Creating a Cheap and Easy Program for ANY Fandom

It’s likely that the teens who frequent your library and are the most active participants have particular books series, television shows or movies with which they are obsessed. While the focus of the fandom may vary from year to year or even within your group of teens, I’ve found that for most any fandom there are several cheap and programs that you can employ that will satisfy their craving for fandom-specific programming. The following ideas can be combined to create one full evening of events or used separately for shorter after school programs.

Trivia

This one is obvious, but there are a few different directions that you can take, depending on your group.

Jeopardy!: Several years ago, I created a Jeopardy! style game for Hunger Games using a PowerPoint template that I found online. It took me a few hours to come up with categories and questions that increased in difficulty for each topic, but once the game was set (including Double and Final Jeopardy!) I had myself a board that I brought out annually for 5 consecutive years. It never failed. They loved it. I had a few kids who even came back year after year who would get stumped on the same questions. I made a few updates over time if I thought of a better question to throw in, but otherwise it required no additional work.

Kahoot!: More recently, I’ve been using Kahoot! to take trivia to the next level. You can create your own quiz OR just hunt around and find a good one that’s already been created. Set up a computer and projector to show the questions. Participants log into your game via a smartphone or computer (no additional sign up required on their part), and off you go. Kahoot! keeps track of points and gives a bonus for the speed with which one answers. My teens go crazy.

Trivia Books/Games: These are great for just picking up and asking questions from a random card or page, but can also be used for a more structured competition. I like to use Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit and some trivia books for Harry Potter and Star Wars. They also make a Dr. Who Trivial Pursuit. Andrews UK publishes a variety of trivia books. Questions vary in difficulty, so there’s usually something for everyone (unless, like some of my teens, they’ve memorized the entire Trivial Pursuit game). If all else fails, have teens create their own questions!

Twenty Questions

If I have to pick a favorite, I think this one is it. I tried this first with Harry Potter and it worked so well, I’ve used it with Hunger Games and Star Wars. Any fandom with a lot of characters will work well for this game. All you do is get a whole bunch of nametag stickers or even post-its. On each, write the name of one character (human, animal, droid or otherwise). Each participant gets a post-it/nametag stuck on his/her back and must run around asking yes/no questions to discover who they are. For Harry Potter, we first drank “Polyjuice Potion” (lemon-lime soda + lime sherbet) and the schtick was that you has to figure out who it turned you into. For Star Wars, your memory is erased by a Jedi mind trick and you don’t know who you are. You get the idea. Once you figure out who you are, you run back and get another nametag. You can make it a competition (person who figures out the most identities wins) or just do it for fun. I thought this would be a silly activity that just filled time. I was wrong. They love this so much they’ll just turn in used nametags to have them redistributed to the next person so that they can keep playing, which makes it kinda cool if you wind up being the same character twice.

Cupcake Decorating

Aside from trivia, this is my go-to. It’s an active/creative activity, snack, and competition in one! Buy (or bake) enough un-iced cupcakes so that each participant gets two. Put out a couple of tubs of chocolate and vanilla icing. In bowls with spoons, provide a variety of toppings, from basic sprinkles, to googly eyes, to mini-marshmallows, mini-M&Ms, and the fancy shaped and colored sprinkles. Purchase a couple of colors of icing for detail work and lettering. Give the instruction to decorate the cupcakes around the fandom theme. Teens submit one of their cupcakes into the competition and eat the other. Teens or adults can be the judges of whose is best and award fandom related prizes. The competition cupcakes can be brought home at the end. Or, more likely, consumed almost immediately after the judging is finished.

Dodgeball & Capture The Flag/Stuff

Everyone loves these games and knows the rules because they’ve been playing them since they were little. If you have a gymnasium or other large open room, you can divide it in half and make these games happen. For Harry Potter, one dodgeball team becomes the Death Eaters and the other is Dumbledore’s Army, fighting in the Battle for Hogwarts. For Star Wars, it’s the Rebel Alliance v. the Empire. You get the picture. Be sure to use the soft, squishy foam balls; NOT bouncy playground balls. Trust me. For Capture the Stuff, it’s the same deal, but the “stuff” is horcruxes (Harry Potter) or supplies from the Cornucopia (Hunger Games).

The great thing about these programs is that they don’t cost much to create and many of the supplies can be reused in the future for other activities. Best of all, your teens will get to engage in different ways: creative, athletic, and mental, so there’s something for everyone.

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