Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Alcohol Sharpie Tiles

This was a request by my teens. There are a lot of pictures of this craft on Pinterest so it was pretty easy to figure out what the teens I work with want. There’s a pretty good walk through here.

Supplies:

  • White Tiles
  • Sharpies
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Droppers
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Spray

Step One: Prep Your Tile

Get a tile and make sure it is clean.

Step Two: Add Sharpie to the Tiles

I learned that using a lot of Sharpie works best for me. Some teens used a little Sharpie, which worked for them. Metallic Sharpie works, but the regular colorful Sharpies are easier to get a lot of brightness.

Step Three: Add the Alcohol

Add drops of alcohol on the tile and then let dry. This step could take up 45 minutes. You do not want the tile to be completely covered with the rubbing alcohol.

Step Four: Spray the Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Spray

Be prepared because the whole tile is going to change once you do this step.  I do not recommend having names or special designs that you want to be permanent on the tiles because once you have used the spray it really shifts the Sharpie to give it a nice marbled effect. Let the tile dry. I have the teens do the spraying outside on our children’s patio because the smell is very strong. You could spray it inside, but it would be better to do it outside if at all possible.

Final Thoughts: This was a super cheap craft. I already had extra tiles and Sharpies. A coworker let me borrow her Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating Spray so it allowed me to save money on this craft. This is a good craft for teens that want to hang out with their friends. There is a lot of wait time, but that just makes it a more social craft event.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

Today for Cindy Crushes Programming librarian Cindy Shutts walks us through a quick, easy craft that turns silhouettes into art.

DIY Silhouettes Frames

Supplies:

  • Photo Frames
  • Glitter Glue, light colors
  • Background Paper: I used Handmade Modern Luxe Paper Pad that I got at Target. You could use scrapbook paper.
  • Silhouettes: I use the Silhouette Cameo Machine, but you could make them yourselves. For more information on creating silhouettes, please see Step 1.

Step 1: Make Your Silhouette

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through turning your own photo into a silhouette using the open source (which means free!) online GIMP program. Using this method you would print your silhouette off on regular printer paper and then cut it out by hand.

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through using the Silhouette App on a smart device to create your silhouette. There are several photo apps that you can use to create silhouettes. Once you have created your silhouette using this method, you will print it out using your printer and then cut it out by hand. With this method you will need a way to print from a smart device to a printer.

These silhouettes were made using the Silhouette app. The one on the right is then blended with a space background using the Fused app. Because this graphic is from a different post it was made blue, but black silhouettes often make the most striking contrast.

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through creating a silhouette using the Silhouette Cameo machine. This method provides for better cutting lines as you are having the machine do the cutting for you. You can also find for free or purchase a variety of SVG silhouette graphics online if you don’t want to make the silhouette yourself. This is the method that I used. If you have access to a Silhouette Cameo, this is the quickest and easiest way to make a silhouette. You can even pre-make some popular silhouettes and have them already cut out and ready to use.

Step 2: Frame Your Silhouette

  • Open the picture frame and remove the back.
  • Take your scrapbook paper and trace the back of the frame on it. Make sure to trace it on the back of the paper. I cut it a tiny bit over the line. This will be your background.
  • Cut out the paper in the shape of the back of the frame.
  • Glue the silhouette image on the paper toward the middle.
  • Cover the paper and image with light colored glitter glue.
  • Please let it dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Glue the paper to the back of the frame.
  • After everything is dry, place the back of the frame back into the frame.

Final Thoughts: This was a relatively easy craft. Everyone loved it and wanted to do a second frame. I highly recommend it because it is easy and really attractive.

DIY Neon Signs

Sometimes, in order to find new activities to do with teens, I buy kits and try and find ways to adapt them to do in the library with teens. For Christmas, I bought each of the girls this DIY Neon Sign kit because it was cool, but also because I thought it would make a cool Teen MakerSpace activity. All the supplies can be bought individually to do as an activity, but the El wire needed is kind of pricey. So I would recommend doing this as a group activity to make signs to decorate a teen space as opposed to having each teen make an individual neon sign to take home, depending on your budget.

The inspiration kit

The inspiration kit

Supplies:

Cost for an individual sign: Approximately $5.00

Step 1: Creating Your Template

Using your paper and marker, write out the word or saying you want your sign to say. For a library teen space, I recommend something like “Books” or “Read”. For a Teen MakerSpace, you could go with something like “Make” or “Idea Lab”.

You want to write crisp and legibly and – most importantly – in cursive because you need all of the letters to connect.

neon2

This will be your template.

Step 2: Making Your Wire Word

You now want to use the template to bend your wire into the word you are trying to make. I found this worked better with two people and two sets of hands. The pliers will also help. When you are done bending your wire into your word, you can also use the pliers to close the gaps on some of the letters, like the end of the letter P and the curve in the letter C below.

neon4

Step 3: Making the El Wire Word

You will then take the El wire and bend it to form into the wire word you made in step 2. At this point, you will have the metal wire which is guiding you in making the word out of the El wire.

neon3

Step 4: Attaching the Two Words

We attached our El wire to the wire word using zip ties. After you attach the El wire and the guide wire, you can snip the zip tie ends and you really don’t see them. Other sites recommend joining the two with a hot glue gun.

Finished DIY Neon Sign

neon5

The finished product is really pretty cool. If I had to do it again, I might use a painted piece of wood or canvas as a background for my sign. I will say bending the wire to make some of the letters was hard and I have not been satisfied with the letter “a” in the middle of the word space. Once you have the El wire, depending on how you attach the two wires together, you can actually take your project apart and make new words.

Here are some additional tutorials to help you . . .

Rookie DIY Neon Sign Instructions

 

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Mugs

cindycrushesprogramming

Like most librarians, I get many ideas from Pinterest. When I saw a Disney castle mug made of decorative dots, I knew my teens would love it because Disney inspired crafts are very popular at my branch. Although we focused on Disney inspired silhouettes, any silhouette would work. In fact, you can turn your own photo into a silhouette using this tutorial.

mug2

Supplies

  • Dollar Store Mugs
  • Paint Sharpies
  • Tape
  • A silhouette image for a template (these can be made on a cameo machine). You can also use large, removable stickers. For example, large letters for initials works well.

Here’s an entire Pinterest Board dedicated to Sharpie Mug Art

Steps

  1. Wash and dry the mugs
  2. Tape a silhouette to the mug. Make sure the tape is under the silhouette. You do not want to cover the part of the mug where you will paint with the tape.
  3. Make sure all paint sharpies are prepared and shaken so the paint will come out.
  4. Have teens test sharpies on a piece of paper so they are aware of how the paint will come out.
  5. Then have the teens start adding paint dots around the silhouette. Make sure they are very close together. If the cardstock is thick enough, it is fine to touch the cardstock with the paint pen. They need to make dots all around the image and as close to it as possible.
  6. This process can be done on both sides of the mug.
  7. Allow the paint to dry and then remove your silhouette template.
  8. To complete the mugs, you can instruct teens to bake the mugs at home in an oven for 30 minutes at about 350 degrees. However, this step is recommended but it is not necessary.

mug1

While your mugs are drying, you can tie this craft into the great artistic technique known as pointillism. Artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac made entire masterpieces using nothing but dots and their artwork is still influencing artists of today. You can learn more about pointillism here.

Working Title/Artist: Study for A Sunday on La Grande JatteDepartment: Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary ArtCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1884 photography by mma, Digital File DT1026.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 9_29_11

Final thoughts: This was a fun craft. It is a little bit more expensive than some other crafts because of the cost of paint sharpies. Couponing can help. As long as the teens are patient, they should get good results.

Editor’s Note: This would also work well on a blank canvas, a t-shirt, or even on a piece of card stock that you then frame.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

cindy

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

DIY Book Trading Cards

tradingcard

My family traveled over the holidays and at one point, we saw a TSA agent with a K9 dog. Thing 2 pointed and said, “look, there’s a dog,” which prompted the TS-9 to hand her a trading card made about the dog, whose name was Hilbert. It was a genius marketing strategy to make kids comfortable and satisfy their curiosity while maintaining their distance and prevent them from approaching or petting the working dogs.

tradingcards7 tradingcards8I kept thinking about this K9 trading card and all the fun marketing potential it has. So the other day I tweeted and said, what if we made book trading cards? I liked the idea so much that I then started obsessively figuring out ways to make trading cards and exploring the best tools, as I have a tendency to do. Here’s a look at 5 tools I used, the trading cards I created using them, and then at the end of this post I have a few ideas for ways that we can use the idea of trading cards to promote reading, programs and libraries in school and public libraries.

Instax Mini Trading Cards

tradingcards6

As regular readers know, I am recently obsessed with the Instax Mini camera. I like the wide variety of things you can do with it AND the fact that you get an instant picture. Patience is not a virtue I have and I don’t have a lot of art or tech skills. You can buy a variety of Instax Mini sticker frames, which have a piece that goes on the back of your photo, which helps make this project work. This back sticker makes it so that you can use both sides of the photograph to make quick and easy trading cards. Use a Sharpie marker (I found the Extra Fine tip worked the best) to write on the front and back of your instant photo. You can also use metallic silver Sharpies to write directly on the black back if you don’t have sticker frames. I wrote various facts and gave a rating for my book in the margins of the photo. Here I did an example using the upcoming book Dig by A. S. King.

tradingcards3

The benefit to this method is that it is seriously quick and easy. The drawback, of course, is that you have to have a couple of Instax Mini cameras on hand, which I recommend. (Did I mention I am a huge fan?) Film is not, however, cheap and I haven’t found it for less than around $0.68 a picture. So though it may be quick, easy and kind of low tech, it’s not in-expensive. The Instax Mini is a fun device, with immediate results and most tweens and teens I know are currently really interested in this device. This is a good starting place if you want easy and immediate results.

Sports Card Pro App

tradingcards2

The trading card that you see in the upper right hand card was made using the Sports Card Pro app, which I downloaded for free. It has in app purchases, but the initial app download is free. I made no additional purchases to create my trading card so the entire product was free to me.

Where you see the rocket ship in the left hand corner the Sports Card Pro app gives you a choice of various sports balls to put in that corner. This didn’t really work for me so I saved my picture and opened it in another app, Candy Camera, to add the rocket ship. But if you want a sports theme, you can do it all in this app and pretty quickly. I made the example you see in this picture in about 2 minutes while laying in bed with the TV on in the background and no real experience with the app. I tell you this because I want you to understand how quick and easy it was.

One of the things I liked about this app is how much focus it put on the picture, but that left less room for text. It has rigidly set text boxes and design elements, so it doesn’t allow for a lot of personalization or moving elements around. Some people would like this, but I found it frustrating as I wanted to move certain elements slightly in one direction or another and it just doesn’t give you that freedom of design. You could get around this problem by doing the most basic design in this app, saving your card and then uploading it into another app – like Over or PS Express – to add more design elements, but that’s a lot of additional steps and requires some additional knowledge.

Because this is a mobile device app, you have to be able to print wirelessly to some type of device. Because I knew I wanted a small, trading card size, I used the Print to Size app on my cell phone which allows you better control over sizing as opposed to simply printing from a mobile device to a wireless printer. I printed to both a regular printer and a Selphy photo printer, which I discuss more at the end of this post.

So while this is a good app for designing a sports themed card, it’s not necessarily good for other themes. It was quick and easy, but not very versatile.

Trading Card Creator at ReadThinkWrite

tradingcards5 tradingcards4

This is a free online program that has an educational focus, so it has a lot more room for text. You can include facts about the book, main characters, setting, etc. After you go through the generator – which is an easy to fill out step by step form – you download your card as a .pdf and it prints on a piece of letter size paper. Adobe is required to run the program.

When you print out your page it comes with instructions that tell you to cut it out, fold it, and tape it closed. It prints in color, but I accidentally printed mine in black and white. If you choose the “Make Your Own” option it allows you to put in your own category headings. Otherwise, the big section headings are pre-programmed, which can be a great feature for younger or newer users. However, it does not seem to allow you to move the various elements or text boxes around, so format wise there isn’t a lot of versatility here either. This is a quick and easy tool, but if you want more personalization or versatility, this isn’t the best tool for you. It’s a really great starting place and will work really well in most school or library settings.

Freehand Design Tools: Microsoft Publisher, Google Draw and Canva

tradingcards1

I used the format presented in the ReadWriteThink card and a sports trading card I had at home for inspiration to try my final option: Microsoft Publisher, Canva and Google Draw. Each of these programs are publishing programs that allow you the greatest amount of freedom and versatility in how you design and where you place your various trading card elements. You can see the results in the bottom left hand corner of the picture above. Both Canva and Google Draw are basically no or low cost programs that allow you to do freehand design. Microsoft Publisher requires the purchase of a yearly license and it is costly. All three design programs require a certain amount of skill, which most people get just by tinkering around in the programs. I am least well versed in Google Draw and abandoned that medium pretty quickly for something more familiar. I use Publisher and Canva pretty frequently so I was able to produce something I liked pretty quickly and without a lot of difficulty. The final product you see in the picture above was made using Publisher, which I am most comfortable with and, I feel, gives you the most freedom. The Teen and many of the teens I work with, however, are much more familiar with Google Draw and would probably prefer it.

After completing my card design I grouped all my design elements, right clicked on my trading card, saved it as a .jpeg and printed it to size. I was able to print 6 cards per one letter size sheet of card stock paper. Saving it as a .jpeg also allows you to upload it and share it on social media or easily transfer it from one device to another, like from my laptop to my cell phone. There are some real advantages to having a .jpeg file versus a .pdf file.

Printing My Trading Cards

All of the options allow you to save and print your trading card in one fashion or another. If you use a freehand graphics program you can save as a .jpg and print on card stock. You’ll want to use card stock to give it the heft of a trading card. If you have the option, I would print to photo paper to give it that glossy trading card look. Although I liked the look of the curved edges for the trading card design, it requires some additional cutting which was harder to make look nice with my questionable scissor skills. I liked the straight lines because I could use a paper cutter and get nice, straight edges. Your mileage may vary.

selphy4

If printing from a handheld device I would recommend using the Print to Size app and printing 2 trading cards side by side on one postcard using the Selphy printer and cutting them apart. This was the method of printing I used in the very first picture of this post. Printing with a Selphy printer or onto photo paper using a traditional printer gives you that glossy trading card resembling finish. If you’re not familiar with the Selphy photo printer, it’s a tool I highly recommend for anyone wanting to print photos from a mobile device. It’s small, portable and has its own built in wi-fi so you can take it with you on outreach events and print immediately from a smart phone or tablet. I reviewed the Selphy printer here if you would like more information.

Things to Include on a Book Trading Card

  • Title
  • Author
  • Setting
  • A catchphrase or brief descriptive phrase
  • Fun facts like characters, themes
  • If you like X, read this statements . . .
  • A star rating

What to Do with Book Trading Cards?

At it’s most basic, libraries could make book trading cards for our favorite or most recent YA titles and hand them out during book talks or at outreach events. Imagine book talking a book then handing each tween or teen a card with a picture of the book cover and a few basic facts about the book so they could remember to ask for it. Wouldn’t it be great to have teens come into the library after a day of booktalking and just hand staff a book trading card instead of trying to remember details about the book you booktalked that they want and hoping that staff can get enough details to get the right book into their hands?

This would also be a great marketing tool for the library itself or for specific programs. For example, during National Library Week multi-branch systems could make cards for each branch with basic facts about the branch and hand them out to visitors. Libraries could host some type of challenge inviting patrons to visit as many branches as possible during National Library Week and offering an entry into a prize for patrons who get one card from X number of branches.

Beyond using book trading cards as a promotional tool, we could also get tools into the hands of tweens and teens and encourage them to make their own. This activity combines reading/literacy with making, helping us achieve more of our goals. Have a program day where you provide a couple of Instax Mini cameras and some Sharpies and challenge teens to make their own trading cards. Or set up an ongoing station in the corner of your library and make a trading card wall to display teen created book trading cards. Teens could stop in during lunch, study hall or after school and make a quick book trading card and put it on your wall recommending books to their peers.

Learning how to use a good graphics program is a valuable skill for anyone, so don’t be afraid to have some in-depth sessions where you teach teens how to use Publisher, Canva or Google Draw and challenge them to design their own book trading cards. Many schools and libraries have tech training labs and this would be a fun project to teach design basics with some set parameters. I have found that many people want some concrete guidelines and examples to begin learning design with and here we would have a built in template to help guide us.

And don’t forget that if you want an easy to use template, you can have tweens and teens use the ReadWriteThink trading card creator. Print two of each card, one for participants to take home and one to display on an RA wall or book display. Or print 3 – so they can trade!

Some Final Thoughts and Perspectives

Depending on what you need, there are pros and cons to each of the various methods used above. Most school and public libraries are already set up to use something like the ReadWriteThink trading card creator and print. This is probably a really good starting point.

I highly recommend purchasing a smart phone/tablet and Selphy printer for any teen library space that wants to do a lot of photo based making and programming, but it does require some initial financial investment and the ongoing cost of the specific Selphy paper. You would need multiple devices to have a program, though you can connect multiple devices to one Selphy printer. Or you can set up a small maker station using one device and one printer and allow teens to create as they wanted. Not every teen area or school library has the space or the staff, but if you do a small maker station is a good idea.

And in my ideal world, I would write a grant to get 5 to 10 Instax Mini cameras for a teen space or program to do a wide variety of programming things there. You could also just have one and have teens share or set up a maker station using this method as well.

Don’t forget to create a hashtag so you can encourage tweens and teens to share their book trading cards online.

I made a wide variety of trading cards using all 5 methods over a two-day period. I spent all in all about 3 hours making trading cards. Again, I am a pretty proficient user of both Publisher and Canva so I didn’t have to learn the basics. Each method has its pros and cons and really all of them work pretty well. I liked the Sports Card Pro app the least, mainly because I was not making a sports themed trading card and it required some work around to get rid of the sports themes. As you can see, for my examples I used Thing 2’s Operation BB as a theme for my example cards, mainly because I had those photos readily available on my phone. We did, in fact, print out several of the cards we liked best – the one made in Publisher – and handed them out as a promotional tool and people thought they were very cool. I also uploaded it to the Operation BB social media page. These will, in fact, work really well as fun promotional tools. I had a lot of fun making the trading cards and highly recommend it.

So now it’s your turn. Make a trading card for your favorite book or book character and sharing it with us in the comments or on social media using the hasthag #BookTradingCard. I would love to see what everyone is creating (and reading!)

TPiB: Back to School

It is, in fact, time for back to school. So here is a round up of links to a variety of back to school crafts and DIY that you may find fun and useful. The Tween and I may or may not be obsessed with making bottle cap/marble magnets.

Rock Your Locker

Here’s a look at some of the back to school crafts I have done. You all know I am a huge fan of marble/bottle cap magnets and back to school is the perfect time for them. Perfect. Also, you can make your own magnetic poetry kit which would create more locker fun.

Sherlock Bottle Cap Magnets from my Sherlock program

Mashable: DIY Supplies That Will Actually Make You Excited for School

One of my favorites on this list are the Washi Tape pencils. You can actually do a lot with Washi Tape, as Heather shared with us earlier. So if you’re going to use Washi Tape, don’t forget get you can do notebooks and folders as well. 

Buzzfeed: 37 Awesome DIYs to Make Before School Starts

Last year Buzzfeed ran this DIY post of awesome back to school crafts. Continuing the Washi/Duct tape theme, they make some awesome clip boards.

Buzzfeed: 23 Ways to Have the Coolest Locker in School

Yet another appearance by my favorite – Bottle Cap Magnets! They also make a cool bottle cap chandelier. There are some fun ideas here.

Divergent, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Minecraft Bottle Cap/Marble Magnets

Pimp Your USB

At the library, I am a huge campaigner for USB drives. HUGE. Our computer system has time management software and it will kick you off without mercy. So I tell everyone over and over again to bring a USB. So why not reinforce the message by having a Pimp Your USB day. Instructables has some ideas for pimping your USB. You can also make a pink eraser USB. You can also make a Lego themed USB drive.

Carry Your Tech in Style

Many kids will be going back to school this year with new cell phones, tablets or other assorted tech. You can make cool tech crafts like a cell phone holder using Duct Tape. There are DIY tablet covers for every skill level here. Here are 30 creative DIY smartphone and tablet crafts.

Share your favorite back to school and tech craft ideas in the comments, we’re always looking for more great ideas.

Take 5: DIY on Tumblr

Tumblr is an awesome place to hang out.  It’s visual, fun, and easy to use. And believe it or not, it is a great place to find DIY outlines.  Just last week author Tahereh Mafi shared a tutorial on how to make these glorious Shatter Me inspired shoes.  I myself have shared several DIY tutorial on the TLT Tumblr.  So today we’re going to talk DIY and Tumblr.

DIY on Tumblr usually takes 2 distinct forms. Sometimes, like Tahereh has done on her blog, that entire tutorial is right there in the Tumbl post.  Other times, the Tumblr is simply used to reblog and curate DIY activities, similar to what many people do with Pinterest. Libraries, particularly libraries that have Makerspace themes, should consider starting a DIY specific Tumblr blog as an information resource for teens in their local communities.  In fact, you could even get teens to help you put together tutorials of library craft programs for the Tumblblog.


Five DIY Themed Tumblrs:


Buzzfeed DIY

Buzzfeed is pretty epic all on its own, but they do have a DIY Tumbl blog.  It can cover anything and everything.  My favorite is when they have lists of DIY around a particular theme – say a holiday or just the theme of books – and they link to something like 25 DIY posts on that topic.  Great for program inspiration or planning.

Daisy Pickers

Daisy Pickers shares original and shared tutorials for a variety of craft ideas, many of which have a country chic feel to them.  There are tutorials for making things like craft floss tassels, half log bookends, and tin can stilts.

DIY Hoard

Like Buzzfeed DIY, DIY Hoard is an awesome and eclectic look at DIY around the Internet.  There are a lot of full tutorials right there on the Tumblr (easy to reblog and share).   

True Blue Me & You

True Blue Me & You has a variety of craft/DIY tutorials on their Tumblblog.   For example, they show you how to make these stacked rings, which are epically cool. On the right side bar you’ll see that this person also has a Tumbl blog on Kids Crafts, Halloween Crafts, and Christmas and Holiday Crafts.




Why Not Just DIY

So, interesting note here.  Cussing is pretty rampant on Tumblr.  In fact, there are a lot of Tumblr that are named “Fuckyeah whatever the topic is”.  You can have a Tumblr address and still have a different Tumblr heading.  So this Tumbl blog’s address is Why Not Just DIY (probably what the originally named it), and when you go to the Tumbl blog the title is Make Your Own Shit.  So, there are cool craft resources here, but you probably want to be aware of the title when sharing with teens – especially younger teens – on your library’s professional page.  Having said all that, I really like their tutorial on how to turn paper lanterns into glitter lamps.  Very cool.

How to Do DIY on Tumblr

So in addition to sharing these cool DIY resources from Tumblr, I wanted to point out that Tumblr is a great way to be incorporating more tech and social media into your teen services.  I highly recommend having a DIY themed specific Tumblr blog for your teen services.  As I mentioned in the open, when you do a craft program, you can even get the teens present at your program to help you make a DIY tutorial for your Tumblr blog.  Take lots of step by step pictures (and you can take them over the shoulder if you are worried about privacy issues), outline the steps, and put up your post as you would make a craft instruction sheet.  I would also include a bibliography of some craft books on the topic that can be found in your library.

If your library has a Makerspace or a craft heavy emphasis on programming, this is a great way to highlight what you are doing to the community and be a resource.  Making – arts, crafts – are important I believe because they inspire creative thinking and problem solving, and innovation can not happen without these.  Creativity also is a great way to get teens involved in self-expression and to boost their sense of accomplishment and self worth.  Craft programs also are a great way to have some active programming – as opposed to passive programming, where teens sit and listen to someone speak – while still meeting their social needs because craft programs are ripe for sitting and gabbing while crafting.  In short, maker programs create a library environment that is very 40 developmental assets friendly.

TPiB: Teen Tech Week on a Shoe String

Teen Tech Week is March 9-15 and it is coming up FAST! The theme for this year is DIY @ Your Library and you can uptech it or downtech it as you see fit, so it’s extremely versatile as themes go if you want to run with the theme (unlike Check In @ Your Library, where all mine where stuck on Foursquare or some of the other themes).

Already we here at Teen Librarian Toolbox are planning summer reading challenges/clubs/programming, or are in the middle of testing in the schools, and trying to figure out additional programs and special events for Teen Tech Week can just stress anyone out. Add in the fact that (for us at least) it occurs during the spring break for the majority of the school districts we work with (which means teens and staff are going to have plans with their families), and it gets to be overwhelming!


Never fear! You can still offer exciting things with a minimum of stress and staff work and have amazing outcomes and interactions with your tweens and teens. It just takes some footwork now and a smidge of planning.


    Make sure you know what the schedule/time off request calendar looks like for that week. If the majority of your staff (or the staff of the building) is going to be off during that time, and your manager is counting on you to take up the slack, you’re going to have to be planning more self-directed programming than staff-directed programming. It’s a good idea to sit down with your manager or supervisor (depending on your library’s hierarchy) so that you know what’s going on around you and they know what you’re thinking about producing. You don’t want to put tons of effort into a huge week-long program only to be told you’re on reference desk for most of the day. 

    Talk with your teens. Even if you don’t have a teen advisory board, talk to your regulars and see what they want and what their plans are. It may be that the majority of your teens are going out of town for the week because their family is going to see Great Auntie Margorie in Palooskie. Who knows. It may be that they’re all here and stuck because no one has money or a car; which means you can turn the library in to THE spot for all the tweens and teens to be during Spring Break. Ask them what programs they like, what programs they’d like to see, and what they would LOVE to see in the library if there were no barriers- Teen Tech Week can be the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs of some of the programs that you have been doing and launch some new ones.


    Take inventory of what you have and what’s worked well. If movie programs have been OK but they love the idea of mocking movies, run with it- start your own Mystery Science Theater Feature with a marathon showcasing a different type of tech each night (show The Avengers or Thor: The Dark World for alien tech, Red 2 or White House Down for assassin tech, a Fast and Furious marathon for automotive tech) and not only mock it but show how that tech could actually work. If you’ve been having duct tape sessions, turn them into tech session by showing how they can work to patch things in the real world, and have a contest for the most innovative use of duct tape- find a pond and have them actually make small boats, the one who can make theirs last the longest wins, for example.
    Take advantage of self-directed programming. Have a QR scavenger hunt or even a character scavenger hunt around the library, and give out passes for extra computer time, or a waiver of $2-3 for fines. Take a display frame and pour in popped off keyboard keys scavenged from killed keyboards, and have a contest to guess the amount of keys in the frame- the closest the the right amount wins a huge candy bar. Have a caption the Meme contest, and put up a “clean meme” for them to caption, and have the library director or the branch manager vote for the best three.

    Have a retro gaming program. Reserve the programming room or just a couple of tables in the back of the library, pull out Monopoly, Uno, and a couple of other board games (Life and Sorry are big with my kids) or  Legos and sit and play with them and just talk. Make up house rules that wouldn’t normally be in the game relating to anything high tech (first that looks at their phone has to give everyone playing $10, etc.)  and have a wonderful afternoon of “low tech” gaming.

    Have a BYOC afternoon- bring your own craft afternoon program. Take an afternoon sometime during the week, and have everyone bring something that they’ve been working on, or want to learn. I want to learn Rainbow Loom bracelets but I know cross-stitching, beading, and crochet. I can bring my stuff from home, someone else can create with the duct tape, someone can create with beads, someone can bring their rainbow loom, and while we watch a movie or listen to music, we can craft and create and have a wonderful afternoon just being.

      What are you doing for Teen Tech Week? Share in the comments!

      DIY with Quirk Books

      I am crafty.  Well, I sometimes pretend to be crafty.  Well, actually, I think about being crafty.  Occasionally, I attempt being crafty.  And as a librarian, I *do* end up doing a lot of crafts with tweens and teens in the library.  So I am all about crafts, even when my execution leaves a little to be desired.  But one of my favorite places to find craft ideas is Quirk Books – not just the books themselves, but also their website.  They will often have a lot of fun craft ideas in books and on their website.  Here are a few of my favorites.  And remember, always check the website.

      Some of the Quirk Books crafting titles include Craft-A-Day (which sounds super ambitious and is full of ideas that can easily be incorporated into library programming and, you know, doing stuff at home), Microcrafts (tiny crafts, which would be a great thing to do with your Tiny Food Party) and Crafting with Cat Hair (someone I trust on Twitter assured me this was a really cute book).  My fave 5 craft books or website ideas are . . .

      1) Holiday Decor

      It’s obviously the time of year for holiday decor. And I love crafts made out of book pages.  Because words.  Words make me happy. Here are a few ideas of things you can make out of book pages, my favorite being the bow.

      2) Pom-Poms

      I don’t know about you, but my craft supply closet is oddly full of miscellaneous pom pom balls.  I inherited them and never know what to do with them.  But look, someone wrote an entire book about it! Full of cuteness.  I mean look at that cover – hedgehogs.


      3)Homemade Quirk DIY Sampler Volume 1

      Quirk Books actually has a free sampler that you can download with a variety of projects from their various books.  The Bottled Potions from Witch Craft would be fun for Halloween or, of course, for a party celebrating everyone’s favorite wizard. You know I mean Harry Potter there, right? 

      4) Literary Paper Turkey Hands

      Apparently one day at the Quirk Books office everyone decided to make literary turkey hands.  You know, where you make an outline of your hand and then turn it into a turkey – except they gave it a little tweak and added the literary flair.  This is a pretty epic idea and I want to do this next year to decorate the library walls.

      5) Creepy Cute Crochet

      As I was looking at this book, one of my fave teen patrons came into the library.  She apparently knows how to crochet and she loved the ideas in this title.  I asked her to teach me to crochet so I can make them.  They include things like zombies and aliens.  I want to crochet zombies and aliens! And the color and photos of this book are just glorious. As a side note, I totally think I just got this teen to agree to do a crochet program for me at the library.  So today was full of win.

      As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.