Program-And-Tell: Kids Craft Market

kids maker market
A child shows their grown-up their newly purchased perler bead creation.

In mid-December, I hosted our second-annual (and my first ever) Kids Craft Market. Kids signed up to “sell” their wares—be it origami animals or bracelets or “fake paper airplanes”—to other kids. Besides the general anxiety of worrying if people will show up, it’s one of the easiest programs I’ve planned. And it’s one of the most rewarding!

To plan this program, all you need is a room with tables, crafty kids who are eager to share their work, and a little bit of advertising. We did this program as part of a recurring Sunday series, so many families who came were already used to coming to the library on Sundays for programs. But it was also unique enough to attract new attendees—including some tween vendors, who don’t usually come to family programs.

We opened up registration at the beginning of the month. To help drum up interest, we also hired an instructor from Portland to lead a winter crafts program the first Sunday of the month. All we asked on the registration form was (1) the kids’ name, (2) what they were planning to sell, and (3) a way to contact them so we could give a reminder call.

For the actual exchanging of goods, we made it pretty clear to everyone beforehand that no money would be exchanged. Instead, we gave everyone (including the vendors) five tickets to exchange for wares. The vendors set their own prices. If kids ran out of tickets, we gave them a few more. But, to be honest, most kids were happy with just the five.

The program lasted an hour (2:00-3:00pm), which was the perfect length. For those who weren’t interested in crafts or who wanted to make something on the spot, we had a station for coloring and making AccuCut puzzles (a brilliant idea from my coworker Patricia). Just because I was in a cookie mindset and Trader Joe’s has such a fabulous cookie selection, we also had a treat table.

…That’s really all there is to it!

(Note: I believe the idea for this program originally came from The Maker Cookbook: Recipes for Children’s and ‘Tween Library Programs.)

How It Went: This was such a successful program. I was really worried because a similar program (a Children’s Business Expo) happened in our community a week or two prior to our event. They actually exchanged money there. But what I like best about leaving money out of this is that it allows more people to participate. We restricted our vendors to just kids for that reason, too. Many adults were upset by that choice (they wanted to have a table, too!) but I was firm on the decision to stick with the “by kids, for kids” mentality. I think some grown-ups snuck their wares in anyway on their kids’ tables, but what can you do?

One thing I learned about offering cookies at a program is that you really have to have a person at that station to help portion stuff out. Some kids kept trolling the station, trying to pilfer second and third helpings! I suppose an alternative could be to have more cookies, but my personal preference is to minimize the sugar intake.

My coworkers who had done this the previous year noted that not enough vendors signed up that year, so there weren’t any wares they could buy from each other by the end of the event. Because of that, we opted to have an exclusive vendors-only “presale” before the public was invited in (~1:45-2:00pm). That worked really well, I think.

The program had around 80 attendees (including the 11 vendors) and everyone seemed to walk away with multiple somethings. Many were asking if we were going to do it next year—that’s the best review you can get it my book!

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