We hosted our first ever stuffed animal sleepover last Wednesday night. I wrote up a fun post for our library's homepage, but here are some of the nitty gritty details that we used to make it run smoothly.
Children were welcome to bring in stuffed animals all day on Wednesday. When they came in to give me the animal, they also decorated a name tag, like the ones seen above so that we could identify each animal and make sure it got back to the correct owner the next day.
After pajama story time, I enlisted those kids to help me decorate a blanket for all the animals to sleep under. I used a large piece of felt and gave the kids stickers, so that I can remove them later and reuse the felt if need be. After the blanket was decorated, we covered the animals up in a back room, sang them a song and quietly tiptoed out. Using a back room and completely covering the animals helped reduce the number of kids who freaked out over going home without their stuffed animal. Out of sight, out of mind. Kind of. We ended up having to give one cute little dog named Bingo back, after his person suffered a brief melt down, but other than that we were good to go.
Three stuffed animals ended up spending the night with us, I added a few from the library's collection to make the numbers look more robust and I'm sure that if we do it again, we'll get a lot more families to participate.
When the computers shut off and the children's room cleared out, I grabbed our furry friends and took pictures of them in different poses all over the second floor.
They read a picture book together
And played flannel board games
There was a rousing game of hide and go seek
Plus some fun computer games
(Emily the Elephant found a friend on the computer screen!)
And they all drew the exact same monkey (go figure)
The next morning I came in a little bit early to make picture books for each stuffed animal/child pair.
The books were full of pictures and captions describing the animals' fun filled night in the library.
And they each ended with this statement:
I gave each child back their stuffed animal and their very own photo album the next morning after story time. Since we only had 3 stuffed animals spend the night, making the individual photo albums was pretty easy. I think if the number went to 10 or above, we'd have to reevaluate the staff time needed to make the albums.
Having the kids make individual blankets that they could then take home as the physical memento of the sleepover in conjunction with a slide show would work, as would recruiting volunteers to make the albums before the kids picked up their animals.