Last night, we hosted a Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the library. It was an unusual program, because the kids just dropped their stuffed animals off by 5pm, and then my manager Stephanie and I photographed them in different settings around the library.
There are lots of ways to do these programs. Some branches print a picture of each animal to give to the kids when they come to pick up their stuffies. Others make a slideshow or video to email out to the participants. I wanted to have a literacy component, so I made a simple book template in Microsoft Word. It printed on two pages, front and back, but with eight pages of photos.
The kids were so sweet when they dropped off their animals. Many of them had questions about where the animals were going to sleep, or if they were going to roast marshmallows. We just had the first family come to pick up their stuffy this morning, and the mom and daughter were eagerly looking through the book to find their toy in the photos.
We ended up with 43 animals in all (we didn’t set a limit to the program). When the families dropped off their animals, we asked them to fill out a tag with their name, a name and description of the animal, and a phone number (the template is at the bottom of this post). These we attached to the animals with binder clips. At first, I was planning to make separate nametags for each one, so the tags wouldn’t show in the photos. But we ended up with so many stuffies, that we just tried to clip the tags on the backs of the toys.
We had advertised the program through the schools, and on Facebook groups for local families. It actually brought in a lot of families who hadn’t been to the library before, and ended up signing up for library cards.
In our evening hours, when the library is usually quiet, we had fun arranging the animals reading books together, exploring the staff room, playing on the 3D printer, and reading stories.
The most challenging part of the program was actually arranging the photos in Microsoft Word, which can be a formatting nightmare, especially when you’re in a hurry. I recommend setting the photos to “With Text Wrapping” so that you can fit more on each page. I’m copying a very basic template of our book below. Feel free to use it. Just make sure that when you print, you set it to “Print on Both Sides-Flip Pages on Short Edge” and to “Landscape Orientation.”
Here’s our little book, the Word template we used, and the tags for the animals: