Posted in Makerspace, Unboxing

Oculus Go

Technically, virtual reality (VR) is very cheap to operate.  Simply purchase some Google Cardboards for $10ish, pop in your cell phone and have fun.  If you work in a low income community, it’s not that simple.  I work in a low income community and my teens either don’t have cell phones or the phones they have don’t have a gyroscope.  We have several Google Cardboards but they are virtually useless-LOL.

The Oculus Rift can be a solution if your library can afford $400 per goggle and you have an Xbox. If you don’t have an Xbox, that’s gonna cost you a couple hundred more.  The other downside to the Rift is that only one person can play at a time so if you can only afford one that means long lines or appointments.

Good new, friends. Oculus has created a cheaper VR experience called Go.  The Oculus Go retails for about $200/goggle. You don’t need a cell phone or a video console to operate it. The OS is in the goggle! I bought a two sets and here’s my assessment.  Disclaimer, I’ve never played with the Oculus Rift but I’ve done Google Cardboard so I can’t compare the Go to the Rift.

Pros to the Oculus Go:

  • It’s easy to set up. Once you put on the goggles, the instructions are easy to follow.  You do have to download the app to an iPad or phone and create an account but that’s it.  You don’t have to attach the iPad or phone to the goggles.
  • The graphics are great. The graphics are clear and you feel like you are in the room/game.
  • You get two hours of game time on a full charge.  I’d recommend allowing patrons to play for 10 minutes and you can get ten patrons to participate in two hours on one pair of goggles.
  • The games are fun. There’s horror, dinosaurs, roller coasters, blockbuster movie tie ins, and educational apps.

Cons to the Oculus Go:

  • Apps. There are some free apps but the good ones do cost anywhere between $2-$15. If you have the budget, go for it.
  • It takes three hours to charge so if you only have one and a lot of patrons, you’ll run into troubles.  I’d recommend having VR as part of a program. This way everyone can get five to ten minutes on it.  You can also make appointments for patrons if they want to use it longer. It is recommended to not play while it’s charging.
  • You need wifi. If you take it off site, make sure your location has wifi or invest in a personal hotspot.
  • It gets sweaty. The games can be intense and you can get pretty sweaty. The cushion will get sweaty between patrons so just be aware.
  • Most games require the player to stay in one place. A staffer who plays the Rift tested it and he said you can move in the Rift. There are some Go games where you can walk but most are stationary.


I think it’s worth purchasing.  I’ve played the horror games and was totally scared and I love scary stuff and don’t scare easily.  We had teens test it and as you can see below, they loved it.  The teen in the video is playing Face Your Fears-a free app. Lower the volume a bit; there is screaming.


Posted in Makerspace

Galaxy Crafts

Galaxy crafting is making your project look like the galaxy.  All you need is black, purple, blue, red/pink colors dotted with white specs to look like stars.

Galaxy crafts are very popular among all ages and you can make almost anything look like the galaxy.

We had a whole week of galaxy crafts:

Galaxy Shoes

In your publicity, make sure you tell teens to bring white canvas shoes. They don’t have to be new; they just have to be white and canvas.  If you are buying shoes, have teens register with their shoe size.

Budget: $15-$50 (If you already have Sharpies, the program will be cheaper)

Supplies Needed:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • droppers
  • Sharpies (Different shades of blues and purples; black; red or pink)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Small paint brush
  • White canvas shoes
  • Tape (optional)


  1. If the shoes have laces, remove them.
  2. Put tape around the soles to prevent the colors from running.
  3. Color shoes in sections using various colors.
  4. Using the dropper, drop alcohol over the colored section.  The colors with bleed. The more alcohol you add, the better it will look.
  5. Put first shoe to the side to dry and repeat with other shoe.
  6. Using white paint and paint brush, paint small dots and stars around the shoes to look like stars or galaxies.


  • Teens will want to Sharpie the entire shoe first.  Tell them NOT to do that. This project is a trial and error. When they do sections, it allows them to see what colors look good. They can change the color combo as they work.  If they Sharpie the entire shoe, they may not like the color combo.
  • If the colors don’t look like their are bleeding into each other, add more alcohol.
  • This craft takes about 1 hour to complete.

Galaxy Candy

Budget: $10+

Supplies Needed

  • Jolly Ranchers (Purple, blue, red/pink)
  • Small baggies
  • Hammer
  • Spoons
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cooking spray
  • Oven


  1. Each teen can have four pieces of each color of candy. Have them unwrap the candy and separate them in bags.
  2. On the floor, have teen crush the candy with hammers.  Crush until there are small chunks.
  3. Pre cut 5 x 5 inch squares of foil and give teens one square. Pre roll long pieces of olsQLmBOQjullTUuzhZOCAfoil and give teens two pieces. (See the picture for an example.  You will see a flat piece of foil and you’ll see rolled logs of foil).
  4. Have teens roll the sides of the flat square around the rolled foil.
    1. The reason for this is because it’s important for the flat square to have little to no creases. The candy will get stuck in the creases. The likelihood of creasing is minimized when you give teens the rolled foil to fold in.
  5. Have teens spray the bottom and sides with cooking spray.
  6. Using the spoon, have teens spoon in the candy in their desired color combo.
  7. Pre-heat the oven on 300 degrees. Place candy in the oven for five minutes or until it’s melted.
  8. Once it’s cooled, have teens peel off the foil.


  • If foil is stuck on the candy, teens can use a butter knife to cut if off.
  • The above instructions can make two candies.
  • This craft too about 15-20 minutes

Galaxy Night Light

Budget: $60 + (Look around your craft closet to reduce costs)

Supplies Needed


  1. Have teens trace their domed ornament around the cardboard and cut out. Put to the side for later.
  2. Using Sharpies, color the inside of the ornament in sections.
  3. Put a small amount of alcohol on a cotton ball and lightly blot the colors until they bleed.
  4. On the cardboard circle, using the thumbtack, poke a hole in the center of the cardboard.
  5. Make the hole a little bigger using the chopstick/skewer.
  6. Stick the head of the LED through the hole.  Insert the battery between the prongs; fold and tape the battery to the side.
  7. Hot glue the perimeter of the cardboard circle and glue it to the dome.
  8. Turn off the lights and enjoy the show.


You can galaxy anything-slime, paintings, t-shirts, baked goods, bath bomb, soap, rocks, fingernail art, easter eggs, blue jeans, etc.  To find all these ideas, search galaxy crafts on Pinterest or experiment yourself.

Have Fun!


Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Cosplaying With Teens

Cosplay is dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game.  Making the costume, accessories, and armor is the exciting part of cosplay and can be easily incorporated into your teen or makerspace programming.

Worbla-The Star of the Show

Worbla will be featured in this post.  Worbla is a thermoplastic modeling material.  All that means is that you can mold it by heating it.

  • The Worbla I’ve seen comes in two colors, beige and black. (I am not a Worbla or cosplay expert so I could be mistaken).
    • You can paint Worbla and I recommend priming it first. Acrylic paint and spray paint is recommended.
  • Worbla is expensive. A 29×19 sheet on Amazon cost about $50. If you are only making masks, you can get about 16 masks from one sheet.
    • However, if you already have heat guns, paint, cutting utensils, and gems, your are only paying for the Worbla.
  • Worbla is molded with heat from a heat gun.
  • It’s very easy to teach and use with teens.
The mask is shaped to her face

Making Masks

Supplies Needed


  1. I pre cut the Worbla into rectangles that were big enough for the mask template.  I gave each teen a rectangle of Worbla.
  2. I found a basic mask template on Google/Pinterest. You will have to copy and paste
    in Publisher or Photoshop to make the masks fit a face.  I gave teen a template.
  3. Have teens cut out the eye holes.  If you are feeling fancy, you can pre-cut the masks on your cutting machine (Silhouette/Circut) and pre-cut the eye holes and elastic holes.
  4. On the dull side of the Worbla, have teens trace the outside and eye holes from the mask.
  5. Have teens cut out the mask. The eye holes can be cut out using the craft knife.  If you don’t want teens using a craft knife, like I did because they were a little young, you can start the eye holes with the craft knife and let them use scissors to complete the cut.
  6. Have teens place the paper template on the mask and use the hole punch template as a guide to punch holes for the elastic cord.
  7. Turn the mask so that the dull side is facing up and use the heat gun to heat the nose first.
    1. Once the Worbla is pliable, have teens place the mask on their face and pinch the nose until it shapes to their face.
      1. If it is too hot for their face, tell them to let it cool a little bit before dmFaq5skQPy63tuzaqKGPQputting it on their face.  It won’t leave burn marks on their face.
  8. Repeat step seven by heating the mask and pressing onto their face in sections.  Do the under eye, the sides, and the top.
    1. Have teens hold their head back as they press to shape their face.
  9. If they mess up, they can heat the mask, flatten it until it hardens, and start again.
  10. Tie the elastic cord.  The cord should be tight so that it fits snuggly to their face.


  • Teens thought the mask looked like The Incredibles so you can make this to tie it into the movie release.
  • This activity took about 30 minutes.  To make it longer, teens can create their own template, you can have teens paint their mask or decorate with gems, or teens can add dimension. See my cuff cosplay below for instructions.
    • You can add a writing component by making a comic page.
      • You can take pictures of teens in their mask in superhero poses.  Teens and upload their images into a comic strip template.
      • Teens can turn their superhero persona into a short story
    • You can use a green screen to take pictures or make a short film.
  • Save your scraps; you can use them to make dimension. See cuff project below.
  • Hair dryers will take too long to heat; I recommend a heat gun.

Making Armour

Teens can use Worbla to make cuffs, bracers, or shin guards. See the video below to learn how I made my cuff.


  • Have teens draw their design before they begin.
  • The Worbla was uncomfortably hot when I shaped it to my wrist. After a Google search, it was recommended that you wear long sleeves and to shape the Worbla over your sleeve.

This is a great summer activity for your teens who love attending comic cons. They can come to your program to save money and to make their cosplay.

If you host own comic con at your library, this can be a great event or competition.

This can also be a Halloween program for teens to make their costumes at the library.

Posted in Makerspace

Ode to Youtube

Some of our DIY programs come from searching Youtube.  First, we think about what our teens are into.  They like their cell phone, they like emojis, they like(d) fidget spinners.  Next we ask ourselves how we can turn their interests into DIYs.  Then we say to ourselves, “DIY cell phone cases is a great DIY but I have no idea how to make one because I’m not crafty.” That’s when we search Youtube.

Youtube in a treasure trove of crafters and DIYers and below you will find our most popular crafts found on Youtube.

Cell Phone Cases

I love this Youtuber because of all the creativity.  She has a plethora of phone case ideas for beginners to advanced crafters.   It’s in Spanish but you can still follow if you don’t speak the language.

Pop Sockets

I got the great idea to do DIY pop sockets but I wasn’t sure where to begin so I watched this Youtuber. I didn’t do it exactly like this girl because I didn’t want teens cutting water bottles so I bought plastic shot glasses from the Dollar Tree.

Supplies Needed:

  • Shot glasses from Dollar Tree
  • Glue Dots
  • Plastic bottle top
  • Circle shapes on cardstock.  Circles should be slightly bigger than the circumference of the larger side of the shot glass. I precut my circles using my Silhouette cutter but you don’t have to do that.
  • Hot Glue


  1. Hot glue the open side of the bottle top to the closed side of the shot glass.


2.  Have teens design their circle, then hot glue it to the open side of the shot glass.


3.  Put a glue dot on the bottle top and stick to phone.  The beauty of the glue dot is that it sticks well but it’s not permanent.


Mini Kawaii Notebooks

Teens like Kawaii. Kawaii basically  means cute in Japanese and it usually has little rosy cheeks and stars in their eyes like the picture below. Pineapples are also a thing so we chose the pineapple Kawaii from this Youtuber.  Our teens like pineapples so much, we are hosting a week of pineapple crafts in the near future.


Gamer Crafts: Piranha Plant

Super Mario is still a thing so we found this piranha plant craft on Youtube that went over very well with boys.


Posted in Makerspace

Top 5 DIYs

The afterschool teen programs in our makerspace are drop in activities that take no longer than 30 minutes to complete.  We’ve discovered that the afterschool crowd really enjoy making something out of every day household items.  Here is a list of out most popular DIYs.

Follow Teen Services Depot on Instagram for more program ideas.

Hot Glue Cell Phone Case

This is a very cheap DIY that teens will do for hours.  For complete instructions, visit Teen Services Depot on Instagram and watch the saved Instastory.


Sleep Mask

Supplies Needed:

  • Cotton fabric.  We purchased fun designs.
  • Elastic 
  • Quilt batting.  If you are on a budget, you can use felt.
  • Needle and thread


  • Google sleep mask template and print on cardstock for teens to use.
  • Teens should trace the template on two pieces of fabric.  We used cotton fabric because it’s comfortable on the eyes.
  • Teens should use the template to trace and cut out a mask on a quilt batting.  Cut this final product a little smaller than the fabric mask.
  • Have teens measure their heads with a strip of elastic.
  • On one piece of fabric, sew elastic to both ends.
  • Assemble the batting between the fabric and hand or machine sew to complete the mask.



Bath Bombs

Sorry, didn’t take any pics but click here to see our instructions.


Teens like to sew and that’s including hand sewing. They really liked the piggy bank and the plush owl.  Click here and scroll for “Sewing a Button” for instructions.


Hot Glue Fidget Spinner

Just in case fidget spinners are still cool at your library, here’s an easy DIY made out of a silicone mold, hot glue, skate bearing, and glitter.



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

Pencil Lead Pacman Control

So you have a couple of Makey Makey’s but you aren’t sure how to engage teens.  I’m faced with this every time I go to my storage closet and see a bin of 20 Makes Makey’s that I’ve used twice in two years.

We know that our teens like video games and we’ve discovered that our teens like to compete so we decided to have teens design their own game controller to compete in a Pacman competition.


Budget: $0-$250 (If you already have Makey Makey’s, it won’t cost you anything.)

Age: 7+

Supplies Needed:

How To:

  1. Set out Computers/Chromebooks and attach the Makey Makey, four alligator clips to the arrow inputs on the Makey Makey, and one alligator clip to the earth input.
  2. Cut white copy paper into quarters and have teens draw and shade in their own shapes on the paper.  It must extend to the end of the paper. See above picture for an example.
  3. Attach the arrow alligator clips to the pencil drawings and hold the tip of the earth alligator clip.
  4. Start the game and have teens touch their pencil lead controller buttons to play Pacman.
  5. Make sure you are using a Pacman game that keeps score.
  6. Document every time a teen achieves a high score and the teen with the highest score at the end of the day, wins.  We gave out a big bag of chips.


  • If the controller isn’t working, make sure the lead buttons are shaded in completely.  Also make sure the lead that is touching the alligator clip on the edge of the paper are thick lines.
  • Make sure teens are holding the tip of the earth alligator clip.
  • When teens play for a long time, sometimes it stops working.  This is because they have pencil lead residue on their fingers.  Have teens use hand sanitizer to clean their hands of lead.

Bonus Round: Geometry Dash

We have a big screen TV in our makerspace and we attached a Chromebook to the TV to have our teens compete in a Geometry Dash competition.

How To:

  1. Screen mirror your computer/Chromebook to your TV screen.  If you don’t have a large TV, just use the computer.
  2. Hook up the Makey Makey to your computer/Chromebook.
  3. Find a Geometry Dash game that works with the spacebar only.
  4. On the Makey Makey, attach one alligator clip to the space bar input and one alligator clip to the earth input.
  5. Have one teen hold the tip of the earth alligator clip and one teen hold the tip of the space bar alligator clip.
  6. Teens should clap to make the square jump.

How Does This Work?  Our bodies are conductive

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 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 Makerspace

Express Crafts: Shrinky Dinks

Remember Shrinky Dinks from the 80’s? Well I do and apparently it’s still fun as hell. Shrinky Dinks is a craft where you buy special plastic, color it, and put it in an oven for it to shrink into a charm.

What’s So Great About Them?  Teens are amazed that you can color on a thin piece of plastic and it turns into a miniature charm.  They also like to watch the Dinks shrink and flatten in the oven-the amazement on the faces of high school boys was awesome!

Time Needed: 15+ minutes

Budget: $0-$75

ZERO DOLLARS?! Yes, you don’t have to buy the plastic.  You can make Shrinky Dinks using #6 plastic.  Many food containers are made with #6 plastic, especially pastries from the grocery store.  We asked staff to save and donate their #6 food containers.  #6 shrinks and stiffens the best.


You will need a toaster or convection oven and if your library doesn’t have one and you don’t want to buy one, ask a staff member if you can borrow theirs.

Supplies Needed:

  • #6 plastic containers or Shrinky Dink Plastic
  • Sand paper if you use #6 plastic
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Images printed on paper
  • Toaster oven
  • Jump rings; keychain rings; pinback (optional)

Here’s How

I preprinted popular images and cut them out in squares.  They were about 4×4 inches.  Images included Harry Potter and superhero logos, sports team logos, Pokemon and Super Mario logos.  If you are worried about copyright, Google creative common images or allow teens to draw their own pictures.

Using a Sharpie/marker, trace the outline of the image on the shrink paper and color the image using colored pencil or markers.

  • If you are using purchased paper, trace and color on the rough side.
  • If you are using #6, sand paper one side and trace and color on the same side.
  • If you are making a keychain or necklace punch a hole in the plastic next to your colored image and cut out the image.
  • If you are using purchased paper, follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • If you are using #6 plastic, preheat the oven on 350 degrees.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 1-3 minutes.
    • It will begin to curl but don’t panic, it will flatten.  After it flattens, leave in the oven for 30 seconds and take out of the oven.  Lay a book on the Dink to ensure the flatness.
  • Hot glue a pinback to create fun charms.
My Slytherin tie pin made with #6.