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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

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

props3Here we are, day 4 discussing outreach and let’s talk about making chalkboard speech bubbles as photo booth props. Full disclosure: I have awful penmanship. I write myself notes and then later, I have no idea what they say. None. So I was worried about how we were going to make our speech bubbles for the photo booth. It turns out that Desiree, one of the Teen MakerSpace Assistants, knows how to do text transfer so we were able to make amazing looking chalkboard speech bubble props.

Text transfer is the process of printing off a text and then transferring it onto another medium. This allows you to not only have good penmanship, but to use fancy fonts.

Supplies

  • A laptop/computer and printer
  • Chalkboard scrapbook paper
  • Chalk markers (not chalk, chalk markers)
  • A sharp pencil
  • A ballpoint pen
  • Dowel rods
  • A hot glue gun

chalkmarkers

Step 1: Preparing Your Speech Bubble

We were able to buy a scrapbooking stack of 12×12 size chalkboard paper. This is the perfect size for a speech bubble. Pre-cut your shape so you know what size text you need to print off. If you would like, you can also use a piece of foam core and use chalkboard spray paint to cover your speech bubble. I have used chalkboard spray paint and find it works well. Either way, you end up with a chalkboard speech bubble as your canvas.

chalkboardpaperStep 2: Printing Your Text

In order to do a text transfer, you are going to begin by printing off your word(s) from a computer. Select your font, and if you are looking for fun fonts you can try several free online font resources like 1001freefonts.com. Just create your word(s) like you would regularly. You can use Microsoft Word or a publishing program. Print off your text the size you want it to appear on your speech bubble, with exact spacing, punctuation, etc. Print it out and you are ready to begin your transfer onto the chalkboard.

Step 3: Preparing for the Transfer

After you have printed your text, cut around it leaving a minimum of an inch on each side of all the letters. You will then turn your piece of paper over and completely shade the back side of your paper with a #2 pencil. Make sure and get that backside nice and dark and fill in every last space. Fill it in good.

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Step 4: Making the Transfer

You will then turn your paper back over so the printed text is on the top. Place it where you want it to be located on your speech bubble and use your ballpoint pen to go around and outline the text. This will transfer the text in pencil onto your speech bubble. Don’t be afraid to press down hard.

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Step 5: Finishing Your Speech Bubble

After your text is transferred, you simply outline it with your chalk marker and color it in.

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Step 6: Giving It That Old Chalkboard Feeling

If you want to take it a step further and give it the appearance of a used chalkboard, simply take a piece of regular white chalk – not a chalk marker, but a piece of traditional chalk – and color over the entire speech bubble. Then take a tissue and wipe it off.

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Step 7: Put a Stick In It, We’re Done

Hot glue a dowel rod to the back and you have a chalkboard speech bubble photo booth prop. Man, that’s a mouthful.

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And here’s Desiree modelling her chalkboard speech bubble.

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You can do this with any type of chalkboard sign. It doesn’t have to be a speech bubble. It doesn’t have to be a photo booth prop. It doesn’t even have to be a chalkboard. You can do it with regular paper and markers or gel pens. It has turned out to be a lifesaver for me, the person with epically awful penmanship.

And now we’re done with photo booth outreach. Tomorrow we will finish our outreach series by discussing teen coloring.

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

photobooth12As promised, today is day 3 in discussing our outreach modules at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County and we will be discussing making our own photo booth props for our portable photo booth that I shared with you yesterday.

Why make your own props? Well, I figured since we are a Teen MakerSpace, it only made sense to make our own. So we did. With the help of various teens. And I’m not going to lie, it was AWESOME!

The Basics

We made 20 props total with the help of about 10 teens and 3 Teen MakerSpace staff. It was more expensive then buying pre-made props, but it was a great community activity and the teens got to give us input on what props they wanted to make and be involved with the process every step of the way. It takes about $50.00 in supplies and 2 days to make 20 props.

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Supplies

  • A computer and printer (we used this to make templates and to print off emojis)
  • Foam core poster board
  • A box knife
  • A hot glue gun and many, many glue sticks
  • Dowel rods
  • Embellishments
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper towels

We tried a lot of different supplies, and some worked well while others were a complete fail. For example, we initially bought these cute pinwheel sticks at the craft store:

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Although super cute, they did not hold up to the amount of use our props got so DO NOT USE them.

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Use dowel rods, they are sturdy and hold up over the long term. You can spray paint them in bulk if you want something other than a natural finish.

We also experimented with various types of glue. A tot glue gun definitely worked the best.

For this type of an activity, you want to use acrylic paint. You can usually buy bulk packs at craft stores or buy individual colors for about .50 cents a bottle. If you know what props you want to make ahead of time, you can plan accordingly.

Making Our Props

We knew we wanted to make MakerSpace themed props for this outreach activity. This meant things like gears, science related symbols and more. In addition, our teens insisted that they wanted emojis.

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To make the emoji props, teens simply blew the emoji up to the right size on a computer, printed them off, cut them out, and glued them to a piece of foam core. They then cut the foam core to shape and size and glued them to a stick. Amazingly simple.

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To make our other props, for example the gears, we printed off a template which we then traced directly onto the foam core and cut out. We used paint to add features and give them dimension. We then simply glued them to a stick. Here’s a look at some of the props that we made.

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In addition, I happen to be incredibly lucky because I have two artistically talented Teen MakerSpace Assistants. For example, this is Morgan. She drew and painted this Einstein prop free hand.

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We are currently working on Star Wars themed props for Star Wars Reads Day. I made these Yoda ears all by myself using first a template and then some paint. It looks like Yoda, right?

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We are also working on making emoji pumpkin props inspired by this Michael’s activity I saw at a recent event.

emojipumpkins

There wasn’t a lot of technology involved in this Teen MakerSpace activity, but a great time was had by all and I consider it a HUGE success. Because we have the photo booth, we will continue to make various themed props with our teens when appropriate.

Tomorrow, I am going to share with you Desiree’s technique for making chalkboard speech bubble photo booth props.

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

photobooth12Yesterday I shared with you that this week was all about outreach and introduced you to our basic format. Today, I’m going to share with you how we created our portable outreach photo booth.

Our primary outreach event is called First Fridays, which is a downtown festival with food trucks, an outdoor concert, and an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves with booths. On average, we have noted that we talk to anywhere between 200 and 400 people in the space of 3 hours. We had a module where we made buttons, and it turns out they are very popular but making 300 buttons in 3 hours can be exhausting. And after 3 First Fridays, we wanted to kind of spice it up and show a different side of the Teen MakerSpace. So we decided to make a portable photo booth. This turned out to be a fun and popular decision.

We needed a photo booth that was easy to transport and set up/take down. After a lot of research, we used this as our model. We only made on slight change in that we have to different sizes of cross bars so that we can have a smaller or wider photo booth depending on the size of the space we are in. Also, we have both a green screen and a black background. We just bought cheap sheets at the local store and these work fine.

photobooth1Supplies needed:

PVC Plastic Pieces/Pipes

(These can purchased at Lowe’s or some other home repair store)

2 pieces of PVC elbows (for your top connectors)

4 pieces of PVC “T” connectors (2 for your middle cross bar, 2 for your feet)

10 pieces of PVC cut to 3 feet (2 for your back cross bars, 4 for your height, and 4 for your feet)

2 pieces of PVC cut to 5 feet (if you wish to have a larger width photo booth)

Please note: all your pieces of PVC pipe should be the same. We used 3/4 of an inch in diameter. In this picture shown we have used the smaller PVC pipe for our crossbars.

Additional Supplies

  • A black flat sheet (technically you can use any color that you would like)
  • A Kelly Green flat sheet (if you want to use your photo booth as a green screen)
  • Alligator clips (to hold your cloth in place)
  • Various sizes of binder clips
  • Some type of banner
  • Photo booth props (tomorrow we will talk about making your own)

Our total cost was about $50.00, including one sheet.

Setting Up the Photo Booth

Once you have all your pieces cut to the correct size, setting up is easy. As I mentioned, we have to sizes of cross bars so our width can be either 3 feet across, which fits one person, or 5 feet across, which accommodated groups pretty well. We have used it both as a green screen and as a basic backdrop. You will need at least 2 staff to set up and take down the portable photo booth. I also recommend making step-by-step photo instructions.

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After you set up your frame, you’ll need 2 people to drape your sheet over the frame. Especially if you are using it as a green screen, you want to pull your sheet as tight as possible. Wrinkles can cause lighting issues which can cause the green screen to not be properly replaced with your software. Good lighting is really important when using a green screen as well.

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We used both binder clips and alligator clips to pull the material tightly in the back and keep it in place.

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We made a banner so that people knew who we were using triangles, string and giant letter stickers. We eventually made gears to decorate our banner, which is not shown here.

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Signage is very important – as is creating a hashtag. People were invited to take their own pictures and staff used their devices to take pictures as well using the library’s account. All pictures were tagged with the hashtag so that patron’s could go find them online. In addition, we had a slip of paper that we handed to each person telling them about the library, about the hashtag, and inviting them to come into the Teen MakerSpace where we could show them how to print their picture and make it into a button or use some of our photo apps to add text and filters.

Tips and Tricks

The night we first used our portable photo booth turned out to be a really windy night. We had to have staff sit on each side of the photo booth with their foot on the bottom bar to keep it stable. We are talking getting a bar of rebarb to slide through the bottom to help with this in the future. We also discussed sand bags, though we are hesitant to add more bulky, heavy items to our set up. Just know that if you are outdoors wind can be an issue and you may need a stabilizing agent.

For the larger size booth – 5 feet across – we cut the PVC pipe to 5 feet. This means that we had these longer pieces to carry. We are talking about cutting them in half and adding another connector so that all the PVC poles are shorter and we can fit them into a larger gym bag. The jury is still out on this.

Final Verdict

I love the portable photo booth! Everyone had a really great time and it was very easy to set up and take down. And to be honest, it was easier on staff then making 300 buttons in 3 hours.

Here are some of the pictures we took . . .

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Tomorrow, I will share with you how we made our own photo booth props, what worked . . . and what didn’t.

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

outreachtableAt The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we have been working really hard to do outreach for our new Teen MakerSpace. This week, I thought I would share with you what our outreach looks like.

We have now put together 2 separate outreach packets, and I am working on a third. What this means is we have created and organized 3 standard outreach modules that are ready to go so we can easily grab one that best fits the situation and just go.

Our 3 modules include:

A Button Making Station

A Photo Booth Station

A Teen Coloring Station

Every day this week I will talk to you about what those modules look like and how we created the various pieces and parts.

Getting Organized

makerspacemanualIn addition to me, there are 2 part-time Teen MakerSpace Assistants. And we are really lucky because our Assistant Director is really invested and she has come to every one of our outreach events to date. And we have now built up a pretty loyal core group of teens who love to come and help out as well. So in terms of staffing, we have anywhere from 2 to 4 people helping out.

The directions for each outreach module can be found in the Teen MakerSpace Staff Manual, my pride and joy. I’m not kidding, I have been known to loving caress that manual. It is my career pride and joy. That’s not weird, right?

 

checklist1 Because each outreach module has a standard checklist, any of our staff can grab the sheet and go. I don’t have to be present for each outreach event, though to date I have been.

We have several standard items that go to each outreach event, which are outlined in the checklist. They include:

A black table cloth

Teen MakerSpace logo table runners

Flyers and brochures

Table, chairs, trash bags, etc.

After that, each outreach module is spelled out more specifically depending on what the activity is. Because this is a Teen MakerSpace outreach, we always want to make sure our teens are DOING/MAKING SOMETHING. But it also has to be fairly quick, light and easy to carry in, set up and tear down, and fairly inexpensive. Yes, coming up with activities can be challenging.

When we have found an activity that we found to be successful, we then finish the checklist for the activity. Each activity must include the following:

  • Detailed instructions with photos
  • Signage (this signage is kept in the manual so it also can just be grab and go)
  • And a very detailed list of supplies needed

Buttons, Buttons and More Buttons

I have talked beforebuttons18 about our first station, which is a button making station. We do either finger print or chalkboard buttons. Please note: don’t do chalkboard buttons in extreme heat, the chalk markers run and it’s not pretty.

Because we have found buttons to be so popular with our teens, when we don’t do a button themed outreach event, we have designed – with our teens and with artwork created by teens in the Teen MakerSpace – a variety of buttons which we have for the teens to pick up and wear. The masters for these are also in the beloved Teen MakerSpace Manual so they can easily be copies and made into buttons before the event. We also usually have a bag on hand for the grab and go.

 

backpackWe also ordered Teen MakerSpace canvas backpacks which we hand out and it is so cool to see teens wearing them around town and into the library. We ordered the table runners and backpacks from TotallyPromotional.com and have been very happy with the end product. We like having visuals that the teens can take with them and the best part is that they then do the advertising for us.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about our Photo Booth outreach module.

 

Bootalk It! Developing a Booktalk Program to Network with Area Schools

What does every librarian love?  A captive audience!  You want to get into your schools, into the classrooms, and develop relationships with your teachers.  One of the best ways to do this is to develop a booktalking program.

In its most basic description, a booktalk is a short introduction – think commercial or movie trailer – for a book.  What you want to do is give just enough information about a book to tantalize teens and then leave them salivating for more!  If you have done a booktalk properly your audience will be on the edge of their seat asking, “what happens next?”  And your answer is always, “you have to read the book to find out!”

Stop here and make sure you know some booktalking basics:

A very basic intro from the state of Vermont

And don’t forget to look at the booktalking research:

Booktalks on Wikipedia (I know it’s evil, but it refers you to a lot of good resources)
A booktalking program can be an effective tool in your school/library relations toolbox.  What you want to do is develop relationships with teachers who will keep you coming back again and again into their classroom to introduce new books to their students.  It can be once a month, once a grading period, or at the very least before winter and summer breaks.  So you have to sell yourself to the teachers to get your foot in the door, and then you have to deliver the goods.
1.  Making Contact
Do some research and put together a really good introduction to your area teachers about booktalks.  Let them know what booktalks are, why they want to let you do them, how they support the curriculum, and how they encourage students to read.  Make it short, simple and visual: you are marketing a service to them.  An example 3-fold brochure follows . . .

I created this brochure over the years based upon my own MLS final project which focused on booktalking.  In addition, I gathered feedback from students and teachers over the years to help me sell the program.  Always remember to save positive feedback to use in future marketing materials. I have always found that teachers and students both respond favorably to booktalks and their feedback helps me sell the program.

Your basic selling points are this:  Teens find that reading is more enjoyable and are more likely to finish a book if it is a book they select for themselves, booktalks introduce teens to a wide variety of books and allow them to make those successful choices, and booktalks increase reading pleasure.

Booktalks = more reading success, more reading variety, and more reading enjoyment!

Plus, it will help move items in your library.  Thus, booktalks = increased circulation.

Booktalks are win, win!

Wait until the second or third week of school and send a letter of introduction and brochure to each Language Arts/English teacher and each school librarian.  Ask the school principals if you can have a few moments to speak at a teacher in service day and give some example booktalks.  Do everything you can to get your foot in the door, then wow them.

2.  Creating a Package

Start out by creating for yourself a basic building block of say 20 booktalks of the best teen books that will reach the greatest audience.  Be sure to write your booktalks, practice them, and keep them readily available.  As you read a book, create an electronic file (or an old fashioned index card if you would like) that gives a basic description of the book, the appropriate audience, and a “hook” for that book.  What is it that will help you sell this book to teens?  You want to include a wide variety of books and talking styles, including some Booktalk 2.0 styles (included below in Tech It Up).

Some basic booktalk rules to follow:

3.  Play to Your Strengths

Honestly, I am not a funny person  (well, not intentionally any way).  I can never even remember the punch line to a joke.  So I don’t try to do funny booktalks.  Teens would see right away that I am out of my element.  In order to sell a book, you have to be authentic.  Don’t try and sell a book you hate.  Don’t try and sell a book you know nothing about (really, you should read it).  And don’t try to be something that you’re not.  You want the teens to trust you because you are trying to get them to do something . . . so be authentic.  Trust is vital.

However, you need to be able to employ a wide variety of styles.  Booktalking expert Joni Bodart discusses the different types of booktalks as being character based, mood based, plot summary, or anecdotal.  Find out what motivates the story, and then figure out your hook.  From there, you can engage in a wide variety of booktalking styles and techniques.  There are other places that cover that topic well.  You need to know these names Joni Bodart (check out her books), Nancy Keane and Naomi Bates.  They will help you develop the tools you need to be a successful booktalker.

4.  Get Your Audience Involved

Remember, in the ideal scenario you will go to a teacher’s class and booktalk to each and every period.  This means that you can be entertaining each class for anywhere from 15 minutes up until the entire period, depending on what you and the teacher agree upon.  So you want to make it fun for the teens – get them involved.

Ask a question and get them talking.  For example, when booktalking No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman, ask them if they have read Where the Red Fern Grows and how they felt when the dogs died.

Take a portion of the book and make it into a short reader’s theater

Create a short news show or interview that ties into a book.

Believe it or not, a lot of the same techniques your children’s librarian employs for story hour can also be successfully used in a fun, interactive booktalk.  So make cards with words on them and ask teens to yell them out every time the you show them the card.  Ask teens to sing, dance, act, and get involved.  It doesn’t have to be you standing up in front of them. 
 
5.  Tech it Up (Booktalks 2.0)

 

 

In fact, it doesn’t always have to be you at all.  Today most classrooms have a computer and an overhead projector in them, so take advantage of this.  Download book trailers onto a flash drive and share them.  You can download a wide variety on YouTube or at various publishers sites, or visit Naomi Bates and use hers (she also teaches you how to make your own).
You can also create PowerPoints or basic images to share and give that “wow” factor.  I find these to be particularly useful when I want to booktalk a book that is never in on the shelf – this allows me to show them the cover.  In fact, I now almost always create a visual presentation to go with my booktalks.  The visual reinforces the verbal.  Plus, I can leave it behind in the classroom for the teacher and students.

Check out the August 2011 edition of VOYA, it has a good article on alternatives to the traditional slide show.  Scholastic also has some video booktalks you can use.  Multnomah County Libraries have a variety of Podcasts available online.  There are a lot of great tech options out there to tech up your booktalks.

6.  No Really, Get Teens Involved

Teachers are always looking for creative ways to help students explore literature and share what they have read, so get the students writing their own booktalks and creating their own book trailers.  You can share what they do in the classroom in a wide variety of ways in your library with the proper permissions and platforms, such as on a web page or social media page or display screens in your teen area.

7.  Make Their Trip to the Library Successful

I have always been amazed when visiting the classroom how students will write down titles and come up and ask you about them.  If you can, find a way to check titles out to the students at the end of the day. I have written down book barcodes and library card numbers and gone back to the library and checked them out.  But what if the teen doesn’t have a library card yet?  Chances are, they are going to come in to the library and ask about the book – but they won’t remember much.  So you need to make sure all public service staff know not only that you visited a school and booktalked, but what you booktalked.  Make sure all staff have a list of the books, a copy of the cover so they can know what it looked like, and a general book description (or a copy of the actual booktalk).  You can do this electronically or in print, or both.  Then, when a teen comes in and says, “this lady came to our library today and talked about this book set in the future where everyone has a job given to them”, the staff member can pull out the list and determine that it is The Giver by Lois Lowry.  Teens are satisfied, co-workers feel informed and everyone walks away having a successful library interaction.  That is always our number 1 goal.

Also, if you make slides you can print them out and put them on display in your teen area.  And if the books are in you can put them on display.  Whatever you do, you want to make sure they can check out the book (buy multiple copies!) or put them on hold.  There is nothing worse then coming into the library to ask for a book and there is no one there who knows what you are talking about. 

Also, don’t forget your school librarians! Take the information to them and introduce yourself.  Chances are some of the students will go looking for the books at their school library, so help the school librarian find them there if the school owns them.  We want teens to have successful library experiences, whether it be your public library or their school library. 

It Only Takes 1!

If you deal your cards correctly, you can establish a good repeat customer relationship with at least one teacher – and if you visit one teacher’s class room every month for 6 or 7 periods, well that is a lot of booktalks.  At one library I worked at I visited one particular teacher’s classroom every month for 5 years.  The great thing about this is that after a year, you have a really good backlog of booktalks to draw from the next year.  All you have to do is add the new books that you read.  And that teacher, she could be counted on to spread the word to other teachers who would occasionally take me up on my offer.  Best of all, it was amazing getting to know those students throughout the high school years.

So good luck to you as this new school year starts.  Now get booktalking!