Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ninjago Library Party

Source (seriously, you have to get these books)
At long last, we ran our no-school Ninjago party. To be honest, the total prep time for this program was 3 hours, but it was extremely high-yield at 95 attendees. That is seriously more than I've seen in my time at this library for a program at our library that didn't have a guest or hired performer.
Thanks to the extra prep time, I was prepared. And I'm going to write it out for you all, and link to some resources I found helpful, so that your prep time (and my future prep time; I will be doing this again) will be considerably less than that for the same quality program.

My biggest inspiration for this program (other than the hordes of children basically running over us once word broke we had Ninjago-related materials) was the Ninja Challenge posted by Amy at Catch the Possibilities last year, in which she differentiated a teen program she found so that is was suitable for elementary kids (her posting saved me hours on its own). The teen program is linked to and credited at her site, too.

Because I knew it was popular and wanted it to be awesome, I spent about an hour poring over the Ninjago Wiki and matching each major character with an activity that would be easy to implement. I wanted it to be as canon as possible, you see. Just like me, fandom don't play.

So here's what happened:
Fifteen minutes before the program started, myself and  our fearless YS aide lined up participants. We made sure each kid was 5+ (some were 13- WHOA!). Each kid was given a name tag on it with their "ninja name", based on the first 2 letters of their name (yup, just 1st 2 letters. Streamline the process!). These name tags had one of each Kai, Cole, Zane, or Jay on them-- this is the way they could pick their "favorite" ninja (without getting too crafty and getting right to the activities).

I got everyone's attention and had them follow me with their eyes as I explained every station. Before I let them go, I added a strongly emphasized "Ninja Rule":
The biggest ninja rule of all is "patience". Patience means no pushing, or yelling, but it means quietly waiting your turn for each activity. If you don't show patience, we have the right to ask you leave the arena, which means you will not get a Master of Spinjitzu certificate today.
 Oh yeah, everyone who completed all of the stations with no behavior problems received as Master of Spinjitzu certificate. So of course, there were absolutely no behavior problems.

Here are the stations, complete with the tie-ins to the characters:
Kai: Morning Training Course: This was stolen from the mind of Brooke, who has lots of great ideas and has started blogging about them (woo!)
Character Tie-In: In the pilot episode "Way of the Ninja" ,   Sensei Wu makes Kai run the same course every morning until he could finish before Senseu was done with his tea. One day, Kai was able to accomplish it-- by knocking Sensei Wu's tea out of his hand as he went by. (Note: that part wasn't part of our course, but ask the kids about it; they'll love if you know trivia)

Zane: Nindroid Arctic Rescue: Reading the sign to the right, you might remember this activity from my Mars program, except with "Snow Pigs" and some blue paper for the floor.
Character Tie-In: Zane at first doesn't know who his parents are, and it turns out he was actually created and is a cyborg. Hence, the robot claw. Also, he grows up in an extreme environment and is impervious to the temperature, and acted as a protector for everyone in his village.

Rebuilding the mountain, with other ninjas showing patience

Cole: Mountain Knock-down: This was a mini version of Angry Birds Live.
Character Tie-In: Cole controls the element earth, and so can build and knock down mountains. He unlocks his true potential by saving his father under a mountain of debris.He is also the lightest on his feet, so another possibility was some kind of synchronized dance with a swim noodle, if anyone is into that.

Jay: Gadget Station: Kids built new gadgets for use by the ninjas, using the fewest number of LEGO possible. They also had to put thought into it, and explain to one of the librarians how it was used. The fewest number was 3, made into a smoke bomb for escape.
Character Tie-In: Jay is the inventor of the group, and is the go-to-guy for fixing the ninja's vehicles. He's also the comedian of the group, so another thought I had was to have kids in groups, and one read jokes or makes faces (as Jay) while the other kid tries their best to keep a straight face (like Zane, who, as a cyborg, doesn't understand humor).

Sensei Wu: Brain Training Center: Also known as Hey, Look, Mandatory Check-out!
Character Tie-In: He's the Sensei, so.

Good luck to everyone doing this; I have another one coming up next month at one of the branches! If you do use this program, please let me know how it goes! This year I'd like to start highlighting programs I've posted being used by other librarians, and how they tweaked things to fit their own particular situation. If you're interested in sending me a guest post, let me know!

Okay, back to my regular, non-Ninjago-saturated life.... for now! 


  1. You're so talented! I think I'm going to consider doing this for a summer reading program.

  2. That's nice of you to say! I really just re-purposed stuff I did before, though :) I definitely this would work awesome as an SLP special event. Dig Into Your True Potential? We Dig It: Ninjago? I don't know. Screw the theme and do it anyway!

  3. Every time you post something brilliant like this, I print it out (yes, I'm wasteful like that) and put it in my "ideas" file. Please, for the good of librarians everywhere, write a book. Or at least a magazine. Or at the very least a regular feature in Library Sparks.

  4. Amanda, I think I'm going to plaster that all over my face. Would it be too obnoxious if I just quoted that everywhere with your name attached? At the very least I'm thinking of bathroom mirror for morning pep talk :)

    Thank you both for your kind words, you keep me doing what I do!

  5. Love this, Sara! If we lived anywhere near you, my 4 yo son would dump me & make you his new mom - he's a big Ninjago fan :-)
    I wonder if you would consider adding a "follow by email" thingy so I can subscribe to your blog? I don't do the RSS thing yet.

  6. Hi Amanda-- thanks for commenting! You can follow by email but you have to scroll all the way to the bottom. I'll see if I can move it:)

  7. You killed it! Awesome indeed!