Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: March Madness Bracketology

Background: Basketball is my favorite sport. I was lucky enough to live in Joliet, IL which is just an hour away from Chicago. I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls during their prime. It was a magical time.

I also am a Kansas Jayhawk. I went to the University of Kansas for a short while and both my parents and sister went there. The University of Kansas is one of the premier basketball schools in the country. The first Kansas coach was Dr James Naismith who actually invented the game of basketball and KU houses the Original Rules of Basketball.

What is March Madness?

March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament (Men’s and Women’s) of which the winner is the national champion. Currently the tournament includes the top 68 teams in the country. 32 of the teams are the winners of the conference tournaments held in March which get automatic bids. The rest are picked by rankings and their strength of schedule. It is always hard to figure who is in and who is out. The champion is crowned in April.

Here is the link to the NCAA page about the bracket. It has a nice video that gives more information about how the tournament runs. I also have last year’s bracket so you can get a better idea of how the bracket will look.

https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/ncaa-bracket-march-madness

How to create a program:

This is hard to program time wise. You have to wait until selection Sunday to do the Men’s Bracket. The Women’s Bracket is released the following Monday. Games for the Men’s Tournament actually start that Tuesday night. I like to have the program start on that Tuesday so I can have the participants both brackets that night.  The Women’s Bracket is not as challenging. The University of Connecticut women have won six times in the last decade. It takes away a lot of upsets. This year should be more interesting as UCONN already is projected to be a second seed instead of a number one seed. Baylor beat UCONN at home which snapped their home winning streak of 98 games. Brackets come out for the men on March 15 and Women March 16.

Steps

  1. Print out brackets.  I like to use CBS Sports Brackets because I think they usually have the best bracket or Yahoo Sports Brackets.
  2. Bring a lot of pencils. You need to make sure the teens will be able to erase.
  3. I like to talk about the history of college basketball and explain what the brackets mean. Each of the four brackets has a number one seed. These are the best teams in the country. The 16th seeds are the worst. The Number 16 team plays the Number 1 team in the first game up. Until 2018 a Number One Seed had never lost to a Number 16. In the Men’s Bracket in 2018 University of Maryland Baltimore County (16) beat Virginia(1).
  4. Explain how to fill out their brackets. Please look over the bracket before you hand them out so you know how to fill them out. For the play in the games I have them circle who they believe will win. For the rest of the games I have them write in t their winners. This part takes the most time. A lot of the teens have no idea how to fill it out. I tell them they can pick different ways. I always like the cutest mascot. It really can work well. I make sure to tell them to not always pick the higher team in the bracket because they are always upsets. I check handwriting on this part because it is really important that you can read them.
  5. I always like to end the program playing a One Shining Moment video which is the song they play at the end of the tournament.

After the program: I like to have a prize for the teen who had the best bracket. This means waiting until after the Championship Game. I do a simple scoring which I give each right answer one point but you can do it a lot of ways such as one point for round 1 and 2 and then up the points for the later rounds. This is subjective. I make them write a score for the final game to be a tie breaker but have never had to use it.  I call the winner and give them a random prize.

Final Thoughts: This was an easy program for me since I know a lot about basketball. If you are doing it for the first time, I do recommend learning more about the tournament to be prepared to help the teens. There are often questions. The teens who like sports love to do this program and try to out basketball trivia on me which is fun.

Editor’s Note: You can also use the March Madness bracket format to do a book themed program. Here’s an older post about this.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives: The Teen and I Discuss what Musical Theater Means to Theater Teens and Why Librarians Should, and Can, Care

There are a lot of different ways to tell a story and books are just one of them. No one was more surprised then me when The Teen signed up for musical theater in the 7th grade. I have no talent to pass on and this child of mine is introverted and shy so it never occurred to me that in theater, she would find herself and her people. She is now a junior and I have seen her perform in 6 musicals, 6 plays, and win 2 awards. More than that, it has been my greatest parental joy to see her happy, fulfilled, working hard, succeeding and just finding herself.

The Teen in Sweeney Todd

She is one of many teens who find themselves in theater. Theater kids are her friends and her family. And like many teens around our world, they speak a lot in musicals. Today she has put together this list of her and her friends favorite songs from the musicals that speak to them and shares what they mean to her. Want to know about teens and what they’re thinking about? Don’t forget about the theater kids.

The Teen’s Musical Playlist

A list of songs from various musicals and why they matter.

Dead Mom from Beetlejuice

This musical is very easy to relate to. A lot of people have lost someone who they loved and relied on. It can be hard for people to talk about that but this song really captures how it feels to experience a lose.

She Used to Be Mine from Waitress

This musical is truly beautiful. It talks about wishing you could go back and change the things that you did in the past because you aren’t living a happy life. As the musical progresses the main character begins to accept that she made mistakes and realize that who she has become is enough.

In My Dreams from Anastasia

This song is just so extraordinary. It sounds so amazing and the singer has a stunning voice.

Lifeboat from Heather

This song gives us insight into the life of one of the Heathers. Se talks about how she wishes she didn’t have to be the way she was but she feels like she has no choice.

I Don’t Need Your Love from Six

This musical is so fun and it actually talks about something important. This musical is about the six wives of Henry the VIII. This song is about his last wife and she sings about how she shouldn’t be known for who her husband was because she was so much more than that.

In the Air Tonight from American Psycho

This musical sounds super cool and the Eleventh Doctor is in it. It is a very violent show but if you look past that it has some really awesome music.

I Like It from A Bronx Tale

This musical is very underrated. It has some amazing music and it talks about how greed can lead to so many problems.

Mama Who Bore Me from Spring Awakening

This song has so much depth. It sounds so meaningful and it has so much heart.

Wait for Me from Hadestown

Amazing voices, amazing choreography, and amazing set. Just an all around amazing performance and show.

Rockin’ Jerusalem from Choir Boy

This may not technically be a musical but the songs are beautiful. Every voice is meant to be heard.

Turn it Off from The Book of Mormon

This song is hilarious. It is absolutely ridiculous and so fun. You can’t help but sing along.

High Adventure from Aladdin

This musical is fun and this song is even more fun. It makes you want to go on a high adventure.

Requiem from Dear Evan Hansen

This is my favorite song from the whole musical. It talks about how the sister of the boy who committed suicide can’t feel sad about losing him because he really wasn’t that good to them. It sounds so enchanting and it makes me cry every time.

One Normal Night from The Addams Family

If you love the movie then there is a good chance that you will love this musical. It really adds a fun little extra bit to the family.

City on Fire from Sweeney Todd

The Teen and cast sing City on Fire from Sweeney Todd

After doing this show I always find myself thinking about this song. It was awful to learn how to sing because it’s all over the place but it was so fun.

Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof

This musical made me mad when it ended but the opening really sets up for a spectacular show.

Think of Me from The Phantom of the Opera

All of the songs in the show are amazing and this musical will always be a classic.

Tango: Maureen from Rent

Everyone knows the opening song for this musical but this song is also amazing.

No Me Diga from In the Heights

This is one of the most funny songs from the show. It is just so fun to sing along to.

Cell Block Tango from Chicago

This song is known by everyone in theatre. It makes you want to be in jail just so you could do something like this.

A Few More Thoughts from a Teen Librarian on Public Libraries and Musical Theater

You’ll notice that she left Hamilton off of this list. Make no mistake, we went through our Hamilton phase and wore that soundtrack out. Hamilton singalongs were and are a ton of fun. I’ve even done a few High School Musical singalongs when the movie was popular. These are just a few ways you can incorporate musical theater into your teen services.

Want to know how you can incorporate musical theater into your programming and support local teens and your local schools? Start networking with your local drama teacher and ask them to do a special sneak peek of upcoming musicals at your library. They can sing a couple of songs in costume, do a meet and greet, and generate PR while you get some fun, arts based, and community networked programming. You don’t need scenes or props, just local teens in costume singing a couple of songs to generate interest and community support. On the occasions when I have worked in libraries that did this, they were tremendously successful. You have a somewhat built in audience because every kid that comes and performs will bring some parents and friends with them.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier is a fun book about teens and theater

You can also find out far enough in advance what those upcoming high school musicals are to make read-alike book lists, put up displays, and help promote community events. YA Librarian Cindy Shutts and coworkers have started a great series of Broadway Booklists to help get your started: Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hadestown, and Prom: The Musical. You can bundle the books on the lists with the soundtracks and the movie if they’re available and make binge kits and circulating bundles.

There are also a lot of book lists out there for tweens and teens who love musical theater. You’ll definitely want to check out the classic No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman about a young boy who turns a book report into a musical theater rock opera . . . on roller skates. Goodreads has a book list of 63 YA titles that deal with theater, not just musical theater.

You can do workshops, viewings, singalongs and more. Teach teens how to use technology to create their own playlists. Set up a music writing station as suggested by Mary Amato in this post. Circulate ukuleles. Make-up, costuming, graphic design and more are all ways that you can incorporate musical theater and theater in general into your library programming. Network with your local schools, community theaters, and your very own teens.

And Scene . . .

The Teen writing her musical playlist list for you

Before writing this post, The Teen, Thing 2 and I just finished watching High School Musical, The Musical, The Show on Disney+. The Teen cried through the last two episodes because it captured perfectly everything that musical theater means to her. It’s about the grit that is required when life throws you every curve ball, because as you know, the show must go on. It’s also about finding your family, which I am so glad happens for these kids.

Teens crave ways to express themselves creatively, they crave finding a place that they can belong and feel comfortably accepted as self, and they thrive when they are supported by the adults in their lives and their communities. Supporting the arts and bringing them into our libraries in creative ways can make all of this happen.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Starfinder RPG, an interview with Nicholas Vidmar

We’re kicking off the new year with a fresh installment of Cindy Crushes Programming. Today YA librarian Cindy Shutts interviews adult librarian Nicholas Vidmar. Together, the two of them host a successful Starfinder program at White Oak Library. Starfinder is a role playing game (rpg) similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but with a more science fiction setting.

Background: At the White Oak Library in Romeoville we have been running an RPG (Role-Playing Game) called Starfinder. I help run this program with Nicholas Vidmar who is an adult services librarian. He takes the role of GM (Game Master) and runs the game. I help out by making the connections with our teens and bringing them to the table and I also play during the game to help make sure we can finish a scenario. Nicolas plays a variety of RPG games. He paints his own figures. We are lucky to have him because he brings a lot of his own materials to make the game run smoothly. Starfinder is a great RPG game, if you have played Dungeons and Dragons and are looking for something new.  Nicholas calls it Guardians of the Galaxy D and D.  I interviewed Nicholas about Starfinder and how librarians can add it to their programming. 

Starfinder Interview:

How long have you been playing role playing games and what are some of your favorites?

Nicholas: I was introduced to TTRPGS (Tabletop Role Playing Game Systems) about 5 years ago. There was a struggle getting into it as I played my first game in (Dungeons &  Dragon v3.5) for two very rough sessions then did not touch the genre for 6 months before I got invited to a 5th edition game that died after 3 sessions. Then I started GMing to keep games alive and have been running weekly games since. I have the most time put into 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, but since Starfinder’s release two years ago it has rapidly become my favorite. Aside from these two I also play/run Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Dark Heresy, Zweihander, and the occasional game of Kobolds Ate My Baby.

What supplies do you need for a Starfinder program at your library? About how much does the program cost?

Nicholas: This can vary greatly. If you run absolute basics, you can have everything for up to 10 players for about $20 plus some printing costs. The basics consist of a set of 7 dice per player (d20, d12,d10,d10,d8,d6,d4), a character sheet (free online), writing implement, and the rule book. Pathfinder and Starfinder stand apart from many TTRPGS because the whole ruleset, not just basic rules, is available free online because of an open game license. If you were to buy the books, still something I would recommend, they each run between $40-$60. Though a one-time investment, this cost does make TTRPGS more cost prohibitive. To move up from basics, the next recommended items are a GM screen and a battle mat. The screen gives the GM quick reference and hides his/her notes and rolls from the players. A battle mat is a one inch grid set on the table to help players visualize combat. Starfinder is unusual in that it requires both a square and hex grid. The cheapest mat is a roll of wrapping paper, many have a grid printed on the back. Once you have a mat, then you can get into minis, the most expensive and superfluous part of the game. Most of these resources are good for many games, so there are no ongoing costs except new character sheets.

How long is set up and what does it entail?

Nicholas: So TTRPGS have two layers of set up: pre game, and at the table. Before the game: characters need to be made, the rules learned, and an adventure planned. How long these take depend on the division of labor and type of GM. Players can make their own characters, or leave it to the GM if they find the rules confusing. It takes about an hour to make a fully fleshed out and kitted supplied character. Pregenerated characters are also available for certain levels. For Starfinder there are about 50 pages of tactical rules and supplements on other aspects of the game. Having a general knowledge of this content is important to keep the game running, but you can also reference the rules midgame. Lastly there is the process of planning the adventure. This can be extremely meticulous if you need to know every possible outcome of potential player actions, or a non-existent step if the GM is comfortable winging it. Generally it is agreed that a middle ground of an adventure framework with flexibility to accommodate crazy player choices is the best option. At the table the GM needs to set up the battle mat and the resources they need to run the planned game. Printed out stat blocks, minis, dice, GM screen, etc. Players just show up and get out their character sheet, dice, and a mini if they have one. Usually this takes 15-20 minutes.

What types of storylines are in Starfinder?

Nicholas: Starfinder is a Science Fantasy setting so you have aliens, spaceships and laser weapons alongside Elves and magic. This allows for a huge variety of adventures. You can go from starship combat to raiding an ancient temple on a forgotten world, to navigating the servers of a corrupt corporation to bring them to light. I personally fancy the derelict space drift where something went wrong; a little mystery, and little horror, sometimes an ethical dilemma, and often some really abominable creatures. It can also be as light hearted as playing a bunch of friendly furballs trying to make sure their boss is safe, if that sounds fun go play Skittershot, a fantastic introductory adventure published by Paizo.

What is the difference between Starfinder and Dungeons and Dragons?

Nicholas: The setting is different. It is a different world in a different time. D&D is high/epic fantasy while Starfinder is science fantasy. Overlap does exist, 5th edition has aliens, looking at you Froghemoth, and Starfinder has fantasy races. Still the focus on technology is a significant difference. Classes and mechanics are even further apart. There are minor parallels like Envoy to Bard and Solider to Fighter, but otherwise classes are entirely apart. It is a preference of flavor here. Starfinder is more mechanically complex than 5th edition, more actions have rules supporting them. They are both still d20 systems and so have inescapable parallels, but how the numbers get modified varies. 5th edition uses rerolls while Starfinder uses numeric modifiers, yes that means more math.

How did they teens like Starfinder?

Nicholas: Many loved the setting and possible character concepts, like a psionic psychedelic space walrus named Phoomph Debloomp. There was a great deal of excitement over getting to fly a starship. The teens were split on the increased complexity. Some thought it was awesome to see so many factors making them powerful, but others felt limited because they could not roll to win. Not every system is for every player, but there is an RPG for everyone.

What is your favorite part of Starfinder?

Nicholas: The setting has me hooked, and starship combat is a treat.

What would you like librarians who are trying new RPG systems to know?

Nicholas: It is a front loaded endeavor; the prep work to start is heavy. This means that one off programs are a poor choice if you are running in house. If the program is recurring it is fantastic because the cost and effort drop to very minimal levels. Eventually, players can take up the reigns and the program can become self-sustaining. It can also buff circs as the rule books are easy recommendations coming off the game. I will also caution others of the Chaotic Stupid archetype that is rampant among new players. TTRPGS are cooperative, but often new players want to be evil for the sake of evil. This is very bad for the health of the table and can quickly kill the interest of other good players and then kill the program.

What are your final thoughts on Starfinder as a whole?

Nicholas: Starfinder is great for its fun guardians of the galaxy style, colorful setting, and mid-range mechanical depth. It may not be the best system to introduce players to TTRPGS due to this depth, but the crunch will appeal to some players. There are plenty of unique aspects to get hooked on while playing.

TTRPGS have an immense breadth and while Starfinder is my personal favorite, I will always say to look beyond and see what else is out there. There are so many iterations that it may take a bit to find one that resonates with you and your patrons.

See Also: So You Want to Play Dungeons and Dragons in Your Library

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY No Sew Unicorn Pillow

I’m always excited to see what fun stuff librarian Cindy Shutts is doing with teens in her library. Today she is walking us through a No Sew Unicorn Pillow.

I saw a picture of a unicorn pillow on the internet and realized I could make one myself based on the no sew pillow concept. Unicorns are still very popular and who doesn’t love a hand made pillow.

Supplies:

  • Permanent Vinyl (gold for the horn and black for the eyelashes) (Karen’s note: Oracal 651 is a permanent vinyl. Here’s a vinyl 101 to help get you started.)
  • Fleece (I used a 50% off coupon) and used three yards of fleece for twenty pillows
  • Felt of various colors especially green for the leaves
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Fabric scissors
  • Stuffing for pillows

Step Zero: Prepare all the fleece before the event. I cut all the fleece into sets of two sheets each 14×14 inches.

Step One: Use the cameo silhouette machine to cut the vinyl horns and eyelashes. If you do not have a cameo silhouette machine you can use black and gold felt. I did have patrons who wanted to make their own eyelashes and horns.

Step Two: Have patrons cut 1 ½  to 2 inches squares in each of the corners of the fabric.

Step Three: Have the teens then cut 1 ½  to 2 inch fringe and I made it a cm wide all around the pillow.

Step Four: Tie the fringe from the front to the back sheet of fringe. All the fringe should be tied to the fringe behind it. Teens often need help learning to tie knots. This part of the craft takes the longest. One side should be left untied.

Step Five: Stuff the pillow and try to make it even.

Step Six: Tie the fringe around the side you just used to stuff the pillow.

Step Seven: Place the horn and the eyelashes on the pillow. If you use vinyl hold it down for a few minutes.

Step Eight: Make flowers out of felt. I used this websites’ flower tutorial. https://diyinspired.com/diy-no-sew-felt-flowers/

  • Cut one green petal about 1 ½ inch tall and oval shaped body. I free handed this part.
  • Cut the color you want the flower to be and make it 2 inches long by 4 inches wide
  • Cut the felt in petal form like the first picture below.
  • Cut three more petals out of the color your felt flower is.
  • Hot glue the flower petals and roll the main piece of the flower together. Glue the three petals to the green felt leaf to form a base and then glue the rolled flower to the base. Glue the flower to the base.

Final Thoughts: This was a really enjoyable craft. There are a lot of steps. Having fabrics scissors is a must. I used coupons on all the items to make this craft. I also used sales to make things avoidable and always reuse my supplies. Let your teens become creative. I have a few pictures of my patrons’ pillows below.

Take 5: TV Shows to Inspire Teen Programs

Some of my favorite teen programs have come from TV shows. Remember Minute to Win It? That was a great source of teen programming because it consisted of just putting together a bunch of 60 second challenges and tying them in with something that was already popular. Other TV shows that have inspired teen programs for me have included Top Chef, Cupcake Wars and Jeopardy. But there are some new shows out there that I’m itching to turn into teen programs.

Making It

I love this show. It is without a doubt trying to be the American Version of The Great British Bake Off, but with crafting, and I’m all for it. My family and I are huge GBBO fans, as are many of the teens I talk to. Making It takes the same type of premise but incorporates making/crafting and it’s in a barn instead of a tent. But the challenges are interesting: make a theme wall that tells us something about who you are, decorate a mailbox, make a home for some type of animal.

One of the recent episodes had pairs working together to make costumes. My favorite was Wok and Roll, which involved one person dressing up as a wok and the other as a piece of sushi. This challenge was obviously Chopped inspired (we’ll get to that show in a minute) as it involved a basket full of 5 craft supplies and each team had to use at least 3 items out of the basket. This is a great idea for cleaning out your craft closet of all those miscellaneous supplies!

What I like about this show is that it is a series of challenged for a season and then you take a break. Be inspired by the challenges and use them as jumping off points. But also, I like the idea of having a short series of making/craft programs and then taking a break and having another season.

Chopped

Speaking of Chopped . . . Chopped has been on for years now, but I have always loved the premise: Here’s a basket full of miscellaneous ingredients, figure out something to do with all of them. You could do this with food or crafting, as mentioned above. The premise is key here: here’s a mystery basket full of stuff, now do something with it. As I mentioned, using the premise for a crafting/making type program definitely is a good way to empty your craft closet of all those miscellaneous supplies. You could do cupcake decorating, cookie decorating, toy mashup programs, etc.

Get Out of My Room

Universal Kids (I just recently learned there was a Universal Kids channel!) has a show called Get Out of My Room which is a room makeover show for tweens. It’s basically the Property Brothers meets Trading Spaces for pre-teens, kind of. In it, siblings who share a room each get their own room designed around their personality and then they make craft projects to decorate their siblings rooms. In one episode, for example, one sister made homemade marquee initials for her Hollywood loving sister’s wall. So there are some easy and affordable craft projects and tips tucked into each show.

Another one of my favorite repeat teen programs that I have done is called Renovate Your Room. In it I invite a local decorator to come and share some basics of decorating. We then cut apart magazines and make mood boards and layouts for our dream room. I then have one small activity that teens can do and take home. For example, you can paint light switch covers or turn old magazine holders that your library is going to discard into cool desk accessories. I’ve even turned old cassette tapes, plastic cups and floppy disks into night lights and pen holders.

Flinch

Remember when we were kids and your brother would pretend to hit you and if you flinched you got “two for flinching?” No, was that just my brother? Well, the old art of trying to get someone to flinch has been turned into a truly horrific gameshow on Netflix. To be honest, I truly hate the way it’s done because it involves things like low grade electrocuting people and dumping things on them. The contestants are clearly consenting, but it’s the type of challenges that are implemented that don’t sit right with me. My teens love it, but I’m not it’s biggest fan.

Here’s how it works. Contestants are put through a variety of tests and they are supposed to not flinch. Some of the tests are pretty benign. For example, a train goes past that with foul smells and you have to sit there while the train passes by and not flinch at the foul odors. When you flinch you are out. The last person standing without flinching wins. Unfortunately, not all of the challenges or so benign and that is why the show is pretty controversial. I’m not endorsing the show by any means.

However, with a bit of modification and adult supervision, this could be a pretty fun program. For example, my teens love to do a lot of online challenges like the blindfold food challenge, some of which could be safely and easily incorporated into a program like this. More gentle challenges like popping balloons, opening a bunch of cans of nuts knowing that one of them is going to have a pop out snake, or even jack-in-the-boxes would certainly work. Or use your Makey Makey or Little Bits to create a sound board with buttons and some buttons create no noise and others do and the person playing has to push each button and try not to flinch when the noise happens. With a little creativity, the try not to flinch game can work and be fun.

Ellen’s Game of Games, Hollywood Game Night, Match Game, etc.

There is a renaissance of game shows happening right now on TV and there is no real shortage of inspiration to choose from. With a little adapting, they can be an incredibly fun source of tween and teen programming.

When using a TV show or movie for your programming, remember to keep copyright in mind. For example, I didn’t call my Minute to Win It inspired program series Minute to Win It – I called it the 60 Second Showdown. I have seen other libraries use the name of the show as the name of their program, but I like to make it clear that my program is inspired by a certain show while giving it a unique name just in case.

What programs have you done that have been inspired by TV shows and how did you do them? Share with us in the comments. I would love to know what other librarians are out there doing.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Escape Room

Today YA Librarian Cindy Shutts is walking us through her Star Wars themed Escape Room.

To learn more about the basics of hosting an Escape Room, please check out Breakout Edu as they have basic kits that you can use as a foundation. You can also read a couple of previous posts on Escape Rooms here at TLT:

TPiB: Build an Escape Room by Michelle Biwer – Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Locked in the Library! Hosting an Escape Room by Heather Booth

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Stranger Things Escape Room

Cindy Crushes Programming: Star Wars Escape Room

Cindy Crushes Programming: Mission to Mars Escape Room

Cindy Crushes Programming: Riverdale Escape Room

Basic program premise . . .

Your teens will be “locked” in the library and in order to escape, they must unravel a mystery, find the secret codes, and “unlock” the boxes to survive or meet your end goal. Most escape rooms give participants an hour to escape.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Escape Room

Plot: An evil warlock has cursed the town of Greendale with zombiism. You have 45 minutes to find the cure.

Supplies:

  • You could use the Breakout Edu Kit
  • 4 digit lock
  • 3 digit lock
  • Word lock
  • Key lock and key
  • Two lock boxes
  • Directional Lock
  • Fake Spell container with the cure. I used an old perfume bottle I got that was labeled spell.
  • Spellbook
  • Black Cat (fake)
  • Random decorations: I used all the items I have in my office and around my house and the items that I use to make displays.
  • Letter from Sabrina to Harvey

Instructions: I read the prompt, so everyone knew what was going on. I also let them know they had two hints. I am always prepared to add one more hint later on if they need it.

Directional Lock: The directional lock code will be hidden in the letter from Sabrina to Harvey. The code is Up Down Right Left. I hid the letter in the large lockbox. The directional lock was on the small lockbox.

Wordlock: This is very simple the code is spell. I will have the spellbook and also Sabrina’s last name is Spellman so many things will be labeled Spellman.

4 Digit Lock: In the spellbook, I placed a spell recipe for the cure. This spell gives the code for the 4 digit lock. This lock was on the large lockbox.

Spell for Anti-Zombie

three frogs’ eyes = 6

one buck’s antlers = 2

all the legs of a spider = 8

scorpion’s pincers = 2

3 Digit Lock: I am making a fake urn box. The code will be on the urn. I added a fake label to look like the urn came from Sabrina’s family business, The Spellman Funeral Home and Crematorium. The code is 666. I used that as the date they started the business 6/66. This lock was on the large lockbox.

Red Herring: I pulled all my old documents for my Riverdale Escape Room. This was super confusing to the teens who kept looking at the old documents. This lock was on the large lockbox.

Bustle: 11 YA Books To Read if You Like the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Epic Reads: 16 Books to Read if You Like the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Final Thoughts: This was a challenging escape room. I made a mistake and scheduled it on a day without school. Therefore, I did not have many teens attend. The teens who attended loved it, but next time I need to make sure I schedule it for a school day.  I am trying to increase circulation. Every time I do in an Escape Room activity I use library books as decorations that are related to the topic. Teens can check them out after the Escape Room activity.

Additional Materials:

Letter to Harvey

Dear Harvey,

 I am hoping this letter finds you well. I have to meet with you in the woods. I fear there is danger coming to our town of Greendale. Plus bring the rest of the Gang with you so we can stop this evil before it begins. I will be up the road, but turn downward when you get to the cave. You must go right when you see the bear painting, but left when you pass the Greendale Forest ranger station. I will meet you all at midnight.

Be Safe, Sabrina

Spell For Anti-Zombie

three frogs’ eyes =

one buck’s antlers =

all legs of a spider =

scorpion’s pincers =

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Lip Scrubs

In today’s episode of Cindy Crushes Programming, YA Librarian Cindy Shutts walks us through making your own lip scrubs. This would be a great addition to an overall DIY Spa Day program and there are a lot of great Spa day nonfiction books out there to pair with this program.

This is a craft I have done twice before. It is always fun. I like to change out recipes for the lip scrub to keep it fresh!  I used recipes I found on Pinterest. These are the articles I used this time: https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/diy-lip-scrub/#gref and https://www.collegefashion.net/beauty-and-hair/diy-beauty-brown-sugar-and-vanilla-lip-scrub/ .  

Supplies:

Mint Lip Scrub

 Step One: Mix one tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of white sugar together. I like to do this in the container instead of a mixing bowl. That way we do not waste any supplies moving it to a container.  I use popsicle sticks to stir it. They are easy to obtain and to use. 

Step Two: Add 8-10 drops of peppermint. I always add less to begin with because the peppermint has very strong scent.

Step Three: Add ½ teaspoon of grapeseed oil.

Step Four. Stir and apply to lips. You use your fingers to scrub so make sure your hands are washed before using.

Cinnamon Lip Scrub

Step One: Mix ½ tablespoon honey and ½ tablespoon olive oil. I honestly just give the honey a small squeeze and that usually works since it is so sticky.

Step two: add ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder.

Step Three: Mix all the ingredients together.

Step Four. Stir and apply to lips. You use your fingers to scrub so make sure your hands are washed before using.

Brown Sugar and Vanilla Lip Scrub

Step One: Add one small squeeze of honey to one tablespoon of brown sugar.

Step Two: Slowly add one more tablespoon of brown sugar. Be sure to mix after each spoonful is added. 

Step Three: Add ¼ tablespoon of vanilla. Mix with other ingredients.

Step Four. Stir and apply to lips. You use your fingers to scrub so make sure your hands are washed before using.

Final Thoughts: I should have bought two packages of brown sugar and white sugar because it would have allowed the patrons to make the scrub faster. I modified the recipes because in the first one I had too much liquid. So I took out one tablespoon of olive oil. The best part of lip scrub is that if the recipe does not work, you can always add more sugar or cinnamon powder to make sure it does work.

Game of Gnomes, a fun way to get teens involved in tabletop games at the library

I do a lot of test driving games and program ideas at my home using my pre-teen and teenage daughter and their friends as test subjects. I’ve come to think of my time with them as sort of a Programming Test Kitchen. We’ve done dry runs of a lot of programming ideas to determine if they would work and what we would need to turn a craft of DIY project into a library program. We’ve also tried out a lot of games like Exploding Kittens and Ultimate Werewolf, which I have blogged about here.

We recently, on a whim, took our game testing to a whole new level and developed what we have called the Game of Gnomes. Each week we get together and plays games and the winner for the week gets to take home this custom made Game of Gnomes trophy that you see above. They bring it back the next week and have to defend their title. They either win and get to take it home again or a new winner gets to take the trophy home for the week.

I can not even begin to tell you how much everyone loves this! We’ve been doing this for a little over a month and every week there is a fierce but fun battle for the Gnome Trophy. We also take a picture of the winner with the trophy and post it in our secret Facebook group. Bragging rights for the win!

I’ve been doing programming for a long time and I’m here to tell you that this is a great way to get teens coming back for gaming. One caveat I will say is that I have worked with enough librarians to know that some of you are already thinking, “what if they don’t bring the trophy back?”. Well the answer to that fear is to create a Game of Gnomes wall or online gallery and post a picture of that weeks winner with the trophy so that the trophy never leaves the building.

Some of the games we include in our rotation are:

  • Spoons (very popular)
  • Exploding Kittens
  • Uno
  • Avocado Smash
  • Banagrams
  • Qwixt

We don’t always play the same game but we do vote on what game we play for the event. Game receiving the majority vote wins. And then we play.

I haven’t gotten to keep the trophy myself yet, but my time is coming. I can feel it.

Library Events That Bring Stories to Life, a guest post by L M Preston

When I was young, I would spend hours in the library. Although, I loved reading, story time, interactive events and recreations of stories were some of my best memories. As an author, I’ve created those events at various libraries. Kids love hands on, and becoming one with stories. To bring stories to life within the library doesn’t take a lot of effort. It takes imagination. Kids are open and eager to make believe, and the libraries are the best places for them to experience new stories, new places and many adventures.

Some events I’ve run that were great successes as an author can be used at libraries, done on websites, with parents, or created as a challenge.

Dungeons And Dragons Adventure Based On Author’s Book

As an author, I’ve created D&D like experience for readers at libraries that model my stories. These have been fun events that can take on a life of their own. Kids hate leaving these events early and have tons of enjoyment by getting into their characters and experiencing adventures within a story. We start with a video book trailer of the book. Then each participant is given a character with different characteristics. The author or ‘dungeon master (reader)’ creates the scene, acts as narrator to the story and leads characters into key points of their ‘quest’. It can go on for hours and even be a theme for the month.

Living Stories

To create a living stories event in a library, creating a theme based around a popular story can gain participation even from the teenage readers. Have readers vote on a book, or base it off the book club selection of a book. Once the book of choice is chosen invite kids to do art projects to create a scene from the book and even have a prop building contest. Create areas through the library that mimic a scene in the book, encourage the child to read in the area, dress up as a character, then lead to an art or interactive activity.

Story Scavenger Hunts

Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt. Creating an adventure with clues to books from different authors is an amazing way to introduce young visitors to the library to new books. Having a monthly scavenger hunt to find and reveal new books, coming titles, or newly acquired books to the library is a way to get readers excited early. Having a consistent monthly event builds readers anticipation. It can even be part of the building up to a book club.

Library Camp Out

Camping, smores, ghost stories are ways to kick off a library day camp out. Kids can come with their blankets, camp snacks and check out their favorite book. A room in the library can be decorated like an enchanted forest, a space station, a desert camp grounds or more. Readers can be invited to pick a book with the camp location them and read away in their own camp spot. Smores, treats, and prizes can be given to the camper that retells the best stories based on what they’ve read.

Story Reenactment

Story reenactments can allow kids to further immerse and enjoy stories. Having a reenactment doesn’t mean the kids have to had read the stories. Small and short scenes can be replayed by the kids or the librarian. There can even be areas in the library that scenes from books in that section can be acted out. For the savvy library, having videos strategical placed can lead the reader on a library adventure where they can participate in the fun.

As an author, and a kid at heart, finding enjoyable ways to tell stories captures kids and adult interest alike. Taking events, activities that people love, and bringing that to the library continues to make the library the most adventurous place a reader can go.

By: LM Preston, fiction and non-fiction author, www.lmpreston.com and www.empoweredsteps.com, Twitter: LM_Preston, Blog: www.lmpreston.blogspot.com and http://homeschoolandwork.blogspot.com

L.M. Preston, a native of Washington, DC. An avid reader, she loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. She is an author, an engineer, a professor, a mother and a wife. She writes Young Adult fiction and inspirational non-fiction books. Her passion for writing and helping others to see their potential through her stories and encouragement has been her life’s greatest adventures.She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Nailed It!

A lot of the best programming ideas comes from TV. Game shows, food programs and craft programs are a great inspiration for programming. Today Cindy Shutts outlines how she ran a program inspired by the Netflix show Nailed It!, which of course was inspired by the ongoing Internet trend where everyday people share their attempts to recreate what they see on the Internet and when they have clearly failed announce that they have, indeed, nailed it.

Background:

Nailed It is the popular show on Netflix where people try to create yummy creations that look good, but often times they fail. I wanted to try to recreate this in a library craft program.

Supplies:

Your crafts can be different. I did not spend any money on craft supplies. I used leftover supplies I already such as magnets, paper, pipe cleaners and buttons.

Prepapring for the Program:

Step one: Create the crafts the patrons will be making. The crafts I chose were a Nailed It magnet and a paper sunflower. I have two rounds in my program..

Step Two: Prepare the supplies for the crafts

Make a list and check it twice to make sure you have all the supplies you need in the amounts that you need.

Step Three: Make Nailed It Trophy

Step Four: I made an optional PowerPoint presentation to go along with the program that listed all the rules and crafts and the time limits they would have to follow to make the craft easier to run.

Here are the basic rules the patrons where given:

  • Two rounds
  • This is not a race.
  • Round One is 30 minutes (this is plenty of time to include crafters who come late).
  • Each craft will have minimal instructions
  • You will have an example of each craft, but may not take it from the example table
  • You must share craft supplies such as glue and glue guns.
  • Judging will happen for Round One at 6:30
  • Winner of Round One will receive a hint from Miss Cindy
  • The person who places last in Round One will have Miss Cindy distract a competitor of their choice for one minute.
  • Round Two is 45 minutes.
  •  All of Cindy’s judging is final. No Bribes.
  •  You must keep you hand on your own craft. Do not touch someone or someone’s craft without permission.
  •  Winner will receive the Nailed it Trophy.
  • Loser will receive a Certificate of Completion
  •  Feel free to make your craft better than Miss Cindy’s.

Step Five: Run the program: This was one program where I tried to remember to be kind but funny when judging the crafts. The winner of Round One will receive a hint from me. I gave them gluing hints because I had given them three types of glue to use. I explained which glue goes where. The last place loser of Round One will have Miss Cindy distract a competitor of choice for one minute. This was harder than I expected. I turned on Cher’s Believe and danced around to it in front of the person of the losers’ choice.

Final Thoughts: I loved it! It was so much fun and people had a great time. The only issue was people who had never seen the show, but I did explain the show quickly to them. I have regulars who sign up for a lot of my programs without knowing what it is.