Reblog: How to Throw a Coloring Party

How to Throw a Coloring Party

Colouring books for adults are a trend right now, but an enjoyable one. It’s relaxing to just sit and colour (though you really need to get the good pencil crayons, mine are so cheap they don’t work very well). A lot of libraries are starting to run colouring parties for adults, with the idea that it’s creative, relaxing, and a good way to socialize while you’re asking someone to please pass the blue crayon. This link is more for throwing a personal party, but it can be easily adapted to a library. You can get easy colouring books with large, simple designs to colour, or books with more intricate patterns that require more attention to detail. Crayons, pencil crayons, markers, you can use any medium you choose. It’s simple, cheap, and fun–the perfect program!

Welcome to the Kingdom of Books!

On March 24th of this year I found out I was running a book fair–on May 1st. I admit, when I opened that box and found out, there was a lot of “I’m doing what? WHEN?” I’d never run a book fair before, or even a major event by myself, though I’ve been part of running conventions for years, so it was a little intimidating, especially since the Battle of the Books was already coming up in April and my teams had to finish training.

I began by immediately signing up for the Scholastic book fair webinar, and I should say here how helpful Scholastic was, especially my liaison Vanessa. They have webinars, guides, online reproducibles and forms and letters and web art that you can use, and all sorts of bonuses and promotions and sample boxes of books. They make it as easy as they possibly can for someone to set it up and start selling.

The theme Scholastic had decided on for the book fairs that year was the Kingdom of Books, and I love fantasy so I was perfectly happy to run with that (plus, why do extra work to come up with a new theme when all of the signage, web art, etc. had already been made?). I started planning out what needed to be done, what I wanted to do extra, what materials and help I would need, and when everything needed to be done by. I had a million ideas, but only so many could realistically be done. And of course, everything had to be done in between my regular work, and the Battle of the Books, and the normal school operations.

To promote the Book Fair, I got some of the students to make posters which we scattered around the school, as well as putting up the official posters that Scholastic had sent. I wrote short scripts that the students read over the announcements in the morning, talking about different books that would be sold at the book fair. I gave the Book Fair details to the office to be included in the newsletter home to parents. I read the sample books provided by Scholastic to the classes during their regular storytimes. I ran four art and story contests, with the winners picked by a panel of teachers and myself. They each got to pick out one free item from the Book Fair, from a promotion allowance that Scholastic provided.


Book Fair contest winners (on right)


More Book Fair contest entries


Everything was delivered on May 1st, and I had to completely transform my library. I received both rolling bookshelves that could be opened with the product was already on it, and boxes full of books that had to be arranged on table as well as setting up the signage. My thanks to the grade 8 students who helped me move tables and drape tablecloths and put out books and get everything set up (they were so sad to miss French, of course). I put up the poster display, arranged the display of bookmarks, highlighters, pens, erasers, etc., and set up the checkout tables with the credit card machines, reorder forms, signage, etc. that they needed. I created a playlist that I had running during the Book Fair (mostly Heather Dale and Loreena McKennit, with the Wicked, Shrek: the Musical, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella soundtracks mixed in. They were the most fairy tale-ish music I had).


The Book Fair when you enter the library


Impulse items table


Minecraft! and other stuff


Poster display























Activity center

I also set up a small activity center for the kids to play in. My sister donated a cardboard castle, and I purchased some fairy-tale themed dress-up items (inside the red treasure chest in the pictures) using my own money–tiaras and fair wands, a knight’s armour set, a wizard’s hat, etc. I do have pictures of the kid playing with them (especially the bigger kids), but the school’s photography policy means I can’t post anything here with the kids’ faces or names. But you can take my word for it, they’re pretty funny. And I may or may not have gone around for the week wearing a crown. Hey, if the crown fits…


Activity sheets and storyboard

I set up a small table with colouring and activity sheets and crayons. I also made a storyboard set. I printed off the web art that Scholastic had created, found a background image I liked on Google images and printed it too, coloured them, laminated them, cut them out, then stuck everything on a whiteboard easel with sticky tack. It came out quite nicely, and other than the sticky tack it was all materials I had around the library.


Storyboard I made

All together, the Book Fair was open for one week, with a teacher preview on the Friday it was delivered, the next Monday and Tuesday were viewing days so the kids could make a list of what they wanted and show their parents before bringing in money, and the Wednesday and Thursday were the main buying days (though if anyone wanted to purchase their books before Wednesday, I certainly didn’t turn down money). Friday morning everything had to be packed up and ready to return. I opened early Wednesday morning for parents who dropped off their children in the morning, and Thursday night was the school open house, so I held a family event then for parents to come and shop for books. I actually ended up being at the school on Thursday from before 8 in the morning until after 10:30 at night (less the half-hour I took to go get a pizza, of course. Gotta have fuel). I had recruited a parent and a teacher and more than 20 students to work during the family event, to keep everything tidy and answer questions and cash people out, and it was still  insanely busy.

Book Fair money nonameBut at the end, I was very pleased with the results. We passed the goal I set! I set a goal of $5000, and we made $6296.15 gross. Hooray! Lots of new books for the library, and lots of new books that the kids got to keep! Talk about a win-win!

Looking back, there are things I would do differently if I had to do it again. While the kids were excited to volunteer and help out, I really needed an assistant to help watch them and make sure everyone was doing their designated job instead of goofing around. I could have emphasized a little more that they were there to work. The organization of the announcements could have been a little tighter. The classroom wish list program wasn’t terribly successful.

That said, I’m very proud of what I accomplished. I surpassed my sales goal. I planned, organized, promoted, set up, ran, and tore down the book fair, and I did most of it by myself. I think everyone who attended had fun, and most of the students bought something. It was definitely a challenge, but one I met, and ultimately it was a great experience. Now let’s see what my next challenge will be…


More paper bag puppets, and other crafts!

So I recently led a couple of craft panels at Polar Chill 2, the follow-up to last year’s highly successful Polar Chill relaxacon. One was a make your own craft panel, where I gave people a bunch of craft supplies and told them to come up with something–we ended up making the bow ties, sonic screwdrivers, and perception filter keys from Reversed Polarity, though one girl made a very creative Elsa from Frozen–her hair was braided pipe cleaners, her head was a styrofoam ball, and her body was popsicle sticks. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of that.


Seb made an amazing bow tie out of pipe cleaners, beads and felt.


After that came another paper bag puppet panel. Unlike Reversed Polarity where we were focused on Doctor Who, in honour of the 50th anniversary, we all made whatever character we felt like, and there was some amazing creativity.

Sarah and Liam made Garak from Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and the Hulk from the Marvel universe.

IMG-20140705-00794Another Sarah made Dominar Rygel XVI of Hyneria from Farscape and Captain America from the Marvel-verse.

IMG-20140705-00793One girl made a Dalek.

Casey and Dalek

And me? I made the Paper Bag Avengers. May I introduce PaperEye, Paper Widow, Agent Paper, Thaper, Papulk, Paper Man, and Captain Paper.







Sarah (who made Hulk) also ran a really popular magnet-making panel, that I will definitely have to keep in mind for future cons. We cut up old magazines and program books from former conventions to make the magnets, but we also drew our own. Seb made this one:

IMG-20140705-00790It was inspired by Dalek-Girl above who asked him why he was French. According to an 8 year old, “because my parents are from Quebec” is not a good enough reason for him to be French. Ah, the unending “Why?”s of the young…

Sorry I’ve been busy, I’ve been playing with Daleks

Sorry for the delay in posting, I’ve been super busy with Reversed Polarity happening this past weekend, as the Head of the Games and Events department and a member of the Programming team. It was a great convention, and I was very pleased with how popular my craft panels were since it was a bit of a new idea for us to do. I had several parents come up to me and say how happy they were that we had some children-specific programming for the weekend. This video was one of the funniest things I saw all weekend, and I was so proud it happened during my panel Game Station Satellite Five (you can hear my voice laughing in the background as his mom films it).

We also played Dalek Simon Says, led by Dalek Simon of the Doctor Who Society of Canada who are a terrific bunch of people and we couldn’t have run such a successful and fun convention without them.

And yes, Dalek Simon is wearing a bow-tie, courtesy of his tag partner. He says he felt very ashamed to wear it. And where did the bow-tie come from? It came from what happens when you try to get a three-year-old to play Pin the Bowtie on the Doctor.

Oh well, he had fun and that was the most important part. (And also thanks to Tina Olah for the wonderful picture of the Doctor she drew for my game).

Crafts including making Paper Bag puppets of the Doctor and his companions, making a perception filter key, a felt bowtie, a sonic screwdriver from beads, psychic paper, cubecraft TARDISes, and colouring pages.

Games included Come As You Aren’t, where you had to stay in character for the hour (River Song really enjoys being a psychopath, I’m a little afraid of her now). (Even though I might have been shooting people in the persona of the Anne-Droid.)

(Aka what happens when you forget you’re leading a cosplay panel and need a costume the day before  the event.)

For the eighth year running, the TCON Promotional Society was pleased to host the Geek-Offs, a sci-fi trivia championship game that I have been honoured and aggravated to be a part of since the beginning. This year the Daleks asked very nicely if they could be the hosts (well, actually they threatened to exterminate everyone if they couldn’t do it, but for Daleks that is nicely) of the Geek-Off: The Extra Special Extermination Edition.

That’s Dalek Simon again in front of me- the picture is too tight to see Dalek Dreadnaught and Dalek Auric on either side of him. And yes, they did exterminate all of the contestants, the audience, and me at the end of it.

I also ran WhoClue, where people have to find pictures of characters and weapons hidden around the convention in order to discover the murder victim and the murder weapon which are not hidden, and Spot the Silence, where players locate pictures of the Silence hidden around the convention and decipher the secret message.

So, a year’s work for 80+ people is finally over. Time to take a break before planning for Polar Chill 2 next July! See you round the cons, fellow nerdlings!

Plan for Library Program

Make Your Own Pet Monster!

Corrina McGill

 Make Your Own Pet Monster is a craft program intended for children ages 9-12. Participants will use fabric scraps and buttons/beads/etc. to design and sew their own stuffed toys, which they will then be able to take home. Materials will be partially donated—local craft stores and chain craft stores such as Fabricland and Michael’s will be approached about donating fabric scraps that they are unable to sell, as well as promoting the program within their stores through use of flyers.

The goal of this program is to promote the library as a community center and encourage children in developing creativity, a love of the arts, and the practical life skill of sewing, as well as promoting the library’s collection of resources on the subject of handicrafts. The objective of the program is to hold a single three hour session during which children will design and create their own stuffed toy which they can then take home. The program will also promote recycling and repurposing of materials by using fabric scraps and other found materials. This program may help to fill in the gap left by the defunding of arts programs in schools that has been going on recently.

            This program is aimed at children aged 9-12, since they should be capable of the manual dexterity required for sewing. Since the crafting session should last at least three hours in order for there to be enough time to teach basic stitches and to design and craft the toy, it is recommended that the program be held on a weekend or else during the summer or other holiday from school. Since materials are required, registration is recommended so that there will be enough materials for everyone. However, the program should be free to all participants.

            The timeline for planning should be approximately one month. This will allow for time to approach potential businesses for sponsorship and community partners for volunteers. Local sewing groups may be an excellent source of expertise to teach the children. In addition, this could be an opportunity for a student with sewing experience to gain some volunteer hours for high school. This time will also allow for promotion of the program.


  • Basic sewing materials: needles, sewing thread, embroidery thread, fabric scissors, stuffing, paper, pens, fabric glue, glue gun, etc.
  • Anything that can be found or donated: fabric scraps, loose buttons and beads, old worn-out clothing, bits of broken jewelry or toys, anything that could be used to decorate the toys
  • Space: a room with tables and chairs
  • Display: books and other collection resources about crafts—sewing in particular, but there is no reason to limit the subjects to sewing alone. The point is to be creative!