Food that can be used in ramen-seaweed; hardboiled eggs; bean sprouts; kimchi; pea pods; tofu; we purchased meat from our local Chinese food restaurant
Large paper bowls
Silhouette Cutting Machine
Heat transfer vinyl
Projector/laptop or TV
Ramen Challenge- We put out a bunch of supplies for teens to make ramen. The challenge was to make the most visually appealing ramen, not good tasting. Here’s how:
We bought the ramen in the cup. All teens have to do is fill it to the line, cover for a couple of minutes to cook.
While their ramen is “cooking,” teens went back to the table to get their other food supplies.
We also told teens to look at pictures of ramen on their phones for inspiration.
Have teens pour their cooked ramen into their bowls.
We gave teens 60 minutes to complete the challenge.
We took pictures of each bowl and posted to our instastory.
We had the teens in the program to vote and our teens who saw our instastory to vote.
We announced the winner at the end of the program.
Face Mask Craft
We pre-cut the BTS logo with our Silhouette.
If you are really brave, you can let teens choose/make their own design and have them use the Silhouette.
We helped them iron on the logo; all the teens were too afraid to use the iron and most of them were in high school.
We then let them use the bedazzler to decorate.
Teens are perfectly content with watching music videos and singing and dancing. Don’t feel like you have to have a bunch of activities to keep them busy.
Make sure teens work fast because ramen gets cold. I’d recommend having teens look for inspiration first.
We set up the projector and laptop for teens to watch music videos. We also allowed them to be the DJ. We always give them the power over their music and they really like that.
Overall, the most popular activity was the masks. After they made them, they did not take them off as you can see in the photos. K-Pop is a great program to host because it attracts teens of all ages, races, economic status, and sexual orientations. Shy teens come in and meet new friends because K Pop lovers are enthusiastic and friendly. If you’ve thought about doing a K-Pop program, I highly recommend it.
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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)
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.
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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)
Needle and embroidery thread
Black Sharpie (optional)
Fragrance Sachet (optional)
8 lb bag of pinto beans
You can do any template you want but I chose a llama because they are all the rage now and it’s probably because of Fortnite. I would have done an emoji but I didn’t have yellow felt-I just used whatever I had in my craft closet.
I could not find a llama template so I had to draw one. It’s not hard and I’m not an artist.
I pre-cut the llamas for the teens because this was for a drop in program and teens usually only spend about 30 minutes in the program. If you are filling a longer program, you can have teens cut out their own llamas.
Have teens make the nose using a different color felt. I drew in the snout using the Sharpie but you can teach teens how to make the snout with the thread. Use the fabric glue to adhere the nose, then use the Sharpie or thread to make eyes.
The thread is supposed to be visible so have teens choose a different color embroidery thread.
Embroidery thread is made up of several strands of thread. You have to pick one
strand and pull to get one. It’s confusing; I know. Once you have a nice long piece, thread and knot at the end. When you embroider, you only use a single strand in the needle but I used two strands like you do when you sew with sewing thread.
Be sure to get needles with large eyes.
There are several stitches you can do but I think the best one is the blanket stitch. I didn’t know this when I did mine but if you have a longer program, you can teach teens how to do this stitch.
Have teens leave a opening to fill their llama with beans and fragrance. I bought my fragrance sachet at The Dollar Tree by the candles. I just had them spoon in their desired amount. It smells so much better than the essential oil and water method I used in my first stress pets post.
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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)
Polly Pellets (I used 4 pounds with ten teens. I’ll explain more in the tips section)
Fragrance-water; essential oils; water bottle (optional)
I pre-cut the fabric into 5×5 inch squares. The smaller the better because it reduces sewing time and it doesn’t need as many pellets.
Let teens choose their eye color.
Allow teens to decide where they want to put their eyes. Have them use scissors to make a small hole thru the fabric and then push the safety eyes thru the hole. The safety eyes should come with a backing. Put the backing on like contact lenses.
Sew inside out on 3 1/2 sides. Make sure teens make small stitches so that the pellets don’t fall out.
If you want to provide a scent, pre-mix water and ten drops of essential oils. We used lavender and told teens about its calming affects.
Spray the inside of the pet.
Flip the pet the to the correct side.
I put the pellets in a large container. I had the teens scoop the pellets into the funnel into their pet.
Sew the final side and you’re all done!
My teens went HAM on the pellets and we went thru 6 pounds. Inform them to only fill their pet half way because teens want to fill them all the way. You can use dried beans for filling if you are saving money-black eyed peas, etc.
Stress to teens that they need to make their stitches are small. My teens didn’t and all of them had to go over their holes. Or buy big pellets so that they won’t fall out.
Sewing is always exhausting because of all the one on one assistance but the teens really do take the time to hand sew and go over their mistakes. Teens like to hand sew because it’s methodical and easy to learn and they’ve created something from nothing. If you haven’t don’t sewing with teens, I highly recommend it but you might need a co-worker or volunteer to help you.
Mandala art uses symmetrical shapes and it is currently very popular. It can be difficult to free hand if you aren’t artsy and/or patient enough to make everything symmetrical. I found a free app that’s very simple to use and allows you to paint in the app or print a coloring sheet.
This is a great activity if you have an art club, if you have patrons who like to color, or if you are hosting an adult decor program.
Budget: $0+ depending on the supplies you already have.
iPads with the Mandalakit app
Paint for paint markers ( I used Artiqo paint pens but you can use Sharpies or Sharpie paint pens, Posca pens, etc)
Acrylic paper or cardstock ( I used acrylic paper)
Paint brushes if you are using paint
Provide a brief rundown on the app especially the functions of all the buttons. It does take practice. Give participants time to make their mandala on the app-45 minutes-1 hour.
Have participants print their mandalas from the app.
If you don’t have a wifi printer, they can send their mandala to your email and you can print them. I’m assuming you all have network printer access.
Transfer their printed mandalas to acrylic paper or cardstock.
If you are coping on acrylic paper, I had to cut my paper to 8.5 x 11. My paper was 9×12 and my printer is weird. After I cut it down, I copied it thru the bypass.
At this point, participants can color it in however they like, colored pencils, paint markers, Sharpies, watercolors (you should probably put it on watercolor paper if they choose watercolors), crayons, etc.
I prefer paint pens because they give the effect of paint without the mess and they are vibrant.
If you really want to get fancy, you can try to transfer their mandalas to a canvas. You’ll need a light table to do this.
Or you can put their completed mandalas in a picture frame.
While trying to stop spending so much money on new stuff, I found some wood burning kits sitting in our storage room. I looked up some Youtube videos and found out that wood burning is a thing that people like and have called it something cool-pyrography. Turns out it really fun and addicting.
I would recommend hosting this program for teens 14 and older. The tips of the wood burner is extremely hot and teens need to be very careful when handling the tool. We have a parent/teen crafting series so a caregiver will be with their 14+ teen during our program. If you are an adult programmer, this would be a great program for your library.
I’m not an expert on pyrography or wood but upon research, the type of wood doesn’t matter. Just choose a lighter wood so that the burn shows.
I recommend reviewing some safety tips. I dropped my wood burner a couple of times but I have quick reflexes and moved in time. Show them how to properly lay the burner on the holder.
In the kit I linked, it recommends taping the holder to the table. Make sure you tape it towards the middle of the table because the temperature knob can weigh it down and cause it to fall if it’s too far back.
If you are working with teens, I wouldn’t allow them to change the tips because it’s hot. If you are with adults, show them how to change the tips using pliers. Have a metal tray available to put the hot tips in.
Patrons can use a pencil to draw a picture on their wood or before the program begins, you can set out a computer and let patrons choose an image. Print the image for them. Or you can have some pre-printed images available.
If patrons are using an image, give them a piece of carbon paper. Lay the carbon paper shiny side down onto the wood then lay their image face up onto the carbon paper. Using a fine tip marker/Sharpie, trace the image. I like using a marker because you can see the lines of the image you have traced.
Use the wood burner to go over the lines of the image on the wood.
Give patrons a scrap piece of wood to practice because it does take some time to get used to the tool.
It’s easier to go with the grain than against. Let patrons know this and let them practice to figure out the best way to burn against the grain.
When the tool starts to act up, I scrape it on sandpaper and that usually gets it going again.
The longer you hold the tool on the wood, the darker the burn. You don’t have to press hard to get it to burn.
I used the tip that looks like a pencil.
I followed the shading on the image. Shading is a great technique to wood burning. There’s a tip for that but I didn’t change tips; I just shaded like I would on paper or you can go over the lines to get a darker burn.
You can use colored pencils or Sharpies the color in designs.
It’s smelly so put on some fans. Your patrons will leave smelling like burnt wood.
You can also wood burn on leather and cork. I bought the leather bracelets on Amazon.
Collecting patches and ironing them to jackets or backpacks or purses are still a thing, however; teens are limited by what manufacturers make, until today. Making patches is easy and fun and teens can make whatever patch they want.
Budget: $30 for lots of teens-30+ (Depends on what you already own)
For your non-artistic teens, pre-print popular clipart. I used emojis and teens can take artistic license. For your artsy teens, they can begin drawing on the fabric using the black Sharpie.
For teens who want to trace, you can place the clipart on the trace pad and have teens trace the image on the fabric. Or if you have iPads, find a picture on Google images; save the pic to the iPad; open the image and trace. Or you can have teens do the preceding sentence on their phones.
Using Sharpies, paint the image and outline again with the black Sharpie.
Water based Sharpies are more vibrant than regular ones. Water based Sharpies do bleed into each other; that’s why I used a regular black Sharpie to outline.
Cut out the image as close as possible.
Clean up the cut edges with the Sharpie and apply fabric glue on the edges to prevent fraying. I used a heat gun to expedite the drying of the glue but you can have teens put it aside to make another patch. It dries fairly quickly.
Follow the instructions on the Heatbond.
I cut the Heatbond to the shape of the patch.
Tell teens to keep the paper on the back until they are ready to iron on their clothes/bag.
Over the last school year, we observed that a lot of our after school teens were identifying as LGBTQ+ and although our high school has a Gay Alliance club, the middle schools and the elementary schools do not. We wanted to offer a club for teens and friends to socialize in a relaxed environment.
How To Start
Decide what type of club you want. Do you want a staff moderated club with topics of discussion for teens? Do you want your teens to do reader’s advisory including suggesting books for your collection or book displays? Do you want something similar to TAG where teens volunteer or plan programs or take over your social media? Do you want it to be a teen led group? Do you want it to be more of a social club where teens hang out, talk about whatever they want, eat snacks, and do an activity? It’s really up to you and you can use your first meeting to ask the teens what they want to do.
Our club has a hang out atmosphere for 6th-12th graders. We have an artsy craft that allow teens to express themselves. Our past activities include Shrinky Dinks, rock painting, and button making. Usually teens draw the pride flag or a phrase. We serve a snack and we give them the TV remote so that they can play Youtube music videos. The staff is at in the room to welcome teens but we do not interfere. At some point, we will ask the teens if they want to continue the chill atmosphere or if they want something different.
More Things to Consider
You Need a Name-Before the first meeting, we polled our followers on Instagram. If you don’t have social media, you can have the teens in your first meeting choose a name. You can put up a display and have teens vote on pre-selected names or ask for original names.
You Need a Time-Because we wanted to reach the after-school crowd, our club meets at 4pm but if you’d like to reach teens who are not within walking distance or have after school activities, you might want to have your club in the evening.
Anonymity-High school is different but in middle school, teens may not be open about their sexuality. You might get teens who tell you that they want to come but their parents won’t let them. We’ve experienced this and we tell teens that they are welcome when they are allowed to attend and we tell them about other clubs that they might like such as anime club; book club; etc. These other clubs often have teens who are welcoming and encouraging.
Some libraries host their pride club in a windowless room. I know that sounds creepy but the idea is to maintain anonymity. Sometimes teens do not want other people to know.
Collaborate-Find other non profits in your community or partner with the local high school’s pride club to host larger events for homecoming or prom.
Pride Month-Plan a trip to your town’s pride parade.
All Inclusivity-Make it clear that your pride club is also open to friends and supporters.
The best thing we’ve done is ask the teens what they want. That way they will enjoy coming to club meetings.
Baking shows such as Nailed It and Great British Bake Off are very popular among all ages but you don’t have to be an expert to teach the basics. You also don’t have to spend lots of money on a presenter.
My co-worker and I taught ourselves how to do BASIC cookie and cake decorating. We also work with teens and the attendees were novices. If you do this with adults, you might get some back seat drivers so make sure that your flyers say that the class is for beginners.
Because cooking programs are expensive, we limit our class to five patrons. If you have a bigger budget, you can open it to more patrons but keep in mind that cooking programs require lots of assistance. I’d recommend two staff assist patrons. Because we are limiting the attendance, we can take the time to teach a skill. Our main goal for our maker programming is skill building over attendance.
Budget: $50/5 Patrons
Undecorated sugar cookies (I bought mine from the Walmart baking section. I got the round cookies but if you feeling really fancy, a bakery will sell you unfrosted cookies in various shapes)
Royal icing (You can get it pre-made and you just add water or you can get it in powder form. We used the powder because we are teaching patrons how to use a mixer.) One box will accommodate two patrons
Lots of Piping bags
Piping tips-optional (We used tips because we wanted teens to learn how to use tips and couplers.
Mixer (Bring one from home or ask staff; don’t buy one unless you plan to do lots of cooking programs)
Tall plastic cups
Boxes for patrons to take their cookies
We began the class by asking patrons if they had ever frosted cookies before the class. We ask them what they want to learn by the end of the class.
We tell them that in today’s class, they are going to learn how to mix use a hand/stand mixer; how to make royal frosting; what is royal frosting and why it’s different from regular frosting; how to use a piping bag; and how to flood frosting.
We split them into two groups and had them take turns mixing the frosting. Follow the directions on your frosting box.
We gave each patron two bowls, two spoons, and two piping bags, two piping tips and couplets.
Give each patrons one or two food colors, depending on how many you have to offer
Here’s where it gets tricky:
You need two consistencies of frosting for each color. You need piping frosting (this is the stiffer frosting you use to outline the designs). Then you need flooding frosting (this is for the inside and it needs to be a bit runny).
Scoop a little bit of the royal icing into a bowl and add a drop of food coloring. Mix and put into a piping bag (don’t forget the piping bag tips). This is your piping frosting. Do this for every color you will be using. You need to mark these bags so that patrons can distinguish the piping frosting from the flooding frosting. You can use colored tape or a marker or don’t use piping tips for these bags.
With the remaining frosting, have each patron scoop some into their bowl and add water. Please follow the instructions on the box for frosting to water ratio. Then add a drop of food coloring, mix, then put in piping bags.
If each patrons does this with a different color, then everyone can share the bags. There will be a variety of colors for everyone.
Demonstrate how to properly hold and use a piping bag
Have teens practice on a cookie.
I bought enough cookies for each patron to have 10 cookies. The cookies were cheap at Walmart. They can eat their practice cookies.
I had Youtube videos running in the background for inspiration. Let them design and decorate.