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: 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: 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.

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!

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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

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  • 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.

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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.

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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:

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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

TPIB: Photo Word Bookmarks (Or Instagram Photo Booth Strip Looking Bookmarks)

tb3Sometimes I learn about stuff at the library and go home and do it with my kids, but sometimes I do something at home and it turns out to be a great library/Teen MakerSpace activity. The Teen recently turned 14 and she wanted to have a taco birthday. It was very important to me that we have a taco themed birthday without having a Mexican Fiesta type birthday because this is not our culture and I didn’t want to appropriate it or do something that appeared to be mocking it. But The Teen, she does love tacos, so we had a taco themed birthday.

We ended up having a taco taste test where we drove around to various taco places and ranked their tacos. At the same time, our guests were invited to take pictures to spell out the word “taco” using architecture and every day objects which we would then turn into bookmarks.

The rules were this:

You had to appear in one and only one of the pictures.

You couldn’t use an actual letter, like from a sign.

Have fun, be creative.

If you are doing this in a library, you will want to set some additional parameters and perhaps a time limit.

Materials Needed

  • A photo device of some sort, like a smart phone or tablet
  • Printer
  • Clear contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Craft floss to make a tassel
  • PhotoShake app

This is a fun, quick and easy project to do. After you take the photos, it takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Making the Bookmarks

Participants then texted their pictures to me and I made them into bookmarks using the PhotoShake app. Since I have a bank of iPads in my Teen MakerSpace that each have this app downloaded, it’s easy for us to have the teens email their pics to a generic email to download and make into bookmarks. After receiving the pictures and downloading them, I delete the emails immediately. You could also just use a hashtag and then download the pictures that way if you are worried about email.

Using the PhotoShake App to Make Your Word Photo

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After opening your app, choose the Wide Photo option to make your bookmark.

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At the next screen, you will choose the Horizontal option.

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Select your photos under the Shake option. Then choose Edit. It will ask you if you want to Edit your photos manually, say yes. You can then put your photos into the correct order to spell your word. If you’re not familiar with this app, you’ll want to spend some time getting to know the various things you can do with it. For example, you can erase the borders if you wish. In addition, you can add filters, crop and more.

You will then save your photo, which is found under the Share option. You can then print your and cut your photo to size using your regular print options. Ours looked like this:

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To make the bookmark more durable, we covered both sides in clear contact paper. We then punched a hole in it and added a tassel. Instructions on how to make a bookmark tassel can be found here.

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In addition to spelling fun words like taco, we have also done names and nicknames.

Taking the pictures and seeing how everyone made the letters for their words was the funnest part of all.

As an alternative, you can use this same process to make Photo Booth Strip Bookmarks if you have a green screen or a photo booth in your library. Even if you don’t, it’s a fun and easy way to combine Instagram photos into a Photo Booth Strip Bookmark. You would simply choose the vertical option instead of the horizontal option for your layout.

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TPiB: Sharpie Art! Quick and Easy Programming and MakerSpace Ideas

I’m not sure how it happened, but I am obsessed with Sharpies. They have proven to be very popular resources in our Teen MakerSpace. Yes, really. Whenever we have an activity in the Teen MakerSpace, we try to have corresponding books in the Teen MakerSpace. Sometimes we come up with an activity and search for support books, other times we find activities by browsing through the books in our Maker Collection.

There are several go to publisher’s that I search regularly to find maker related titles for our Maker Collection, and one of those publishers is Quarto books. We have a fairly large number of titles by them in the space and one of my favorites is this:

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Sharpie Art Workshop has inspired a lot of fun quick and easy Maker activities for us in the Teen MakerSpace. One of the most popular has been our Sharpie Post It Note Art Gallery . . .

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This title by Quarto is a good companion book for the Sharpie Art Workshop because it talks about lettering and has some coloring pages in the back.

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In fact, there is a page of reading/book related book marks in the back which we used as the inspiration for our Sharpie Book Mark station recently.

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We also have Sharpie Art Buttons as one of the challenges for our Button Making Station. Here are some examples of the artwork that our teens have created.

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We also made small canvases available and the teens made some small canvas art. This robot is my favorite thing ever. The mini canvases cost about $1.47 at the local craft shop or you can buy a bulk order of Amazon for about $1.00 a canvas.

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Here’s The Teen in action making a Sharpie Art Button.

buttons18 buttons15 buttons6We’re six months out now from creating our Teen MakerSpace and we have found that we like to have quick and easy activities to add. We have also found that they don’t have to always be tech heavy. In fact, many of our teens seem to enjoy drawing, coloring and more traditional crafts, so we are working on making sure to provide a variety of both tech and traditional crafts in our Teen MakerSpace. Sharpie art gives us a lot of easy options with just a few tools. And if you make sure and buy your Sharpies during a good sale, it’s not that expensive.

Doing Sharpie art has all been a good reminder for me that not all programming as to be elaborate and well planned. If teens seem to be bored, I can just bust out the Sharpies and challenge them to make something – anything. I’m always surprised by what they come up with.

MakerSpace: Thumbprint Art Buttons

You might think that teens would not be interested in doing thumbprint art. I thought that. It turns out, we would both be wrong. That is the takeaway from this past week, at least for me. I was right there with you, I too was worried that my teens would not be into doing thumbprint art. But I needed a quick and easy maker project for an outreach event and this worked amazingly well for me.

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It began on May the 4th. At a previous location I had done Star Wars thumbprint doodles – I happen to have mine and The Teen’s framed at my house – so I thought it might be fun to do them in the Teen MakerSpace and make them into buttons. But I worried that perhaps teens would think it was a little too juvenile. I worried unnecessarily. It turns out thumbprint art is really fun, easy and makes for some really cool buttons.

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Then I fell down the rabbit hole of thumbprint art. It is vast it turns out. In fact, I put together a Pinterest board of thumbprint art resources which you can find here. It’s amazing the amount of creativity that can be applied to a simple thumbprint.

Fast forward to Friday. I did our first Teen MakerSpace outreach event at the local First Fridays. I decided that doing thumbprint art buttons would be a big hit and I was not wrong. In the space of about3 1/2 hours I made over 150 buttons and we hands down had the most popular table.

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I put together some example sheets and had example buttons on the table, and for the most part the kids and teens made something they saw on the examples. I also pre-made all the circles for the activity so that they would say The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County on them. This meant that we got a lot of free advertising as 150+ kids and teens walked around wearing buttons with our library name on them. Although our makerspace is for teens, we opened the activity up to all ages on the public square because we knew that it would be good promotion for our library, our space and our upcoming summer reading challenges.

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As I mentioned, 99.9% of participants chose and made their thumbprint into something they saw on an example sheet. This teen, however, turned his thumbprint into a grenade and I didn’t know whether I should be impressed by his creativity or terrified of his murderous tendencies. I ultimately decided I was impressed with his creativity; I hadn’t even seen a grenade in any of the examples I saw online.

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As an outreach activity, it worked really well. I was able to put my supplies into one box: stamp pads (min pads, 12 for $4.99 at Michael’s), fine point Sharpies, button supplies and the button maker. Plus, I had a lot less supplies to pack up after the end of the day because they had used all the button supplies. I call this a win.

Then on Saturday I continued the thumbprint button theme to end Scholastic’s “I Read YA” promotional event in our Teen MakerSpace by making “I Read YA” and “I Love YA” thumbprint buttons.

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Buttons have turned out to be really popular for us in the Teen MakerSpace, though it has mainly consisted up to this point of teens cutting up magazines or printing off pictures and making them into buttons. There is nothing wrong with this, but adding the thumbprint art component allowed us to add a little more of the “A” for art into our Teen MakerSpace. In fact, yesterday I ordered several Fingerprint Art books and am going to be doing some Fingerprint Art challenges periodically to help keep those creative juices flowing. There are several options out there, including this series of fingerprint art books:

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I’m also thinking that fingerprint art might be fun for some stop motion animation challenges.

So here’s what I learned last week:

I shouldn’t underestimate teenagers. (Hey, even the best of us sometimes need to be reminded of this.)

Fingerprint art is fun, creative and easy.

Making 150 buttons in a little over 3 hours is great publicity for the library, but it is also exhausting.

Food TPiB: Mug It Edition

Yesterday I talked about cooking with a waffle iron, today were using a mug and a microwave. My source of inspiration: Mug It by Pam McElroy from Zest Books. I can also do this kind of cooking, and it’s a great teen activity. If I can do it, a teen can. And The Teen, The Bestie and I tested it out for you.

mugit3All you need to make this work is a mug (and in some cases a mason jar), ingredients and a microwave. It’s quick and easy. Some of the recipes are even healthy. In fact, Mug It! have a lot of salads in a jar. I liked this because I want to balance healthy eating habits with fun things like waffle cooking. The pictures from inside the book below come directly from the Zest Books website.

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We tried out a variety of the recipes. We began with a cake in a mug, because of course that’s where you would begin. Cake!

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This was yummy. In fact, I lost my cake to Thing 2 who was only going to take a bite and then she ate the entire thing.

We next tried macaroni and cheese in a mug. The Teen and I are very fond of mac & cheese and I was excited to learn you could cook it in a mug.

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For our version we used gluten free pasta and once we figured out how to cook the noodles correctly it worked really well.

Cooking in a mug is actually really popular. I frequently see posts on Buzzfeed and in my FB feed. Having a recipe book was nice. And I liked this one because it has color pictures, which is a must in my cookbook requirements. If you don’t have pictures of the recipes and they aren’t in full color that is a deal breaker for me.

In addition to doing a fun Iron Chef/Chopped type program with mug cooking, adapting the post from yesterday, this book would also make a great gift. Let’s be real, a lot of teens spend some time in the home alone and they have to cook for themselves. And I would have loved to have had this when I was a college student living in the dorms. If you are going to do a series of food programs, I would do something like this:

What days would you add? A post-apocalyptic survival cooking camp would also be fun. Remember, it can be a long running series or it could be a weeklong event – which would be fun for Spring Break. Teens come every day, learn about nutrition and cooking, and they get to eat! I may not be a fan of cooking, but I do love to eat!

Additional Resources

Cooking Programs for Teens

Food Based TPiBs

TPiB: DIY Instagram Magnetic Duct Tape Frames

instagram2 I am, as I believe we have discussed, obsessed with Instgram. Not so much the app as a social media tool, in fact my Instagram account is private in part because I take so many pictures and I figure everyone would be annoyed if they actually followed me. I like the filters and the light effects and the cute little square sizes.

Also, you should know that I use Instagram completely wrong. I take my picture using the regular smart phone camera and then I run it through Instagram so I can enlarge areas that I want, create the lighting that I want, etc. Sometimes I will run a picture through Instagram multiple times to see which effects I like best.

Last week I did something stunning and I actually printed some off. Then we went and bought frames. The frames run anywhere from $3 to $15. This, I thought, is something we can definitely do as a MakerSpace activity. So The Teen and I spent the weekend figuring it out. The black and white frame is our inspiration and the look we were trying to emulate.

First, a note about printing out Instagram pictures:

You can, of course, download your Instagram pics to your regular computer and use some type of a program to print them off. If you have your printer set up correctly, you can also print wirelessly using airprint. HOWEVER, if you print an Instagram picture directly from your photos folder on your smartphone it will stretch out and print 4×6. This is not the desired effect that you want. You can not print wirelessly directly from the Instagram app. BUT you can download an app called Print Your Insta and it will print your Instagram photo in the small square format. The app is technically free, but you have to buy the 99 cent upgrade to remove the watermark. This app will print your Instagram print directly from your Instagram account at a 3.5 by 3.5 size.

Materials and Supplies

instagram4 We started with the model of the picture frame that we had purchased. It’s a great size and magnetic on the back so it fits perfectly in school lockers. To recreate this size and look we used the following:

One piece of photo matte board. We recommend 4.5 by 4.5 or 5 by 5 in size.

Clear contact paper. If you have access to it, those clear dry erase sheets that we used to use for overhead projectors also works. You will cut it the same size as your photo matte board.

Duct tape of choice.

Magnets. We used a roll of magnets because it was the cheapest and I don’t really recommend these magnets. Buy stronger individual magnets because the roll of magnet tape was hard to get to stay flat and it wasn’t as strong as other magnets.

The normal items like paper cutters and scissors come in handy as well.

The DIY Process

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Cut your photo out. You want to leave a small white edge along the border for taping it down. This white edge also provides a great guide for duct taping to help keep your edges straight, bonus.

In order to help the photo stay on the photo matte we used a small piece of acid free scrapbooking tape. We then taped the photo into the center of the matte board.

With our photo in place, we used our duct tape to cover the edges to create a cool border. Because we are perfectionists, we also completely covered the back. You don’t need to do this, it wastes tape to be perfectly honest, but we liked how it created a cleaner, cohesive look.

Apply your magnets to the back.

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Voila – you have a fun Maker project. We made a ton for The Teen to give to all of her friends to put in their lockers as we perfected the process. My fridge is also now covered in them. Since we bought the items in bulk, as we create more framed pictures the cost goes down. More importantly, we got to have fun together while making unique, one of kind items to preserve precious memories and decorate our home.

For more fun program ideas, including more ideas of what to do with your Instagram pictures, check out our Teen Programs in a Box.