I live in Illinois and we have a state-wide summer reading theme/program. The theme this 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)
Plastic shopping bags
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, consisting 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. Edited VSCO girl photographs are often found on VSCO, but the subculture itself did not originate on the app.
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Air Dry Clay
Medium sized glass or porcelain bowl
Rolling pin or something cylindrical to roll clay
Paint pens (optional)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Budget: $25+/25 teens (Budget depends on the supplies you have on hand)
Dollar Tree Skulls
Sharpies Paint Pens
Pre paint the skulls different colors.
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.
Budget: $25+/25 Teens (Depends on the supplies you already have)
Dollar Tree Pumpkins
Sharpie Paint Pens
Puffy Paint (optional)
Pre-paint your pumpkins white. It took a couple of coats so get some volunteers to do this if you have the luxury.
Allow teens to paint their pumpkins however they like.
I usually recommend they find inspo from their phones or I provide iPads for teens who don’t have phones.
I purchased everything from the Dollar Tree
Dollar Tree Foam wreaths
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
Provide pictures of examples for inspiration.
Have teens begin by wrapping their wreath in ribbon. They can use one color or various colors.
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.
Dollar Tree headbands
Dollar Tree flowers
Dollar Tree mini skulls
Dollar Tree tulle
Hot Glue and hot glue guns
Dollar Tree ribbon
Give teens a headband, some hot glue, and let them create
Follow me on Instagram for almost daily posts about programming in libraries
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.
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.
outside of book
inside of book
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.
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.
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.
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 signs can be used in their room or on their door.
Budget: $50/10 teens (Depends on the supplies you have)
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 brushes. I used foam brushes.
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.
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.
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)
Velcro or strong self adhesive magnet.
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.
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
Silhouette Cutting Machine
Heat transfer vinyl
Projector/laptop or TV
Ramen Challenge- We put out a bunch of supplies for teens to make ramen. The 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.
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)
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.
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)
Needle and embroidery thread
Black Sharpie (optional)
Fragrance Sachet (optional)
8 lb bag of pinto beans
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.
I could not find a llama template so I had to draw one. It’s not hard and I’m not an artist.
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.
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.
The thread is supposed to be visible so have teens choose a different color embroidery thread.
Embroidery thread is made up of several strands of thread. You have to pick one
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.
Be sure to get needles with large eyes.
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.
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.
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)
Polly Pellets (I used 4 pounds with ten teens. I’ll explain more in the tips section)
Fragrance-water; essential oils; water bottle (optional)
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.
Let teens choose their eye color.
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.
Sew inside out on 3 1/2 sides. Make sure teens make small stitches so that the pellets don’t fall out.
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.
Spray the inside of the pet.
Flip the pet the to the correct side.
I put the pellets in a large container. I had the teens scoop the pellets into the funnel into their pet.
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.
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 you are hosting an adult decor program.
Budget: $0+ depending on the supplies you already have.
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
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.
Have participants print their mandalas from the app.
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.
Transfer their printed mandalas to acrylic paper or cardstock.
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.
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.
I prefer paint pens because they give the effect of paint without the mess and they are vibrant.
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.
Or you can put their completed mandalas in a picture frame.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Using Sharpies, paint the image and outline again with the black Sharpie.
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.
Follow the instructions on the Heatbond.
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.
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.
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.
Budget: $50/5 Patrons
Undecorated sugar cookies (I bought mine from the Walmart baking section. I got 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)
Tall plastic cups
Boxes for patrons to take their cookies
We began the class by asking patrons if they had ever frosted cookies before the 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 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.
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-they 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 give 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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Pebbles (These are only 2 pounds so purchase accordingly)
Craft sticks or other random craft supplies from your closet. (small plastic flowers, sea shells, fake leaves, butterflies)
How To: We put the house and the base on the main table and we laid out all the extras on a different table. We gave each teen a plate to “shop” all the extras-grab what they liked to add to their garden.
Tip: Leave out pictures for inspiration and provide a couple of minutes for teens to design their garden on paper. If you want to turn this into a design class, you can teach the basics of city planning.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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?
Bloxels 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.
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 makes 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.
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)
Have participants choose a mold and have them place it next to them.
Have participants put on gloves.
Using the measuring cups, have participants measure the resin 1:1.
Pour part A in the paper cup then part B in the same paper cup. (All of these instructions are in the resin box.)
Mix for 30 seconds with craft stick.
Pour immediately in the mold.
It takes about 5 minutes to cure/harden. The mold will get hot as it cures.
Take out hardened resin and begin painting.
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.
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)
Zippers (The shorter the better- 7 inch. Get plastic zippers not metal because it is easier to cut with scissors)
Clear book or packing tape or duct tape
Scissors or a rotary cutting tool
Cutting mat (optional)
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
Follow me on Instagram for daily program and maker ideas.
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 you 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.
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?
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
Flex Foam – If you want to use a different product, make sure it says you can make squishies in the title or description.
Watch the video because she lays it all out for you.
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?
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.
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.
Have patrons design their zodiac sign in the 3D print software-we use Tinkercad.
Have all the zodiac signs already uploaded and allow patrons to add to it with stars or their initials.
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.
Purchase large painting rocks-they are expensive as hell so you may want to do to registration only.
Wash the rocks, then paint them with a dark blue or black acrylic paint. Let dry-we use fans to expedite the drying process.
The blending technique is what’s difficult. I used small paint brushes to blend purple, light blue, pink, and dark blue acrylic paints.
Use a toothbrush, dip it in the white paint, then fan the bristles to make the star effect. Allow to dry.
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.
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.
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.
Instructions-First, drill a hole in the middle; make sure the clock gears fit.
For a lighter blue galaxy design…
Paint the base dark blue.
While it’s still wet, brush the other colors in wide strokes using the foam brush in desired places. Blend the colors.
Dip the toothbrush in white paint and flick the bristles on the clock to make the stars.
You can use the dotting tools to make larger stars or constellations.
Use the Mod Podge for a glossy finish.
Assemble the clock gears.
For the darker galaxy design…
Paint the base black and let it dry.
Using the stippler brushes, blot one color at a time across the diameter of the clock.
For example, I did dark blue first. Then I did purple below it, then I did a lighter blue between them.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
Set out some templates or let teens use their creativity to make some conversation hearts. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With several contemporary themes-Rick and Morty; The Walking Dead; and Harry Potter, the board game Clue remains to be popular among teens and kids. Every year, we do a murder mystery party for our teens and this year we chose Clue as the theme. Here’s How:
Budget:$130/40 teens (90% of the budget was food. The only thing we purchased that was not food was the place setting.)
Here is the Google Drive folder of all the files. Some were created in Publisher so that you can edit them. You’ll need MS Publisher to open them.
The object of our party was for the teens to solve the murder by guessing who did it, where, and with what-just like the game.
To obtain clues to solve the murder, we had staff in character of the original suspects-Miss Scarlet; Professor Plum; Col. Mustard; Mr. Green; Mrs. White; and Mr. Peacock. Of course we had more women than men so we had to change some of the genders of the original characters. Each suspect wore their appropriate colors and each suspect had a backstory. Please see the script for their backstories. Feel free to use it; simply make a copy first and make changes. The suspects circulated the party and engaged with teens in character. They also told teens their motives during the party.
In addition to the characters, teens had to go to each of the rooms mention below to solve a puzzle. I’ll explain later in the puzzle section. Each completed puzzle provided a clue.
We wanted to stay as true to the game as possible. We designated five rooms in our library as the rooms in the game. Our genealogy room became the library; our lobby became the hall; our youth study room became the study; our makerspace became the billiards room; one of our meeting rooms become the conservatory; and our biggest meeting room became the dining room. There were three rooms in the Clue game that we did not use in our game.
We had five tables for the five suspects except Miss White. Since she is a maid, she did not get a table. We used black table cloths and color coded table settings only because we had a bunch of black table cloths and I wanted to save money by using them up.
We made copies of the original Clue game notebook and set them at each place setting. Teens used the back to take notes.
Pre Party Planning
We asked our staff to be the suspects but if you have a TAG group or good teen participation population, you can ask them to be the actors/suspects.
My coworker and I wrote the script. We do this party every year and we found that leaving lots of room for ad libbing is best for the actors because they only have to memorize a small portion of the play. We finished the script about three weeks before the party, we sent it to each suspect and asked them to memorize by the party. We always rehearse a couple of hours before the party because it can be difficult to get all the teens in one place at the same time.
We had five escape room type puzzles because teens like puzzles. As stated above, each puzzle led to a clue. Teams took their Clue notebook, a pencil, and each team was given a room order. Since suspect to room ratio is about the same. One suspect sat in each room to hand teens the first clue and to reset the room between teens.
Teens had ten minutes to solve the puzzles in each room. (The suspect was the time keeper). After their ten minutes were up, regardless if they solved the puzzle or not, they were escorted back to the dining room. When all groups were back in the dining room, we waited a couple of minutes for the suspects to reset the rooms and then we let the teams go to their next room. Each team had a room order which can be found in the Google folder above.
The Library (As stated above we used our genealogy room because it looks like a little library-tons of shelved reference books.) You can section off a portion of your youth or adult department and call it the library so that teens know what section to look through books.
I made this decoder for the first clue. The clue was a call number. The suspect gave the teams the decoder as soon as they entered the room.
Once they found the first book, that clue sheet contained call numbers for all the books. There were five clue sheets and each sheet contained one letter. Once they found all the clue sheets, they had to unscramble it to spell MURAL. This was a clue for where the murder took place. Our murder room has a huge mural on the wall. You of course will have to change
Once they unscrambled MURAL correctly, they were told by the suspect that they solved the puzzle and they teens were escorted back to the dining room.
Additional information. All the books were green and the clue cards were green. All of this was meant to point to Miss Green as the murderer.
The Hall (Our lobby houses our book sale books so we used that to our advantage.)
We found a hollowed out book that happened to Sleeping Beauty. Inside that book, was a UV light.
The suspect gave them the following clue-Maleficent wanted her dead. Teens were tasked with finding Sleeping Beauty to find the UV light.
Before the party, I used an invisible ink pen to write a phone number on individual sheets of paper. I taped the papers to the wall in order.
Once the teens found the UV light, they discovered it was a phone number. (make sure to put parentheses and a dash so that teens know it’s a phone number.) They called the number and Miss White gave them the next clue-“You can’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” (This was a clue for the murder weapon-the knife.)
Once they figured it out, the suspect escorted them back to the dining room.
Before the party, I used clear plastic drinking glasses to write clues on the bottom of the glasses. There were six glasses. The clue was LORD. One letter was placed under each cup. I also had a combination lock and each cup had one number of the combo lock-27, 32, 01.
When the teens entered the room, their table contained a locked box with a hasp lock closed with zip ties. On top of the box was a pair of scissors that was locked the a word lock and a combo lock. There was also six cups filled with soda.
The suspect asked them to sit and have some soda. She then began to talk to them in character. The teens eventually noticed the letters and numbers on the cup and began to unscramble the letters to open the work lock and use the numbers to open the combo lock. They used the scissors the cut the zip ties and inside the lock box was the word DARK.
This clue also points to Miss Green because she loves Harry Potter and their clue is DARK LORD.
After they found the word DARK, they were told they solved to puzzle and was escorted back to the dining room.
Upon entering, teens given this clue decoder. It led them to our MURAL which contains our state bird-the cardinal (I live in Illinois.) Next to the bird was a three digit code. They used that code to open the lock box which contained their next clue-Not the revolver or the candlestick.
You will have to create your own clue using this decoder. (FYI, this decoder is used in the graphic novel, Paper Girls.)
The point was for the teens to see the MURAL and put the two and two together to figure out the murder took place in that room.
After they found the clue, they were told they solved to puzzle and was escorted back to the dining room.
We have a Merge Cube and Diffuse is a fun game. The first teen to get to level
four allowed the entire team to get their next clue-Not Miss Scarlett or Mr. Peacock.
If you don’t have a Merge Cube, you’ll have to find another puzzle for this room.
At the end of the puzzle/theater portion, we put the guessing envelope on each table. Inside the envelope, we put the room cards, the suspect cards and the weapon card in the envelope. The pictures on the suspect cards were of our staff actors. At the end of the puzzle/theater portion, teams reconvened, made their guesses, and put their guesses in their envelopes.
After everyone make their guesses, we led all the teens and suspects to the room where the murder took place. We have the killer reenact the murder. The teens did not know this was going to happen, which was great!
As always, no one made a correct guess but we’ve found that they don’t care; the just like the show. They like the over acting and drama-a fake fight scene is always a crowd pleaser.
Murder Mysteries are really cheap to host because you use supplies you already own. You don’t need Breakout EDU to create one; I purchased all my locks from Amazon which is better because you can reset Amazon locks.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll answer you as quick as possible.
Looking for galaxy crafts for the summer reading theme A Universe of Stories? Try making this organizer craft. Patrons can put kitchen supplies, LEGOS, cellphone/headphone holder, make up, nail polish, office supplies, all those Bath and Body Works lotions, art supplies, or whatever they want into this organizer. They can even customize the sides of the compartments. Here’s how I did it.
Follow me on Instagram for daily craft and maker ideas.
Budget: Depends on the supplies you already have.
Acrylic Paint-blues, black, pink or red, white, and purple (These are the traditional galaxy colors)
Paintbrushes-normal brushes and foam brushes
Different sizes of wood planks. Michaels and Hobby Lobby sell wood. You can also purchase 2×4’s and cut them in various sizes. I’m not sure if Lowes or Home Depot will cut them for you. You can also get wood scraps on Amazon.
I purchased 2×4’s and asked a co-worker with a saw to cut them for me. You will need to sand the sides if you do it this way.
Mason Jars (optional)
Spray Paint or acrylic paint-glass
Hot glue guns
Hot glue gun sticks
Fine tip and normal tip Sharpies
Decide the design. (Compartments)
I used spray paint to paint my mason jar but you can do paint made for glass. If you spray paint, allow patrons to spray outside and keep them outside to dry. When your project is complete, the jar should be dry.
Paint a base color of dark blue. (Patrons can do whatever color they want but the box pictured had a dark blue base.
Paint one side of all the pieces of wood.
Paint dries really quickly so I didn’t need to put it front of a fan for quick drying. Once you’ve finished painting the base coat on one side of all the pieces, the first piece has already dried.
Paint the other side; I did the same color but patrons can do whatever they want.
To do the galaxy affect. I used the foam brush and use sweeping brush strokes. I blended the paint using the sweeping stroke. On some pieces, I used more black to make it darker or more pink to make it brighter. There is no wrong way.
Dip the toothbrush in white paint and flick the brushes to make the white stars.
Do this for one side of all the pieces. Once again, it dries quickly.
To make the words, I typed my phrase in MS Word and found a desired font.
Print it out and use carbon paper to transfer to a piece of wood.
Here’s how. Place the carbon paper, dark side down onto the wood piece. Place the words on the gray side of the carbon paper. Use a fine tip Sharpie to trace. Lift the paper and it should transfer. If your design is big enough, patrons can paint the stencil or they can use a Sharpie.
Once everything is dried, it’s time to assemble.
I used wood hot glue to adhere the wood and it holds pretty good. If you are really fancy, you can use a drill and nails or screws.
Supply some doodads for embellishments.
This project took 2 hours to complete but I was very please with the final product. It almost looks store bought! This craft is great for teens of all ages and adults. If you have teen boys, they can paint it any color.
Like you, we have lots of artsy teens and we also have younger teens who just like to paint. This is a great activity because challenges the artistic teens and it’s cool enough for the teen who just likes to paint. There are some great examples on Pinterest.
Budget: Depends on what supplies you already own.
White glue (We used Elmer’s glue)
Black acrylic paint
Watercolor paper or acrylic paper
Watercolors (paint or pencils)
Watercolor brushes and normal paint brushes
Pre-mix the black glue
Pour black paint into your glue bottle and mix with the craft stick.
We pre-mixed four bottles but you can do as many as you want.
There are two ways to do it-watercolors or acrylic.
I personally like acrylic painting because the color pops and everyone can do acrylic paints.
Watercoloring needs to be taught so learn how to use watercolors then give teens a crash course. Simply search beginner watercolors on Youtube and you are on your way.
In my opinion, watercolor pencils are better than paints for beginners because you can’t get the color wrong.
Whichever medium you use, have teens draw a picture. In the example below, the blue picture was done using watercolors and drawn free hand. The other was done using acrylic paints and was drawn with a protractor. For me, an artistically challenged person, the picture using a protractor was easier for me and took half the time. Asking non-artsy teens to do a picture like the tree can be intimidating while drawing basic lines is more approachable. You know your teens; it’s your choice what you want to put out for them.
Paint the picture first because it dries quickly.
During our program, we provided donuts for teens to eat while their painting dried. You can have them do a second painting while their first one dries. It’s up to you.
Give teens scratch paper to practice outlining with the black glue-there’s a bit of a learning curve.
Once their painting has dried, outline with the black glue.
This will take about 20 minutes to dry so they can come back to get it or carefully take it home to dry.
It’s a really cool looking art project and it’s cheap and easy. You can have it as a two hour program or a passive drop in. It’s great for school age kids and well as adults because I had a great time practicing.
This program began with the title, DIY Stress ball because we did it around finals and MAP testing time. During the program, however, the teens were talking about how they’ve tried making them at home because they are too expensive in the store. I had no idea how popular squishies were so when we do this program again, and we will, we will call it DIY squishies.
Budget: $60/16 teens (This will vary depending on the supplies you already have)
Puffy Paint– You can use any kind of puffy fabric paint
Dotting Tools-(optional) These are great for making nice round eyes. If you choose the CLP Summer Reading theme of Universe of Stars, these tools are great for making stars if you do any galaxy crafts.
At my library, my colleague and I plan and implement about 150 teen programs a year. Some were bad, some were truly awful, and many were great. Here are the best of the year. Some programs will have a link to a full description just click the title. Want more info? Leave me a comment.
Popularity-The number of teens who attended simply based on the program title or description. (There will be a “P” next to the ranked program to indicate that the program was popular.)
Appeal-Did the teens like the program and told us; were they proud of their finished project; do they ask us to repeat the program? (There will be an “A” next to the ranked program to indicate that the program had a strong appeal.)
Impact-Did the teens learn a skill or gain a new interest? (There will be an “I” next to the ranked program to indicate that the program that was impactful.)
Korean culture is extremely popular among varied races, ages, and sexual orientations. They love the music/boy bands and the food. On a whim, my colleague wanted to do a week dedicated to Korean culture that consisted of food, crafts, and watching music videos and Korean dramas. Over three programs, about 80 teens attended our K-Pop week and 99% were new faces. It was also the most diverse teen program we’ve ever hosted. We had lots of Hispanic teens, Black teens, and White teens. We had 6th graders and 11th graders and a couple of 4th graders snuck in. Every category of teen you could think of attended this program. Suffice it to say, we will be doing this again.
If you follow crafting trends like I do, you’ll know that anything galaxy is where it’s at. If you are wondering about the next crafty trend, it’s holo or holographic looking anything. Look it up; it’s awesome. In the summer of 2018, we did a week of galaxy crafts that included shoes, candy, and a night light. The most popular of the three was the shoes. The best part about the shoe crafts was that teens were able to design their own galaxy look. I said it was appealish because most teens were proud of their project and they took their time and enjoyed it but they don’t ask to do it again.
We did a whole week of beauty products including lip balm and body scrub but we weren’t sure if teens would like bath bombs because do teens take baths? We thought bath bombs would be the least popular but as you can guess by the inclusion of it on the list, they were the most popular of the three. It turns out teens don’t take baths but they do like to watch the bath bombs disintegrate in water and film it on Instagram-who knew. When we found out that they weren’t using them for therapeutic or beauty purposes but for fun, we took the opportunity to teach them the science inside the bomb. They also enjoyed choosing their own colors and scents of their bombs.
We do a murder mystery every year and we get at least 30 teens of all ages. One year we had all high school which is unusual for us. The teens really enjoy it and they never guess the murderer but they don’t care, they like the show/acting. They also look forward to it every year. The great thing about murder mysteries is that they are incredibly cheap because you can use what you have in your storage and you can make your own script. It is a lot of work but it’s so worth it.
Teens still love Super Mario and the Piranha Plant is one of the more popular villains. This craft takes a while to complete but when they are able to get all the pieces together, they are so proud of their completed plant and they like the way it bobbles.
Guess what, teens also love Pokemon and they like putting stuff on their shelves and boys like Pokemon which means you’ll get boys to your craft program. It is an expensive craft but the teens really like to design their terrarium and choose their favorite character. We’ve done this a couple of times and they are always proud of their Pokeball and they ask about the next program all the time.
#4. Tie Dye (P, A, $$)-No Link; You know what it looks like.
There’s no need to explain what it is, you already know what tie dye is and for some reason, it’s a winner every time. I put this as number four because the day after we did this as a drop in for our regular after school crowd, several teens were wearing their shirt. That is the best compliment we could ever get after a teen program.
There is no picture; you all know what tie dye looks like.
We host a short story contest every year for 6th-12th grade and every year we receive some fascinating stories and poems. This year, teens submitted stories about depression set in science fiction, climate change and the end of the world, crossing the border wall, and being an immigrant from Africa. We also love it when teens submit stories every year until they finally get first place.
Most teens can’t afford $30 for Owlcrate or Bookcrate or whatever the other crates are called but teens like to get books and stuff. We have a bookshelf full of books in our office and every time teens come in, they are awed by it and ask if they can have a book. We then realized that our teens like free books and stuff. We decided to put together a subscription box and we thought we’d get about ten teens but we are now up to 30 and it could go higher. They LOVE the box and ask if their box is ready all the dang time so that’s how we know they like it. We are currently doing surveys and so far, they say that they read the books and they like added them to their personal libraries. It is expensive so if you can get a grant or donations, you are all set!
Anytime we do a sewing program, it’s always full. We’ve done drawstring bags, lip chap holders, sleep masks, headbands, and plushies. It doesn’t matter if it’s machine sewing or hand sewing, teens love it. They like the feeling of accomplishment and turning nothing into something. Since our one off sewing programs were so popular, we decided to do a sewing club to help teens gain more skills. We had a three month club, you can read about it in the link, and teens learned how to thread their machine and the bobbin. By the end of the club, two teens got sewing machines for Christmas and the others are returning to use our sewing machines to continue to practice. Because they want to continue their skills, we felt like we’ve made an impact which is awesome.
It’s only December but as a programming librarian, I’m always looking ahead to summer and the reading challenge. For 2019, my library is choosing the CLP theme-A Universe of Stories and this is the first of many crafts for teens/adults that I’m considering.
They may not know much about astrology but most teens know their zodiac sign so any activities/crafts surrounding this theme could be popular.
Budget– $26/20 teens (Cheaper if you have lots of craft sticks which you probably do.)
You can play this video at the start of your program. It shows how to glue the sticks and a great tutorial on how to blend paints.
Each side of the box uses 14 craft sticks so each teen will need 84 sticks. (There are six sides)
Have teens assemble the sides using hot glue.
Paint each side using the desired galaxy style. They don’t have to do galaxy painting but it’s a galaxy craft program so…
Print out each zodiac typography-do a Google/Pinterest search. It should be big enough to fit on one of the sides.
Place the grayish side of the carbon paper facing up. Place the zodiac copy on top and trace using a pencil. It should transfer. Use a Sharpie to outline and color in.
The images on the examples on Pinterest can also be transferred by carbon paper. Simply Google search silhouettes, print and cut them out. Print them in various sizes. Use the same tracing technique in the previous bullet point.
Assemble the box.
Tips: It can be a challenge to assemble the box. On the bottom side, I added an extra stick around the sides and I glued it farther out to give me more room.
The project based on the video will only take about 15 minutes and would be more appropriate as a drop in program. If you want a 1.5 hour program, I’d suggest encouraging original art. Or have other candle themed crafts.
Have some pre-printed images for those non-artistic teens.
We didn’t use as much wax paper as the video. We used enough wax paper to cover the image but it didn’t meet on the back of the candle. We had teens tape down the wax paper.
Cutting out the image is important. It won’t transfer properly if they don’t cut out as much tissue paper as possible.
Silhouette Cutting Machine (optional but will make it soooo much easier).
I found this craft on Sparkfun.com. I chose the window pop up because you can turn it into a holiday card.
I printed the template from Sparkfun on cardstock.
Follow the instructions on Sparkfun; they are easy to follow.
I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend buying a Silhouette cutting machine if you don’t have one. The Cameo is $300 and the Portrait is $200. The biggest difference is that the Cameo can cut paper up to 12 inches while the Portrait can only go up to 8.5×11.
The template on Sparkfun provides a template for the Silhouette which cuts out the pop up cards for you-super handy. Otherwise, you’ll have to cut them out yourself. This can be part of the activity for the teens if you trust them with exacto knives. If you don’t, do them before the program.
EXTRA TIP-If you don’t have a Silhouette but you want to use one, check area libraries to see if their makerspaces or librarians have a Silhouette. Ask to use theirs.
If you use Sparkfun’s template on your Silhouette, I had to adjust the perforation and make them smaller. The perforation Sparkfun uses is too big and cuts the paper.
Use a clear small glue stick to adhere the parchment to the cardstock. You have to use A LOT of glue to get it to stick.
I used my Silhouette to cut out image in the center of the parchment. I also used black paper. You can die cut images if you have a die cutter or have stencils for teens to trace and cut, this will extend you program.
I used a “press here” stamp but your teens can write it.
Teens can use stickers or sequence to jazz up the cards.
The conductive tape LED portion of the project can be confusing and I suggest doing it first as a group.
The LED looks best when it is placed behind the black image.
Our most popular craft program last year was hot glue cell phone cases-it’s cheap and easy. The only problem is that the cases are usually too large for the phone because of the parchment paper. Also, because they are made of glue, they aren’t very sturdy if the phone is dropped.
I decided to see if one could make a case from a 3D pen and you can. It fits perfectly and it’s a harder sturdier case.
Budget: Depends on what you have on hand-3D pens, filament, and tape.
3D Pen-You can use any 3D pen. We use Canbor because it’s cheaper than 3D Doodler and it’s just as good.
Book Tape-raid your tech services supplies or just use packing tape or Scotch tape
Plain white paper
Scissors-to cut off the filament strands
Hot Glue (optional)
Trace the cell phone. Be sure to draw a circle around the camera lens.
If you are making an oversized case like the pineapple or cactus, draw the desired design outside the original template.
If you are making a regular case like the egg (that’s an egg; not a flower-LOL), design the inside of the case.
Cut out the case and make sure it’s the width of the phone. Also, make sure the circle around the camera is big enough.
If you are making the egg case and it’s too large, trim it. It should be the exact size as the phone. If it’s larger than the phone, it won’t fit snugly.
Tape your design to a sturdy piece of cardboard.
Cardboard prevents the case from bending. If you do cardstock or foam, it will bend. It’s not the end of the world but it’s annoying.
Design the case using the 3D pen.
Put tape around the four corners of the phone.
Hold or tape the completed case to the back of the phone. Use the 3D pen to make the pieces on the corners of the phone. Be sure the connect the case to the corner pieces.
If you are making an oversized case, use the 3D pen to make the pieces that hold the case to the phone on the sides and the bottom of the phone. You do not need to hold the completed case to the back of the phone to do this.
Hot glue or use the filament to adhere the pieces to the case.
Remove your completed case then remove the tape.
How to do #7
How to do #8
Do the bottom too
Practice makes perfect.
If you mess up, just peel off the filament/plastic and start again.
When switching filament, the old color will be in the pen. Let it run out until the new color appears.
Give teens plenty of time to complete. It can take about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
It seems tedious but teens love 3D pens and they are very patient with it.
Have examples on the table or images to trace for the creatively/artsy challenged.
Halloween is over and stores seem to forget that Thanksgiving likes pumpkins too. You can take advantage of all the after Halloween sales and stock up on cheap fake pumpkins for pumpkin programming. I use fake ones because they don’t rot. Check Walmart, The Dollar Tree, Target, Walgreens, Michaels, Hobby Lobby or if you want real pumpkins, check your local grocery story.
Pumpkin painting is a cheap no brainer because, you probably have lots of paint, glitter, Sharpies, etc in your crafts closets. And teens like to paint pumpkins.
This year, I bought fake ones at The Dollar Tree and planned a Pumpkin Spice Paining Party. All that means is that we’ll be painting pumpkins and serving pumpkin spice flavored treats and beverages. If you haven’t noticed, pumpkin spice flavored everything is a thing now.
Budget: $50/20 teens
Fake pumpkins or real pumpkins
White paint-I pre-painting my pumpkins because it’s easier to start with a white surface. You can leave some of them orange.
I watched several Dollar Tree crafting videos on Youtube and they spray painting their pumpkins but when I did it, it resolved the styrofoam pumpkins. I’m pretty sure I used the wrong spray paint so if you want to save time when pre-painting and you want to spray paint, make sure you get the correct paint.
Various types of paint: acrylic, puffy paint, spray acrylic paint, or whatever you have in your craft closet.
Sharpies, glitter, sequins, gems, craft foam, or whatever you have in your closet.
Hot glue (You can even buy hot glue glitter sticks)
Paint brushes of varied sizes
Instructions-Just let them create what they want.
I did a couple of examples using popular crafting trends-unicorn and galaxy. Other popular crafting trends include emojis, Pokemon, donuts. etc. You can also print out some examples for inspiration or encourage them to look on their phones.
I 3D printing my unicorn horn. If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can make horns out of cardstock. I made the ears out of foam.
Provide plates or something for teens to transport their wet pumpkins.
You can hold a contest for the top three or let teens vote for their favorite.
Have you ever gone to the store to purchase some Lego figures only to be shocked by how much they cost? Do you have to make your teens/youths sign over their soul just to be sure they return your Lego figures after your program? This means that Lego figures are popular so we decided to let teens turn themselves into Lego figures.
Note: These figures are made of resin and do not have the signature indentations that allow the them to stand on the bricks.
Budget: $80/10-20 teens (Cost varies depending on the supplies you already have)
Plastic knives or tooth picks to create texture for the hair (apoxy sculpt clay).
Follow the instructions on the resinbox-it’s very simple and does not have fumes.
It only takes about five minutes to cure (harden).
My figure in the picture is the large 3.5 inch mold and there is only one. If you do this, you’ll have to pre-make the molds or purchase more. I looked and I couldn’t find the 3.5 molds in bulk.
That’s unfortunate because if you are doing a STEM program, it’s cool to let the teens mix the product and watch it go from liquid to solid instantly.
You can pre make the molds then do a demonstration for the entire group so that they can experience the process and feel the heat it generates.
If you do the 1.5 inch figure, you can have the teens work in groups and have the group mix one batch of resin and fill the molds.
After it hardens, about five minutes, remove the figure from the mold.
Make The Hair-follow the instructions on the apoxy box.
Allow teens to make their hair on their figure.
The apoxy can also be used to make helmets or weapons for the figures.
Paint-teens can begin painting their figure including the hair.
The paint I listed above does not have brown. They sell a burnt umber but it’s dark and when I mixed it with white, it turned gray.
I used a different acrylic paint for my figure and it was streaky and needed three coats. You can allow the teens to do this if they want a brown figure or let them mix their own brown paint but might waste a lot of that $$$ paint in the process.
Otherwise, they can have yellow figures like the real thing.
This program could be 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how many they are allowed to do and how fast they work.
If they mix the resin, allow them to wash their hands before they get started.
Have hand sanitizer and napkins available so that they can cleanse their hands if they get paint on them.
Believe it or not, hand sewing and machine sewing is VERY popular among teens. Teens like the feeling of accomplishing something and making something from nothing. Every time we host a sewing program, we have a full house. Our most successful sewing project was sleep masks. We’ve also done a locker pouch, a lip gloss pouch, a headband, and a backpack. Our sewing club was led by myself and my coworker and neither one of us knew how to sew before these classes. We never even touched a sewing machine before but we taught ourselves using Youtube and you can too.
We use Janome 2212 sewing machines.
Those were all one and done programs and since sewing was so popular, we decided to create a sewing club to teach teens how to:
Recognize sewing machine terms-foot, petal, back stitch
Thread a sewing machine
Wind the bobbin
Change to a zipper foot
Create a pattern
Thread and knot a needle.
We want teens to be comfortable sitting at a sewing machine and start a project with no assistance.
Week 1: Sewing a Pillow
We decided to start with a pillow because it’s very easy to sew straight lines. We also wanted the teens to make something they would use.
I precut 14×14 squares and allowed teens to choose their fabric.
I did this to cut time. Our class is only 1.5 hours but if you have a longer class, feel free to allow teens to cut their own bags and choose the size they want.
We reviewed the difference between the foot and the petal-this can be confusing. As we instructed, we used those terms until they got the hang of it.
We taught teens how to wind a bobbin.
We then taught them how to thread the machine.
The machine always comes unthreaded and this is the perfect way for teens to learn how to thread-repitition.
We let them practice sewing straight lines and when they were ready, we let them begin.
We told them to always back stitch at the beginning and end of their project.
Once they sewed 3.5 sides of the pillow, they turned them inside out and stuffed them.
We then taught them how to hand sew as they completed the bag.
All the teens did a great job and they were very excited about their pillow.
We purposely kept our class to five or less. We only have five machines but that’s not the reason. Sewing is exhausting to teach because teens need A LOT of help and machines break down ALL THE TIME. Do yourself a service and host a small class and get help from staff.
The youngest teen was 12 so middle schoolers are capable of using a sewing machine.
We used Janome 2212 sewing machines. I found this machine to be easy to use.
We took registration and tailored the projects. Since there were only girls registered, We decided to do pillows, tote bags, and skirts. If there were boys, we would have done a pillow, a backpack, and I would have hired someone to teach teens how to make a shirt.
I highly recommend investing in sewing machines for your makerspace. There are so many projects/programs you can do and sewing machines are always relevant tech.
Week 2: Tote Bag
I pre cut the bags to save time but if you have 2 hours, you can let the teens cut their own
bag. Our bags were 15″ x 17″ (I allowed for a 1 inch seam). I pre-cut the straps-20″.
I also pre-ironed the hem. Although sewing a hem is VERY important when sewing, it takes too long and we only have one iron. Once again, I do recommend letting teens do this because it is an important step.
Before the teens began, I intentionally left the machines unthreaded and asked the teens to thread them as soon as they sat down. I also had them go through the steps to get started only helping when necessary. This way, they are learning how to sew without assistance. Most of the teens knew exactly what to do which was great!
Sew both top hems.
I pre-cut pieces of fabric to make pockets. Teens were able to place their pocket anywhere they wanted. The size of the pocket is up to you.
Our straps were place 4″ from the sides. Teens pinned the straps into place and sewed them.
The sewed a box to secure the straps.
Sew three sides of the bag-be sure to sew inside out.
Flip the bag to the correct side.
We had a lot of time left over so I allowed them to iron on patches.
Next month, we will be making circle skirts. Teens will learn how to take their own measurements, create a pattern, and sew a wearable skirt! I’ll put the instructions on this post after the class.
Week 3: Skirts
We had all girls in our sewing club so this was okay but if you have boys, you’ll have to find a unisex article of clothing-vest.
Jersey fabric (cut in 2 yards for each teen)
1 yard will not be big enough for a knee length skirt. If they want mini skirts, than 1 yard is sufficient.
1.5 inch elastic waist band
Large sheet of paper-butcher paper. (We have those large rolls of paper that schools use)
I watched this video to learn how to do it. I like this video because the hardest thing about making a circle skirt is calculating the measurements. This video makes it very simple.
The video says to add two inches to your waist measurement. We didn’t do that because it made extra fabric.
We used jersey fabric so we wouldn’t have to sew or iron a hem.
We didn’t iron down the top of the skirt that goes under the waist band. Once again, it’s jersey, so if the skirt is a little uneven on the bottom, it’s not noticeable.
There may be extra fabric after they’ve sewed the skirt. Just fold it over and sew the extra to the waist band.
Some of the girls didn’t measure the length long enough. Have them add two inches to the length for insurance.
This was the third class with these teens and most of them finished within 45 minutes. Have another project or put out some fabric and let them free sew.
Hobby Lobby jersey is $$$$. If you have a Walmart near you, run to it!
Be sure to have them cut 2 yards for each teen. For example, if you have five teens, don’t have them cut one piece of fabric that’s ten yards. Have them cut in 2 yard segments.
This was our first sewing club and it was VERY SUCCESSFUL. On the first class, none of the teens had ever touched a sewing machine and by the third class they were able to thread the machine on their own.
Several of them will attend our open sewing days and one girl is getting a sewing machine for her birthday.
Sewing has been seen as old tech or old fashioned in this day of virtual reality and laser cutting but this is not the case. When teens are able to turn a piece of nothing fabric into a bag or a pouch or a bookmark, they get a sense of accomplishment. They’ve acquired a new skill and that makes them feel great so if you can’t afford a $2000 3D printer but you want some cutting edge tech in your makerspace, consider $200 sewing machines.
Most of us have small budgets and we are constantly looking for cheap programs. One way to save money is to go through your storage and dig out that craft program nobody came to or that thing you bought by accident and it’s just sitting in your storage or that craft supply that’s left over. You know what I mean. All that felt, mini notebooks, canvases, clay, straws, t-shirts, bags, etc. Use all that stuff to create a new program. It’s time to start planning for winter and that’s what I did. Here are a few ideas.
I bought some resin for a DIY fidget spinner program but I bought the mold filler and not the mold maker. That mold filler resin has been sitting in our closet for over a year and it cost $17!
I found some $1 Halloween molds at the Dollar Tree and made some jewelry with it! However, Halloween is a fall program and I need winter and jewelry can be girly. So I found some Lego people molds on Amazon and I’m going to let teens make their own Lego person using paint or Sharpies.
We made plush monsters to make it fun. Ours look different but I couldn’t find the online pattern so you can use a Pusheen pattern. Pre cut two Pusheen patterns to save time if you are hosting a drop in. Let teens trace and cut if you have 1.5-2 hour program. Have teens choose two buttons; different buttons make it monster-like. Have teens take one side of the Pusheen and teach them how to sew a button. They may sew a mouth or nose or just have buttons.
Teens had a tough time comprehending the fact that you have to sew diagonally on a four hole button. I don’t know why.
Emphasize that they have to sew it at least four times. Teens tried to rush and their buttons began falling off.
The first picture is a hemming stitch with thread. Hemming stitches take longer. I’d recommend the running stitch (2nd picture) if you are doing a drop in.
Although embroidery string looks better, we used thread because we wanted to teach the traditional way of sewing. If you have a longer program, teens can make a second monster with embroidery string.
Got more felt and maybe some headbands? Felt Unicorn Horn
Yes, teens still like unicorns so we hosted a maker party for these unicorn enthusiasts.
Print, cut out, and let teens the stencil on the felt.
I followed this site. I had teens use hot glue to make the horn instead of sewing because my teens don’t know how to sew and I was by myself and wouldn’t have had time to teach hand sewing. I would, however, highly recommend teaching hand sewing; it’s a useful skill many teens lack.
Teens could then use anything they wanted to decorate.
Grab all those leftover t-shirts and have a Tee Party
If your library has a die cut machine, you can use the die cut letters to make a word stencil then sponge fabric paint to make it a graphic tee.
You can use fabric Sharpies and pre-made stencils or teens can use the fabric markers to draw free hand.
Use your computers to print their designs on iron-on transfer paper.
Teens can make a graphic from felt and hand sew it on their tee.
Teens can bring in a dark colored tee and use a bleach pen to write words of social change.
Teens like Kawaii. Kawaii basically means cute in Japanese and it usually has little rosy
cheeks and stars in their eyes like the picture below. Pineapples are also a thing so we chose the pineapple Kawaii from this Youtuber. Our teens like pineapples so much, we are hosting a week of pineapple crafts in the near future.
My favorite resource for crafting ideas is Youtube. Simply choose a leftover supply and type in that supply followed by the word craft.
We’ve done our library subscription box program for about 1.5 years and it has evolved since its first year. If you want to read how we used to do it, please visit this blog post.
Our new subscription box program is called The YAASS Box (Young Adult Awesomely Super Subscription Box)-please excuse the name; we aren’t good at making up program titles.
How Does it Work?
We run the program (subscription) every other two months so there’s a Jan/Feb box, an April/May box, a July/Aug box, and a Oct/Nov box. It is open to 6th-12th graders.
Teens must register separately for each two-month subscription.
We want new teens every subscription so teens who already participated will be put on a waiting list. If all of the boxes aren’t fulfilled, teens will be taken off the waiting list in the order they signed up.
They can register via Instagram DM or email.
We ask for their name, grade, and their book selection.
Sometimes we offer a MG and a YA book but we’re currently trying to find one book that is suitable for all ages.
They are given a last day to pick up their box, otherwise they forfeit the box to someone on the waiting list.
We do this because they have to have enough time to read the book and it’s a test to see if they are responsible. If they can’t pick up their box in time, it’s likely they won’t read the book or do the discussion.
There’s an insert in each box that tells teens what the expectations are.
They have to agree to read the book by the due date which is usually the last day of the month.
They have to participate in the discussion question which is posted in our Instastory/feed, our Facebook story/feed, or through email. They have 48 hours to answer the two discussion questions.
I also tape a discussion date reminder to the outside of the book.
I post the discussion questions on IG and FB. If they don’t have social media, I email the questions.
Their insert also tells them that their answers must reference the book.
They can DM their answers or post them in the question box for everyone to see.
One question is directly related to the text; the other question is indirectly related.
An indirect question for example, in The Poet X there was a chapter called Names where Xiamora talks about her name, its meaning and five senses she feels when she hears her name. For the second question, I asked them what how their name feels; tastes; looks like; smells; and sound like.
If they didn’t quite relate to the text, I ask them a follow up question. I always ask if they liked the book.