The past couple summers, we’ve done a Life-Sized Candy Land program. And it has been a huge, crazy program both times, but the families LOVE it. We do two sessions on consecutive days and get about 400 people total over both days. You can see pictures here, and they give a pretty good idea of how crowded and chaotic it can get. We usually have about 8 teen volunteers and 4 staff members in the room at any time just to manage the crowds and keep the game going.
This is the kind of program that can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, and there are lots of different ways you can have kids play (I’m pretty sure kids have a good time regardless!). You can see some different ways to play here, here and here. We run the game by having a teen volunteer take small groups of 3-6 children through the game with their own deck of cards–basically it’s just like you play the board game although we did eliminate the spots where kids get “stuck.” When each child in the group finishes, she receives some candy and the rest of the kids in the group keep playing until they are all finished. Each group takes about 20 minutes to play, but that varies depending on the size of the group and the luck of the cards. We have up to six groups playing at one time, which makes the game area a little nuts but helps move the crowds through. We keep a waitlist and kids who are waiting their turn can do a craft.
Our game board is made of 12×12 foam tiles purchased from Amazon. We made candy-themed spots around the board based on what we could actually create, as opposed to what’s on the real game board. We had:
- Gumdrop Mountain–gumdrops made from colorful plastic buckets, handles removed, coated in glitter
- (Hershey) Kiss Creek–foil-covered poster board rolled into a Hershey’s Kiss shape, with a chocolate river made of brown fabric
- Lollipop Forest–lollipops made from balloons attached to a length of plastic pipe
- Peppermint Place–large, plastic candy canes (purchased at some point in the past; I’m not sure where from), mints made from painted tins and covered in clear cellophane
- Butterscotch Falls–butterscotch candies made of paper plates glued together and covered in shiny gold paper, tied at either end with ribbon
- Gingerbread Village–gingerbread men cut out of cardboard, trimmed with rop and with faces/other details painted on
- Donutville–someone on our staff sewed donuts out of felt
- Candy Castle–a wooden structure that we own, covered in laminated pictures of candy
Creating the game took forever the first year–we started months before the program and relied heavily on super-talented people on staff. That said, the second year setup was a breeze. We got everything out of storage, looked at the photos from the first year and copied everything exactly. This is the kind of program that is an investment. Once you do the work it’s easy to trot out of storage for future programs.
I’ve seen photos of awesome-looking life-sized board games at other libraries (like Clue, which I’m sure would be really fun with teens!). Have you ever done a life-sized board game at your library? Would you ever try it?