everyone had cleaned up from their slime making, I told them that we had a special surprise for them and that they were going to get to do something that they NEVER got to do in the library—take their shoes off. They lined their shoes up under a table, tucking their slime bags into their shoes. Then, I led them to the conference room next door.
Our TAB group and teen librarians had worked for hours programming and setting up an interactive scream wall.
The floor was lined with aluminum foil to which a ground wire from a Makey Makey was attached (this is why they needed to take their shoes off—shoes act as insulators). Aluminum foil cut outs covered a piece of bulletin board paper, attached to the Makey Makey by copper foil tape.
Scratch was used to program different screams and scary sounds that played whenever one of the foil shapes was touched.
To set the mood, I had strung red and white Christmas lights across a table opposite the scream wall. These, and the computer screen, provided just enough ambient light to let everyone see what was going on without being so dark that it was uncomfortable or truly scary.
Again, we had only about seven children, and one of them was kind of little for the program. I warned her mom that this would be scary for her, so mom held her and let the bigger kids experiment first. I had the kids line up on the aluminum foil without touching anything. Then I had them turn around and touch the foil on the wall. Sound erupted! Children jumped! Adults jumped! Then, everyone laughed and the experimentation began. We explained what was going on, how they were completing a circuit to make the sounds go off. Then we let the adults play with it and had people get into different positions (one person on the foil flooring holding hands with one person off, and the person off touches the wall to make the sound happen, etc), to show different ways that circuits can be completed. The adults were just as fascinated as the children, and came up with different things for the kids to try. Once everyone seemed to have had their fill, we ended the party, sending everyone back to retrieve their shoes and slime.
We’re just so thankful to our teens and their librarians (Adrienne and Rachel) for all their help, in both proposing the scream wall idea and then pulling it off so successfully. They’re fantastic!