Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Contests

Contests are a great way to do some passive programming in the midst of our busy summer reading schedule.  They are fun, relatively easy to do, and can be low cost.

How to Run a Contest
1.  Come up with a theme.  Below are a few that we have done:
  • counting Goldfish crackers in a fishbowl
  • counting die cuts around a department
  • trivia
  • guessing games
  • name a stuffed animal/mascot
2.  Decide on your rules and be clear on those rules.  You will want the following:
  • Ages (both maximums and minimums or you will get "gifted" babies entering trivia contests)
  • Deadlines
  • How many times people can enter?
  • Who can win?  As an example, at our library we only give prizes that cost money to residents and their families  who pay taxes to the library.  We have many other people who use us though and they can still play for fun.
3.  Prizes!  You don't have to break the bank to come up with some quality prizes.
  • Do you have an awesome dollar store near you?  Look for fun kids' things like beach balls, sand pails, water bottles, etc.
  • Do you have left over summer reading prizes from previous years that are still in good condition?  Last year we gave away glow-in-the-dark stars that were really popular and would be fun to pull out again.
4.  Count your stats (these kids still participated) and advertise the winners.  Half of the prize for the kids is to see their name in print on our events board. 

Random notes:
-You will have better participation as the level of thought/time involved to play your contest goes down.  Counting Goldfish crackers in a bowl=high participation.  Trivia=low participation.  Neither is better than the other as they hit different kids that you serve.

What We Are Doing Here:
Just so you can see an example, I will walk you through what we are doing here.  We have three locations so each location is responsible for coming up with one contest for all of us to share.  Over our 6 heaviest weeks of the summer, we are running a different contest every two weeks.  The first was ours so I will show you what I did.

I am a big fan of pinning ideas on Pinterest, even if I don't have a use for them at the time.  I found this fun bulletin board and thought that the idea would work well for some sort of contest.  This is what I came up with.  Most are pretty easy for people who are familiar with children's books, but I do like to throw in 1 or 2 stumpers.  (I even stumped some of the staff here!)  

Our contest forms are on our table right next to our summer reading forms, which is one of the first things that people see as they walk into the library.  For our prizes this time, we will be giving away 3 butterfly nets that we have leftover from a previous summer's unclaimed prize pile.  Our cost for this contest is $0.

The fun part about this contest is that even though there are always kids who will know most/all of the answers, there are those who are using this as a scavenger hunt to look through all of the books in the picture book section.  To me, this is pretty cool as in their exploration, chances are they will find something new!

Next week's contest will be letters hidden on construction cones throughout our children's room.  Kids will have to find the letters and unscramble the phrase for their entries.


  1. Lisa, one fun "contest" we did this year for our SRP in order to give away some nice prizes given to us by a local tv personality who always partners with our cooperative was a weekly "Find 5" contest. Each week we handed out 5 questions that families had to work together to find 5 things. I had them find 5 things in the library, outside the library, 2 different weeks of things out in nature. The last week I am having them find things in our downtown area near the library, incorporating 2 downtown businesses who donated items to the library this summer for our SRP.

    1. That is a great idea that I am going to steal if I can find a way to do it. Our service is are is a little large-60 square miles.


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