“Fun kits to check out”: Action packs in action

Last week, Matt Ball of Pace Academy sent a question out to our list about “Fun kits to check out.” Our library realized my dream of activity packs (named by my cooler colleagues: “Casti Library Action Packs,” or “CLAPs”) a few years back, and some back and forth on the thread suggested I should share some details here.

We find that the use of these packs fluctuates heavily in relationship to marketing and also school vacations, but we keep them going out of a commitment to outdoor and offline activities. I suspect that schools with elementary school students would have a much higher uptake.

My colleagues, Jole Seroff and Christina Appleberry, are spectacular at making things fun and engaging. I love the thematic papers they use! Students take a tag for the CLAP they want to check out and bring it to us at the circulation desk. We grab a pack for them.

We have five themes to our CLAPs at the moment, and the back of each check-out tag tells students what they will get with a given action pack:

In addition, these cards help everyone confirm that every item is there at both checkout and return.
Advancement gave us these cute knapsacks to hold our CLAPs. Each is tagged with a card showing the topic and a catalog bar code on one side.
Each CLAP tag again lists the items we can all expect to find in the bag. It helps us remember what is in the bag at checkout and return, and assists students as they prepare to return the bag to us. As a result, we have experienced very little loss of materials, making these packs a relatively inexpensive endeavor. Sometimes, there is an invitation to engage in a communal activity with the CLAP. (Note our inflatable pillow is a lice-proofable material…..)
The weaving and pompom kits include the choice of two colors of yarn. We bring students to this drawer to chose what they want. We have found our students to be responsible and return extra materials. In this drawer you can also see our extra looms, extra embroidery hoops, and the biggest investment from our CLAPs, Sashiko fabric with water soluble dots, by Olympus. Fun fact: you can also tell students are using these packs at school by the amount of artificial turf that has made its way into the yarn drawer!

While the CLAPs do not quite see the consistent use we would like, it gives us a lot of fun opportunities to connect with students, and also lets us extend active and passive programing (we had a stargazing event and we keep a simple loom warped and ready for us in the library) in a way that students can take with them.

Our larger loom, in between projects.
Examples of student watercolors of clouds. It took a while to get students to leave their images in, instead of ripping them out to hide them from others’ view, but we are starting developing a fun collection. Each one is dated, along with a location, type of cloud, and student name and grad year. It is really lovely to be building this visible history of relaxation within our community.
We also had a student design badges that students can collect as they complete each action pack. (We also love our button-maker!)

I know that other libraries are out there running similar programs. Please feel free to share in comments, and link to pictures or other information that you have. I still fantasize about putting together local literary outings (or even for other cities) — maybe walking tours of places that appear in MG and YA literature, or activities similar to those noted in books. I’d love to have Go-Passes, as well, that students could check out to attend different museums. Right now, we don’t have the traffic needed to justify those purchases, but I have my eye on the future!

Does your library offer something in this realm?

One thought on ““Fun kits to check out”: Action packs in action

  1. Love this programming idea! Especially the “merit badges”. Hoping to bring this to our library. Thanks for the great post!

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