There’s no way to escape Frozen. And hey, why would you want to? Of all Disney products, it’s not the worst. In fact, there’s some pretty great parts. What’s not to love about a heroine with ice powers and another heroine who saves her? The idea for this program really started growing when I noticed a group of four year old girls playing this really elaborate fantasy game about going on a hunt for Kristoff at the same time another little girl was sitting at the coloring table and narrating to her mother how the picture she was coloring was Elsa’s castle.
I want in on that kinda elaborate fantasy life! Accordingly, we decided to end our summer of programs with a Frozen sing-along. We’ve done this kind of media-ish event for teens before, but this was our first attempt with the 3-12 year old crow. (yes, it was a huge age range.) But how hard could it be? Just throw in a DVD and press play, right? But, of course, we learned some lessons. Here’s how we put it all together!
First, let me say this event would have been impossible to pull off without the help of my three student workers: Jared, Dillon, and Stephanie. They did tons of the prep work for it, cosplayed on different levels for it, and helped manage it the day of. You’ve seen them before on the blog because they make our programs happen but this event, especially, depended entirely on them since – literally – the rest of my regular staff was on vacation. In fact, this is tip one: have staff that is willing to play along. We wanted to make this a real event not just something they could watch at home on their giant TVs. So this made it so much more fun for all the kids!
First question: Were we going to watch it with the subtitles on?
When we did this at the end of July, there was no Sing-Along version. There’s also no way to turn the subtitles on and off without going to the main menu, so that was obviously out. The subtitles were also just regular subtitles, which means small and yellow. We decided they were more distracting than worth it. So … no subtitles.
But GOOD NEWS – if you’re having an event on or after November 18, you can use the official SING-ALONG version. I haven’t seen any clips or anything, but I am imagining the songs will be like this one from the UK sing-along version.
I still don’t know if I’d bother with that, though. Besides the fact we had many pre-readers (and many families/kids that have limited English) and the kids mostly knew all the songs … that dancing Olaf head is sort of distracting. It might make it feel more SPECIAL EVENT-Y, though. But at least now you have the option!
But we were worried about the lyrics. So we made up some lyric books.
(Dillon posing with the lyric booklet)
We laminated the sheets and put them together using binder rings. They went in order of how the song appear in the movie. As you can see, they were not fancy and they were mostly meant for the adults. We expected a huge crowd, so we didn’t make enough for everyone, just enough to go around. Mostly parents were uninterested in them. It was dark in the room and they didn’t really want to follow along anyway. They wanted to keep them after though, haha. So maybe you could make them as take-home favors? Otherwise, we definitely wouldn’t do this again.
Second question: How to decorate? What about costumes?
Remember, the goal was to make this AN EVENT: something worth specifically coming to the library for, something they couldn’t just do at home. (as long-time readers of the blog know, this is one of our main goals for these kind of events, no matter the theme.) And you know what events have? DECORATIONS. So, we made a big purchase. We bought stand-ups of Anna and Elsa and Olaf so we could set up a photobooth. We bought them from Amazon (closest party store didn’t have them in stock) and, as you can see, they were expensive. BUT. BUT.
This is one of the most successful pieces of marketing we’ve EVER done. And we didn’t have to do a darn thing besides set it up. Because every parent and grandparent and caregiver that came took a ton of pictures of their charges posing and then did what we do with pictures these days: shared them. Shared them all over and said it was at a library event and everyone saw them and then there were conversations about the library and library programs and how amazing the library is for families. (I am friends with some moms on Facebook, so I saw those and that was great- and I know there were many more all across social media and personal sharing.) There were parents there with professional grade cameras, taking pictures that will be part of their child’s story for a LONG time. And that will ALL tie to the library. It was worth all the money.
We took the stand-ups and all my leftover holiday wrapping paper (now’s the time to pick up that snow wrapping paper!) in blue and silver and used our Ellison to make some snowflakes. With some white butcher paper and cotton batting, all on hand, we created the world’s greatest photobooth/posing area.
We were originally going to give these away as door prizes, which could be a way you could justify the cost. But we decided to keep them both in case we have another Frozen event and also to possibly use in display and promotion – imagine the reaction to them hanging out in the YS area with info about programs! Overall? If you have the budget for the stand-ups I say go for it. But even if you don’t spring for them: having a photobooth is a must. Make one with snowflakes, wrapping paper, and posters – just make it clear that this is an area for posing. This, of course, encourages the kids to come in costume, which is another huge draw of making your event special.
And yes, that brings us to costumes. Oh, if you know me, you know a costume’s coming. But this time I lucked out, my whole staff dressed up.
Here’s what was great: we had all different levels of cosplay happening to take the pressure off. Stephanie wore something as simple as a Frozen tshirt. Dillon matched her outfit to Anna’s thematically/color wise. Jared and I went to a fuller cosplay level, with Jared taking it to a con-worthy outfit. The kids LOVED IT. They asked Jared to be in pictures with them and they giggled with delight on seeing us ALL. For me, the biggest choice was Elsa’s hair. It’s hard to find an adult wig for her that doesn’t look cheap. So … I had a friend make this amazing knitted creation. (You can buy them on Etsy in all sizes, another bonus.) Kids loved it too, it was very approachable. And yes, I did Elsa make-up: another huge hit. (bright purple eyeshadow, light blush, tons of red lipstick.)
We had TONS of kids in Elsa costumes – from 2-3 year olds to 9-10 year olds, hand-made to fanciest of the store-bought. We had fewer Annas, but they were also representing. We had a family come in costume, with a 4 year old Anna and the dad wearing antlers to be Sven and the older brother as Olaf. We even had a kid dressed up as the Duke, complete with black glasses made out of pipe-cleaners. The costumes were a real highlight, so I would make sure to highlight and encourage that element in your promotion. If you’ve ever wanted your chance to be a Disney character that kids want in their pictures, well! Today’s your day!
Third question: would we have handouts/favors/props?
At a lot of our themed events we have crafts and things the kids take home. But we weren’t doing anything at this one besides watching the movie, so I didn’t mind (clears throat) letting that go. Not every program has to be the same program, after all.
BUT. I did want them to have something. I was worried about the kids who were going to show up without costumes. I wanted them to feel part of the event, part of the FEELING, anyway. We created something cheap that turned out to not only be a photobooth prop but something for them to have at the movie. All we needed was our stash of popsicle sticks, white paper, and our snowflake diecut again. That’s right: everyone got snowflake wands!
The event was held on the third floor of our library, where we opened our three giant meeting rooms into one room. It’s set up with pretty sweet surround sound and has a giant screen. We created a white butcher paper runway with blue cellophane over it leading to the photobooth/posing area. When the kids came up the stairs or off the elevator, they got a snowflake from the ice block and a greeting from staff, errrr … the citizens of Arendelle. They went to the photobooth area and then headed in to sit on the floor in the meeting rooms. (it was about a thousand degrees, ironically, so we had to quickly set up fans.) Here’s some fans posing with their wands:
The other instructions/use for the wands helped make the kids feel a little more relaxed and involved during the movie: we encouraged the kids to hold them up high and move them back and forth as they were singing along.
As they became more and more enchanted with the movie, they lifted the snowflakes up and swayed them side to side. It sure was something to see.
When the movie was over, we gave all the attendees one last parting gift – an Anna and Elsa paper doll set. I found a really talented artist named Cory Jensen. He makes beautiful art. He also makes free (as long as you don’t use them commercially, of course) PAPER DOLLS.
He has several different sets of Frozen dolls on his Facebook page, but we chose these because there wasn’t a lot of cutting around their heads and faces. It was a good thing to give on the way out and as a take-home. The parents LOVED paper dolls and when we showed kids the ones we’d prepared, they couldn’t wait to try out this brand new technology of dolls made out of paper with interchangeable clothes! We had them printed on cardstock by our print shop but they came out a little grainy at full 8 x 11, so I suggest doing a test print. I think we’d do them again, but I could easily see trading it out for a color-at-home crown or a packet of coloring sheets. The take-home part was more important than the fancy/color paper dolls. The take-home was a good way to bring everything to a firm conclusion.
What an event! We had around 130 people, parents and kids and whole families, in attendance and more people talking about it for weeks and weeks after. There were definitely some snags and here’s a few things to consider as you plan:
- The temperature of the room was boiling, so that was difficult. (Facilities issues, amIright!) We also had to have the majority of people sitting on the floor, sorry but it was the only way to get them all in. So, ahead of time: think about the physical location of where you’ll be having this, what the room will feel like, how to set it all up. Be prepared to talk to patrons about if they’ll have to sit on the floor or explain why the room is set up the way it is – most were understanding.
- There will be latecomers, there’s no way around it. But we were firm on starting the movie on time. The con of course was people stumbling in while the room was dark and crowded, but … well at some point you HAVE to start, so make it on time.
- If you decide you’re going to have a photobooth/photo area, decide and decorate ahead of time. You’ll note in one photo we added an X for where to stand, that helped. It helped us have this separated off, don’t have it too close to the screening area. We left the photo area up for just in case after shots. (but we found toddlers knocking over the stand-ups as they wandered out of the movie, so make sure you rope it off/clean it up if you won’t have staff near it.)
- Took the kids a song to two to warm up, but if you have a grown-up singing/into it up front, it helps – as did our staff’s enthusiasm, costumes, and willingness to play. But d0n’t sing OVER them (an issue me and my big mouth had to learn.)
In all, it was a great topper to our summer program. This program was about much more than a movie kids loved, it was the exact kind of event that we KNOW the library is all about and we dream of finding a way to tell the world we’re all about. It was a day of play, imagination, love of story, community and … FUN!
The best proof? Here’s some video my student intern Stephanie shot of our crowd singing Let It Go. You can hear me shouting, of course, but just listen to their voices. Watch the gentle rise of snowflake wands, hear how they invest this moment with ALL THE HAVE inside them.
If this isn’t why we do what we do … well, what is?
Have YOU had a Frozen event or something similar based around a fandom or movie for this age cohort at your library? Are there any tips and tricks for events like this that have really worked for you? If you’re planning an event like this what are you working on and when do you think your patrons will be the most interested? Did you want clarification or expansion about anything I mentioned in this blog? Leave me a comment here or let’s talk on Twitter.
Now start practicing those songs!