Passive programs can be a busy Children's Librarian's best friend. Because participation (after set up) doesn't require much intervention it can be a great way to expand what you are able to offer. This kind of programming is great on the patron's side as well, because they are able to participate regardless of when they are able to make it into the library.
I've seen several great posts with ideas for passive and DIY programs recently. Angie at Fat Girl Reading, shared a really cool character hunt and Poet Tree. Marge at Kids Library Program Mojo shared some great DIY programming ideas.
These great posts have inspired me to share some of my favorite forms of passive programming.
Find the Hidden Object in the Library: We've have done this basic idea in several forms. Last summer we hid a gnome statue in honor of our "Dig Into Reading" theme. Finding the gnome entered the child into a weekly drawing for a gnome hat we bought from Oriental Trading. We've also used this idea without the drawing component. Every winter we hide a snow globe in the library. Each kid that finds it wins a candy cane.
Bookmark Contests: When we have done these contests the prize for the winners was simple to have their design passed out in the library. To create these myself I scanned each winning design and printed it on cardstock.
Birthday Book Club: Up until age 5 each child that comes into our library during the month of their birthday gets a free picture book. These books were purchased with a grant I received from Target, and supplemented with book donations.
Raffles: We do a yearly raffle of school supplies every fall. We purchase backpacks and school supplies whenever we see great deals. To enter this raffle kids fill out a slip of paper each time they visit the library. The more visits the more possible entries.
Vote for your favorite: I've done this for favorite book character around election time, but it could be used in so many other ways. For instance kids could vote on Newberry or Caldecott contenders. I like the idea of incorporating a display into the voting. For instance one December kids that told me their favorite book got their names placed on a stocking on our bulletin board.
Library calendar: This one hasn't happened here yet because of budget, but our Friends did have the idea of having kids draw pictures for a calendar that the Friends could sell to benefit the library. This is definitely an idea I am keeping in mind for future use.
If you have any other great ideas for passive programs feel free to let me know. Also, if you have written a blog post on this topic I'd be happy to add a link to it. I know I have seen many great posts lately and would love to include them!