Goals of our annual Stuffed Animal Sleepover
- Encouraging kids and families to visit the library.
- Showcasing the library and its resources in a unique way.
- Instilling a sense of wonder and sparking imaginations in young patrons.
- Providing a creative outlet for teens in the form of community service.
Promoting & PreparingOur promotional wording is: "Drop off your stuffed animal for an all-night adventure in the Library! Kids can enjoy a story and craft, then head home leaving their stuffed friends for a sleepover. In the morning, pick up your stuffie and make a scrapbook of their fun; volunteers will be taking photos."
The event is open to all ages and we've had quite a variety. The youngest we've had attend was two years old while the oldest was about fourteen (they were there for their younger sibling, but they still has a lot of fun!).
Registration is up to you. For special storytimes our policy is "Registration encouraged; drop-ins welcome." In this way, families who would like a reminder call can sign up. A grand majority of our attendees are always drop-ins though.
We reach out to teen volunteers about two weeks before the event. Their task will be to visit after storytime and take photos of the stuffies. Details about their instructions are below.
The Big Night/Morning (Step by Step)
- Have families sign in. This will be a good reference for you later when you're creating your scrapbook, video, slideshow, etc. as you'll have each animal's name in one place. You'll also have a phone number in case someone forgets to pick up a stuffie (this has never happened, but we like to be prepared).
- Storytime! Get kids excited by reading a story together and then doing a few songs. These can be anything! I've used silly books like Where is Bear? by Jonathan Bentley, Go to Sleep, Monster! by Kevin Cornell, and (most recently) Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman.
- Create a name tag for the animals. This can be done as a craft with pre-printed forms. We also have volunteers glue each name tag to a piece of construction paper and tie a length of yarn to it. We ask the kids to write the animal's name, their name, and something their stuffie likes to do before bed. We then have everyone tie their name tags to their animal and voila! You know who everyone is!
- Have a craft for the kids (optional). After their stuffed animal has a name tag and is "tucked in," we let kids make a bracelet with star-shaped and glow-in-the-dark beads. This way they have something to take home and remind them that their stuffie is safe at the library.
- Say cheese! An hour after storytime, all the kids have left and our teen volunteers arrive. We provide them with a mixture of cameras and send them off with basic instructions including the "Photo Shoot Ideas" below and the goal that each animal must be featured in a photo (group or otherwise) at least four times; this doesn't include the all-important Glamour Shot at the beginning of the night.
- Create a piece of media for the photos. I originally created video slideshows of the Sleepover but switched to a Scrapbook/Photo Album for the past two years. A downloadable example of our 2019 scrapbook is below.
- Let kids make a mini scrapbook in the morning. This is a BIG step. Directions for this are below.
Photo Shoot Ideas
- Glamour shots. Pose each stuffed animal individually with a book. This is a great way to keep track of everyone and a fun spotlight for the kids to see later. Our teens usually theme the book choice to the animal or to the "before bed" activity the kids have written.
- Group shot. Gather all the animals together so they can show their kids all the great friends they made.
- Have lots of photos with three to five animals. This way, at least three to five kids will get the joy of seeing their stuffie in one shot!
- Highlight special collections or areas. This year one of our stuffies found the Playaways and listened to a book in her glamour shot.
- General ideas:
- Play board games (if you library has an in-house collection).
- Have snacks.
- Play hide-and-seek.
- Build with blocks.
- Visit staff areas.
- Watch a movie.
- Color/make crafts.
- Read stories.
|From page 8 of our 2019 Scrapbook: "Chocolate, Teddy, Fox, |
Pongo, & Pinky all did a color on this color-by-number
picture. What kind of bird do you think lives here?"
The Mini Scrapbook
For each mini scrapbook, you will need:
- A printed photo of the stuffie's glamour shot
- A printed photo of the group shot
- Three printed photos that feature the stuffie
- A pre-typed scrapbook title
- A piece of construction paper
- Coloring tools (markers and crayons)
- Glue (sticks)
- Stickers (optional, but fun)
Pre-cut and gather the paper elements together inside a fold piece of construction paper. We find a lot of families are on-the-go and need to just pick up their stuffie and jet.
Below is an example for a stuffie from our 2018 visit, King Unicorn:
|Did you get my good side?|
The Big Scrapbook
Kids love seeing the adventures their stuffie had! As mentioned above, we've recently switched to printed scrapbooks in lieu of video slideshows. This makes it easy for families to visit individual photos online (or in the printed Photo Album) and is a lot less work overall.
If possible, create a loose story around your photos or include interactive portions (questions or "I Spy" elements) so kids can enjoy going through the entire album.
Take a peek at our PDF version below or our Facebook album on the library page.
- Scrapbook example: Use any photo album template on Word and copy/paste the page format until you have enough slots for what you want.
- Name Tag template: To make these more durable, cut and paste each name tag onto a 1/4 piece of construction paper. Hole punch one corner and then pre-tie a length of yarn to the tag. Kids can fill in the blanks, tie the tag to their stuffie, and tuck them into bed.
- Sign-In list: Have grown-ups or children check in at the desk so you know what animal goes to whom. You also have a contact in case anyone gets left behind over the weekend.