Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: How to Make a Digital Escape Room, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

At my library we have found one of the easiest ways to attract people to  programs is by creating a virtual escape room. They can be used any time of day and are fun to make. I like doing them with different fandoms. I have created two that are published so far one about Animal Crossing and one about Camp Half-Blood (Percy Jackson). My co-worker Faith Healy created two as well. She created an original haunted house one that has been used almost 200 times. She also just released a Mandorlian one in honor of the new season.

Start the Animal Crossing Escape Room

Start the Camp Half Blood Escape Room

Start the Haunted House Escape Room

Start the Mandalorian Escape Room

  1. Pick your theme and Do Research: Right now I am editing my Hunger Games escape room that is going to be released at the library next week. I rewatched the movies to prepare to write it. I also did research while writing it. I have different terrains. So I loved information about the terrains that could be useful. I learned about swamp gas and used it as a deadly way to kill the players.
  2. Write the Story: I used a Google document to write it out. I wrote the escape room essentially as a choose your own adventure story. Having the Google document makes it easier to break everything into sections which makes it easier to transfer the information onto a Google form on which the escape room is formatted and released on. Do not make too many choices in your questions. You might think  it will be fun to have lots of choices but really it makes everything more confusing. Faith and I found out you want to try to keep it under eighty sections in the end because it takes a long time to load if it is overloaded. My Animal Crossing one was 18 pages and now my Hunger Games one is 31. It was easier for the Animal Crossing one to load everything. I recommend you use your strengths writing if you are someone who likes outlines then use and outline. I am someone who finds the paths along the way when writing. I do not know what is going to happen when i write which is a surprise to me. I think escape rooms work well if you have experience writing fan-fiction.
  3. Edit the Story: You need to edit the story. I recommend waiting a couple days before editing so your eyes are fresh. Then have your co-workers help edit. I have one of the children’s librarians, Terri Purcell help me edit everything. She is always able to help me make projects better. I also have the other teen librarians help me.  I know not everyone has other teen librarians but I think children’s librarians are super awesome to help. Also the circulation staff can be a great help.
  4. Create the Google Form: I copy and paste everything in a Google form. I make sure all the questions are multiple choice and also go on  to the section based on the answer. Here is a very useful video on how to use the google form. Make sure that all the endings you have a submit button that way you can keep track of your numbers for statistics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLzbPGF4TzY
  5. Having Someone Test it: You will need your staff to help test the escape room. You have to make sure all the answers to the questions are connected to the right answers. This makes the game playable. I also check to see if after they have used it it submit and logs their choices properly.
  6. Release: We have release dates. We put them on all of our social media pages and I shared them to facebook groups and also the schools. 

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching Fire, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Animal Crossing and the Virtual Library, by Cindy Shutts

Animal Crossing New Horizon is already one of the most popular games ever released. It is super popular with teens and adults. I bought a Switch during Quarantine to play and I have spent over 400 hours playing since. It is a game where you move on to an island and have to build it up along with your house. You will befriend different animal characters who have personality types such as snooty, sisterly, jock and many others. This game  is played much like the Sims but no one dies.  I knew I wanted to do programming around it.

Playing the Game:

One type of programming is playing the game with teens. I got advice from Krista Hutley from the  Wilmette Public Library who told me that using Zoom is the best way to post dodo code. This will prevent people who are not signed up from attending. We had sign-up online and we emailed everyone the zoom link. We wanted to keep our program just teen also to keep everyone safe. I collected recipes in the game and extra items and placed them on my island. I built a mini library on my island so I could pretend to do Storytime and also give RA.

I did have some issues with the program. The library internet could not handle this program. I had tested it before even at work, but I had someone who was my friend come to my island. I did not realize our internet at work was Nat Type D when you need Nat Type A or B. Also one teen had internet issues. Even with the issues the teens had a lot of fun and we were able to talk about how much we all loved animal crossing. With our virtual programming we try to have two librarians attend one to run the program and one to make sure everyone is behaving.

I made a Take and Make Necklace kit using the DIY Recipe Bottle. This was a fun kit and I am enclosing the instructions. This craft looks like it is going quickly.

Take and Make Craft DIY Recipe Bottle

Supplies

  • Jump Ring
  • Mini Bottles that contain Metal Eye Hooks
  • Necklaces
  • Mini Recipe card. I found this online. I just printed them off and sized them to fit in the bottle.

Instructions

1. Take the cork out of the bottle and then place a DIY Recipe Card in the bottle.  Put the cork back in the bottle.

2. Screw the metal hook eye in the center of the cork by hand.

3. You can use your figure scissors or pliers to move to open and close the jump ring. Open the jump ring and place on the metal eye hook.

4. Then take the necklace  in the middle and place it in the jump ring.

5. Close the jump ring.  You now have a necklace!

6. Be careful, the Bottle are made of glass!

Escape Room

I also made an Animal Crossing Escape room. I used google forms to create it. I wrote a story in google docs first. I made it a chose your own adventure. I wrote about 18 pages of text. I had to write the script for every choice they made. This was a lot of fun. I love working on it. I then put it in google forms. I had different pages for different answers. I did realize I had to make the final pages be submit pages so I could record the data of how many people did the escape room. I used this video to help me create the formatting in google forms.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfSoPUWk82aVrBkxGSGxa7d3hSKiZ5XuOhnKc1HHDLlOZfVrA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Here is the link to try it out. It is being released today!

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

cindy

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.