In honor of Star Wars Reads  Month in October, our library held programs related to the iconic movies. We capped it all off with a Star Wars Spelling Bee at the end of the month, at 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday.
We picked specific words related to the movies and provided example sentences related to the movies to provide context. The event ended with a costume contest.
In addition, a local public school (which focuses on technology) set up a table and brought in their R2D2 robot and other Star Wars paraphernalia to share with patrons.
Our goal with this program was to expose children to the iconic Star Wars movies and test their spelling skills at the same time. We started planning three months in advance and had many meetings among the librarians about the details of the program. We had children register for the spelling bee in advance (providing their name, grade, and phone number).
Three librarians created two lists of spelling words: one for students in grades 1 through 3, and another for students grades 4 through 7. We carefully chose words that were appropriate for the two different age groups and also wrote example sentences for each spelling bee word.
About a week before the event, we called all of the students and confirmed whether or not they would be participating.
Finally, we went out and purchased all awards and decorations: gift cards, ribbons, a Star Wars bobblehead set  (Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper) and BB-8 erasers . We also handed out library stickers and certificates of participation to all the students who participated.
Staff dressed in costumes for the event and encouraged the children to do the same.
We created fliers (see an example under Attachments to the right) about three months in advance to promote the program, and we advertised it on our library’s website  and in our calendar. We also made announcements for the event at other programs. We told patrons individually, in person, about the spelling bee.
We spent money on Dunkin Donut gift cards for the winners ($5 each), a set of two Star Wars bobblehead dolls for the winner, and BB-8 erasers. We bought ribbons for the winners (from first through fifth place). We also bought Star Wars decorations from Party City.
Staff costumes were optional — but everyone dressed up.
Each librarian had assigned duties and checklists for the day of the event.
We decorated the library using Star Wars party supplies and created and hung a large Star Wars sign. Decorations were minimal so we only needed two people. We also needed to arrange about 50 chairs and tables in the children’s area, which required the help of four people.
A lot of the children came a bit late to the program, so we had difficulty checking them in and had to turn away a few kids who either came in late or wanted to register after the deadline had passed.
Librarians also had to set up technology (speakers and microphones) as well as greet the staff from the local public school that were manning the technology table. Librarians also prepared music, Star Wars jokes, and extra surprises to entertain the children during the spelling bee.
Three librarians took part in the spelling bee: one was the MC, one was the reader, and one was the judge.
The program went well, with a few hiccups, and about 60 people attended. Children and parents enjoyed it so much that afterward they asked when the next spelling bee would be.
I would say that we definitely accomplished our goals: The kids learned about the different facets of the Star Wars movies, participants got to practice their spelling skills, and they got to be creative and make and/or wear their own costumes.
This program created more of an interest in future spelling bees and an uptick in the number of Star Wars books circulated.
In creating and executing a spelling bee, there need to be clearly stated rules, which all participants must follow. A list of spelling bee words and their example sentences must be created at least a month before the event (see an example of what we used under Attachments).
It is almost guaranteed that one child will get upset about losing, so having something (such as a certificate of participation) is important so they still feel accomplished.
Finally, a registration list for participants must be created with a deadline for all participants.
About This Library
The Lefferts Library is a community library in South Richmond Hill, Queens, in New York City. We are one of 63 branches in the Queens Borough Public Library system. We are one of the busiest libraries at QBPL, and we serve a diverse, mostly immigrant community of about 50,000. The area is known as Little Guyana because of the large number of immigrants coming from that country. We have 14 people on staff, including six full-time librarians.