Tuesday, February 27, 2018

All You Need to Run a Great Minecraft Library Party

[Bryce note: For years, I've wanted to change my web address-- once I stopped having 11 views a week, basically. I think I finally figured out a way to do that without losing all your Pins and bookmarks! Stay tuned for an official announcement. Expect a migration to a new address in the next 6 months or so.]

This post is authored by Jennifer Johnson, 2018 blog intern.

This month’s program is another high-interest one: Minecraft Party! This would be great for Libraries Rock! Summer Reading (rock, mining, there’s something there, right?). I honestly think I could do a Minecraft program once every month or so, and registration would fill up every single time.
I’ve found that it’s a good idea to give your patrons a paper bag with their name on it at the beginning of the program so that they have a place to put all the goodies they will gather.
So without further ado, here are some game, activity, and snack ideas for your next Minecraft celebration! (Note: these were done over the course of a couple years of these programs. I recommend three to four of these activities for a one-hour program.)
Perler Beads: This station was a huge hit at my first Minecraft program. However, if you have a high number of attendees, I wouldn’t recommend this one simply because it can be time-consuming. If you don’t have enough pegboards to accommodate a large number of kiddos, then patrons end up waiting forever for a turn at the beads that never comes. This would be ideal for a smaller group or just to do on its own as a program. Minecraft lends itself very well to Perler Beads and patterns are super easy to find online. Or you can give the kids graph paper and coloring pencils and encourage them to create their own patterns!
You need:
-Perler Beads (We purchased ours and our pegboards from Amazon.)
-Perler Bead pegboards (The square ones are best for the blocky, angular designs in Minecraft)
-wax paper (Perler Beads typically come with wax paper squares.)
-patterns printed from online
-iron (I included signage saying that only adults were allowed to use the iron. If you can get an adult volunteer to help monitor this part, that would be ideal.)
-graph paper and colored pencils (for creating original designs)
-small bowls (I used some of the small plastic containers that the Olive Garden dolcinis come in so the kids could scoop out some beads to look through. This ensured that no one was hogging the larger container to search for beads.)
If you’re unsure what Perler Beads are or how to use them, here’s a great tutorial video.
Various square Minecraft faces made out of perler beads

Create Your Own Minecraft Skin: This post at Parties4Ever inspired this activity. I cut cardstock into 8x8 inch squares (doesn’t matter what color because most of it gets covered), cut colored printer paper into 1-inch squares (hundreds of them), and spread them out on several long tables with glue sticks. The kids had free reign to do it however they wanted. Super easy and very open-ended, which is my favorite kind of craft.
You need:
-8x8 inch cardstock pieces
-lots of 1-inch squares of different colored paper
-glue sticks
Color a Minecraft Scene: This one is another super simple, open-ended craft with minimal mess. I put out graph paper and crayons and encouraged the kids to dream up their own Minecraft scene. Hands down, one of the easiest crafts I’ve ever done.
You need:
-graph paper
-crayons or coloring pencils
Creeper Toss:  I straight up stole this idea from here. We made our Creeper Toss pretty much exactly like hers; however, it did not hold up past the first Minecraft party as an unsupervised station because kids were torpedoing the bean bags at it. Those thin, fragile places between the eye holes and mouth broke very easily, so I would advise spacing them out a bit more if you want this game to get some mileage.
You need:
-game board made out of painted cardboard
-bean bags (or something else to toss)
Pin the Tail on the Pig: You can find lots of bloggers who have done this for their children’s birthday parties and it’s so easy to do, it’s no wonder it’s widespread! I cut my pig parts out of construction paper and assembled him onto a piece of posterboard. I made the tails out of construction paper as well. I had each kid write their name on their tail before pinning, so we’d be able to tell whose was whose. For a blindfold, I used a cardboard Creeper head (borrowed from my husband) with a piece of fabric tied around the eyeholes. For the person who got their tail closest to the piggy’s bum, I made a “diamond” necklace, which was just a yellow paper chain with a giant, printed and cut-out Minecraft diamond stapled to it.
You need:
-pig tails with some sort of adhesive (I used tape.)
Optional: prizes for closest tail
Child with a Minecraft Creeper mask on and a blindfold,
attempting to "pin the tail" on paper pig hanging on the wall.

Creeper Bowling: At the time of my third Minecraft program, I noticed that a friend of mine just happened to buy a brand of bottled water that came in green bottles. I asked her to save several for me and transformed them into Creeper Bowling. I colored black squares onto the bottles for the faces, put some dried beans in the bottom of the bottles for weight, and hot glued the lids on.
You need:
-bottles colored to look like Creepers
-small plastic balls
Musical Blocks: Inspired by this mom, I blew up clipart images of about 30 different blocks, printed each one on a separate sheet of paper, and taped them to the backs of chairs. I made a key for the caller (which was me or my supervisor who was helping) so that blocks wouldn’t get repeated too many times or left out. We played the song “Don’t Mine at Night” from YouTube for the music. Prizes for the last person standing were the paper chain diamond necklaces.
You need:
-printouts of different types of blocks to go on chairs
-laptop or other device to play music
-list of blocks to call out
Optional: prizes for last person standing
Chairs set up in a circle. Each chair has a piece of paper taped to it.
The pieces of paper have Mincraft elements on them. 

Minecraft Bingo: This printable Bingo from Catch My Party is a great, no-fuss addition to any Minecraft program. Sometimes you spend a lot of time meticulously piecing together crafts and activities and just want something completely pre-made. This is my go-to. I used paper-punched circles as Bingo markers and made more of the paper chain diamond necklaces as prizes.
You need:
-Bingo sheets and markers
-prizes for winners
-small containers (like the dolcini cups) to hold Bingo markers
Photo booth: This is a super easy, self-serve station. I blew up pictures of Minecraft character heads, cut out the eyeholes, laminated them and attached them to dowel rods with hot glue. I also made some 3D characters out of cardboard and paper and put them all in front of a black backdrop.
You need:
-photo props and backdrop
Crafting: This is a must for any Minecraft party! In the video game, you collect materials to craft items, so this is a live action version of that. I’ve had a variety of different prizes over the years that the children can “craft.” You can do as many or as few as you want. Here's a blank crafting sheet that you can download for free from her store and customize. This is what I used to create my crafting templates. I made one for each prize showing which materials the children had to collect in order to get that prize and hung them up near the crafting table. Then I printed blank crafting sheets and taped them to the crafting table for the kids to put their materials on once collected. For the crafting materials, I pulled clipart images of the materials I wanted and copied and pasted them into a Publisher file. They ended up being about one-inch squares and I taped them all over the room for the children to find. They would have to bring the materials to the crafting table for whichever prize they wanted and then a volunteer or myself would give the prize to them.
You need:
-crafting keys for prizes
-prizes (Prizes I’ve used have included Minecraft bookmarks, Minecraft pins made from Perler Beads, licorice made to look like TNT, Minecraft cootie catchers, paper Minecraft torches, this adorable Minecraft chess set (just printed out, not assembled)
-crafting material squares scattered around room (I taped mine all over the walls and windows.)
Four necklces made from perler beads, and 4 paper fortune tellers.
Accompanying them is a sign that reads "Minecraft Prize: Crafting"

Videos: Sometimes if you have a lull where kids are waiting to do something, it’s nice to have something going in the background. I used the Mod Playlist on the PrestonPlayz channel on YouTube so that the kids would have something to watch while they waited.
Creeper Rice Krispie Treats: The first time I made these, I did them the way Rosanna Pansino does on Nerdy Nummies but I am no Ro and piping out the little faces (which admittedly, I recruited my husband to help me do) took way too long. The second time I did this, I made a huge Rice Krispie square and put chocolate chips on top of it in the configuration of a Creeper face and just cut slices of it for the kiddos. It took so much less time and the kids did not care one bit that I took the lazy route! =)
Licorice TNT: The first time I did this, I spent hours slicing up tiny bundles of licorice and putting mini TNT wrappers around them. The second time, I just stuck a handful of whole, full-length licorice sticks in a cellophane bag and put the TNT label around the outside. Learn from my mistakes; the easy way is always best when it comes to food for children. They’re going to scarf it down without a second thought about how it looks. =P
Diamond Sword Cupcakes: You can find lots of images for this online. You just bake cupcakes, frost them with the colors of the diamond sword, and arrange them on the table to look like it. It’s so easy but looks so impressive!

Cupcakes arranges on a table in the shape of a sword.
The hilt is made of cupcakes with brown frosting; the
cupcakes making the sword are blue.

I’ve also used strawberries with the tops cut off as “Redstones” and pretzels as “trapdoors” or “sticks.” There are so many simple things to riff off of in the Minecraft universe when it comes to food. =)
There are lots of nifty labels out there for water bottles as well. I used these Potion of Healing labels from Catch My Party.

I hope this will be a helpful resource for you! While struggling to sift through my Pinterest boards to find all the links for this post, I kept thinking, “Gee, I sure wish all of these ideas were in one place!” Well, now they are, so happy mining (and crafting)! =)

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