Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Postcards from France, programs, books and more for a France themed day (Quarto Week) (TPiB)

In my home, Paris is a dream destination. The Tween collects a variety of memorabilia and we tend to collect and read books that take place in France. This post for a Paris themed TPIB has been sitting in my drafts folder for a really, really long time. But I’m finally dusting it off and sharing it with you as part of our Quarto Week because of the book Origami City.

Origami City: Fold More Than 30 Global Landmarks by Shuki Kato & Jordan Langerak does exactly what you think it would do – it gives you step by step instructions for folding more than 30 landmarks out of paper. After a brief introduction giving you basic instructions and explaining the symbols used in paper folding, the various origami project are divided into geographic regions. The section on Europe includes a few French landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Le Louvre Pyramid and the Arc de Triopmhe. In addition there are some basic fun projects like a house, car, stop sign, park bench, etc. so you can, in fact, make a little paper city.

This book would be a great addition to our previous Eat and Read Around the Globe program outline that includes things like making postcards from each city and tasting the foods of the region. In addition to the France location, it includes the Taj Mahal (which looks awesome), the Tokyo Tower, Big Ben (Doctor Who program!), and the Sydney Opera House, to name just a few.

5 YA Titles Set in France

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Just One Day by Gayle Foreman

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Rook by Sharon Cameron

More YA Reads set in France

Craft Ideas:

French Manicure : Have a spa day and give yourself a French manicure.

Little Paper France : Make a little paper model of France that you can use to decorate. You can also decoupage the pieces onto a canvas or other cool thing – like a jewelry box – if you wanted. These pieces would be a great addition to your city that you make using the Origami City book.

Eiffel Tower Paper Banner : Decorate by creating a paper banner with images from France.

Edible Eiffel Tower : Edible crafts are yum.

Free Printable Paris Themed Bottlecap Craft Inserts : Use these cool inserts – which are Free! – to make bottle cap jewelry or magnets.

If you use the FilterMania app on a smart phone or tablet, there is an Eiffel Tower frame you can use to create cool pictures.

You can also use Instagram images and Publisher (or some other design program) to create Paris themed postcards.

About Quarto Publishing Group

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

About the Books Mentioned:

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can’t help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world’s greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they’ve ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel. A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print. (Bloomsbury 2013)

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know. (Speak 2013)


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? (Dutton 2010)



Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Readers of If I Stay and Elizabeth George will love Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light. Revolution artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love; it spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present. (Random House 2010)

Rook by Sharon Cameron

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. (Scholastic 2015)

All book descriptions are the publisher’s book descriptions.



TPiB: Programming with Straws

When I was Tweeting about Strawbees on Twitter, Laura Renshaw sent me the above tweet about her library’s Everything is Strawsome program, an obvious play on the popular Lego’s song Everything is Awesome. This is hands down the most genius program name ever! I was so excited about the program name that I tweeted to Laura that I wanted to do a program with straws as well, featuring Strawbees. She then replied that this Straw Ninjas craft was the craft activity that she had found that inspired the program.

Straw Ninjas

I did some looking around and found some other straw themed ideas that I am considering doing as part of a straw themed program. Strawbees plus some other straw related activities would indeed make for a Strawsome program! Man, I love that name Laura.

Some of our Strawbees creations on display at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio

Drinking Straw Cuff Bracelet

Mark Montano has a YouTube tutorial on making a beaded cuff bracelet using drinking straws.

Balloon Rockets

Straw Chinese Yo-Yos

I have mixed feeling about this one. I have done them before using small wooden dowel rods and I worry that the straws won’t be strong enough for repeated use. I guess it would depend a lot on the quality of the straws that you use. The Harvard Chinese Yo-Yo Club has some information about the history of the Chinese Yo-Yo.

Straw Wars

This is really just a fancy version of spit balls. To make it really Star Wars related, you could print off some pictures of Storm Troopers as targets.

Pixie Sticks

Using paper straws, you can make your own Pixie Sticks.

Hey, here’s an earworm for you . . . And you’re welcome!

This is currently what I’m thinking about doing for my straw themed program. If you have some other fun ideas, please share in the comments. I’m thinking this would make a great Earth Day program. Couple it with my Zip Tie Crafts and I could go with a whole upcyclying/environmental series.

STEM/STEAM Programming for Teens (an Infopeople webinar) (TPiB)

Yesterday I had the honor of doing my first webinar for Infopeople. The subject was STEM and STEAM programming for teens. Infopeople webinars are free and it looks like you can access the webinar in the archive by filling out a little form.

STEM and STEAM Programming for Teens at Infopeople

In this webinar I talk a little bit about STEM programming and the benefits for both libraries and teens, but a bulk of the discussion is on STEAM programming. I admit, as the wife of an art major I am a huge believer in the benefits of the arts. My goal was to share a variety of ways that art can be combined with technology to create a multi-discipline approach to teen programming that not only allow teens to develop tech skills but allows them to engage in creative exploration and self expression. I break it down into visual arts, motion picture arts, and the musical arts. I then share a variety of ways that you can use tech to provide some additional types of book discussions. The best part of being a part of webinars like this as that other participants can share their own experiences and program ideas.

Infopeople has a large archive of additional webinars you can access on a wide variety of topics. And here’s a link to their training and webinar calendar for upcoming training events. You can find out more about Infopeople here.

I Am SHERLocked: Sherlock Program/Party Ideas

After the success – and fun – of my Doctor Who program, I decided to have a Sherlock themed program.  Pop culture is a great programming tie-in.  For Sherlock, I am doing some hands on forensic science projects as well as some crafting projects.  The forensic science themed projects can be found here at my CSI program outline. I think the game of observation – where you ask teens to examine a “scene” and then recall what they have noticed – is especially fitting for a Sherlock program.  In addition, I will be doing the craft activities below.

Bottle Cap/Marble Magnet Quotes

Look, I am not going to lie.  I am a big fan of Marble Magnets and Bottle Cap jewelry.  You can make the individual pieces however you want, which means you are encouraging teens to be creative.  And in the case of the bottle caps, you can then string them onto cord with beads and make unique pieces of jewelry (or keychains, etc.).

The basic info for making Bottle Cap Jewelry can be found here

And here is the basic info for making Marble Magnets. 

And here are 50 things you can do with Bottle Caps.

You can download this sheet here

I put together a template of some inserts that teens can use to make their bottle caps/marble magnets.  But they can always make their own.  And you can also take an ink pad and they can make their own fingerprints.

Spray Paint Smiley Face Art

Materials: Blank canvas, various scrapbook paper, yellow spray paint, Mod Podge

Fans of the BBC Sherlock will recognize the distinct wall paper with a spray painted smiley face dripping down it.   So I created my own version using wallpaper (aka scrapbook paper) that would better fit into my personal space.  So give tweens/teens a wide choice of papers to match their rooms.  Then, glue it onto your canvas, giving it time to dry.  Use your yellow spray paint to make your dripping smiley face (this was harder than I would have thought).  Again, give it time to dry.  Then I used stickers to decorate and add quotes.  After it is all dry, apply a layer of Mod Podge over the top and give it time to dry.  You could also do a skull picture onto wallpaper if you choose.

Silhouette Pictures

Materials: A discarded book you don’t mind tearing apart, a blank frame, white paper, a black Sharpie

The Sherlock silhouette is an iconic image.  You can turn your teens into silhouettes and let them make their own pictures (more on this below).  I used pages of a book for a background.  I had extra picture frames lying around from another craft and we are coloring them with Sharpies.

Below is information on how you can create your own silhouette pictures.  I turned a picture into a black and white image and adjusted the settings as far as I could.  I then printed the picture, cut it out, and colored it with a black Sharpie.  Tape it down onto a new sheet of paper making sure you completely cover the edges and you get a crisp black silhouette.

After being colored and recopied

 Here is a great tutorial from this post at About.com

“You can pull characters from stock photos or your own pictures. All you do is separate the character from the background and then color the person with a solid color. This approach is effective because you can shoot your own photos and not worry about lighting and getting the best image. As long as it is clear and has the right pose, you’re fine. Once it’s filled no one can tell what the original looked like.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - paint images black
  • Open the photo in a graphics editor.
  • Pull the person out of the background.
  • Fill the character with black and save the image.

Tip: If you want a transparent background with the image make sure to save as .gif or .png. You don’t need a fancy graphics application to do this. In fact, I did this demo in Paint.net which is a free download.” Source: About.com

You can see a photo montage of a teen doing their silhouette on the Tumblr: http://teenlibrariantoolbox.tumblr.com/post/72490546309/this-teen-just-turned-himself-into-a-sherlock

Some other Silhouette Tutorials:
HGTV: How to make a framed child’s silhouette
SITS Girls: Uses paint (I substituted paint for a black Sharpie to cut down drying times)
Bower Power: Photoshop Tutorial

You could also just use silhouette images of Sherlock and Watson found online.  That’s what I used in my example craft.

TPiB: Hunger Games Monopolgy (from Kearsten)

Do you have teens that are crazy for The Hunger Games and Monopoly? Why not put together this HG Monopoly game as a Teen program in a Box?

This was a pretty easy program to plan, and although the prep is intensive (thank goodness for our teen volunteers), it is easy to package and send to our branches as a program in a box.  We’ve included downloadable PDFs with all the images we used for our materials so you, too, can enjoy this fun interactive game!
What you need:

Game Board (20 posterboards halved, plus colored paper and place name print-outs)

  • Inflatable Dice
  • Property Cards (printed on cardstock)
  • Monopoly money (borrowed from another Monopoly game, or, if you print your own: 20 each of $500 and $100, 30 $50, 50 $20, and 40 each of $10, $5, and $1)
  • 32 houses, 12 hotels
  • 5 math challenge cards, 5 science challenge cards, 5 trivia challenge cards (cardstock)
  • Gift bags with parachute images taped to them (these can be reused, as long as you have people to refill them inconspicuously. We had 18 ready to go and gave out our last one in the last round)
  • Reaping bowl/container
The biggest brain-drain of our set-up was changing the property names to Hunger Games propreties, and, no lie, we used teen knowledge and Wikipedia generously.  Using place names like The Seam, Mason Dam, and Avenue of the Tributes (instead of Bow Street, Trafalgar Square, and Park Place), we pasted the place names, rent and corresponding color strips to poster boards cut in half.  We laminated our board pieces to keep them in good condition, then duct taped ’em down when we played in order prevent too much slipping and sliding.
My supervisor, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, is magic with graphics and created Hunger Games money and Victor pins for our winning team (we purchased a Badge-a-Minit starter kit several years ago and have made very good use of it!).  We also created property cards (complete with the rent values) for wheeling and dealing, printed images of houses and hotels, and purchased blow-up dice from a party store.
With the help of our Teen Library Council, we made a few changes to the game board and game play to better reflect both the books and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts. Thankfully, the teens LOVED the changes we made!
Instead of Jail, we sent teams to “The Arena,” where they played a game we dubbed “Catch the Sponsor Gifts” (though all manner of “minute-to-win-it” style games could work).  Using two styrofoam bowls, we poked holes in the sides, then threaded the holes with orange ribbon.  Two team members tied the bowls to their heads, and then tried to catch large pom-poms tossed by the other two teammates.  If they were able to then transfer five of the “gifts” to another bowl without using their hands within 30 seconds, they received “Sponsor Parachutes,” which were gift bags decorated with a silver-gray image of a parachute.  Our TLC members had a great time putting random amounts of HG Monopoly cash in the bags (and laughed maniacally when a team picked the bag containing one $1 bill).  If the team didn’t catch five poms, we still let ’em out of the Arena, but without prize money. 

“The Reaping” took the place of Community Chest, Chance, Income Tax, Luxury Tax, and Go (they still collected $200 when passing the Go/Reaping space).  We made cards for math, science, and trivia challenges, and if a team landed on one of those spaces, they had to pull a card from the Reaping bowl (a glass fish bowl would be ideal!).  That team had a minute or two to answer the question, and if they couldn’t, the next team had a chance to answer.  Correct answers also won sponsor parachutes.  Reapings ended up being the favorite activity, and I don’t think I ever could have predicted the eagerness with which a roomful of teens tackled math problems!

But where did we get those math problems?  Our TLC members offered to write questions, but when they forgot I had to scramble to find other resources…so plan ahead!  Luckily, Sean Connolly’s The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math (97807611637490) was checked in, and I was able to paraphrase a bit to apply it to the Hunger Games.  For example, the book has a “Spend a Million” challenge (pg 21), which I shared with the group as, “You’ve just won the Hunger Games and received 1 million dollars.  In protest, you vow to spend it wastefully at a rate of $.50 a second.  About how many days would it take to spend that million dollars?” (The answer? 23 days.)

I also used books for our science challenges.  Why is Snot Green by Glenn Murphy offered up a list of the “Top 10 Killer Animals” (…of 2007 – pg 113-114), and I asked them to name at least five.  This was a challenge that made it around to all six teams, and we ended up giving a parachute bag to the team that named the most…which was only four.  (The listed animals are: mosquitoes, cone shell mollusks, sea wasp jellyfish, spitting cobras, taipan snakes, funnel web spiders, hippos, killer bees, elephants, and poison dart frogs.)
As for our trivia challenges, one of our Teen Library Council members (who dressed up as Seneca Crane, drawn-on beard and all) put together a list, but H.G trivia questions are all over the internet.  Just be careful to only ask questions up to Catching Fire, just in case some of your attendees are waiting to read Mockingjay!
As we only had an hour and a half to play the game, we played by speed rules: the teens sorted themselves into teams of four, and we shuffled the properties and handed them out evenly to the teams at the beginning of the game, along with $1500 to each team.

I do recommend reading through the Monopoly rules ahead of time.  I was lucky in that I had a teen volunteer who is more than a little obsessed with the game (she can rattle off rents, with or without houses and hotels, for most properties from memory), and so I was able to consult her when there was a question from the players.

Yes, there is a bit of set-up for this program, but considering that I’ve already packed and sent the program to one of our branches, and several teens asked at the program for the date of our next Monopoly game…yes, it was a hit!

Kearsten and Co. obviously put a lot of work into putting together this epic live action Hunger Games Monopoly game and they have been kind enough to share all of that hard work with us here.  You can get everything you need by following the links.

Hunger Games Monopoly Board 
Hunger Games Monopoly Cards 
Hunger Games Monopoly Challenge Cards 
Hunger Games Monopoly Hotels and Houses 
Hunger Games Monopoly Map 
Hunger Games Monopoly Money
Hunger Games Monopoly Parachutes

Kearsten LaBrozzi, MLS
I’m a Teen Librarian at Glendale Public Library in Glendale, Arizona. I’ve spent half my life working in libraries, but the last six I’ve spent in the teen department have been the most fun by far: book clubs, zombie LARPs, and gaming, oh my! I run two monthly book clubs and a third every summer, and talking with others about the books we’ve read makes my day. Wandering our teen room, pulling books off the shelves, is my favorite way to recommend teen fiction and non-fiction, and here on TLT I’m hoping to translate that informal book-talking into something anyone can use. Kearsten does our monthly “Booktalk This!” feature. 

TPiB: The Mortal Instruments City of Bones (Magic in Books and Movies past, present and future, part 2)

Earlier, we shared some movie inspired programming ideas for some of our favorite movies past and present.  But 1 movie we can’t wait to see is

Several of my teens swear that this is THE BEST SERIES EVER!  And Christie has already made me promise to take her to see the movie.  So if you are looking for some movie release programming ideas, she has some for you today!  

Shadowhunter Training

Have your mortals prove that they are Shadowhunter material by creating an indoor obstacle course to prove their skills. Tie chars together and have them crawl under (or over) to sneak up on vampires and demons. Jump in and out of activity rings 5 times to improve their agility. Practice their aim with beanbag tosses. Or create a challenging maze using crepe paper streamers or string for them to navigate. Break your youth into parabati pairs, and see which team can finish with the smallest time.
Costume Contest
Have a cosplay portion of the night. Have the best Clary, the best Simon, the best Jace, etc. For inspiration take a look at stills from the movie, or take inspiration from the books and fan art online. However, let them know that only FAKE weapons will be allowed.  What is Cosplay? Cosplay is a type of fan or performance art where participants dress up as their favorite characters from a work of fiction.

Rune Practice
Shadowhunters need to be able to draw runes for everything: healing, protection, night vision. Print out pictures of the runes used in the Mortal instruments series (some can be found here ) and have teens practice their drawing skills.

Temporary Tattoos

Once they’ve mastered their runes have them pick their favorite for a temporary tattoo.  Instructions are here: http://charlotteisnotmyname.tumblr.com/post/11523186764/temporary-tattoos-tutorial
If you don’t want to go that route (or with henna- although I recommend getting someone experienced with henna and permission slips with that one), think about watercolor crayons or Disguise Stix Makeup.  You could even use Window Markers and have the teens decorate your windows in runes (or sidewalks using sidewalk chalk).  Or LOOK HERE and you can make your own rune window clings.

OR, if you want to go really hardcore, create your own Steles. Here is the create and bake method (good for ovens or possibly toaster ovens): http://www.themortalinstrumentsinmovies.com/2012/10/mortal-instruments-stele-learn-steps-on.html but you could definitely make them with something similar to Crayola Model Magic and let them air dry. Or you can put clay on pens or pencils and then paint to suit.

Book Quote Art

Do check out this awesome book quote art project over at The Library as Incubator Project.  Getting teens involved in created book inspired art is a great way to combine fandom with creative expression.

Novel Novice also has some discussion questions and program ideas up on their website.  4YA has some great ideas up as well.

Don’t forget you can do things like fan art, make your own graphic novel pages and more.

Have some TMI movie programming ideas to share with us? Please share them in the comments.  This should be a huge movie this summer for YA fans.

TPiB: Mummies

Tweens and teens in my library are separated not only by that HUGE stretch of year (twelve going to thirteen) but by what they are interested in. My teens seem to want movie programs where they can chill, do crafts, and play games in corners and socialize, or gaming programs where we have a variety of things for everyone.

My TWEENS, however, want ACTION and ADVENTURE and EVERYTHING! I have done Angry Birds, Just Dance 4 Wii, and am actively planning my summer themes to blend the two collaborative themes: Dig Up a Good Book (the youth theme) and Beneath the Surface (the teen theme) as these patrons are stuck between the two worlds.

The first one I’m attempting is a mummy/archeology themed program, and I’ve pulled together ALL of my notes to share with you!  Follow the break to see what I’ve pulled together, and note that a lot of these can work for or be aged up to work with teens…

Mummy Wrap:  Team up into pairs, and have one person be the mummy, and one person be the embalmer.  Take rolls of toilet paper, and on the start whistle, have the embalmer wrap the mummy from head to toe in paper.  Mummy must be completely still while the embalmer runs around the mummy.  When the mummy is done, the embalmer and mummy must cross the finish line together.

Spider, Spider: Have the players gather in a circle, and one person is designated it.  That person closes their eyes and placed in the middle of the circle.  Then another player in the circle is given a plastic spider to hide behind their back.  Everyone else then hides their hands behind their back as well.  At the signal, the spider hunter opens their eyes, and then has three chances to guess where the spider is by looking at the other players.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:  Play exactly like Hot Potato, except with a plastic (or stuffed) snake to throw around.  Can be set to music from Indiana Jones movies or The Mummy movies, and when the music stops, the person holding the snake is out.  Those that are out go to tables to color while the rest plays.
Obstacle Course:  Using props like hoops to step in and chairs with streamers to climb under, create and obstacle course to avoid the evil bad guys.  Those with the best times will compete to see who wins the treasure!

Dance of Death:  Create a playlist (or mix CD) of music from Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and other music from mummy and archeology films, as well as those with an Egyptian theme (Walk like an Egyptian, etc.).  Set chairs around the room for the number of players that you have, minus one.  When the music beings, everyone moves around in the circle in various styles (walk like a mummy, shuffling your feet; walk like you’re sneaking past the bad guys, etc.).  When the music stops, everyone scrambles to find a chair- the last one to not have a chair is out.  They go to a table to color and watch while the rest continue. 
Bendable Mummies

Gumby like mummies using simple flexible wire and muslin.  Or make it a recycle craft by using strips of old t-shirts.  Cheap, easy and full of win.  More information at Family Chic.


·         Materials:  hole punch, toilet paper tubes, yarn, markers, glue, self adhesive jewels
·         Punch holes into the tops of toilet paper tubes ahead of time
·         Take two toilet paper tubes and glue together.  Loop string around the ends of each side, then tie together so that they make a lanyard for the binoculars to hang off the neck.  Decorate at will with leftover materials.
·         Materials: containers (Kleenex boxes, shoe boxes, Pringles tubes, etc). Gold Construction paper. Glue. Scissors. Self adhesive gems. Markers.
·         Have tweens take safe scissors and cut an opening into the container if there isn’t one already there.  Take construction paper and cover the containers completely, gluing were appropriate.  Decorate with markers and self-adhesive gems.

Hierogrlyphics Stone Tablet

You can use salt dough or self hardening clay to make Hieroglyphic stone tablets. Complete instructions here

Mummify a Barbie

Visit your local thrift store and by some super cheap Barbies then allow your tweens to mummify them with this condensed process.  You can eliminate steps if you want, or go for accuracy.  There are also great instructions here.


If you don’t feel confident doing crafts on your own with scrounged materials (some don’t and that’s fine- do what’s comfortable for you), then there are always kits available at a variety of online places. Do a search for Egypt or archeology or mummys and see what comes up. I found things like these from Oriental Trading Company- see what you can order to fill out your program.

I always like having movies available to me, especially since we pay for a public performance license. With tweens it gets tricky because I really don’t feel comfortable setting them down for a PG-13 movie, yet they always assure me they’ve seen them (or R movies) all the time. I just keep telling them that because they’re under 13, I can’t show it them or I will loose my job, and that ends the discussion. You, however, can show whatever you’re comfortable with. I’ve pulled a list of movies that (generally) fit with the theme that are rated PG and are covered under the Movie Licensing USA agreement. (NOTE: If you do NOT have a public performance license, please do not show movies- it is NOT worth your job or the fines if you get in trouble).
Encino Man
The Flintstones
The Goonies
Hotel Transylvania
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Journey to the Center of the Earth
The Jungle Book
National Treasure 1 & 2
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Secret of NIMH
The Corpse Bride

TPiB: Zombie Prom (by Stephanie W)

 In 2010, I decided that I wanted to start having a program that was 1) after-hours, 2) for teens ONLY, and 3) in the Fall.  And so…Zombie Prom was born.

Zombie Prom is our annual (we’re heading into year #4) Teen Read Week celebration and our annual Teens ONLY party event of the year.

So, you wanna have your own Zombie Prom?

I’ll tell you a bit about ours.  Our Zombie Prom is a completely free event for teens ages 12-18.  The teens can pick up permission slips from any of our ten branches and then return them, signed, in exchange for a ticket.  No permission slip…no ticket.  (Click HERE for a sample of our permission slip)  This helps us keep up with how many tickets we are giving out as we limit this event to the first 100 to register.

Each Friday in the month of October, my YA staff has to call in their number of tickets given out and we keep a running total in my office.  When we reach 80 tickets given out, staff has to call in each time they give away tickets until we hit the happy number of 100.

Now, for the prom itself.  Our prom consists of three different areas: the dance (in our large meeting room), the food area (in our courtyard), and our photo and makeup area (in another, quieter, part of the building.

The dance floor is just our meeting room.  We have done different things in regards to how we get our music.  For two of the three years, we rented a system called a Quebbie (or a DJ in a Box), and then relied on my awesome hubby (ex-radio DJ) to be our MC.  The Quebbie comes uploaded with the lastest tracks and you can set up playlists and everything on one piece of equipment, hooked into our speaker system.  One year, we booked an actual DJ.  The Quebbie was cheaper but some of the music was a little old…the DJ was more expensive, but had everything. Then, we open up the floor, line the walls with chairs, and let them dance the night away.  (I’ll get to security/chaperones a little later.)

Our second area is our food area.  This year, Zombie Prom was held at a branch that had an open air courtyard, so we grilled hot dogs on a grill.  We also served nachos, chips, and we made over 100 red velvet cupcakes with gross green frosting.  We serve Hawaiian Punch poured in giant dispensers.  WORD OF CAUTION: We go through at least 15-25 gallons of punch at each one of these events.  TEENS GET THIRSTY.  So plan to have wayyyy too many drinks or your will have unhappy teens.  For our nachos, hot dogs, and chili, we line up several dozen crock-pots and we have a serving station set up, manned by our staff.

Our third area is our photo and makeup area.  We offer each teen ‘one free wound’ at Zombie Prom.  Our first two years, we had a volunteer who is a Zombie fanatic come to do makeup for us, assisted by some local college students from our community theatre and a few staffers.  This past year, one of our staff members who is a director at a local community theatre for children and teens had someone come in a teach a makeup workshop for her teens.  Some of these teens actually wanted to do makeup, rather than dance the night away, and they volunteered to help with that.  It takes quite some time to ‘wound’ 100 teens.  We usually have at least 6 volunteers and it takes them about 2 hours to ‘wound’ everyone.  The makeup is purchased from our local Halloween store or made with some of the DIY info on wound found all over the interwebs.

We also offer one free 5×7 Zombie Prom photo to all attendees.  A husband of one of our staff member’s is a photographer and graciously sets up and takes the pictures for free.  We then take the CD of images and bring them to Wal-Mart and voila…pictures.  These are mailed to the teens up to 15 days after the event.  Our backdrop is nothing more than a cream colored king sized flat sheet that is spray painted with ‘Zombie Prom’ and then doused with fake blood.  Below is a picture of our staff after Zombie Prom in 2011.  The awesome ‘zombie’ staffer on the bottom with her thumbs up is our zombie fanatic volunteer who takes her zombiefication so seriously it would blow your mind.  I’m next to her as Zombie Michael Jackson…I made my nose rot off.  I had a glove. It was fun.  

Security and stuffs

So, how is this all done?  Well, I have ten branches and each one of the branches YA staff members work the event.  Then, we always have a few pages or additional staff who BEG to work this event.  THEN, there are several of us who force our husbands to come along.  All in all, we usually have about 20 staff members, our library security guard, and 100 teens in the building.

We always invite our local law enforcement to come and do a walk-through and just to let them know what is going on at our buildings after hours (after all…some local citizens may get concerned seeing a bunch of bloody teens entering a building) and this past year, I was so pleased and flattered to hear the cop tell me that we had better security than any event he had attended off duty.

Here are a few of the things we do:

  • All 20 staff members have assigned posts.  There are a few ‘roving’ staff and then myself, who doesn’t have an assigned post at all but just wanders around making sure the place isn’t exploding, but for the most part, the staff members are positioned around all entrances, exits, nooks, crannies, bathroom doors, and then two staff members roam the perimeter of the building at all times.  
  • Once you are in for the night, you don’t leave.  You cannot walk.  You cannot ride your bike home.  You must be picked up by the person stated on your permission form.  If you drive, you cannot just find some friends and bring them home. Our outside staff members who are roaming the perimeter stop at 9:30, when most of the parents start showing up, and go car to car to ask what teen is being picked up.  They then use walkie-talkies and radio inside to our staff and we locate the teen, walk them outside, and the parent has to sign off that they have picked them up.  Sounds harder than it is but it’s a huge relief to the parents because they know we mean business and a huge relief to me…since my job kinda depends on the success or failure of said programs…
  • If you are not picked up by 10:30, 30 minutes after the end of Prom, the cops pick you up.  And it isn’t an empty threat.  And after the first year, they now believe us.

A few fun extras….

Each year, we have a Zombie Prom King and a Zombie Prom Queen.  These are usually voted on discreetly by working staff members and go out to the teens who really dressed the best.  We have had the same queen for three years in a row…and we never know it is her until she wins b/c she looks sooooo different each time.  I don’t have a pic of her from this year, where she covered her body and dress in bloody maggots (really rice but still…) but I do have her past two pictures and got permissions to share…

We also try to do door prizes each year.  The first year, I gave away $25 gift cards to the local Halloween store and some random decorations for Halloween.  The second year, I contacted a few YA authors who had penned zombie books and they sent autographed copies of their books.  Last year, a publisher sent me enough Zombie themed books that everyone went home with something and some of the teens even used them as Zombie Prom Yearbooks and were having other teens sign the endpapers!  No clue what we will do this year but I hope to top off last year!
And last but not least, we usually have a little break in our 7-8:30 time frame for entertainment.  Year one, we had a group of theatre students flash mob the dance floor and dance to Thriller.  Year two, we had a group of local junior high kids perform their interpretation of Maureen Johnson’s short story in Zombies vs. Unicorns.  And this past year, we had a group of teens learn fight choreography and they staged a ‘fake’ zombie attack.
Here are some other resources:

TPiB: High School Exam Cram – sure-fire & stone simple

It almost seems too simple, too good to be true – the low maintenance, high attendance program that high school students flock to, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.  Exam Cram.  Finals Service.  Study Blitz.  Whatever you want to call it, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Full disclosure, I didn’t come up with this.  I read about a similar program at a nearby library in the October 2009 issue of VOYA “How to get nearly 1,000 teens into your library in 5 days or less: Finals Week at Hinsdale Public Library” which you can still access through their digital archives.  But over the past three years, it has become one of our mainstay programs, and created significant goodwill in our older teen community.

In a nutshell – we provide space, snacks, sometimes extended hours, sometimes give-aways during the evenings before exam days and teens studying for finals come in droves.  Our first time out, we had so many teens using the library that there were groups huddled together on the floor in the stacks.  At our event last month, every table in the library and as many as would fit in the meeting room were full.

What’s the allure?  How does this work?  It’s a simple and winning combination of providing what high school students need (space, food, understanding) and being ourselves at our best (friendly, helpful, and understanding).  Promotion is minimal – we announce it in our newsletter and post flyers in the library and at the school library.  On occasion we have taken ads out in the school newspapers, but this doesn’t seem as effective as word of mouth.  Exam Cram brings in the teens who are already using our library, and they bring their friends… who often then become regular library users.  It’s amazing to me to see new faces at Exam Cram, and then to see those same faces become familiar over the rest of the school year.  They may not be asking a lot of reference questions.  I may not get many of them to pick up the great new fiction that came in.  But what they’re gaining will serve them well.  They are seeing the library as a useful, welcoming place that is not just accepting of them, but happy that they are here!

How to do it on the cheap:

  • Open your meeting room and put out tables and chairs
  • Pop some popcorn
  • Make some lemonade
  • Put up signs
  • Wear your best smile

If you have some extra money:

  • Spring for a mix of junk & healthy snacks like chips, cookies, fresh fruit & veggies, trail mix and string cheese – some of these kids don’t go home for dinner, so protein is important!
  • Get soda and bottles of water (I always go through twice as many water bottles as any specific type of soda)
  • Bring in coffee, or set up a hot water station with hot-cocoa and mix-ins

If you’ve got some staff buy-in:

  • Stay open an hour later.  This only works if you have enough staff to sufficiently monitor, you feel that teens will be safe leaving the library later, and it complies with local curfew ordinances.  Treat it as a lock-in: once they’ve left, they can’t re-enter; no one can come after the library has closed; only students with valid high school IDs may stay.

Go all-out:

  • Book an additional room and set up a gaming study break center.
  • Get your logo or your teen web site printed on highlighters, water bottles, post-it flags, stress balls, or cool pens to hand out.
  • Bring tutors in to be on hand to answer tricky questions, or contact teachers and invite them to host study sessions at set times.

Make the most of it:
This will likely be the highest concentration of high school students in your library all at one time.  Do you have a few burning questions you need answered?

  • Post a poll on the wall and ask them to add their response.  
  • Set up a computer with a quick five question survey, and hand out a candy bar or a give-away item as a thank-you, or enter them in a raffle.  
  • Ask them to sign in with their year and school so you know who your population is.  
  • Provide a study-break service opportunity.  This year, I set out origami and scrapbook paper and invited the teens to make snowflakes for the Sandy Hook PTA, who has requested this donation.
  • Get them to vote on your Summer Reading theme, or name their favorite book or genre, or the best thing about the library.  Psst – your Board of Trustees will love the last one!

It’s a great way to reach teens that are too busy to attend your programs or even too busy to come in and browse for recreational reading.  These are teens who need the library too – and can become some of your greatest champions.  If you’re not convinced yet, let me leave you with this: as long as the food is in a supervised area, I have never had a single problem, and every.single.teen over the past three years has thanked me when they left, sometimes profusely.  What more could you ask for?

TPIB: Extreme Gingerbread Challenge

Sugar + a festive spirit + teens = program success in my book.  This is the third year in a row I’ve hosted a “Gingerbread Challenge” and though each year plays out a little differently, every program has been a fun one.

How much fun?  THIS much fun!

This can be adapted to run any time of year – you could do haunted houses at Halloween, beach shacks in the summertime, or make it a green home design for Earth Day.  Our library is part of a community wide holiday event, so our program happens just before this event, then those teens who want to do so enter their confection in a contest.  We display the houses and let visitors vote on their favorite.  The winner gets a small gift card donated by a local ice cream shop.

The kids visiting the library LOVED seeing what the “big kids” did.  This is a great way to show your community how valuable, creative, and engaged the teens in your library are. 

Building and decorating gingerbread houses isn’t a new or revolutionary idea for a program, but here are some tricks I’ve learned along the way.
Forego gingerbread; buy graham crackers.
Buy name brand, and buy them soon before you use them.  This is not something to buy on sale months before your program because stale crackers mean crumbly crackers, and that’s no fun.  A regular sized box of Honey Maid graham crackers has three packages of 9 crackers each.  Family sized boxes have more packages, but I have had bad luck getting fresh unbroken crackers in family sized boxes.
To make a traditional house shape, you need six crackers: two cut for a gabled front and back, two for sides, and two for the roof.  So one box of Honey Maids is enough for four houses, plus a little left over, IF all of the crackers are unbroken.  Plan accordingly and plan for extra.

How to cut the graham cracker.  Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion; don’t press too hard or it will crack.

Check labels, do some advance work

Food allergies can be a big issue.  One package of gumdrops was made on machinery that also processes peanuts, another brand was not. With any food related program, I send an email to participants ahead of time.  In most cases, for middle schoolers, I find it’s actually their parents that receive the email.  In it, I describe the program and request that they contact me if they have any food allergies or other issues that I should be aware of.  When I set out the decorations, I used a different color of bowl for items that mentioned common allergens on the packaging.  I save all of the packaging in case a teen needs to check on an item.

The blue bowls on the foil means the package mentioned common allergens.

This looks like frosting, but it’s really glue
Aside from actual glue, the best thing to use for building the structure is royal icing.  And it’s not cheap.  I make the royal icing for my programs, using cartons of pasteurized egg whites and powdered sugar.  I preload Ziploc bags that teens can then snip a corner from and use as piping bags. Many libraries have a policy against providing homemade treats at programs, and for good reason.  Whenever I do this, I remind the teens this has raw egg in it – it doesn’t taste great – and it’s the GLUE for your house.  It’s not meant to eat.  Do some of them still eat it?  Yeah, but for real – it doesn’t taste that great.  Buy a can of frosting for each table to use for the decorating.  Bring food coloring and little paper cups for mixing additional colors.

The best way to get the frosting into the bags: scoop some up on a curved spatula, shove it into an open bag, then use your hand to squeeze the frosting off the spatula as you remove it from the bag.  Push the air out and seal the bag.  Store in the fridge till you’re ready to use it.

You can’t do it all
Ask everyone to bring a cookie sheet or tray to carry their creation home.  The first year I gave them Styrofoam plates and it was just not quite good enough.  Have some cardboard boxes on hand that you can cut apart and make trays out of if someone forgets.  Cover the trays with foil.

Consider your setup
The first year I did this, each participant got a plate with all of the pieces precut and ready to assemble.  Although there were additional graham crackers on the table if they wanted to build something other than the classic design, everyone’s house was identically shaped.  In subsequent years, I put all of the supplies on a main table, demo how the angled pieces work to support the roof, and let them have at it.  This results in a little more chaos and a lot more creativity.

Traditional style

Environmentally friendly house (wind turbines were my favorite part)

Zombies invade gingerbreadland

Plan cleanup time  
Give yourself at least half an hour after the end of the program to clean up, and don’t even think about running this program without paper or plastic covering the tables!  Even tidy teens will generate mess here.

Less is more
If your budget doesn’t allow for buying out the candy store (and whose does?) force your teens’ creativity by providing a limited number of decorations.  It’s fun whether you just have gum drops and coconut or if you’ve got a wide variety of options.

My favorite decorations
There are lots of great lists out there with decoration suggestions, but these are my favorites.  If I were going bare bones, the ones marked with an asterisk are the ones I would use.

*Skittles (cheaper than M&Ms)
Licorice – red and black/brown
Ice cream cones – make great trees
*Coconut for snow
Frosted mini-wheats
*Pretzel sticks

Other supplies you’ll need
Table covers
Ziploc bags (buy freezer quality bags)
canned frosting
pasturized egg whites and powdered sugar to make royal icing
serrated knife
cutting board
a pan or plate for graham cracker pieces
spoons or plastic knives for stirring colors
plates, bowls, or cups for gathering toppings
paper towels
water & cups – kids will eat the sweet stuff and get thirsty!

The total cost of supplies for this program, for sixteen people, was $132, though I could’ve been more economical with the toppings or asked participants to each bring something and done it for less.  Dollar stores are a great place to find a lot of the toppings.

Do you do this program?  Any ideas on streamlining it or making it more fun or different?