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Teen Coloring Postcards: Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 5

postcard4Although we have a Teen MakerSpace that tends to be technology focused, we have also found that our teens want and enjoy a lot of more traditional arts and crafts. In fact, we have created both a drawing and teen coloring station in our Teen MakerSpace and both have proven to be very popular. So when we were trying to think of a 3rd quick, easy and inexpensive outreach module, teen coloring was the winner!

We have a variety of coloring sheets. We also have some high quality colored pencils, fine tip markers, and – after suggestions from our teens – a large assortment of gel pens. But I recently went to a very cool crafters conference and they had made coloring postcards and I thought – I can do that.

I am here to tell you that it was harder than I ever thought it would be. But I did, in fact, do it and I am quite happy with the finished product. I designed the postcard in Canva, which is an online site. The most difficult part was trying to find image outlines that had places to color as opposed to actual graphics. I used Canva because it has a preset postcard size that worked. I then downloaded my image and laid it out in a 4 part piece in Microsoft Publisher so I had a master to photo copy onto a thicker card stock.


I will also say, you can use portion of a coloring sheet to make fabulous buttons if you have a button maker. You could also provide stickers and teens could make names or sayings on their buttons using their coloring page as a background. And because I always get asked, we have American Button Machines button makers and we adore them. They are one of our most popular items in our Teen MakerSpace. We have both the 2.25 and 1.25 size and they are equally popular. It costs on average about 10 cents per button.

Coloring pages buttons

Coloring pages buttons

Where to find coloring pages:

I recommend having higher quality coloring tools – not crayons, though you will notice above that we bought name branded crayons for outreach. You can buy logo crayons at places like 4Imprint.com and GoImprints.com. Gel pens can be expensive but we bought this set at Costco for only $20.00.


So there you have it, 3 different outreach modules that are all set up and easy for us to grab and go when we are invited to go outside the library to promote our Teen MakerSpace. As I mentioned, our goal was to make them easy to carry and set up/take down and inexpensive, but they had to be hands on because we are promoting the idea of making and our teen makerspace. We do have some remote control robots that we can take with us for the “wow” factor. Now I have to get out there and go do some outreach!

What kinds of outreach activities does your library do? We’re always looking for more great ideas.

Outreach Week

Teen MakerSpace Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 1 – Getting Organized

Building Our Portable Photo Booth – Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 2

Making Photo Booth Props: Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 3

Making Text Transfer Chalkboard Speech Bubbles: Outreach at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Day 4

MakerSpace: How to Design a Button

Button, button, who makes the button? I do! Teens do! But how? Yesterday I shared some basics on button making, today let’s talk about designing your buttons.

For the purpose of this discussion a button insert will refer to your final circle image cut to size that is placed in between the two button parts – the shell and the pin back – which will ultimately become your button. It’s the graphic piece that you create to make a button.

Start Here: MakerSpace: Button Making is All the Rage (The Complete Button Making Index)


What Programs Do You Use to Design a Button?

We’re going to start here with the final step. I know that sounds weird, but your ultimate goal is to create and print a properly sized button insert – the graphic piece – that will make your image pop. The final step is sizing and printing that button insert. We’ll start there.

In the final steps, I recommend using a program like Microsoft Publisher to finish your button design. This allows you to create your button true to size and then print it out. For example, if you are making a 2.25 button you can use the Insert Shape feature, choose a circle, and size it to 2.25. You can use the fill feature to fill the button with your circle OR you can use it as an outline and overlay it on your image to make sure what you want to appear does in fact appear in the middle of the button.

insershapeResizing Photos for Button Makers

After you have made a design that you are happy with and appropriately sized them, you can then “group” all the parts and copy and paste them to make rows of button inserts. For example, here are some SRC buttons I designed to give to kids who participated in our 2015 summer reading program. This is what the printed out sheet of paper will look like. You then just cut your button inserts out and go through the button making steps.


Buttons for our 2015 Super Readers!

Buttons for our 2015 Super Readers!

Why Publisher? You need a publishing program that handles graphics well and prints true to size. For example, if you create a circle image in PowerPoint, even though on screen it is sized the correct size, it doesn’t print out true to size because a PowerPoint slide is not the same size as a sheet of paper. It’s a computer focused program as opposed to a print focused program. Publisher is designed to create and print materials so it works really well for printing button inserts.

In a pinch, you can create your image in another program and copy and paste it into Word at the correct size, but it’s a few more steps. I only recently got Microsoft Publisher on my personal laptop and used Word for quite some time. It’s perfectly functional, though more complicated then I liked.

You Don’t, However, Have to Begin with Publisher to Design Your Button

So let’s go back to the beginning – designing your button insert.

Let’s be honest, if you are using Publisher to size and print your buttons, you can in fact use them to design your entire button if you so choose. But it is not the only tool I use and there are many other tools that offer other features that you may wish to explore.

Although I recommend ending and printing with Publisher, you don’t have to begin there. I most often don’t. For example, I might fall in love with a picture I have taken on Instagram so that becomes my starting point. I might design something online in Canva and then transfer it into publisher for sizing and printing. I also use a lot of photo apps that have different filters, texts, and features to enhance a photo. I just create my image and then download it to my computer and insert it into Publisher for sizing and printing. Yes, some buttons take a lot of steps. But the design process is part of what I enjoy.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

Some of my favorite design programs/apps include:

See also: How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version and Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

Some Design Tips to Keep in Mind

All the basic rules of graphic design basically apply:

In addition, remember that here you are designing in a circle. This can present some unique challenges, especially since a lot of traditional design we do is in the square format. Try to focus your image in the center of the circle. Make sure that any important parts – including text – aren’t being cut off.

Made from an Instagram pic. Had to layer images to prevent text from being cut off.

Made from an Instagram pic. Had to layer images to prevent text from being cut off.

The most important tip: Make sure and leave a little edge around all of your design so it doesn’t accidentally get cut off when you make the actual button. Words and important image pieces should not go all the way to the edge of your circle. You can have a background color that fills the complete image, but leave a little bit of space around the edges especially when you include any text.

There are Some Online Tools and Tutorials

How To Design a Button in Photoshop [4/13/2009] – YouTube

Button Designer Make Button Artwork Online

Create Buttons | Button Design | Custom Buttons | Pin Buttons

Button Designer Make Button Artwork Online

Free Button Maker Software – American Button Machines

MakePins.com: Make Custom Pins and Buttons That You Design

I have used exactly none of these. You really can design them yourselves quickly and easily as you become more proficient at using whatever software/apps you choose and just learn what does and doesn’t work.

At the End of the Day, Not all Buttons Needs to Be Computer Generated at All!

A table full of scrap button materials

A table full of scrap button materials

Put out a tub of scrapbook paper, discarded magazines and gns/manga, stickers, Sharpies, gel pens and more! Buttons can be mixed media collages or hand drawn. Fingerprint art buttons are some of our favorite buttons to be honest.

Hand drawn Sharpie art turned into buttons

Hand drawn Sharpie art turned into buttons

Coloring pages buttons

Coloring pages buttons

You can pre-cut a bunch of plain circles and put them out with a box of markers and let teens design.

Fingerprint Art Buttons for Shark Week

Fingerprint Art Buttons for Shark Week

You can pre-cut a bunch of pre-sized circles out of blank paper and put them out with a box of markers or gel pens and teens will still design pretty cool buttons.

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

To Recap: How to Design a Button Ranked from Easiest to Hardest Method

1. Cut out a plain circle and hand draw a design

2. Use paper scraps to create a design

3. Download an image and size it in Publisher (be aware of copyright)

4. Create a design from scratch in Publisher

5. Create a design in another resource, download it, and resize it in Publisher

Have fun designing!

Friday Finds: September 23, 2016

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: Faith Shaming and Mental Illness, Reflecting on Faith and Mental Illness for the #MHYALit Project

Middle School Monday: Classroom Crossover

Book Review: The Forgetting Machine by Pete Hautman

Rural Poverty and THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis

Book Review: Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

#MHYALit: Kneejerk Reactions are Just Jerky, a guest post by author Stacie Ramey

Video Games Weekly: Undertale

Who in the world am I? Growing up in Wonderland, a guest post by Nicky Peacock

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Showcase and Giveaway

Around the Web

Sixth Grade Is Tough; It Helps To Be ‘Top Dog’

Don’t Believe the Charter School Hype

6 Adult Coloring Pages Inspired by Bestsellers

Back-To-School Advisory: K-12 Schools Must Address Sexual Violence | Huffington Post

I see some familiar names here.

You can meet some of us and several friends of the blog here.

TPiB: Sharpie Art! Quick and Easy Programming and MakerSpace Ideas

I’m not sure how it happened, but I am obsessed with Sharpies. They have proven to be very popular resources in our Teen MakerSpace. Yes, really. Whenever we have an activity in the Teen MakerSpace, we try to have corresponding books in the Teen MakerSpace. Sometimes we come up with an activity and search for support books, other times we find activities by browsing through the books in our Maker Collection.

There are several go to publisher’s that I search regularly to find maker related titles for our Maker Collection, and one of those publishers is Quarto books. We have a fairly large number of titles by them in the space and one of my favorites is this:


Sharpie Art Workshop has inspired a lot of fun quick and easy Maker activities for us in the Teen MakerSpace. One of the most popular has been our Sharpie Post It Note Art Gallery . . .

postitart6 postitart5 postitart7 postitart8 postitart2

This title by Quarto is a good companion book for the Sharpie Art Workshop because it talks about lettering and has some coloring pages in the back.


In fact, there is a page of reading/book related book marks in the back which we used as the inspiration for our Sharpie Book Mark station recently.


We also have Sharpie Art Buttons as one of the challenges for our Button Making Station. Here are some examples of the artwork that our teens have created.

sharpiebuttons - Copy

We also made small canvases available and the teens made some small canvas art. This robot is my favorite thing ever. The mini canvases cost about $1.47 at the local craft shop or you can buy a bulk order of Amazon for about $1.00 a canvas.

sharpieart - Copy

Here’s The Teen in action making a Sharpie Art Button.

buttons18 buttons15 buttons6We’re six months out now from creating our Teen MakerSpace and we have found that we like to have quick and easy activities to add. We have also found that they don’t have to always be tech heavy. In fact, many of our teens seem to enjoy drawing, coloring and more traditional crafts, so we are working on making sure to provide a variety of both tech and traditional crafts in our Teen MakerSpace. Sharpie art gives us a lot of easy options with just a few tools. And if you make sure and buy your Sharpies during a good sale, it’s not that expensive.

Doing Sharpie art has all been a good reminder for me that not all programming as to be elaborate and well planned. If teens seem to be bored, I can just bust out the Sharpies and challenge them to make something – anything. I’m always surprised by what they come up with.

MakerSpace: Button Maker Challenges

At The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH), we have found that one of the most popular activities among our teens in our Teen MakerSpace is making buttons. We run into a lot of our teens around town that look like this:

Buttons, buttons every where!

Buttons, buttons every where!

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

But we started to notice that teens were just coming in, printing of a couple of pictures (and engaging in some serious copyright infringement while doing so), and leaving. We really wanted to find a way to encourage teens to get more creative in their button making. So we took the idea of challenge cards and created a variety of button making challenges.

Our button making challenge station

Our button making challenge station

A lot of our challenges are based on ideas we found in some of the books we have right there in our Maker Collection. We scoured through our collection and our resources to come up with creative and fun challenges. And we asked the teens in the Teen MakerSpace for their ideas as well.


Books inspire button making

We then created Button Making Challenge cards and put them out for our teens to look at and get inspired by.

Button Making Challenge Cards

Button Making Challenge Cards

We have been excited to see a lot more scenes that look like this in our Teen MakerSpace:

Teens in the Teen MakerSpace

Teens in the Teen MakerSpace

So here is a look at some of our challenges and what our teens have created in response to them.

Sharpie Art Buttons

I am obsessed with Sharpies. So discovering there were books about Sharpie art was a gift. We do a variety of simple Sharpie art activities. One of the simplest is to invite teens to color with Sharpies and turn their artwork into buttons.


The Teen hard at work on some Sharpie art buttons

Sharpie art buttons!

Sharpie art buttons!

Typography Books + Sharpie Art Books=Button Awesomesauce Magic!

Typography Books + Sharpie Art Books = Button Awesomesauce Magic!

Stick Figure Art Buttons

Using a couple of the stick figure art books we have found, teens love to turn their stick figure art into buttons.

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Finger Print Art Buttons

I have already talked some about our obsession with fingerprint art buttons. You can read more about it here. It’s a lot of fun and makes the cutest buttons.


A teen makes a finger print elephant


Fingerprint Art Buttons!

More finger print art buttons

More finger print art buttons

Chalkboard Buttons

We discovered that there is chalkboard paper, which can be used to make buttons. Instead of using regular chalk, our teens use chalk markers in combination with art books The Art of Chalk and The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering to create original chalk masterpieces which they then make into buttons.


The TMNTs in Chalkboard Art form


Chalkboard art buttons

Sidewalk chalk poetry and a camera

Sidewalk chalk poetry and a camera

Map Art Buttons

Using some of the ideas in the Map Art Lab book (pictured below), we made a variety of map art buttons.


Map Art Buttons

Map art button

Map art button

The Map Art Lab book is also the source of The Books of Your Heart Button. For more information, see this post.

The Books of Our Heart Button

The Books of Our Heart Button

Coloring Pages Buttons

We have a variety of coloring pages in our Teen MakerSpace and encourage the teens to color and then cut out a portion of their page to make their buttons. It asks them to look with a creative eye about editing an already laid out design and only use a portion of it.

Coloring pages buttons

Coloring page buttons

Fill in the Blank Buttons

It’s like Mad Libs, but in button form. The teens can create a quote – like a funny story or a question – and leave a blank. Then when they meet people in the street they can ask them to fill in the blank.

Digital Media Lab Buttons

We wanted to create some button challenges that invited teens to use our iPad lab to do some digital media creation and photo manipulation. There are a variety of apps that will let you use filters, add artwork, and add text to your pictures to create great photos. In addition, we have a green screen so we wanted to get our teens using that as well. When they create the picture they like, they can then size them and print them out and turn them into buttons.

Made with a Scrabble board and an iPad with photo manipulating apps

Made with a Scrabble board and an iPad with photo manipulating apps

Some of the digital media lab challenges include:

Turn your favorite book quote into a button.
Star in a book cover for your fave book using a picture you take and photo apps.
Turn your photo into a mini comic book or graphic novel.
Turn your photo into a meme.

Green screen photos make for fun buttons

Green screen photos make for fun buttons

The Teen dressed as a Weeping Angel. Hipstamtic filters.

The Teen dressed as a Weeping Angel. Hipstamtic filters.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

Teens love to turn their personal photos into buttons.

He made a button of himself wearing all his buttons that says, "I Like Buttons". It's very meta.

He made a button of himself wearing all his buttons that says, “I Like Buttons”. It’s very meta.

By creating a variety of challenges, we have found ways to get teens creating original artwork that they then turn into buttons. It has been fun to see what our teens create, and we have found ways to get teens to stay and talk a bit instead of just printing off a quick picture. I feel like our challenges are helping teens learn a little bit more about themselves, the creative process, and art in general. It has also challenged us to look more deeply at the books in our collection and find creative ways to incorporate art into the Teen MakerSpace.


Challenge Cards: buttonchallengefirstpage buttonchallengesecondpage

Quarto Publishing Week Giveaway

This week is Quarto Publishing Group week. Every day we are highlighting a different book from the Quarto Publishing Group, chosen by yours truly. In exchange for hosting this week, I got to choose 5 of my favorite titles to give to YOU, our readers, as a giveaway. So I did my research and chose 5 titles that I thought YA librarians could use in their collections, in their programs, or for themselves personally. I hope that you enjoy them. It was really hard choosing just 5 because they had a lot of interesting titles to choose from including a biography on John Hughes, his movies defined my early adolescence, some cool picture books, and a great picture book called Dreams of Freedom. They also have a book called Cats in Sweaters that I can’t help but thing TLTer Robin Willis would love. See, such hard decisions.

To enter the giveaway, just do this Rafflecopter thingy here. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, sorry. One random winner will be selected by Rafflecopter and then the Quarto Publishing Group will send the 5 titles selected out to that winner. There are multiple free entries because we wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Quarto Publishing Group

The Quarto Publishing Group (formerly Quayside Publishing Group) books have earned a reputation for style and quality in the fields of art, crafts, hobbies, food and drink, nature, lifestyle, reference and children’s. The children’s program just launched in 2014 with the creation of Walter Foster Jr., but expanded dramatically with the “coming home” of our Quarto UK imprints Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and QEB Publishing, now formally published through Quarto USA. In addition, a number of our general and specialty book imprints, such as Quarry Books, Motorbooks, and Race Point, publish books on history, craft, art, and other topics of interest to teen readers. Visit us know at www.quartous.com and beginning this June at www.QuartoKnows.com.

And Here are the 5 Books We Chose for You:

How to Make a Movie in 10 Easy Lessons by Robert Blofield

Featured in my 5 resources/tools for helping teens create movies in your MakerSpace post, I love this book so much I just ordered 3 copies for my library’s MakerSpace. It’s a good resource. There is also a learn guitar title in this series which I highly recommend as well.

Origami City: Fold More Than 30 Global Landmarks by Shuki Kato & Jordan Langerak

There is a lot you can do with this for a road trip themed book discussion group, display or program.

Playing with Surface Design: Modern Techniques for Painting, Stamping, Printing and More by Courtney Cerruti

Again, a ton of great arts and craft ideas that can easily be incorporated into a teen program on any theme.

Duct Tape: 101 Adventerous Ideas for Art, Jewelry, Flowers, Wallets and More by Forest Walker Davis

Duct tape crafts continue to be popular with my teens and Davis does some truly fabulous things with tape. Check out my fave duct tape books and crafts here and read more about this book.

Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy by Lacy Mucklow

On Friday we’re going to talk about adult coloring books and some tips for staying stress free during Summer Reading, a very busy time of year of YS and YA librarians. This book has some amazing coloring pages that are sure to help you relax during the SRC.


Get Graphic: A Day at the North Texas Teen Book Festival, part 1

Mary Hinson, Thing 2 and The Teen at the North Texas Teen Book Festival

This past Saturday I took both girls (and a dear friend) to the North Texas Teen Book Festival in Irving, Texas. This was Thing 2’s first trip to the festival, but The Teen’s 4th. I’m going to give you a recap of the graphic novel panels, which Thing 2 and I attended. Later today The Teen is going to share her experiences at the festival.

Thing 2 and friend attend the North Texas Teen Book Festival

Operation Meet Raina Telgemeier

Regular readers may recall, Thing 2 has dyslexia and we have struggled to find things that she can, will and enjoys reading. But she loves graphic novels! So when I learned that there was going to be a graphic novel track at this year’s North Texas Teen Book Festival, I was excited to share the news. Thing 2 was ecstatic, especially when she learned that Raina Telgemeier was going to be there. So we woke up early on the first official day of Spring Break to journey to Irving, Texas in hopes that my youngest child could meet one of the people who has actually managed to get her reading. That was our only goal for the day which we dubbed, Operation Meet Raina Telgemeier. I talked to a lot of kids that day and let me assure you, we were not the only ones in attendance with this goal.

Getting Graphic at the North Texas Teen Book Festival

Our first panel of the day was called Draw Off and it featured several graphic novel artists doing just that – having a drawing competition. The authors on this panel included Robin Ha, Maia Kobabe, Kat Leyh, Yehudi Mercado, Kayla Miller, Andy Runton, and Lily Williams. All but Kayla Miller and Andy Runton were new to Thing 2.

It was a lot of fun to see these graphic novelists drawing live on the stage. A member from the audience was chosen and they were instructed to pick a vegetable, an animal and a means of transportation which served as a prompt for the illustrators. The audience member chose a hedgehog, mushroom and boat. The illustrators were divided into 3 teams and they came up with a concept that incorporated those three elements and turned them into a story. Along the way they talked about things like their process, thumbnail sketching, penciling, inking, etc. It was a fun, basic introduction to graphic novels.

What Do You Do While You Wait at a Teen Book Festival? Read, Of Course!

The next graphic novel panel was set to feature Raina Telgemeier and while we waited, Thing 2 sat there and read the Telgemeier book Sisters which she had brought to get signed.

Making a Graphic Novel from Start to Finish

And then, finally, Raina Telgemeier took the stage with Lucy Knisley and Yehudi Mercado. They walked audience members through the entire process of making a graphic novel, from pitching an idea to an agent or editor to creating the final product. It was a lot of interesting information.

Thing 2 and friend were astounded to learn that it took 5 years to create the Smile graphic novel and that on average, it takes about 2 to 2 1/2 years to create each book. We also learned that many graphic novel artists don’t do the coloring for their books and that you can get a paid job coloring in the pages of graphic novels.

It was interesting to learn that Raina Telgemeier and Lucy Knisley draw their books by hand and Yehudi Mercado uses a variety of computer programs to create his books. They emphasized that everyone has their own process and there is no one right way to create a graphic novel. It was all very fascinating to learn about.

And then . . .

We ended our day with lunch and then a long wait in the signing line to help make all Thing 2’s dreams come true. It was a really long wait, some people got tired while others just got more excited.

And come true they did!

We left that day with a new appreciation of what it takes to create a graphic novel, a couple of new graphic novels to read, and a signed copy of one of her favorite books by one of her favorite authors. All in all, it was an amazing day!

As we were driving home Thing 2 was already making plans for going back the next year.

Take it & Make it: 6 grab and go kits for tweens

tpibThis summer my library diving into self-directed teen programming in a bigger way than we have in the past. Each Monday a new project will be prepped and ready to go for tweens to work on during our six week Movies & Makers movie series, and any remaining kits will be placed in the teen lounge, up for grabs on a first come, first served basis until they run out.

These projects need to be engaging but simple. They need to be self contained, or use supplies readily found in any home or borrowed at the library. They need to be small enough to shove into a backpack for the bike ride home. They need to be pretty much self-explanatory too. Here are the projects we have chosen:

Week 1: Washer Necklaces

washer necklaces from http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/

This is something that may work even better at home than at the library because teens could use nail polish to decorate the washers. In the library, they can use permanent markers and washi tape.

In the kit: two washers of different sizes, one piece of multicolored cord, instructions on tying knots.



Week 2: Depressor Catapults

These cost pennies to put together and have been so popular that we’ve already made up another dozen kits.

In the kit: tongue depressors, rubber bands, a dixie cup, sticky dots, pompon balls.

(We did make a few substitutions that will likely deteriorate the structural integrity of the catapults but should still make for a fun project. Instead of the flexible brad, we included some glue dots. Instead of bottle caps, we cut dixie cups down. Instead of pencil erasers, we gave them pompon balls of various sizes.)

Week 3: “Grown up” coloring sheets

 Lots of sites offer mosaic or mandala style coloring sheets that are printable for free.  If you want to purchase some books, there are plenty of appealing themed coloring books that require a steadier hand. Additionally, we kicked this one up a bit by giving them clear page protectors to color on, which means they’ll have a stained glass or sun-catcher-esque end result.

In the kit: a few different coloring sheets, a clear page protector, and an info sheet about the designs and/or why coloring is awesome for everyone.



Week 4: Brush Bots

Makershed Brush Bot Party Pack

This is the priciest of our projects, and one that we won’t be able to add more kits to once they run out. We will repackage the kits we receive for kids to grab and make at home, but I hope some of them come back with their bots to show us what they made!

In the kit: as indicated by Makershed.


Week 5: Origami

In the kit: We’ll post a few models, a few suggested projects, and plenty of paper.




Week 6: Wipe off board

Dry Erase Board from TwoTwentyOne.net

This kit will include a few nice results of the project (like this picture), an inexpensive frame and scrapbook paper – or probably a few different sheets of scrapbook paper so they can choose what they like, and a length of tape backed magnet so the board could be stuck inside a locker or on a fridge. Maybe a dry erase marker and some yarn to tie it to the board if our funds last.








Tech Talk: App Review – BeFunky

I am always looking for a fun new photo app. I take and use a lot of pictures in my library and online here at TLT. With the right app you can turn a simple photo into a fun work of art. In this recent round of new photo apps I tried Font Killer, Space Effects, Split Pic, Instant Blend and BeFunky. Of the 5, I highly recommend BeFunky. It does a lot of cool things and it is quick and easy to use. It also turns out there is an online version that you can use (some elements are free and there is an option to upgrade).

In the photo editor, you can add effects – which are basically cool filters or colorings, you can add text, you can add overlays, you can add frames, and there are some fun things under “goodies” like stickers and speech bubbles that can be added to give your picture a little whimsy or pizazz.

In Be Funkky you can also do some basic edits like crop, rotating, and fiddle around with things like brightness and contrast.

Here is a picture I took with my Legos:

And I was able to make these with the Be Funky app:

And here’s a pic I took of The Tween:

And here are some of the pictures I was able to make with the Be Funky app:

Price: Basic app is free, but I bought the additional packages which included several effects. Similarly, the basic online service is free but there is an upgrade option.

What you can do:

  • Edit your photo, including cut and paste and several beauty edits
  • Add effects
  • Add frames
  • Add text
  • Create a collage (which can be used in combination with the Pop Art effect and speech bubbles to create a graphic novel/comic book page)

My rating: 4+

My top 5 photo apps are:

  • BeFunky
  • ComicBook – makes great comic book pages
  • PhotoShake – I use it to make bookmarks
  • Over – for adding text
  • Hipstamtic – for the various lens and film combinations

How about you, what photo editing apps and online programs do you like? Let me know in the comments. For more app reviews check out Tech Talk.

Take 5 TPiBs: Raid the Cabinet, Zero Cost Programs

Summer budget running low? Need some quick and easy drop-in programs? Here are five ideas that you can pull off in an afternoon for pennies or less because you most likely already have the supplies. And if YOU don’t, chances are the kids’ department does and will be happy to let you take them off their hands and help clear out their craft cabinet.  Ready, set, GO with these five fast free program ideas!

1. Yarn wrapped words & letters. 
Supplies: Pipe cleaners & yarn bits. Maybe some glue.
What to do & why:
Bend pipe cleaners into words and shapes.
Enlist teens to create these for display signs “Great Mysteries!” “Readalikes” “Teen Lounge”
Bend and wrap quotes or allusions to favorite books “Okay? Okay.” “Kiss me, Hardy!”

from Bloesem Kids

2. Exploding Chain Competition
Supplies: popsicle sticks and space
What to do & why:
Teach kids a simple weave using popsicle sticks. See who can build the longest chain, go around a corner, through the legs of a table, etc. Do it because it’s fun and your meeting room is bigger than their family room and no one will gripe about losing popsicle sticks behind the couch like at home.

from FrugalFun4Boys (but girls would like it too)

3. Create Book Jars

Supplies: clean jars, paper, whatever decorations you have lying around (stickers, magazines & Mod Podge for decoupage, sharpies)
What to do and why: 
Have teens cut slips of paper and write all of the books they want to read on them.  Add some of your own! Include summaries or have each start with “You’ve got to read this because…” and have teens swap and share.  Decorate the jars, fold up the papers and fill the jars, pull slips out of the jar when you don’t know what to read next. Why do it? Um… books?!

from AlexInLeeds

4. Giant Bananagrams

Supplies: cardstock or cardboard (can even be repurposed; just need one side), markers
What to do and why:
Make up square game pieces with the letters in the Bananagram game, or another word game like Scrabble. Head outside or into a big room, and play a giant sized version of the game in teams. Why? Because Summer’s too short to stay inside all the time. This’ll get them moving, working in teams, and exercising all that great vocabulary they’re getting from their summer reading books.

from Lunametrics

5. Teen Coloring Day

Supplies: any of the many printable coloring book designs with teen appeal, crayons, markers, etc
What to do and why:
Play it up as a throwback program, an exam time stress reliever, or spin it into another themed event. Do it because though they may look jaded and mature, teens still yearn for play and fun. Coloring is relaxing and meditative, and will remind them of simpler times. Print up your pages, put out the art supplies, turn on some good music and have some fun! Try these for coloring page inspiration:
What are your great, free program ideas?