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


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.


HOW TO ORGANIZE A PARTY

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.

OTHER SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • 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
Advertisements
Posted in Big Programs

Teen Read Week: Short Story Contest

The theme for Teen Read Week 2017 is Unleash Your Story which makes it the perfect time to host a short story contest for your teens.  At my library, we run an annual short story contest and 2017 will be our 5th annual.  If you are interested in hosting a contest at your library, here’s how we organize ours-ZB Inked Short Story Contest.

What Should the Rules Be?

Rules are IMPORTANT for your participants and your sanity.  Make sure your rules are appropriate for your demographic and something you can handle.  Here are our more important rules:

  • Stories should be no longer than 4 pages.  You may be inundated with hundreds zb inked 2of stories and to maintain your sanity, limit the number of pages.  In previous years, it was a three page max but our teens complained and we increased it.  We also have the rule…
  • Teens may submit up to two stories.  Once again, please be mindful of your sanity.  We did this because our contest is not themed and our teens were conflicted between what story to submit.  One teen also found this as a loophole to the 4 page limit.  He was frustrated because he couldn’t condense his story so he submitted chapter one and chapter two as two separate stories.  He won first place that year.
  • The contest is only open to teens in our district.  Some libraries open their contest to anyone but we live in a lower income community and some of our submissions are good stories but poorly executed.  We also live in one of the wealthiest counties in the state with the best schools and many, not all but many, of our teens can’t quite compete.  We want the teens in our district to have a shot at winning. I know that sounds like we have no faith in our teens/schools but in previous years, teens in neighboring districts took all three awards so we decided to limit the contest.  We occasionally get the teacher who lives out of the district and asks if their kid can participate but we sadly decline their submission.
  • We only allow emailed submissions.  This is actually a new rule for this year.  We create an anthology of the winners and it’s easier to print from email than copy from paper.  If you are opening your contest to younger teens, 4th-5th grade, you may consider paper submissions as younger teens don’t have computers or email at school.
  • Grammar Counts.  We have a strict grammar rule and since then, the submissions have been thoroughly proofread.  We also tell our teens they will be judged on creativity, originality, and use of characters.
  • We have two grade categories: 6th-8th & 9th-12th. If just isn’t fair to make a 6th grader compete with a 12th grader.
  • Not all prizes are guaranteed.  In other words, there might not be a third place winner.  On low submission years, we didn’t have good stories but we said there would be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes awarded.  This year, we will not award bad stories.
  • We don’t sensor the teens.  We do ask that they use family friendly language but they may write about abuse, LGBTQ, violence, gore, mental health, etc.   We have received submissions about abortion and gay characters and we’ve never received any complaints from parents.  We do however, put a disclaimer on those stories in the anthology.
  • Other important rules: Have a clear cut of date and time for submission deadlines.  9pm to midnight is best because teens tend to work late into the evening.  Have one email for submissions and questions.  Express an acceptable type font and size-we do Times New Roman/12/double-spaced.  Express the date when you will announce the winners otherwise you’ll have teens asking every day. Give yourself two to three weeks to judge.

ZB Library Short Story Flyer/Rules

Prizes

zb inked
Contest winner with Stacey Kade

Prizes are up to your budget but whatever your prize, list it on the flyer.

  • We host an author visit every Spring and one of our contest prizes is to have dinner with the author.  Teens enjoy this because the dinner is usually limited to 10 teens and they can ask all the questions they desire.

Get The Word Out-CHEAPLY

We live in a community where we have to jump through hoops to promote our programs and services.  If you work at a library where people actually read their newsletter, congrats and you can probably skip this part.  If you aren’t so lucky, here’s what we do:

  • Schools. We usually just send flyers to English/reading teachers and librarians but this year we will also send free books.  We received a large donation from Scholastic and we will be giving out approx. 500 books.
    • Asking Publishers for Book Donations.  We simply visit all book publishers, find the school/library marketing contact, and ask for donations.  We always describe our program and intent with the books.  You’ll receive lots of no’s but you may get lucky like we did.
    • Teachers.  Ask a teacher, librarian, or principal from each school to judge the contest.  They will be invested in the contest and encourage their students to enter.
      • At our library, our teen staff chooses the top six finalists and we have teachers judge the finalists.  Teachers are busy so don’t give them more work.
  • Social Media.  
    • Try a Facebook or Instagram boost.  Boosts are cheap ($7-$20) and they reach hundreds of patrons IN YOUR COMMUNITY.  When you post on FB, you’ll see a blue button that says, “boost.”  Click it and follow the directions.
    • Weeks leading up to the deadline, I post creative writing tips.  This is a different way of reminding your followers of the contest without being annoying.
  • Wattpad
    • Wattpad is a website where people publish their short stories and novels.  LOTS of teens read and write on Wattpad so this year we will include it in our contest.
      • We’ve created an account and teens can easily share the story with us on Wattpad and it will count as their entry.

Judging

We use a rubric that you may use below.  We also deduct points for not including a full name, grade, and school.  We put this on the rule sheet.  We do this to make teens accountable for life.  In life, you have to put your contact info; might as well start now.

We take the average from every judge to determine our winners.  We also encourage judges to make comments.

Judging Rubric

When you’ve chosen a winner, take a picture and see if you can get it in your local newspaper so that your patrons will look out for your contest next year.

zb inke

 

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.

IMG_3620

 

  • 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.
IMG_3619
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.
IMG_3624
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.

IMG_3628
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 Big Programs, Makerspace

Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay is used to make small figurines or jewelry and requires baking to harden.  For our polymer clay programs we advertise it as making mini foods because they are so cute but feel free to do whatever is popular in your community.   We use a convection oven to bake.  If you don’t have a convection oven, ask staff if they’d be willing to donate theirs for the day.

Tips:

  • Provide pictures or videos if you have a big screen TV in your teen room.  Sometimes teens need a visual to get started.
  • Provide utensils for cutting and designing.  We put out toothpicks, plastic knives and forks.  If you purchase a kit, they provide utensils.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and napkins because if teens use red clay and then use white, the red clay on their fingers will ruin the white.  Inform teens to clean their hands between clay and the utensils.
  • If teens are making jewelry, the metal pieces can be baked.
  • Bake all the figurines together.  Bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Purchase the glue and gloss that’s made for polymer clay.  The glue is for the jewelry pieces and the gloss is to make it shiny.

Have Fun!

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

Drones

Everyone knows what drones are but I’m sure you have lots of questions before you add them to your programming.

  1. Are they expensive? That depends on what you consider to be expensive.  We used Parrot Minidrones-specifically the Rolling Spider and they are $50 each on Amazon.
  2. Are they safe for teens? Yes. The youngest teen in our program was 10 and she picked it up very quickly.
  3. Can you do more than fly them? Yes.  We used the Tynker app to code our drones.  Teens were given code and they were able to write their own code.  The Rolling Spider can crawl up walls and across the ceiling. It can also takes pictures and videos.
  4. Can you fly them indoors? Yes.  The Rolling Spider is lightweight and if the wind gets it, it will fly away.  We also have a 10 foot ceiling at our library so you may want to test it if you have low ceilings.
  5. Do drones break easily?  No. Our teens crashed their drones all over the place and the worst thing that happened was a bent propeller.  You can purchase replacement parts.  We also kept the wheels on and that served as a buffer.
  6. How long do the batteries last?  For the Rolling Spider, the batteries only last 5-10 minutes and it takes about 20-30 minutes to recharge.  The only way to fix this is to buy LOTS of batteries.  We have five drones and twenty batteries and this worked out well.

Drones are an investment.  We spent @$350 for five drones, twenty batteries, five battery chargers, and replacement propellors and body parts.  It is expensive but you can use them for several programs so if your library has a strict per person budget system, repeating the program several times is cost effective.

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 Big Programs, Makerspace

Putting the A in STEAM: Interactive Mural

20161217_114400

If your teen patrons/students are anything like the ones in my library, you probably have a group of teens who are into anything tech and then you have a group of teens who sit and draw for hours.  All of your tech teens are planted behind a computer coding and 3D printing and you can’t pay your artsy teens to attend any of your tech programs.  What’s a teen library worker to do?  Combine tech and art with interactive art.

Electric Masterpiece

Time Needed: 2 hours

Materials Needed:

  1. Ask the teens to draw something that has a lot of sound.  We used an example of beach scene or a house.
  2. The touch board holds twelve sounds.  If you have one board/teen that’s great but if you only have one board for multiple teens, divide the sounds among them.  For example, we had six teens and three touch boards so each teen could have an art img_3045piece that could have six sounds.
    1. Have the teens decide what sounds they are going to incorporate before they begin drawing.
  3. Have teens draw their picture and draw their circuit lines.  The lines should extend to the border of the paper.
  4. Using conductive paint or copper tape to cover their hand drawn circuit lines. We used conductive paint. The advantage to copper tape is no drying time.
  5. If you are using the touch board: (We purchased the kit which came with paint, touch board, alligator clips, and a speaker.)
    1. Have teens find MP3’s that represent their sounds.  We used zapsplat.com for free MP3 sound effects.
    2. Insert the mini SD card the add tracks. Name each track as Track000; Track001, etc. (The touch board will provide downloading instructions.)
    3. Replace the SD card into the touch board and test by touching each number.img_3053
      1. Troubleshooting: if your touch board isn’t working:
        1. Make sure the speaker is turned up.
        2. Make sure you are using MP3’s.
        3. Turn the touch board on and off.
        4. Press the reset button.
  6. If you are using Makey Makey: (Makey Makey can only hold up to six sounds)
    1. Download Soundplant on your computer.
    2. Find sound effects. You can use zapsplat.com.  Assign the desired sound effect to the Makey Makey.
  7. Use alligator clips to connect the touch board/Makey Makey to the art piece.
  8. Touch the conductive paint/copper wire to make the art piece come alive!

Interactive Mural

Time Needed: 4-4.5 hours

Materials Needed:

  • Conductive paint
  • Drawing softwareimg_3146
  • iPads or computers
  • Cutting machine 
  • Microphone
  • Computer
  • Recording software
  • Vinyl
  • Touch board
  • Speaker
  • Flash drive plug

Please make sure you can paint on the walls before you can begin.  It’s not permanent because you can simply paint over it.

  1. Have teens draw a picture digitally.  We used iPads and the free Adobe Draw app.
  2. Use a cutting machine to turn their picture into a vinyl stencil.
    1. We used a Silhouette machine but you can use Cricut
    2. If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can have teens cut a design onto stencil material.  This requires an Exacto knife so perhaps this can be done with older teens.
      1. You can also use precut stencils and allow teens to create a mural with stencils.
  3. Press the stencil onto the wall.
  4. Paint the stencil with conductive paint.
  5. Allow 20 minutes to dry.  We used fans to speed up the drying process.
  6. Draw lines with a pencil from the stencil to the touch board.  Make sure the touch board in near an outlet.
  7. While the wall is drying, have teens record their own MP3 sounds or phrase.
    1. We used the voice recording software that came with the computer.
    2. Make sure your recorder uses MP3 files because the touch board only uses MP3’s.
      1. Our voice recorder used MPA and I had to use an online file converter to change them into MP3’s.  I used Zamzar.com.
      2. Assign the sounds to a number on the touch board. Make sure the numbers/circuits won’t cross lines on the wall.
  8. When the stencil is dry, peel it from the wall.  Pick out the insides.  We used the pick 20161217_114434utensil that came with the Silhouette.  You can probably use tweezers.
  9. Use conductive paint or copper tape to make your circuits.  We used copper tape because there’s no drying time and it was easier to connect to the touch board.
  10. Mount the touch board.  We used Command strips.
  11. When you mount the board, it will be raised from the wall and won’t touch the copper tape to complete the circuit.  I put copper tape on top of touch board. It looks messy but it will work every time.
  12. Test your circuits!
Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery: Death at a Slumber Party

murder-mystery-1
The Cast

We have found that teens love murder mysteries so that’s why we do one every year.  To keep it fresh, we do a different type of mystery every year.

There are several advantages to a murder mystery program.  They are incredibly cheap to host.  You can purchase a kit but if you have the time to write your own scripts, you can save a lot of $$$.  Our murder mysteries run between $50-$100 and this is food and supplies.

The Script

murder-mystery-16
Tiffany & the jealous bestie

Teens like to perform and chances are you have thespians among your regular teen members.  Get your teens involved in the writing process.  We either have one teen write the entire script on Google Docs or invite teens to assist.  Once we have the script completed, we get our teen cast together and give them a script and tell them to learn all their lines.  We made the script open to improve so that teens didn’t have to learn their lines word for word.  This takes the pressure off to be perfect. We have a dress rehearsal two hours before the event because teens are busy and flaky and if you have too many rehearsals, you are running the risk of no shows.

 

 

The Theme

By the title, you can tell that this year’s theme was a slumber party.  This was during the

murder-mystery-17
Tiffany & the hot jock BF

time that the TV show Scream Queens was on air so we wanted to capitalize on the trend. We presented it like a real slumber party thrown by the stereotypical popular mean girl, Tiffany Van Luxe.   The cast included the hot jock boyfriend, the emo sister, the jealous best friend, the creepy neighbor, and the wannabe.  The activities were that of a traditional slumber party including hide and seek, truth or dare, make overs,  and lip sync battle.

Promotion

We had our main character, Tiffany, come in costume a couple of weeks prior to the event to shoot promo pics and videos.  We then promoted the event with her pics on our social media accounts.  We also asked our other cast if we would take an image of them from their social media to use as posters to place around the library.  The post featured their face and a tagline that asked if they were the murderer.

murder-mystery-19
#TiffanyTakeover

We snail mailed invitations that resembled a real slumber party invites to all our regulars.  Mailed invites are where we always get the majority of our attendance.

We had a book display promoting the event with the preverbal “chalk” outline in the stacks.

During dress rehearsal, we took pics that could be motives.  These pics were put on Instagram through out the party.  During the party, we told teens to check our Instagram account for clues.

Tiffany Takeover.  We had “Tiffany” take over our Instagram for the week with her snotty comments and pics.

During the party, we told teens that if they take a selfie with Tiffany and post it on their social media, she would give them candy.  This is a great way to spread the word about your parties through teens.

The Party

murder-myster-14Of course teens were encouraged to come in PJs by announcing that the best PJs would win a cash prize.  We of course rigged the contest so that our mean girl host chose herself (Yes this was a bit mean but also funny).

After we figured most teens were in attendance, we welcomed them by introducing the cast and their bios.  We told them that from now until the end of the party, the cast would be in character and that one of them is going to murder Tiffany, the host.  Their job is to pay attention and to try to guess the murder and the motive.  We also told them to check our Instagram for a vital clues through out the party. (This is a great way to get teens to check/follow your social media account).

The party began with dancing.  The cast went around to all the guests in character.  I

murder-mystery-12
Bro Overs

included a link to our script at the end of this post.  We then did all the activities listed under “theme” and Tiffany was murdered during the lip sync battle by a someone in costume just like Scream Queens.  Teens were then given a sheet of paper asking them to name the murderer and the motive.

Evaluation

One group guessed the murderer but not the motive because as you can guess, teens were caught up in the party and not paying attention to the clues.  Even though no one technically go it right, which no one ever does at our murder mysteries, they still had a great time.  Check out our script on Google Docs.

Most popular activities: hide and seek and truth or dare.

Attendance: 28 teens and a budget of $60

Food served: donuts, potato chips, and flavored water and Tiff Clique Punch.

 

Posted in Big Programs

All Cons Don’t Have to be Comic

 

whocon7Comic Cons are all the rage but who said you have to limit a con to comics?  You can taylor any con to your demographic.  If you have a large community of writers, you can host a NovelCon.  If you have a community of filmmakers, you can host a FilmCon.  If you have a community of fanboys/fangirls, you can host a FandomCon.  We have a lot of patrons who are into Doctor Who so we hosted a WhoCon.  The possibilities are endless.

 

 

Why a Con?

Cons are popular nationwide and they aren’t limited to comics.  There’s GeekyCon for Harry Potter fans and VidCon for Youtubers but these cons are usually in large metropolitan cities and can be very expensive.  Bringing the con experience to your library provides free fun for the entire family.

The Pros of Cons

The great thing about the term is that you can attach “con” after any word and patrons will instantly know what type of program you are offering.

Cons have the potential to attract new patrons to your library.  Many people still believe the library is only for checking out books and being quiet.  Holding a MinecraftCon, BakerCon, CraftCon, or a DroneCon will bring in different citizens and will ultimately get you new cardholders.

whocon5
Waiting on their Gallifrey Button

When you attract new patrons and cardholders, you can promote all your special services and collections.

Con Activities

Con means convention so patrons expect to see a variety of activities including crafts, cosplay/costume contests, games, and prizes.  Cons can be as long as you want.  Some cons are the typical two hours and some cons last two days.

  • You can invite local business and organizations that fit your theme.  If you know you’ll have hundreds of patrons, you can have business rent tables and proceeds can go to prizes.
  • Balloon artists and face painters are always a big hit at any event.  They can be costly but it’s a crowd pleaser.
  • Photo booths are also very popular.  You can pay to rent a photo booth from a local company.  This can cost $300 and up but the company does all the work and patrons leave with a picture of your event with your library name and social media contact info.

 

whocon3
An Evening with Van Gogh
  • Artist Alleys are usually found at comic cons but if you have any type of artsy or fandom based con, you can include an artist alley.  An artist alley is a cluster of tables where local artists sell their work.  Once again, you can have artists rent a table and it can go towards a prize.
  • Food.  You don’t have to have food especially if your library is surrounded by restaurants.  The drawback to no food is that patrons might leave to eat.  You can ask a local food truck to park outside your library, you can ask for sponsors from local restaurants, you can use table rental proceeds towards pizza.  We usually ask our local boy scout troop to provide hot togs and chips.  Boy scouts usually come with a license to serve food and they do every thing which is great.

 

Challenges of the Con

  • The greatest challenge will probably be your administration and staff.
    • You may have to do a lot of convincing to your board and administration to host a large library-wide con.  Your best argument is that it will attract new patrons and cardholders.  It can also get your library in the newspaper if you invite your local press to take pictures- free advertisement!!
    • Hosting a con takes a village and getting several staff on board can be daunting. The staff most likely to help are the ones who are fans of your theme.  Look for the geeks.
    • A con takes lots of planning and this can also be exhausting.  If you are interested in hosting a con, make sure you have lots of time and patience.

WhoCon

whocon6

As I stated earlier, we have a large community of Doctor Who fans.  How do I know this?  During our regular school visits, we asked teens to fill out a short survey.  We listed every popular fandom including Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, and anime/manga and we asked teens to circle their favorites.  Doctor Who was the most popular after Harry Potter.

Activities:

  • Life Size Guess Who-We printed out Doctor Who characters and played the game like the board game version.
  • An Evening with Van Gogh-Recreating a Starry Night with the TARDIS-Participants had to recreate the Starry Night painting from the Van Gogh episode.
  • Gallifrey name buttons-We used a name converter website and made the conversions into a button.
  • Green Screen Photos-Participants chose between two preselected pictures to use as
    whocon8
    Green Screen

    their background.  Their pictures were printed for them to take home.

  • The Silence Scavenger Hunt-We hid pictures of The Silence all over the library.  Participants received a five-clue sheet and were told to take a selfie with each Silence they found.  They showed the activity leader their five pictures to receive Jelly Bellies.  You can also have teens tally their arm for every Silence they find for added affect.
  • Doctor Who Trivia with Kahoot-We created two 20 question trivia games on Kahoot.
  • 10 Different Ways to Wear a Bowtie Craft-Simple bowtie craft with felt.  Participants were given key chain holders, earring backs, and pin backs for crafting.
  • Costume Contest -A picture was taken of all participants.  All other program goers were encouraged to vote with stickers.

whocon4

The most popular activities were the Gallifrey buttons, Kahoot, and An Evening with Van Gogh.

Stats:  75 participants, $120

For more information on Cons, please visit our 2016 ALA Annual Presentation