Posted in Makerspace

LEDs

LEDs are a simple, cheap, and fun programs for grades 3-adult.

We use LEDs to teach teens about  how they are used in the world around them and circuitry.

Tip- Many teens do not know how to hand sew so you’ll have to teach them how to tie a knot, how to do a running stitch, and how to close a stitch.

EASY – LED Origami ($100 for 20 teens)

Materials: Origami paper, LEDs, tape, scissors, coin battery (We purchased batteries, and LEDs from Adafruit)

We found origami videos on Youtube and set out iPads.  We found that it’s easier for teens to follow origami on video than in a instructional booklet. We did a heart origami and showed teens how to insert the LED in the fold of the heart with tape.

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Intermediate-LED Hoodie & Backpack ($60 for 20 teens)

Materials: Hoodie, thread, needle, EL Wire

Have teens bring in a hoodie.  Have teens begin sewing the EL wire on one side of the zipper.  They should sew the wire in small increments all the way around the hoodie to the other side of the zipper.  They should then cut a small hole on the inside of the pocket on the side with the slack.  String the slack through the pocket, connect the battery pack and that’s it.

You can use hot glue on the EL wire.  The backpack was made but hot gluing the wire.  This also looks cool on baseball caps.

Intermediate-LED Wristbands ($75 for 20 teens)

Materials: Felt or fabric, conductive thread, LED, snaps, coin battery (We purchased everything except the fabric from Adafruit)

Please see the diagram from instructables.

When teens snap the wristband shut, the LED should come on.

led-wristbands

Posted in Makerspace

Quick STEAM: eTextiles

Looking for a quick LED project on something other than paper? Try sewable LEDs on a t-shirt.

Supplies

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How To:

  1. Test your LED sequins first with alligator clips.
  2. As you can see from the picture, I used the pocket of the t-shirt.  If you are working with novices, I’d recommend you not use the pocket because it got a bit tricky avoiding sewing the pocket shut.
  3. Have teens design a picture on paper to plan where they are going to place the LED.
    1. Keep in mind that one side of the LED must connect to the positive side of the battery holder and the negative to the other side.  This means two different tracks.  I found using one sequins is best for novices.
    2. TIP-It’s best to draw a picture that has a mirror image and then place the sequins in the middle.
  4. Have teens lightly pencil draw their picture on the t-shirt.  This is to keep their sewing straight.  Remember to hold a place for the sequins.
  5. Thread your needle.  Don’t double thread like you do traditional sewing thread.  It will be too thick.  In other words, don’t pull your thread through the eye of the needle to create two strands of thread like traditional threading.
  6. On the under side of the t-shirt, secure one side of the batter holder by looping through three times.
  7. Sew your track to your sequins.
  8. IMPORTANT!!! Make sure the positive side of the sequins faces the positive side of the battery holder.
  9. Begin a new line of thread for the other side of the battery holder and repeat.
  10. Insert the battery and cross your fingers that it works.

 

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Troubleshooting

If your LED doesn’t work:

  • Make sure you have a good battery.
  • Be sure your threads don’t touch.  This is usually the problem.
  • Make sure your sequins +/- lines up with the battery.

 

Posted in Makerspace

3D Print Your Own Fidget Spinner

Being a programming librarian basically means that we have to always be ready for the next trend.  Last summer it was Pokemon Go and this summer it has been fidget spinners.  How can libraries capitalize on the fidget spinner craze before they go out of style?  3D print them.

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Disclaimer: this program was created a facilitated by my co-worker Elise and I was a mere helper.

SUPPLIES

PREP

  • Elise began by determining the dimensions of the center ring (where the ball bearing sits). We have a Lulzbot Mini and we use Cura to print.  The center ring dimensions are: 24.5×24.5×8 (circumference-24.5 and height-8).

If you are using a different printer, you can use the dimensions of the ball bearing you purchase and go from there.  We ran into issues with this method because Cura changed the dimensions when it printed.  We don’t know why and poor Elise had to print about 8 rings until she found the correct dimensions.

  • Soak your ball bearings in rubbing alcohol to clean them.  A clean bearing spins better.

PROGRAM DAY

Before the class began, the teens were told that their spinners would not be printed by the end of program.  We had teens write down their address and they were told that their spinners would be mailed to them the following week.  This eliminates the highly likelihood of them coming into the library every hour asking for updates.

IMG_4088

  • We use Tinkercad to teach the basics of 3D printing design.  All attendees who have never 3D printed had to take six basic lessons on Tinkercad.
  • Next, we had teens begin with the ring shape and had them change the dimensions to 24.5×24.5×8.
  • Teens were then instructed to design around the center ring.
  • Tips: Everything must be the same height and touching.

COMPLETION

  • We were able to print two spinners during the program.  Teens used a hammer to secure their bearing.
  • We informed teens to apply grease to get a longer spin.
Posted in Passive Programs

M&M Mosaic

A fun passive program is M&M Mosaics.  Teens can create a message of change using M&Ms.  Just put an example with instructions and supplies in the middle of the table and let the teens take it from there.

Here’s How:

  • Set vanilla frosting and craft sticks as glue.
  • Set out bowls of different colored M&Ms.

If you have a teen room, you can set the M&Ms in the middle of the table.  Beware, teens will eat the M&Ms even if you explain that they are germy.  If you are worried about them eating them, give them pre-filled bags of M&Ms and inform them that if they eat them, there won’t be enough to make a good mosaic.  I’d recommend giving teens a fun sized bag of M&Ms for eating before or after they complete their mosaic.

Posted in Makerspace, Unboxing

April Unboxing: Moss Robot

Moss Robot from Modular Robotics

  • $200-$349
  • The box says ages 8 and up but if you don’t have advanced teens, I’d say 10 and up
  • One box can accommodate 4 students

Vote for the Next Unboxing in the comment box:

If there’s a product that you are thinking about and would like for me to unbox, leave it in the comments below.

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Don’t Just Play Games; Make Them

We live in a community where teens play A LOT of games but they don’t know much about making them so we decided to create a day long game making bonanza and we called it Challenge Accepted.

Attendance: 84 (6th-12th grades and adults)

Budget: $500 (Game Truck, lunch, dinner, snacks)  We shared the cost of the game truck with the youth department.  You can save money by only offering snacks.

11am-1pm: Create Your Own Super Mario Bros Level or Minecraft Mod

Teens STILL love Super Mario Bros and we used that to hook them.  We used two different programs-Gamestar Mechanic and Pixel Press.

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  • Gamestar Mechanic is done online through a website where teens play levels, similar to the game they are going to design, to acquire characters; obstacle; villains; etc.  Teens can go through a tutorial to learn the basics if you are not comfortable teaching game design.
    • Game Mechanic costs $2/student and you can receive a free trial to test.
    • The teens really liked Game Mechanic and I highly recommend it.
  • Pixel Press-Adventure Time is an app that allows the gamer to add coins, obstacles, and levels.
    • The app is $2.99 and you can upload it to multiple iPads.
    • This game has a steeper learning curve than Gamestar and I would say it’s more appropriate for an intermediate gamer/coder.
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Pixel Press Adventure Time

Minecraft Mods

  • Tynker is an app that allows gamers to make their own worlds.
    • Tynker requires a subscription.
    • You have to have your own Minecraft server which is difficult for a library.
  • Kano is a arduino that can do the same as Tynker. We used Kano because we already purchased them with grant funds.
    • You have to purchase Kano kits for $150-$350/ea
    • Kano provides step by step instructions which is great for librarians who are Minecraft novices.
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Making Minecraft Mods with Kano

1pm-3pm: Laser Tag/Game Truck

Game Truck is a big green truck that come to you to lead games.  We wanted to do laser tag on the library’s lawn as a energy release from sitting behind a computer all day.  It rained that day so we did video games instead.  Teens REALLY loves Game Truck even though it’s just gaming in a big truck.  I highly recommend it if you have it in your area.  You get it for two hours and it costs about $400.

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Inside the Game Truck

3pm-5:30pm: DIY Board Game and 3D Print your Pawn/Die

Cooperative games are all the rage and I wanted teens to learn how to create their own board game.

  • I printed a blank game board from Google Images and stapled it to foam board.
  • I added space for cards like Chance cards from Monopoly.
  • I included space for title; description; objective; rules; and place to design pawn or die

Game Day

  • Teens were divided into groups of three or four.
  • Each group was given a game board, scratch paper, pencils, and colored pencils.
  • I allowed between 5-10 minutes for each item
    • Teens were asked to decide on the description; objective; rules; cards; die design; and title.
  • Teens were then allowed the rest of the time to create their board game.
  • One person was designated to design their pawn or die in Tinkercad-3D printing website.
    • We were able to print one pawn during the program and we told teens to return to pick up their piece.
      • We will print a pawn or die for each member of the group.

6-8pm: Dungeons and Dragons

We do not know how to play so we asked a staff member to be a dungeon master and to teach the basics of the game.  Since libraries are full of nerds, chances are you have a D&D player among your co workers or you can ask one of your teens.

Posted in Makerspace

I Just Got A Grant for a Makerspace! Now What?

I’ve seen this thread on Facebook several times.  Libraries are super excited to have a makerspace or maker activities and they apply for grants. When they receive the grants, library workers are told to purchase maker supplies but the librarian/library worker is new to the maker movement and doesn’t know where to begin.  If you’ve asked this question on Facebook or you are developing maker activities and don’t know where to begin, I’m here to assist you.

My library was tasked with developing a makerspace last year and we had to purchase equipment so I’ve been in your shoes. Here’s a breakdown of budget constraints and what to purchase to make the biggest impact.  This post will focus on equipment and not craft type making.  This post will also focus on equipment appropriate for ages 8 and up.

Tip #1: Avoid consumables.  Try to purchase equipment that can be used for months or years and avoid the one and done.

Tip #2: Always consider the number of teens you are serving.  Avoid purchasing a robot that only 2 kids can use at once when you are serving 20.  You can create centers/stations to accommodate a large group with a small number of equipment.

Tip #3: Consider “In App Purchases.” In other words, when budgeting, consider the cost of consumable supplies.  For example, if you are buying 3D pens, you’ll have to continuously  buy plastic and it can get expensive.

Budget- Under $250

  • Ozobots-$54/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Ozobots are great for novice to advanced coders.
      • You can code the Ozobot Bit using a free app.  (We could not get it to work on a chromebook but you can use a computer.)
      • You can download lesson plans on the website.
      • Doesn’t violate TIP #3. All you need is paper and markers.
    • Cons:
      • Violates TIP #2-Only one to two teens can use it at once.
  • LEGO Edison-$50/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 10 and up
      • Edison is great for novice to advanced coders.
      • You can code Edison using a free app or computer. (We could not get it to work on a chromebook but you can use a computer.)
      • Edison connects through the sound jack so you don’t need wifi or bluetooth.
      • You can download lesson plans on the website.
      • Doesn’t violate TIP #3 unless you want to buy Legos.  You don’t have to use Legos.
      • If you have Legos, you can use them to build on the Edison.
    • Con:
      • Violates TIP #2-Only one to two teens can use it at once.
  • Makey Makey-$50
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Makey Makey is great for beginners and advanced teens.
      • Makey Makey can be project based and can accommodate several teens at once.
      • You can use a Chromebook!!!
      • Makey Makey can be coded using Scratch.
    • Cons:
      • The website does not provide a lot of lesson plans.  I’d suggest searching Youtube.
  • Snap Circuits-$35
    • Pros:
      • Lesson plans come in the box. No need to teach anything.
    • Cons:
      • The $35 kit only has 100 lessons.  The more lessons you want the more expensive it gets.
      • It may not keep your advanced teens busy or challenged
      • Batteries die quickly.
      • The clean up.  Teens never put it back correctly and it’s annoying!
      • Violates TIP #2-It will only accommodate one teen.
  • Drones-$50-$75/ea
    • Pros: We used Parrot Mini Drones and they cost about $50/ea.
      • Great for ages 9 and up.
      • Great for beginners and intermediate teens.  Advanced or older teens may get bored quickly and I’ll explain in the con section.
      • Teens can fly them or code them.  We used the Tynker app.
      • The drones we used can do video and pictures.
      • They are tough and survive many falls.
    • Cons:
      • Violates TIP #2-One teen/drone
      • Violates TIP #1-you will have to replace propellors and wheels.
      • The cheaper drones should not be flown outside.  The breeze might affect the flight.  We flew ours in our maker space.  Teens took turns flying them.
      • Short battery life. Batteries only last about 5 minutes before a recharge.  We had to buy 20 batteries to sustain a two hour program.
      • There’s only so much coding with drones.  Advanced teens might get bored with a drone like Parrot.  If you have advanced teens, I’d suggest purchasing a more expensive drone that can be flown outdoors.
  • Makedo-$50-$125
    • Pros:
      • Great for 10 and up
      • The tools and connectors are reusable.
      • The toolkit includes a safe box cutter!
      • All you have to add is cardboard and if you work in a library, there’s cardboard-a-plenty!  You can purchase cheap cardboard boxes at Walmart/Target.
      • You can download their free app for challenges and instructions.
    • Cons:
      • The connectors can be difficult to remove and this is why I say ages 10 and up.  You need muscle to remove them.
  • Crayola Air Sprayer-$30/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • You can use any markers so it doesn’t quite violate TIP #1 (consumables).
    • Cons:
      • The sprayers get clogged so have wipes and paper clips ready.
      • It’s loud.
  • Google Cardboard-$15/ea
    • Pro:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for all levels
      • Most apps are free
    • Cons:
      • Teens will have to bring their own phone.  If you live in a poorer community, some teens may not be able to participate if they don’t have a compatible phone.
      • Drains phone batteries quickly.
  • LEDs-$35 +
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 10 +
      • Great for beginners and advanced teens
      • LEDs are versatile.  Here’s my blog post about three ways to teach LEDs.
      • It only violates TIP #1 if you let teens take their projects home and you probably do.
        • $35 will accommodate ten teens and that’s pretty cheap.
    • Cons:
      • Some projects require hand sewing and many teens don’t know how so you will have to teach it.
  • Green Screen-$25-$50
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for all levels
      • We use the Do Ink app for $2.99 and we like it.
    • Cons:-Nothing

Budgets Under $500

If you have a $500 budget, you can purchase anything from the $250 list.  The following list includes more expensive equipment.

  • Sphero-$80-$130/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for beginners and advanced teens
      • Teens can drive or code the robot.
      • You can download the free app for challenges and coding instructions.
    • Cons:
      • Violates TIP #2-only one to two teens can use one robot at a time.
  • 3D Pens-$30-$100/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up depending on the pen you purchase
      • Great for beginners and advanced teens
    • Cons:
      • It takes some time to get used to it.
      • They can clog
      • Violates TIP #2-One teen/pen
      • Violates TIP #3-You’ll be buying filament for the rest of your life.
  • Raspberry Pi-$40/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 13 and up
      • Great for intermediate and advanced teens
    • Cons:
      • To get the full education benefits, teens should install the operating system and software.  This takes time for staff to learn to be able to teach. This also takes time to do for a program. It’s also a lot of waiting around for it to download.
      • Once everything is downloaded, it’s basically a comupter.  The educational part is the first bullet.
    • Suggestions-If you do a Raspberry Pi program, try to attract people who are familiar with arduino and not beginners.  There’s an arduino that’s good for beginners called Kano and it’s the next bullet.
  • Kano-$150/ea-For this price, you only get the arduino and keyboard and will have to supply TV screens.  $350 will get you a screen but if you only have $500, I wouldn’t suggest getting Kano.
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for beginners and intermediate coders.  Advanced teens might get bored.
      • Kano provides clear step by step set up instructions will little assistance from staff.
      • Teens can create their own Minecraft mods and use drag and drop to code music, art, and games.  All of this is self directed.
    • Cons:
      • If you don’t buy the screen kit for $350, you’ll have to get TV screens.
  • Chibitronics-$30-$150
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for beginners to advanced teens.
      • The website provides lesson plans
    • Cons:
      • Violates TIP #1-Chibis are consumable and expensive.
  • Screen Printing-$75-$100. You don’t have to buy a kit.  You can get a screen and a base and clamp it to a table.  You can buy fabric paint, a squeegee, and stencils separately.
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for all levels.
    • Cons:
      • Violates TIP #1-Paint makes it consumable
  • Teacher Geek-$100-$300
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for all levels
      • The website provides WONDERFUL lesson plans and Youtube videos
      • It covers science, engineering, and art
    • Cons:
      • Violates Tip #3-Some of the items are consumable but it’s inexpensive to replace.

Budgets Under $1000

If you have a $1000 budget, you can purchase anything from the $500 list.  The following list includes more expensive equipment.

  • Little Bits-$300 + Little Bits seem cheap but you have to purchase several kits to accommodate ten students.
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 8 and up
      • Great for all levels
      • The website has an extensive library of lesson plans
      • Encourages creativity
      • You can use all your craft supplies to supplement-cups. craft sticks, paper towel rolls, etc.
    • Cons:
      • Sometimes the little wires break and you have to replace the bit.  Tell teens to be careful.
  • Silhouette Cutting Machine-$200-$300. I’d suggest spending the extra $100 for the better machine-it does more.
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 10 and up
      • Great for all levels
      • Teens can create their own stencil for the screen printing.  They can also make: vinyl decals/stickers; 3D shapes; etc.
      • Teens can create their own decals. We use the free Adobe Draw app.
    • Cons:
      • Violates TIP #3-You’ll be purchasing vinyl for the rest of your life but it’s not that expensive.  Transfer paper is what’s expensive.
  • Moss Robotics-$200-$350-I have a Moss but I haven’t used it yet so I don’t have any further info but it looks cool and that’s why I bought it.
  • Lego Mindstorms-$350/ea
    • Pros:
      • Great for ages 12 and up
      • Great for intermediate to advanced coders
      • Lego provides software on a computer or an app.
      • Teens can assemble the bot in the instructions and once they understand the motors, they can create their own bot.
    • Cons:
      • I suggest assembling the bot before your program because that can take more than one hour.
      • Violates TIP #2- I’d suggest three teens/bot

Budgets of $5000 +

If you have a $5000 budget, you can purchase anything from the $1000 list.  The following list includes more expensive equipment.

  • 3D Printer-$1300-$5000-I’m not an expert of 3D printers so I won’t recommend one.  We decided on the Lulzbot after surveying many librarians.  We actually have the Lulzbot mini because we had a small budget.
    • We’ve had it for one year and so far it’s been good.  We did have to replace the extruder one time.  It does clog sometimes but we’ve always been able to fix it.  We are novice 3D printer enthusiasts and we’ve been able to figure it out.
    • I will recommend Lulzbot products.  We use Tinkercad to teach 3D printing and we have teens follow the instruction booklet and they do it with ease.
    • The filament lasts a long time.
    • The only potential issue is that our Lulzbot isn’t enclosed but we watch it very carefully and so far teens don’t touch it while it’s going.
Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery

We do a murder mystery once a year because the teen love it and it’s cheap.  It does, however, take a lot of work.

Every year we change the theme just to keep it fresh.  The 2016 theme was a Pajama Party and this year’s theme was Library Horror Story. We chose this theme after a recent survey at school visits.  One of the most popular TV shows among these teens was American Horror Story.

Budget: $175 (All of this was the cost of pizza, chips, dessert, and beverages.  You don’t have to serve food.)

Attendance: 32 (Mostly high school)

Theme: We marketed the murder mystery as Library Horror Story but the actual theme was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  We did not tell teens it was based on the Christie novel but our teen actors were aware.

We stuck to the overall premise of the Christie novel.  We sent out invitations to our teen regulars and included additional invites to give to friends.  In the pictures below is a character card where teens could come dressed in character and they were asked to stay in character the duration of the party. Of course this was optional.  The invite also included one clue.

The Party

It was marketed as a dinner party.  We began with dinner and the remainder of the party was traditional party games-charades; celebrity; sardines (hide and seek).  The party ended with the guessing of the killer and the motive.

The Script

If you are familiar with And Then There Were None, great.  If not, it’s difficult to describe so I suggest you watch the movie or the recent two part tv movie.

We had seven teen volunteers and five of the teens were suspects.  The other two teens were the wait staff.  Each suspect had to stay in character for the duration of dinner (3o minutes).  After 30 minutes, we played a recording-very similar to the novel.  FYI-we created a perfectly timed playlist on Youtube and the recording was part of the playlist.  We played the playlist through dinner and the wait staff informed our suspects when to sit to get ready for the recording.

During each of the party games, the suspects were being killed off one by one.  If you are familiar with the novel, you know that all the suspects die but one faked their death.

Here’s the Google Doc to the script. Here’s the Google Doc to the minute by minute outline that staff used.   Feel free to use them.  If you decide to change them, please save a copy in your own Google Drive first before you edit. Thanks.

Here’s the recording that’s played after dinner.  Excuse the All The Bright Places book cover.  You can’t add an MP3 to iMovie without an image.

 

Here’s a summary video

 

 

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Coding with Cardboard

Coding with Cardboard-Hummingbird

Participants can create whatever their hearts desire with cardboard-cars, robots, Harry Potter.  They decide how the want it to move.  Their creation can blink or swing.  It can move with a voice command or a motion sensor.  Then, they attach a servo and lights and code it using drag and drop.

Budget-$200-$1000 (Yeah, it’s not cheap)

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Hot Glue
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hummingbird Kits-Two to three teens can work in groups to cut costs.
  • Computer

Time Needed: Minimum-4 hours

  1. Have participants decide what they are going to make and how they want it to move. For example if they make a car, does the door swing open? Do the headlights blink?
  2. Have the participants make their creation out of cardboard.  This will take about two hours.
  3. Have the participants attach the LEDs and the servos (the gear that makes something swing).
  4. Download the offline version of Scratch or Snap.  There are video tutorials on the Hummingbird site to help you.

It seems easy but it’s challenging enough to keep your advanced makers engaged.

 

UNBOXING VIDEO

Posted in Uncategorized

Faux Screen Printing

screen-printing-3Graphic Tees are very popular because it’s a way for teens to express who they are, their fandom, or their favorite band.  DIY graphic tees are a great way to turn consumers into producers.

Curriculum:  art, graphic design, career exploration

Budget: $10-$300

Expensive/Advanced Faux Screen Printing 1

 

Materials: Silhouette Cutting Machine, vinyl, fabric paint, t-shirts, Adobe Illustrator Draw app

If you have a larger budget or you own a cutting machine (doesn’t have to be a Silhouette), screen printing can be a fairly easy project.

  1. We had teens design a picture with the free Adobe Illustrator Draw app.
  2. Teens emailed their design to staff.
  3. We uploaded their design to the Silhouette software and printed it on adhesive vinyl.
  4. Teens placed the vinyl on the shirt and sponged fabric paint over the stencil.
  5. When it dries (use fans to speed up the drying process), teens pealed off the vinyl stencil.

screen-printing-2To make this a career exploration program, talk to the teens about logos/branding.  Have teens create their own company and ask them to design a logo for their new company.

Faux screen printing can be a program in graphic design for all skill levels by teaching the Adobe Illustrator app.

Expensive/Advanced Faux Screen Printing 2

Repeat steps 1 & 2.  Instead of cutting on vinyl, cut on stencil material. To give teens real life experience of screen printing, you can purchase a screen printing board.  This does get a little messy but messy is fun, right?

Intermediate Faux Screen Printing

If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can purchase stencil material on Amazon.  Teens can draw their design on the stencil and use an Exacto knife to cut it out.  Tape the stencil on the shirt and sponge fabric paint.

Easy Faux Screen Printing

If your library has a die cut machine, pre cut shapes or letters to use as stencils.  You can also purchase stencil designs.