Monday, February 24, 2014

Spy School at the Library: A Program Do-Over

This is a program theme that is talked about a lot, including two other times on my blog alone. Inspired by Storytime Underground's Hack my Storytime series, I revisited my Spyology program after 2 years to see how I would approach it now!

(Also, of course I revisited Spyology, because programs based on the Ology books are always really fun. Meaning, I have the most fun planning them. And I guess the kids like them too).

At the beginning of the program, my coworkers Brooke and Linda were nice enough to write "Agent [first letter of kid's name]" on address labels so that the kids could get their code names. The girl pictured left asked for "Agent B" because she decided her name would be Brooke, too, and the entire Internet died from cuteness.

Like my last Spy program, we focused on rules in Spyology. Each rule had a "mission" the kids had to complete. While explaining the missions, I gave some fun facts about espionage they could use. I had a "spy library" with books about spies as well as books about the people I mention. This list from Mental Floss was helpful putting everything together.

Spies practicing meeting on the street
      Eyes are always on you: You never know when there’s someone following you when you’re a spy. That means that you need to be on your toes at all times. There’s 2 ways spies can hide. They can “go grey” meaning that they become so plain that they blend into the crowd. That’s what Sarah Edmonds did. During the Civil War, way back in the time when girls weren’t allowed to do things like be in the army, she used her job as a nurse to spy for the other side. And no one suspected her, because she was a quiet person who didn’t look like people thought a “spy” would. On the other hand, Julia Child and Roald Dahl were really famous (Julia was on TV and Roald wrote books) but they were ALSO spies! This is called “standing out to blend in”. When you’re really famous and even on TV, no one would think you’re a spy! People think “why would someone choose to be famous if they’re trying to hide?” It fools with people’s brains and helps you stay hidden. 
     Your mission is to make a disguise. We have a few options here for your disguise; choose wisely.

      Keep Secrets safe: Encode! A very important part of spying is being able to communicate without getting caught. For this reason, we need to write in a code language. This code is an easy one to try, with each letter ACTUALLY meaning another letter. These slips of paper have codes on them. (Post-program note: The codes I used for this program were left over from our Undercover Spy program. This code is called a REVERSE CIPHER. Make sure you know the name of the cipher you used. I was asked. Brooke looked it up, and I later shared my "report from intelligence").
Hidden spy with tracking device
     Your mission here is to decipher the code and THEN do what the code says! After that, you can turn the paper over and try to write your own code.

      Eyes peeled, ears open:  As a spy, one of the things you’ll need to know about is surveillance. Surveillance means that you are watching someone at all times, or following them. This doesn’t mean always that you are actually following them, though; sometimes it means taking a small tracking device, or “bug” and placing it on them. The tracking device will send information about what that person is saying or doing and send it back to you on your computer or phone. Today, Around the children’s room there are spies who are standing out to blend in. They normally look like this, but they all have disguises on.  
      Your mission is to find all six of them, and place your tracking device (star stickers) on them! (This is the same as Yoda's Bad Guy Find)

       Clever Spies use clever gadgets: Spies use lots of crazy gadgets to track bad guys and communicate “intelligence”, or what they found out. 
 I'll never be as cool as this kid is right now
      Your mission is to create a spy gadget out of LEGO. Tell me or your grown up how you would use it!
(    (This is the same as Anakin's Gadget Shack and Jay's Gadget Station. Setting out LEGO is also a great way to get kids participating if they're reluctant with other stations or if they finish early).
   Have you ever revisited a program you've done previously? What did you change? How did it go?

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