Ever had one of those programs where you get twice as many attendees as you were expecting and have to scramble to make it work? Yeah, they’re my favourite kind. It takes a lot of adrenaline and quick thinking to make it work, but hey! Look at that crowd of excited library users.
Pizza Mania was my eleventh weekly Tween Club event (creative, social experiences for grades 5 – 8). We have a solid group of 30+ regular-ish attendees, who come when they can make it, but Pizza Mania happened to fall on a very nasty icy evening. I expected 15 at the most…and I got over 30. And it worked. We had pizza tasting, pizza jewelry crafting, dessert pizza making, pizza speeches, pizza masks, and pizza bunting. AND we had the local newspaper cover the event! Check out the article here, and the front page cover below!
This was a major highlight, but it was challenging to pull off as a side event. I’ve decided that in the near future I am going to run an entire event around making tiny food jewelry. During Pizza Mania, I had one table with kids painting their necklaces while the rest of us played the camp game Werewolf (also known as Mafia). I wish I had taken more pictures of my prep work, but here’s what you need for pizza necklaces:
- Air Dry Clay
- Yellow, Orange, Red, and Brown paint
- Mod Podge
- Jump Rings (small, flexible metal rings used to connect the charm to the necklace. Make sure they are big enough to fit through the nacklace cords you choose)
- Necklace Cords
- Key chains
Because of the number of activities I planed to squeeze in, I did some of the crafting before the event. I sculpted around 20 pizza slices, and stuck jump rings into the wet clay. They dried overnight and were ready to be painted by tweens. I had planned to make some wet clay available during the event, so they could sculpt their own if they wanted, but there was too much going on, so I ran an impromptu game of Werewolf while half the tweens make their necklaces.
The main event! As they came in, tweens took their seats at tables set with a plate, 2 Pizza Tasting Cards, a pencil, and some juice. Two local pizza places had donated large cheese pizzas, and we were going to taste and compare. I love creating events that are both serious and silly at the same time – it’s a kind of humor that works well with this age group. I encouraged them to bite into each slice and deeply consider the experience – how did the different elements work well together? How savory was the sauce? How stringy was the cheese? How cardboardy was the crust? How could this pizza be better? They could take notes, and if they wanted they could come up to the microphone and give a short “pizza speech” with their thoughts. I created a document that asked tweens to rate different elements of the pizza, and I would encourage you to make your own.
My goals for this activity were:
- to encourage critical thinking and evaluation skills (yes, this is valuable even if what they are evaluating is PIZZA!)
- to encourage confidence, communication, and public speaking skills
- to further show that the library is a fun place where they can explore topics that they are actually interested in
- to feed them pizza
When I announced that we would be making Dessert Pizza, there was an actual roar of approval and wild stampede towards the table. This is a must! It would be easy to add in to any tween or teen program. Put your own spin on it. You only need 3 components:
A small circle shaped crust: mini bagles, tortillas, white bread toasted and cut with a cookie cutter, etc. Gluten free options of any of those is probably a good idea. I actually used buttered and toasted corn tortillas, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sugar.
A Sweet Sauce: icing, melted chocolate chips, cream cheese, honey, etc. I used melted chocolate chips, but I think it would be cool to have a selection of different options. Peanut butter or Nutella would be delicious, but of course I always avoid it because of nut allergies.
Toppings: sprinkles, tiny candies of any kind, fondant (for sculpting!), fresh fruit, dried fruit, etc. Get creative with it.
I would advice having a volunteer oversee this table, to keep mess down and to steer kids away from eating sprinkles by the handful.
You really could keep this activity relatively healthy by making the crust base small, and placing the emphasis on natural sugars like honey and fruit instead of chocolate and candy.
Pizza Bunting and Decorations
This is an easy one! I had our pages cut out probably 200 pizza slices to hang around the room as bunting. It made a cool photo booth. I’m finding that tweens are very into taking photos during the event and posting them on social media. For that reason I’m trying to include special photo booth areas in each event. I will be making a Tween Club sign to go along with the next one.
Please let me know if you use any resources in this, or any other of my program outlines – especially if work at a library in the same region as I do. I love sharing my instructions and ideas, but I hope that other library professionals give credit where it is due, and ensure they are not claiming my work as their own.
If you have any pizza activities that you’ve tried, please share them in the comments below!