When I found out that this year's summer reading program theme was Dig Into Reading, I knew I had to have a Peter Rabbit Party. It fits the theme on several levels. Rabbits burrow underground and the party allows the kids to dig into Beatrix Potter's Books.
This event is for ages 3-9 and will last about 1.5 hours. I did this event at all four of my library branches with a total attendance of 91. Here's what I did.
As the kids arrived, I invited them to bowl. This is a nod to Squirrel Nutkin and his playing ninepins in his book. After everyone arrives, we dance. I let the kids pick which song. Then we're ready for story time.
I started the story portion of the program by showing the children a picture of Beatrix Potter when she was five years old (from Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear). Then I asked them if they knew Peter Rabbit's story. There's a new Peter Rabbit show on Nick Jr. so most of them said yes.
Now it's time for the flannel board activity. I tell the kids that Miss Potter didn't just write about rabbits. She wrote about all kinds of animals. I place the 11 animals from my Beatrix Potter's Animals set on the board one at a time. I ask the kids to identify the animals. Then I mention the stories that have those animals. The only animal they have trouble identifying is the badger.
After that we do a few rhymes with my mice finger puppets. Then I share a few rhymes from Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes. Then I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit. After reading it, I mention that Peter also appears in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. He makes a cameo appearance in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles. Peter Rabbit has a new story as well. The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit written by Emma Thompson and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Its publication marked the 110 anniversary of the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Now it's time for a few games. First up is the Peter Rabbit Flower Pot Hunt. A small stuffed rabbit is hidden under 1 of 6 clay flower pots. The kids guess which one.
The third game is Peter, Peter, Where's the Gate? Similar to doggy and the bone, one child is Peter and sits in a chair. A gate made of craft sticks is underneath the chair. The rabbit closes his/her eyes. The other children chant "Peter, Peter, Where's the Gate?" several times. One of the children takes the gate. We all put our hands behind our backs. Peter has to guess who has the gate. we continue in this fashion until everyone has had a turn.
Now it's time for the craft portion of the program. We made rabbit ears using a template from DLTK. Then we made bunny noses and whiskers. I found the idea on Pinterest and here's a link to blog post.
Before the kids leave, I give them a packet of coloring sheets from the official Peter Rabbit website and a book list of tales divided into animal categories. I also have a Beatrix Potter book display.
At one of my branches, I have a fantastic friend and volunteer, Cathy, who always decorates for my events. I mention the theme and she runs with it.