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Candles & Art

Transferring original or traced art onto candles are surprisingly easy and very cool. We found this craft on Youtube.

Budget: $50+/12 teens (Depending on supplies you already have-heat gun)


Follow the video for instructions.


  •  The project based on the video will only take about 15 minutes and would be more appropriate as a drop in program. If you want a 1.5 hour program, I’d suggest encouraging original art. Or have other candle themed crafts.
  • Have some pre-printed images for those non-artistic teens.
  • We didn’t use as much wax paper as the video. We used enough wax paper to cover the image but it didn’t meet on the back of the candle.  We had teens tape down the wax paper.
  • Cutting out the image is important. It won’t transfer properly if they don’t cut out as much tissue paper as possible.
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Robotic Mini Golf

How can you take a fun family activity such as mini golf and turn it into a STEM activity?  Use robots instead of a golf ball.

Budget: Free if you already have Spheros.


  • Spheres-One or more
  • Lots of paper
  • Lots of tape
  • Whatever you have laying around your craft closet.


  1. Set up your course however you like using whatever you have in your craft closet. You can make it as big or as small as you like.
  2. We had lots of Harry Potter, Star Wars, and halloween stuff in our closet and weQoQGxIQbT42Rp9kePYSfoA

    decided on halloween decor.  We called it Face Your Fears Mini Golf.

  3. Looking through our decor, I had enough stuff for eight holes. The holes were labeled based on common fears-witches, spiders, clowns, graveyards, death, haunted houses, mummies, and ghosts.  We used our props to make obstacles.
  4. Each hole was designated by paper. Each hole had a starting point-a black dot. And a an ending point-white circle. The objective was to start on the black dot and to drive the Sphero to the white circle without hitting any obstacles or going off the paper. Every time an obstacle was hit or if the Sphero went off the paper, the participant received a point.  It’s important to stress that the lowest score wins if they are playing on teams.
  5. I printed put put robot golf score sheet and participants went to each hole.


  • We made ours big because why not but you don’t have to. You can make yours smaller and without backboards or props.
  • You can put this activity in the stacks throughout the library.
  • If you want a bigger challenge, you can require participants to code their robot rather than drive them.
  • Keeping the speed slow allows better control of the robot. If  you want a challenge, have participants increase the speed.
  • For added fun, preset the colors of the Spheros so that everyone has a different color.
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Emoji Crafts

As a programmer, I often need a theme that will attract a large number of teens (besides slime.) Emojis are still popular and it’s popular among all ages and genders!  Here are some of our more successful emoji activities.

Pouch 1


  • Four sheets of yellow feltIMG_1355
  • Felt circles (Black and white for the eyes)
  • Multi colored felt squares
  • Fabric glue
  • Hot glue
  • Zippers
  • Batting
  • Sewing machine or needles and thread

Prep: We pre-cut the yellow circles, hearts, tear drops, and mouths.  (If you do this as a longer program, teens can cut their own shapes)


  1. Teens need to decide if they are going to make a pillow or a zipped pouch.
    1. Pillows-Sew or hot glue three quarters of two large yellow circles.  Stuff the pillow with batting and continue the circle.
    2. Pouch-Sew or glue the three quarters of two large yellow circles.  Hot glue the zipper to the inside of the top or
      1. Cut a slit on one of the large yellow circles and glue a zipper on the inside. (this way is easier just be sure to buy short zippers-5″)
  2. Using fabric glue, have the teens design their emoji.

Pouch 2

This can be a no sew pouch or you can sew or hot glue a zipper to the top.


  • Felt squares of varied colors18268194_1499356746764761_7877152876927319537_n
  • Felt glue
  • Hot glue
  • needle and thread (optional)
  • zipper (optional)


  1. Choose two felt rectangles of equal size
  2. Glue or sew three sides.
  3. Have teens use felt to make their favorite emoji
  4. Hot glue emoji to pouch
  5. Teens can glue or sew a zipper (optional)

Flair (Shrinky Dinks)

You can make Shrinky Dinks RIzp5GVHR7KD7l04nWvzAgusing #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:

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.ZDaUO9pMS6uzJty3JAf1vw
  • 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.

Charms/Jewelry (Polymer Clay)

Polymer Clay is used to make small figurines or jewelry and requires baking to harden.   If you don’t have a convection oven, ask staff if they’d be willing to donate theirs for the day.


  • Provide hand sanitizer and napkins because if teens use red clay and then use polymer clay 3
    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!



  • Containers
  • Oil Sharpies
  • Ingredients to make yellow slime (We made fluffy slime)


  • Have teens make fluffy slime.
    • The containers are big so if you want to fill it to the top, make a slime that take up more space than regular slime.
  • Use the oil Sharpies to draw their favorite emoji.
    • Oil Sharpies are EXPENSIVE so you can use paint.


You can purchase eraser clay and prepare it similarly to polymer clay.

Supplies: Eraser Clay

Perler Beads Earbud Holder


Teens like perler beads and here’s a craft to take it to the next level.

Below is the picture of the final product.  As you can see, ours are not emojis but you can easily make it into an emoji.  Here is a Pin of an emoji earbud holder


  • Circle pegboards
  • Lots of yellow perler beads
  • E6000 glue
  • Large binder clip


  1. Use the circle pegboard.fullsizeoutput_38f
  2. Have teens make two emojis; they can be different.
    1. It’s important that the open space is equal on both sides and are in the same spot as the second emoji.  See the picture.
  3. Have teens make two smaller circles for the center.
  4. Use E6000 to glue all the parts together.


  • Make sure the open space is equal on both sides.
  • We used E6000 glue to hold the center pieces.  We then clamped it shut with a large binder clip and told the teens to leave it clamped for a couple of hours before using it.



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Follow Me on Instagram

I’m CONSTANTLY planning, succeeding, failing, and everything in between so follow my journey as I spend hours trying to make fidget spinners and slime and murder mysteries.  I’ll post videos, pics, and how to’s for all my fellow programming librarians.

Click the image below to follow me on Instagram.

Teen Services Depot

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Teen Read Week: Unleash Your Story

Teen Read Week is October 8-14, 2017 with the tagline-Unleash Your Story.  At our library, we are taking this theme literally and will be hosting creative writing activities.  If you need creative writing ideas or you’d just like to see what TRW will look like at the Zion-Benton Public Library, enjoy.

Please find the worksheets mentioned here.

We will be hosting our annual short story contest during the month of October.  I wrote a post on hosting short story contests and you can read it here.

Monday, October 9th-Columbus Day-You Wanna Write Good?

Because students have the day off, we decided to take advantage and do hourly creative writing activities while serving pumpkin spiced treats. There will be a total of eight activities and they include:

  • Fantasy Maps-Many fantasy books include maps and the most exciting map I can think of is Game of Thrones.  To capitalize on map popularity, we will have teens create a fantasy world around a unique map.  To do the map, we’ll give teens plain or graph paper, a pencil, and a handful of gems, rocks (something that won’t roll).  they will drop the gems on the paper and trace around the gems to create their map.  After they remove their gems, they can name their world and the individual land masses, designate bodies of water, mountains, etc.
    • Teens will then begin their world building by filling out the worksheet.  If time permits, teens may begin writing their story.
  • Emoji Storytime-We have a big spinning wheel with removable inserts.  We will insert popular emoji’s and teens can spin the wheel four times and start a story based on the emojis they were given.  If you don’t have a wheel, you can buy large dice and glue emojis or you can print a bunch of emojis, lay them face down, and have teens pick at random.
  • Show Don’t Tell-I found this on Pinterest.
  • The Upside Down-This will be a lesson on writing parallel universes.  I had my coworker draw the picture in the Google Doc.
    • I will explain the definition of a parallel universe and how it differs from time travel and alternate universes.
    • Teens will then fill out the worksheet based on the picture to outline their story.
    • Teens may then begin their stories.
  • Cootie Catcher Fairytales-(We call them cootie catchers but your teens may call them fortune tellers.) Teens will choose a fairytale to reimagine.  They can swap the villain and the hero; turn the hero from a princess to an assassin; swap gender roles; etc.  See the cootie catcher below for instructions.
  • Brown Bag  Time Travel-Teens will choose a historical time period to send their hero/heroine.
    • I’ll make cards containing historic world events and attach the first Wikipedia page of that event.
    • I’ll have three paper bags that contain a genre, a mode of transportation, a mission.  Teens will have to pick from each bag.
    • Teens will then begin to outline their story by deciding the identities of the other crew members; what happens the moment they return from their mission (how has the world changed); and the info from the paper bags-genre; transportation; and mission.
  • Mashed Origin Stories-Teens will work with a partner and play MASH. They will re write their super heroes origin story based on their outcome.  Theywill then redo their superheroes logo.
  • Scary Stories-Teens will learn how to write a scary story
    • We will play Plinko.  If you don’t have a Plinko game, teens can choose from a cauldron, skeleton, or anything associated with Halloween.
    • From your containers, teens can choose a location, hero, or a sentence starter.
    • Teens will then outline their story and begin writing if time permits.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017-Webcomics

Webcomics are short comics that are posted to the web.  A notable webcomic is Cyanide and Happiness.  The graphic novel, Nimona, began as a webcomic.

  • First, you need to find a free hosting site or a free website for teens to upload their webcomics.  We will be using Comic Fury.  Teens will create their own account.  They do not need an email that they have to check to get started which is GREAT!  The website is cluttered but it’s easy to customize.
  • Next we will be working on the comic.  We will not be teaching art because webcomics rely more on story than art.  Teens don’t need to be great artists; they can draw stick figures, etc.  We will be stressing that webcomics are usually short and should have an engaging story.  Teens need to decide the genre-humor, fantasy, horror, contemporary, etc.  We will provide pencil and paper for teens to story board.
  • Once they have an idea, they may begin.  Our teens will use Adobe Draw on an iPad.  They can draw panels, the art and the words.  The advantage of Draw is that you can upload directly to Comic Fury without the possibility of blurry imagery.  You can create on paper but teens will have to scan and upload and make sure their image is at least 300dpi.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017-Animated Shorts

Animated shorts are short animation stories.   Our stories will be under 7 minutes.

  • We will be using the Do Ink Green Screen App and the Do Ink Drawing and Animation App. When purchased together, the cost is $5.99.
    • The Green Screen App is pretty easy to use once you figure out what goes in the foreground and the background.  The green screen tutorial is pretty good. The drawing app has one tutorial on how to animate stock drawings which is easy but doing your own animation was a bit of a challenge.
      • How to do your own drawings:
        • Tap “new drawing” in the new project window (+) and draw your picture.
        • Go back to gallery and tap “new composition.”
        • At the top of the new composition screen, tap the star shape to find and insert your original drawing. Tap your drawing to insert.
        • Watch the drawing app tutorial to learn how to animate.
  • Teens will begin by writing their short story.
  • They will then storyboarding each scene including dialog and animation.
  • They will use the Do Ink Animation app to draw or use stock images to animate.
  • Using the Do Ink Green Screen app, teens will film each scene and then add animation during editing.
  • If there is time, we will have a film festival and watch everyone’s shorts.  If there’s no time, we will post the films on Facebook and/or Youtube.

Thursday, October 12, 2017-Comic Jam

We are actually doing zines but our teens don’t know what a zine is so we changed the name to get teens in the door.

Zines are small magazines about whatever you want. Here is a link on how to make a zine.

Have a great Teen Read Week!

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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.