Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

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.