Planning library programs can be very time consuming and labor intensive. In addition to a story, there is usually a craft and a snack, all carefully organized to tie in to the story and specific literacy goals for the age group. It can take much longer to plan the program than it does to execute it! Amy Koester and Marge Loch-Wouters suggest a more laid-back approach of “unprogramming” with fewer planned materials. They advocate unprogramming as a way to avoid programming burnout and alleviate stress.
At the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, Amy and Marge presented on “Unprogramming: Recipes for School-Age Program Success.” For those of who couldn’t attend, they have put together an 8 part series of blog posts discussing how to plan unprograms on their blogs, The Show Me Librarian and Tiny Tips for Library Fun.
Their basic recipe for unprogramming includes picking a theme for the books, gathering activity ideas, providing materials for exploration, and helping facilitate the various activity stations. They offer a variety of ideas for unprograms to help you get started, as well as an unprogramming Pinterest board.
The idea behind unprogramming is to allow the kids to adapt open-ended activities based on their own interests and learning styles. Instead of investing time in planning specific activities the kids may or may not care about, unprogramming allows the kids to direct the activity.
Are you already practicing a version of unprogramming at your library? How do you minimize time and effort spent planning programs?