Passive Programs Throw Down!

Way back when, the teachers in British Columbia were on strike for VERY GOOD REASON which led to more kids in the library than we were used to inย  June and September, and the Summer Reading Club (while so much fun) didn’t quite stretch far enough. It was at this time that I learned of the magic of Passive Programs. Through colleagues near and far I began to collect these gems and have finally sat down to share them with you. The images below are from some simple but clearly very popular passive programs our friends Alicia and Christie tried out in our backyard!

Getting crafty with bookmarks!
Books can be games too! Just add kidlets.
Origami Books and Paper
Origami= Forever Awesome.

First up, a quick note about why I love Passive Programs oh-so-much:

  • Passive Programs are always running. That means the kids who can only get to you late on a Saturday or Monday-on-the-way-to-picking-up-her-brother can participate.
  • These activities provide a sneaky, yet perfect opportunity to engage with younger patrons while they’re busy honing their ninja skills (just wait!) or heading off on a scavenger hunt. Have a conversation, point to a resource or simply learn a name. It’s all gold.
  • Collection connections! With the right activity or entry point you’ve Indiana Jones’d into the pile of treasure we know (and labour over) our collection to be.
  • Finally, while I wish there was another name passive or low impact programs are just that. Minimal work up front and then fairly easy to deliver and/or maintain. Easy peasy lemon squeezy for busy librarians like you’n’me!

Enough chatter, let’s get to the programs already! To get started I did most of my schooling at Bryce Don’t Play. What is a Story Action Pod you ask? Check out her list of inter-activities and the responses (and Halloween costume ideas!) she’s received. When it comes to scavenger hunts Sara’s also got you covered with an amazing Adventure Time hunt and she even hosted the amazing Ariel who adapted Sara’s Boy+Bot Story Action Pod. For more awesome scavenger hunt ideas check out Lisa’s list of passive programs for Halloween, Frozen and Diary of a Wimpy Kid hunts!

Now, getting back to that idea of stations or pods we love Ms. Kelly’s Library Card Signup Month Guessing Game, Anne’s Writing Center ideas and Rebecca’s Post Office in the Library. We wrote about Destination Storytime’s super cool SRP stack ends in our Fall We’ll Link to That, but they definitely deserve a repeat and could be used all year long. When the table becomes the station how about covering it in flannel?! Check out Lisa’s Felt Table ideas and Hafuboti’s Table Top Time for passive programs for the younger crowd.

Hey, what was that ninja thing you mentioned earlier? Well grasshopper it seems your ninja skills are developing nicely and you’re ready for Erin‘s TMNT Passive Program, but be warned she will test your composure, agility and stealth! Eeeps, such fun!

Finally, I cannot gush enough about Rebecca’s Trick-or-Read Storywalk Exhibit. While I realize this departs from the easy and dips into the elaborate I would give anything to go back in time to visit her library that day. For more about StoryWalks read our Fairy Godmother Angela’s post on ALSC here and her own website here.

Dearest friends, if I have missed an awesome Passive Program you’ve done or heard about please leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to add it. In the meantime, can we have a collective sigh for how brilliant our online friends are? Sigh!

20 thoughts on “Passive Programs Throw Down!

    1. Lisa- that’s a great call. Let’s start spreading the word on “independent programs” and soon it will stick!

  1. I call them “Stealth” programs because they are a sneaky way to bring kids back into the library for visits. SLP is really a passive program…not the events but everything else about them (some initial staff prep and planning but then you let ‘er rip and everything is then kid-powered). What could be stealthier than that?

    1. So true Marge, they really are steathy/sneaky ways of drawing kids into interacting with the library, whether it be the collection, staff or space. Plus the whole Ninja connection ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I think of them as “possible” programs, meaning, “Hey, we can actually do this with our current budget!”

    1. Wendy, I agree. And if a program’s in the realm of possibility, way more likely I can throw it together!

    1. Rebecca, the honour is all ours! Thanks for writing and sharing your amazing StoryWalk!

  3. I’ve been calling them drop-in programs – whatever they’re called, they’re also useful in a tiny library branch where there isn’t room for lots of kids at the same time. So far I’ve done just drop-in craft programs, but I’m excited by the wonderful ideas you have been collecting – thanks, everyone!

    1. Hi Jeanine, drop-in is another great name because I think it takes the pressure off families to be there at a certain time and lets them know they can participate however they like. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion!

  4. We do Crafternoons! Thursday afternoon is a craft that is left out on a table for the kids to work on. I get them started (if they need it) and then keep an eye on them from the desk. Our biggest crowd-pleaser is by far Perler Beads. It is slightly less passive because I have to iron their creations but I can easily do that and help at the desk at the same time.

  5. We also love Passive Programs here at OPL (we’ve started calling them Anytime Programs) but now we have been challenged to collect data on usage of the programs. I say challenge because for many of the programs we leave out the supplies and instructions, if necessary, but we may not be working that shift or may be at a different location. Has anyone any suggestions for how to collect the data or perhaps you have done this in your library and can share what worked and what didn’t? Thanks for any/all ideas!!

    1. Our library actually just stopped collecting data on passive programs. The reasoning is that we get the usage numbers through our door count and we didn’t want our program numbers to be inflated if we weren’t actually present and leading an activity. With that said, you could try counting how many papers get taken or how many ballots are submitted if it’s something like a scavenger hunt. Of course this won’t be 100% accurate but could work for any paper-related crafts. You could also have someone who is at the branch do a head count once every period of time (30 minutes/hour/etc) and then multiply it. This is definitely a challenge! You could pose the question in the Storytime Underground Facebook Group and see if other libraries have come up with better solutions.

      1. Thank you, Lindsey! And I just have to say how much my co-worker and I love and use your site! We’ve shared Jbrary with parents and grandparents who come to our programs and enjoy the songs/rhymes we use and with other children’s programmers who also now love it.

  6. I know this post is SUPER old, but I’m a new librarian and all of these links are so intriguing! Most of the links are to dead sites now ๐Ÿ™ Any chance you are feeling up to writing a new post about passive programs? *please?!*

      1. Thank you so much, Lindsey! This is exactly what I’m looking for! Your ideas never cease to inspire…even when they’re not brand new. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Blackout Poetry for the YA section! I left a definition, followed by an example and left a bunch of cut out pages from a donated book on a table and let the kids have fun. There is a bulletin board in our (small) YA section so they can post their poems when they are done.

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