Posted in Makerspace


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.


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.


Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Beauty Science

One of our goals for the year is to host career readiness programming for teens but how do we make that sound exciting to a 14 year old?  Our first career readiness program was called beauty science and teens created popular beauty items and we discussed the science and careers associated with it.

Will boys come to this? Yes!

Bath Bombs

We weren’t sure if teens took baths but on social media, bath bombs are not about relaxation; it’s about taking a video of a cool fizzing sphere.  We don’t care what they do with them.  As a matter of fact, we asked them to tag us in their videos.

Budget: $60/50 teens; 3 small bombs/teen

Ages: 10+

  • Citric acidbath bombs
  • Corn starch
  • Baking soda
  • Epsom Salt
  • Food dye
  • Essential oils
  • Molds (small)
  • Bowls
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoons
  • Plastic wrap
  • Goody bag
  • Spray bottles of water


  • Out of 20 participants, 4 were boys
  • Twisting the molds together seemed to work better
  • Sometimes the molds don’t work.  If this happens, dump out the mix, add a couple of sprays of water, and mix again.
  • Let the bombs sit out unwrapped while teens make their other molds.  Then wrap them.  They seem to hold better when they dry out for a while.
  • If you want to turn this into a long program, 1.5 hours, allow teens to experiment with colors (galaxy, unicorn, black).  Teens can also put toys inside the bomb.  They can do themes (Hogwarts sorting, etc). You can have teens create their own company and give their bombs names and they can design a logo on a sticker or tag.
  • Here’s the PDF of the instructions- bath bombs.

DIY Lip Balm

Teens find this to be the most fascinating because they can’t believe it’s so easy to make something they buy in the store.

Budget: $55/50 teens

Age: 12+

Supplies Needed:


Disclaimer-We used a counter top burner but you can use the double boiler method.

If you have a microwave in your room, this is ideal but if you don’t, you can boil a bowl of water and place a metal or glass bowl over the bowl with hot water.  You need to be able to melt the wax.

We did this program as a drop in so only four teens could do it at a time. The following batch was enough for six teens.

  1. Have the group decide what color they want their lip balm to be.  Give them that color crayon.  The crayon will not leave a pigment on the lip; it just creates color for the balm.
  2. Have one teen pour a 1/4 cup of beeswax into a glass or metal bowl. Pass the bowl.
  3. Have the next teen put a table spoon of shea butter or petroleum jelly into the bowl
  4. Have the next teen break crayons into the bowl and add a couple of drops of essential oil.
  5. Melting time:
    1. If you are doing this as a drop in, the staff can stand at the front of the table with the double boiler and allow one teen to stir the ingredients until melted.
    2. If you are doing a group of teens, you can pre-boil water and place it on a table cloth in the middle of each table of teens.  Have one teen put the bowl with ingredients on top of the boiling water and the teens can take turns mixing.  Just be sure to remind them A LOT that that bowls are hot and to not touch them with out an oven mitt.
  6. We transferred the melted ingredients into a Pyrex measuring glass for easy pouring.
  7. I’d recommend a staff member to the pouring.
    1. Have teens place a funnel in their tubes and pour the ingredients.
  8. Have teens set their tubes in the middle to dry.
  9. While it is drying, teens can clean up and write their name or the type of lip balm on the label that comes with the tubes.


  • This program is very quick and only took about 10 minutes.  To provide a longer program, you can have teens make several different types of beauty products.
    • You could create a career readiness program and have teen create a beauty company and a logo.  You can have teens work in groups and “pitch” their product to the group.
    • You could use the M in STEAM and have teens make their lip balm company into a business.  They could figure out profit/cost. You could teach Google Slides or Power Point and have teens create their presentation on slides to present to the group.
  • Out of 17 teens, none were boys.  Boys were not interested in making lip balm even though they use it.  I tried to encourage them to make it by telling them to give it to their mom or girlfriend-nothing worked.
  • The tubes are professional looking but they aren’t cute.  I prefer these containers because you can add glitter and you can actually see the lip balm. It’s also cheaper.


DIY Sugar Body Scrub

Budget: $45/16 teens-depending on the supplies you already have

Age: 10+

Supplies Needed:


  1. Important: The mixture should be 75% sugar and 25% oil.  This is important depending on your container size.
  2. Mix sugar and oil in a bowl or the container if the opening is big enough.
  3. Add a couple of drops of essential oil.
  4. Add dye until you get the desired color.


  • This project only takes about 10 minutes.  If you want to stretch this to a longer program:
    • Teens can make labels.
    • You can provide a plethora of oils, extracts, fruit zests, body glitter, etc for teens to make their own recipe.
    • Teens can make several scrubs for holiday gifts.
  • Out of 27 teens, 8 boys participated.  For some reason, boys wanted to make body scrub to give away to their mothers.

Our makerspace does daily drop in programs for the after school crowd and a longer traditional program for teens who come to the library specifically for the program.  We did these three projects over a course of three days in a week.

As you can see, these activities were very popular among our teens by the attendance we received. I think beauty science is similar to slime because they mixed different ingredients and made one cool thing. They are so proud of themselves for making something and we ask if they use the items they make in the programs and they do!

To make a long story short, we will be hosting beauty science again.

Posted in Makerspace

Adulting 101

Hosting Adulting classes is a new trend in teen library program.  Adulting is a verb that high school graduates use to mean that they are doing something that makes them an adult.  Basically it means that teens these days were never taught basic skills that adults should know. Examples include, calculating a tip at a restaurant; ironing; cooking; sewing, etc.

This year, we are focusing on life-long skills but adulting sounds more fun in the newsletter.  Since we’ll be doing this all year, this will be an ongoing post and so far this month, we’ve hosted two adulting programs-sewing and hammering and nailing.

Cooking (Chopping Onions, Using a Can Opener, Using a Food Processor)


Teens made mini pizzas, salsa, and chocolate bark

Budget: $90/20 teens.  Ask staff for donations to cut down on cost-knives, cutting board, bowls, food processor, hot plate.

Age: 12+

Supplies Needed

  • Crescent rolls or biscuit dough
  • Mozzarella cheese sticks
  • Pepperoni
  • Pizza sauce
  • Onions
  • Canned whole tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Chocolate chips
  • Assortment of candy add-ins-marshmallow, M&M’s, pretzels, caramel chips, etc
  • Convection oven/oven
  • Food processor
  • Hot plate, stove top, or microwave
  • Large glass bowls
  • Cutting boards
  • Chopping knives
  • Manual can opener
  • Plates, spoons (plastic and metal/wooden)
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • sheet pans (The link is just an example. We paid $.88 at Walmart and it was fine.)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Lime juice, salt, pepper

How to:

You don’t have to make all three items if you are cutting costs.  The cheapest was the salsa.  You can also look for microwave or no bake recipes if you don’t have an oven.  I searched Pinterest for simple recipes.  Tailor your program based on what you think your teens need to learn how to do. I do strongly suggest in investing in a convection oven because you can do lots with it.

  1. Click the link for the pizza recipe.
  2. For Salsa
    1. Give each teen a small piece of onion and teach them how to properly use a cutting knife.  Do a Google search if you need to.
    2. Give each teen a small can of whole tomatoes and show them how to use a can Bi2hn0nOTFCau9CitVTtGgopener.
    3. Give each teen some cilantro to cut.  They should use the tips they learned when they cut the onion.
    4. I had a mini food processor for individual salsa prep.  You can however use a large one and have teens work in groups to make one large batch of salsa.
      1. Have the teens process the tomatoes first.  They may then add the onions and cilatro.
      2. Have them scoop some salsa in their own bowl and use the lime juice, salt, and pepper to season.
  3. For the chocolate bark
    1. Have teens work in groups of four.
    2. Allow teens to take turns melting the chocolate using the glass bowls, the hot plate, or microwave.
    3. Allow one teen to lay parchment or wax paper on the cookie sheet.jnq734cJQkCLfYAYxShrSg
    4. Allow two different teens to pour the chocolate and spread it on the cookie sheet.
    5. Using a knife, separate the chocolate into four equal sections.
    6. Allow teens to choose their ingredients (marshmallow, pretzel, etc) to press into their quadrant of chocolate.
    7. Place in the refrigerator to harden.


  • Make the chocolate bark first because it needs one hour to harden.
  • Make the pizza next so it can bake while you make salsa.
  • While they are eating, ask teens what they learned and encourage them to make this for dinner for their family.
  • Have teens do their own dishes between dishes.  Cooking includes cleaning.

Sewing a Button

Budget: $0-$50  Depends what supplies you already have

Age: 8+

Supplies Needed:

  • Felt/fabric
  • Thread/embroidery string
  • Sewing needles
  • Buttons
  • Batting
  • Scissors
  • Pusheen Pattern ( We didn’t do the pocket)

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.



Budget: $0-$50  Depends what supplies you already have

Age: 8+

Supplies Needed:


  • Be ready to be busy! 99% of the teen participants had never ever used a needle and thread.
  • Teaching teens how to knot their thread was the HARDEST.  Everyone has a different style; I do the roll between index finger and thumb and pull method.  Many teens gave up on my method and did the inconvenient way. Most teens took the time and tried my method and when they did it, I congratulated them loudly, yelled, clapped, and danced. Anything to make them feel accomplished.
  • I used the term, running stitch, when I taught them how to sew.
  • I also taught them to complete the stitch before cutting it.
  • Your life will become easier when teens know how to thread the needle, tie a knot, and begin stitching without your help.

Hammer and Nailing

Budget: $40+/18 teens (Depends on supplies you already have)

Ages: 12+

Supplies Needed

We made an assembly line of supplies-wood blocks, shapes, string. As teens entered, we told them to choose one of each of the above.

Teens began by placing their template on their block and began nailing around the shape then remove the paper.  Using the string, tie a know around one nail then weave around the other nails.  There’s no right or wrong way.  I used this Youtube video to learn how to do it.

If you have a 1.5 to 2 hour program, teens can paint their block first-it dries fast.  You can also have them start with a simple shape then do a second with a shape of their choosing.


  • Watch teens carefully so that they don’t hit their fingers with the hammer.
  • Don’t place the nails too close.  It’s hard to weave the string.
  • Since it’s one continuous string, be careful not the let go because it will all unravel and they’ll have to start again.
  • Choose simple shapes that don’t require nails in the middle of the shape like a donut.  These take more nails.


Stay tuned for more adulting programs.

What adulting programs have you done at your library?

Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery Part 3: Party Time!

You’ve picked the perfect theme and cast, you’ve promoted it to get the maximum attendance, and you’ve planned your escape room.  Now it’s time to prepare the party. Our theme was Panic at the Library which was a take on Panic at the Disco’s song, I Write Sins not Tragedies. We chose this theme because our teens like this group and this type of music.  This music group is actually still popular so your teens may also like and you can use our theme.  Or, you can use a basic wedding reception theme if you want to model your murder mystery after ours.

Note: The linked escape room is Harry Potter themed but we used the same concept-we used several locks to open one case.  Teens were placed in groups and searched group designated areas in the library.

The Script

We wrote an original script and you are free to use it.  Please make a copy then make changes on your copy.  This is the sheet staff used to keep track of the event.  Once again, please make a copy then make changes if needed.


Teens really like dark themes, creepy carnival; zombies; Stranger Things; halloween, so our decor has been black and creepy for a couple of years which means we didn’t have to spend a lot on decor.  Since this is a wedding theme, our colors were black and red and we went with wedding type decoration.

  • Centerpieces were from our Valentine’s day decor box, leftover Mason jars and doilies, and ribbon from our craft closet.  A lot of the decor came from our Valentine’s day decor box.
  • Cake-we ordered from Walmart.  It was actually a gender reveal cake and we purchased more cupcakes for a total of $23.  The topper came from Walmart. We already had a cake stand.
  • Wedding napkins came from the wedding section at Walmart.
  • Bouquet-I made the bouquet with gel pens and duct tape roses and ribbon from Walmart.
  • The cast wore their own clothes
  • Guestbook-teens signed the book upon entering. We used this as door prizes (leftover candy) and we will use their addresses to invite them to future programs.
  • Champagne glasses
  • Party hats


The majority of our budget went to food-$100.  You don’t have to have food, you can just have cake and host your party after dinner time.


Party Games and Activities

We Googled wedding games around the world because American weddings are quite boring.  We of course made some variations.

Two Truths and a Lie and musical chairs were the games.  The DJ played Cha Cha Slide, Cotton Eye Joe, and the Chicken Dance.  And of course we had the escape room.

How Did it Go?

We spent about $200 and half of this was food.  The bride’s skirt was $30.  Murder mysteries are quite cheap if you use what you have and don’t serve food.

We had a total of 29 teens.  We had 3 boys, 12 middle schoolers and 17 high schoolers.  We were very happy with the overall attendance.  We would like to see more boys and more middle schoolers.

Believe it or not, the most popular activities were musical chairs and Cha Cha Slide.

We went through the party too fast even though I had it timed out.  I have to remember that teens are okay with music and socializing and they don’t need to be engaged every minute.

Having a DJ was great because teens like music and she helped with the ambiance and the flow of the program.  DJ LMK was our youth services department head and she used the Panic at the Disco Pandora station, and Youtube for requests.


Only two teens guessed the murderer and motive but this is typical.  Teens just don’t pay attention even though I remind them ALL THE TIME and the clues are obvious.  They don’t care about the guessing part anyway, they just like the party and the acting.


Their favorite part was the death scene, of course.  We had an actor who was extremely over the top and outshined everyone else.  I’d suggest getting VERY outgoing teens/staff because that’s what the teens remember-the acting.


I do a verbal evaluation by asking the teens if they had fun.  I ask them to be honest and make suggestions for next time and this is effective.  They are honest. They all said they had fun and one teen suggested it be longer. Um…I think two hours is plenty of time.

Posted in Big Programs

Harry Potter Escape Room

This is a one and done escape room for a large group.  If you are having a 2 hour program and you need an activity, this type of escape room is good because it can accommodate a lot of teens.

The escape room is not going to take two hours so you have to have it as one activity in your Harry Potter party.

Potter After Hours /Yule Ball/ Harry Potter Night

My program was called Potter After Hours so this post will be about that party.

Activities: Sorting, Quidditch Pong, Ollivander’s wand making, Potions with Professor Snape, trivia, and escape Azkaban.

Budget: ? (depends on you)

Quidditch Pong

  • To make the rings we used cups, skewers, pipe cleaners to make the hoops, and lots of tape.
  • We used regular ping pong balls.
  • You can make your own rules.
    • Rule Example: Assign points to the hoops and teens receive points for making it through the hoop.  You can eliminate the cups if you do it this way.
    • Rule Example We Used:  The hoops were decoration.  The cups were assigned points and one cup was the snitch.  When you got it in the snitch cup you received 150 points and the game was over.


Ollivander’s Wand Making

  • We did the traditional skewer, hot glue, paint method. Please see this Pinterest post for instructions.
  • It only takes about 15 minutes but you’ll have to supply a drying table for teens to put their wands to dry and retrieve at the end of the party.

Potions with Professor Snape

  • We provided recipes for a love potion, liquid luck, and dragon pox remedy.  Feel free to make up your own recipes.  Teens can also make up their own recipes for their own potions.  It’s up to you.
    • We purchased the following essential oils-lemon, lavender, orange, 12345628_10153716828872349_6832605103835816827_n
      peppermint, eucalyptus, and almond oil as the base.  You can provide whatever you want.  Our oils were topical but if you want them to be edible, use honey as the base and provide extracts instead of essential oils.
    • We provided funnels for the base and told teens to only use one drop of oil because it’s expensive.
    • We also pre-made tags that said love potion, liquid luck, and dragon pox.  Teens can also use Sharpies to draw on the bottle.  It depends on your time limits.

Trivia-You can find our trivia here.  This is a traditional style team trivia.  The answers are included in the slide show.  If you want to edit this trivia, PLEASE copy it first and edit your copy.

How We Organized the Party

  • Teens probably know their house before they arrive but for the sake of equal team trivia teams, we did a sorting hat ceremony upon arrival.
    • Teens can pull house colored candy from a cauldron.
    • Cupcake method-Bake cupcakes, carve out the middle and fill with house colored frosting, frost the cupcakes.  When teens bite or pull open cupcakes, their house will be revealed.
  • The first 45 minutes, teens did the wands, potions, and quidditch.
  • Escape room (See below)
  • Trivia-Teens sit in the house they were sorted into

Escape Room

Objective: Escape Azkaban before the Dementor’s Kiss

Group Gryffindor with Hufflepuff and Slytherin with Ravenclaw to form two groups.  You will be using the locking system pictured below for this game.


As you can see, there are three locks on each side of the lockout hasp.  Team Gryffinpuff will get clues to left side and Team Slytherclaw will get the same clues but it will be for the right side of the hasp. Inform each team to search for clues in their designated area.  For example, tell Griffinpuff to search for clues in the youth department and Slytherclaw is to search in the adult department.

To begin the game, tell them their objective is to escape Azkaban before the Dementor’s Kiss.  The spell to escape is in the box.

  • Clue #1
    • Read to the entire group: Oh what a puzzle you’ll be in if you use the unforgivable curses.
    • Give both teams an envelope that contains a paper puzzle piece of the words AVADA KEDAVRA. The envelope should also contain the clue you read.
    • Tell the teams to search their depts. for the other puzzle pieces. When the teams return, they can input the combo in one of the locks.
    • They then wait for the other team
      • Prep before the party
        • Cut out the puzzle pieces and write a piece of the combination to one lock on each puzzle piece.  For example, if the combination on the hasp is 345, write 3 on the back of one puzzle piece; 4 on the back of a puzzle piece; and 5 on the back of the last puzzle piece.
        • Hide two puzzle pieces in plain sight in each department.  Teens should be able to find the pieces but it shouldn’t be too easy.
  • Clue #2
    • Although we ruined the celebration for the winning team of the Quidditch World Cup, maybe this polyjuice potion will help us escape Azkaban.
      • Give each teen a small cup of juice and the team the clue you read.  The Irish team won the Quidditch World Cup and that’s their clue.  Teens can use their phones to Google the answer. (Don’t tell teens before hand that they can use their phones; let them figure it out.)
    • When the teams return, they can input the combo in one of the locks.
    • They then wait for the other team.
      • Prep before the party
        • Write one letter on the bottom of seven cups to spell IRELAND.  On the bottom of three cups write, “find the flag.” One cup/word. The remaining cups will have no letters.  Do this for each team. As they drink, they should notice letters on the bottom of some of the cups and they will begin to arrange the letters.
        • Place several varied world flags around each department including the Irish flag.  On the back of the Irish flag put a QR code.
          • To make a QR code: I took a picture of a written trivia question, “I created SPEW in this book” and I put the picture on Instagram.  You can do your library’s IG or your personal. Go to that IG account on a computer, pull up that post, and copy the URL.  Go to QR generator site and click URL at the top of the screen. Paste the URL, save it, cut it out, and tape it to the back of the Irish flag.  One teen will have to download a QR reader.  You can tell one person from each team to download it before the escape room or you can let them figure it out.
        • This will lead them to the book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Keep the book on the shelf where it normally should be.  Inside the book, tape a key that opens the lock on the hasp.
  • Clue #3
    • Before the party, we made two dementor pinatas.  We purchased two batman pinatas from Walmart or Amazon. Get the pull string piñata. We covered them with lots of black streamers.
    • Have each team go to their piñata. One teen pulls the strings one at a time.  When the piñata bursts, they should look for their next clue and UV flashlight. You can also have candy in the piñata and teens can come back to get candy after they escape.
    • Clue: Find all your answers in the Room of Requirement
    • When the teams return, they can input the combo in one of the locks.
    • They then wait for the other team.
      • Prep Before the Party
        • Designate an area in each dept as the Room of Requirement and put a nice big sign so the teens know this is where they should be.
        • Using the pen with invisible ink, on a sheet of paper taped to the wall write “This is the year Azkaban was first used as a detention facility.” The answer is 1917 and this is the final combo.
        • On other sheets of paper, write ZONKO.  Make a lot of ZONKO papers and tape them to the wall.
        • Teens can use their phones to find the answer.
  • Inside the Lockbox
    • Write any spell on a sheet of paper.  You could also put a sheet that says we escaped Azkaban and have the teens take a picture.


Hopefully this isn’t too confusing.  If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll answer it for you.


Posted in Makerspace

Create Your Own VR World

As programmers we talk a lot about taking a teen consumer and turning them into producers.  Since the popularity of VR and Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, we have been trying to find a way for teens to create their own world.  Now we can and it’s called Cospaces.

With Cospaces, teens can create outer space , underwater sea life, interactive zoos, and much more.  Teens can code their world to make objects move or interact with the viewer and they can take their own 360 video and upload it into the platform.  Once their world is created, it can be viewed through vr goggles.

Here is my world.

Our project is to inhabit a new planet and create new sources of energy.

Budget: $0-$75-You can use the free version or you can upgrade to the pro version.  With pro, you get access to a larger library of objects, you get more coding options, and if you choose the edu pro site; you can create and share a template for your teens.

I will admit, having the option for creating and sharing a template is appealing because it can cut down on the completion time significantly but I don’t want to pay $75.

Time Needed: This can be tailored to your program.  You can do it in your 2 hour program or for your multiple day program.  It might be a stretch to get it done for your standard 2 hour program; I’d suggest lengthening it to 2.5 or 3 hours and provide a snack.

Pros: Teens do not need a smart phone to play.  You can play worlds on Chromebook, computer, or iPad.  Of course the program is creating a VR world so I’d suggest charging your phone so teens who don’t have a cell phone or don’t have a gyroscope phone can view the fun.

Teens can work in groups.  Of course only one person can work on the device at a time but collaborating on their world falls under life long skills.

It is a STEAM activity.  It includes design, technology, and coding.

Coding is standard drag and drop.

It’s pretty cool that teens can take a 360 view of the library they’re in and place people and objects.  This could be a LAB project for teens to create a library tour for your library’s website.



It’s not like Google Docs; more than one teen cannot work on a world at the same time on different devices.

It can take a long time to complete.


  • Allow teens time to design or outline on paper first so they aren’t constantly changing their minds.
  • Give teens a maximum amount of things they can code-two or three objects.  It can be overwhelming if teens think they have to code EVERYTHING on the screen.
  • Provide a prompt-create a desert island, life on Mars, etc.  It provides focus.
  • Begin as a group.  Have teens work along with you to make their starting point.  If you do a desert island, make the small island as a group to expedite the program.  Teens may then add objects to their island in their groups.
  • Familiarize yourself with the software.  Teens will have questions so I’d suggest making your own world so that you can run into problems to troubleshoot.
  • Tutorials. Have teens take the small tutorial that appears at the start of their project.  It takes ten minutes and it’ll help with basic questions.
  • Camera angles.  This took me a while to figure out; not sure why-LOL.  Familiarize yourself with camera angles because it can be frustrating.  If your world requires walking, point your camera to the starting point of your world.

What’s the Difference Between Maker and EDU?

Edu is designed for educators and you can track your teens’ worlds.  With edu, teens are invited through a code.  I’d suggest using edu if you are doing a long term program.

Maker requires teens to create an account and you cannot track their progress or their world.  I’d suggest using maker if you are doing a one time program so that teens can access and complete their worlds at home.

Have questions? Please feel free to ask.

Have fun!!

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Slime Party

I know you are afraid, but don’t be. It’s going to be okay.

My teen programming spans 6-12th grade and our attendance has been skewing older and we need to attract 6th graders-SLIME!  75% of our attendance was middle school.

Slime can be expensive. The more teens you anticipate and the more types of slime you make will break your budget.  We had 90 teens over a span of three days and we made five different types of slime and our budget was about $430.00.  DON’T PANIC! You can adjust to fit your budget.  I will break down the price of each type of slime we did and you can pick and choose.

None of our recipes used Borax.  Borax can cause rashes on sensitive skin so I looked for recipes that used other ingredients.  Liquid starch is difficult to find in stores.  We found it at Walmart but I’d suggest purchasing from Amazon and get a lot becasue you don’t want to run out at the last minute like we did.

We bought containers for them to store their slime but you can use baggies too.

slime party 2

Follow Teen Services Depot on Instagram!

Heat Sensitive Slime-Changes colors when touched with cold hands.

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue & liquid starch)-$95

Thermochromic Pigment $20 for one 10 gram container.  I bought four so it’ll be $80.

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t use food coloring.  It affected the pigment.

slime party 1

Magnetic Slime-Moves with magnets. Search Youtube to see how it works.

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue & starch)- $70

Magnets  $19.99 for 20.  I bought two packs.  You can search for cheaper but they must be strong.

Black Iron Oxide (Magnetic Powder) $12.99 for one pound.  One pound is enough for 30 teens.

DISCLAIMER: This is messy.  It’s very important for teens to knead quickly and to not get it on their clothes or paper.  It’s also important to wash their hands after playing with it.


Glitter Monster Slime

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including clear glue, starch, glitter, googly eyes, baking soda, contact solution)- $45

DISCLAIMER: This recipe calls for food coloring; we did not use it. Substitute food coloring for googly eyes.

DISCLAIMER #2: We purchased a one gallon container of clear glue and it costs about $27.  Get contact solution at the Dollar Store b/c brand name solution is expensive.


Glow in the Dark Floam

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue & starch & glow in dark paint)- $40

Styrofoam Balls– $9.99 for eight packs.  I bought two packs so it’ll be $20.

Fluffy Slime

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue, starch, contact solution, food coloring, and shaving cream)-$30

We used about five cans of shaving cream.

DISCLAIMER: Purchase contact solution, shaving cream, and food coloring from the Dollar Store.

slime party 5

STEAM Option

As I was practicing, I realized that you can experiment and add just about anything to make unique slime.  The important ingredients are glue (white or clear) and a binding agent-liquid starch or contact solution.

Set out different materials for teens to create their own slime-sand, sugar, beads, clay, Kool aid, or anything you have laying around.


We had five different slimes but by co worker told me that five may have been too many.  I agree and would recommend three different slimes.  Most teens make slime at school so I wanted to avoid the popular slimes like glitter slime.  That’s why we did magnetic and heat sensitive slime.

  • I had a line of tables covered in paper. As teens entered, I asked their name and
    had a staffer write their name on the paper.  This is where teens stored their completed slime.  You’ll see why below.

slime party 2

  •  I had a staff member at every slime table.  Every table held seven teens.
    • I’d recommend required registration so you know exactly how many chairs you’ll need.
    • The staffer had teens fullfil the steps one at a time.  Example, if the first step is 1/2 cup of glue, the staffer had teens pour glue into their bowls and pass it to the next teen.  She didn’t go to the next step until everyone had 1/2 glue.
  • When teens were done with each slime, they went to the covered table, put their slime in a container, and put it by their name.
    • Teens then go back to their table and wait until the other tables are finished.
  • Once everyone is finished, we rotated tables.
  • After each teen has been to each table, the party was over.
    • You can have snacks or let teens play with their slime when everything is finished.


  • Popscicle sticks for stirring
  • Bowls (You may need bigger bowls for floam)
  • Measuring cups and spoons (enough for two cups/spoons for each table)
  • Containers to store glue and starch for easy pour. (those big gallons of glue are heavy).
  • Table covers
  • Plenty of napkins and wet wipes
  • Baggies or plastic containers
Posted in Holiday Programs, Makerspace

Christmas in the Makerspace

We recently turned out teen room into a makerspace and while we used to decorate the teen room for the holidays, I wanted to do something different for the makerspace.  Instead of simply putting up decor and trimming the tree, teens will make ornaments for our the tree and to take home.  All of my ideas came from Pinterest.  If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, I have a link to my page on the right of this post.

Ornaments Ideas:

Ornaments with Hot Glue

Hot glue -For some strange reason, our teens love the hot glue gun.  It’s like normal glue is useless because they only want to hot glue things together.  To satiate the love, they’ll make snowflakes using hot glue and nail polish or paint.  Here’s the craft on Pinterest.

Hot glue and Modge Podge Snowflakes

Pipe Cleaner and Borax Snowflakes

Don’t have a tree but have windows? Snowflake Window Cling Snowflake Window Cling

Ornaments with Popsicle Sticks


Tree Tree

Clear Balled Ornaments-  I purchased ornaments at The Dollar Tree for 2/$1

Harry Potter Themed


Teen’s Names

Melted Crayon

Sewing/Yarn Ornaments

Trees & Stars

Yarn Hats

And of course you can’t forget good old 3D printing ornaments.

Happy Holidays!




Posted in Makerspace

Unicorn Party

Yes, teens still like unicorns so we hosted a maker party for these unicorn enthusiasts.

Supplies Needed for Headbands:

Felt sheets, headbands, poly-fit, hot glue, ribbon/string, flowers

Optional Supplies (Craft Closet Cleanout!)

Ribbon, gems, tule.

How to Make Horn Headbands:

  1. Print, cut out, and let teens the stencil on the felt.
  2. 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.
  3. Teens could then use anything they wanted to decorate.

Using LEDs

Supplies Needed

Coin battery, battery holder, LEDs, hole punch

  1. This should be done before teens glue flowers to their horn.
  2. Using the hole punch, punch a hole through the center of a flower.
  3. Assemble the LED to the battery holder.
  4. Place the LED head through the flower hole.
  5. Hot glue the batter pack to the horn behind the flower.


Unicorn Shirts

E0fOVUmpSgOJH7OpcRnVGwDisclaimer: I bought t-shirts and screen printed a unicorn on the shirts using a stencil I made with my Silhouette and a cheap screen printing kit.  

If you have a Silhouette, Cricut, or some other vinyl cutting machine, you can make a stencil, have teens sponge fabric paint, let the shirts dry while the make their head band.

If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can buy a stencil and let teens sponge fabric paint.

Teens used puffy paint, fabric markers, and fabric spray paint to decorate their shirts.

We hired a face painter.

Have Fun!



Posted in Makerspace, Passive Programs

Bling Week

Teens like to personalize their stuff so why not turn it into a design workshop.

For Bling Week, teens designed skull caps, ball caps, and cell phone cases.  They used gems, decals, and letters.  Bling week lasted for three days and attracted 62 middle school and high school students.


If you have gems and letters invading your craft closet, by all means use them to cut costs.  I purchased hats but you can always ask teens to bring their own if you need to cut costs.

Skull Caps-$5.99/6

Ball Caps – $25/12


Spikes-$8.44-VERY POPULAR especially for boys.  It’s a small bag so you might need several.

Mirror Mosaic Tiles $14-Also very popular


Puffy Paint

Hot Glue & E6000 Glue

Skull & Ball Caps

Passive or Art Program

I put out examples for inspiration and on a different table, I put out all the supplies.  I printed out a coloring page of the hats and asked teens to peruse the supply table and design their hat.  I had three different stations including the pom pom making table, the felt flower making table, and the bling table (glue table).

I was by myself and this was a drop in passive program that lasted for five hours so I needed to provide instructions quickly and often.  So, I put the instructions on the inside of a paper plate.  I handed the teens a plate, the coloring sheet, and a pencil and told them that instructions were on the plate and to use it to carry their supplies from the supply table, their pom poms, and their felt flowers.

Career Readiness Program

Design is how this passive craft activity becomes a career readiness program.  If you are hosting this as a career readiness program, you can discuss design/fashion careers including types of careers; education needed; and salary potential.

  • Branding-Teens can work in groups and create a company.  They can then design a company logo and brand themselves by designing a hat using the supplies provided.
    • If you have a vinyl cutting machine (Silhouette or Cricut) teens can actually design a logo on a computer, print it out on fabric, and glue it to their hat.
    • Or, you can use your cutter to make a vinyl stencil then use fabric paint to complete the hat.

STEAM Program

To amp it up even more…


  • BEGINNER-Teens can sew EL Wire into the baseball caps.  You can find cheaper EL Wire but the shorter the wire the better because a ball cap doesn’t use a lot of wire and you will have excess.  There will be soldering required if you want to cut the wire so if you don’t want that hassle, try to find the shortest EL Wire.
  • INTERMEDIATE-Teens can use LED sequins, a sewable battery pack, and a coin cell battery to easily sew LEDs into a skull cap.  Here’s a post where I used sequins on a shirt but it works the same on a hat. For an even easier activity, I used an LED to sew into the pom pom and you can see that post here.  Or watch the Adafruit Youtube video that I watched.
  • ADVANCED-Teens can use a Gemma (LED arduino) to sew into the skull cap and then use the software to code it.
El Wire clotes
EL Wire on hats and clothes


  • BEGINNER-Teens can design their first initial or a small word, 3D print it, and sew it to the ball cap.  You’ll have to design small loops on both sides of the print so that you can sew it to the hat.
  • INTERMEDIATE-If you have the budget, check to see if your 3D printer offers an extruder that will print flexible filament.  If so, you can print longer words that can bend around your ball cap.
3d printed hat
You can see the 3D printed tab she used to sew it to her hat

Cell Phone Cases

We did two activities; teens could bedazzle their cases or make a case with hot glue.

The supplies I used for the bedazzling table were the same supplies I used for the hats.

Dfpq%QT3T%q2Y+ttSbElMAI learned how to make a case out of hot glue from this Youtube video.  TIP: tape does not work on parchment paper; use a glue stick. Once again, I was by myself and this was a drop in passive program so I had instructions on the table.  I always to a step by step instruction sheet using pictures.  To make this sheet, when I practice the craft, I take pictures as I go then I put all my pics with minimal text on one sheet. THIS IS HAS BEEN LIFE CHANGING!  It frees you up to help, socialize, and take pictures of the teens and it teaches teens how to follow instructions.  You’ll be surprised how teens do not know how to do this life skill.

The glitter case was really cool but I couldn’t see myself doing this as a drop in because it requires glitter with 25 teens but if you can do it, I say go for it.