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Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Riverdale Fan Party

Today as part of Cindy Crushes Programming, Cindy is continuing her series of Riverdale themed programs that she recently hosted with her teens. Since beginning this series, actor Luke Perry suddenly passed away and we want to offer our heartfelt sympathies to the cast and his friends and family.


My library had a month of teen programming based on the popular television show Riverdale. I had an escape room, which I outline here, and a fan art night. On fan art night I made fan collages and gave my teens coloring sheets. Teens are very into coloring.

riverdale1There are a few Riverdale DIY craft ideas and coloring sheets on this Pinterest board

I had one more Riverdale event: a Riverdale fan party.

I was a little nervous wondering if I had used up all my Riverdale ideas already. What could I do to make it more interesting? Honestly, I was freaking out a bit.

I knew I was going to do Riverdale trivia because my teens love trivia. I used the same Jeopardy style PowerPoint many have used in the past. My categories were Actors, Episodes, Characters, Music and Serpents.  This was one of my most competitive trivia events I have ever held. Everyone was prepared and this shows how much the teens truly love the show.

Some Riverdale Trivia Sources: https://www.sporcle.com/games/tags/riverdale ; https://www.popbuzz.com/tv-film/quizzes/riverdale-trivia-quiz/ ; https://quizizz.com/admin/quiz/5bafa75eba102200190795f2/riverdale-trivia


My next competition was making a city crest for Riverdale. I explained how towns and families often have crests I even pulled up the Shutts family crest to show them an example of one. I talked about how the British crest has a unicorn which is the national animal of Scotland. The teens were very interested. They were very competitive about making their crests and asked often for more time because they were taking it so seriously. I loved the wining one so much. It had a serpent, a bottle of maple syrup, and the high school symbol on it. They used various elements of the show to tell the story of Riverdale.

DIY Coat of Arms

The last contest was a fan fiction challenge. I gave then all a prompt and told them to write a story from where the prompt left off. The prompt I used was, “Jughead walks into Riverdale High one Sunday morning and finds the principal dead.” I did have to explain what fan fiction was to teens who did not know. I explained that they were writing a story inside the Riverdale universe using the characters and the places in the show.  They all worked really hard and it was nice for them to get to use their creative writing skills. It was an enjoyable night

P.S. I had already taken my Riverdale display down when I heard about the tragic death of Luke Perry. I had watched the first two seasons and really enjoyed seeing him play Fred Andrews. He was an amazing television dad. I am sending love to all of his friends and family.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Riverdale Escape Room


In today’s episode of Cindy Crushes Programming, Cindy Shutts shares with us how she hosted a Riverdale themed escape room with her teens.

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 and online:

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: Stranger Things Themed Escape Room

Programming Librarian: Creating a DIY Escape Room for Your Library

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 one hour to escape. You will set the scene as outlined below.


8 Books to Read if You Can’t Get Enough Riverdale

Plot: Josie and the Pussycats have been kidnapped. You have 45 minutes to open the box to get the flash drive of their location or else they will never escape.



You could use the Breakout Edu Kit

  • 4 digit lock
  • 3 digit lock
  • Word lock
  • Key lock and key
  • Two lock boxes
  • Cat headbands
  • Homemade Pop’s Diner Menu (see documents at end of post)
  • Receipt showing chocolate milkshake but price is cut off (see documents at end of post)
  • A table up set up like a diner booth to represent Pop’s Diner. You can use paper and plastic tableware
  • Fake blue and gold newspaper with word spell circled (see documents at end of post)
  • Maple syrup with fake expiration date
  • Fake poster about the dance where Josie and the Pussycats are supposed to perform
  • A ransom note that that says, ”Josie and the Pussycats will expire if you do not pay $50,000.”
  • Flash drive
  • Pom Poms (Optional)

Instructions: I made sure 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.

Red Herrings: Fake poster about the dance where Josie and the Pussycats are supposed to perform. I also I placed various random props.

Check out the Riverdale prequel book

Check out the Riverdale prequel book

Word Lock: I used the word “spell” because it is one of the easiest words you can use for the lock. I have an article in the issue of Blue and Gold in which the Spellman family of Greendale is mentioned. I have circled the word spell. This is the easier clue. This lock is attached the smaller box. The torn receipt is to be placed in this box.

4 Digit Lock: The clue is the ransom note with the word expire on it. I have a bottle of maple syrup that looks like it is a Blossom Maple Syrup bottle. This lock is attached to the large box. The combination is 0319.


3 Digit Lock: The code is 399. The menu will have prices on it. The receipt that is in the small box will have the price ripped off. This lock will be attached to the large box.


Key Lock: The key will be hidden in the room. I had a set of pom- poms and I hid them in any prop that would work.

Results: This program went really well and all the participating teens enjoyed it. Next time I would add one more lock to make it last longer. It took one group 30 minutes and the other group 20 minutes. I would also add more decorations next time.

Support Documents

blue and gold

Dance sign

pop’s dinner recipt

Riverdale pop’s menu

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Fortnite Party, by Cindy Shutts


Like most teen librarians, my teens are obsessed with Fortnite. This popular video game downloads for free and is playable in different seasons, where they will play through different storylines and new player skins become available. One of the most popular parts of Fortnite is the dancing that different skins do. I have tweens and teens dancing around all day. I thought this could be a successful program for teens and tweens. I have done different fandom parties in the past for Divergent, Hunger Games, and British royals so I knew I could do this successfully.


Trivia: The first part was I made a Jeopardy style PowerPoint using a format another librarian had already made.  My categories were modes, dances, character/skin, game development and seasons. In this part, I made a couple mistakes. I used information I got from an article that was incorrect for the season questions. My tweens gently corrected me. I listened to them because I know they are usually right if they correct me. If you want to use trivia, double-check your answers!

Jeopardy Power Point Template

Dance off: The dance off was super fun. I played the music from the Fortnite dances and the teen who got all the dances right won a small gift card from GameStop.

Craft/snack:  We had blue Gatorade as the drink, because in the game they drink a slurp juice. I also had a food craft where they cover up Rice Crispy treats with a red fruit roll up and put a cross with white frosting to be medic bandages.


DIY Fortnite Crafts & Party Ideas – Red Ted Art’s Blog


The Game: Here is where things got rough. We have a PlayStation 4 and I have downloaded Fortnite on it.  I had planned to play a mini tournament. I turned on the PlayStation 4 and it needed an update and it would not let me update. Even my tech savvy teens could not figure out what was wrong. I looked at the teens and said move the tables and shut the door. You get to play live action Fortnite. I told them no running so they would not get hurt. They got it right away. They used their creativity to make what could have been a failure into a success.

Result: I am so proud of my teens they made this event work even though I had some difficulties. We had such happy kids. We even had kids ask if we can do this again. I will be happy to do it again, but plan to make sure that PlayStation 4 is really working. Or even just prepare to play a live action version with one of the teens ahead of time. The teens made this program special!

Cindy Crushes Programming: Harry Potter Inspired Dragon Eggs


Cindy has long been a fan of dragons. And who wouldn’t be? Dragons are cool! Today Cindy is sharing with us how she made Harry Potter inspired dragon eggs with her teens. Dragons not included.


I had made a dragon’s egg before with modeling clay and the results were not what I wanted. Thankfully, I found a YouTube video and saw how I could make this activity work.

I saw this method was very similar to the Harry Potter wands I made, that use hot glue to model the shapes. I had a lot of issues when creating this process in real life. I learned that making the egg was easy but getting the paint to dry fast enough was going to be an issue. I also wanted to make sure when I finished it looked like a dragons’ egg and not an Easter egg.

Editor’s Note: There is a lot you can do with hot glue. Check out this 5 Minute Crafts tutorial


  • Hot Glue Guns and Glue sticks
  • Plastic Easter Eggs or Foam Eggs
  • Paint, Metallic Fast Drying
  • Glitter Paint
  • Nail Polish (Optional)
  • Mod Podge (Optional, for sealing your egg)
  • Table coverings, paint pans, etc. to help create an environment that is right for painting

Step One:  Pick an egg, if using Easter eggs try to find one that is closest to the color you want to paint the egg.

Step Two:  Use hot glue to make a design. Since it is hot glue, if you make a mistake you can take off the glue if it dries.  I used a scale design for my main egg. One of the teens chose a lovely drop design, where they had small dots in rows neatly all over the egg. You can glue the egg shut if you want to. I did not.

Step Three: Paint that egg. I made sure that all the teens rolled up their shelves because this could be messy.  This is the hard part is you have to make sure to use fast drying paint. Metallic makes the eggs look the best. Do not cover the egg with lots of paint one solid layer will do the job. You can do it with nail polish, but be aware you have to have thick nail polish and that it will smell like nail polish.


Wait for your paint to dry completely before going on to the next steps.

Step Four: Paint with glitter paint. This makes it have more of a shimmer.

Step Five (Optional): My co-worker Maisie Ivens let me know she had sealed her eggs with a layer of  modge podge.

Final Thoughts: It took a little more prep time then I expected but it made the craft worth it. As long as you have patient teens, this is a great craft.

Pair your activity with a display of YA lit featuring dragons using this list found at Epic Reads (https://www.epicreads.com/blog/17-ya-books-with-dragons/)

Pair your activity with a display of YA lit featuring dragons using this list found at Epic Reads (https://www.epicreads.com/blog/17-ya-books-with-dragons/). Graphic by Epic Reads

Cindy Crushes Programming: Nail Polish Gems


Today Cindy is sharing with us how to make gem stones with nail polish. Please note, the galaxy gemstones would make a great craft to go along with the 2019 space themed summer reading program.



  • Old Nail Polish
  • Clear Glass Gems (can often be purchased at dollar stores or craft stores)

Additional supplies (not needed, but can be used to turn gemstones into magnets)

  • Magnets
  • Felt
  • Hot glue gun

I am always looking for cheap fun crafts and ways to use old supplies. I had lots of old nail polish from a previous craft, so I looked up nail polish crafts and found nail polish gems.

I tried three different types of Nail Polish Gems– crackle, rainbow, and galaxy.

See Also: How to Make Nail Polish Gem Stones

Crackle is when the back of the gem is painted white and then covered by another color. This one did not turn out well and would not recommend making this one.

Rainbow is very easy and very pretty. You make use of all the colors of the rainbow in order. I always make sure to have an image because some people, including me forget the color order. This would be an awesome craft to do with for a library Gay Straight Alliance Pride craft. You could use all the different pride color designs.


Galaxy was the most popular. You start off using a light glitter nail polish and keep adding more layers of glitter nail polish and the last layer is a dark color like dark blue or purple. Galaxy gems are so shiny and beautiful.


You have to make sure when doing nail polish layering the teens wait for to it to dry before applying the next layer. Layering is very important.

Finishing touches: If you put a circle of felt on the back it can be made into a magnet by hot gluing a magnet to the felt. They do not need felt, but this can be an added touch to make the back smoother.

Final Thoughts: This craft was so much fun and easy to make.. The teens loved it and the adults who saw the gems were very impressed. I would do this craft again. I would also try to learn a few more complicated designs.

If you still have nail polish left over, here are 31 DIY crafts you can make with nail polish

Cindy Crushes Programming with a Live Action Donner Dinner Party Game

Today, Cindy Shutts discusses how she played a live action Donner Dinner Party game with her teens.


My teens, like most teens, are very interested in true crime and mysteries.  Last year I made a life size board game version of the old classic video game of the Oregon Trail. It was very popular with the teens that had learned about the tabletop game version now available. This year I decided to do something different and a bit darker.  So I decided to do a program about the Donner Dinner Party.

First, I realized it had to be much harder than the Oregon Trail. I did some research in The Best Land Under Heaven by Michael Wallis and I had previously read the Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale about the actual events. I learned there were a lot more members of the Donner party than I had thought there were.  These sources gave me a lot of ideas.

Getting Started:

  • Set up a square game board on your floor with 40 spaces. Spaces are described below. You will want to use a large meeting room for this.
  • See resources at the end of this post for additional supplies discussed in the post.
  • Dice

Divide your teens into groups of 4. I made supply cards that included water, food, medicine, and spare parts (below in resources). Every team gets two of each supply cards to begin with.

The game board that is located on the floor includes forty spaces. The corner spaces of the board are tasks they have to accomplish and the General Store. Corner spaces are: General Store, Pick a Fish, Pick a Berry, Knot Tying

Players begin the game on the corner with the General Store. Teams will roll a dice to move from space to space on the board.

Every space on the board had a different card on them. Here are a few examples “Grandma died! Lose a turn as you bury her!” “Find an Empty Wagon, Take Parts card!” “Oops— Snake! Your oldest player has died! “The spaces get progressively worse for the player as the game continues much as the real Donner Dinner Party continued to go downhill. (See resources)

The teams’ first corner task is to pick a fish. I had a bunch of fish cut out and turned over. All they had to do was pick a fish and not a skeleton fish. If they picked a skeleton fish, they would lose a food card.

Another corner games space was pick a berry and see if it is it edible. I did research on different berries and had a picture of the berry on one side and the other side had the name of the plant and if it was edible or poisonous. If they picked a poison plant, one of the people in wagon passes away.

The final corner is knot tying. This gives teens a chance to learn a valuable skill.

After this game, we played one more Donner game. There is a game version of the Donner Dinner Party called Donner Dinner Party a Rowdy Gamer of Frontier Cannibalism. This is a fun mafia style game where you can either be a cannibal or a pioneer.  If you are a pioneer you try to successfully make it through a game round and get enough food to eat. If you are a cannibal, you try to ruin the pioneers’ attempts to gather food.

Thoughts: This program super fun and the teens loved it. They may have not survived, but they loved having an adventure and also learned about history.

Support Materials:

Donner Party Supply Cards

donner party fish

Donner Cards

Donner berry game


Cindy Crushes Programming: Light the Night with Fandom Themed Fairy Jars


I love making crafts with the library teens and get ideas from a lot of sources. I recently saw a video about making lighted fairy jars on YouTube and recreated it with my library teens. It was very popular, but I had some issues. First, it was very expensive because I had to special order woodcut fairies. Second, the directions said to use superglue to glue the fairy in the jar, which meant many people glued their figures together. So I made some adjustments and found a program that works! The twist here is that we’re going to create “fairy light” jars that celebrate our favorite fandoms, so we’ve personalized this craft and taken it to the next level.

I realized while I liked the outcome, but I did not like the process. I have found my own process for making lighted jars.


Supplies Needed:

  • Clear jars, clean and dry
  • Cardstock
  • A Silhouette Cameo is helpful though not necessary
  • Glue or glue dots
  • Glitter glue or Mod Podge
  • Small paint brush
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Embellishments such as string/yarn/ribbon, buttons, etc
  • LED lights or candles to place inside the jar (battery operated works best). Glow sticks also work.

Here are some instructions from another source for an overview

Step 1: Cut your shape to place inside the jar

I wanted to do this craft again but not with fairies. I was lucky my library had just purchased a cameo silhouette machine which allowed me to use cardstock and cut out different shapes I have found online. If you don’t have access to a Silhouette machine, you can cut out silhouettes using scissors or exacto knives.

My first lighted Fandom Jar was Beauty and the Beast. I use Pinterest and Google image search to find silhouettes that worked for my program.  I printed them off the cameo machine and that made life easier and you do not have to order silhouettes.

I believe in either using tape or glue dots to place the image in the jar as it makes things easier to fix for teens and teen librarians who make mistakes. I do not recommend using superglue; I lost a layer of skin that first time I tried it to fix the teens projects, plus it is just messy.

Karen’s Note: You can use the free software GIMP to turn a teen photo into a silhouette, which would be fun for this craft. There is also a free silhouette app that you can download for a mobile device.

Step 2: Cover the outside of the jar

I used tissue paper to cover the jar. I like to paint a layer of Elmer’s glue on the jar and the gently place the tissue paper around the jar. Trim off any extra. I am very careful about making sure the silhouette in the jar is not covered by the over fold of the tissue paper. I like to use as light a color of tissue paper as possible. Dark tissue paper will not work. I learned this when I tried to use golden tissue paper for my Hamilton lighted jars.  I then have the teens wait and add another layer of glue on top of the tissue paper. This helps smooth it out and makes it easier to see.

WikiHow: 4 Way to Make Faeries in a Jar

Step 3: Embellish your jar


I let them pick out what the want to do next, whether they want toput a layer of glitter glue over it. Add accents. I enjoy tying a ribbon around the jars. I have a button box that I let them look through. I try to find objects that work with the theme such as I found rose buttons for Beauty and the beast or stars for Hamilton Jars.  I make it clear this is their jar they get the final say in what it looks like.

Things to Consider

I am very careful when getting the jars. I saved up coupons and also asked for jars as donations from staff and patrons. Spaghetti sauce jars work out very well as do some pickle jars. Couponing makes this craft affordable since I can use all the supplies the next time if I have leftovers.

Karen’s Note: To up the “making” quotient of this craft, you can make your own LED rope lights in a variety of ways. One set of instructions can be found here. This will significantly increase the cost of this activity.

Thoughts: This craft is always a winner and can be adjusted to different fandoms. As long as the jars are cheap this program works out nicely.

Take 5: Table Top Games Teens Will Love to Play


The Teen, The Bestie, their friends and I are going through a big table tops game playing stage. And because everything I do somehow becomes about work, every new game we play is reviewed to determine whether or not it would be a good game to play in the library with teens. In fact, at my new library, at least at my branch, the teen room is in fact a separate room where game playing is very accessible and they even keep games out for teens to come in and grab off the shelf and play. So here’s a look at some of the games we’ve been playing.

1. Exploding Kittens


Of all the games we’ve been playing, this is hands down one of our favorites. It’s a card game with an absurd premise, but there is also a lot of strategy involved. The goal is simple: get your opponents to draw an exploding kitten card so they are out and try to stay alive. You achieve this goal by taking their cards, shuffling the deck, and if all goes well – you get a coveted alter the future card so you can put the Exploding Kitten cards in strategic locations within the deck.

The cards themselves are absurd, which is part of the fun. They have asburd titles, fun illustrations and pretty weird directions. Be very careful, there is a Not Safe for Work (NSFW) pack that you do not want to put in the hands of teens. You will get fired!


Like I said, this is a strategy game and you have to pay attention. Each player starts out with 1 defuse card which allows you to draw an exploding kitten and survive. So you have to pay attention to who has a defuse card and who doesn’t. Many of the cards allow you to draw a card from another player’s hand and you want to try and get the other player’s defuse cards, it’s a coveted card worth more than gold in this game. Pay attention to has played a defuse card and don’t draw from them. At the same time, you want to try and protect your defuse card from being picked by another player. During one game I had 2 defuse cards and I made sure that my hand stayed full of cards because I didn’t want other players to be able to draw a card from my hand and take my precious defuse cards. At one point I kept passing my turn and not playing any cards and the reason was simple: strategy. The more cards I had in my hand, the less likely it was that someone would draw the defuse card from me.

During another game, The Mr. blitzed me with every card he had to make me empty my hand of cards, then he put an exploding kitten card right where I would draw it and have no defense. I went out of that game quickly and yes, I’m still bitter. He’s still sleeping on the couch.

If you’re going to play this game with a large group of teens, I recommend buying the party pack, which is $30.00. I also recommend buying the two expansion packs – Imploding Kittens and Streaking Kittens – which ups your price by another $17.00 but adds even more fun nonsense cards and allows for an additional two more players. Like many games, this investment isn’t cheap, but if you have the budget for it then I recommend adding it to your game collection.

2. Imagine


This game is a game of visual charades. You set up a circle of symbol cards provided and when it’s your turn, you can layer or use the cards in any way you like to try and get people to guess the word on your card. So it instead of acting out your clues as in charade or drawing your clues like in Pictionary, you can only use the images already provided. It’s challenging but fun.


Take a look at some of our examples and tell me, what do you think they might be?

games9 games8 games6


This game is not easy! But it is fun. It also takes the most amount of table space because you have to set up the large circle of cards for players to see what’s available to make their pictures from.

3. Smash the Avocado


This is a card game that combines the ideas behind War and Snap. All the cards are dealt and then one by one you go around the table and turn over your first card. Each player counts 1 through 15 as they turn over their card. So the first person would turn over their card and say, “1 avocado” and then the next player would do the same saying, “2 avocado”, etc. Whenever you turn over the same number as is being spoken aloud or whenever the same number is played twice in a row, you want to “smash” the avocado by putting your hand on top of the pile of cards. There are also cards that say “smash” and you once again smash the avocado when these cards come up as well. As in UNO, there are reverse cards that changes the direction of play AND you then have to start counting backwards from 15. The last person to put their hand in, the hand that is on top, has to take the pile of cards. In this case that’s bad, because the first person to go out of cards wins. This is a fast and fun game, but it’s loud because everyone is yelling smash and there is lots of laughing and yelling involved. However, this game is pretty inexpensive so that’s a plus. I highly recommend this game, but in more of a program setting in a remote meeting room space than in the general library space.

4. Skribble Head




Head Skribbles combines the games Hedbandz and Pictionary. The person who is “it” draws a card with a word on it and their goal is to get someone to guess what that word is by drawing a picture that represents the word. The twist is that you are drawing your clues on a white board that is attached to your head – so you can’t see what you’re drawing and no matter how well you think you are doing, you’re really not because drawing at that weird angle without seeing what you’re doing produces nothing but hilarious results. By the way, that’s obviously a snowman up above.

5. Charades App


Charades is an app that you can download onto a device, a smaller device like a phone works best, and basically play the game Hedbandz on. Once you start you hold the phone up to your head and the person you are playing with gives you clues to try and get you to guess the word on display. You are trying to guess as many words correctly as possible in the short amount of time to up your score. You can play in teams competing against one another or you can play with 2 people just for fun. I have busted out this quick game often when in a room with bored teens. It’s pretty fun to sit around playing and guessing without being competitive. And although this is a teen librarian blog, I feel the need to mention that this is a great way to distract kids in long car rides or waiting rooms as well. Really, it’s very multi-purpose. The best part is this app is FREE!!!

As I often do, I also think about inexpensive ways we can expand on the games we’re playing. For example, with the Imagine game you can make additional cards by using old overhead projector sheets cut to size and drawing additional cards to add to your ring of cards. You can use dry erase cards to make your own Exploding Kittens cards. For any of the games where you need to guess words it would be pretty easy to print, cut and add your own words to the deck. So in almost all of the games above, you can find ways to get teens adding and adapting the games to expand on the fun. You can find information about dry erase game cards and more in this post on DIY Games.

I highly recommend every one of these games. None of these games are quiet, so choose your play time and space accordingly. I have played them multiple times with teens and we’ve always had fun.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Teen Improv Night


I am going to be very honest. I have very little acting experience, so when one of my teens asked for an improv night I was nervous.  Improv stands for improvisational theater. I decided to a lot of research. I wanted the teens to know it is okay to make mistakes and they do not have to be perfect.

I began to look for beginning acting exercises that the group could perform. One game I found was counting to twenty. The group gathers in a circle and they all count to 20 as a team, but no one knows who is going to count next and if two people say the same number they have to start over.

The next activity I found was called Unfortunate/Fortunate.  It is an activity where one person gives the unfortunate news and another give the fortunate news.

Example: Unfortunately you ran out of candy, but fortunately you have snacks. Unfortunately they are expired, fortunately you did not like them anyway.

The next exercise I planned to do is Headlines. In Headlines someone gives another person a headline and the next person makes their own headline using the last word of the previous headline.

Example:  Headline 1: Cocker Spaniel starts his own rock band.  Headline 2: Band candy sale starts today. Teachers beware!


Flock Dance: This activity is a dance exercise that I hoped would be popular since I have noticed Fortnight has led to teens being more excited about dancing.

The activity starts with a leader who the group follows in a 10-15 second dance. The teens have to do everything the leader is doing. This seems like a fun and easy game.


We did an activity from the show Whose Line Is It Anyway?  The activity is called Scene from a Hat. They have to act out various scenes that are in the hat such as—“Snapchat Gone Wrong.”

I added my own improv game called it Librarian and Patron. I had them act like a librarian and the patron that needed help. This was super fun because they got to be me. I had them do impressions of me and they really enjoyed that.

The last activity was an easy round of Telephone which most teens know as the game where you tell one person one thing and you keep going around the room to see to see how it ends.


Thoughts:  The program was not highly attended but we had a lot of fun. The teens that came were excited and did all the games and they wanted to try this again. I would have had two more back up games if I were planning to do this again.

Links on improv





Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Stranger Things themed Escape Room

Today we are debuting a new regular column that focuses on teen programming with a new TLT contributor: Cindy Shutts. She’ll be joining us on the first and third Wednesday of each month to talk teen programming. Today Cindy is sharing the basic framework for hosting a Stranger Things themed Escape Room. We’re going to assume you are familiar with the basics of Stranger Things to host this Escape Room, if not you can check it out on Netflix. Please note, there are some Stranger Things based novels coming out soon.


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

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.


Plot:  Tonight is the Hawkins Middle School Halloween Dance. The gang must save Dart’s Son and return him to the upside-down before anything bad happens in Hawkins.


Supplies List:

You could use the Breakout Edu kit

4 number lock

3 number lock

Word lock

Key lock

Two lock boxes

Stuffed Demi Gordon or printed picture

Stranger thing Christmas light blanket or picture

Box of 80’s toys

Dungeons and Dragon character sheets and D and D dice

President Reagan picture

Old Halloween records

For any documents I used the courier font since it is similar to a typewriter font.

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

Red Herrings:  I hung a picture of President Ronald Reagan like many schools would have had hanging up in classrooms in the 1980’s.  I had the Dungeons and Dragons items that mean nothing.



Word Lock: I used the word “Spell” because it is one of the easy words you can use for the lock. I used the color code that went along with the stranger thing Christmas light blanket. Colored pieces of paper will be hidden in the room. This lock was placed on the large box.ccp5

4 Number Lock: I put some old records together and made a playlist and the order of the songs are on the records is the lock code. I ripped the printed copy so it looks like there might be more songs, but I only used these four.  This list was in the small box. The lock was placed on the large box.

Hawkins Middle School Dance Music List

  1. Witches’ Brew
  2. Monster’s Three Wishes
  3. Counting Is Wonderful
  4. The Count’s Weather Report

Code: 1437

3 Number Lock: I made secret memo from the US Department of Energy in Hawkins. I put the memo in the toys box. This lock was placed on the small box.



US Department of Energy: Hawkins Laboratory Memo

October 15, 1985

Top Secret

Subject three is missing. We do not know where it is. It must be eliminated before it can cause damage in the town. We cannot risk any more mistakes. Nine soldiers are hunting it down. We need zero mistakes on this mission.

Code: 390


Key Lock: The key lock was placed on the larger box. The key was placed in the small box.

Results: This was one of my most successful escape rooms. The program completely filled up and I had great feedback from the teens. I ran two sessions of it.

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