Posted in Crafts, Holiday Programs, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Dollar Tree Halloween Crafts

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

Sugar Skulls

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

Supplies Needed:IMG_6230

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


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

Pumpkin Painting

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

Supplies Needed:

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


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


Budget: $5/Teen

Supplies Needed:

I purchased everything from the Dollar Tree

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


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


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


Flower Crowns

Budget: $5/TeensIMG_6259

Supplies Needed:

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


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

Alien Escape Room

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

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

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

The Escape Room

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


The Puzzles:

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



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


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



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


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


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

The Entry Pod

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

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

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


The Day of the Escape Room

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

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

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

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

Other Information:

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

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

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Bedroom Decor

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

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

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

LED Sign | Woodburning | Light Box

Clay Photo Holders

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



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

Vinyl Sign

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

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

Supplies Needed:

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


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


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Home Decor: LED Sign

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

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

Supplies Needed:

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


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



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



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

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

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

DIY Fanny Pack

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


Posted in Crafts

BTS Party

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

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

Supplies Needed:

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


  • Ramen Challenge- We put out a bunch of supplies for teens to make ramen. TheIMG_5598 challenge was to make the most visually appealing ramen, not good tasting. Here’s how:
    • We bought the ramen in the cup. All teens have to do is fill it to the line, cover for a couple of minutes to cook.
    • While their ramen is “cooking,” teens went back to the table to get their other food supplies.
      • We also told teens to look at pictures of ramen on their phones for inspiration.
    • Have teens pour their cooked ramen into their bowls.
    • We gave teens 60 minutes to complete the challenge.
    • We took pictures of each bowl and posted to our instastory.
      • We had the teens in the program to vote and our teens who saw our instastory to vote.
      • We announced the winner at the end of the program.
  • Face Mask Craft
    • We pre-cut the BTS logo with our Silhouette.
      • If you are really brave, you can let teens choose/make their own design and have them use the Silhouette.
    • We helped them iron on the logo; all the teens were too afraid to use the iron and most of them were in high school.
    • We then let them use the bedazzler to decorate.


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

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

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Tie-Dye/Galaxy Hats

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

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



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

And that’s it!


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

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

Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Stress Pets Again

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

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


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


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

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

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



Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Butterfly Earcuff

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

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

Supplies Needed:

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


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


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


Posted in Crafts, Makerspace

Stress Pets

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

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

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

Budget: $50/10 teens


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


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


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


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