Posted in Uncategorized

Faux Screen Printing

screen-printing-3Graphic Tees are very popular because it’s a way for teens to express who they are, their fandom, or their favorite band.  DIY graphic tees are a great way to turn consumers into producers.

Curriculum:  art, graphic design, career exploration

Budget: $10-$300

Expensive/Advanced Faux Screen Printing 1


Materials: Silhouette Cutting Machine, vinyl, fabric paint, t-shirts, Adobe Illustrator Draw app

If you have a larger budget or you own a cutting machine (doesn’t have to be a Silhouette), screen printing can be a fairly easy project.

  1. We had teens design a picture with the free Adobe Illustrator Draw app.
  2. Teens emailed their design to staff.
  3. We uploaded their design to the Silhouette software and printed it on adhesive vinyl.
  4. Teens placed the vinyl on the shirt and sponged fabric paint over the stencil.
  5. When it dries (use fans to speed up the drying process), teens pealed off the vinyl stencil.

screen-printing-2To make this a career exploration program, talk to the teens about logos/branding.  Have teens create their own company and ask them to design a logo for their new company.

Faux screen printing can be a program in graphic design for all skill levels by teaching the Adobe Illustrator app.

Expensive/Advanced Faux Screen Printing 2

Repeat steps 1 & 2.  Instead of cutting on vinyl, cut on stencil material. To give teens real life experience of screen printing, you can purchase a screen printing board.  This does get a little messy but messy is fun, right?

Intermediate Faux Screen Printing

If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can purchase stencil material on Amazon.  Teens can draw their design on the stencil and use an Exacto knife to cut it out.  Tape the stencil on the shirt and sponge fabric paint.

Easy Faux Screen Printing

If your library has a die cut machine, pre cut shapes or letters to use as stencils.  You can also purchase stencil designs.

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Turning the Teen Room into a Makerspace: Week 7

Last time on Turning the Teen Room into a Makerspace: Week 5 & 6, we played with our new toys and our maintenance staff was assembling the furniture.

Now that you’re caught up:

The furniture is finally assembled and now it time to arrange the room.  Here’s how we arranged The Hive:



Since we have an overwhelming demographic of artistic teens, half of the makerspace is dedicated to art.  The paintings on the wall were created by our staff member who also teaches our weekly art classes.  We will add teen created artwork to the wall.   The letters were purchased at Walmart


We have all types of artsy supplies.  Supplies include watercolors, all types of pencils/markers, plain/graph/comic paper, and coloring sheets.  There’s an art notebook for teens to fill pages.  The shelving unit was purchased at Ikea.

There’s a dry erase wall from floor to ceiling.  If you are able, I suggest investing in a dry erase wall-teens love it.  I’ve seen comic strips and a list of their favorite bands that took up the entire wall. It’s great for passive activities such as polling, listing faves, or program suggestions.

We hung a guitar for teens to remove on their own and play.  The guitar hanger and pick holder was purchased on Amazon.

There’s pillows and rugs for teens who like to create/make on the floor.  We have clipboards available for use.  We will also have a quarterly anthology where teens can submit their short stories, poetry, and artwork.  Our Creative Writing Club will organize and assemble the anthology for teens to look through while their in the room.

For the techy side of the room, we mounted three iPads.  You are able to restrict adding and removing apps, and getting on the internet.  We want to encourage teens to explore apps and not watch videos on Youtube or check in on Facebook so we restricted our iPads. iPad mounts were purchased from Amazon.

The Silhouette pictured is old and our new more awesome cutter will arrive any day now!!  When it arrives, it will be housed on this table.  I talked about the cutter and the certification in my previous post.  See the above link.

Our 3D Printer is the Lulzbot and we purchased the cart on Amazon.  Once again, teens will be required to be certified before they may use it.  We set up an account through Tinkercad and  You can have teens set up accounts with your email, set up lessons, and track progress.  Teens can log on anytime, at the library or at home, take five hours of lessons and then we will teach them how to send their designs to the printer. Once they are certified, they can print on their own.

This shelf contains robotics and maker crafts such as Ozobots, rubber band looms, and Lego Mindstorms.

We have two tables down the center of the room for making.  We covered the tables with chalkboard paint.  Tables were purchased at Ikea.

We have a book for each piece of equipment we own so that teens can learn on their own during open lab.  We also have crafting books in the art corner.  The books are reference books and they will stay in the room.



We are trying to stay away from paper flyers because they take up valuable table space.  To alleviate this, we have dry erase boards on the walls and a large screen in the front of the room.  All digital flyers are created on Canva. Canva is great because you can set your own dimensions to fit any screen.  The screen will feature upcoming events, completed projects, and a leaderboard of teens who complete challenges.  We have a sign outside the door displaying what’s going on in the room for the week.



Yay, storage!  We kept our TARDIS because it’s a storage shelf that looks like a TARDIS. In it, we keep supplies that need to be replenished and techy equipment that only comes out on special occasions such as the Google Cardboard and the Makey Makeys.

The other cabinet stores our Chromebooks and iPads.


As you can see, we don’t have a lot of decoration on the walls.  We have two painted guitars. The teens massacred the strings so we just removed the strings and turned them into wall decor.  And the only other thing we have is a clock.  We plan to fill the walls with teen created artwork.


We open Tuesday, September 6th and we’re excited for all the new amazing projects our teens will create.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at or leave a comment below.


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Turning the Teen Room Into a Makerspace: Month 1

In May 2015, we turned our computer lab into a teen room and we were excited!  All the usual suspects were there: gaming, crafting, dry erase wall, lounge furniture, pub tables and chairs, and computers.  We were averaging about 500 teens a month.


Why are we changing in just over a year?  We found that our teens weren’t using the room as it was intended.  Teens were using it as a hang out and hanging out is fine but when it incites fighting and bullying, we had to find a solution.

Our solution, mostly our director’s solution, was to provide a space that encouraged teens to engage in constructive activities.  Simply placing Little Bits on a table was not enough to  get their attention but hosting month-long workshops with Little Bits may get their attention.

hive 4


So our journey began in Mid July and the makerspace is slated to open September 6th.

Month 1:  Finding Furniture on a Budget.

We were given $3000 for furniture and since one table costs $3000 from Demco, we turned to Ikea and Worthington Direct.  Ikea’s wood tables are pretty  sturdy so that’s what we purchased from Ikea and we kept our Demco chairs from the old teen room (Always get library grade chairs).

We decided on tables, chairs, mounted iPads, and shelving to hold crafting and maker tools as our room layout.  We will have raised tables for people who like to make while standing. We will have shorter tables for small groups and picnic style tables with benches.

What Equipment Should We Get?

Once again we have a modest budget of $5000 so we chose to focus on coding, 3D printing, and circuitry.  Here’s our list of equipment. (Please note-we already owned a 3D printer)

* Little Bits     * Snap Circuits     * Ozobots      * Sphero     * LED     * Makey Makey

* Google Cardboard      * Lulzbot     * Screen Printing     * Raspberry Pi     * Makedo

*  Lego Mindstorms     *Arckit



We will have themed months and September is Electricity. We decided to do activities everyday to cut down on the “I am doing something” but they’re really just scribbling on a piece of paper and being loud.


Our room is called The Hive (our high school/town mascot is a bee). Our programming is called the Nectar Collective.  We are planning a brochure to send to schools, we will make a monthly activities calendar to give to patrons who use the room, and we’ll get some business cards for community/school visits.


This has been a long and exhausting month.  The teen room remained open and the summer reading club was in full swing during the entire planning process so that added to the pressure but my co worker and I tried to come to work with the realization that we are going to start the school year with a new room.  We will be able to provide educational yet exciting programs to our teens.

Next week: Repainting the room and assembling the furniture.


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Bon ApeTeens: Salsa & Smoothies

Bon ApeTeens is a series that teaches teens how to make no-cook snacks.  This month, teens learned how to make salsa and smoothies.

Budget- $30-$75

  • We borrowed blenders from staff.
  • Give teens a variety of ingredients to include in their salsa and smoothies.
  • Have teens take their desired ingredients to their station and give them safety kitchen scissors to chop/cut their fruits/vegetables.
  • Allow teens to operate the blenders.
  • Teens should be responsible for cleaning the blender between uses, their stations, and their utensils.

Other Options

  • Have teens make their own recipes as they make their salsa and smoothies.
  • You can use the extras to have a tasting of other recipes.
  • Turn it into a competition and have staff judge the finished foods.
Posted in Reader's Advisory, Uncategorized


I do a monthly booklist on YALSA’s The Hub.  Below you’ll find my posts.

Posted in Big Programs, Uncategorized

Saturday Librarian: Crafts for Geeks

Each craft had it’s own table and teens were free to move from craft to craft. There was a drying table that was covered with paper. Teens wrote their name on the paper and put their crafts by their name to dry.  We put pictures and/or step by step instructions (if needed) on every table.  This way, teens needed little to no assistance from staff.

Disclaimer: the Supernatural Wings took about 45 minutes.  The Time Turner is hard with a lot of steps.

The wands and the time turner were by far the most popular.

Harry Potter Wand-Instructions we used

Hermione’s Time Turner (Hard)-Instructions These are not the instructions I used but I lost mine.


Death Eater Masks (Harry Potter)-Plastic mask from OTC, Sharpies

Doctor Who galaxy t-shirt-Pinterest Pins

Supernatural Angel Wings-Instructions
Hello Kitty Headband-headbands, felt

Duct Tape Tardis-blue duct tape
Dr. Who’s Sonic Screwdriver-ink pen, clay, marble

geeks 3

Walking Dead-Gelatin, water, makeup, red food coloring

Harry Potter Owlery-Polymer clay, convection oven.

Hunger Games Capital Makeovers

crafts for geeks

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace, Uncategorized

Your Moment of STEM: Animation Creation

animation 3For many of our programs at the ZB Public Library, we try to show teens that their interests can be careers.

Since many youths and teens are interested in animated films, we used simple app to show teens how to create their own animations and short films just like the films they see on TV and at the movies.

What You Need

animation1The app is called Animation Creator and it costs $1.99.  If you have multiple iPads, tablets, or computers, you can upload the app on several devices.

We used iPads and supplied each teen with a stylus.

And that’s it!

How The App Works

animation 4The app allows you to draw your image frame by frame.  It shows you the location of your previous sketch so you can easily track your animation.  It also allows you to preview and edit.  Once you are satisfied, you can add audio.  You can also select the speed of your animation.  Once you are finished, you can upload it immediately to Youtube.

How Much Time Does it Take?

animation 2Because it can be quite tedious, I recommend allowing a 2 hour program for creation, uploading, and showcasing everyone’s films.

Total Cost-$1.99-$10 (Cost of the app and Styluses)


Below, you will find the projects created by the students in the pictures. There are 9 films in all; click the “next” button to advance the animations.

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Bad Art Night

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To jump off our first annual art contest, we hosted bad art night to get teens in the mood for some good art.

What is Bad Art Night?

We set out paint and paper and told them to make the ugliest art they could think of.  Many teens struggled with this because, as we all know and this includes teens, art is subjective.  Many of them still didn’t “get it” and their art work was really good.  So we told them to think of sad clowns and the preverbal bowl-of-fruit still life.

To make the occasion complete, we served meats and cheeses and sparking juice.

We discovered that one girl seemed to watch some inappropriate tv/movies.


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Maker Camp For Girls

IMG_1329As many of you have experienced, your Minecraft, robotics, Lego, science, or other maker program is mainly attended by boys.  As our nation becomes more digital, we know that it is vital for young ladies to consider these careers so we provided a maker camp for middle to high school aged girls. Rowdy Girls Maker Camp was a four-week camp that ran from 1-3pm.  The themes included video game creation, LEDs, simple machines, and soldering. We have never done anything like this before and we were a bit worried if any girls would come. We do several crafting programs which are overwhelmingly attended by girls. Crafting is making, you say? Why yes it is, but our crafting programs usually focus on design.  So that got us thinking, if we market Rowdy Girls as design and engineering (STEAM) perhaps we’ll get some attendance. We did! The attendance was low but it was good considering this was our first venture.

Week 1: Video Game Creation

We used the Floors app from Pixel Press. As of now, you can only create on an iPad but you can play games on phones.  WithIMG_0637 Floors, you use a grid sheet to design/draw your game and then you scan your design into the app.  After it is scanned, you can change your hero and your background. Floors focuses on designing and not coding.  Just like real game designers, teens must play their game, find the problems, and redesign.  Potential design problems could be that the game is too easy or too difficult.  Teens test each other’s games and provide constructive criticism and it’s back to the drawing board.


  • Pixel Press provides printable lesson plans.
  • Pixel Press has short instructional videos on Vimeo.
    • If you have Apple TV, you can show the videos in the front of the class.
  • It’s free.
    • All you need is the app, the printable grid, a pencil, a ruler, and an eraser.


  • It takes a long time to design, test and redesign.
    • Our program was 2 hours.  After the overview, the lesson plan, and watching videos we had about 1.5 hours left andIMG_0638 we ran out of time to redesign.
      • I suggest having the teens make a simple video game for the first two fioors and increase the difficulty for the third floor.  It took my teens about 45 minutes to design because they wanted to put every obstacle available on each floor.
  • The game won’t work if the lines aren’t dark and straight.
    • Although I told them this and told them to use a ruler, they didn’t listen and after they uploaded their game, it didn’t translate in the app.
      • Encourage teens to only do a couple of obstacles and to use a ruler.  You can draw in the app without paper and you can edit your paper design in the app but it’s clunky.
  • Scanning
    • Scanning designs in the app can be difficult. It’s like a QR code but tougher.  We found that having one person balance the dot in the middle of the screen and having another person position the paper under the iPad was the most effective method.

Overall I highly recommend this app.  The girls had fun and they were excited to see something they designed on paper come to life as a real game that everyone could play.

Click here to see the video

Week 2: LED Duct Tape Belts

LEDs are everywhere and teens use them everyday but most of them don’t know what they are.  LEDs are cheap and exciting way to teach teens about positive and negative battery charges.

Once again to attract girls, we used design by way of duct tape belts. We begin this camp with a quick lesson on LEDs and how they are used.  We gave the girls a battery and LEDs to let them explore.  We purchased the batteries and LEDs from

After exploring, we had teens design a duct tape belt. I purposely purchased plain duct tape so that they wouldn’t rely on patterned tape.


  1. Pick duct tape colors and LED colors.
  2. Measure your waist to make sure your belt is long enough and make sure it’s thin enough to fit through the belt loops.
  3. Make the belt.
  4. Put on the belt to decide where you want to put the LEDs.  Have a friend make a dot with a Sharpie to indicate the placement of the LEDs.
  5. Use a push pin to start the hole then use a screwdriver to make the hole bigger.
  6. Place the LEDs in desired spots and secure the batteries with duct tape.

Click here to see a video on how to make a LED duct tape belt.

Week 3: Castles and Catapults 

IMG_1281This week was a lesson of simple machines.  We began with a quick lesson on the invention of catapults and lesson on simple machines how we use them everyday.  We had the girls make and design castle out of a shoe box and paper towel rolls.  Assign each person a different color. Then they all made the same catapult.  You can Google a catapult instruction or use the book, Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Each teen also received an equal number of marshmallows.  Marshmallows should be color coded. (We got the idea of catapults and marshmallows from the Arlington Heights Public Library).

Teens then find a place on the floor, equal distances apart and they launch marshmallows.  The goal is to get marshmallows in other’s castles. Tip: Let the marshmallows get stale a week before the program. Fresh marshmallows can ruin carpet.

Let the teens launch their marshmallows and when all are launched, they count to see how many marshmallows they landed.

After the first launch, have a discussion about their observances.  Have teens evaluate their catapults-did the marshmallow fly straight and/or far, was the arc too high or too low?  Provide more popsicle sticks and rubber bands and allow teens to redesign and practice launch their marshmallows for 10 minutes. (For the redesign, teens may use as many sticks and rubber bands as the need.)

Have a second launch and recount marshmallows.  Repeat the discussion within the time allowed.

Click here to see the video

Week 4: Soldering

IMG_1341Soldering can be scary to teens and librarians.  We had never seen a soldering iron and we were scared to use it and to let teens touch it.  We had one of our teens who took jewelry making in high school teach us how.  I’ll explain the beginning and Tomani will show you the soldering part.


  • Soldering Iron-I purchased ours from
  • Flux-I purchased it from Ace Hardware
  • Solder-Purchased from Hobby Lobby.
  • Sandpaper
  • Tweezers
  • Wire cutters
  • Ceramic bowl of water


  1. Rub sandpaper on the metals you plan to solder. This rids the metal of the oils from your fingers.
  2. Cut a piece of solder with the wire cutters
  3. Using tweezers to hold the piece of metal (ring) you plan to solder and add flux.
  4. Use tweezers to put the solder on the ring and add more flux.
  5. Use the tweezers to add the second piece of metal you plan to fuse.  We used a jump ring in the video.
  6. Add more flux
  7. Solder the metals.
  8. Place the newly soldered jewelry in the bowl of water to cool. They took turns soldering a jump ring to a ring to get them used to the soldering iron. We then laid out materials to make jewelry and let the teens create.

How to solder


As I stated before, we had low attendance and the most attended was soldering.  Many of the attendees came to 2 or more meetings.

Girls between grades 5-12 attended Rowdy Girls.