Unicorn-ival: A Punny Pony Party!

Age Range: 5-8 year olds; younger elementary; families
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Program Type: Registration; Drop-In; Outreach

I’ve alluded to this program a few times on the blog and on Instagram, and I mentioned it to my ARSL audience in September. Therefore, I think it’s finally time that I share it here in full!

I love all things colorful, sparkly, and unicorn-y, so this is one of my favorite programs I’ve ever done. It was a great wrap-up to my monthly Book Worms program, which is for children ages five to eight, and only occurs during the school year. We go on hiatus during summer, so the Unicorn-ival was our final event this past spring. I think that I may have to bring it back annually (for me and for the kiddos).

Normally, the format for my Book Worms program is a little more structured than this one. Typically, I introduce myself and the book we will be reading, then lead the children on a picture walk through the book. We talk about what we see in the illustrations and try to make predictions about what might be happening throughout the story. Then, we read the story to see if our predictions were true and discuss as we go along. Finally, we transition to some sort of extension activity, which is usually a craft or a game.

For the Unicorn-ival, I wanted a much more relaxed vibe. It was our last one before summer reading began, and I felt a little like a teacher at the end of the school year that just wants something laid back. I wanted a true carnival-ish feel, so I knew that instead of just one extension activity, I wanted to have activity stations set up throughout the room. I chose Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima for our story and just read it outright so that the children would have more time with the activities. The stations were as follows:

Pin the Horn on the Unicorn
I printed this activity from Bright Star Kids. I provided pencils so the children could write their names on their horns and know whose was whose, tape to stick it, and a unicorn sleep mask as a blindfold. I printed multiple unicorn heads in case one got too full and posted them at varying heights on the wall for different size children.

Unicorn Horn Ring Toss
I saw many iterations of this online, but ended up just searching our closet for materials to make ours. For this particular program, craft supplies that we had received from our Kids in Need Foundation partnership were exactly what I needed. The unicorn horns themselves were actually Christmas ornaments (received as part of the KINF grant) with the tops removed. I hot glued them to paper plates (also from the grant) and used foam heart stickers (again, from the grant) to indicate the point values for each horn. The glittery ones were worth more naturally. =)

Decorate a Unicorn Mask
This station was super simple. I cut out masks and pre-tied rainbow-colored yarn to them, provided crayons, and the rest took care of itself.

Live Unicorns!
We have a local pony farm who had already brought their ponies to storytime for the preschoolers on multiple occasions. I had my supervisor arrange a visit for them to this program as well. They brought two ponies decked out with unicorn horns and glittery hooves. The kids absolutely loved getting up close to these gentle creatures! One of my Librarians-in-Training got to help with this program too, and she was over the moon to pet the ponies! Since the ponies were outside of our meeting room, I stressed to the children before they were released to the activity stations that they needed to be sure to have an accompanying grown-up before going outside to see the unicorns. I encouraged the caregivers at the start of the program to stay in the room for this purpose.

Other Activities & Decorations
To cement that carnival feel, I did include a prize drawing of all things pony-related: several horse and pony books, a pony bead crafting set, a DJ Pon-3 poster from My Little Pony, and a Libraries Rock! tote bag (not pony related, but left over from summer reading and needing to go). I put all the registrants’ names in a jar and did a random drawing for the prize pack. I also prepared popcorn and put up a few festive decorations. I made the “Welcome to the Unicorn-ival” banner out of some valentine kits that also came from the KINF grant. The unicorn puff balls were actually left over from my birthday party (yes, I had a unicorn themed birthday party at 32) in January, and embarrassingly enough had been hanging in our downstairs party room all that time. When I realized I was going to have this program, I saw my perfect chance to reuse them. I ended up gifting them to kiddos at the end of the program as well.

I did take this program to outreach groups as well, but we only did the story and the masks. It was hard to transport an entire carnival experience, so I did what I could. Those programs functioned more like a true Book Worms program experience.

This program could be a perfect addition to next year’s summer reading theme, Imagine Your Story. If you decide to host a Unicorn-ival, please share your ideas and let me know how it went! I can’t wait to see what you do!

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