Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Tween and Teen Programming Ideas: Nostalgia with an Online Twist

Tweens and teens are constantly participating in a balancing act of growing up but still being kids. And they like to do fun things. With everyone focusing on virtual programming right now, I thought I would share with you a few fun websites that tap into childhood nostalgia and provide some fun online programming. The best things about these websites is that you don’t need anything but a device to access them, so if your patrons are clicking through to you page or social media, then they probably have the means to access them. It’s not a perfect solution to being closed and having to practice social distancing, but it is a way to help our patrons find fun things to do during this time.

Mecabricks

Mecabricks is an online, virtual Lego like building platform. It allows you to build fully rendered 3D Lego models virtually. You can pick the style and color of brick at each step of the way. The best thing about this site is that you don’t have to have any bricks at home. When I ran a Lego club the first thing I learned was how many kids had never really played with Legos because they are very cost prohitibitive. You could share this site with patrons just for fun or run a virtual brick building club and give participants specific challenges and ask them to share or submit their creations.

Lite Brite

This online Lite Brite is the same concept as above with the virtual Legos, except it’s a Lite Brite. You make a pattern with little colored pegs and then turn it on and they light up.

Etch a Sketch

Here’s another childhood favorite brought to you online. In this one you use the arrow keys to sketch and then shake to erase your picture and start over.

Jigsaw Explorer

This website lets you do puzzles online. You can also create a custom puzzle and share it online. So turn pictures of your library building or book displays into puzzles and share them with your patrons.

Fuse Beads Picture Converter

So this one is not entirely online, you still need some additional supplies if you want to make the final fuse bead creation. But if you want to make fuse bead (also known as perler beads) crafts, you can use this online tool to turn your favorite photos into perler bead patterns. You can then print them out, place your beads, and fuse them to make your own personal fuse bead art. But I also think you don’t need to do the perler bead part if you don’t want to. It’s fun just to see what is created.

There are a ton of free online art, craft and digital media tools. If you Google you will find tons of great lists being compiled by art teachers, homeschooling parents, and other librarians just like me. There is no limit to what you can find and share. And the creative challenges that you can come up with. Please share some of your favorite online creation tools with us here in the comments.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Shower Melts by Cindy Shutts

I love doing bath and body programs. I based this programming on this recipe.

Aromatherapy Shower Melts

Supplies

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sea salt or Epsom salt
  • up to 2 tsp of water
  • Peppermint or lemon 10 drops 10
  • Bowl 
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Tablecloths
  • Use Food gloves for mixing

Steps:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in the bowl ½ cup of Baking soda and ¼ Epsom salt
  2. Add water slowly and mix. The mixture should stick together but not look wet. Add more water as needed.
  3. Add ten drop of the lemon or peppermint
  4. Move mixture in the plastic conditioner you should have enough for 2-3.
  5. Wait 24 hours for it to Dry

Final thought: This was a great program and when I get back to work I plan to do more programs like it.

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.FacebookTwitterShare

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.

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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Floral Fairy Crowns

In today’s installment of Cindy Crushes Programming, teen librarian Cindy Shutts shows us how to DIY your own floral fairy crowns.

Supplies:

  • Floral Wires
  • Wire Cutters
  • Fake Flowers
  • Floral tape
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors (fabric scissors work better)

Step One: Measure your head going around twice with the floral wire. You want to make sure it will not come off your head and that it is not too tight. Use wire cutters to cut the floral wire. Twist the wire together to make it stronger.

Step Two: Cut your flowers off the stems by either pulling them off or using wire cutters. I used Dollar Store flowers. Keep a little bit of the stem on the flower because you need to attach it to the crown.  Work on making a pattern around your crown.

Step Three: Use floral tape to wrap the little bit of stem to the crown. Make sure you are wrapping tightly so the flowers will not come loose. You can wrap flowers the whole way around the crown or just do halfway to make a pattern. Honestly, it depends on how many flowers you have.

Step Four: Cut ribbon in long strips and tie it to the back of the crown. I used Dollar Store ribbon. Some of my patrons used the ribbon to wrap around the whole crown which looked lovely.

Step Five: Double check flowers and ribbons to make sure they are attached.

Final Thoughts:  This is a great craft, but proved more costly than I expected. I used coupons and Dollars Store craft supplies, but my ribbon supplies were very quickly depleted.  I plan to make floral mouse ears in the spring with the extra floral wire. I had to buy more floral wire to make sure everyone would be able to do this craft in a timely manner. I had 22 patrons at my program.  They loved the craft and I would love to do it again, but I might go look for ribbons and flowers at a thrift store if possible or ask for donations. 

Cindy Crushes Programming: Splatter Painting

It was profoundly interesting to me when I received Cindy’s newest craft/program outline in my inbox to see that it involved splatter painting. You see, splatter painting is something that Thing 2 has recently become obsessed with and I found myself doing a lot of it this weekend. We made t-shirts.

We splatter painted canvases.

And Thing 2’s Girl Scout troop is in the process of making and installing Little Free Libraries around town and they’ve been splatter painting those as well. Splatter painting is very popular right now. So today, Cindy is going to talk to us about splatter painting and she is so very on trend.

Background: This craft was a teen patron requested during my Teen Advisory Group. I then researched splatter art.  There are a few tips on splatter art that I learned while doing my research that I am going to include. I learned that splatter art was a favorite style of Jackson Pollack. I printed out a few different pictures for my teens to look at to get ideas.

Splatter Paint Tutorial

Supplies:

  • Tiles
  • Paint (Various types)
  • Brushes (Various types0
  • Tablecloths

Step One:  Make sure to use a tablecloth. This is a very messy style of art. I chose to do it on the floor of our children’s programming room because there is no carpet and I could cover the floor with the tablecloth. I also warned the teens to not wear their best clothes just in case. One item of clothing, which I did not think about was shoes and while my library does have a rule that you must wear shoes, I realized maybe we could take off our shoes for this craft just this one time. I realized how important shoes are to teens and with school starting, I wanted to protect their shoes.

Step Two: Grab a tile. I used tiles because they are very cheap. This is one of my go to craft supplies. (Editor’s Note: You can buy bulk tiles from places like Oriental Trading Company at a decent price.)

Step three: Paint and paintbrushes. This is the most important art tip I learned. You have to use a variety of paints and brush types and sizes. This helps make each splatter look different.

DIY Tutorial on Splatter Paint

Step Four: Let the splatter begin. Splatter art is very simple to do. Put paint on the brush and splatter it on the tile. I liked to use a flick motion. I also let it drip on the tile. Those splatters worked the best. I let the teen pick how they wanted to do this step after explaining the various ways they could splatter.  

Step Five: Let dry. It could take over 24 hours to dry. I let some teens borrow a few of my aluminum cooking trays to take it home to keep their cars safe from paint.

Final Thoughts: This was a super fun craft. I loved doing it. The only drawback is the mess it makes, but if you can control it I highly recommend it. (Editor’s Note: If you have a grassy, outdoors space available, I recommend doing it outside – weather permitting – and in the grass. The grass will get mowed, the paint gets cleaned up, and the mess is less of an issue. This isn’t feasible at all libraries, but if you can make it work it’s a good painting space.)

The following are tiles from the teens of the White Oak Library District and my foot.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

Today for Cindy Crushes Programming librarian Cindy Shutts walks us through a quick, easy craft that turns silhouettes into art.

DIY Silhouettes Frames

Supplies:

  • Photo Frames
  • Glitter Glue, light colors
  • Background Paper: I used Handmade Modern Luxe Paper Pad that I got at Target. You could use scrapbook paper.
  • Silhouettes: I use the Silhouette Cameo Machine, but you could make them yourselves. For more information on creating silhouettes, please see Step 1.

Step 1: Make Your Silhouette

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through turning your own photo into a silhouette using the open source (which means free!) online GIMP program. Using this method you would print your silhouette off on regular printer paper and then cut it out by hand.

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through using the Silhouette App on a smart device to create your silhouette. There are several photo apps that you can use to create silhouettes. Once you have created your silhouette using this method, you will print it out using your printer and then cut it out by hand. With this method you will need a way to print from a smart device to a printer.

These silhouettes were made using the Silhouette app. The one on the right is then blended with a space background using the Fused app. Because this graphic is from a different post it was made blue, but black silhouettes often make the most striking contrast.

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through creating a silhouette using the Silhouette Cameo machine. This method provides for better cutting lines as you are having the machine do the cutting for you. You can also find for free or purchase a variety of SVG silhouette graphics online if you don’t want to make the silhouette yourself. This is the method that I used. If you have access to a Silhouette Cameo, this is the quickest and easiest way to make a silhouette. You can even pre-make some popular silhouettes and have them already cut out and ready to use.

Step 2: Frame Your Silhouette

  • Open the picture frame and remove the back.
  • Take your scrapbook paper and trace the back of the frame on it. Make sure to trace it on the back of the paper. I cut it a tiny bit over the line. This will be your background.
  • Cut out the paper in the shape of the back of the frame.
  • Glue the silhouette image on the paper toward the middle.
  • Cover the paper and image with light colored glitter glue.
  • Please let it dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Glue the paper to the back of the frame.
  • After everything is dry, place the back of the frame back into the frame.

Final Thoughts: This was a relatively easy craft. Everyone loved it and wanted to do a second frame. I highly recommend it because it is easy and really attractive.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Harry Potter Book of Monsters

Harry Potter is a series that continues to be popular as new tween and teen readers discover it every day. In celebration of all things Harry Potter, Cindy Shutts recently hosted a program with her teens and taught them how they can create their own book of monsters. The steps are outlined below.

Supplies

  • Hot glue and gun
  • Fake fur
  • Large googly eyes
  • Red felt
  • White felt
  •  Composition notebooks

Step One: Measure the composition notebook.

Step Two: Cut and measure the fur a little bit larger than the notebook. This allows there to be a little overlap and gives a better effect. Excess can be trimmed off.

Step Three: Hot glue the fur on the notebook. Start at one end and press the fur down as you glue. This ensures that the glue does not dry before you have a chance to attach the fur.

Step Four: Cut sharp looking teeth out from the white felt. It looks better if you do it free hand rather than tracing it because the trace marks often show. Hot glue the teeth on the inside cover of the notebook.

Step Five: Cut a tongue out of the red felt and hot glue it on the inside cover of the notebook.

Step Six: Hot glue the googly eyes on the felt so it looks like a monster.

Step Seven: Let dry then enjoy your book of monsters.

Finals Thoughts: This was a very enjoyable craft. I had been avoiding it because of the costs, but I saw a picture online that looked easier and cheaper. I used a 40% off coupon on the fur. The fur is the most expensive part of this program. Use a coupon if you can! There are more difficult versions that cost more money to make, but this one was perfect for us. The teens loved it and wanted to do it again.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Tile Art

I love doing drafts with tiles. They are super cheap and it is easy to do many projects with them. I get my tiles from Home Depot, Menard’s or Lowes. I purchase the white ceramic tiles. The size depends on the price and type of tile available. I will discuss two of my favorite tile crafts below.

Book Mod Podge Tiles

Supplies

  • Tiles
  • Book cover images
  • Mod Podge
  • Brushes

Steps

  1. Print out and cut book images. If you have old School Library Journal issues that you were going to recycle, they would be perfect for this craft.
  2. Position the images on the tile to see how it will look. You can do one big book cover or many smaller book covers. I love doing many book covers.
  3. Place a layer of Mod Podge under the image and then place another layer on top. Next glue all of the book images at once with another layer of Mod Podge. Then you will want to put a few layers of Mod Podge on top of the whole tile. Be very careful when explaining this step to the teens they will want to us  too much Mod Podge. Gentle layering works best for this project.

Thoughts: I love this craft for Teen Read Week. It is a simple craft and teens can celebrate their favorite books. They can make lovely coasters or a work of art.

Nail Polish Tiles

Supplies

  • Tiles
  • Nail Polish (avoid glitter nail polish)
  • Water
  • Aluminum Half Size Deep Foil Pan
  • Stick

Steps

  1. Pour a layer of water into the foil pan.
  2. Put nail polish in the water. Pour it in gently. Try to swirl it when you put it in the water. Use multiple colors.
  3. Put the tile in the water, but do not submerge it. It should be just deep enough so it hits the nail polish layer that is floating on the top. Pull the tile out quickly and let it dry.
  4. Use your stick to get rid of the extra nail polish in the water so you can keep your pan nice and clean
  5. You can add a little more nail polish by hand if you missed a spot on the tile.

Thoughts: This is a really pretty craft and also super cheap. I did learn, however, that glitter nail polish does not work well on this craft.

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.

DIY Neon Signs, Part 2

After figuring out how to make DIY Neon Signs (see the initial posts and instructions here), I recently hosted a Teen Makerspace night where we put the program outline into practice. As you may recall, the first DIY Neon Sign The Teen and I made did not have a background and it was just kind of a wire word, and although it works and is up in Thing 2’s room, we just felt it needed a little something something. So we modified our plans and added a wooden background, which helps it hold its shape better and gives it a bit of stability that it was missing.

I have a carpenter friend who helps me with the Teen MakerSpace programs and he came with pre-cut wood, nails, hammers and wire cutters to help with background. You will recall the other supplies you need are EL wire and batteries. In the neon sign we made with no background, we originally attached the EL lights to wire using zip ties to help it hold its shape. With a background, this step proved unnecessary.

So here’s what we did.

Step 1: Write your word on a piece of paper in cursive writing. You need one continuous word for the project to be successful and it’s simply easier. The Teen provided the excellent penmanship here.

Step 2: Following the outline of the word, hammer nails into your board along the shape of the word to hold the EL wire in place. Think of it as doing string art, but with EL wire instead of string.

Step 3: You will then wrap the wire around the nails to create the word in EL wire.

The trick is to use enough nails and get the placement right to hold it all in place. If you would like, you can use glue like e600 glue to adhere the wire to the wooden background. We wrapped the remaining wire and power source around the back and held it in place with zip ties and nails. You then just tear out all the background paper and you have a pretty awesome neon sign.

This is a pretty cool project and we all really liked the final results. There is a part of me that wishes I would have pre-painted the background wood white or black, but the natural wood color is attractive as well. The big thing is that the tweens and teens in attendance all thought this was really cool.