Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery Part 2: Casting & Promoting

Part 1: Murder Mystery


After we select our theme, we get a cast.  For the past two years, we had teens as the cast. We simple asked our regular teens and if we needed more, we asked for volunteers on Instagram and Facebook.

This year we will have staff as the cast and this is because we are behind in our planning.  However, our first murder mystery featured staff and having staff as the cast can be fun because teens get to see their librarians in a different atmosphere.  At our murder mystery, they will get to see their youth librarian be a goth overhyped wedding DJ-how cool is that?

The Script

Most of the time we let the teens help us write the script but once again, we are in crunch time and we have to write it ourselves.  Yes, we write our own script and it’s surprisingly not hard.

  • You’ve decided on a theme and that’s extremely helpful.
  • Choose thematic games/activities because this will be the bulk of your party and an easy way to involve the cast.
    • Two years ago the theme was a slumber party and the participants played traditional slumber party games-truth or dare; makeovers; hide and seek.
    • This year with the wedding reception theme, the activities include two truths and a lie; musical chairs; and the throwing of the bouquet and guarder.  The first two activities are traditions from other countries because American receptions are just dancing and eating-boring for teens.
  • We usually minimal lines for the cast to memorize and encourage them to improvise and remain in character the entire party.  Each character has a profile so that cast member knows how to behave during the party.  For this party, the cast will be sitting at the head table and may have their script in front of them.
  • We always email the script two weeks prior to the party and ask the cast to memorize their lines. We do dress rehearsals two hours before the party and we feed them dinner.  It’s difficult to get teens together to rehearse but we’ve never had a problem rehearsing immediately before the event.

I will post the complete script in February after our murder mystery.


If you have a library that gets attendance through your newsletter, congrats to you-you can skip this section.  If you are like my library where your patrons do not read their newsletter and you have to promote your programs to an inch of death, keep reading.

We of course do the traditional flyers around the library so the following is in addition to that.

  • We send out personal invitations to your regular teens through the snail mail.
    • We always make our invites fancy and not with the MS Publisher template invites.  They are always on theme so this year, the invites will resemble a real wedding invitation.
      • We place an additional invite for teens to give to a friend.
    • We also pass out invites to teens who visit the makerspace and we use the same fancy invites.
  • We TRY to take pictures of the cast in their costumes to be placed on the flyers and social media.
    • We put each cast member on their own flyer to make them look like suspects.
      • If you have teen actors and you can’t get them to send a pic of them in their costume, ask them if you can take a picture from their social media to use on a flyer.
      • We also use these suspect flyers on social media.
        • One year, we had cast members take some videos in character and
          Social Media whodunit promos

          we posted them on social media.  This is optional but we do this because your social media flyers will eventually get ignored and this way, we are catching their attention.

    • “Chalk” outline in the stacks.
      • We use tape to make a “chalk” out line of a dead body on the floor of the YA stacks and tape a flyer in the center of the outline.  This is a guaranteed way to get teens to see your flyer.
    • Book Display-We create a big thematic book display.

Image 1-12-18 at 10.02 AM

We do a big promotion because this is our winter quarter big event and we often get new faces at the murder mystery that turn into new teen patrons.  You of course do not have to do all of this.


Please visit Teen Services Depot next Friday for a post on Escape Rooms and how we will incorporate one into our murder mystery.


Posted in Big Programs

Murder Mystery Part 1

Every once in a while I see librarians request murder mystery and escape room programming info.  At my library, we do a murder mystery every year and we’ve done two different escape room programs.  It is about that time for our annual murder mystery/escape room party so to give others some ideas, I’ll write an ongoing post about the programming process.


We change the theme every year because we’ve found that choosing a pop culture theme gets the most attendance and since pop culture trends change quickly, our theme changes every year.

2017’s theme was in honor of the popular TV show-American Horror Story.  Here’s the info.

2016’s theme was in honor of the popular TV show at the time-Scream Queens. He’s the info.

We always survey our teens in some way before we choose a theme.  This is done with a paper survey during school visits or through discussions.  When we do a paper survey, we ask one question-what’s your favorite TV show/movie?  We then list a bunch of titles and ask them to circle what they like and we also leave a blank to fill in.  This is strategic because if the survey is too long, they won’t do it.

This year, our survey was done verbally and based on their conversations and responses, we chose the song, I Write Sins not Tragedies by Panic at the Disco.  Our teens love this band and that song-even though it is old as hell.

We changed the name to Panic at the Library and we will follow the spirit of the music video.  The party will resemble a wedding reception where the groom will get murdered for nefarious deeds.  The attending teens will be invited guests and we’ll play traditional wedding reception games/activities.  It’s not just a wedding but a goth wedding with a freak show undertone like the video.  I’ll write about the actual party in a future post.

Based on national pop culture trends, possible theme ideas include Stranger Things, Riverdale, IT, or Pretty Little Liars.

Visit the blog every Friday in January and February for new topics.  Part two-promotion and casting.

Posted in Makerspace

Fidget Spinners Part 2: Hot Glue

Part 2 will focus on making a fidget spinner out of hot glue.  To see how to make a spinner out of paper, please click here.

I made a video of the instructions and below you will see written steps.

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Budget: $50 +

Time Needed: 30 minutes

Supplies Needed:

  • Amazing Mold Putty ($16 for 150 grams)
  • Hot glue
  • Hot glue guns
  • Ball Bearings (You can buy cheaper bearings)
  • Adhesive glue spray (Ask your maintenance department first)
  • glitter
  • Aerosol hair spray
  • Fan (any kind of fan for drying)
  • Paint or nail polish  (Ask staff for nail polish donations)
  • Cheap fidget spinner to make your mold
  • Grease for bearings (Ask your maintenance dept. first)
  • Pennies

How To:

  1. Pre make your molds by following the instructions on the product.
    1. Disclaimer-the 150g box only makes four molds.
  2. Press your real spinner in the clay.
  3. Using a box cutter/Exacto knife, cut off the nibs left behind from your real spinner.
  4. Place your spinner in the center of mold.
    1. The bearings linked above are pre greased.  If you purchase a different bearing, simple push off the cover using a staple.  See if the balls are greased; if not, grease them.  This is optional but grease makes them spin faster.
    2. You can 3D print fidget spinner caps from Thingiverse.  I haven’t done this yet but I will.  Make sure you check the size of your bearings before you choose a cap to be sure it’s the correct size.
  5. Start with the bearing when you begin to hot glue.  Then continue to fill the rest of the mold with hot glue
    1. Tell teens to wait a minute after they insert a new glue stick to allow it to get hot.
  6. Wait a couple of minutes for the glue to dry and remove from mold.
  7. Using hot glue, fill in any holes and valleys.  Glue around the sides to clean it up. Wait another minute while it dries.  Make sure teens hold it while it’s drying.
  8. Spray the spinner with adhesive glue and pour glitter on the spinner over a bowl. Only do one side.
  9. Spray the spinner with hair spray to seal the glitter.
  10. Have teens put their spinner on a drying table in front of a fan.
    1. If you don’t use a fan, it will take a couple of hours to dry.  Ask your maintenance dept. if they have fans.
  11. Once it’s dry, repeat on the other side.
    1. If you want to use pennies as weights, hot glue the pennies to this side and cover with glitter.
    2. Teens can make another spinner or eat snacks while they wait for their spinner to dry.
  12. If they do not want to use glitter, they may use paint or keep it clear.
  13. You do not have to use glitter to make a cool spinner.
    1. Teens can insert gems, sequins, pom poms, etc into the glue before it hardens as decoration.
    2. You can also purchase glitter glue sticks from Amazon, Hobby Lobby, or Dollar Tree.

Using Fidget Spinners to Teach STEAM

See part 1 for full STEAM ideas.

You can use the ball bearings to teach friction and torque.  I got a C in high school physics so I’ll just reference you to an article I found online.


Posted in Makerspace

Fidget Spinners Part 1: Paper

Fidget spinners are perfect for makerspaces because it fits all the letters of STEAM and you can tailor your program to fit the interests of your teens.  Part 1 will focus on paper fidget spinners and next week will focus on glue fidget spinners.

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If you want a beginner fidget spinner program, try the artsy/crafty approach.  

Budget:  $5-$20

Time Needed: 30 minutes-1.5 hours

Supplies Needed:

Cardstock- Assorted colors

Large gems (Walmart or Dollar Store)

Plastic drinking straws

Hot Glue

Glue stick



Standard hole punch


How To:

  1.  Print out a fidget spinner template on cardstock.  Allow teens to choose their own colors.  This is not the one I used in the picture but any template will do.  Here’s a good one.  You can pre cut them or give each teen three sheets and let them choose and cut.  It depends on the length of your program.
  2. Using a glue stick, glue three spinners together-this is for thickness.
    1. Optional-you can use white cardboard or foam core but you’ll have use an Exacto knife to cut cleanly.  If you don’t mind your teens using an Exacto knife, simply give teens a template on printer paper, let them cut it out and trace it on cardboard or foam core, and let them use the Exacto knife to cut out a thicker fidget spinner.
  3. Allow teens time to draw their own artwork on both sides of their spinner.fidget spinner 8
    1. Optional-Take out the glitter and let them go nuts. Crafter tip-after you glitter, use cheap aerosol hairspray to seal the glitter.
  4. Cut a small piece of the straw.
  5. Place a small tab of hot glue in the center of the gem and glue one end of the straw.
  6. Punch a hole through the center of the spinner.
  7. Put the straw that’s glued to the gem through the hole.  The straw should not protrude too far, if it does cut if off. If the straw is too long, it won’t spin evenly.
  8. Hot glue the other gem to the straw and allow to dry.
  9. Trace the penny on cardstock and cut out three circles. Hot glue the circles to the pennies and the pennies to the spinner.



If you want to incorporate design and/or computers, try this approach.

Use computers or iPads to allow teens to design their fidget spinner. Teens can use the free Adobe Illustrator app to draw their own spinner.  It’s important that spinners be symmetrical and the Adobe app will allow you to cut and paste and rearrange to ensure symmetry.  Print their designs and follow the steps above.

Teens can also free draw a spinner.  Once again, symmetry is important so provide rulers.  Print their designs on cardstock and follow the steps above.


  • Change the project sheet to grid.  This will make it easier to draw equal sides.
  • Have teens begin with a circle that’s 3 centimeters or 3 squares. (They can erase it later).
  • Have teens make three sides instead of four.  It was a challenge to use the hole punch with four sides.
  • Upon completion, have teens email their designs to you.  Once you receive the email, copy and paste it into publisher because you can resize it.  Resize the spinner to 3 inches.  Copy and paste three spinners to one sheet and print on cardstock.


If you are focusing on physics, try this approach.

Fidget spinners use Newton’s first law of motion-inertia. An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Basically, spinners work because of symmetry and you can teach this.

You can pre make a spinner that is slightly unbalanced/unsymmetrical and have teens use critical thinking skills to tell you why it doesn’t spin well.  Have teens redesign the spinner to make it symmetrical.  You can also play with weight.  You can demonstrate the importance of weight, or balance, by placing two pennies on one side and one penny on the other sides.  When it’s time for teens to make their own spinner, give teens weight options-pennies, dimes, washers, magnets, etc.  They can experiment to see which weights spin faster. Here’s a great site for reference.

Ball bearings also contribute to the physics of fidget spinners because of friction.  The above spinners don’t use ball bearings but my part 2 post will.  Stay tuned.


Posted in Uncategorized

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.

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Posted in Holiday Programs, Makerspace

Chibi Holiday Cards

I see visions of cardstock, die cut winter shapes, and glue dancing in my head.  It’s holiday card making season which means tables of kids and teens surrounded by a tables of card making supplies.  If you would like to add STEM to your program, add chibitronics.

Budget: Assuming you have the basic supplies-$35-$55

Length: 30 minutes

Supplies Needed:

  • Cardstock of all colors
  • Paint Sample (I took a bunch from Walmart)
  • Glue stick
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Scotch Tape
  • Gem stickers & foam stickers
  • Hole punch
  • Mounting tape or little pieces of cardboard if you are on a budget
  • Stamps (optional)
  • Copper Tape
  • Chibitronics $30/30-Yes, it is expensive!

Here’s How:

  • Cut colored cardstock into quarter sheets.
  • Cut white cardstock into slightly larger sheets.
    • I used white becasue teens used holiday stamps on the back and it’s easier to see on white paper.
  • The Cover.
    • Begin by punching a hole at the top middle of the paper. This is where you will see the light on the chibi.
    • Allow teens to decorate the cover.
      • Have teens cut three triangles with the paint samples.
      • Layer the triangles to look like trees.
      • Stick a gem/sticker on top of the outside trees.
      • I have snow but if you look at the image below, you can precut circles and I’ll tell you how to use it later.

holiday cards 8


  • Behind The Curtain
    • Copy the images below if you prefer.
      • If you prefer to know how it works:
        • Pre cut little strips of paper for the battery holder and tape it to the bottom right.
        • Run to pieces of copper tape paralell (remember to cut the tape in half).  Have teens place one long piece of tape.  Don’t cut the tape; it can break the circuit.
        • The left side should run longer then turn right. The tape should run all the way onto the battery holder.
        • The right side should be shorter before you turn right.  Run the right tape over the top of the battery holder.
        • The chibi can be place either way and your battery should be placed accordingly.  In the picture, the + side of my chibi is on the left and therefore, the left side of the tape should touch the + side of the battery.
          • TIP-If you’ve done your circuits correctly and your chibi doesn’t work, press your copper tape and your chibi down.  If this doesn’t work, try a new battery.
        • Tape the bottom half of the battery.  Be sure the tape doesn’t cover the entire battery because it breaks the circut.
        • When you fold the battery holder down, it should activate the chibi.
  • Complete The Card
    • Place the mounting tape on three sides of the bottom and secure the cover.  Make sure the chibi light shows through the hole.
    • Get your little white circle cut outs and find the battery holder with your finger.  Glue the circle on top of the battery holder.
    • Use a stamp to stamp “Press Here” or write it.
    • Flip the card over and stamp or write a holiday greeting.
holiday cards 6
The white circle activates the light when it is pressed.


All Done!

Do you have teens who just want to make cards?  You can make the card above without the chibitronic. You can also turn your holiday cards program into community service.  Check out this link below for information on how to send holiday cards to incarcerated youth.

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

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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.


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.


  • 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
Posted in Holiday Programs, Makerspace

Christmas in the Makerspace

We recently turned out teen room into a makerspace and while we used to decorate the teen room for the holidays, I wanted to do something different for the makerspace.  Instead of simply putting up decor and trimming the tree, teens will make ornaments for our the tree and to take home.  All of my ideas came from Pinterest.  If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, I have a link to my page on the right of this post.

Ornaments Ideas:

Ornaments with Hot Glue

Hot glue -For some strange reason, our teens love the hot glue gun.  It’s like normal glue is useless because they only want to hot glue things together.  To satiate the love, they’ll make snowflakes using hot glue and nail polish or paint.  Here’s the craft on Pinterest.

Hot glue and Modge Podge Snowflakes

Pipe Cleaner and Borax Snowflakes

Don’t have a tree but have windows? Snowflake Window Cling Snowflake Window Cling

Ornaments with Popsicle Sticks


Tree Tree

Clear Balled Ornaments-  I purchased ornaments at The Dollar Tree for 2/$1

Harry Potter Themed


Teen’s Names

Melted Crayon

Sewing/Yarn Ornaments

Trees & Stars

Yarn Hats

And of course you can’t forget good old 3D printing ornaments.

Happy Holidays!




Posted in Makerspace

Unicorn Party

Yes, teens still like unicorns so we hosted a maker party for these unicorn enthusiasts.

Supplies Needed for Headbands:

Felt sheets, headbands, poly-fit, hot glue, ribbon/string, flowers

Optional Supplies (Craft Closet Cleanout!)

Ribbon, gems, tule.

How to Make Horn Headbands:

  1. Print, cut out, and let teens the stencil on the felt.
  2. I followed this site.  I had teens use hot glue to make the horn instead of sewing because my teens don’t know how to sew and I was by myself and wouldn’t have had time to teach hand sewing.  I would, however, highly recommend teaching hand sewing; it’s a useful skill many teens lack.
  3. Teens could then use anything they wanted to decorate.

Using LEDs

Supplies Needed

Coin battery, battery holder, LEDs, hole punch

  1. This should be done before teens glue flowers to their horn.
  2. Using the hole punch, punch a hole through the center of a flower.
  3. Assemble the LED to the battery holder.
  4. Place the LED head through the flower hole.
  5. Hot glue the batter pack to the horn behind the flower.


Unicorn Shirts

E0fOVUmpSgOJH7OpcRnVGwDisclaimer: I bought t-shirts and screen printed a unicorn on the shirts using a stencil I made with my Silhouette and a cheap screen printing kit.  

If you have a Silhouette, Cricut, or some other vinyl cutting machine, you can make a stencil, have teens sponge fabric paint, let the shirts dry while the make their head band.

If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can buy a stencil and let teens sponge fabric paint.

Teens used puffy paint, fabric markers, and fabric spray paint to decorate their shirts.

We hired a face painter.

Have Fun!



Posted in Makerspace

Quick STEAM: Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead/Dia los de Muertos is November 2.  If you are crafting during your celebration and you are looking to add STEAM to them, check out this chibi mask.

You’ll Need:


Markers/colored pencils

Puffy Paint (optional)

Craft Stick


Copper tape


If you are looking for cheap ideas, the mask in the picture can be printed on cardstock. There are other masks to choose from if you do a Google image search.  You can also purchase masks for teens to color.

I will print the linked masks and blank masks for teens to make their own designs.  You can use puffy paint and markers to add dimension.


How to Add Chibis

I put the chibi on the front of the mask because it shines the brightest.  Please refer to the picture for directions.  Make sure the positive side of the copper tape touches the positive side of the battery and the same for the negative side.  If your chibi blinks or goes out, make sure your battery is taped down tightly.