Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB MakerSpace: Love Your Pets

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In our Teen MakerSpace, we have kind of drifted into a model where we have themes to unite our making, which teens can choose to participate in or not. Some teens, we have found, need some type of guidance while others do not. So for the month of February, we wanted to do something that tied into Valentine’s Day but didn’t necessarily emphasize romantic love. Love Your Pets was our February celebration of the love that we have for our pets or favorite animals and it was the unifying theme for all of our making that month in the Teen MakerSpace.

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Now it does happen that the two Teen MakerSpace Assistants and I have pets, dogs to be specific. And of course many of our teens know this because they hear us talk about them. So we included them in our promotional materials. Charm is our family dog, he is a long haired dapple coat Dachsund. He is also, for the record, a great cuddler.

We then set up a variety of stations around The MakerSpace with examples of how they can use those stations to make pet themed items

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Stamps, Stickers, Buttons and More!

We bought a variety of pet themed stamps and stickers which could be used to make a variety of pet crafts, including a wood painted signs, buttons, banners and more.

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DIY Pet Toys

We had a variety of discarded t-shirts which could be braided to make hand-made pet toys.

33 Dog Toys You Can Make From Things Around the House – BarkPost

44 Really Cool Homemade DIY Dog Toys Your Dog Will Love

25 Frugally Fun DIY Dog Toys To Pamper Your Pooch – DIY & Crafts

Perler Beads

Perler beads can be used to make a pet portrait.

DIY Pet Tags

And we bought an etching tool and dog tags for our Silhouette Cameo to make hand-made dog tags. We could even teach you how to make a paracord pet collar to hang that hand-made tag off of.

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A note about etching on the Silhouette Cameo: it took us several attempts to find out what settings to use to get a good etching. There is a tutorial here that is helpful: https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2014/10/engraving-with-silhouette-7-tips-to.html. My biggest tip is that you will want to set up your settings to make as many passes as possible.

In all honesty, I have done a version of this program before with different DIY crafts and as a one-time event. Doing it as a theme in the Teen MakerSpace proved to be a tad bit more ideal in that teens could come and go and work at their own pace instead of trying to finish a variety of crafts in 1 to 2 hours. But it is a great program whatever scenario you choose to set it up as.

TPiB: Rick Riordan “Gods and Heroes” Party by Michelle Biwer

One thing is for sure, the popularity of Rick Riordan’s multiple middle grade series based in various mythologies is only increasing. After the hit Percy Jackson series (Greek myth) that started it all, Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus (Roman myth) and Magnus Chase books (Norse myth) became NYT bestselling hits with tweens and librarians alike.

I created a “Gods and Heroes” party for middle schoolers centered around all of Riordan’s iconic mythological worlds.

When the teens first enter they spun a wheel to get claimed by their godly parent.

Greek Gods: Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hades, Demeter, Athena, Hermes

Norse Gods: Loki, Thor, Freya, Frey, Hel, Ran, Odin, Sol

After they had been claimed I presented them with a claiming certificate and instructed them to complete their demigod training.

 

claiming certificate

 

Demigod Training Stations:

Hephaestus and Blitzen Hardware Construction Station

Hardware jewelry creation (materials needed: washers, nuts, hemp, wire, jump rings, etc..)

Build Thor’s Hammer (materials needed: tissue boxes, paper towel rolls, duct tape)

 

Athena’s Wisdom Test

Rick Riordan Book Trivia

 

athena's wisdom test 1athena's wisdom test 2

 

Ask the Oracle

Teens shook a plastic ball I filled with platitudes/predictions and received their “fate.”

 

Design Your Own Valhalla

Teens designed their own version of Valhalla in Minecraft or with LEGO®.

 

Demigod Quest

Scavenger hunt throughout the library. When they returned I gave them a prize (iron-on Camp Half-Blood patches I received at an ALA conference years back).

 

Hero's Quest

All of the templates I designed in Canva for this program can be found here.

TPiB: Easy Peasy DIY Jack-O-Lanterns

So I got a Silhouette Cameo and I was trying to figure out how to use it, and how to use it with teens, when I stumbled across an easy and fun craft idea. You can do it with or without a Silhouette Cameo, it’s easily adaptable. I made my examples using the Silhouette Cameo.

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What You’ll Need:

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  • Clear plastic craft bulb/ornaments
  • Orange acrylic paint
  • Styrofoam or plastic cups
  • Black markers/stickers/or vinyl if using a Silhouette Cameo
  • OR black paper and a sticker making machine
  • Hemp cord or twine for hanging

Step 1: Painting Your Ornament Orange

You are going to be painting the inside of your ornament, not the outside. Start by saying that before anyone gets all excited and starts painting the outside, not that this has happened to me. Nope, not once.

Take the top off of your ornament and fill it with a few drops of orange paint. You’ll want to roll the ornament around a bit to make sure you completely cover the inside with paint. Place your ornament opening down into a cup to let the excess paint drip out and let it dry. It will dry quicker if you don’t use too much paint, so use paint sparingly.

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Step 2: Making Your Face

While your ornament is drying, think about what you want you Jack-O-Lantern face to look like. You then need to make your elements, which you can do in several ways.

Paper: Cut out your face elements using a template you download or hand draw. You can use glue or a sticker making machine to turn your paper into stickers and place them onto your dried ornament.

Sihouette Cameo: Download a design or make your own design, cut using Oracal 651 permanent vinyl, and place on your dried ornament.

Getting Creative:

This doesn’t just have to be Jack-O-Lanterns. You can do ghosts, monsters, robots and more. And it doesn’t have to just be Halloween, you can do a variety of animals, for example. You can also do school colors and logos, sports teams, interests and more. Or, better yet, have teens make an ornament that represents their favorite books and see what they come up with. See also, our annual Great Ornament Hack.

TPiB: Ollie Robot Challenges for Teens by Michelle Biwer

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At my library we have a few Ollie robots and the SpheroEdu app which controls the robots installed on our programming iPads. I purchased the Ollie robots for a few reasons:

  • Special tires so robots can also be used for fun, outdoor programming
  • Move up to 14 mph, much more impressive to most teens these days than something with a lot of functionality but slow like Lego Mindstorms
  • Can be driven easily with an app or can be programmed with text and block based coding (fun and educational!)
  • Access to a large collection of educator activity plans and coding, which can be easily edited to suit your needs

ollieAt the beginning of my last teen robotics event, I used a “Get to Know Ollie” program from Sphero’s database. This code programs Ollie to narrate all its functionality, from user control over lights to the accelerometer and sensors. Playing this demo code gave the teens an idea of what they would be able to control when programming their robots, and introduced them to the block based code system used by the SpheroEdu app.

I asked the teens whether they had experience with Scratch or any kind of block based coding. They were all familiar with Scratch so I skipped going over the basics of writing your own code. I assigned them their first robot challenge, to program the Ollies to move in the shape of their choice. I handed over the iPads with a basic code for movement preloaded so that they would only have to edit the code and not start from the beginning. I was delighted to see that not only did they successfully manage to make the Ollies move in their preferred shape, but they also programmed their robots to change color and say hilarious shaped-based jokes.

For their next activity I asked the teens to program Ollie to dance to their favorite song by changing the robot’s color and moving it to the music. I showed them this awesome Imperial March dance code as an example of what they could program. They really enjoyed this challenge and were most proud of finishing this activity. Since only middle schoolers attended the program they made sure to grab their parents before they left the library to show off their robot dance!

Teen made Ollie dance to Shooting Star!

Completing these two activities ended up taking us an hour to complete, so we ran out of time for the last activity. I was going to ask the teens to create an obstacle course for their robots to race. Instead I have scheduled that as a separate challenge for another day.

– Michelle Biwer

TPiB: Superhero Lock-In by Michelle Biwer

tpibThe recent release of the amazing Wonder Woman film was the perfect excuse to host another teen lock-in for two hours on a Friday evening.

With 3 floors of library to work with, there was lots of opportunity to let the teens run around (literally) and utilize all of our meeting rooms for different activities. With 4 staff members and 4 teen volunteers, we had at least one staff member on every floor and had teen volunteers to help lead different activities.

Icebreaker Activity: As we were waiting for all of the teens to arrive, a teen volunteer led a Superhero versus Villains version of the popular party game Mafia. This is a great team building and warmup activity because teense can join in the game as they arrive and the game can be ended at any time.

After the icebreaker activity, the teens were free to go to any of the 5 stations we had set up for the next hour.

Trivia Station: At my last TAB meeting a few teens had made superhero themed Kahoot! Quizzes. Some teens didn’t have phones, in which case we played in “team mode” with library tablets.

Light-Up Captain America Shield: Nothing too techy ever succeeds at my library as a standalone teen program so I’m always looking for ways to bring STEM into my well attended “fun” programs. Instructables has a neat tutorial on how to make sewable circuit superhero badges. I adapted their instructions to use cheaper materials with a similar result. With just conductive thread, felt, and LEDs, the teens sewed a circuit into their superhero badge.

Perler Bead Craft: We printed out some example perler bead creations for teens to follow, but some opted to make their own creations! Of course a librarian was on hand to do all the ironing.
perler beads

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Screening: A low key option for teens who might need a little rest from the excitement.

Scavenger Hunt: Legendary DC and Marvel villains kidnapped various superheroes and hidden them around the library! Teens had to find where the superheroes were hidden based on clues. All teens who completed the scavenger hunt received a prize from one of our summer reading sponsors.

Superhero Themed Escape Room: Once again I turned one of our conference rooms into an escape room. This time groups of 8 or less teens were superheroes trapped in a creepy abandoned warehouse by the Trickster (anyone else watch The Flash?). I do not think my coworkers have ever been so disturbed as they were when they saw the room. That is how I knew it was creepy enough to be a success! The teens had to locate two bomb detonators and turn them off in order to save Central City and themselves. They also had to “escape” the room. For an extra challenge, I gave groups the option to escape the room in the dark, with only blacklight flashlights to help them solve the clues.

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While this after hours program series takes a lot of work to put together, they always get great attendance and the teens always leave asking when the next lock-in will take place!

TPiB: Wonder Woman Amazon Training Academy for Free Comic Book Day, a guest post by Liz Gotauco

This past weekend, Wonder Woman broke box office records – yay! Today we are excited to share a great Wonder Woman themed program from YA librarian Liz Gotauco.

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As a comics reader and ardent Wonder Woman fan, I’ve enjoyed hosting Free Comic Book Day events at libraries for the past five years. But despite my devotion to the fandom, I hadn’t yet actually done a program focused on my favorite superhero.  With the first Wonder Woman movie coming out this summer, I knew I had to plan something special to honor Diana.  While I am the Teen Services Coordinator at my library, I wanted to host an activity that would work for a wider age range.  It fit in well with Free Comic Book Day as both Wonder Woman and DC Superhero Girls had titles available to give away. So the Amazon Training Academy was born.

The Amazon Training Academy worked similarly to many themed programs you’ve probably done before, with patrons taking on challenges inspired by Wonder Woman and her stories. Wonder Woman has a 75+ year history so there was a lot to choose from – maybe too much! So I focused on her most iconic characteristics.

Her strength and agility: In a million-dollar world, the Amazon Training Academy would have been like the set of that ‘90s TV Show American Gladiator, but for me I just picked one of those activities – Gladiator Jousting.  If you have a bit of money lying around, you can rent an inflatable jousting unit, with pedestals that competitors stand on and soft jousting sticks to push opponents and a bouncy-house floor.  I didn’t have said pile of money, but Google led me to a version a camp had done with gymnast mats and pool noodles.  Our middle school leant us the mats and I created large jousting sticks with the pool noodles and duct tape.  Shoving your friend with a pool noodle turned out to be a universal amusement. Parents and friends spotted each other and once in a while I had to step in to make sure pairs were evenly matched. But it turned out to be our most popular activity in the Training Academy.

Bullet-proof bracelets Another activity that we all know goes over well is target practice, whether you’re Katniss shooting an arrow or aiming for a zombie’s head with a Nerf Blaster.  Wonder Woman provides a unique spin on this activity with her bullet-proof bracelets. So I borrowed some safety goggles from our maintenance staff, purchased a Nerf blaster with darts, and assembled some goofy oversized silver cuffs out of toilet paper rolls and more duct tape. Pairs stood across the room from each other (to counter-act how fast those darts fly) and the person in cuffs and goggles tried deflecting darts with their wrists.

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Lasso of Truth For this I created a simple ring toss with gold rope hoops and Wonder Woman colored poles. This activity scaled the youngest but could be adapted for older ages.  If I did a program like this again, I would love to have a local talent come in to teach rope-throwing, but that seemed like it could be its own program and would take more time and space than the passive activities I was looking to run. But what fun that would be!

Wonder Woman Trivia Lastly, patrons could test their own truth-seeking skills with a simple True/False trivia board, sharing some of the interesting history behind Wonder Woman and her creators. My assistant created a colorful presentation board with lift-the-flap questions and answers, and it made for good pastime while patrons waited for the jousting to open up or stood in line for their free comic books.

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Other ideas I had that didn’t make the cut but might work at your library: a twist on “Two Truths and a Lie” for the Lasso/Truth-telling element, an obstacle course with a Greek theme, creating Diana’s accessories at a make-and-take station, bringing in a local fencing instructor (since the movie has popularized the image of her with a sword and shield), teamwork challenges in the spirit of Amazon kinship, or a screening of the Lynda Carter TV show if you’ve got the right license.  Hopefully the new movie will only increase the popularity of Diana and other woman superheroes, so give the Amazon Training Academy a whirl for your next comic book event!

Meet Our Guest Blogger

wonderwomanliz

Liz Gotauco is the Teen Services Coordinator at the Cumberland Public Library in Cumberland, RI.  She has worked in children and teen library services for almost ten years.  Prior to that, she worked with youth in theatre education with the Rhode Island Youth Theatre.  When she’s not at the library, Liz can be found singing with her cover band Overdue!, sewing a new cosplay, baking, or scouting out fashion exhibits at a local museum.  You can find her at Goodreads and on Litsy and Twitter @lizgotauco.

TPiB: Escape Room The Game, a review

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Today’s Teen Program in a Box literally came in a box – that I bought at the store. This weekend my family, friends and I gathered together to play this Escape Room game so that I can see if it would work well as a teen program at the library. The short answer is: no.

The longer answer. . .

Escape Room the Game has four Escape Room scenarios inside for you to play and I purchased mine for around $35.00. My family thought it was a really high price to pay for a game, but those of us who do teen programming know that this is not a high price to pay for a teen program. Scratch that, it’s not a high price to pay for a successful teen program. This would not, I believe, make a successful teen program. Not the idea of an escape room, that I think the teens would love. I just think that this game would not translate into a successful teen program.

The first escape room scenario is titled Prison Break and you are asked to break out of prison. The game comes with a timer in which you must insert a series of 4 keys in the proper sequence if you want to break the code. Each scenario has 3 challenges within, so you have to insert the correct sequence of codes in 3 times if you want to escape.

Readers, we did not escape. As I write this I am still theoretically stuck in prison somewhere. Please send me a cake with a file in it. I am not cut out for prison life.

The biggest flaw with this game is that many of the items and clues are literally too small and difficult to read. It doesn’t come with a magnifying glass, but you’ll want to have one on hand. Our youngest player was 11 and our oldest was in their 60s, all agreed that parts of the clues were virtually unreadable.

Also, it’s not an escape room in the truest sense of the word. It is, quite literally, a board game. Now I do think if you wanted to go all out you could adapt it to a more traditional escape room, but you would have to play each scenario first in order to figure out how to adapt and set up your space to make it into a live play escape room as opposed to a board game.

But good luck reading the clues. Did I mention they are really small and hard to read? Yeah, I can not emphasize this enough.

This game has timed hints that you can reveal as you play the game. This turned out to be imperative for us because the clues were not as intuitive as I think the game makers thought they might be. At some point, the hint cards actually gives you the answers. They literally give you the answers, and we still failed to solve the game puzzles because we couldn’t read the game pieces themselves.

Here’s How it Works

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Each game scenario is played in 3 parts. You open the envelope for part 1 and try to find the first sequence of keys to place in the decoder. If you are correct, it makes a happy sound and you know that you can go to part 2. If incorrect, it cusses you out in buzzer form and you lose a couple of minutes off of your time.

We got the first sequence of keys correct all by ourselves, but upon reading the answers in a walkthrough (I talk more about this below), it turns out we got the correct answer for the wrong reason. Basically, we got lucky. I shall now hang my head in shame.

You then proceed to part 2. Part 2 was a floor layout of a prison cell. It was chock full of clues that, you guessed it, we literally couldn’t see to read. They also involved math. I’m not opposed to math, but math when you can’t see what you’re supposed to be mathing is somewhat more difficult. Once you get the correct sequence of keys here – and we did but only because the final hint card for this round basically told us the answer – you can proceed to part 3 of the game.

Here you get a smaller picture of a laundry room in a prison. Once you understand the clues for this part, they certainly make more sense then everything that happened in part 2.

The time clock is called a Chrono Decoder by the way and it has some ciphers on the side which are helpful in playing the game. This review, which I found after playing the game as I was looking for a walk through to explain what had just happened, mentions what types of ciphers they are. The official page of the game actually has a really good walkthrough which I consulted after playing to explain what had happened. After playing it the information as explained in the walk through all makes sense, but I don’t know that we would have figured it all out on our own. The hint cards were completely necessary for us. Also, you’ll notice in the review I just shared that they also mention how small and difficult to read many of the clues were. It’s a real thing.

Although I have only seen this one in stores near me, there are apparently a few other escape room board games that you can try:

3 Best Escape Room Board Games of 2017

I do not recommend doing this board game, at home or as a library program. It didn’t give us the experience we were hoping to have, it was fairly inaccessible, and it was ultimately disappointing. But fear not, our own Heather Booth has already written about successfully hosting an Escape Room with teens in the library and you can find that information here:

TPiB: Locked in the Library!

Give this game a hard pass and do what Heather did. That’s my best advice to you.

Getting Ready for May the Fourth: Some Star Wars STEAM Ideas

Our weekly STEM program for 3 to 18 year old patrons took a turn for the galactic yesterday as we focused on Star Wars. None of the ideas I’m about to link to are my own, but I will tell you how well they worked for us and give you some tips for success.

81r2wmJ1JxL_SL1500_Our first activity was releasing Lego Star Wars figures from ‘carbonite.’ You can find the original post here. We used a combination of baking soda and water to freeze the minifigs into ice cubes. First hot tip – they don’t fit in standard ice cube trays. Luckily, I actually had some Star Wars themed jello molds (don’t ask) and they fit in those. We used vinegar to dissolve the ‘carbonite,’ but unlike the original post, I had the kids use pipettes to wash the baking soda away gradually. It really depends on your level of patience, but I think they had fun. Your mileage may vary.

Next we moved on to this activity – creating light saber cards. This was probably my favorite activity and the one I would consider the most teachable moment. If you scroll down in the post, you can find links to all the necessary materials, which were surprisingly affordable. There are also free printables to make the cards themselves. The blogger created one version for ‘May the Fourth’ and one for ‘May the Force,’ so you can use it year round.

We made balloon hovercrafts as detailed here. I’m sure you have some old CDs or DVDs and balloons around, and who doesn’t have a hot glue gun? Unfortunately, the other necessary piece (a pop up bottle lid) is much more difficult to find these days. Almost all of the items that used to have them, such as dish soap and sports water bottles, have switched to the new flip top model. I found them from some online vendors, but you either had to purchase thousands of them or pay exorbitant shipping fees. My best advice is to make friends with people who polish their hardwood floors – all of those containers still use the pop up lids, as does dish soap from the Mrs. Meyer’s company. It’s not ideal, but it is doable if you plan ahead (or have lots of friends with hardwood floors.)

We made these light saber sensory bottles, as well. The post recommends using VOS water bottles, which are quite expensive. We used the large Smart Water bottles because it is what I like to drink. I would recommend going with a smaller bottle, though.

Finally, we made some origami Millennium Falcons. There are many different versions of the instructions online, but the one I found easiest to follow is here.

Happy Star Wars day preparations to all!

TPiB: Undertale Party

Last week, I wrote a review about the video game UndertaleIf you haven’t read it, go ahead and skim it before trying out this program! Also, be sure to ask your regular teens if they’re fans of Undertale before deciding to do this program. Undertale is a niche fandom that isn’t nearly as big as something like Pokemon Go, so make sure you are guaranteed an audience first!

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I had my Undertale program a few weekends ago on a Saturday afternoon. One of my regular teens volunteered to help decorate our program room and plan games, which was a HUGE help!  The best part about my Undertale program was how it attracted teens from all over our county who didn’t know each other, and they all exchanged phone numbers at the end!

Music: I always like to play music in the background during programs because it makes it less awkward if there’s a lull in conversation.  I recommend two different playlists for this program.  First, you can play Undertale’s soundtrack on this YouTube playlist.  But, if you want to get hardcore, you can play music from the Undertale musical. Yes, you read that correctly!  Someone made an Undertale musical, which you can find on YouTube here.  This is a bonus for your teens who are big Hamilton fans!

YouTube Video:

Food: There are a ton of ridiculous names for food in Undertale, and they’re inspirational for food creation activities (a part of me wishes I made rock candy with the teens!)For a complete list, you can click here.

I chose to buy a candy mix and called it “Monster Candy”, Cinnamon Bunnies, and Spider Cider.  I had teens create and bake their own Cinnamon Bunnies using Pillsbury dough and chocolate chips.  We made big bunnies, small bunnies, and what we dubbed “womp bunnies” for all of the bunnies whose ears fell off while eating it.  I also poured apple cider in cups and put plastic spiders in them.

Craft: I always try to give the teens something to take home from a large program like this, so I printed out Undertale perler bead patterns and let the teens go nuts.  Kandi Patterns has plenty of different character patterns available for free!  *Be sure you have PLENTY of black available, because every single character needs a black outline!*

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Perler beads are the perfect craft for this video game because the game’s graphics are 8-bit, and perler beads look just like the video game!  Creating perler bead crafts gave the teens something to do with their hands while they talked all things Undertale.  They talked for a long time about their favorite character, what path they played through first, and what is their favorite YouTuber “Let’s Play” video.

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Games: Figuring out games to play was a little tricky.  I did not want to play the video game itself because it’s only a single player game, and I wanted all of my teens to be engaged at once.  I decided to pick aspects of Undertale that were fun, and create activities that are somewhat related.  You could easily do your own puzzle activities, since that would fit Undertale’s gameplay.

Pun Off: Puns are a big part of the game, whether you enjoy them or not.  I planned to have a formal “Pun Off”, but it actually manifested by itself during the perler beads crafts.  The teens tried to come up with their best puns and reciting puns they memorized from the game.

Collect Gold Coins: In order to survive in the game, players have to collect coins which can be used to buy food for health.  I actually planned out a scavenger hunt for gold coins, but that fell through because our library reorganized our interior that weekend because we are renovating soon!  So, I decided to repurpose the ball pit balls that I spray painted gold and have the teens play a live version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Is Hungry Hungry Hippos related to Undertale? Not in the slightest, but it wouldn’t be a library program without a little improvisation!

goldballs

Disarming a Bomb:  One popular mini game in Undertale is disarming bombs in under three minutes.  I wanted to do something related to disarming bombs, which is how I discovered the video game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.  I reviewed it for TLT, which you can read here.  The teens LOVED this game, and it will now be featured at our weekly Teen Game Night program!

Marshmallow Target Practice:  I printed out a giant version of Flowey, taped him to our library building outside, and let the teens practice throwing marshmallows at it.  I made sure to buy those giant campfire marshmallows for easy throwing! Flowey is the primary boss in the game, so don’t be fooled by the cute looking flower.

Glow Stick Dance Party: I had a celebratory dance program at the very end, especially because they were full of sugar!  I turned off the lights, gave them glow sticks, and turned up the music!

Video: Glow stick party

Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!

By: Alanna Graves
Twitter: @LannaLibrarian

 

TPIB: Photo Shrink Jewelry Charms

shrinkydinks4Although we have some permanent stations set up in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we also occasionally rotate in some different stations to make sure our teens have a variety of activities to engage in. One of our permanent stations includes a bank of iPads which we encourage the teens to do many things with, including create digital media and do photo manipulation. If you have read many posts here at TLT, you know that I am quite obsessed with photo apps and photo manipulation and creation. It is one of my favorite things to do (my phone currently has 14,000 pictures on it and that is not hyperbole). And I then like to find creative things to do with those photos: like turn them into shrink plastic jewelry.

If you are thinking Shrinky Dinks – well, you are right, kind of. Shrinky Dinks are a brand name, there are other types of shrink plastic. And there is shrink plastic that you can put right into your printer, which is my kind of shrink plastic. So this summer, we made photo shrink plastic jewelry with our teens. Today I’m going to tell you how.

Supplies

shrinkydins

  • 2.25 circle punch. I use this one, but you can also just shape fill a 2.25 circle on your computer’s graphics program and a pair of scissors. I like the circle punch because it is a clean circle and it is quick.
  • Standard single hole punch (1/4 inch)
  • Photo printer shrink plastic, as pictured above. There are a few brand options, just make sure it says photo or printer friendly.
  • Some type of technology and a printer
  • A heat source: I recommend a toaster oven
  • A brown grocery bag or lunch sack
  • A metal tray (this usually comes with your toaster oven)
  • Oven mitts
  • A hot pad or trivet
  • Jewelry making findings and tools

Step 1: Creating your images

Before your can print and shrink your images, you need to create your images. For example, you can use Instagram images. Or use any variety of apps to create the images you would like to create(see below for a list of my favorites). When creating or choosing an already existing image, you want to make sure of two things:

1) That they will fit into the 2.25 inches size nicely and

2) That putting a hole in the top or on the sides – more about this in a moment – won’t obscure the important parts of the image. For example, if you are doing a photo with people you’ll want to make sure that you won’t be cutting off their heads when you put a hole in the top.

shrinkydinks7

For my example bracelet, The Mr. had created a series of Doctor Who inspired silhouette drawings to decorate The Teens room. I took pictures of those pieces of art and used a variety of apps to add backgrounds, text, etc. I then uploaded the images to my laptop so that I could print them.

Step 2: Printing your images

You’ll want to follow all printing instructions on your shrink plastic. For example, you will want to reduce the color intensity because the colors gets darker when the images shrink.

shrinkydinks8

For making jewelry charms, after much experimentation, we have found that 2.25 inches is a good size to begin with pre-shrink. In addition, a standard hole punch at the top shrinks down to a good size for a top loop and threading onto some type of jewelry finding. You can alternately put a hole on the left and right side using your hole punch to make a fitted charm bracelet where you loop thread or o rings through both sides of the charm.

After you print your image you’ll want to make sure not to touch the image so that the ink doesn’t smear or smudge.

Step 3: Shrinking your images

Again, you’ll want to follow all the package instructions for using the shrink plastic. Typically you set your toaster oven to 325 degrees. You’ll want to place your images on a piece of brown paper bag that fits inside your toaster oven; this just makes it easier to remove for cooling. The paper goes on the metal tray which you put in the oven (though it also works if you lose the metal tray which I’m not saying I did but the image below proves). When you take the metal tray out you can remove the paper and set it on a heat safe surface to cool. We used a left over piece of ceramic tile, but any type of hot pad or trivet will do.

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The shrinking happens pretty quickly so you need to stay right there and watch your items in the oven. They will briefly curl up and it will scare you because you think, “Oh no, they’re going to fold in on themselves.” And yet somehow they don’t. When they are flat again, wait like 2 beats more and then remove the tray to cool.

We have done this in the library with teens and you want to make sure you have an adult supervising the toaster oven at all times. The items get hot and letting them cool down is essential.

Step 4: Turning your images into jewelry – or something

In the most basic sense, you can thread a single charm onto a basic hemp cord and you have a necklace. You can also string beads between several charms and create a necklace or bracelet. I happen to be lucky and my Assistant Director does chain mail as a hobby and this is a fantastic way to make a charm bracelet. Here are a couple of our creations to give you some ideas.

shrinkydinks3  shrinkydinks

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Don’t want to make jewelry? Don’t put any holes in your plastic, shrink like normal, slap a magnet on the back and you have one of a kind magnets.

There’s a Book for That

And because we try to have a book for every activity we do or station we create in our Teen MakerSpace, we were very excited to find this book:

shrinkshrankshrunk

A Couple of Notes

We experimented with other shapes, but found that circles worked best and didn’t have any rough edges that could poke.

You can technically do this with traditional shrink plastic and hand drawn images as well. For example, we found that our teens loved to make their initials or names.

Some of Karen’s Favorite Photo Apps

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

App Review: Prisma

App Review: Aviary

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Image Chef

Tech Talk: App Review – BeFunky

Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

Meme the Apps

More Photo Crafts

Instagram crafts

10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas part 1 and part 2

Share it! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children