Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Digital Media: Using Apps to Take Your Photos Out of This World

This year many public libraries are participating in a summer reading program that is out of this world – literally – with the Universe of Stories theme. I happen to really love 2 things: mixing photos with photo apps and a tween who wants to be an astronaut, so I am here for your space programming needs. Today I am going to share with you how you can set up a simple photo booth station and help tweens and teens create out of this world photos with just a few simple apps.

Step 1: Set Up Your Photo Booth

You can create a photo booth anywhere in the library with just a bit of space. If you have one, you can set up an actual photo booth with a screen. If not, you can use a blank space of wall or a tri-fold presentation board setting on a table. A white background works well, but any solid color background will work. What you want is a contrast because we are going to extract some of the images. You can also use a green screen and I am here to tell you that you can use a bright green tri-fold presentation board as a green screen to do things like head shots.

There is a previous post here where I talk about some simple green screen photo tricks.

You can set up your photo booth as part of a program or if you have a makerspace set it up as part of your makerspace. You’ll also need access to an tablet or smart phone with some preloaded photo apps to mix your photos.

If you want, get creative and make photo booth props as well, though they aren’t necessary.

Step 2: Mixing Your Photos

After you have taken your photo, you’re going to use your device to mix your photos with backgrounds, filters, stickers and more. Here are are a few of my favorite apps, tips and tricks.

PhotoShop Express (PS Express)

This is a good starting app to do things like apply basic filters or turn your photo into a black and white photo. Sometimes, black and white makes for a good silhoutte that you blend with a background (more on this in a minute). PS Express also allows you to do things like enhance colors, fix lighting, etc. You can download this app for free and use a lot of the features, though there is a cost to unlock additional features.

The PS Express app also has a Beta feature that allows you to add bokeh lighting and . . . the cosmos. This is a picture of The Teen leaning over a bridge staring at a lake but thanks to the PS Express app it looks like she is looking into the Aurora Borealis. This is the only photo that I created using only 1 app.

Mextures

The Mextures app allows you to mix some simple lighting and effects with a picture. I use this app to add radiance which creates the purple hue that works well for galaxy photos. The radiance feature I use is called Bonfire. The Mextures app has an initial cost of $1.99 and there are additional in store purchases you can make (I only have the initial purchase).

The photo below was created by turning a photo into black and white and then adding the bonfire radiance feature to give it the purple and blue highlights.

SuperImpose X

I have long enjoyed blending two photos together but had a hard time finding an app that did this well and was easy to use. A lot of them require you to “cut out” the part you want using a lasso feature that requires a precision I could never master. Before finding SuperImpose X, I had to use two apps to do this but SuperImpose X is so easy to use that I only use the one! This makes me happy. This app costs 4.99 but it is totally worth it.

SuperImpose X works in layers, which means that you have to layer your pictures. You always want to start with the first layer being your background picture. To make a galaxy photo, you can find copyright free background images to use as your background layer.

Your second layer is going to be your layer that has your photo of your person. You use the mask feature to cut out your person. SuperImpose X has an Auto Mask Person feature that makes everything better. Occasionally I have to fill in a few details, but for the most part it works like a charm.

After you have used the mask feature to cut out your person, you can then use the blend feature to blend your two layers together. There are a variety of options and you can mix and match until you find the balance that you like best.

Candy Camera

Candy Camera is an app I like for the stickers feature and only the stickers feature. I’ve used it many years now to make my family Christmas cards and have made some fun space themed photos featuring Thing 2 using some space stickers. (Yes, as a matter of fact, we do just happen to have an astronaut space suit laying around the house, why do you ask? LOL) This app can be downloaded for free and additional sticker packs have an additional charge.

Using a variety of apps, I was able to take pictures that each had actually 3 people in them (and I’m not showing you the original photo because I don’t have the other teens permissions to share them online) and turn them into these final photos. Beginning image after two other teens were cropped out:

Final image:

Beginning image after 2 other teens were cropped out:


Final image after mixing:

Word Swag

The final app I want to share with you today allows you to add text to a picture with a variety of fun fonts. It’s by no means the only app that does this, but I find it to be the quickest, the easiest, and to have the funnest fonts. You can literally roll the dice – there is a die icon on the bottom right of your screen – and it will show you a variety of layouts and options. This app can be downloaded for free and there are additional in app purchases that you can make, though I use the free version.

I used Word Swag to turn one of the above pictures into this great image:

After you make these images, you can do things like share them on social media, print them, or print them and then decoupage them onto a canvas if you want to take your program to the next level. I have both a Selphy and Instax Mini printer and find printing with them to be a ton of fun. If you’re going to do canvas decoupage, follow these steps.

This is a pretty easy and fun program and it gets tweens and teens thinking creatively while learning some basics of digital media. My home is full if pictures just like you see above decorating my walls.

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

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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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Wizard of OZ Necklaces

Supplies:

Our library had a series of programs that were themed around the Wizard of Oz. I worked on coming up with craft I could make when I saw my friend, Andrea Sowers, post on her Twitter account a necklace craft she had made. That’s when I realized that what I wanted to do was to make a pendant necklace.

I talked to my coworkers who loved jewelry making and asked Andrea a couple questions about how she made her necklace. I then combined everyone’s contributions to make my own process, which I have outlined below.

Step 1: Print out small images that you want to use in the pendants. Remember they need to be able to be cut in a one-inch circle.

Step Two: If you want to have glitter glue in the image, make sure to tell the teens to use very little because you want the glitter glue to dry before you attach the round cabochon. I used a tiny bit of red glitter glue for the Ruby Red Slippers. Others used silver for Glinda’s wand or green for the Emerald City. I used a toothpick to make sure that I made the glitter glue attach well.

Step three: Take the round cabochon and put a layer of diamond crystal on it and attach the image. Use a toothpick to smooth it out. Roll the toothpick on the back of your picture like a rolling pin to release any air and help it stay flat. Wait for it to dry before staring the next step.

Step four: Use the e6000 glue and put it on the front of the pendant tray. You will want to put your dried round cabochon with the image attached on the tray. I would press it gently. Let it dry completely before wearing.

Final Thoughts: This craft turned out great. I really enjoyed it and I am doing a Disney pendant craft in April. I would have gotten longer necklace cords, because people have different neck sizes and not everyone likes having a tight necklace.

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.

TPiB MakerSpace: Love Your Pets

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In our Teen MakerSpace, we have kind of drifted into a model where we have themes to unite our making, which teens can choose to participate in or not. Some teens, we have found, need some type of guidance while others do not. So for the month of February, we wanted to do something that tied into Valentine’s Day but didn’t necessarily emphasize romantic love. Love Your Pets was our February celebration of the love that we have for our pets or favorite animals and it was the unifying theme for all of our making that month in the Teen MakerSpace.

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Now it does happen that the two Teen MakerSpace Assistants and I have pets, dogs to be specific. And of course many of our teens know this because they hear us talk about them. So we included them in our promotional materials. Charm is our family dog, he is a long haired dapple coat Dachsund. He is also, for the record, a great cuddler.

We then set up a variety of stations around The MakerSpace with examples of how they can use those stations to make pet themed items

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Stamps, Stickers, Buttons and More!

We bought a variety of pet themed stamps and stickers which could be used to make a variety of pet crafts, including a wood painted signs, buttons, banners and more.

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DIY Pet Toys

We had a variety of discarded t-shirts which could be braided to make hand-made pet toys.

33 Dog Toys You Can Make From Things Around the House – BarkPost

44 Really Cool Homemade DIY Dog Toys Your Dog Will Love

25 Frugally Fun DIY Dog Toys To Pamper Your Pooch – DIY & Crafts

Perler Beads

Perler beads can be used to make a pet portrait.

DIY Pet Tags

And we bought an etching tool and dog tags for our Silhouette Cameo to make hand-made dog tags. We could even teach you how to make a paracord pet collar to hang that hand-made tag off of.

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A note about etching on the Silhouette Cameo: it took us several attempts to find out what settings to use to get a good etching. There is a tutorial here that is helpful: https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2014/10/engraving-with-silhouette-7-tips-to.html. My biggest tip is that you will want to set up your settings to make as many passes as possible.

In all honesty, I have done a version of this program before with different DIY crafts and as a one-time event. Doing it as a theme in the Teen MakerSpace proved to be a tad bit more ideal in that teens could come and go and work at their own pace instead of trying to finish a variety of crafts in 1 to 2 hours. But it is a great program whatever scenario you choose to set it up as.

MakerSpace: Using a Silhouette Cameo to Do Screenprinting

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This summer as part of our Summer of Shirts, we did a very low-tech version of screen printing, which turned out to be incredibly popular. So I was excited to learn that the Silhouette Cameo can be used to do a more traditional type of screenprinting. It works really well and I HIGHLY recommend it. After being pretty decent with my Silhouette Cameo, it only took me about an hour to make my stencil and screenprint my t-shirt. And since many of the supplies can be re-used for multiple projects, the cost per project is basically under $20.00, though your initial investment will be slightly higher (assuming that you already have the Silhouette Cameo of course).

Thing 2 wearing her screenprinted T-shirt

Thing 2 wearing her screenprinted T-shirt

Supplies:

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  • Silhouette Cameo and PC/Laptop
  • Weeding tool
  • Piece of 651 Permanent Vinyl
  • Scissors
  • Clear contact paper (to be used as transfer tape)
  • A wedge to be used with the transfer tape
  • A 14 inch embroidery hoop
  • Painters tape
  • A sheer fabric curtain (I purchased a white one for less than $5.00 at a local store)
  • Speedball screenprinting ink
  • A foam brush or squeegee (or credit card)
  • Gloves
  • Something to protect your work surface
  • A piece of cardboard to insert between the two layers of your shirt

Step 1: Making Your Design and Turning it Into a Stencil

Tools used in this step: Laptop, Silhouette Cameo, Vinyl 651 (permanent), weeding tool

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You begin by making your design in the Silhouette design studio. You’ll want to think about simple designs to begin with. You then send your design to the cutter unmirrored with your vinyl 651. You want to design and cut your vinyl as you would a normal vinyl project. HOWEVER, when you weed your project you want to remove the design part while keeping the edges in place to create your stencil. For example, I removed all of the guitar pieces and letters and kept the part I would normally remove attached to my vinyl backing. You final screen will look like this.

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Step 2: Turning Your Vinyl into a Printing Screen

Tools used in this step: Vinyl stencil (created in step 1), transfer tape (contact paper), wedge (used for transfer tape), painters tape, embroidery hoop, a piece of sheer curtain slightly larger than your embroidery hoop

You now have a negative image piece of vinyl that has been weeded, so you’re going to use your transfer tape (contact paper) to lift your stencil off of the vinyl backing and attach it to the screen (which is a piece of sheer fabric curtain). If you don’t know how to use transfer tape, there are instructions here: How to Use Transfer Tape for Cricut and Silhouette Projects.

After you place your vinyl stencil onto the screen and remove the transfer tape, you can cut your stencil/screen to the size of your embroidery hoop. The hoop is used to hold your stencil/screen tight for the application phase. You want to leave about 2 inches around the outside of the hoop so that you can keep it pulled tight. Use painter’s tape around the edges to help make sure you don’t go over the edge of your vinyl stencil.

The hoop plus your sheer curtain with the vinyl stencil attached is now your screen for the purposes of discussion.

A "Screen" for Screenprinting

A “Screen” for Screenprinting

Step 3: Doing the Screen Printing

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Tools used in this step: Your screen (which is the embroidery hoop with the sheer curtain piece and your vinyl stencil attached to it), Speedball ink, squeegee, gloves (if you want to keep your hands clean), surface protection, cardboard for in between layers of your t-shirt

Insert a piece of cardboard between the layers of your t-shirt to prevent bleeding through. Place the screen onto your shirt where you want it to appear. You will then put a little bit of Speedball ink onto your stencil and spread it evenly over the stencil using your squeegee. Fill in all the parts and then scrape it clean so that you have a thin layer of ink over the areas where it is supposed to print. Let it dry for a few minutes and then remove your screen.

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Your shirt is now done, but you need to let it dry for about 24 hours.

Advantages to Screenprinting vs. Vinyl Heat Transfer

Once you have created a screen, you can take it out of the embroidery hoop for storage and re-use it. From one sheet curtain panel you can create anywhere from 6 to 8 screens which you can store. This gives you a variety of ready made screens that you can pop in and out of your embroidery hoop to teach teens the basics of screen printing. Would also be great for creating summer reading shirts.

Because you are creating a screen that can be re-used, it costs less than using heat transfer vinyl on a large number of t-shirts. Heat transfer vinyl is more expensive than standard vinyl and here you are using one piece as opposed to multiple pieces for multiple shirts.

Many of the supplies and tools can be re-used, which makes this a less expensive project over time.

The t-shirts feel more like authentic t-shirts as opposed to t-shirts that have the stiff feel of vinyl on them.

What the Teens Learn:

  • Design
  • Some basic tech
  • Screenprinting

Here is a really quick tutorial that you can watch on YouTube that demonstrates how quick and easy screenprinting with a Silhouette Cameo is:

TPiB: Easy Peasy DIY Jack-O-Lanterns

So I got a Silhouette Cameo and I was trying to figure out how to use it, and how to use it with teens, when I stumbled across an easy and fun craft idea. You can do it with or without a Silhouette Cameo, it’s easily adaptable. I made my examples using the Silhouette Cameo.

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What You’ll Need:

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  • Clear plastic craft bulb/ornaments
  • Orange acrylic paint
  • Styrofoam or plastic cups
  • Black markers/stickers/or vinyl if using a Silhouette Cameo
  • OR black paper and a sticker making machine
  • Hemp cord or twine for hanging

Step 1: Painting Your Ornament Orange

You are going to be painting the inside of your ornament, not the outside. Start by saying that before anyone gets all excited and starts painting the outside, not that this has happened to me. Nope, not once.

Take the top off of your ornament and fill it with a few drops of orange paint. You’ll want to roll the ornament around a bit to make sure you completely cover the inside with paint. Place your ornament opening down into a cup to let the excess paint drip out and let it dry. It will dry quicker if you don’t use too much paint, so use paint sparingly.

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Step 2: Making Your Face

While your ornament is drying, think about what you want you Jack-O-Lantern face to look like. You then need to make your elements, which you can do in several ways.

Paper: Cut out your face elements using a template you download or hand draw. You can use glue or a sticker making machine to turn your paper into stickers and place them onto your dried ornament.

Sihouette Cameo: Download a design or make your own design, cut using Oracal 651 permanent vinyl, and place on your dried ornament.

Getting Creative:

This doesn’t just have to be Jack-O-Lanterns. You can do ghosts, monsters, robots and more. And it doesn’t have to just be Halloween, you can do a variety of animals, for example. You can also do school colors and logos, sports teams, interests and more. Or, better yet, have teens make an ornament that represents their favorite books and see what they come up with. See also, our annual Great Ornament Hack.

MakerSpace: Summer of Shirts Index and Gallery

Here are all the modify your t-shirt posts in one place with a gallery of some of our finished products. Click on the link for the instructions.

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TPIB: Meme ALL the Shirts! (Heather Booth)

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Mod-A-Tee @ Your Library – Fun with T-Shirts: Sharpie Tie-Dye, Puffy Paint, Spray Painting

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Sharpie lettering and spray painting

MakerSpace: Mod-A-Tee Making Hot Glue Stencils and Spraypainting T-Shirts

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Putting on your first coats of paint

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Low Tech, Low Cost “Screenprinting”

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MakerSpace: 5 Ways We Transformed T-Shirts into Something New

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So the Summer of Shirts is over. Last Monday was our last day and we took all the ways we transformed shirts in the previous weeks – Sharpie tie-dye, Low Tech Screen Printing, Transfers, and more (links at end of post) – and taught our teens ways that they could then transform those shirts into something new and different. Here are the five ways that we transformed our t-shirts.

Transformation 1: Infinity Scarf

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To make an infinity scarf, you simply cut your shirt into large circular strips. This scarf is Sharpie tie-dyed and modeled by Thing 2. Instructions: No Sew T-shirt Infinity Scarf Tutorial: 5 Steps

Transformation 2: Headbandtransform4

This is part of a t-shirt cut off and just sewn together to make a headband. It is also Sharpie tie-dyed. Instructions: 3 DIY headbands you can make from old T-shirts – SheKnows

Transformation 3: Tote Bagtransform2

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There are several ways you can make a T-shirt tote bag. They all begin with cutting out the neck and cutting of the sleeves. An easy sew method just has you sewing the bottom of the bag shut. No sew directions: How to Make a Tote Bag From a T-shirt (no sew tote bag). Sew tote bag instructions:  FASTEST RECYCLED T-SHIRT TOTE BAG: 6 Steps (with Pictures)

Transformation 4: Baby Bibtransform3

When you cut the next portion of a t-shirt out to make a bag, depending on how deep you cut your neck, it makes an awesome bib. The trick is to make sure and include the neck band in whatever amount of shirt you cut out. Instructions: https://folkhaven.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/easiest-no-sew-bibs/

Transformation 5: Jewelrytransform6

There are a wide variety of ways that you can turn t-shirts into jewelry. Here we tied pony beads onto strips of t-shirt and braided them together. A great starting place can be found here: 15 Easy Ways to Turn T-Shirts into Jewelry | Brit + Co

The benefit to using t-shirts is that they are actually a pretty cheap starting point. A plain white t-shirt is $2.00 to $3.00 at most major craft stores. And you can also find a wide variety of old, used t-shirts at thrift shops for a t-shirt modification program. In fact, I put up a box in our staff lounge and asked for donations and got a lot because everyone has old t-shirts they are looking for a way to get rid of.

The teens enjoyed the ideas because they are into self-expression and creativity and this was fun, easy, and well within their price range.

MakerSpace: Teaching Teens to Use Canva to Design their Own T-shirts (Laser T-shirt Transfers)

MakerSpace: DIY Fidget Spinners Three MORE Ways

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Earlier I shared with you 3 ways we are making fidget spinners in the Teen MakerSpace at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). Today I am going to share with you 3 additional ways we have had fun creating our own fidget spinners. All three of these ways involve using a ball bearing. We bought a bulk order of ball bearings off of Amazon for a reasonable price. The ball bearing spinners definitely work better than the non-ball bearing spinners that we created.

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DIY Polymer Clay Spinner

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Polymer clay has turned out to be a pretty popular item in our Teen MakerSpace, so the teens wanted to explore if they could successfully made a fidget spinner out of clay – and they did. To make the spinner they simply built up the clay around the ball bearing and shaped it into a shape and size that they liked. Our teens made both two and three sided spinners. We baked the clay as directed with the ball bearings already in place.

DIY 3D Pen Spinner

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #1

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #1

I have mentioned many times how our 3D pens are pretty popular, so of course we decided to see if we could make a spinner with one. I actually really liked this spinner the best out of all six that we have made. We used a ball bearing for the center and pennies for the outside spokes to save on the number of bearings we used in subsequent spinners. To make our spinner we built up the 4 individual elements first, making solid circles around the ball bearing and the three pennies. We then connected the four pieces.

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #2

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #2

Light Up LED Spinner Hack

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One of our regular teens had the idea to hack a fidget spinner to make it light up using LED lights and button cell batteries. He placed the batteries where the outside bearings usually go, putting them in place using hot glue. He then put an LED light on the end of each and used electrical tape to hold them in place. You can see a short video of our spinner in action here.

The best part about making fidget spinners in so many different ways has been watching the teens explore, create and problem solve. There has been a lot of comparing and contrasting, creative thinking, and working together to try and figure out some of the best ways to try and make new and different types of spinners.