Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Cricut Programs: Keychains

I post several times a week on Instagram so be sure to follow Teen Services Depot on IG

I’m on a couple of FB programming groups and I often see people ask what programs other library workers offer using their Cricut. I’ve had a Silouette for YEARS and I recently switched to a Cricut and I LOVE it SO much better so I’ve been using a vinyl cutting machine for decorating and programming for awhile.

BUDGET-$20-$50/20 teens. This all depends on the supplies you have on hand. This program won’t cost me anything because we have all the supplies including acrylic and a laser cutter. We have a Glowforge laser cutter.

Supplies Needed

  • Acrylic blanks (cut your own or purchase them)
  • Cricut or Silhouette or any vinyl cutting machine
  • Vinyl of varied colors
  • Transfer paper
  • Weed tool
  • Scraper
  • Key rings and jump rings
  • Round nose pliers
  • Beads, charms, and other accessories


If you have a laser cutter, you can precut circles, triangles, etc with a tiny hole for the keyring. Precut different shapes, sizes and colors so that teens have plenty of choices.

If you don’t have a laser cutter, you can buy acrylic keychain blanks on Amazon for cheap-$11/30 keychains


The “fun” part is teaching teens how to use the Cricut. In my makerspace we encourage teens to be tech literate and self sufficient. Since I bought the Cricut during the pandemic, I haven’t hosted classes on it yet and since we will be hosting socially distanced programmed in the makerspace, I will make video instructions. Teens will get an iPad with the video instructions on how to design in the design space software, how to save to the cloud, and how to load the vinyl and cut. There will be a staff member in the room to assist but we ultimately want to teens to feel comfortable using the Cricut on their own.

If you don’t want to do this, you can host pre registration where you can get their names and ask for other info such as their astrological sign, their hobby, their social media name, etc. You can then pre-cut their images and words or you can ask this info and cut it during the program-this way they can watch it cut.

Once they have their images and words, you can show them how to weed and transfer to their acrylic.


Take out all those beads and charms you have sitting in your craft closet and let teens go nuts.

The Program

If you are doing outdoor programming, you can bring out all the program supplies. If you took pre-registration, you can make kits that include the blanks, their vinyl images and words, and charms and beads. Then give each teen their kit with instructions and let them go nuts. The only issue is that would need round nose pliers for every teen or allow them to share and sanitize between usage.

If you are doing take home kits, you can provide words from popular slang-Dope! You still run into the issue of the round nose pliers because they are expensive. If you are using thin jump rings, you might get a way with tweezers.

How do you use your Cricut or vinyl cutter in your programming?

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Passive Programs, Take and Make

Cricut Programs: Scratch Art

I post several times a week on Instagram so be sure to follow Teen Services Depot on IG

I’m on a couple of FB programming groups and I often see people ask what programs other library workers offer using their Cricut. I’ve had a Silouette for YEARS and I recently switched to a Cricut and I LOVE it SO much better so I’ve been using a vinyl cutting machine for decorating and programming for awhile.

In House Programming

At the time of this post, we are still in the pandemic and some libraries are slowly going back to in house programming. This summer, we will be taking appointments for households that have teens. We typically don’t allow parents or younger siblings but we will this summer.

For scratch art, you can use the Cricut to cut basic shapes. If you are trusting, you can have teens find or make their own basic shapes to be cut out. In my makerspace, we want teens to know how to design and use machines so they will learn how to find images (I have the access subscription) and they will learn how to use the Cricut.

Take and Make

If you are still doing take and makes, you can use your Cricut to precut the shapes.

Scratch Art

Supplies Needed:
  • Oil pastels (I found bulk packs on Amazon for cheap)
  • Dish soap
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Watercolor paper (I use watercolor paper because it’s thick and sturdy but you can probably use cardstock)
  • Toothpick or skewer


  1. Color your precut shape using oil pastels. Teens can do one color or all the colors. The background color is part of the design.
  2. Mix a couple of drops of dish soap into the black paint then paint over the oil pastels.
  3. Paint a second coat once the first coat dries.
  4. Once it’s dry, use the toothpick/skewer to scratch your art.
Posted in Take and Make

DIY Boba Tea

Follow me on Instagram where I post regularly

Teens like boba tea so this is perfect for a take and make but you have to get the tapioca pearls that don’t need refrigeration especially if your teens have a week or so to pick up their kits-like mine. I also got individually packed pearls because of hygiene and I got the microwaveable kind for ease but the boiling kind should be safe for teens.

Here’s the link for the paper instructions.

Posted in Passive Programs

Art Bag

Every time we offer a take and make that has paint or other art supplies, it’s our most popular kit. We know we have lots of artists in our district and probably lots of want to be artists but may not be able to afford art supplies so we created an art bag. We wanted to provide fairly good art supplies and not Crayola. Teens may check out the bag and use all the materials provided; here’s what’s in our bag:

  • 2 Canvases (8×8 and 4×6)
  • 5 bottles of paint (primary colors) (2 ounce bottles)
  • Watercolor palette
  • Posca Pens
  • Prismacolor colored pencils
  • Drawing pencils
  • Paint palette
  • Watercolor paper and drawing paper
  • Ruler, pencil sharpener, eraser
  • 10 Paint brushes and 1 foam brush
  • Black Sharpie
  • Library drawing book
  • Community Sketchbook
    • Teens are asked to draw in the sketchbook for future teens who check out the bag to see.


It depends on what’s in your bag. We had most of the items that we put in our bags; we only purchased the bag itself; the colored pencils; and the paint. We purchased the bag on Amazon for $16.


We have a Youtube channel for the teen department and we created a playlist of videos that my colleague and I made as well as other instructional videos I found.

Checking It Out

We have tags on the outside of the bag that tell patrons how to check out and return the bag-we ask that they don’t put in the book drop but to return to the circ desk. The tag provides the value of the bag and list of items included.

Inside the bag, there is a checklist of included items and their value. Patrons will be charged for missing items.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Take and Make

Acrylic Pour: Take and Make

I also post programming ideas on my instagram, follow me here.

The best thing about having them take it home is that you don’t have to clean it up!!! Please click here and here for the instructions.

Budget: $80-$125 for 24 teens; depending on on hand supplies, ie paint, cups, etc

Supplies Needed:

  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint pouring medium
  • Condiment bottles (The bottle don’t need measurements; I just needed bottles with a top. You can probably find these cheaper at the dollar tree and they don’t have to be this big.)
  • Measuring cups
  • Craft sticks
  • Canvases or wood
  • Disposable drinking cups (Solo cups)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Plastic portion cups
  • Aluminum pan (optional)

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Take and Make

Fairy Jar: Take and Make

Follow me on Instagram for more programming shenanigans.

You don’t have to call these fairy jars; you can call them solar powered jars.


This craft is fairly expensive. We limit our crafts kits to 15 teens/month. If we get more interest, I will give out cheaper crafts-:-)

This craft is about $7/teen

Supplies Needed:

  • Solar Powered lids-Amazon
  • Mason Jars-Cheaper at Walmart; get the kind without lettering
  • Mod Podge (glass or matte)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Vinyl stickers
  • Foam brush
  • Gems (optional)

How To:

Please click here for instruction flyer.

Other Information:

I made the vinyl stickers with my Cricut which cuts down the cost. It also enables you to control the design. If you want to give out a generic beach scene or even a Minecraft scene, you can do that.

The type of Mod Podge will affect the look of the jar. If you want the jar to look cloudy, use matte Mod Podge. If you want it be clear and you just need it to adhere the glitter, use the glass Mod Podge.

Posted in Take and Make

Take & Make: Sharpie Art

Follow me on Instagram for more programming shenanigans.

We’ve been doing take and makes since September of 2020 after summer reading and we call it Good To Go Bags. Our take and make program has changed several times and I think we are starting to get in our groove. The first bit is how we do our take and make program and if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see February’s project-Sharpie Art.


Teens/parents register the first Sunday of the month and they may begin picking everything up-sewing club, book bundles, art club, subscription boxes, take and makes, on the second Tuesday of the month.


I’ve talked about this before. Our patrons are all about convenience and they WILL NOT use our traditional registration software that we use when the library is open. So, we announce registration on FB, they comment if they want something, and we DM them with all other info. This works well for us because it’s easy for the patron and it’s easy for us to keep track of the registrations.

We have a lot going on, as you can see, and we also do Instagram contests and videos and posts so my coworker and I have a Google doc of all signups and a programming schedule.

We also take registration on our teen IG account- @zbteens


Our average cost per teen is $8-10. We give out approx 30-35 take and makes a month.

Sharpie Art

I give two projects each month. One project costs more than the other.

Project #1-Watercolors

  • Five pack of Sharpies
  • Small Spray Bottle
  • Eye droppers
  • Multi-sized canvases
  • Gallon Ziplock baggie or generic baggie

Please click here for the PDF Instructions

Project #2-Mug Mural

This is the classic Sharpie art on a mug. Please click here for the instructions.

Project #3- Emerging Black Artists

Since this take and make is in February, I included a project for Black History Month.

For this project I’m featuring Shantell Martin, an artist who uses black lines on a white background. Teens will get a black Sharpie and three Styrofoam cups. I will give them a flyer with info about Martin as well as QR codes that will direct them to her website and Youtube page. Click here for the flyer.

Posted in Makerspace

Sewing Club To Go

I post several times a week on Instagram so you can follow me here.

We had a pretty popular sewing club pre-COVID and if you want to see how we run that, please click here. We wanted to continue offering the club virtually so teens will be given easy projects that they can hand sew.

Please visit my Google Folder to see printed instructions of some of the projects below.

The Structure

  • Sewing club runs every other month.
  • We limit the club to ten teens only because there’s a lot of prep for me.
  • Each teen receives two projects and there is enough supplies for them to make two things from each project so they end up with four projects.
    • Since the club is every other month, I want to include enough projects to keep them busy for two months. I also want them to be able to keep one and give one away if they want.
  • As of now, teens are required to send us a picture of one completed project before they may get the next kit. I do this because I like some accountability especially since there’s only ten kits available. I want to see that they are doing it and I’m not wasting my time putting together kits.
    • I say as of now because, nine kits went out in December but I’ve only received a picture from one teen. This is a trend with my teens and I’ll explain in the “What I’ve Learned” section below.
    • Sewing requires a lot of supplies including needles and thread and pins/clips and I want reoccurring teens so that I don’t have to keep giving out the above to new teens.
    • I want the sewing club to be skill building. Our in-house sewing club spans three weeks and each week, teens build on the skills they learned in the previous class. If you click on the link above, you see which skills we teach. I want the same for the virtual class and by having the same teens each month, we can achieve that.

What’s in the Kit?

December Projects

  • Each kit contains a baggie with needles and sewing pins.
    • I stick the needle and pins thru a piece of fabric and taped down the pointy ends so that teens wouldn’t get stuck when they reached into the baggie
  • Teens get sewing clamps, a bobbin of black thread and a bobbin of white thread.
    • You can purchase pre-filled bobbins on Amazon or you can wind your own to save money-I did both.
  • I ask teens to save everything for future projects but if they need more, I will provide it.
  • In addition to the fabric for the projects, teens also get a baggie of scrap fabric so that they may practice stitching or make something different with their new skills.

Sleep Mask

  • Teens learn how to do an overcast stitch and how to iron.
  • Please click here to see the instructional video.
  • I found the template in Cricut Access which is a paid subscription library of projects that Cricut offers. I cut out all the masks on my Cricut.
    • That took FOREVER and I probably should have given them a stencil and make them cut it out by hand. I will do that in the future.

Among Us Plushie

  • Teens learn how to do a running stitch and how to use a pattern-a very simple pattern.
  • Please click here to see the instructional video.
  • I drew the stencils and teens had to cut them out and use them as a pattern.
    • I wanted teens to see that they can draw their own patterns.

January Projects

Earbud Holder

  • Since teens are using a running stitch, which they should know how to do, I did not do a full instructional video. In the written instructions, I provide a QR code that leads them to the Among Us plushie which teaches the running stitch.

Stress Pet

  • This project is similar to the plushie and the only difference is that it will be stuffed with beans rather than batting.
  • Teens may use a running stitch or an overcast stitch and once again, I will include QR codes that will lead them to December videos for refreshers.
    • The great thing about Youtube is that you can decide where you want the video to start so the QR codes will start at the stitching lesson.

What I’ve Learned

  • Videos are best when teaching a new skill. I usually do paper instructions for take and makes but it’s hard to teach stitching on paper.
    • For example, I did a short video on how to sew a button because that’s a new skill. If they have another button project, I will refer them to the original video
    • I have a documenting camera called iPevo and it comes with free software.
    • I edit using the InShot app and I do voice over instructions.
    • If I do titles, I use Canva.
  • I try to do projects boys and girls will like so I don’t do scrunchies or headbands because I do have boys in my sewing club.
  • I use QR codes on the inserts; they lead to the Youtube instructional video
    • Canva makes it easy to include QR codes and it’s free.
    • Nowadays, the cell phone camera will read a QR code without downloading an app. I include instructions because not everyone knows they can use their camera phone and they may have to enable it. I include iPhone and Android instructions.
      • Or, you have tell them to search for your Youtube account and they don’t need a Youtube account to see the vids.
      • If you have more than one video for one specific topic, put it in a playlist because it will make it easier to find.
    • My subscription box program, YAAASS Box, has a discussion component on IG and teens cannot get the next box until they answer the two questions. This has been working very well for me for the past year and a half. However…
      • I’m trying to do the same for sewing club and it’s not working-teens are not sending pics and I think I have figured out why…
        • With my subscription box teens, I communicate with them directly thru IG DMs. Also, the subscription box teens register over IG which mostly means they are going to invest the time to read and answer the questions.
        • With the sewing club, I’m communicating with the parents and the parents are registering their teens. The middle man, the parents, are the problem. As you know, parents just register their teens for everything without asking them if they are even interested. Their teens are probably not doing it-UUHHH.
      • I want accountability but I also want participation so I’m currently trying to figure out how to fix this before the next registration which is in two weeks. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear it.
Posted in Makerspace

Hi, From Dawn

It has been a long six months and I know I haven’t posted since August. I do lots of programming on the Instagram account and I encourage you to follow me there for weekly program ideas and other teen librarian stuff. You are also welcome to check out my teen library IG account to see the virtual activities we do.

My new year’s goal is to start posting again so I will.

Thanks for viewing-Dawn

Posted in Makerspace

Art Club To Go

During this pandemic, it has been a challenge for me as a programming librarian to think outside of the box…library. One thing my coworker and I did was to look at our in library programs to try to figure out how make them remote. Our first experiment was art club. Our in-house art club had evolved from an instruction type program to a more relaxed program where teens could come in with their drawing tablets and pencils and socialize while they draw. While we could certainly do this over Zoom, our teens will not do Zoom so we went back to the instruction approach and this is what we did and what happened.

What’s In The Box?

Each teen receives what’s pictured. If you are on a budget, you can get everything from the Dollar Tree. I’ve used the Dollar Tree’s drawing pads and they are pretty good.


We have an interesting patron base and by that I mean, they don’t like to take the extra step and click a dang link to register. I did the registration on FB and told patrons to click the link to register-the link took them to our registration software. One person did it that way. So I tried a different approach; I put it on FB again and this time, I told them to comment below to register. My boxes were gone in a couple of hours.

That sounds amazing, you say. What a great idea, you say. No, unfortunately it’s not. It’s very difficult to keep track of people this way. The original post gets buried and I have to scroll for days to find it and once I find it; I have to look through all the other comments and shares to find the people who actually registered. So then I messaged them so that I had a running list and designated place to find everyone. While this was better than FB comments, it was still a drag to sift through other messages. Other disadvantages is that I don’t get their real names, their emails, or other information unless I ask and that is too intrusive on social media. Also, since it’s the parents who are commenting of FB because teens don’t use FB, I’m getting the parent’s name and not their teen’s. Once again, I could ask in messenger but once again again, it’s too intrusive on social media.

Ultimately, this was a learning experience and I will not take registration over FB again. Instead, patrons are just going to have to get used to the idea of clicking a link and stop being lazy. If they are too busy to click a link, chances are they are too busy to craft. Yes, I realize that it’s the parent who is registering for their teen but keep this in mind if you are programming for adults. I always work within the numbers game; the more people who participate the better. But I have to get it in my head that this is a weird time and people are consumed with other problems. If I only get five teens to participate, that’s okay.

The Program

We split the program up into eight classes. Each class teaches something new and we’ve decided to teach pop art; perspective; Piet Mondrian; fashion figures; how to draw a house; comics; Frida Kahlo remix; and still life. Classes are available every Saturday for eight weeks so teens have to wait a week between each class. Please check out our YouTube channel to see our videos.

Disclaimer, my co worker nor I have an art background and neither one of us would consider ourselves artists by any means. Should we be teaching art if we aren’t artists? Probably not but my teens do not do Zoom so I’m not going to pay an art teacher only for no one to show. We also don’t have any artists on the staff. My co worker and I taught ourselves each skill and then taught the teens. None of the skills are particularly difficult.


My coworker and I take turns leading the classes. We film the instruction and then we upload them to Youtube. We upload weekly so that it’s similar to an in-house weekly program.

It has been an interesting new challenge to film videos as I had never done this before. I do watch a lot of Youtube so I kinda know what they should look like. We use an IPEVO documenting camera to film face down videos. I edit on my iMovie app on my phone. iMovie is not available on Android so you’ll have to find something comparable. I do voice overs on iMovie because the sound quality on my computer is terrible. I then put the video on a slide in Canva-use the presentation template.

How Has it Been So Far?

90% of the FB registrants were teens I’ve never heard of or seen before so that’s cool! We received 25 registrants for this kit which is VERY VERY COOL! And most of them were middle school which is VERY VERY VERY COOL! 75% of our IG followers are high schoolers and even though that’s great, HS students are busy and tend to not engage in anything but IG polls.

The deadline for the first four projects is August 8th and at the time you are looking at this, it is not Aug. 8th. I haven’t received any submissions so far but my teens always wait until the deadline date to submit anything so I’m not worried yet. I will update this site when the deadline passes.

If they don’t submit on the deadline, I will be contacting them on FB messenger to remind them and their parents that they agreed to complete the submissions when they registered and if they don’t complete it, it will affect their ability to register for future programs. I know that’s harsh but we have a modest budget (especially after we bought our Glowforge Laser Cutter) and I don’t like it when patrons register for stuff and other teens can’t get it because it’s all gone-IT’S THE WORST! I will be nice when I tell them though.

Have you done an art club to go? Tell us about it.

Posted in Makerspace, Remote Programming

Filming Videos

Since moving to remote programming, my colleague and I started filming videos at least once a week. BC (before COVID) I never made any films for our social media accounts so all of this has been a learning experience for me. I can say that, I’ve learned a lot about filming videos and have grown to like it.


There are many options to choose from and it really depends on what types of videos you are filming.

  • Book Reviews and Demos

If you are holding up a book and/or talking to the screen, the best choice is a laptop or a cell phone. You can purchase a ring light with a phone attachment and it will provide light and a holder for your phone. Some of them even provide a remote to start and stop the video.

Advantages to a ring light:

  1. Your phone probably has a great camera. I have an iPhone 8 and the camera and the microphone are much better than an iPad.
  2. If you have poor light or no windows in your space, it provides great light. I have no window and crappy lighting in my makerspace and the ring light is great.
  3. It’s cheap. Ring lights can be as high as $200 or as low as $60.
  4. If you are editing on your phone, the videos/photos are already there so you don’t need to download them from other places.
  5. If you are filming on a laptop or iPad, a ring light still is great because it provides light.
  • Crafts or Face Down Filming

The vast majority of my videos are craft videos. I use the IPEVO document camera. It is expensive if you have a modest budget, $99-$300. If you are familiar with Youtube videos where the person is filming their hands only, that’s what the IPEVO is good for however, you can also flip it to show your face.

Advantages to IPEVO

  1. I’ve tried to do face down filming with a DSLR and a tripod, a iPad and a guerrilla phone stand, and everything in-between and they were all a pain in the butt. The IPEVO has been a life saver because there’s no rigging anything and lots of repositioning and counterweighting.
  2. You can do face down and you can show your face.
  3. It’s easy to set up and use.

These are the pieces of equipment I use the most and that I like a lot. If you have a modest budget and have to use what you have, iPads or DSLR, get yourself a good tripod or iPad stand that is adjustable.


As I stated above, I film a HP using the IPEVO which puts all your videos in a folder. I then move all my videos to Google Photos. Google Photos is great because it’s connected to your Google account which means it goes wherever you go. I don’t take the HP I film on to my house to edit so I need to move my pics and vids. From Google Photos, I save my vids to my phone. Depending on your wifi strength, the longer your video, the longer to takes to upload and download. My home wifi is weaker than work, so I do all my uploading/downloading at work. Also, the longer your videos, the longer it takes to upload/download. I usually film my videos in three minutes or less clips.

I use the iMovie app on my phone to edit.

Advantages for iMovie

  1. There are not a lot of bells and whistles in the app which makes is easier to use. There are only a couple of buttons-split, delete, mute, fade, etc.
  2. iMovie has a small catalogue of music to add and it fits your film automatically. The public domain music is great if you are uploading to Youtube. If you use popular music, you will get a warning from Youtube and your video might not play. It says it won’t play in certain countries but I couldn’t get it to play so they lied to me. You can also use any music you have purchased from iTunes and you can use that music if you are uploading to FB, IG, or TT.
  3. I do voiceovers because I don’t like the sound quality on the IPEVO and it’s very easy to add voiceovers in iMovie.
  4. You can upload directly to Youtube, FB, and IG from iMovie.


When I upload iMovie videos to IG, I put the movie in a Canva template. I also use the Canva app so that I can do everything on my phone. If you don’t have Canva, I highly recommend it because it makes everything from flyers to Youtube thumbnails.

Canva is great because you can add more text which can be limiting on iMovie. You can also animate your slides to make it more appealing to teens. If you’d like to see your videos, please check out our IGTV page; we make all our videos using Canva templates.

What Should I Film?

There is no right thing to film or wrong thing to film; it’s all about your demographic. Do you have a lot of attendance in your crafting programs? Film craft videos. Do you have a booming book club or high circ stats? Film book reviews or book recs. Are your gaming or eSports programs highly attended? Consider filming on Twitch.

Our teens drive our content. We often do surveys in form of Instagram polls. We have a makerspace and it’s impossible to do STEAM programming now so our makerspace staffer asks teens on IG what they would like to see her invent. Since teens took the survey, we took that as a sign that they wanted to see her invent something in the makerspace. As long as they vote or engage in our IG polls, we will make those videos.

How Should I Count Attendance?

We are all used to counting attendance as “butts in seats,” but how do you do that for a video? In the beginning, we were asking teens to do the craft, take pics, and tag us but we would only get the same two teens. But we noticed that about 35-40 teens were watching our videos. Youtubers get paid/view. I watch a lot of crafts videos on Youtube but I almost never make those crafts; do I count as a viewer/attendance? Yes. We now count viewing stats as attendance. We still encourage teens to do the craft but if they don’t, that’s okay.

Are There Any Advantages to Uploading to Youtube vs. Facebook vs. Instagram?

I think so.

Youtube is good for longer videos or instructional videos. When you go to Youtube, you expect to see a longer video. We only use Youtube for our Make and Take instructional craft/STEAM videos. Youtube limits it’s videos to 15 minutes or less.

Our IG and FB videos are under five minutes and that is even too long. Teens are used to Tik Tok and IG stories which are one minute or less. You would think it was impossible to show a craft how-to in under one minute but it’s doable. If you want to do a longer video on IG, you can upload them to IGTV. These videos can be up to 15 minutes.

The advantage of FB is that you can put your Youtube video in your FB post. This is good because if your patrons are too lazy to go to Youtube, type in channel name, and then look for the video, then they can just watch it on FB.

If you are using Tik Tok, you can upload Youtube videos but it is a much-to-do. It would be easier to just use your phone to film and Tik Tok’s editor to edit.

Posted in Remote Programming

Remote Programming on Instagam

I haven’t posted in a while and my last post said I would be returning to work on April 18th; well it’s June 30 and there are no plans for in-library programming for many months which means I needed to create remote programming on social media. I chose to use Instagram because that’s where most of my teens are. Not all demographics are the same so your teens may be on Snapchat or Tik Tok, you’ll have to do some research.

What’s Instagram Have to Offer?

There are some limitations to IG but there are MANY advantages.

  • Polls Feature. We use polls all the time as games. We’ve found our teens are most likely to click on a poll than do anything else because it doesn’t require much effort or reading and it’s quick.


  • Question Feature-We make a lot of videos which I will go into later but we like to give teens the opportunity to vote on what we do our videos. We use the question feature to play our popular Grudge Match series or we use it to survey teens.

  • Quiz Feature-We use the quiz feature to play trivia games, and when we started getting new teens to the IG, we did a How-Well-Do-You-Know-Your-Teen-Librarian quiz.

  • IGTV-You can put videos in your instastories but they cannot be longer than one minute. One way to get around this is IGTV where your videos can be up to 15 minutes. You can link your IGTV vids to your instastory so that teens can simply swipe up to see your videos. Every account has IGTV so all you have to do is shoot and save a video under 15 minutes to you phone or iPad so that you can upload it to IGTV. See the pics below to find out how to get it in your instastory.

  • LinkTree-You can’t do links in IG unless you have 10k followers so in order to get teens to visit a link, you can put a link in your bio. We have several links at any given moment so we created a Linktree. It’s been very helpful to have one place to put all our links.


  • Chat Groups-We host a book club over IG and I created a chat room with all the book club members so that they can see and respond to the chat questions. You can also video chat in the group chat if you wanted to see your book club members during your meeting.
  • Live-Live allows you to broadcast a live video. IG alerts all your followers when you are live so that they can click on it right away. We used the live feature when we hosted our author Q&A event.
  • Analytics-We count our attendance stats based on our stats and you can find them under “Archives.” I’m sure everyone counts stats differently. For example, if we post a game, 50 teens will look at our story but only 20 will play the game. We count the 20 teens who played. However, if we post a video that doesn’t require any interaction via poll or question, we count teens who viewed the video.


  • Highlights-The Highlights feature allows you to spotlight a series of slides or a story you’d like to save for reoccurring viewing. For example, we made a story promoting the summer reading challenge and we made it a highlight. When we wanted to promote it again, we directed teens to check out our SRC highlight.


  • Music-Sometimes we play music in our stories or we asked for teens to submit their quarantine playing list and we compiled them in a story. You can only use the music feature if your account is set to “creator” or “personal.” You can’t add music if you have a “business account.” We changed from business to personal so that we could use the music feature.  The major difference is the analytics. Under the personal account, we can only see our view stats for 48 hours so that means we have to document our stats before they disappear but we’re okay with that; we’d rather have access to music.
  • Canva-Canva is a site that provides templates for almost everything-flyers, FB posts, etc. We use Canva to make better looking Instastories-LOL. Canva is a website and an app. The app is great and convenient but there are some limitations-music. I don’t think you can add music on the Canva app.
    • You can animate your stories using Canva and that makes them look professional.
    • If you have a Canva account online, you can download the app and your accounts will be connected. This is handy because…
      • You can create a story on the app and then add music on the site.
    • I use the iMovie app on my phone to edit my videos.  I put my videos in my Canva design because it looks better.


How do you use social media to host remote programming. Do you use an Instagram feature that I missed? I’d love to hear about your programs.

Posted in Passive Programs

Engaging Teens on Instagram

I’m working from home until April 8th and I’m doing some social media engagement on Instagram and Facebook for teens. I’m not new to social media programming but it can be challenging to be creative so I’ll post what I’ve been doing to give you some ideas if you decide to do this.

I do not have Tik Tok or Snap Chat even though a lot of my teens are on those platforms because I have a full time job, dammit! I can’t keep up with all of that crap-LOL

I usually have daily themes such as Mondays are book recs; Tuesdays are contests or games; Wednesdays are tv show/music recs from teens; etc. I can still do that but it’s hard to do book recs when the library isn’t open and I only have so many eBooks available so I probably won’t do that.

Mondays & Tuesdays are Now Contests/Games:

Monday I made up a Survive the Apocalypse game on Instastory and FB stories.  Here are the screen shots. The answers are meaningless so if you decide to do this, you can choose any answer you want.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

This Month in Teen Programming: February 2020

Follow me on Instagram for daily program pics and ideas

In this post, I will run down all the programming we did in the month of February including the hits and misses.

YAASS Box-The Young Adult Awesomely Super Subscription Box is our quarterly subscription box program.

It’s a Hit! We get about 10 participants a month which is considered a success for me. I initially wanted to have new teens every quarter but we’ve been getting the same teens. I’m okay with this because they actively participate and the really enjoy the program. As long as they are enjoying it, I’m pleased.

Winter Reading Club-It’s a classic BINGO game.

It’s a Miss! I only have about 10 participants and only one has come back for a BINGO and we started in January. Only summer reading works best for us; winter reading, not so much.

Community Service Sunday

Once a month, we offer teens community service hours for school; church; scouts; etc. Every three months, the project changes. So far we’ve done Cards for Hospitalized Kids and making blankets for Doing Good Together.  We are open between 1pm-5pm and teens can stay for as long as they want. I then sign their sheet.

It’s a Hit! If you are looking for programs that attract high school teens, community service is a great idea. Lots of teens need service hours to graduate or honor society and this is a very passive program. And once you get them in, you can ask them what other types of programs they’d like or you can promote your current stuff. We get between 5-30 teens a month. When we remind the high school career counselor that it’s coming up, we get 30 which can be overwhelming-so beware.

Valentine Perler Beads-It’s basically what it sounds like.

It’s Kind of a Hit? We got about 10 teens but because we have SO MANY Perler Beads, it didn’t cost us anything. So we did it again at the end of the month but this time we did Pokemon characters for Pokemon Day. We got about 6 teens for that. FYI, we do this as an after-school program.

Valentine Cookie Decorating-Once again, it’s basically what it sounds like. Walmart sells heart shaped cookies, frosting, and sprinkles in a kit for $20 for 20 cookies.

It’s a Miss! We did this one after-school and I don’t think it was the program that was the problem because teens love free food. The library was particularly empty that day.

Harry Potter Interactive Movie-This was for Harry Potter Family Nite. A fellow librarian shared their document with me.

Sadly, it was a Miss! I’m a huge HP fan so I was bummed that only a couple of people registered. I ended up canceling this because I was not gonna do all that prep for two people. My teen community is not really into HP. Kids and adults are into it; but not teens and I should know this but I was hoping…

Sewing for Beginners-Sewing is our most popular on-going program. This program runsIMG_7449 for three weeks and the project becomes increasingly difficult as the weeks progress. We have five machines and we only open it to five teens.  We changed the skirt for this supply holder because boys won’t want to make a skirt.

It’s a Hit! As stated above, it’s our most popular program and teens really love it and it teaches them a skill.

Sew a Scrunchie-I used our fabric scraps from sewing club for the scrunchies. I cut the IMG_7431fabric into 6″ x “22”. The wider the better because teens don’t sew straight. We let them use sewing machines because it’s a straight line. I bought elastic from Walmart for the inside. Here’s instructions.

It’s a Hit! Teens LOVE to sew on machines. We had about 12 teens.

Art Club-We have a large artsy teen community and art club was designed to teach teens some skills.

It’s a Miss! When teens come, they don’t want to learn anything; they want to draw/paint and socialize. So now, it’s a meet up where teens can bring their projects to work on while they socialize. So far, we’re only getting about two teens and before then, we were getting zero. We’ve decided to try this new approach for a while to see if we gain some attendance and so far it’s a miss.

Virtual Reality-I have two Oculus Quests and once a month, I take two hour reservations. Oculus Quests costs about $400 and the games about $30 each.

It’s Kind of a Hit! I usually only get one reservation and then a teen will walk by and see it and will want to do it. I don’t think our community knows what VR actually is so they don’t sign up. Once they see it in action, then they are interested.

Pokeball Terrarium-It was Pokemon Day in February and the teen department made terrariums.

It’s a Hit! Unlike Harry Potter, teens like Pokemon and we had 10 teens. This is a lot considering the program was from 4-5PM on a Thursday.



Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Upcycling Amazon Boxes

I post on IG too!

For summer 2020, we will be doing the iRead Program Dig Deeper: Read, Investigate, Discover but the teen department will change discover to upcycle. All of our programs will focus on upcycling every day items they throw away such as plastic bags, soda bottles, food cans, and bottle caps. Our prizes will also be reusable products such as metal straws and Starbuck tumblers.

For this program, I will ask teens to bring in old Amazon boxes to turn into 1, 2, or 3 different crafts.

Budget: Depends on the supplies you have in your craft closet

Supplies Needed:

  • A big Amazon box
  • Craft knife
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Double sided tape
  • Cutting mat (optional)
  • Quilt batting
  • Ribbon
  • Duct tape
  • Decorative paper
  • Book tape
  • Fabric
  • LEDs (Optional)
  • Copper tape (Optional)
  • Coin cell batteries (optional)
  • Pliers (optional)

Supply Box

  • Measure a square on one side of the box.
  • Measure 1″-3″ inches on all sides (see picture below)


  • Using the craft stick, cut along the lines on the cutting mat. If you don’t have cutting mats, you could lay down cardboard. You just need a barrier so that you don’t cut into the table.
  • Lay the open box on the white side of the decorative paper. Outline around it 1/2″ wider than the box. Then cut it out.


  • I used duct tape to decorate the inside of the box but you can leave it cardboard or you can paint it.
  • Put double sided tape on all sides of the paper.


  • Two of the sides will fold easily because of the box. Use the craft knife to score the other two sides so that it will fold easily.
  • Fold the paper over the sides of the box.
  • I used book tape to secure the sides.


Bulletin Board

  • Cut out a rectangle or square.
  • Place batting one one side of the cardboard.


  • Measure out a piece of fabric larger than the cardboard.
  • Turn cardboard over, fold over fabric, then adhere with staples.


  • Cut ribbon and place on front of board in a desired design.


  • Turn over and secure with staples.
  • Staple the cross sections of the ribbons and stick in thumbtacks or glue buttons.


  • Using a ruler, draw out one letter. Teens like to be neat and precise so they may get frustrated when their letter isn’t perfect. You may have to help or provide stencils.
  • Because we have an abundance of duct tape, that’s what I used to decorate my letter but teens can use decorative paper; Washi tape; or whatever you have in your craft closet.

          How To Secure the LEDs

    • Place a two strips of copper tape parallel to each other.
    • Split LEDs and curl the sides with pliers. Remember which side is (positive +)
    • Lay down all the LEDs then place copper tape on both sides.
    • Place the (+) side of the battery on the (+) side of the tape and the (-) side of the battery on the (-) side of the tape.
    • Stick a strip of copper tape over the batteries. If it doesn’t light up, your LEDs are probably on the wrong side.
    • Simply raise the tape over the batteries to turn off the LEDs


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Upcycling Plastic Bags

I post on IG too!

I live in Illinois and we have a state-wide summer reading theme/program. The theme D51F5BB4-4BCB-4DD8-B596-6F9814EBC79Fthis year is Dig Deeper: Read, Investigate, Discover but we are only focusing on the discover part and the teen department will discover saving the environment through upcycling.  Our programming this summer will have teens bring in empty bottles for planters, old t-shirts to turn into bags and scrunchies, plastic bags to turn into smaller bags.

Budget: $0-$15 (Depending on the supplies you already have)

Supplies Needed:

  • Plastic shopping bags
  • An Iron
  • Parchment paper
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Velcro or snaps
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • E6000 Glue (Optional)


  • I searched Youtube to find out how to turn plastic bags into fabric. Please do so if you need more info; just search how to fuse plastic bags.
    • Cut off the straps and the bottom to make the bag bigger
      • Smooth out to eliminate air
      • The research I did said to have eight layers of plastic and you can do this by folding the bags. I thought eight was too thick especially if you are flipping the new bag inside out. You can rip your stitches if the bag is too thick. Six layers might be good.
      • The size of your bag before you iron will depend on the size of your parchment paper. Make sure your parchment is bigger than your plastic otherwise you’ll burn the plastic bags with the iron.
      • Sandwich your plastic between to pieces of parchment and iron quickly back and forth. Flip and repeat and check to see if the bags are fused.
      • Decide on the design of your bag and cut them to equal sizes.
      • Sew the velcro first. I prefer velcro over zippers because zippers are an added instruction.
      • Sew pieces inside out then flip.
        • Be careful not to rip the seems. Have teens go over stitches twice for insurance.


  • Have teens bring plastic bags with good branding like Target, Old Navy, and Ulta.
  • For the orange bag and the Thank You bag pictured, it was easy to machine sew so it’s a good project for beginners.
  • If they hand sew, make sure they are making small stitches.
  • Snaps will be easier to sew than Velcro.
  • You can also use E6000 glue to adhere the Velcro. Tell the participants to wait a couple of hours for it to dry before they begin to use it.


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

One Pair of Jeans-Three Crafts

Follow me on IG for almost daily makerspace and teen programming ideas.

Earth Day is April 22 which means it’s time for upcycling crafts. Or you can do this at anytime if you don’t want to wait for Earth Day.

Since teens/adults can bring their own old jeans, this is a pretty cheap project.

Budget: $50

Supplies Needed:

  • Grommets/Eyelets
  • Jewelry making supplies: pliers, jump ring, clasps
  • Other jewelry accessories such as string; charms; beads; etc
  • Fabric glue
  • Hot glue
  • Sewing supplies (sewing machines or hand sewing)
  • Cord
  • Safety pin
  • Lanyard snap hook


Miniature Drawstring Backpack:

  • I followed this video on how to make a drawstring backpack using grommets/eyelets.
    • Make sure the cord you use is small enough to fit thru the grommets/eyelets.
  • If you don’t want to make a drawstring backpack, you can make a drawstring bag
  • If you have sewing machines, you can show teens how to sew in a straight line to expedite the project time or teens can hand sew. The bag is pretty small so it won’t take too long.

Belt Loop Purse

  • Have teens cut out the back pockets
  • I used grommets to attach my snap hooks but the teens can just cut a hole.
  • Attach the snap hook
    • Make sure they measure the purse with their belt loops. If it’s not long enough to reach their belt loops, they can add jump rings to elongate the purse.
  • Teens can decorate their purse with the accessories


Denim Bracelets

  • The seams of the jeans and waist band are great for bracelets but for thicker bracelets, teens can cut the legs.
  • Teens can use the accessories to decorate.

There are so many other projects teens can make with an old pair of jeans including scrunchies.  Search Pinterest for more ideas.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Top Teen Programs of 2019

Follow me on IG for almost daily makerspace and teen programming ideas.

Listed below are the top 12 teen programs of 2019; these programs include maker programs.  A top program is defined by attendance (popularity) or if teens gained a skill. If I wrote a blog post about the program, it will be linked. If there is no link, I didn’t feel like blogging about it and I’ll give a short spiel.

These are in order.

12. Woodburning


Woodburning or pyrography is very inexpensive especially if you are looking for cheap maker hardware. Wood burners cost about $20 and wood is pretty cheap. Once you’ve purchased the burners, you only have to purchase wood for subsequent programs. I’ve done this program with adults and older teens (14+) and they all really enjoy. Some of them have even purchased their own burners which I consider a WIN!

11. 3D Printed Zodiac Signs


The Summer Reading Club 2019 theme was something about the universe-once SRC is over; I put it OUT OF MY MIND! All summer we did zodiac crafts and since we have a 3D printer in our makerspace, we let teen 3D print their zodiac sign and they painted them. Teens may not know much about astrology but most teens know their zodiac sign and my co-worker was on hand to tell them what it all meant while they waited for their prints.

10. Galaxy Organizer

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We had leftover random pieces of wood so we allowed teens to piece them together to make a container to hold their stuff.  Once teens figured out how they were going to assemble them, they painted them, then assembled them with hot glue. I think they used hot wood glue. Don’t use regular hot glue, it won’t last long.

9. Desserting: Cookie Cake Decor & Nailed It


Teens watch baking shows and they like to bake so it would make sense that they want to learn how to properly decorate. All of our desserting programs did very well.

8. Parent & Teen Programs/Escape Room


We started doing programs where parents can come with their teen and these programs have been very popular. These programs tend to be open to 6-10 patrons so that the parents and the teen can work and help each other.

7. YAASS Box (Young Adult Awesomely Super Subscription Box)

yaass box

The YAASS Box is our book subscription box. Everything is in the link above.

6. Oculus Go-Face Your Fears


Our favorite app on the Oculus Go is Face Your Fears. There are several fears to choose from including heights; the dark; spiders; and birds. It’s very intense and teens and adults love the app. We did it for Halloween but it’s great all year ’round.

5. Stress Pets


Teens like to hand sew and they like plushies!

4. Sewing Club


Sewing club makes the list again. We’re on our second year of machine sewing club and it still fills up. We’ve also done sewing club for adults and they fill up quicker than the teen club. So if you are looking for a “cheap” maker program that will draw a new crowd of teens, I STRONGLY encourage you to invest in about five sewing machines and start a sewing club.

3. Short Story Contest


We’ve done this short story contest for about seven years and every year the entries gets better.

2. Tech Camp


I don’t have a post for tech camp but basically it was a two day camp. Each day began at 11am and ended at 2pm and we served lunch and a snack. We limited the camp to ten 5th-12th graders because we only had ten iPads but we also like to keep our maker programs small so that we can have a small librarian to teen ratio.

We began the first hour and a half teaching game design via Bloxels. Once we teach them the basics, we have them design for 20 minutes, we have them switch with a partner to play each others games, they then receive positive feedback, and they are able to edit their game. The point of the game design portion was to teach teens to design, test, and make edits. At the end of the Bloxels portion, teens were able to Air Play their games on the big screen for the group to see.

We then split up the group. Group one learned how to design and print on the 3D printer while group two learned how to code drones. We used Tinkercad to teach 3D print design and we used the Tynker app to code the drones. After about 30 minutes of drone coding, they were allowed to free fly their drones.

On day two, they continued their Bloxel games for the first half of the day and the groups switched for 3D printing and drones. I forgot to mention that we served lunch between Bloxels and 3D printing/drones. FYI, we used Door Dash to order Subway-Door Dash amazing; you don’t have to leave the library to pick up food.

This was successful because all ages were represented-5th graders all the way to 12th graders. All the teens returned the following day and some of the teens were homeschooled. We had varied skill levels; varied races; and boys and girls. Most of the teens were faces we’d never seen at the library before. This was the first tech program we hosted with all this diversity.

1. DIY Squishies


We did two different squishie programs. Here’s the one with the mattress foam and here’s the one with the flex foam. Each program was very well attended and teens really enjoyed this program.

I hope this list gave you some inspiration for your own programming. I know that all demographics are different but it never hurts to try.

Posted in Crafts

VSCO Girls & Boys

Follow me on IG for almost daily makerspace and teen programming ideas.

You’ve heard of VSCO or Visco girls, right? If not, VSCO is an app but it’s turned into a way of life or fashion depending on the person. Here is the internet definition:

The term VSCO girl refers to a popular subculture among members of Generation Z, black vsco girlsconsisting of teenagers following certain fashion choices that go along with trends. VSCO girl fashion is often described as “laid-back”. The term originated with the app VSCO in summer 2019 with an increase in social media content about the trend.[1] Edited VSCO girl photographs are often found on VSCO, but the subculture itself did not originate on the app.[2]

This subculture is often associated with “e-boys” and “e-girls” as well as “Tumblr girls”, referring to popular teenagers who go with trends on the Internet, with Tumblr girls specifically referring to those active on the social media site Tumblr.[3] However, unlike these other subcultures, VSCO girls are defined not by what platform they use, but by their fashion choices.-Wikipedia

Why do a Visco girl party? Because it’s trendy and guaranteed to get the teens into the library and you better hurry up and do it before the trend is gone-remember fidget spinners?

Budget: $120/15 teens

Supplies Needed: Depending on the activities you do

Scrunchie Making:

  • Fabric
  • Thick Rubberbands
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine (Optional)

Face Spray

  • Spray bottles
  • Rose water
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Witch hazel
  • Distilled water

Other Supplies


You can do anything but I am going to do stations where teens can go around to tables and do the activities they want. At the end they can take photos in front of the green screen beach scene. You can download the VSCO app and let them edit their photos; the app is NOT free though.


  • DIY Scrunchie Station
    • See this video on how to make your own scrunchies
    • Teens can either hand sew or machine sew for a faster DIY
  • DIY Face Mist Spray Recipe-Put the supplies on the table with the recipe
    • The recipe is equal parts distilled water, aloe vera gel and rose water.
    • Cut the measurement of the above by half for the witch hazel.
  • Water Bottle Decor Station
    • Set out stainless steel or reusable bottles and stickers and let them have at it
  • Bracelet Stacking Station
    • Put out the lettered beads, the plain beads, the elastic and let them have at it

Tips and Other Stuff

Visco girls like Starbucks, particularly the Pink Drink, but if you aren’t by a Starbucks, you can serve the bottled iced coffee drinks. But don’t have plastic straws because Visco girls care about the environment so reusable straws only!

I’d recommend checking out Pinterest; they have lots of pics for idea inspiration.


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Solar Powered Fairy Lights

I post on IG too! There’s always some makerspace & teen programming shenanigans going on so follow me on IG for more ideas.

Solar powered fairy lights are great for a garden, bookshelves, or your desk.  It’s also a great craft or project for your makerspace for teens and adults.

Budget: $43/6

Supplies Needed:


  • Allow teens to pick a stencil(s)
    • Make sure they smooth down on all sides because you don’t want to get the etching cream under the stencil.
  • Put painter’s tape on the perimeter of the stencil so that you don’t get cream on the bottle.
  • Read the instructions on the etching cream
    • It only takes about 5 minutes to set
  • Rinse thoroughly under the faucet
  • Switch to “on” on the lid and screw it on the jar.


  • This project is only going to take about 20 minutes so it’s great for a drop in or a program with stations. If you want to make a longer program, have teens design their own sticker on your vinyl cutting machine.
  • I bought mason jars from Walmart because I wanted to make sure there were no words engraved on the jar. I also brought the lids to make sure they fit the jars.
  • The more LEDs on the strip, the brighter the jar will be. The LEDs linked and in the pictures have 10 on the strand and as you can see, it’s not as bright. Down side, the lights will cost more.
  • When you spread the cream, spread it in all directions.
  • The design will be faint.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Beginner Knitting: Hats

I post pictures on my Instagram account so you can follow me there for daily makerspace and teen programming shenanigans.
I am NOT a knitter or crocheter but my teens are interested and I don’t want to hire someone to teach it so I taught myself. The only reason why I don’t like hiring people is because my teen patrons are fickle and sometimes they don’t show and I always feel bad when I bring someone in and no one shows. I’d rather no one show for me.

It’s pretty easy to learn – I watched the following Youtube videos to help me learn: Melanie Ham

The only drawback is that this will be an expensive program so if you have a bigger program budget, go for it. Or you can do this program many times and it will pay for itself.

In my makerspace, I do small registration classes. For this class, I will only allow five teens to register.

Budget: $90/5 Teens

Supplies Needed:

  • Round Loom Set-You can do any loom set. I used a 24″ loom. It was difficult to find this loom on its on so I bought the kit.
  • Yarn
  • Scissors


I taught myself how to knit on the loom first (on the youth reference desk). I chose the easiest and most repetitive stitch to make it easier to teach teens.

  • Give each teen a 24″ loom from the kit; keep the other looms for other programs. Allow teens to take the loom home to continue their hat. I will let the teens keep the loom but you can ask them to return it when they’ve finished their project.
  • Purchase several colors of yarn for your teens to choose from.
  • Have teens make the pom pom first. The crafter in the link video makes a pom pom at the end of her video if you need to see instructions.
  • Teach teens how to knit around the loom; use proper knitting vocabulary.
  • My program will be 2 hours and teens won’t finish during the class. Give each teen a piece a paper that includes a Youtube video that shows them how to finish their hat. OR, you can have teens come back individually and you can show them how to finish or have a subsequent class. It should take them about 4 hours to complete their hat. If you have several sessions, teens can return their loom and tools so that you can do another class.
  • Ask your teens to take pics on social media and to tag your library’s account.

Other Stuff

  • The kit comes with other loom sizes so I’ll be doing other classes with the other looms. You can make scarves, gloves, etc with the round loom so there will be plenty of projects to make with them.
    • They only come with on hook and needle so I’ll have to buy more hooks and needles.
  • If you purchase a thicker yarn, your teens don’t have to use two strands of yarn like the video.
  • In your two hours, try to get your teens to complete the brim so you can teach them how to continue after the brim. You don’t have to make a brim but the video does one so…
  • At the end of the linked video, the crafter is finishing her hat using a needle. That can break your needle; I’d recommend using the hook for that. You can tell your teens this before they leave to finish at home and put the reminder on the paper you give them.

I like doing programs like this in my makerspace because it teaches teens a skill and it shows them how to DIY products instead of purchasing them in the store. I want to give teens the option to keep their loom because my library is in a low-income community and they may not be able to afford their own kit. I want them to keep making at home if they enjoy it and giving them the loom allows them to do so.

I also had fun making these hats and after the second hat, I was able to complete one in 2 hours and I ended up making four hats-one of which are my Harry Potter house colors-#SlytherinPride!! The first one is like the video; I used two strands of yarn and it has a brim. With the other two, I used a thicker yarn so I only used one strand of yarn and I didn’t to a brim. I like the brim better so I’d recommend having teens do the brim.

As you can see, I experimented with switching colors with my Slytherin hat. It wasn’t difficult and this is the video I watched to learn how to do it.



Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Clay Dish Craft

IMG_6498I post program pics and ideas on my Instagram so if you’d like even more teen programming ideas more frequently, follow me on the IG

I have been to spaces where people can make crafts such as pottery and they can come back during open hours to finish. I have a makerspace and as of right now it’s only open if there is a program but I would like to try this model (for one week.)

For my trial week, I will do clay week. On the first day, patrons can stop in during designated hours, make come clay dishes, and they may then come back during the week to paint and let it dry.  I like this idea because painting doesn’t require staff to teach anything. We can just set out paints and brushes and remind them to clean up their station before they leave.

I’ll let you know how that works out but for the sake of this post, I’ll show you the craft we’ll be doing.

Budget: Depends on what you have on hand and they type of air dry clay you use. I used Polyform Sculpey which is about $8/brick. I brick will probably accommodate five people.

Supplies Needed:

  • Air Dry Clay
  • Medium sized glass or porcelain bowl
  • Saran Wrap
  • Rolling pin or something cylindrical to roll clay
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint pens (optional)
  • Modge Podge


  • Put Saran Wrap around the entire bowl.
  • Take a piece of clay and roll it into a ball. Then use a rolling pin to flatten it.
  • Form the flattened clay around the bottom of the bowl.
  • Let it sit overnight to dry.
  • Paint the bowl how you like and allow to dry.
    • You can use a heat gun to expedite the drying process.
    • You can have patrons take it home to dry.
  • Seal with Modge Podge.

As you can see, this will take several days to complete so patrons will have to come back.

The first day doesn’t take long as all patrons have to do is form clay around a bowl.  I like my programs to last at least one hour so I will let them do some polymer clay figurines for about 45 minutes.

If you’ve done anything with clay at your library, I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Parent & Teen Programs

I post program pics and ideas on my Instagram so if you’d like even more teen programming ideas more frequently, follow me on the IG.

We starting doing parent and teen programs in the summer of 2019 because I’ve been a teen programming “librarian” for ten years and parents have ALWAYS displayed envy when they dropped their teen off at our craft programs. We’d hear comments like, “This looks so much fun; I wish I could do it.”  So we thought, why not just let the parents stay?

What Are Our Goals

Our goal was simply to host a craft program where parents and teens could work together and socialize for an hour.

We decided to distinguish parent and teen programs from regular teen craft programs by the difficulty of the project. Our regular teen programs are usually beginner/easy crafts that require little instruction and promote lots of design and self expression. Our regular teen programs also introduce an element of DIY. We want teens leaving the program knowing they can make the products that they love rather than buy them. Our typical, regular teen programs include, DIY squishies/stress pet; galaxy crafts; and DIY Lego person.

Our parent and teen project’s difficulty ranges from intermediate to hard. Our goals are to introduce a new skill and/or create a loose and social atmosphere.

What We Did Wrong

Just like your library, we have to plan months in advance and our newsletter runs for three months. Our first foray into this idea was a trial and a huge error. We initially called it, Adult and Teen Programs and because it was in the teen section of the newsletter, I assumed only teens and parents of teens would peruse that section- I was wrong. Apparently, patrons look at the teen and youth sections even if they don’t have teens or kids in their home or family. So for the first two months of this new idea, we had adults attending the program without a teen relative which resulted in 75% adults and 25% teens in the program. And, the teens came on their own without an adult caregiver. This was the exact opposite of our goal.  Since it was in our newsletter runs for three months and there was nothing we could do, we had to roll with it and make changes for the next quarter.

For the next newsletter quarter, we called it Parent and Teen Programs. We included a disclaimer that said adults have to register with a teen relative and since then, we have only had adults attend with their child or grandchild.

What Programs Have We Offered

These programs are usually expensive so we only open it to 6-10 patrons.

The first was fairy gardens. We’ve done fairy garden programs for teens in the past but they were poorly attended. We had so many left over supplies, we thought if we offered it as a parent and teen program, it would be more successful. It was more successful but this unfortunately was the first program for this new idea and we got a bunch of adults without any teenage relatives. So if you are wondering, fairy gardens is a very popular program for adults.

Bullet Journaling was our second program and it only had four attendees and only one pair was a teen and her mother. Bullet journaling is very niche and just wasn’t popular in our community.

DIY Light Box. This was an advanced craft because it involved circuitry. This was an interesting set of attendees because up until now and after this program, we’ve only have mothers and daughters. This was the only program that had mothers and sons and a father and sons. It is most likely because it contained a tech component.

Wood burning. Wood burning or pyrography is also very niche but our patrons were really into it because we had a full house of 10 attendees.

Upcoming Programs

For November and December we are doing Learn how to frost and decorate a two layer cake then Bob Ross painting.


  • Our goal of providing a space for parents to work together with their teen in a social environment has been met. We observe parents assisting their teen and the teen assisting their parents. We’ve seen parents asking for design advice and validation. We’ve seen parents encouraging their teens and vice versa. Because of all of this, we as staff stand back and only jump in to help if necessary so these programs don’t require much staff assistance.
  • There have two occasions where we overheard a parent say, “See, I told you this would be fun and you didn’t want to come.” I know that sometimes teens don’t want to come to library programs because they won’t know anyone and they don’t want to be alone. I’ve seen teens get dropped off at a program and they whisper to their parent to stay. This program takes away the fear of not knowing anyone and the stigma of being that teen who needs their parent to stay. Once the teen is in the program we’ve observed that they talk to the other teens in attendance and begin to have fun. We’ve also seen those teens come back in the future to attend teen programs and they are comfortable being dropped off.
  • I had a parent tell me that she likes these programs because her daughter is a high school senior and this is something they can do before she leaves for college. This mother daughter duo used to come to youth programs when the mom could stay but since her daughter became a teen, I hadn’t seen her at any teen programs. Now that she can come with her mom again, they have returned to the library.
  • This program has become very popular in a short amount of time and our next one, learn-to-decorate a cake filled up in one day. We will begin to offer them twice a month rather than once.

What’s Next

As stated above, we don’t get a lot of fathers or sons. The circuitry program was the only one with males so in the future, we will include more techy programs including 3D printing and robotics.

Final Thoughts

We enjoy hosting these programs because the patrons enjoy it. Everyone gets something different when they attend and as long as this continues, we will continue to offer it.


Posted in Crafts, Holiday Programs, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Dollar Tree Halloween Crafts

Halloween is prime time for crafts but crafts can be expensive if you anticipate lots of teens.  However, if you have a Dollar Tree in your town or the internet, you can do some really cheap crafts. If you don’t have a Dollar Tree in your town, you can order these items online. I will recommend that you order them VERY early, because it can take up to two weeks to get your order.

Sugar Skulls

Budget: $25+/25 teens (Budget depends on the supplies you have on hand)

Supplies Needed:IMG_6230

  • Dollar Tree Skulls
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Sharpies Paint Pens


  1. Pre paint the skulls different colors.
  2. Sharpie paint pens (water based) work very well because they are pigmented. They are also expensive but worth the investment. Give teens Sharpie pens and a picture and let them create.

Pumpkin Painting

Budget: $25+/25 Teens (Depends on the supplies you already have)

Supplies Needed:

  • Dollar Tree Pumpkins
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Sharpie Paint Pens
  • Puffy Paint (optional)


  1. Pre-paint your pumpkins white. It took a couple of coats so get some volunteers to do this if you have the luxury.
  2. Allow teens to paint their pumpkins however they like.
    1. I usually recommend they find inspo from their phones or I provide iPads for teens who don’t have phones.


Budget: $5/Teen

Supplies Needed:

I purchased everything from the Dollar Tree

  • Dollar Tree Foam wreathsKsGatWMSTkiZJHS7Y0e
  • Dollar Tree Black roses/varied plastic flowers
  • Dollar Tree Ribbon
  • Dollar Tree Tulle
  • Dollar Tree Plastic spiders, mini skulls, bats, etc.
  • Anything else you’d like to purchase
  • Hot glue and hot glue guns


  1. Provide pictures of examples for inspiration.
  2. Have teens begin by wrapping their wreath in ribbon. They can use one color or various colors.
  3. Allow teens to design freely.


  • It can be overwhelming with all the supplies on the table. Give teens time to design their wreath first before they dive in.


Flower Crowns

Budget: $5/TeensIMG_6259

Supplies Needed:

  1. Dollar Tree headbands
  2. Feathers
  3. Dollar Tree flowers
  4. Dollar Tree mini skulls
  5. Dollar Tree tulle
  6. Hot Glue and hot glue guns
  7. Dollar Tree ribbon


  1. Give teens a headband, some hot glue, and let them create
Posted in Big Programs

Alien Escape Room

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We chose aliens because of the summer reading challenge theme of 2019: A Universe of Stories.

The Objective: The Infinity Space Shuttle has been infiltrated by aliens. They have entered the shuttle’s entry pod and have disabled systems. Your objective is to get the key out of the locked box and then eliminate the aliens in the entry pod.

This program can be as expensive as you want. I recommend using a theme based on a party you’ve done before and have a lot of supplies. Locks will be the most expensive and you can get some locks at the Dollar Store.

The Escape Room

We used the hasp lock method because it’s easier for a large group to solve and it’s easier to plan with several people-each person is responsible for a lock/puzzle.


The Puzzles:

  • UV Light Cypher-My co worker found a cypher online, printed it on beige paper, then crumpled it. He put the answer on Post-its. We put the answer key in a different part of the room. We put the UV light near the Post Its in a box full of other random stuff. We called the box space junk. We used a letter lock.



  • Tube Cypher-My co-worker found a different cypher online and put it on a large Tootsie Roll tube. (You can find these large tubes if you have a Five Below store or here on Amazon) She put the cypher reader on the inside of the tube. We used a number lock.


  • Key Inside a Book-My co-worker hollowed out a book and then changed the cover with paper to fit her clue. We used a standard key lock.



  • Rotating Cypher-My co-worker made a spinning cypher and provided the clue. There were 20 flags around the room and they all had a QR code on the back. She made the codes on QR Code Generator and chose text. 19 flags had an error message and the correct code told participants how to use the lock. We used a number and letter lock.


  • Solar System-This was my puzzle. I put pictures of the planets on a bulletin board and I put numbers on six of them. Participants had to put the planets in order of distance from the sun, use the numbers as a code to get into a locked Chromebook. Once they unlocked the Chromebook, they listened to a distress call. They were told the secret code word during the instructions. We used a slide lock.


  • Call Numbers- He found call numbers from three books that served as the three numbers to open the lock. I forgot to take a picture of this puzzle-sorry. We used a combo lock.

The Entry Pod

Our meeting room can be split into two rooms. The puzzles were on one side and the entry pod was in the other room. We had one alien standee but we needed six in total and we didn’t want to pay $40 for each. So we decided to take our old standees, Batman, Abe Lincoln, Gaston, etc, and we put alien faces on them.

We scattered the standees and boxes around the room. We also put random stuff maintenance had to look industrial. We used laser guns to eliminate the aliens. We put the laser sensor on the aliens and we gave the patron the gun. These laser guns are cool because water vapor releases when the target is hit.

We had three staffers armed with Nerf Guns shooting at the participants; they also wore sensors. Once the participants shot all the aliens, including staff who wore sensors, the escape room was over.


The Day of the Escape Room

We set our times 1.5 hours apart. We are open from 9-5 on Saturdays so we were able to get five groups. Because we only had eight laser guns, we accommodated eight people/group. Patrons had to pick a time slot.

When everyone from the group was in attendance, I gave them the rules and their objective.

We have large TVs on carts so we found a timer on the internet and hooked up a Chromebook to the TV to project the timer for the participants.

We gave them small clues when we saw patrons struggling because it’s no fun when patrons are stuck on one clue.

Other Information:

  • Have staff or volunteers run through your escape room a couple of times. Observe them and make changes. Also, ask them for feedback.
  • This program was for ages 8 to adult. Our clues were a bit too challenging for the younger kids. If you do this with older teens, it should be easy enough.
  • With adults participating, including staff who tested, it took each group the entire time to complete and every group needed help from staff. I recommend giving small hints if you see teams getting frustrated or when their time is running out. It’s not fun when they aren’t solving puzzles.
  • Before teams entered the entry pod, I gave them a tutorial on how to use the guns. The guns are very easy to use.
  • The staff in the entry pod played music as ambiance and it was great.
  • We put black tableclothes over the windows of the entry pod so no one could see in.
  • The entry pod portion only took about 3 minutes to complete. I wish it took longer because it was fun for the teams but it’s not hard to hit those laser targets.
  • It only took us 5 minutes to reset the room between groups which was GREAT! We were able to take snack and lunch breaks between groups.
  • We only had 2 staff members run the escape room day.

Each group contained a family so this was a great family program. Everyone had fun and  asked about the next escape room-we don’t have one planned for a LONG time LOL.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Bedroom Decor

I also post on Instagram. You can follow me here-@teenservicesdepot

Teens love their rooms, right? Sure they do so here are some crafts for teens to decorate and personalize them.

I’ve done some other crafts on this blog that you could to for a Bedroom Decor program:

LED Sign | Woodburning | Light Box

Clay Photo Holders

Budget: $20/10 teens (Depends on what you already have)



  • It takes 24 hours for clay to dry but you can pre-make the shapes for teens to decorate now. Then you can have them make their own and come back a different day to decorate.
    • Stick the wire in the wet clay and keep it in while it dries.
  • The clay doesn’t dry white so I recommend painting the clay white for their base. Have teens remove the wire while they paint. Have them reopen the hole after each coat of paint.
    • We use heat guns to expedite drying otherwise, teens will have to wait a couple minutes for their paint to dry between coats. I recommend purchasing about three heat guns because having teens wait is not a fun time. We use heat guns for rock paining, melting crayons, embossing, shrink wrap, etc so it won’t be used once.
    • One of my designs has a black base and it’s fine to have a different base color. It will just take several coats to cover it.
  • Give teens the option of drawing their design with pencil first if they would like.
  • Then paint.
    • I used glossy acrylic paint and that eliminates the need for Mod Podge.
  • One of my holders has a mini clothes pin to hold my picture. Simply hot glue the pin to the wire. If you want to save money, have teens bend the wire.
  • I used dotting tools to make dots on my heart holder.

Vinyl Sign

Vinyl signs can be used in their room or on their door.

Budget: $50/10 teens (Depends on the supplies you have)

Supplies Needed:

  • Vinyl Cutting Machine. I used a Silhouette and they are about $300
  • Wood signs. I got mine from Walmart for $5 but you can get them anywhere-Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Target.
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes. I used foam brushes.
  • Vinyl
  • Transfer paper


  • Have teens paint their board with their desired color. Set aside to dry.
    • Wood doesn’t take long to dry. We use a fan on the drying table to expedite the drying process.
  • While their wood is drying, have teens design their sign in your machine’s software.
  • Transfer the design to the wood.


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Home Decor: LED Sign

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Teens like to decorate their rooms and if you are interested in adding some electronics to your crafts, this project is perfect for your teens.

Budget: This is an expensive craft. $70/8 teens

Supplies Needed:

  • EL Wire e3P7s3ZZTAGEwC96Etrwcg
  • Corkboard
  • Double Pointed Tacks (I used #9)
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape
  • Pencil
  • Ribbon, Washi tape, decorative push pins, etc (optional)
  • Drill (optional)


  • Have teens decide the word they want to spell. The size of the cork will determine the length of the word.
  • Check to see if the wire works.
  • Have teens LIGHTLY write the word on the cork in cursive. You can have them write it on paper first if you prefer.
  • If you are going to drill, you need to measure how much wire you need. Simply bend the wire over the pencil drawn word. Don’t tape it down yet. It’s not supposed to stay put, you just need to estimate the amount of wire needed to complete the word. Use tape or marker to mark on the end of the wire used.
    • Once you have measured, drill a hole where the word ends.
    • Teens will then feed the wire from behind the board. They will know how much wire they need because they marked it.
  • Drilling is optional. I didn’t use a drill, I just bend the wire around the side of the cork.
  • Bend the wire around the pencil drawing and use tape to keep it down.



  • Using the hammer or mallet, tack down the wire with the tacks.
  • Allow teens to personalize by using the decorative supplies but this is optional. You can look in your craft closet for left over odds and ends if you don’t want to buy anything.



  • Don’t buy flimsy cork. The one I used had a hard back. I wouldn’t recommend buying the backless cork because it could crumble.
  • Make sure teens leave the battery pack accessible so that they can turn it on/off.

We like to do DIYs with our teens because it shows them that they don’t have to buy items pre-made. They can use their creativity to make something they see in the stores. Teens are always so excited with they complete a project because they actually made something.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

DIY Fanny Pack

Fanny Packs are back! I wore several in the 80’s and they were hideous so I refuse to wear one but teens don’t know they were hideous. They may be out of fashion next year so get ahead of this trend and host a DIY.

Budget: $50 (Depends on the supplies you already have.)


  • Varied colors of duct tape
  • Scissors you don’t mind getting sticky (I separate my duct tape scissors)
  • Rotary cutter (Optional)
  • Cutting mat (Optional)
  • Ruler
  • Binder rings
  • Velcro or strong self adhesive magnet.
  • Stapler


  • Have teens design their fanny pack using paper and pencil-the shape; the length, and the width. I always have teens review the supplies and design their project on paper. It helps them form a plan and it gets them in the habit of thinking before jumping in.
  • Have teens begin the base-see picture below. Continue the layering pattern to the desired width. Fold over exposed tape when finished.


  • After the base is complete, teens may then cut to their desired length and shape. They may then design using different colors of tape, etc.


  • Give teens Velcro or a strong adhesive magnet so that they can close their bag.
    • If you use Velcro, staple it to the duct tape. Glue does not work on duct tape.
    • Use another piece of tape to cover the staples on the outside of the tape.
  • Make straps. I used long pieces of duct tape and folded it in half. It will probably have bumps but that’s life-LOL
  • Tape straps to fanny pack. Tape them close to the top.


  • Wrap two binder clips around the end of one strap and tape it closed.


  • See the picture to see how to close the belt.



  • Some teens are not great with duct tape so you might have to walk them thru this project step-by-step.
  • Hot glue does not adhere to duct tape. E6000 might work but I’m not sure-it will take time to dry.
  • Instead of fancy tape, you can give teens magazines for images and they can use clear duct tape to cover it.


Posted in Crafts

BTS Party

K Pop is becoming increasingly popular among teens especially BTS. This has been the third K Pop we’ve done in two years. Please click here to see my other programs.

Budget: $120 (The food makes it expensive so you can limit the amount of ingredients to make it cheaper. Ramen is cheap so even if you just serve ramen, the program will be a lot cheaper.)

Supplies Needed:

  • Face MasksIMG_5582
  • Bedazzler (We used this one but the rating is low so I’d recommend shopping for a better one).
  • Gems
  • Maruchen Instant Noodles-varied flavors
  • Food that can be used in ramen-seaweed; hardboiled eggs; bean sprouts; kimchi; pea pods; tofu; we purchased meat from our local Chinese food restaurant
  • Large paper bowls
  • Chopsticks
  • Hot water
  • Silhouette Cutting Machine
  • Heat transfer vinyl
  • Iron
  • Projector/laptop or TV


  • Ramen Challenge- We put out a bunch of supplies for teens to make ramen. TheIMG_5598 challenge was to make the most visually appealing ramen, not good tasting. Here’s how:
    • We bought the ramen in the cup. All teens have to do is fill it to the line, cover for a couple of minutes to cook.
    • While their ramen is “cooking,” teens went back to the table to get their other food supplies.
      • We also told teens to look at pictures of ramen on their phones for inspiration.
    • Have teens pour their cooked ramen into their bowls.
    • We gave teens 60 minutes to complete the challenge.
    • We took pictures of each bowl and posted to our instastory.
      • We had the teens in the program to vote and our teens who saw our instastory to vote.
      • We announced the winner at the end of the program.

  • Face Mask Craft
    • We pre-cut the BTS logo with our Silhouette.
      • If you are really brave, you can let teens choose/make their own design and have them use the Silhouette.
    • We helped them iron on the logo; all the teens were too afraid to use the iron and most of them were in high school.
    • We then let them use the bedazzler to decorate.


  • Teens are perfectly content with watching music videos and singing and dancing. Don’t feel like you have to have a bunch of activities to keep them busy.
  • Make sure teens work fast because ramen gets cold. I’d recommend having teens look for inspiration first.
  • We set up the projector and laptop for teens to watch music videos. We also allowed them to be the DJ.  We always give them the power over their music and they really like that.

Overall, the most popular activity was the masks. After they made them, they did not take them off as you can see in the photos. K-Pop is a great program to host because it attracts teens of all ages, races, economic status, and sexual orientations. Shy teens come in and meet new friends because K Pop lovers are enthusiastic and friendly. If you’ve thought about doing a K-Pop program, I highly recommend it.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Tie-Dye/Galaxy Hats

Follow me on Instagram for daily programming ideas and follow my blog. I post twice a week. (At least I try to)

It’s difficult to tie dye hats the traditional way but you can do it with Sharpie and rubbing alcohol. This is also a great craft to do this summer if your library is doing the Universe of Stories Summer reading theme.

Budget: $25-$50 (Depending on what you already have)



  1. I demonstrate on a practice canvas shoe. I tell teens to color a small section of several colors and to then drop alcohol on it. If they like how the colors blend, then I tell them they can color bigger color blocks.

And that’s it!


  • A hat can take about 45 minutes so make sure the teens have time to do it.
  • Chisel tip Sharpies cover more surface area which cuts down on time. However, chisel tips usually don’t come in cool colors.
  • I colored my entire hat first with the design/colors I wanted and then did the alcohol.
  • The more alcohol you add, the better it blends.

It’s a great craft for boys and girls and something that the might actually wear.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Stress Pets Again

Follow me on Instagram for daily programming ideas and follow my blog. I post twice a week. (At least I try to)

If you are looking for a cheaper way to make stress pets, here’s an idea. If you have $$ to spend, check out my first stress pets post.

Budget: $10+ (Depending on the supplies you already have)


  • Felt
  • Needle and embroidery thread
  • Black Sharpie (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Fragrance Sachet (optional)
  • 8 lb bag of pinto beans


  1. You can do any template you want but I chose a llama because they are all the rage now and it’s probably because of Fortnite. I would have done an emoji but I didn’t have yellow felt-I just used whatever I had in my craft closet.
    1. I could not find a llama template so I had to draw one. It’s not hard and I’m not an artist.
  2. I pre-cut the llamas for the teens because this was for a drop in program and teens usually only spend about 30 minutes in the program. If you are filling a longer program, you can have teens cut out their own llamas.
  3. Have teens make the nose using a different color felt. I drew in the snout using the Sharpie but you can teach teens how to make the snout with the thread. Use the fabric glue to adhere the nose, then use the Sharpie or thread to make eyes.
  4. The thread is supposed to be visible so have teens choose a different color embroidery thread.
  5. Embroidery thread is made up of several strands of thread. You have to pick one

    Blanket Stitch

    strand and pull to get one.  It’s confusing; I know. Once you have a nice long piece, thread and knot at the end. When you embroider, you only use a single strand in the needle but I used two strands like you do when you sew with sewing thread.

    1. Be sure to get needles with large eyes.
  6. There are several stitches you can do but I think the best one is the blanket stitch. I didn’t know this when I did mine but if you have a longer program, you can teach teens how to do this stitch.
  7. Have teens leave a opening to fill their llama with beans and fragrance. I bought my fragrance sachet at The Dollar Tree by the candles. I just had them spoon in their desired amount. It smells so much better than the essential oil and water method I used in my first stress pets post.
  8. Have teens finish sewing and they are all done.



Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Butterfly Earcuff

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If you are having a butterfly/fairy day, fandom party, or jewelry making program, a butterfly earcuff craft is a good project to include.

Budget: $30+ (Depends on the supplies you already own)

Supplies Needed:

  • Foam
  • Paint pens (I used water based Sharpie paint pens but it can be any paint pen)
  • Jewelry wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Jewelry pliers or needle nose pliers
  • Sewing needle and thread


  1. Look for butterfly wing templates and choose different designs. Print and cut them out for teens to choose. Or allow teens to draw their own.
  2. Trace template around the foam color of their choosing. White foam is the best to paint on but black works well on all the foam colors.
  3. Cut out template and draw in the wing design of their choice.
  4. Outline with the black paint pen and use white for the dots.
    1. The white might get muddled because of the black so teens can use white paint with a dotting tool.
  5. Cut the jewelry wire about 8 inches.
  6. Have teens bend their wire around their ear.
  7. Using the pliers, make little curls on each end of the wire.
  8. Using a needle and thread, have each teen sew the wing to the desired location of the wire.
  9. Fit the cuff to the ear.


  • The hardest part of this project is bending the wire. I’d recommend giving teens practice wire to find out the best way to bend it.


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Stress Pets

Please follow me on Instagram for somewhat daily programming pics 🙂

I originally saw this craft on a FB group but I can’t find the original poster. But, you know who you are and thanks for the inspo.

It was May which meant finals and graduation and crossing fingers to find out if you’re graduating and getting ready for college and all the end of school year things. Teens may need something to play with and snuggle as they deal-stress pets!

Disclaimer: The furry fabric I used got EVERYWHERE when I cut it. I WILL NEVER USE IT AGAIN! But it’s really fluffy and cute so if you use this, you’ve been warned.

Budget: $50/10 teens


  • Fabric (Choose a soft textured fabric)vR5xHNI9SGCVhwuoA3ZkPQ
  • Polly Pellets (I used 4 pounds with ten teens. I’ll explain more in the tips section)
  • Safety Eyes
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Funnel & scoop (optional)
  • Fragrance-water; essential oils; water bottle (optional)


  1. I pre-cut the fabric into 5×5 inch squares. The smaller the better because it reduces sewing time and it doesn’t need as many pellets.
  2. Let teens choose their eye color.%EKFxoYfQRmLmCyE%%2XPA
  3. Allow teens to decide where they want to put their eyes. Have them use scissors to make a small hole thru the fabric and then push the safety eyes thru the hole. The safety eyes should come with a backing. Put the backing on like contact lenses.
  4. Sew inside out on 3 1/2 sides. Make sure teens make small stitches so that the pellets don’t fall out.
  5. If you want to provide a scent, pre-mix water and ten drops of essential oils. We used lavender and told teens about its calming affects.
    1. Spray the inside of the pet.
  6. Flip the pet the to the correct side.
  7. I put the pellets in a large container. I had  the teens scoop the pellets into the funnel into their pet.
  8. Sew the final side and you’re all done!


  • My teens went HAM on the pellets and we went thru 6 pounds. Inform them to only fill their pet half way because teens want to fill them all the way. You can use dried beans for filling if you are saving money-black eyed peas, etc.
  • Stress to teens that they need to make their stitches are small. My teens didn’t and all of them had to go over their holes. Or buy big pellets so that they won’t fall out.


Sewing is always exhausting because of all the one on one assistance but the teens really do take the time to hand sew and go over their mistakes. Teens like to hand sew because it’s methodical and easy to learn and they’ve created something from nothing. If you haven’t don’t sewing with teens, I highly recommend it but you might need a co-worker or volunteer to help you.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Mandala Painting

Mandala art uses symmetrical shapes and it is currently very popular. It can be difficult to free hand if you aren’t artsy and/or patient enough to make everything symmetrical. I found a free app that’s very simple to use and allows you to paint in the app or print a coloring sheet.

This is a great activity if you have an art club, if you have patrons who like to color, or if 51jvjsAnTOCYA3uCRgZ1kQyou are hosting an adult decor program.

Budget: $0+ depending on the supplies you already have.

Supplies Needed:

  • iPads with the Mandalakit app
  • Paint for paint markers ( I used Artiqo paint pens but you can use Sharpies or Sharpie paint pens, Posca pens, etc)
  • Acrylic paper or cardstock ( I used acrylic paper)
  • Paint brushes if you are using paint
  • Printer


  1. Provide a brief rundown on the app especially the functions of all the buttons. It does take practice. Give participants time to make their mandala on the app-45 minutes-1 hour.
  2. Have participants print their mandalas from the app.
    1. If you don’t have a wifi printer, they can send their mandala to your email and you can print them. I’m assuming you all have network printer access.
  3. Transfer their printed mandalas to acrylic paper or cardstock.
    1. If you are coping on acrylic paper, I had to cut my paper to 8.5 x 11. My paper was 9×12 and my printer is weird. After I cut it down, I copied it thru the bypass.
  4. At this point, participants can color it in however they like, colored pencils, paint markers, Sharpies, watercolors (you should probably put it on watercolor paper if they choose watercolors), crayons, etc.
    1. I prefer paint pens because they give the effect of paint without the mess and they are vibrant.
  5. If you really want to get fancy, you can try to transfer their mandalas to a canvas. You’ll need a light table to do this.
  6. Or you can put their completed mandalas in a picture frame.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Pyrography (Wood Burning)

While trying to stop spending so much money on new stuff, I found some wood burning kits sitting in our storage room. I looked up some Youtube videos and found out that wood burning is a thing that people like and have called it something cool-pyrography. Turns out it really fun and addicting.

I would recommend hosting this program for teens 14 and older. The tips of the wood burner is extremely hot and teens need to be very careful when handling the tool.  We have a parent/teen crafting series so a caregiver will be with their 14+ teen during our program. If you are an adult programmer, this would be a great program for your library.

Budget: $25/person

Supplies Needed:


  1. I’m not an expert on pyrography or wood but upon research, the type of wood doesn’t matter. Just choose a lighter wood so that the burn shows.
  2. I recommend reviewing some safety tips. I dropped my wood burner a couple of times but I have quick reflexes and moved in time. Show them how to properly lay the burner on the holder.
    1. In the kit I linked, it recommends taping the holder to the table. Make sure you tape it towards the middle of the table because the temperature knob can weigh it down and cause it to fall if it’s too far back.
    2. If you are working with teens, I wouldn’t allow them to change the tips because it’s hot. If you are with adults, show them how to change the tips using pliers. Have a metal tray available to put the hot tips in.
  3. Patrons can use a pencil to draw a picture on their wood or before the program begins, you can set out a computer and let patrons choose an image. Print the image for them. Or you can have some pre-printed images available.
  4. If patrons are using an image, give them a piece of carbon paper. Lay the carbon paper shiny side down onto the wood then lay their image face up onto the carbon paper. Using a fine tip marker/Sharpie, trace the image. I like using a marker because you can see the lines of the image you have traced.
  5. Use the wood burner to go over the lines of the image on the wood.


  • Give patrons a scrap piece of wood to practice because it does take some time to get used to the tool.
  • It’s easier to go with the grain than against. Let patrons know this and let them practice to figure out the best way to burn against the grain.
  • When the tool starts to act up, I scrape it on sandpaper and that usually gets it going again.
  • The longer you hold the tool on the wood, the darker the burn. You don’t have to press hard to get it to burn.
  • I used the tip that looks like a pencil.
  • I followed the shading on the image. Shading is a great technique to wood burning. There’s a tip for that but I didn’t change tips; I just shaded like I would on paper or you can go over the lines to get a darker burn.
  • You can use colored pencils or Sharpies the color in designs.
  • It’s smelly so put on some fans. Your patrons will leave smelling like burnt wood.
  • You can also wood burn on leather and cork. I bought the leather bracelets on Amazon.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

DIY Patches

Collecting patches and ironing them to jackets or backpacks or purses are still a thing, however; teens are limited by what manufacturers make, until today. Making patches is easy and fun and teens can make whatever patch they want.

Budget: $30 for lots of teens-30+ (Depends on what you already own)

Supplies Needed:

  • Heat bond
  • White or tan canvas
  • Iron
  • Fabric blue
  • Water based Sharpies or regular Sharpies
  • Black Sharpie
  • iPad (Optional)
  • Pre-printed images (Optional)
  • Trace pad (Optional)


  • For your non-artistic teens, pre-print popular clipart. I used emojis and teens can take artistic license. For your artsy teens, they can begin drawing on the fabric using the black Sharpie.
  • For teens who want to trace, you can place the clipart on the trace pad and have teens trace the image on the fabric. Or if you have iPads, find a picture on Google images; save the pic to the iPad; open the image and trace. Or you can have teens do the preceding sentence on their phones.

I saved this image on my phone.

  • Using Sharpies, paint the image and outline again with the black Sharpie.
    1. Water based Sharpies are more vibrant than regular ones. Water based Sharpies do bleed into each other; that’s why I used a regular black Sharpie to outline.


  • Cut out the image as close as possible.
  • Clean up the cut edges with the Sharpie and apply fabric glue on the edges to prevent fraying. I used a heat gun to expedite the drying of the glue but you can have teens put it aside to make another patch. It dries fairly quickly.

I cut off the smile lines-too hard to cut

  • Follow the instructions on the Heatbond.
    1. I cut the Heatbond to the shape of the patch.
  • Tell teens to keep the paper on the back until they are ready to iron on their clothes/bag.

Posted in Passive Programs

Starting a LGBTQ+ Club at Your Library

Over the last school year, we observed that a lot of our after school teens were identifying as LGBTQ+ and although our high school has a Gay Alliance club, the middle schools and the elementary schools do not. We wanted to offer a club for teens and friends to socialize in a relaxed environment.

How To Start

Decide what type of club you want. Do you want a staff moderated club with topics of discussion for teens? Do you want your teens to do reader’s advisory including suggesting books for your collection or book displays? Do you want something similar to TAG where teens volunteer or plan programs or take over your social media? Do you want it to be a teen led group? Do you want it to be more of a social club where teens hang out, talk about whatever they want, eat snacks, and do an activity? It’s really up to you and you can use your first meeting to ask the teens what they want to do.

Our club has a hang out atmosphere for 6th-12th graders. We have an artsy craft that allow teens to express themselves. Our past activities include Shrinky Dinks, rock painting, and button making. Usually teens draw the pride flag or a phrase. We serve a snack and we give them the TV remote so that they can play Youtube music videos. The staff is at in the room to welcome teens but we do not interfere. At some point, we will ask the teens if they want to continue the chill atmosphere or if they want something different.

More Things to Consider

  • You Need a Name-Before the first meeting, we polled our followers on Instagram. If you don’t have social media, you can have the teens in your first meeting choose a name. You can put up a display and have teens vote on pre-selected names or ask for original names.
  • You Need a Time-Because we wanted to reach the after-school crowd, our club meets at 4pm but if you’d like to reach teens who are not within walking distance or have after school activities, you might want to have your club in the evening.
  • Anonymity-High school is different but in middle school, teens may not be open about their sexuality.  You might get teens who tell you that they want to come but their parents won’t let them. We’ve experienced this and we tell teens that they are welcome when they are allowed to attend and we tell them about other clubs that they might like such as anime club; book club; etc. These other clubs often have teens who are welcoming and encouraging.
    • Some libraries host their pride club in a windowless room. I know that sounds creepy but the idea is to maintain anonymity. Sometimes teens do not want other people to know.
  • Collaborate-Find other non profits in your community or partner with the local high school’s pride club to host larger events for homecoming or prom.
  • Pride Month-Plan a trip to your town’s pride parade.
  • All Inclusivity-Make it clear that your pride club is also open to friends and supporters.

The best thing we’ve done is ask the teens what they want. That way they will enjoy coming to club meetings.


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Cookie and Cake Decorating

Baking shows such as Nailed It and Great British Bake Off are very popular among all ages but you don’t have to be an expert to teach the basics. You also don’t have to spend lots of money on a presenter.

My co-worker and I taught ourselves how to do BASIC cookie and cake decorating. We also work with teens and the attendees were novices. If you do this with adults, you might get some back seat drivers so make sure that your flyers say that the class is for beginners.

Because cooking programs are expensive, we limit our class to five patrons. If you have a bigger budget, you can open it to more patrons but keep in mind that cooking programs require lots of assistance. I’d recommend two staff assist patrons. Because we are limiting the attendance, we can take the time to teach a skill. Our main goal for our maker programming is skill building over attendance.

Cookie Decorating

Budget: $50/5 Patrons

Supplies Needed:

  • Undecorated sugar cookies (I bought mine from the Walmart baking section. I gotebjhkrstwatwhyihdofow.jpg the round cookies but if you feeling really fancy, a bakery will sell you unfrosted cookies in various shapes)
  • Royal icing (You can get it pre-made and you just add water or you can get it in powder form. We used the powder because we are teaching patrons how to use a mixer.) One box will accommodate two patrons
  • Lots of Piping bags
  • Piping tips-optional (We used tips because we wanted teens to learn how to use tips and couplers.
  • Mixer (Bring one from home or ask staff; don’t buy one unless you plan to do lots of cooking programs)
  • Water
  • Measuring cups
  • Tall plastic cups
  • Spoons
  • Toothpicks
  • Food coloring
  • Bowls
  • Boxes for patrons to take their cookies


  • We began the class by asking patrons if they had ever frosted cookies before the40E97FA3-82FA-48B7-9B33-6B6842D3A80E class. We ask them what they want to learn by the end of the class.
  • We tell them that in today’s class, they are going to learn how to mix use a hand/stand mixer; how to make royal frosting; what is royal frosting and why it’s different from regular frosting; how to use a piping bag; and how to flood frosting.
  • We showed a Youtube video just for inspiration.
  • We split them into two groups and had them take turns mixing the frosting. Follow the directions on your frosting box.
  • We gave each patron two bowls, two spoons, and two piping bags, two piping tips and couplets.
    • Give each patrons one or two food colors, depending on how many you have to offer
  • Here’s where it gets tricky:
    • You need two consistencies of frosting for each color. You need piping frosting (this is the stiffer frosting you use to outline the designs). Then you need flooding frosting (this is for the inside and it needs to be a bit runny).
    • Scoop a little bit of the royal icing into a bowl and add a drop of food coloring. Mix and put into a piping bag (don’t forget the piping bag tips). This is your piping frosting. Do this for every color you will be using. You need to mark these bags so that patrons can distinguish the piping frosting from the flooding frosting. You can use colored tape or a marker or don’t use piping tips for these bags.
    • With the remaining frosting, have each patron scoop some into their bowl and add water. Please follow the instructions on the box for frosting to water ratio. Then add a drop of food coloring, mix, then put in piping bags.
      • If each patrons does this with a different color, then everyone can share the bags. There will be a variety of colors for everyone.
  • Demonstrate how to properly hold and use a piping bag
  • Have teens practice on a cookie.
    • I bought enough cookies for each patron to have 10 cookies. The cookies were cheap at Walmart. They can eat their practice cookies.
  • I had Youtube videos running in the background for inspiration. Let them design and decorate.

Cookie Decorating

Budget: $50-$100/5 teens

Supplies Needed:


  • We have cake decorating videos on Youtube playing as they arrive for inspiration0j%Wh464QAWlBU6w6A4pog
    and for something to watch as we wait for everyone to arrive.
  • Once again, we want to teach essential cake frosting skills so we begin by asking if anyone has frosted cakes and what they want to learn by the end of the class.
  • Since this is a cake decorating class and not a baking class, I pre-baked the cakes. I made 8″ round cakes.
  • We purchased non-essential cake deco supplies such as a turntable and a leveler and it was expensive but when we do this program again, we won’t have to buy them.
  • We learned how to decorate cakes by watching a tutorial by Rosanna Pansino. Instead of me giving you instructions here, I recommend you learn by watching this video and then teach it.
  • We taught participants how to use a piping bag and piping tips.
  • By the end of the class, participants will know how to use piping bags, how to use varied piping tips, and how to make a two tier cake.

Have Fun!

Posted in Makerspace

How To Do 3D Printing Programming

Teens like to 3D print and you want to do programming but it’s scary to imagine 20 teens in your program and you only have one 3D printer. There’s a simple solution, limit your attendance. The  following can be done with adults. We open 3D printing to eight adults because they need less assistance.

We have a 3D printing program once a month, because that’s all we can handle but you can have more. We limit the attendance to four teens and this is how we do our program:

  • We have four 3D printers. We have Flash Forge printers and they cost about $350-M4kCGWFNTj+H3M8GBLW9Wgthey came highly recommended from a state of the art Fab Lab in Chicago. We only use our printers once a month but the Fab Lab uses them daily and they hold up. But with three printers, we are able to host a one hour 3D printing program and give teens their print before the class is over.
  • We use Tinkercad to teach 3D printing basics. Tinkercad has about five lessons for the teens to take. This is great because you don’t have to teach anything; you just help them when they get stuck. The more savvy the teen, the quicker they will get through the lessons but it takes about 20 minutes.
  • When they complete the lessons, give teens about 15 minutes to design something and be strict about the time limit. Remember, this is the first class and you can offer open 3D printing if they want to return to spend more time designing something intricate.
  • When they are done designing, shrink the print so that it takes under 15 minutes to complete. The Flash Forges are great because they don’t take longer than 5 minutes to heat up and calibrate and all that stuff. You can get them going while they are designing so that their print really ONLY takes 15 minutes.
  • You can have the teens sit in front of their 3D printer to watch it print and you can 49199557_10156698278732349_6567952954995769344_ngive them an iPad to play with while they wait. In the meantime, you can have your next class of four teens begin the lessons.
  • Once again, offer open 3D printing times so that the teens who took the beginner class can return to spend more time designing.
  • Show teens how to save, resize their print, and send to the printer so that they don’t need staff assistance. You can make a rule that staff has to check the design to make sure it will print but if you are comfortable, give teens as much autonomy as you can.

But I Only Have One 3D Printer!!!

If this is the case, you can still limit the attendance but I’d recommend limiting the print size for shorter printing times even during open labs because you have to print everything. You don’t want to spend your entire work day 3D printing everyone’s stuff unless you have a volunteer.

But I Want to do More Advanced Prints!

Give teens a challenge project.

  • Have teens design a cell phone holder
  • Design a cell phone case
  • Have teens create a jewelry company and have them design earrings or other accessories.
  • Take your fandom events to the next level and have teens design an object related to their fandom-Harry Potter; Doctor Who; Steven Universe; etc
  • Attract your Minecrafters by 3D printing the structures they make in Minecraft. Check out Instructables for instructions.
  • Incorporate LEDs into 3D printing with this Instructables lesson.
  • Take a drawing and turn it into a 3D print.
  • Make 3D prints of your teens!

But I Don’t Have Time to Print Lots of Stuff For People

Printing things for lots of people is time consuming and many library workers don’t want to do it-that includes me. But if you still want to do 3D printing, what can you do? You can pre-print projects and have a short program for participants to paint and/or turn the print into jewelry/keychains. You can turn the program into a how-to-solder project.

  • Have participants register and print their initials or their name before the program. During the program, they can turn their initials/name into an accessory and you can teach them how to solder.
  • Have the 3D printing running so that patrons can watch and ask questions.

3D printers are great machines that have lots of uses. Look at your demographic, your staff, your time, and your budget to decide the best way to provide programming.

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Designer Shoes

Teens like to set themselves apart and many do this through fashion. Adding a personalized touch to footwear is an inexpensive program that promotes art and expression. There’s a new fashion trend of food items plastered all over clothes-cherries, flamingos, tacos, etc. I took this trend and put the same idea on canvas shoes.

This is a great program for all teens but especially your artsy teens.

Budget: $70/10 teens (If you ask teens to bring their own shoes, you are only providing paint)

Supplies Needed:

  • White canvas shoes- I found the pictured shoes at Walmart for $5. You can find some at Target for $10. I’d recommend looking at your dollar stores or discount stores but the shoes must be canvas.
  • Fabric/puffy paint-Don’t get the matte finish because it won’t be shiny and cool looking.  Slick from the Tulip brand has the shiny finish.
  • Fabric markers
  • Small paint brushes
  • Dotting tools (optional) I’d recommend purchasing dotting tools to add to your paint supplies-they are very useful.


  • Decide what image you want to put on your shoes.


  • I used my Silhouette Machine to cut out stencils using adhesive vinyl but if you don’t have a Silhouette or Cricut, you can buy stencils or you can make stencils. Simply find images on Google, reduce them in size, then print and cut them.
    • Your more artsy teens may want to freehand it and that’s cool.
    • Use fabric markers to outline the stencil or the freehand drawings.


  • Use the fabric paint and paint brushes to paint. I used multiple coats of paint.
    • TIP: Use a heat gun to dry paint between coats to expedite the painting process.
  • Use the dotting tools to make the eyes and the cheeks. The round eyes and the pink cheeks is a Kawaii style of animation/cartooning.


  • Participants can also write word or dots or whatever they want; it’s all about personal expression.

Other Ideas

  • You can all participants to find images on Google and print them. This can be done for a smaller group and a longer program. You are adding a technology component to your art program.
  • If you purchase canvas shoes that have laces, provide white shoe laces for more personalization or get varied colors and show participants different ways to lace their shoes.
  • Remember those ankle socks with the little pom poms on the back? You can make those pom poms. Here are my step-by-step instructions:

Have Fun!

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Green and “Green” Thumbs

Follow me on Instagram for daily program pics and ideas

IT’S SPRINGTIME! And if you live in the Midwest like I do, you are VERY excited for winter to be over. That means it’s time for spring crafts. Below are several of our more popular planting programs.

These crafts are on the expensive end.

Pokeball Terrarium

Budget: $90/10 teens-This is an expensive craft but teens love it

Supplies Needed:


  • Pre-Prep
    • Spray paint the bottom half of each ornament white. You can spray the inside or outside.
    • I used pliers to remove the nubs on the ornament.
    • Pre cut the adhesive sheets into one inch strips
    • Pre-cut the cardboard into circles.
      • Measure the diameter of the ornament. This cardboard will go on the inside of the ornament and will hold all the of decorations. Cut the circles out slightly smaller so that it will fit snugly inside the ornament
  • The Day of the Program
    • I put out the supplies in separate containers on a different table. I also put a Post-it in front of each supply indicating how many each teen can take.
      • When they enter the program, I have them grab a bowl and pick out the decoration they want in their ball.
    • Have teens poke a hole in the center of the cardboard with a skewer and stick the tree through the cardboard.
      • The tree is probably the tallest item in their ball and should be in the center so that the ball with close. If you bought small trees or bushes, you can skip this step.
      • If you do the tree in the center through the hole, have teens secure the tree with hot glue.
    • Have teens hot glue the rest of their decorations however they like to the bottom of the cardboard. Make sure they use plenty of grass to cover the cardboard.
    • Lightly push the cardboard into the bottom of the Pokeball-the white half.
    • Put the top half of the ornament on and hot glue the black strip around the perimeter.
    • Have teens locate the front of the ball and adhere the black felt circle then the white on top of the black.
    • We tell teens to save the top of a spaghetti jar to display their ball. Or you can ask staff to bring in old jars and spray paint them before the program and hand them out.
  • Tips
    • Although the surface area is small, the more stuff they put in it, the better it looks.



Terrariums are a great, albeit expensive, way to introduce the S in STEAM and fairy gardens are a great way to introduce a new A in STEAM.

Terrariums-garden science is actually quite popular among a specific group of teens.  These teens like planting and if you are unable to create a garden at your library, terrariums can be an alternative.

Each layer in a terrarium has a purpose and this is where you can incorporate science.

Budget:$100/20 teens-This is an expensive program

Supplies Needed:

  • Pebbles (These are only 2 pounds so purchase accordingly)
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Soil
  • Succulents
  • Glass Container (We used mason jars-at least 16″. The top should be wide enough to fit the succulent) If you want to get fancy, purchase decorative jars.
  • Figurines

How To:  We made an assembly line with instructions.  FYI, this is a drop in type program and will take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.  

Layer One: one to two inch layer of pebbles for drainageterrariums 5

Layer Two: a thin layer of charcoal to prevent bacteria and mold

Layer Three: an inch or two of potting soil

Layer Four: Place the Succulent

Layer Five: Add figurines

Caring For the Terrarium: We gave each teen a sheet with care instructions

  • Keep terrarium in indirect sunlight
  • Lightly water each week with a spray bottle


Posted in Makerspace

Starting A Makerspace

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So you’re thinking about starting a makerspace, a mobile makerspace, or maker programming in your library but you aren’t sure where to begin. I may be of some help because I’ve done all of those things and I do not have a background in math or science or tech-I’m an English/Recreation major. So don’t worry if you’ve never touched a robot or a sewing machine or a 3D printer; I hadn’t either.

Starting a Makerspace

When we designed our makerspace, it was originally a computer lab so we were lucky to have a lot of outlets and internet ports. We also did not consult with any professionals such as interior designers or makerspace experts. We DID visit MANY makerspaces in person and virtually. We also emailed or spoke to librarians who run their makerspaces and asked important questions about technology, etc.

Have a Design in Mind

I unfortunately don’t have a picture but the wall of the old computer lab was a mustard color so the first thing we did was change the color. We polled some teen patrons and they chose blue. The hight school and the town’s colors are maroon and gold and they overwhelmingly wanted something other than those colors. Our wall color is Blue Lobster.

Decide what you are going to do in your space. Lots of crafting or more computer/robotic technology that require electrical outlets? How do you want to utilize your wall space? Many makerspaces are small so decide how many people you can or want to accommodate-this will include furniture. Where are you going to store your supplies? In the room or in a separate closet? Will your space be staffed? If so, you’ll need a desk.

Crafting vs. Tech

The more tech you intend to have, the more outlets you will need. As I stated before, our space used to be a computer lab so we had the advantage of lots of outlets but if you have limited outlets, this could dictate your space especially if you can’t afford an electrician to add more outlets.

If you want laptops and/or iPads for programming, you’ll need a charging cabinet or charging stations. When we only had iPads, we used a table top charging station but when we added Chromebooks and laptops, we upgraded to a charging cabinet. While the charging station is about $60, the cabinet is $900 so consider your budget. Also, charging stations take up much less space than a cabinet so consider your spacing.

Do you want 3D printers? You’ll need outlets for each one. 3D printers also take up space.  Do you want robots, you’ll need wide tables and floor space so consider your space.

If you plan to do more crafting such as paper crafts, jewelry making, perler beads, sewing, etc, you don’t need a lot of outlets. Purchase a electric strip to plug in several glue guns, sewing machines, soldering irons, etc. Crafting also means that you’ll need water so if you can get a sink in your space, get one.

Wall Space

I have seen all types of makerspaces and I encourage you to go visits some and ask the librarians lots of questions. One makerspace we visited was in a glass room because it wasn’t staffed and they needed to see inside. If this is what you are thinking, you won’t have any wall space. Some spaces look industrial with lots of cabinets and peg boards and signage and shelves. Our room has glass doors so that patrons can see inside but the other three walls contain shelving for storage, a dry erase wall, our room name, a calendar, and artwork.

We purposely put our equipment on display so as patrons walk by our glass doors and windows, they can see what we have and will come in and ask questions.

We painting white dry erase squares for our calendar. We color code our programming so when patrons walk in and ask about programs, we direct them to our large wall calendar and encourage them to come in anytime to see what’s happening. We also have paper calendars to hand out and a flyer that displays the week’s activities on the door.

The Wall of Do’s is pictures of old programs and projects completed in the space. The pictures are hung on cheap clipboards and command strips. In the summer, we will remove some of the pictures to add more shelving so that patrons can see all the things we make in the space. Our space is always changing as we observe our patron’s behaviors and needs.

One wall is dry erase from floor to ceiling. We use the wall to put instructions for classes and patrons can draw on it.

The other picture contains our 3D printers which I’ll talk about in the equipment section. The walls contain artwork and storage for our 3D printer supplies.


You’re going to need tables so you’ll need to decide how many you need and what types of tables you’ll need. Some people like to sit when they make but some like to stand. If you find this to be the case, look for an easily adjustable table-they can be expensive. Or purchase standing tables and sitting tables and rearrange as necessary. Wheeled tables will make this process easier. If you’ll be using a lot of electricity in your space, consider a table that has outlets in the center of the table or a hole so that you can hide your chords under the table rather than on the table.

My makerspace has four tables. Two are in the center of the room and two are on the sides of the room. The two center tables are where we do most of our programming. It is a family style atmosphere where it encourages patrons to talk and share. It also makes it easier to lead programs. Our center tables are also wide so there’s space to make. Our other two tables are adjustable tables from Ikea. Because our room is small, we like adjustable tables so that we can shorten them when they are in use.


As stated above, we are always making changes and currently don’t have tables for patrons to stand while they make so we will be getting some in the near future. I also wish we got tables with holes in the center to rid my table of chords.


We also have a desk for staff because our room is staffed during open times.


If you have a small space, you might consider storing your supplies in a closet outside of your room. Or you can put your storage in your design.

This cabinet does look like a TARDIS because we turned it into one and it stores many of our supplies. We also used our wall as storage by using a pegboard and shelving.

Other makerspaces we’ve visited had cabinets sort of like a kitchen. That was really nice and if you can afford construction, I’d recommend it. We couldn’t afford construction so we had to Pinterest it and that’s okay.


3D printers

Everyone wants 3D printers because they’re great and originally we had one expensive one-Lulzbot $1500. But it’s difficult to do 3D printing programming with one printer so we purchased three cheaper ones-Flash Forge-$350. We only do 3D printing programming about once a month so we don’t use it a lot. The Flash Forges are perfect for us. They are faster than the Lulzbot and easier to teach and we are very happy with them. FYI-We Flash Forge was recommended by the makerspace in the Museum of Science and Industry which is a one of the best museums in Chicago so we trusted them.

Laser Cutter

Laser cutters are cool and we really want one but we don’t have the proper ventilation to own one. I’d highly recommend you work with a contractor or some sort of professional to see if your makerspace can house a laser cutter.

Other Equipment

I’d recommend choosing equipment based on the interest of your patrons. If your patrons are really into crafting then purchase high quality hot glue guns and painting supplies. If they like sewing, purchase some good machines and fabrics and supplies. If they like Legos, invest in Lego Mindstorms and We Dos and Lego kits.

Here is a list of popular maker/tech equipment and the pros and cons.

Here is a list of tech we offer in our makerspace. Add the Flash Forge 3D printers to that list.

Mobile Makerspace

If your library isn’t ready for a physical space, a mobile makerspace maybe the answer. Load your cart with program essentials and wheel it to your program room in one trip.

There are many types of carts available so choose one that best fits your needs. First, decide what type of maker programming you want to do, then choose a cart. If you want to do 3D printing or technology programming, Demco makes a great 3D printing cart that includes a locking bin to hold and charge tablets or laptops.

If you don’t plan to do 3D printing, you can get a cart that will hold a locking bin for laptops or tablets that holds all types of crafting/making supplies.

Maker Programming

When we do maker programming, we don’t focus on attendance we focus on building skills. As a result, our maker programming is open to ten participants or less.  And as stated above, tailor your programming based on the interests of your patrons.

Class of four learning about arduino and wearable tech

The advantage of serving less than ten participants is that we only need to purchase five to ten pieces of equipment. For example, if we are teaching robotics, we only purchase ten Ozobots or we only purchase five Spheros and have participants pair up.

Often times our maker programming is a reoccurring program and the goal is the build a specific skill on a specific piece of tech. Our sewing club is once a month for three months and we offer it quarterly. The goal is to teach teens how to thread a bobbin, thread a machine, and basic sewing skills. By the end of the three sessions, teens should feel comfortable starting a project with no assistance and they that goal has been met so far. Please see my post on sewing club for further details.

Another example is building several skills while teaching a genre of tech. We did this with coding. Our coding club ran for eight weeks but you don’t have to do it this long. We wanted teens to build problem solving and critical thinking skills through coding. They began with an easy coding activity and every week, it got harder. Please see the links below.

Week One: Ozobots-Coding with Color

Week Two: Sphero-Beginner Drag and Drop Coding (Sorry, I don’t have a post for this)

Week Three and Four: Drones-Intermediate Drag and Drop Coding

Week Five and Six: Hummingbird-Intermediate Coding with Scratch and Circuitry

Week Seven and Eight: Lego Mindstorm-Advanced Coding

Maker Programming Doesn’t Have to be Tech

Crafting is making and what we’ve observed especially from our adult patrons, is that hobbies are popular.  Once again, find out what hobbies your patrons are doing before you invest in lots of supplies but you can also start with popular trends. Scrapbooking, jewelry making/soldering, Bob Ross painting, DIY beauty products-bath bombs; candles; soap; face masks; hair conditioner, dessert decorating, calligraphy/typography.

Bob Ross program for adults

Find out trends by searching Youtube or visiting Hobby Lobby/Michaels.

Maker Programming Doesn’t Have to be Complicated Tech

Use what you know and teach it. Your programming can be a series of How-To-Social Media. How to: make a Pinterest page, start an Etsy shop, buy on Ebay, take great Instagram pictures, get your business of Facebook, start a blog, start a Youtube channel, start a Podcast, edit photos, etc.

Final Advice if You Are Starting a Makerspace/Maker Programming

  • Leave yourself money in your budget to update or replace furniture/equipment.
  • If your patrons don’t know what a makerspace is, call it something they know-STEM Lab; Creative Space; Tech Lab; etc.


  • It’s perfectly fine to ask other librarians what is popular in their library but before you invest in lots of expensive equipment, find out what your patrons want. If there is no interest in laser cutting, don’t invest $5000 in a fancy laser cutter.
  • If you have a limited budget, find a couple of pieces of equipment that is versatile such as a Circut or a Silhouette Cutting Machine. You can do everything from DIY stickers, iron on transfer, scrapbooking, origami, card making, LED projects, and so much more.
  • If you have a limited budget, invest in equipment that can be used in a program series such as sewing. Purchase several good quality sewing machines and have beginner sewing to advanced, open sewing where people come in and work on their own projects. You can have a presenter teach how to fix a sewing machine. You can teach different types of sewing projects such as quilting, making clothes from a pattern, making stuffed animals. You can even buy sewing machines that come with patch attachments where patrons can make their own patches.
  • Leave yourself time to learn how to use all the equipment you purchase.
  • If you notice that one of your regular patrons is really talented in a specific area, ask them to teach a class. Teens can do this too. We’ve had teens teach soldering , finger knitting, and making Minecraft mods.
  • Ask staff if they are skilled in something specific and ask if they can teach a class.
  • Trial and error-If you host a program that no one comes to, don’t stress. Just don’t do that program again.
  • Making can be whatever you want it to be. Our makerspace hosts our weekly writing club, Magic the Gathering meet up, guitar class, and dissecting PCs. The more people that see your space, the more questions they will ask.
  • Even after you have created your makerspace, visit other spaces to constantly educate yourself.

Good luck and have fun!

Posted in Makerspace

DIY Light Box

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Light boxes are cute but not only are they expensive to buy but they are expensive to make but THAT’S OKAY! The appeal of this DIY, if you plan to do this with several patrons or teens, is the STEM aspect. Patrons will be excited that they were able to connect wires to make something light up.

Budget: $15-$20/person-YIKES (If you really want to do it and you are on a budget, limit the class to 5 people)

Supplies Needed:

  • A shadow box-I caught a 50% sale at Hobby Lobby and got mine for $6 otherwise they are $10 on Amazon. Hobby Lobby does have shadow boxes in their wood section for $4 but they don’t stand on their own. You’ll either have to stand it up against a wall or make stands with craft sticks-see my example.
  • LED light strip-(one strip should be enough for five people)
  • DC Power Adapter
  • LED strip connector
  • Self adhesive letters
  • Clear vinyl fabric or sheet protectors  (I used vinyl)
  • White cardstock
  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors
  • Small Phillips screwdriver
  • Clear tape
  • Double sided tape
  • Baggies (To take home letters)
  • Paint (optional if you get a wooden box)


  • I am using the wooden shadow box from Hobby Lobby for $4.
  • I painted my box because I didn’t want the wood color.
  • Remove and trace the glass on the parchment paper and the white cardstock.  Cut them out. In the box I used, the glass didn’t come out so I traced the box.

  • Strategically tape them down so that you don’t see the tape. It is difficult to adhere parchment paper using glue.
  • If you can afford it, give each patron their own sheet of adhesive letters. Stick letters to the clear vinyl or sheet protectors then cut them out in neat squares. Be sure the leave enough plastic on the bottom on the letter so that you can see the letter in the shadow box. (As you can see in the second pic, I didn’t leave enough plastic on the bottom and I had to do it again.)

  • Measure the width of the glass and cut two half inch strips using white cardstock.


  • Using double sided tape, put tape on the bottom half on each half inch strip then cut off the excess.

  • Carefully line the strip on the glass on the desired location and press down. Repeat for the second strip. I used a cutting mat because I do everything crooked.


  • Run a craft knife along the top of the strips the use your finger to gently push the strip out so that it can hold the letters.


  • Get the LED roll and measure the inside of your box. Cut the strip where it tells you. There should be an icon of a pair of scissors on the strip.


  • Peel back and cut the plastic coating covering the copper. Cut off the same amount of backing on the underside of the strip.


  • Fit the strip with the exposed copper to the other end of the power strip connector. Close the connector.


  • If you use the power cable adaptor that comes with the power cord, you’ll have to get a small Phillips screwdriver to loosen the screw. Insert the wires-red is positive and black is negative. Tighten the screws. This adaptor is finicky, it doesn’t stay lit, so we used a this one. You simply push down the buttons to insert the wires and this one is sturdy-it stays lit.



  • Plug in the power cord then connect the power adaptor and it should light up.
    • If it doesn’t light up, make sure your power strip connector is the correct size. They sell two sizes, a big one and a small one. If you don’t get the LED strip and/or the power strip connector I linked, purchase the power strip connector that’s recommended for the LED strip.
    • Make sure your outlet is working.
    • If you are testing the LEDs, cut a piece off of the roll because it won’t light up the entire roll of LEDs.
    • Make sure the + and – wires are correctly inserted.
  • Put a word into the strips of paper and you’re done!

TSD light box


  • The toughest part was cutting and centering the white cardstock strips that hold the letters. To save time, you can pre-measure and pre-cut for participants.
  • Once again, make sure to leave enough plastic on the bottom of the letters. If you don’t, no worries, just redo it on another piece of plastic. The letters are removable.
  • Also make sure the letters on the plastic are the same height otherwise it will look crooked when you place them on the light box.
    • You can also pre-cut the plastic pieces to save time or to ensure your teen patrons are making neat letters.
  • Don’t want to do it as a program? Make one for your teen room, your makerspace, make one to put on your stacks or on your displays.
Posted in Makerspace

Career/College Readiness-Game Design

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This post is not sponsored.

Teens play games…all the time-on a console, on their phones/smart device, and on their computers. Since they play all day, maybe some of them are interesting in creating them and there’s an easy way to do it. Bloxels.

What Are Bloxels?

08goyslwszixlip0z6rm2g.jpgBloxels EDU is the most intuitive platform for creating video games in the classroom. When students build games, they become the writers, artists, designers, and developers of their own interactive stories-Bloxels website.

If you are on a budget, the app is free and if you use the traditional Bloxels, participants can design in the app. Here’s a guide to help you get started. If you have money, you can purchase the game board for $50/ea. Participants place the colored blocks in the game board they then take a picture to upload it in the app. You can also purchase education packs that come with curriculum.

How Can I Use Them?

If you work with kids, teens, or even adults, Bloxels look juvenile however, it will keep older teens and adults busy especially if they are really into game design.


If you just want to introduce participants to Bloxels at a school/library expo or con, you can have them make a character to play in a ready-made game. We do this a lot when we have stations in our makerspace. We set out this flyer for participants to follow.

School Visits or a One Time Program

When we visit STEM classes, we always do Bloxels because it’s fun, easy for kids/teens to learn, and it will keep them busy for a 30 minute to a 60 minute presentation. Please the flyers below to see the curriculum we use.

Bloxels Curriculum | Handout Front Page | Handout Back Page

Multiple Days or a Camp

One great thing about Bloxels is that it can keep participants engaged for hours so it is possible to do several programs.

Possible Topics to Cover

  • Quick discussion about game design. What it is; what makes a good game; what UnvStq3KQDSy8M8bMRGN5Qmakes a bad game. Have participants talk about their favorite games and why they like them.
  • Careers in game design or coding.
  • Teens can play the game pre-loaded on the home screen or games created by other players. As they play, have them write down what they like and don’t like about the game. One of the advantages of playing the pre-loaded game is they can see all the possibilities there are when they design their own game.
    • Also, coins can be used to purchase items that can be used in their own games.
  • Participants can outline their game-the objective, the story, types of enemies, desired obstacles, etc.
  • Participants can design a level/square, trade with a partner, then give feedback on their partner’s game. Participants can then choose to change their game based on the feedback or not.
  • On subsequent days, participants can spend that time developing their game. They can also upload their game to be played by others.
  • At the end of camp, if you have a large screen TV, participants can showcase their game to the group.

Another advantage to Bloxels is that participants can download the app and can continue to create, build, and play when camp is over.  Just be sure that at the beginning of your camp, teens create an account-they will need an email address.

There are other pop-culture versions Bloxels and Pixel Press offers-Star Wars and Adventure Time.  You do need the special Star Wars game board to play the Star Wars game. It retails for $49 but I found some at Five Below for $5. If you live near a Five Below, call to see if they sell them.

How have you used Bloxels in your library?

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Resin Figurines

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I used white casting resin to make our DIY Lego figurine but I know that not all teens like Legos so I wanted to offer a different resin figurine program.  You can find all types of silicone molds on Amazon or any grocery/craft store.

Budget: $40+/15 teens (This cost does not include paint; I’ll explain below)

Supplies Needed:

  • White casting resin (I used the Amazing brand)
  • Molds (emoji | unicorn )
  • Paint-I used Jo Sonjas and I like it because it coats well.
    • I’m not an artist so I don’t know anything about which paint works best with which surface. I’d suggest trying all your paints first because Jo Sonjas is expensive.
  • Paint brushes with small tips
  • Measuring cups
  • Gloves
  • Wet napkins
  • Paper cups
  • Heat gun (optional)


  1. Have participants choose a mold and have them place it next to them.
  2. Have participants put on gloves.
  3. Using the measuring cups, have participants measure the resin 1:1.
  4. Pour part A in the paper cup then part B in the same paper cup. (All of these instructions are in the resin box.)
  5. Mix for 30 seconds with craft stick.
  6. Pour immediately in the mold.
  7. It takes about 5 minutes to cure/harden. The mold will get hot as it cures.
  8. Take out hardened resin and begin painting.

Tips/Important Info

  • When you practice the craft, pay attention to how much resin you need to fill the mold. It is very easy to mix too much resin so to eliminate left over resin, know exactly how much participants should measure so that they have just enough to fill the mold.
    • If you have different size molds available, you’ll have to provide different measurements. The emoji molds are much larger than the unicorn molds.
  • If you get larger molds than the unicorn, participants don’t have to fill the mold to the top.
  • The resin is okay for teens but just have them be careful. It doesn’t give off fumes but the molds will get hot. It won’t burn them.
    • You should do this craft in a well ventilated room.
    • If you don’t want participants to make their molds in the program, you can pre-make them.
  • Use the wet napkin to wipe off any resin spills because it will harden on your table. Or you can over your tables.
  • Because we want our participants to be working the entire time, we use the heat gun to expedite the drying process.  You can use a blow dryer too.
  • Search Amazon or stores for molds. There are some really cute molds available to make varied figurines.
  • You can have participants make their figurines into keychains, necklaces, pins, rings, earbud holders, pop sockets, or anything you can think of. Put out your jewelry supplies and let participants make what they want.
    • Or the figurines can displayed on a shelf.



Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

It’s Craft Time: No Sew Potato Chip Zipper Pouch

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Need a cool project that uses supplies you probably have in your craft storage and combines serving food with a DIY craft? The no-sew potato chip zipper pouch is the answer. You can also use candy such as Skittles or any snack that comes in a bag.

Budget: $20/ 18 teens (Depends on the supplies you already have. The $20 is for zippers and bags of chips)

Supplies Needed:

  • Variety bags of potato chips
  • Zippers (The shorter the better- 7 inch. Get plastic zippers not metal because it is easier to cut with scissors)
  • Duct tape
  • Clear book or packing tape or duct tape
  • Scissors or a rotary cutting tool
  • Cutting mat (optional)
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Hot glue
  • Wet napkin
  • Dry napkin or baggie


  • Cut the top or side of the chip bag. It depends on which side you want the pouch to open. Empty the chips into a baggie or napkin and put to the side to eat later or while working.


  • Carefully cut the sides of the bag leaving the bottom intact. Using a wet napkin, clean out the inside of the bag.


  • Cover the inside with the desired color of duct tape. Tape the bag horizontally because it’s easier to lay. Also, use pieces of tape longer than the bag; it will be cut later. Cover the outside using clear tape. Once again, tape horizontally and use longer pieces than the bag.

  • Using scissors or rotary tool, cut off the excess tape. If you use the rotary tool, a cutting mat in ideal to prevent getting cuts in your tables. Using the rotary tool, cutting mat, and ruler makes nice clean straight lines.

  • Using clear tape, tape the sides of the bag closed.


  • Using hot glue, glue the zipper to the outside of the bag. Be careful not the get glue on the zipper.


  • On the bag pictured, I placed the beginning of the zipper on the opening of the bag. If you do this and you don’t want the zipper hanging off the side of the pouch, after you glue the zipper, put some glue on the zipper at the end of the bag. Then cut the zipper after the glue. This keeps the zipper from running off the track. (See the picture for example).
    • Or, you can line the end of the zipper to the end of the bag and simply have a long zipper on the pouch. This way you don’t  have to cut the zipper and it will look clean.


This craft was a lot of fun and it great for teens and adults

Posted in Passive Programs

Increase Your Participation Stats!

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As teen library workers, an important part of the job is to attract teens to the library, our programs, and our collection. We are often successful but there are those groups of teens that no matter what we do, they do not come to the library, attend programs at the library, or check out books.  How can we reach those teens? Social media. You probably already use social media to display program pictures and promotional flyers but you can also use it to engage teens with interactive posts and videos.

All Types of Teens

If your library is anything like mine, there are several groups of teens that are a challenge to reach. Here are a few of those categories:

  • The Reader-These are teens who come into the library, get their books, and leave.  They don’t attend programs nor do the use the computers.
  • The Gamer-These are teens who come into the library to use the computers to play Minecraft or Fortnite. If you work in a lower income community, these teens may not have internet access at home so they come to the library to play computer games. These teens do not check out books or come to programs.
  • The-I’m-Only-Here-Becasue-I-Don’t-Want-To-Stay-In-The-Car-These teens follow their parents into the library. They kind of wander around while their parents are in the stacks. Sometimes they look into your teen room or maker space or teen space but they don’t come in. These teens may or may not check out books and they don’t come to programs.
  • Busy Beaver-These teens are in sports or theater or other after school clubs. They are in advanced placement classes or they have jobs or they live too far to get to the library. These teens want to come to programs or read but they just don’t have time.

How can you reach the above teens and all the other categories of teens who don’t come to programs? Social Media is the answer.

What Can Social Media Do For Your Library?

According to Common Sense Media, teens spend on average, nine hours a day on their phones. In the same study, girls spend 47% of that time on social media while boys spend 35% of their time on social media. Teens spend about three to four hours on social media so as librarians, we can use some of that social media time to engage teens in a variety of ways.

Utilizing social media is a great way to engage with those special categories of teens listed above. The one thing the above groups of teens have in common is that they don’t come to programs but you can use social media to bring the program to them. You can use social media for reader’s advisory to entice your non-readers and or to recommend books for the teens who only come in to get books. Often times, The Gamer, doesn’t realize their library offers gaming programs. You can use social media to promote your gaming programs through pictures of previous programs and flyers for upcoming programs. You can use social media to allow your teens to get to know their teen librarian so next time that teens who’s just waiting for their parent will come in to talk to you. As for the Busy Beaver, these teens can play your online contests and feel connected to the library even if they are too busy to come in.

Social media is a free way to reach all types of teens through fun and informative posts and you can report their participation in your stat reports.

How Do You Decide Which Platform To Use?

There are many different social media sites but the most popular are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Each community is different so it’s important to find out what your teens use.  For example, in my community, our teens are not on Twitter and their parents are on Facebook so they use Instagram. During your teen programs, do a verbal survey and ask teens what they use. You could also do a short paper survey at your next school visit. Use those stats decide which platform to use.

Once you’ve decided which platform to use, educate yourself about all the features that platform has to offer-live video, stories, emoji’s, etc.

Now it’s time to choose your name/handle. Create a short name or use a name that’s already used to describe your teen population. For example, my library’s Instagram and Facebook accounts are called ZBteens (Our town is Zion-Benton-ZB). ZBteens has been on all of our flyers and  newsletters for years so our teens are familiar with the term. You can use the name of your teen room or the town’s high school mascot or your town’s nickname. If you don’t have something familiar, make up something new and use it on all your promotional material so that will become familiar.

How Do I Get Followers?

Obtaining followers is tough especially if you are asking teens to follow the library. Here are some strategies that we’ve used:

  • Write down your social media handle on a slip of paper and ask teens to follow youIMG_4265 at the beginning or the end of your teen programs.  Offer them candy if they do and tell them that you will follow them back. Followers are also important to teens.
  • Do the above strategy during school visits. Many schools allow teens to have their phones on them. You can ask the teacher before your visit if it is okay for teens to use their phones during your visit. Once again, offer candy. We always bring candy at school visits so the teens who follow you on social media get two pieces of candy.
  • Put your social media handle on all of your promotional information.
  • If you have a BINGO game for summer or winter reading, put your social media handle in a square.
  • Once you have some followers, you can host a TAG a friend contest. Offer a prize to a random teen who tags a friend to follow you.
  • Once you have some followers, look through their list of followers and follow them. I know that seems creepy but if you have a description and some posts, those teens will know you are the library and not a random person.

We get most of our followers from the first two bullet points but all the strategies have been successful.

Once you have followers, it’s important to keep them. Posting several times a week is important in follower retention.

What Should I Post?

It’s important to have a schedule; this eliminates the guessing game. Here’s our schedule: Monday-Book Recs; Tuesdays-Programming Pictures; Wednesday-Contests; Thursdays-Ask Us Questions.

We mostly use Instagram because that is what most of our teens use but the beauty of Instagram is that you can post that content on Facebook with one click-Facebook owns Instagram. Instagram is a great platform because you can do engaging Instastories, normal posts, live video, polls, teens can ask questions, Gifs, in post text, and much more. Because of all the variety, we try to vary our book rec posts.

For Book Recs Monday, we make them interactive. Please see the pictures for examples.

Wednesdays is Win it Wednesdays. Sometimes we do an Instastory and sometimes it’s in a post. We’ll give away gift cards or prize packs comprised of random things we have in our teen room.


Giving out prizes is optional as it requires teens to come to the library. This is a pro because if/when they come in, you can introduce yourself, get to know a little bit about them, and talk to them for a couple of minutes about programming and books. This could be a con because they don’t come in to pick up their prize. To avoid the latter, give the winning teen a deadline to pick up their prize and inform them that if they don’t pick it up by the deadline, it will go to the next winner. Keep doing this until someone picks it up. You don’t always need to offer prizes to entice teens to engage in your posts; they will participate for the fun of it. We do prizes during special weeks-Teen Read Week; Valentine’s Week; Christmastime; etc. I’ll explain our 2018 Teen Read Week programming later in this post.

Ask Us Thursday is a fun way for teens to get to know the us, their teen librarians. Sometimes we poll or sometimes we just put the “As me something,” text bubble in our instastory. We stipulate that it doesn’t have to be about books because teens tend to think that everything we do at the library is book related.

Other Ideas

You can use social media to help you with programming for the next newsletter or ask them to name a program. You can ask them to choose the next book club book or what food they want at the next big teen party. We’ve used Instagram to ask teens what to name our new LGBTQ club and when is the best time to meet and we’ve asked them to name our three new 3D printers. Asking teens for their opinions or feedback gives them ownership of the library and will encourage them to participate in person.

If you have a TAG group or teen volunteers, have them run some social media posts. Sit with them and plan what they are going to post but let them lead the meeting. This is also a perfect opportunity inform teens that social media marketing is a career they can pursue-college and career readiness! Your teens can do live feeds or record and edit videos for their posts. They can recommend books they like or post about the teen program their currently attending.

During programs, ask your teens to take a picture of what they are doing or a selfie and have them use a hashtag that has your handle. This way, their friends see all the fun they are having and can attract them to attend library programming.

Teen Read Week 2018

Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week are great YALSA initiatives but we sometimes have issues getting teens to attend programs-especially more than one. In 2018, we did all of our TRW on Instagram. Instead of purchasing programming supplies/food, we bought gift cards and ran contests all week.  Below is part of the Instastory contest we hosted on the first day. Eight teens actively participated by telling us their sign and 44 teens watched the story. We used those numbers in our monthly report.

Even More Social Media Ideas

  • Community Scavenger Hunt-We had our volunteers paint rocks and hide them all over town. We posted a live video of some of our rock placing. In the video and in a feed post, we told teens to look for the rocks and bring them into the library to choose a prize.
    • If you do this as a special week, you can give out gift cards. Or you can compile some random prizes into a treasure chest and let teens choose. Even better-snacks such as chips or candy bars and a book.

  • Live Trivia-Go live on Instagram or Facebook and do a themed trivia-Harry Potter; K-Pop; Marvel; or whatever your teens are into. The first person to answer the questions correctly wins.
    • Be sure to set up a date and time before the live game and remind them on social media periodically so that teens are ready when you go live.
  • Teens are the Judge-If you run an art contest or bookmark contest or poetry contest, post the pics of the entries and allow teens to vote on social media.
  • Book Club-If you have teens who like to read but don’t want to attend the face to face meeting, do a book club discussion on a live feed.
    • Be sure to set up a date and time before the live discussion so that teens are prepared.
  • New Books-Promote your new arrivals.
  • Emoji Storytime-Post a series of emojis and challenge teens to write a “first line” of a story based on the emojis.
    • Or make it a contest and use a series of emojis to describe a book or book title and have teens guess the titles.
  • Summer Reading-Lots of teens read but they don’t sign up for summer reading. Our summer reading challenge is by pages-if teens read 800 pages, they completed the challenge. Once a week, we asked teens to raise their hand if they were reading books. If they raised their hands, we asked them how many books/pages they read and if it added to 800 pages, we told them they completed the summer reading challenge and that they could come in and pick up three prizes-these are prizes they would have received had they signed up at the library.
    • When they came to pick up their prizes, we registered them and marked them as completed for summer reading. We received about ten more sign ups that summer.

  • Cell Phone Photographer Contest-We did a photo contest on social media since it’s easier to submit the photos.
  • Banned Book Week-In addition to in house book displays, we ran contests and information on Instagram. Since we don’t get in house program participation, we decided to do it online and we receive a lot of participation while informing teens about banned books.


If your teens aren’t coming to you, try to find them on social media. Even though they aren’t physically sitting in your program, they are still actively participating with their library.

Let’s start a conversation, how do you use social media with your patrons?

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Even More Squishies

For more program ideas, follow me on Instagram.

I did a post last month about DIY squishies because they were very popular among our teens. I made those squishies out of memory foam but there’s another way to make them using a flex foam. Please see this video I watched on how to use this product.

About the Product

  • It is a chemical so I pre-made them for my teen patrons but if let your teens solder or use power tools; you can let them do it.
  • I wore gloves and a face mask (Just to be safe). It did give off some fumes but not too strong.
  • I was also in a well ventilated area

Supplies Needed:img_4160.jpg

  • Flex Foam – If you want to use a different product, make sure it says you can make squishies in the title or description.
  • Fabric Paint (The matte Tulip brand works best)
  • Paint brushes of all sizes
  • Silicone molds (donut, cupcake, etc)


  1. Watch the video because she lays it all out for you.
  2. I simply pre-made a bunch for the teens.


  • It takes several minutes to dry. For example, if you do a cupcake, paint the top with a base coat first and let it dry by a fan. Decorate the top with frosting for sprinkles or a cute face. Then immediately paint the “cupcake liner.” Try not to touch the top decorations.
    • The thicker the frosting, the longer it will take to dry. Tell the teens to let it sit for 24 hours.
  • That one kit make about 48 cupcakes so if you only have 20 teens, they can make two. One will be drying while they do the other one.
  • Give them a plate for them to transport their squishies home.
  • If you have a smart TV or USB hook up on your TV in your program room, show Youtube videos of DIY squishies for inspiration.
  • If you let teens do their own mixing:
    • One tablespoon is enough to make a nice size cupcake.
    • It takes about 30 minutes to cure (or dry). Have squishies pre-made so that while they are painting one squishy, their’s will be drying.


  • The science behind the process is really cool for teens to see because the foam rises about 15 times the initial pour and it get warm while it cures. You could talk about the science behind it while they are making them.
  • Or, if you have programs about business or entrepreneurship, teens can make and sell their toys for the program.

This is a very cool project because the teens are basically making their own toys. Have you made squishies? How did it turn out?

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

A Universe of Stories and Crafts

It’s February which means it’s time to start planning for summer reading-LOL

For those of you who will be using the CLP theme, A Universe of Stories, here are some ideas.


Embroidery Hats

Have a zodiac chart available for patrons who do not know their zodiac sign. The chart should include the constellations. Give each patron a ball cap, embroidery thread, and a needle.  Have each patron embroider their constellation on their hat. Patrons want to write their zodiac name on their hat, have them write it on the hat first then go over it with embroidery thread.


3D Printed Zodiac Sign

This one is fairly simple and can be done in different ways.

  1. Have patrons design their zodiac sign in the 3D print software-we use Tinkercad.
  2. Have all the zodiac signs already uploaded and allow patrons to add to it with stars or their initials.
  3. Use white filament and have patrons paint their 3D printed sign and make it into a necklace using jump rings.



Galaxy Rock Painting

This seems simple but it can be a challenge to get the galaxy effect on a rock.

  1. Purchase large painting rocks-they are expensive as hell so you may want to do to registration only.
  2. Wash the rocks, then paint them with a dark blue or black acrylic paint. Let dry-we use fans to expedite the drying process.
  3. The blending technique is what’s difficult. I used small paint brushes to blend purple, light blue, pink, and dark blue acrylic paints.
  4. Use a toothbrush, dip it in the white paint, then fan the bristles to make the star effect.  Allow to dry.
  5. Repeat on the other side. I drew my zodiac symbol on it but patrons don’t have to. I used rock painting markers. I’m not sure if Sharpies will work; you’ll have to test to see.



If you just want a chill painting program, watercoloring is a great idea.  Be sure to purchase watercolor paper. In the picture below, I used watercolor pencils because I found it easier to use for beginners. Watercoloring can be difficult for a beginner especially if you have concentrated watercolor bottles.  Beginners tend to put too much pigment or not enough and it looks like mud.  If you choose to do concentrated bottles, pre-mix the colors for your patrons.

In the picture below, I used black glue to make the alien. Please see my original post for instructions.


Galaxy Organizer

This is a 2 hour craft but it’s a lot of fun and very useful so you don’t have to wonder if your patrons throw it out when they get home. It’s also great because patrons can design the compartments however they want. Please see my original post for instructions.


Galaxy Alien Perler Beads

I found the template using a Google search and simply turned it into a zipper pull.


Galaxy Craft Stick Silhouette/Keepsake Box

This craft also took about 2 hours to complete and can be a challenge to assemble craft sticks into a box. An easier version would be to make one pallet, use carbon paper to draw a silhouette, and paint a galaxy effect. Please see my original post for instructions.


Galaxy Clock

This is also a great craft that you know your patrons will actually use. This is expensive so if you have a limited budget like I do, you can limit the class to ten patrons and have a pre-registration process.

Supplies Needed:

  • Wood for clock face
  • Clock gear- These are expensive; please feel free to find them cheaper elsewhere
  • Drill
  • Acrylic paint-black; blue; red/pink; white; purple
  • Foam paint brushes and Stippler brushes
  • Dotting tool or toothpick
  • Toothbrush
  • Mod Podge

Instructions-First, drill a hole in the middle; make sure the clock gears fit.

  1. For a lighter blue galaxy design…
    1. Paint the base dark blue.
    2. While it’s still wet, brush the other colors in wide strokes using the foam brush in desired places. Blend the colors.
    3. Dip the toothbrush in white paint and flick the bristles on the clock to make the stars.
    4. You can use the dotting tools to make larger stars or constellations.
    5. Use the Mod Podge for a glossy finish.
    6. Assemble the clock gears.
  2. For the darker galaxy design…
    1. Paint the base black and let it dry.
    2. Using the stippler brushes, blot one color at a time across the diameter of the clock.
      1. For example, I did dark blue first. Then I did purple below it, then I did a lighter blue between them.
    3. Repeat steps 3-6

Tips-The darker galaxy design was more difficult especially for beginners because the colors might not show up on the black paint. It’s important that the black base is completely dry and to use bright colors.

Galaxy Shoes; Candy; and Night Light

I did these crafts last year because I love galaxy everything and it happens to be a popular trend. Please click this link for more info.


Are you doing a Universe of Stories for summer reading? What crafts are you doing?

Posted in Crafts

Valentine’s Day Programming


Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m sure you planned all your programming five months ago but just in case you need some passive programs, here you go. And you probably have lots of this stuff in your craft closet.

Remix Your Conversation Hearts

Love Rocks

Rather than making cards, teens can paint rocks with valentine messages to give to friends. Purchase rocks for painting on Amazon. We used these markers. FYI, painting rocks are hella expensive.

This is a galaxy painted rock but you get the idea 🙂

Valentine Squishies

Rather than making cards, teens can make valentine squishies. Purchase memory foam and puffy paint from Amazon.  Have teens draw a heart shape on the foam then cut it out and shape it. Paint the squishy and write a valentine message using puffy paint.  Click here to find more instructions.  Pass them out to friends.

Valentine Clay

Rather than making cards, teens can make miniature valentines using polymer clay. You can purchase polymer clay on Amazon or any craft store.

Valentine Shrinky Dinks

Teens can make valentines using Shrinky Dinks. They can punch a hole in the plastic to make keychains and they can pass them out to friends.  Or you can make them into pins. Purchase pinbacks and let teens hot glue the pins to their charm. You can purchase Shrinky Dinks paper on Amazon or any craft store. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas.

Light Up Cards

Looking for a STEM valentine card project? Check out Spark fun.

This is a holiday card but it’s the same idea with a different silhouette.

Perler beads

Set out some templates or let teens use their creativity to make some conversation hearts.  Pinterest is a great resource for ideas.

3D Pens

The easiest way to use a 3D pen is to give teens graph paper, let them draw a heart using a stencil, then write your message inside the heart. Use the 3D pen to fill in the heart. TIP-have teens cover their pencil design with book tape. This way, the filament is easier to peel off.

Candy Mosaics

This is a great time of year to find red, pink, and white skittles or M&Ms. Set out some paper plates, white frosting, craft sticks, and candy and let teens make mosaics. The frosting is the glue.  FYI, M&Ms tend to be more expensive than Skittles. More FYI, teens will want to eat the candy even tho people have been touching it. To remedy this, give teens a bag of candy to eat while the create.

Love Tattoos

Have teens design their own love tattoos and you can print it on special tattoo paper.  I’d recommend designing on the Adobe Illustrator Draw app-It’s free and easy to teach and use. FYI, the tattoo paper is expensive so to save cost, reduce the size of their tattoos to be able to give each teen three tatts.  You should be able to fit 12 tatts on a page so that would accommodate four teens.  You only get two sheets in the pack.

Self Care/Self Love Programs

Adults are busy but teens are busy too. Here are side passive and active programs that promote self care.

Spa Day-Here are some DIY program ideas-bath bombs; lip balm; and body scrub.

Nail Art-I did this program a long time ago but I lost the original post.  I taught teens how to do a manicure.  After the manicure, teens were able to do some DIY nail art. A couple of weeks prior, we asked staff to bring in unwanted nail polish and we got A LOT!!!  You can get real fancy and let teens do their own pedicures or you can invite a nail artist to teach teens some techniques.8efcfcc800fc0b7a6f0dea21c2a25f1b

Smoothie Smash-We taught teens how to make delicious and healthyish smoothies.

Love Stinks: Anti Valentine’s Day Party

  • Most local grocery stores make unfrosted heart shaped sugar cookies around Valentine’s Day. Pick up some frosting and sprinkles and let teens make anti-valentine’s messages on their cookies.
  • Anti-Valentine’s Memes: Print out some over the top romance book covers and tape them on your walls.  Let teens write meme messages on the pictures and choose the best one as the winner.
  • Anti-Valentine’s Target Shooting: Put up pictures of a teen celebrity couple on a window and give teens a suction cup air-gun. The teen who hits the target wins. We used this Nerf gun.
  • During the party, serve the smelliest chips you can find. You can also have a stinky chip competition. Have teen partner up and blow in their partner’s face after eating each chip. Their partner then ranks the stench. Take turns.

Have fun!