Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Button Maker Challenges

At The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH), we have found that one of the most popular activities among our teens in our Teen MakerSpace is making buttons. We run into a lot of our teens around town that look like this:

Buttons, buttons every where!

Buttons, buttons every where!

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

I spy a teen guy with a ton of buttons

But we started to notice that teens were just coming in, printing of a couple of pictures (and engaging in some serious copyright infringement while doing so), and leaving. We really wanted to find a way to encourage teens to get more creative in their button making. So we took the idea of challenge cards and created a variety of button making challenges.

Our button making challenge station

Our button making challenge station

A lot of our challenges are based on ideas we found in some of the books we have right there in our Maker Collection. We scoured through our collection and our resources to come up with creative and fun challenges. And we asked the teens in the Teen MakerSpace for their ideas as well.

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Books inspire button making

We then created Button Making Challenge cards and put them out for our teens to look at and get inspired by.

Button Making Challenge Cards

Button Making Challenge Cards

We have been excited to see a lot more scenes that look like this in our Teen MakerSpace:

Teens in the Teen MakerSpace

Teens in the Teen MakerSpace

So here is a look at some of our challenges and what our teens have created in response to them.

Sharpie Art Buttons

I am obsessed with Sharpies. So discovering there were books about Sharpie art was a gift. We do a variety of simple Sharpie art activities. One of the simplest is to invite teens to color with Sharpies and turn their artwork into buttons.

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The Teen hard at work on some Sharpie art buttons

Sharpie art buttons!

Sharpie art buttons!

Typography Books + Sharpie Art Books=Button Awesomesauce Magic!

Typography Books + Sharpie Art Books = Button Awesomesauce Magic!

Stick Figure Art Buttons

Using a couple of the stick figure art books we have found, teens love to turn their stick figure art into buttons.

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Sharpies + Stick Figure Art

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Stick Figure Art Buttons!

Finger Print Art Buttons

I have already talked some about our obsession with fingerprint art buttons. You can read more about it here. It’s a lot of fun and makes the cutest buttons.

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A teen makes a finger print elephant

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Fingerprint Art Buttons!

More finger print art buttons

More finger print art buttons

Chalkboard Buttons

We discovered that there is chalkboard paper, which can be used to make buttons. Instead of using regular chalk, our teens use chalk markers in combination with art books The Art of Chalk and The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering to create original chalk masterpieces which they then make into buttons.

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The TMNTs in Chalkboard Art form

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Chalkboard art buttons

Sidewalk chalk poetry and a camera

Sidewalk chalk poetry and a camera

Map Art Buttons

Using some of the ideas in the Map Art Lab book (pictured below), we made a variety of map art buttons.

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Map Art Buttons

Map art button

Map art button

The Map Art Lab book is also the source of The Books of Your Heart Button. For more information, see this post.

The Books of Our Heart Button

The Books of Our Heart Button

Coloring Pages Buttons

We have a variety of coloring pages in our Teen MakerSpace and encourage the teens to color and then cut out a portion of their page to make their buttons. It asks them to look with a creative eye about editing an already laid out design and only use a portion of it.

Coloring pages buttons

Coloring page buttons

Fill in the Blank Buttons

It’s like Mad Libs, but in button form. The teens can create a quote – like a funny story or a question – and leave a blank. Then when they meet people in the street they can ask them to fill in the blank.

Digital Media Lab Buttons

We wanted to create some button challenges that invited teens to use our iPad lab to do some digital media creation and photo manipulation. There are a variety of apps that will let you use filters, add artwork, and add text to your pictures to create great photos. In addition, we have a green screen so we wanted to get our teens using that as well. When they create the picture they like, they can then size them and print them out and turn them into buttons.

Made with a Scrabble board and an iPad with photo manipulating apps

Made with a Scrabble board and an iPad with photo manipulating apps

Some of the digital media lab challenges include:

Turn your favorite book quote into a button.
Star in a book cover for your fave book using a picture you take and photo apps.
Turn your photo into a mini comic book or graphic novel.
Turn your photo into a meme.

Green screen photos make for fun buttons

Green screen photos make for fun buttons

The Teen dressed as a Weeping Angel. Hipstamtic filters.

The Teen dressed as a Weeping Angel. Hipstamtic filters.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

More photos manipulated with photo apps and turned into buttons. Washi tape makes up the borders on some of these buttons.

Teens love to turn their personal photos into buttons.

He made a button of himself wearing all his buttons that says, "I Like Buttons". It's very meta.

He made a button of himself wearing all his buttons that says, “I Like Buttons”. It’s very meta.

By creating a variety of challenges, we have found ways to get teens creating original artwork that they then turn into buttons. It has been fun to see what our teens create, and we have found ways to get teens to stay and talk a bit instead of just printing off a quick picture. I feel like our challenges are helping teens learn a little bit more about themselves, the creative process, and art in general. It has also challenged us to look more deeply at the books in our collection and find creative ways to incorporate art into the Teen MakerSpace.

 

Challenge Cards: buttonchallengefirstpage buttonchallengesecondpage

Scenes from a Teen MakerSpace Open House

Yesterday in celebration of The National Week of Making, we officially introduced our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) to our community by hosting an open house. Our Teen MakerSpace is normally only open to teens ages 12 through 18, but we wanted to let the public know what we are doing with (and for) their teens, so we spent the day making with our community.

The Set Up

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We spent the better part of the last 2 weeks getting prepared. I designed and ordered cool TMS (Teem MakerSpace) backpacks to hand out. We made logos to put on water bottles. We made lists and checked them twice. We bought supplies. We made signage. We organized. We recruited. We stressed. And then we celebrated.

The Welcome Table

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Teens could enter to win a Maker Kit and we handed out our backpacks.

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A teen volunteers at the TMS Open House welcome table

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The backpacks proved to be incredibly popular

The Activities

Because our Teen MakerSpace is small, we held our event on two floors. Some activities were upstairs in the TMS, but many were downstairs in the large meeting rooms to accommodate a greater number of people.

For every activity we do, we made sure to have a variety of books available on the various topics for our guests. In addition, we made sure and included some higher tech making with more arts and crafts, in part to accommodate the large number of anticipated guests without totally destroying our yearly budget, but also because we have learned through the course of the last six months of being open that our teens like to do arts and crafts just as much as they like to get their hands on technology.

String Art

We just discovered string art. Actually, it came about because my assistant director had a HUGE amount of craft string in her basement that she handed to me and I have never been good at making friendship bracelets so I needed a way to use these. Seriously, I have always found friendship bracelets hard to make.

Supplies: Foam core board, straight or push pins, templates, string.

Note: We found it easier to glue the pins in place using a hot glue gun.

Glue your pins and place and just string it up. It’s time consuming, but everyone was happy with their completed projects.

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A butterfly made by The Teen

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A string art heart in process

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She was very excited by her completed project. Also note how she filled in the background to make a complete art project.

Lego Fun

The best part of all our Lego fun was the Rube Goldberg machine that we created with the help of a Klutz Lego Chain Reactions kit.

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A teen tinkers with Lego

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Another teen tinkers with Lego

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The amazing Lego contraption made with the Klutz Lego Chain Reaction kit

And here’s our Lego Chain Reaction in action.

Shrinky Dink Jewelry

I was surprised by how many teens asked, “What are Shrinky Dinks?” Honestly, introducing them to Shrinky Dinks was the greatest community service we could provide.

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This necklace was designed in honor of a video game. The charm apparently represents the character in the game’s soul. Bonus points if you know the game.

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Another fine necklace. Teens really liked to spell out their names in Shrinky Dink charms.

Post It Note Art

I am obsessed with Sharpie’s. Even more so since we got this cool Sharpie art book in our Maker Collection (more on this soon). So we thought a simple activity to do would be to create a Sharpie Post It Note Gallery. This turned out to be both incredibly fun and extremely popular.

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The Post It Note Art Gallery

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I asked someone to draw me a Tardis. I got two!

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The Post It Note Art Gallery with filters

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Teen drawing Post It Note Art

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More Post It Note art

3D Pens

Our 3D pens have proven to be very popular. In fact, they go so much use that we keep breaking them, which is not awesome. But here are our pens in action.

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A 3D creation in process

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More 3D artwork in process

Coloring Stations

You may have heard, but teen and adult coloring is all the rage. My co-worker hosts a monthly teen and adult coloring night and they get around 40 people at each event, so it was a no brainer for me to include a coloring station.

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The coloring station: We made bookmarks with templates we found in the book Words to Live By (Dawn Nicole Warnaar)

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A completed bookmark

Final Thoughts

It was a lot of work, but completely worth it. Our event was open from Noon until 7 PM and we were exhausted at the end. BUT it was so much fun and we enjoyed seeing all the cool creations.

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We are still loving our fingerprint art buttons!

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A teen creating something with duct tape

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Rainbow Loom and Post It Note art in action

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Exploring the Teen MakerSpace

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From the outside looking in to the Teen MakerSpace

MakerSpace: Thumbprint Art Buttons

You might think that teens would not be interested in doing thumbprint art. I thought that. It turns out, we would both be wrong. That is the takeaway from this past week, at least for me. I was right there with you, I too was worried that my teens would not be into doing thumbprint art. But I needed a quick and easy maker project for an outreach event and this worked amazingly well for me.

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It began on May the 4th. At a previous location I had done Star Wars thumbprint doodles – I happen to have mine and The Teen’s framed at my house – so I thought it might be fun to do them in the Teen MakerSpace and make them into buttons. But I worried that perhaps teens would think it was a little too juvenile. I worried unnecessarily. It turns out thumbprint art is really fun, easy and makes for some really cool buttons.

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Then I fell down the rabbit hole of thumbprint art. It is vast it turns out. In fact, I put together a Pinterest board of thumbprint art resources which you can find here. It’s amazing the amount of creativity that can be applied to a simple thumbprint.

Fast forward to Friday. I did our first Teen MakerSpace outreach event at the local First Fridays. I decided that doing thumbprint art buttons would be a big hit and I was not wrong. In the space of about3 1/2 hours I made over 150 buttons and we hands down had the most popular table.

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I put together some example sheets and had example buttons on the table, and for the most part the kids and teens made something they saw on the examples. I also pre-made all the circles for the activity so that they would say The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County on them. This meant that we got a lot of free advertising as 150+ kids and teens walked around wearing buttons with our library name on them. Although our makerspace is for teens, we opened the activity up to all ages on the public square because we knew that it would be good promotion for our library, our space and our upcoming summer reading challenges.

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As I mentioned, 99.9% of participants chose and made their thumbprint into something they saw on an example sheet. This teen, however, turned his thumbprint into a grenade and I didn’t know whether I should be impressed by his creativity or terrified of his murderous tendencies. I ultimately decided I was impressed with his creativity; I hadn’t even seen a grenade in any of the examples I saw online.

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As an outreach activity, it worked really well. I was able to put my supplies into one box: stamp pads (min pads, 12 for $4.99 at Michael’s), fine point Sharpies, button supplies and the button maker. Plus, I had a lot less supplies to pack up after the end of the day because they had used all the button supplies. I call this a win.

Then on Saturday I continued the thumbprint button theme to end Scholastic’s “I Read YA” promotional event in our Teen MakerSpace by making “I Read YA” and “I Love YA” thumbprint buttons.

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Buttons have turned out to be really popular for us in the Teen MakerSpace, though it has mainly consisted up to this point of teens cutting up magazines or printing off pictures and making them into buttons. There is nothing wrong with this, but adding the thumbprint art component allowed us to add a little more of the “A” for art into our Teen MakerSpace. In fact, yesterday I ordered several Fingerprint Art books and am going to be doing some Fingerprint Art challenges periodically to help keep those creative juices flowing. There are several options out there, including this series of fingerprint art books:

fingerprintart fingerprintart2

 

 

 

 

 

I’m also thinking that fingerprint art might be fun for some stop motion animation challenges.

So here’s what I learned last week:

I shouldn’t underestimate teenagers. (Hey, even the best of us sometimes need to be reminded of this.)

Fingerprint art is fun, creative and easy.

Making 150 buttons in a little over 3 hours is great publicity for the library, but it is also exhausting.