We had a LOT of fun at Spy School! We did this as part of our new program Spotlight. Spotlight focuses on a different topic each month. It follows the interests of what we see in our department. Since Stuart Gibbs’ latest book Spy School Secret Service is now out, we decided to have some fun with it sending our school-aged kiddos through different tasks and missions in order to officially be spies.
Here is a quick look at what we did!
The overall set-up was stations that they could go to as they pleased. There were no progressive steps (with one exception which I’ll tell you about in a minute). We do the majority of our programs this way for a couple reasons. First, kids don’t all go at the same pace. This set up gives kids the freedom to explore stations where they need more time without feeling self-conscious and likewise allows them to move on from stations that go quickly for them. Though it may sound chaotic, it actually helps keep everybody on task. Second, we serve kiddos with special needs and this format gives them the ability to participate at a level that is comfortable for them and adjust as they need.
These were our stations:
Hand Scanner for Entry
This was quick and easy. Just use a name-brand Ziploc bag (the generic I have tried to use leaked terribly), clear hair gel and water color paint or food coloring. I sealed the edges of the bag with duct tape just to reinforce. Be sure to squeeze all the air from the bag before sealing it up!
We found some fun Secret Agent Badge printables online. The kids grabbed a color out of bucket A and an animal out of Bucket B and this became their Code Name for all missions.
We created a book cipher using copies of Fox in Socks. The kids (and some parents) had a lot of fun figuring out our messages!
We set up a wax resist station for kids to right secret messages to each other. White crayons on white construction to write the messages and water color paint to reveal the messages made it a fun little project. The kids loved leaving messages for others to find.
Pom Pom Target Practice
We found this really cool blog that had a great tutorial for pom pom target practice, so we tried it out. The kids did a great job with this simple activity and LOOOOVED creating their own shooter. Pool noodles, duct tape, balloons, and pom-poms are all you need for this and it is a huge hit! We set up a target on our wall. Their objective was to stand at varying distances and shoot into the caution tape.
Dodge the Lasers!
We used a strong, thing book tape to create a laser field for kids to dodge in and out of, trying to avoid getting stuck.
This is the one station that I wasn’t thrilled with. Sadly in programs, sometimes ideas that seem great on paper just aren’t as great in real life. The objective is to stomp and walk through the pool (or minefield) and not pop a balloon. Unfortunately, this really wasn’t a challenge. The balloons would fly out of the pool before they could even attempt to pop, or not pop, them. Were I to do this again, I would not confine it to the pool and I would use a lot more balloons.
All in all, everyone loved this program, including me! In fact, we liked it so much we are putting it on again (minus the minefield) at our Exploratorium on November November 29th!