The thing I love about Wacky Wednesdays is that every week, with every different theme, the set up, decorations, costume, character and the activities change. From week to week the challenge is to bring each theme to life in a different and surprising way.
In February we did “The Mad Hatters Dance Party” and it was about dance and music for toddlers. Costumed as the Mad Hatter, I put coloured flags and umbrellas around the space, blew up lots of balloons, then gave fly-swatters to the kids to hit them with, whilst playing disco music. It created a fantastic scene; simple, unstructured fun that enticed other kids to join. When we had gathered a critical mass, we moved onto percussion and marching with instruments, then singing with ukulele, musical games,
free-form dance with parents, inevitably finishing up with the Hokey Pokey. The activities went over a period of two hours while kids and families came and went. I made sure I had enough options to engage whatever combination of parents and kids I got.
Next was Magic Week and we put flags and umbrellas around the space in a red, black and white theme, (the colours of the playing cards). Dressed as a Magician, I performed tricks, juggling and patter; rolling on continuously as people came and went.
It was more like a "sit and watch" experience this time, but with interactive opportunities; some kids did coloring-in while others had magicians' mustaches painted on their faces. We then entered those coloring-in sheets in a competition to harvest emails.
For Games Week we compiled a bunch of activities for small kids and their parents. Quoits, hopscotch and a great thing called “Hit the Bullseye” where they throw balls at a target. We organized games like Duck, Duck Goose, Red Light/Green Light and Simon Says, along with party games and crazy relays. I have the flexibility to offer individualized games and group games depending on who presents, remembering young kids can be enormously shy and require patient coaxing.
Clown Week was next. I arrive with a rack of clown costumes, funny hats, wigs and red noses, then dress kids up so they look amazingly cute. Then we have parents take photos in front of a special backdrop with nice lights,
uploading them to the centre’s Facebook page where they can invite friends to vote for the cutest clown. In this way, we generate lots of interest in the centre and connections with people through social media.
Ongoing, we do themes connected to pirates, storytelling, puppets, circus and more. There’s bubbles, treasure-hunts, face painting, balloons, games, jokes and lots of fun.
The unifying things with each theme are these consistent elements:
A distinct colour theme and decoration of the space to make it visually exciting, using flags, bunting, banners and balloons.
A different costume and character MC each week.
Particular activities and games dictated by the theme.
Performance aspects where kids watch me.
Passive activities like colouring-in and face painting where the kids can be in a quieter space for a while
Opportunities for parents to get “hands-on" and share special time with their kids
Social media angles where we encourage parents to post photos and interact with the centre*.
*The social media side of things is particularly interesting. It's the way of the future. From my work with various centres, I see there are many opportunities if we think creatively and provide genuinely good experiences for shoppers. My role is to provide the content centres can leverage from.