Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Making T-shirts with Infusible Ink

One of the most popular activities I have ever done with teens involves making t-shirts. In fact, I know over 22 different ways to make, manipulate, upcycles and recycle t-shirts and have done so in over 100 programs with 1,000s of teens over the years. My kids wear t-shirts made by me and sometimes made by themselves, sometimes in libraries. So I’m here today to share with you another new and exciting way to make t-shirts with the help of one of my best friends, Krista, and her blog FreakTraveler.com.

Krista and I do a lot of things together, like talk books (she leads the local adult book club I am a part of where I sometimes actually read the book) and we craft together. We both have Silhouette Cameo machines and we’ve made a lot of t-shirts together. This past week we tried the new Cricut Infusible Ink vinyl and pens using our Silhouette Cameo machines (they work!) and I’m going to walk you through it.

To begin with, you’re going to need either a Cricut or a Silhouette Cameo machine. I have a Silhouette Cameo, which is the same machine I have for the Teen MakerSpace and the teen maker activities I do.

The Silhouette Cameo at the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Ohio

You’ll also need the Infusible Ink materials, which are created by Cricut. You can use them with the Silhouette Cameo because it’s not the machine that matters, but the t-shirt. Cricut sells special Infusible Ink products that they recommend you use and these materials include various t-shirts, tote bags and coasters. They are more expensive than many of the blank t-shirts you can buy so we did some research and learned that you can use non Cricut t-shirts, they just need to be 95% cotton and 5% spandex, or as close to this ratio as possible. For the record, it is recommended by Cricut that you use their products to get the best transfer.

Cricut has both pre-printed infusible ink vinyl. Here you see a mermaid pallet in soft, pastel colors.

They also have infusible ink markers that you can make shirts with. There are maybe a dozen different colors and they have two different tip sizes.

The markers allow you to make your own designs and color them in. I’m going to walk you through this in just a moment. The difference between the infusible ink and traditional vinyl is the way that your final product feels. Whereas with traditional HTV (heat transfer vinyl) you can kind of feel the vinyl sitting on top of your shirt, the infusible ink vinyl makes it feel more like traditional screen printing. It creates a soft, smooth finished product. The Teen hates the way traditional HTV shirts feels and won’t wear t-shirts I make for her, but this she likes.

Insubile Ink Vinyl Transfer

To use the pre-printed infusible ink vinyl, you basically just make your design, cut it out and transfer it as you would an HTV shirt. You do have to mirror your image with infusible in vinyl so that the final product is facing the right direction. But it’s just 1) design, 2) cut and 3) transfer with heat. The process is the same, it’s just the feel of the final product that feels different.

Here we are about to transfer the letters that we have cut out using our Silhouette Cameo and the Infusible Ink Vinyl
And this is what the final product looks like. The colors were a little light for the shirt that we used, but the process worked perfectly and we were very happy with the finished product.

Using Invisible Ink Markers

The real change comes here when you are using the infusible ink markers.

First, you are going to make your design in the Silhouette Cameo but instead of cutting it, you have to send it to the printer and print it on regular printer paper. Krista designed this by herself entirely in the Silhouette Cameo studio and then sent it to her printer. Yes, it’s basically a coloring sheet printed on your printer.

You then color it in using the infusible ink markers.

When you are done, you will have something that looks like a coloring book page, but it’s done in infusible ink markers.

You then turn this over onto your shirt and press it the same as you would traditional heat press vinyl. The tutorials we watched said that you need to use a lint roller on your shirt before applying the markers, but we did not. You do want to make sure that you put a piece of cardboard between the two layers of your shirt before pressing because it can bleed through. Thankfully, we did listen to this part of the tutorial because the markers did bleed through onto the cardboard.

You’ll want to press your design at 385% for about 60 seconds. You need a heat press for this one as an iron doesn’t get hot enough. I’ve used a heat press with teens in a Teen MakerSpace and this is 100% the way to go. The instructions said to let your design cool completely before removing the paper. This is what Krista’s final shirt looked like after the transfer:

And here’s a comparison of the design next to the shirt.

This process worked really well and we were very happy with it. I highly recommend it.

For a teen program, I would probably put out a few design sheets printed out for teens to use as well as blank paper so they can make their own designs if desired. You’ll need several packs of markers and you’ll want to pay attention as they do have different tip sizes. They are not inexpensive as a pack of five markers cost about $14.99 at Michaels and the general 40% off coupons that Michael’s often advertises don’t apply to this new product.

Using a Silhouette Cameo to design and cut vinyl to make t-shirts works less well in a program setting unless you have more than one device. So for a teen makerspace where people can walk in and work on their own, vinyl works well. But for a program type of setting, the infusible ink markers would actually work better. There are a lot of ways that you can use this with teens. The end product is pretty cool.

Please go visit my friend Krista’s blog at FreakTraveler.com because she was so awesome to help me put this post together. I even make an appearance here and there.

More about the Silhouette Cameo and Teen MakerSpaces here at TLT:

And for the record, Silhouette Cameo doesn’t pay me for these posts. I just really like using one and have found it works well as a makerspace activity.

Digital Media: A Remix Tutorial – How an Old Photo Becomes Something New

So this week we’ve been talking about using digital media apps to remix photos. Regular readers know that I am a big fan. I used to want to be a photographer growing up, but we never had the money for good equipment and I will never know if I have any talent or skills. But now I have a smart phone and a variety of apps and I loved to create using my device. Over the years I have shared with you a variety of apps and today I’m going to take you through a walk through. Doing digital media with teens in the teen makerspace is one of my favorite activities and the teens like creating amazing images to share on their Instagram. I also use my designs to make posters for displays and to share right here on TLT.

See the background of the painting in the picture below? We’re going to turn it into something completely different. The take away here is that you can turn anything A into something completely different and amazing B. As The Teen was painting this picture, I really liked the background so I took a picture of it before she added the trees. I’m constantly taking random photos because you never know when you can use it and turn it into something different. That’s trick 1: take a lot of photos, even of the most random things, because you never know what they can become.

So here’s the picture of the background, which is our starting point.

I then uploaded this photo into the Hipstamatic camera app. This app has a steep cost to it but it has a lot of elements that I like. One of my favorite effects is the Shanghai photo effect, which I used here.

After saving my first remix, I then uploaded this image into the Word Swag app. This is one of my favorite text and font apps, but I don’t like the filters and such. I used Word Swag for text and text only, but your mileage may vary. A little cropping, a little text and viola . . . I created this.

I use my digital media apps to create icons for TLT and I’m not going to lie, the walls of my home are covered in pictures of my children I have created using the technique I just shared with you. I have no less than 3 different printers that I use to print my photos, which I discuss here. I have also turned my photos into postcards, buttons, and canvas. The Teen and friends make fun of me because they know I’m going to be taking pictures, but they also love that they have a lot of great photos that capture some of their favorite memories.

Some of my favorite apps are:

  • PS Express: for cropping photos, filters, effects and more
  • Instamag: for making photo collages
  • Word Swag: for adding text
  • Hipstamatic: for filters
  • Be Funky Pro: again, for filters
  • Comic Book: for creating comic and graphic novel pages
  • Candy Camera: for stickers
  • SuperImpose X: for blending two or more photos
  • Fotorus and Enlight are more advanced apps that I’m just learning how to use

Do you have a favorite photo app? I’m always looking for new ones to try so please share yours in the comments.

Digital Media: Using Photo Apps to Make Pride Photos

The month of June is Pride month, a time when the LGBTQIA+ community remembers the Stonewall riots and the struggle – which continues today – to ascertain basic civil rights. In celebration of Pride, I’m going to share with you how you can create Pride themed digital media effects. On Monday I shared with you some apps you can use to create space effects on photos and today I’m going to share with you some apps you can use to add rainbows or rainbow effects to photos to create signage, avatars, social media graphics and more.

You’ll need a device of some sort with the following apps pre-loaded and a way to get photos onto the app. You can set up an in-library photo booth as discussed in Monday’s post. Once you have your photos you can begin mixing them with apps to create awesome pictures, like the one above.

Be Funky Pro

If I’m being completely honest, the only app you really need for this is the Be Funky Pro app as it has a variety of rainbow effect photos and is a full photo editor. It’s one of my favorites and I highly recommend it. There is a free version, but I recommend unlocking the app by buying the $1.99 pro version. Under the effects tab there are a variety of Pop Art effects that you can choose to create eye catching rainbow hued photos. I used the app to make all of these photo effects:

As you can see, Be Funky Pro has a variety of Pop Art effects that work great for creating Pride photos. It’s quick and easy to use and because you can add text using this app, it’s a one stop app. Those of you who read a lot of posts here know that I often use a variety of apps to create one final image, so it’s nice to have a one stop app.

PicsArt

The PicsArt app has a couple of effects that I really liked. The initial app download is free but there are in app purchases that you can buy. It did look like it had a lot of great additional features, but it has a subscription cost and of all the app purchasing options out there a subscription fee is my least favorite. I want to buy an app and be done with it. The features I used to make the photos below are found in the Pop Art and Color Gradient features. I made the pictures below without making any additional purchases so the app was completely free to use.

Rainbow Love

The Rainbow Love app allows you to add a variety of fun effects to a photo, including simply adding a rainbow onto an image. There are stickers, filters and more. You can download the app for free and use some of the features but there are additional charges for additional features. I liked that you could add a subtle yet beautiful rainbow to an image without changing the entire photo. I made the following pic using a free version of the app.

But wait, there’s more . . .

There are a variety of other apps available to add rainbow effects to your photos out there, some specifically designed to promote Pride.

Any and all of the apps mentioned here are fine but I recommend starting with Be Funky Pro or Rainbow Effects, depending on what effect you want to create.

You have a photo, now what? After you make your remixed Pride photos, you can do a variety of fun things with them:

  • Print them off and make them into buttons if you have a button maker.
  • Change your social media avatars to Pride photos
  • Decoupage them onto a canvas
  • Print them onto photo paper and paint a frame

How a Photo Becomes an Icon

The icon that Amanda MacGregor uses for her monthly What’s New in LGBTQIA+ column was made by me, an amateur, completely on my phone in less than 5 minutes. I began with the photo of a canvas that The Teen painted for a project. The canvas background is seen here in her completed picture, I just thought it was such a pretty background that I took a picture of it before she added the trees. So the background of the painting from this picture . . .

I used an app to remix the photo – in this instance I used the Shanghai filter on the Hipstamatic camera. I then used Word Swag to create the wording. And this is the story of how a photo of the canvas you see above became our LGBTQIA+ icon for our monthly feature.

So the background from the painting in the picture above plus a few magic tricks in an app becomes this icon . . .

MakerSpace: DIY Games

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We host a monthly teen videogaming program at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County and we recently bought a Nintendo Switch to add to our array of video gaming equipment. I’ll talk more about the Switch soon, but as a new system it isn’t cheap and the games that you can buy for it aren’t cheap either. But we now have 3 video game systems and even with this number of systems and controllers, some teens still find themselves waiting for their turn to play and as you can imagine, waiting is boring. The fundamental drawback to teen videogaming in the library is the cost of the equipment and the wait in between times you get to play.

Our teens have asked for board games to play while waiting, but a large number of the games they have requested are expensive and they often don’t accommodate a lot of players, which would mean we would be spending a couple hundred dollars on board games. I know that lots of public libraries have board games and use them in their programming, but this hasn’t been something that our administration has wanted to invest in because of the cost and issues of lost pieces, etc. Plus, we are currently investing a lot of money into our Teen MakerSpace. But we have an excellent Teen MakerSpace so I thought, let’s address this teen request and get teens involved in making. My grand idea: we could combine the two and help teens create their own games to play. Thus, we started working with teens on DIY Games.diygames8Here are five ways that you can encourage teens to create and make their own games.

1. Coding

scratch scratch2LEGO Computer Coding STEM Activities for Kids

Code Your Own Games!: 20 Games to Create with Scratch

Whether you are using a PC, a laptop or a tablet, a lot of coding apps use the idea of game creation as a learning basis. Scratch is a free program from MIT that encourages game coding. And as you can imagine, there are lots of coding and gaming books out there to help teens to get started and thinking about game creation. This is, of course, the most difficult and challenging level of gaming. It’s not just thinking about the game design and play, but you have to learn the fundamentals of coding to get your game created. You can also use popular games like Crossy Road, Roblox and Minecraft that your teens are already playing to learn more about coding and game creation.

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2. Bloxels

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Bloxels – Build Your Own Video Games

Bloxels is a kit you can purchase that is designed specifically to be used with a tablet to create your own video games. You use little blocks  to create characters and layouts on a grid base and then upload them to create a gameboard. It’s similar to the idea of making a stop motion animation video by capturing a lot of pictures.

3. Build Your Own Pinball Machine

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There are a lot of ways that you can build your own pinball machine. I have a kit at home that we purchased for our girls and we have had a lot of fun with it. We also worked some on building a pinball machine from scratch using random materials. It was a teen who initially came to us and wanted to build a pinball machine and got us onto the idea, but that teen eventually lost interest in the project because building one from scratch is a longer, time consuming process.

How to Build an Arduino Pinball Machine: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

MAKERBALL – The DIY Pinball Machine Kit by MAKE & PLAY

Raspberry Pi-Powered Pinball Machine | Make: – Make Magazine

PinBox 3000: Unbox Your Imagination! | DIY Cardboard Pinball Machine

How to make a Pinball Machine with Cardboard at Home – YouTube

4. Dry Erase Game Board and Cards

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You can buy a dry erase game board and playing cards off of Amazon and let teens create their own board games. We used Sculpey clay to make dice and you could use the same medium to make playing pieces if you found that you needed them. Dry erase is a great medium because if you find something isn’t working out, you can just erase it and start over again.

5. Legos

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You can build a variety of games using Legos. Chess and checkerboards are the easiest and most popular. Also, Lego minifigs make excellent game pieces if you are making your own games. Trying to build your own Lego mazes is also a fun challenge.

Make Your Own LEGO© Board Game – What Do We Do All Day

10 Fun Lego Game Ideas Lego Fans of All Ages Will Love

Easy DIY Checkers Homemade LEGO Checker Board Game

If you look online, there are no shortage of ways that you can get teens thinking about creating their own games and they can be high or low tech, or some combination of the two. For example, have an empty Altoid tin laying around, you can modify it to make a travel game. You can turn popular board games into live action versions like Candy Land, Hungry Hungry Hippo or Monopoly. TLTs own Heather Booth taught me how to host a live Angry Birds game, which I have done multiple times to great success. Mental Floss has an article which shares 26 life size versions of popular board games. If you have technology on hand, like LittleBits, Arduino or Raspberry Pi, you can have teens use those tools to make their own games. And if you and your teens needing even more guidance, you can purchase one of many kits easily online.

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CARNIVAL GAMES littleBits Design Challenge

Years ago as I majored in Youth Ministry, I had to take an entire class on games. That’s right, I took an entire class devoted to learning about, playing and designing games as part of my youth ministry major. If you have ever been to a Christian youth group in the 90s, you would know that there was a lot of emphasis put on games and ice breakers as part of the youth group experience. If you were born after the nineties, congratulations you’re not as old as I am. Group games are a huge area of focus in youth ministry, or at least it was in the 90s. Christian publishers publish entire books on great games for tweens and teens, and these were in fact some of my text books. For the record, these books are also good for game ideas in general, they don’t all have a distinctly Christian focus, they’re often just games for the sake of playing games. One of our assignments for this class was to create our own game from scratch. For the sake of this assigment, our game had to have an underlying purpose – what message were we trying to teach with the game? – but the actual assignment was to create a game. At the time, I thought it was an absurd assignment because they had made me purchase books and books of games and icebreakers. Why did I need to create my own games when there are books of them available? Little did I know at the time, but a lot of my professional career would be about trying to design or adapt games to make engaging teen programs. I do it for the library and not a church, but it turns out I would use that class a lot in life. And now not only am I designing them, but I’m giving teens the tools and resources and am asking them to make their own.

DIY games are a fun and entertaining ways to get teens making and in the end, they have a game designed by them to play with their friends. All in all, it doesn’t suck.

Things I Never Learned in Library School: Public Libraries, 3D Printers, and Guns – oh my

thingsineverlearnedinlibraryschoolWe considered a lot of things when we were discussing adding a 3D printer to our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. These things included space, time, money and staff education. At the end of the day and after a lot of research, we decided that a 3D printer wasn’t right for our library for a variety of reasons, but none of those reasons included guns. It turns out, we should have considered guns as well. We were very naive about 3D printers many moons ago.

Like most librarians, I have been through active shooter training at my library multiple times. I’ve been taught where to go, what to do, and how to keep myself and my patrons safe should an active shooter come into the library. I was actually already working as a teen librarian when Columbine happened, and the landscape of what it means to work with teens has changed significantly since that day. Just this past year we saw teen led protests asking us to think about school safety and gun violence. Now, more than ever, working with teens means you have to think about gun violence, gun safety, and the second amendment.

Last week, the news began reporting that there was a possibility and a fight over whether or not plans for printing unlicensed, unregistered guns on a 3D printer could and should be released to the public via the Internet. Until I heard it on the news, I didn’t know this was something that I should be worried about, though of course it is. The distribution of these plans so freely on the Internet would change everything we know and talk about when we discuss the second amendment and a “well-regulated militia.” And as these guns are printed via plastic filament, they would be unrecognizable by standard safety equipment. This would literally change the entire discussion we are currently having regarding gun safety.

If you have watched the rebooted version of Lost in Space on Netflix, there is actually a character who prints a gun using a 3D printer, which becomes a significant plot point later in the episode. This gun is, of course, used by a bad guy to hold characters hostage and get them to do their will. As guns always do, this 3D printed gun changes the arc of the story and creates a new power balance.

So what’s happening in the public debate? The Trump Administration recently settled a lawsuit which opened the door that would allow for the CAD plans on how to print 3D printed gun to be released via the Internet. This means that anyone with access to a 3D printer could print for themselves a gun and that this gun would be unlicensed and unregistered. It would allow any and all people with access to a 3D printer to bypass current laws and regulations. This would create a large number 0f guns in existence that could not be traced to any specific time, place or person. A legislator introduced legislation to stop the release of these plans, which had not passed as of last night. At the last minute, a judge moved to bar the release of these plans until more is known.

The battle to stop 3D-printed guns, explained – Vox

Here’s the things: some plans for printing a 3D gun are already available on the Internet, though they were reportedly taken down. But if you understand anything about the Internet, you know that things uploaded don’t really ever go away. In the discussion about this issue on NPR this morning they emphasized that if you wanted to, you could in fact still find the first initial plans for printing a basic 3D printed gun.

3D Printed Guns and the Library: A Reminder That Policy is Important

What does this have to do with libraries? Many libraries provide access to 3D printers and if you haven’t already, you need to be thinking about what your policies are and how you will respond to this issue. Because many libraries have active policies in place barring bringing weapons into the library, they also have policies in place about creating weapons in the library. I did an informal poll on Twitter and many respondents indicated that they did, in fact, have a no weapons policies in place. A few respondents indicated that they will need to bring this issue up with their administration. One respondent stated that in their state, Kentucky, it was against the law to prohibit a patron from making a 3D printed gun if you provide access to a 3D printer.

Library prepared for 3D printed gun technology | KATV

As a side note, it’s relevant, I think, to point out that even most cons which actively encourage cosplay have policies against bringing realistic looking weapons to the con. This is a matter of public safety and is, I think, good policy. It is public safety that we must consider as well as the law.

If your library provides access to a 3D printer, now is a good time to look at your policies and make sure they are current, relevant and accurate. Hopefully you have done the work beforehand and your policy does address things like making weapons. If not, now is a really good time to reconsider your policies.

Policies should be well thought out and articulated to the public and staff and consistent with public library standards. If you don’t allow weapons in the library, you can’t allow the creation of weapons in the library. And all staff should be trained on how to enforce the policy and how to handle any potential patron complaints. Remember, the discussion of gun safety is a very volatile discussion at times in our cultural discourse, it is entirely possible that staff will encounter some extreme emotions on both sides of this debate and they need administration help in knowing what to say and who to kick those complaints up to.

Library administration will want to continue to pay attention to this issue and keep their policies current. The issue of gun safety and rights isn’t going away and this just complicates that discussion. It’s the job of administration to be aware and pro-active. Public libraries fail staff and patrons when they are reactive as opposed to pro-active. We need to do our due diligence.

And in case you’re wondering, no I don’t think that patrons should be able to use 3d printers in the library to create weapons of any sort. It’s a matter of patron and staff safety.

MakerSpace: Rhonna Designs Photo and Collage App Review

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Behold, I have found a new photo app! As I mentioned last week, a friend fell into a button maker group and they talk a lot about two things:

1) The Canon Selphy printer, which I reviewed last week and

2) The Rhonna Designs app, which a lot of people in the button making community use to design their buttons.

rhonna1For more information about Rhonna Designs, visit their homepage

Rhonna App information at the iTunes stores

Here’s a look at some photos created by the Rhonna Design app from the Rhonna Designs homepage.

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And, since you know I love a good photo app, I decided to try it out. For you. I’m a giver.

As you can see, the Rhonna Designs app specializes in making Instagram ready pics and memes by layering photos, backgrounds, texts and graphics. There is a pretty steep learning curve for this app, but once I figured it out I was able to make some quick and easy graphics for this post in literally one minute.

The Basics

Technically, there are 3 Rhonna Design apps: Rhonna, RhonnaCollage and Rhonna Magic. You can buy one for $1.99 or buy all three in a bundle for $4.99. I made the mistake of buying just one and realized it is better to have all three. Each app in the package does a very specific thing and then you can open your photo in the next app to do that specific thing.

Let me try and clarify, it’s kind of confusing.

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App descriptions screen cap from Rhonna Designs home page

Rhonna Designs has a collection of backgrounds which you can use or you can use your own photo. You can then add text or a variety of stickers. In this app you also have some filters, frames and a mask feature. If you buy only one of the apps, this is probably the one you want to buy.

Rhonna Collage allows you to make a collage, just like the name says. You can pick a layout or begin with a blank page and create your layout. I have tried a lot of collage apps and this one is probably my favorite in terms of how it lets you choose a background and layer pictures over the top of it.

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Photo made using Rhonna Collage

Rhonna Designs Magic uses layers and allows you to use a variety of filters and effects to enhance your photo. For example, you can use Bokeh lighting, light leaks and blur effects. It also has a “candy” feature which allows you to color your photos. One of my favorite features in Instagram in the title shift, which allows you to blur edges and pull the focus on a specific part of a photo. Blur effects allows you to do that same thing here. Bokeh lighting allows you to add light flares allows you to play with the lighting on your photo. If you don’t like an effect, you can just go in and delete the layer.

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

Photo then opened in RD Magic and transformed using the candy function

This is a photo I transformed using something from all three of the apps:

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And here is a photo I created using Rhonna Designs made into a button. The background is a background provided in the app, I then just layered stickers and texts using this years Teen Summer Reading theme.

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I spend a lot of time using photo apps, and overall I liked this one. I still don’t think it does everything I would like one app to do and I kind of hate having to open it in another app to do some of the magic effects. I do, however, really like many aspects of the collage app. In fact, I like everything it does, I just wish it did them all in one place and for one lower price. And like many apps, there are additional in app purchases for things like more text fonts and sticker options, so it can get pricey if you let it.

I do have a digital media lab in our Teen MakerSpace which consists of a bank of iPads with pre-loaded apps, and I would definitely consider adding these. Though you can do a lot of these same things with a free Canva account, which has a lot more versatility when using a tablet. Though it works very quickly and pretty easily for a smart phone app. So if you’re using a smart phone, definitely check out this app. If you’re using a tablet or a PC, I also recommend researching Canva before making any purchasing decisions. It’s also important to note that although a basic Canva account is free, there can be some additional purchases in using that as well.

I would recommend this app, depending on what you want to use it for. If you are looking for quick, mobile and something to use on your smartphone, it definitely has a lot more options in one place, especially if you are primarily going to be making Instagram pics and memes. Many photo apps do one or a few specific things, and all together this app bundle does a lot of things in one place.

There is also a PC version of Rhonna Designs that you can use, which I have not tried.

More Digital Media/Photo App Reviews at TLT

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app) – Teen Librarian Toolbox

Aviary – Teen Librarian Toolbox

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Candy Camera

App Review: Enlight

App Review: Prisma

App Review: A Beautiful Mess

TPiB: Ollie Robot Challenges for Teens by Michelle Biwer

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At my library we have a few Ollie robots and the SpheroEdu app which controls the robots installed on our programming iPads. I purchased the Ollie robots for a few reasons:

  • Special tires so robots can also be used for fun, outdoor programming
  • Move up to 14 mph, much more impressive to most teens these days than something with a lot of functionality but slow like Lego Mindstorms
  • Can be driven easily with an app or can be programmed with text and block based coding (fun and educational!)
  • Access to a large collection of educator activity plans and coding, which can be easily edited to suit your needs

ollieAt the beginning of my last teen robotics event, I used a “Get to Know Ollie” program from Sphero’s database. This code programs Ollie to narrate all its functionality, from user control over lights to the accelerometer and sensors. Playing this demo code gave the teens an idea of what they would be able to control when programming their robots, and introduced them to the block based code system used by the SpheroEdu app.

I asked the teens whether they had experience with Scratch or any kind of block based coding. They were all familiar with Scratch so I skipped going over the basics of writing your own code. I assigned them their first robot challenge, to program the Ollies to move in the shape of their choice. I handed over the iPads with a basic code for movement preloaded so that they would only have to edit the code and not start from the beginning. I was delighted to see that not only did they successfully manage to make the Ollies move in their preferred shape, but they also programmed their robots to change color and say hilarious shaped-based jokes.

For their next activity I asked the teens to program Ollie to dance to their favorite song by changing the robot’s color and moving it to the music. I showed them this awesome Imperial March dance code as an example of what they could program. They really enjoyed this challenge and were most proud of finishing this activity. Since only middle schoolers attended the program they made sure to grab their parents before they left the library to show off their robot dance!

Teen made Ollie dance to Shooting Star!

Completing these two activities ended up taking us an hour to complete, so we ran out of time for the last activity. I was going to ask the teens to create an obstacle course for their robots to race. Instead I have scheduled that as a separate challenge for another day.

– Michelle Biwer

Book Review: Secrets and Sequences: Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes, a guest post by Callum (age 10)

If you follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething), then you’re familiar with my extremely entertaining 10-year-old son, Callum. He’s a big fan of graphic novels and recently has started pulling books out of my TBR pile. It’s fun to get book mail and have so much of it either appeal now to him or know it will soon. He’s excited to write his second review post for TLT (you can read his first one here). I suspect we’ll see more from him in the future. He’s already been on the cover of a magazine and on an episode of The Longest Shortest Time (episode 50, “Mom, It’s Time We Had The Talk”). He loves when people react to stuff I tweet about him. He says it all adds to his “fame.” Have I mentioned he’s super entertaining and loves attention? Anyway, here’s his review.

 

Publisher’s description

secrets-andStately Academy is no ordinary school: it was once home to an elite institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper, Eni, and Josh won’t rest until they’ve learned the whole story, but they aren’t the only ones interested in the school’s past. Principal Dean is hot on their trail, demanding that the coders turn over their most powerful robot. Dean may be a creep, but he’s nothing compared to the guy who’s really in charge: a green-skinned coding genius named Professor One-Zero.

 

 

 

 

Callum’s thoughts

This story is about three kids and an evil principal. They’re coders. One kid in class says, keep an eye on your mom to one of the coders. Their mom is a teacher at their school. Later, the principal kidnaps her. They say, you can have your mom if you give me this turtle-ship-thing. Change of plan! The turtle has a screen and the kids need to drive it for the principal. The daughter of the teacher says it will be okay and they’ll go get help.

 

So they drive to this huge castle and there’s a crazy green-faced man named Doctor One-Zero. They go see him and he pretty much puts the kids in a cell and makes the principal drink this stuff that makes him see green. He explains all this code to the kids and the girl’s visualizing it. Then there’s a flashback to when he was younger and he never asked for help or needed help and became evil and went to jail. He escaped and went all over the world trying to see where he fit in. He was on top of a mountain in a green moss cave, meditating and eating nothing but moss. He came out changed with a new name—Doctor One-Zero. They think of a way to get out of the cage. They’re going to go get the ship but One-Zero is flying it away. They’re figuring out how to get out of there. They take a bus back to the city and parents were worried. Back at school, there’s people practicing fighting. They are going to make an army of turtle-things to attack Doctor One-Zero.

 

The art was good and so was the story. Both boys and girls were main characters. One of the main characters is black. It ends on a cliffhanger, so there will be more in the series.

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781626720770

Publisher: First Second

Publication date: 03/07/2017

Series: Secret Coders Series #3

#MakerSpace: 1 Year Later

We have spent the last year at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) turning our Teen Space into a Teen MakerSpace. Today on School Library Journal I’m sharing with you 11 things we have learned 1 year later.

makerspacelogo

The Beginning of Our Journey

Here is the original article in School Library Journal, which includes some of the decisions we made and why, our project timelines and more.

The Middle

Here is a look at many of the activities we have done in our Teen MakerSpace, including outreach. Some of the challenges we have faced, including printing. You can also click on the MakerSpace tag below to find more MakerSpace posts.

1 Year Later

What I’ve learned, what we’ve changed, and more.

 

TPIB: Photo Shrink Jewelry Charms

shrinkydinks4Although we have some permanent stations set up in our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, we also occasionally rotate in some different stations to make sure our teens have a variety of activities to engage in. One of our permanent stations includes a bank of iPads which we encourage the teens to do many things with, including create digital media and do photo manipulation. If you have read many posts here at TLT, you know that I am quite obsessed with photo apps and photo manipulation and creation. It is one of my favorite things to do (my phone currently has 14,000 pictures on it and that is not hyperbole). And I then like to find creative things to do with those photos: like turn them into shrink plastic jewelry.

If you are thinking Shrinky Dinks – well, you are right, kind of. Shrinky Dinks are a brand name, there are other types of shrink plastic. And there is shrink plastic that you can put right into your printer, which is my kind of shrink plastic. So this summer, we made photo shrink plastic jewelry with our teens. Today I’m going to tell you how.

Supplies

shrinkydins

  • 2.25 circle punch. I use this one, but you can also just shape fill a 2.25 circle on your computer’s graphics program and a pair of scissors. I like the circle punch because it is a clean circle and it is quick.
  • Standard single hole punch (1/4 inch)
  • Photo printer shrink plastic, as pictured above. There are a few brand options, just make sure it says photo or printer friendly.
  • Some type of technology and a printer
  • A heat source: I recommend a toaster oven
  • A brown grocery bag or lunch sack
  • A metal tray (this usually comes with your toaster oven)
  • Oven mitts
  • A hot pad or trivet
  • Jewelry making findings and tools

Step 1: Creating your images

Before your can print and shrink your images, you need to create your images. For example, you can use Instagram images. Or use any variety of apps to create the images you would like to create(see below for a list of my favorites). When creating or choosing an already existing image, you want to make sure of two things:

1) That they will fit into the 2.25 inches size nicely and

2) That putting a hole in the top or on the sides – more about this in a moment – won’t obscure the important parts of the image. For example, if you are doing a photo with people you’ll want to make sure that you won’t be cutting off their heads when you put a hole in the top.

shrinkydinks7

For my example bracelet, The Mr. had created a series of Doctor Who inspired silhouette drawings to decorate The Teens room. I took pictures of those pieces of art and used a variety of apps to add backgrounds, text, etc. I then uploaded the images to my laptop so that I could print them.

Step 2: Printing your images

You’ll want to follow all printing instructions on your shrink plastic. For example, you will want to reduce the color intensity because the colors gets darker when the images shrink.

shrinkydinks8

For making jewelry charms, after much experimentation, we have found that 2.25 inches is a good size to begin with pre-shrink. In addition, a standard hole punch at the top shrinks down to a good size for a top loop and threading onto some type of jewelry finding. You can alternately put a hole on the left and right side using your hole punch to make a fitted charm bracelet where you loop thread or o rings through both sides of the charm.

After you print your image you’ll want to make sure not to touch the image so that the ink doesn’t smear or smudge.

Step 3: Shrinking your images

Again, you’ll want to follow all the package instructions for using the shrink plastic. Typically you set your toaster oven to 325 degrees. You’ll want to place your images on a piece of brown paper bag that fits inside your toaster oven; this just makes it easier to remove for cooling. The paper goes on the metal tray which you put in the oven (though it also works if you lose the metal tray which I’m not saying I did but the image below proves). When you take the metal tray out you can remove the paper and set it on a heat safe surface to cool. We used a left over piece of ceramic tile, but any type of hot pad or trivet will do.

shrinkydinks6

The shrinking happens pretty quickly so you need to stay right there and watch your items in the oven. They will briefly curl up and it will scare you because you think, “Oh no, they’re going to fold in on themselves.” And yet somehow they don’t. When they are flat again, wait like 2 beats more and then remove the tray to cool.

We have done this in the library with teens and you want to make sure you have an adult supervising the toaster oven at all times. The items get hot and letting them cool down is essential.

Step 4: Turning your images into jewelry – or something

In the most basic sense, you can thread a single charm onto a basic hemp cord and you have a necklace. You can also string beads between several charms and create a necklace or bracelet. I happen to be lucky and my Assistant Director does chain mail as a hobby and this is a fantastic way to make a charm bracelet. Here are a couple of our creations to give you some ideas.

shrinkydinks3  shrinkydinks

shrinkydinks5

Don’t want to make jewelry? Don’t put any holes in your plastic, shrink like normal, slap a magnet on the back and you have one of a kind magnets.

There’s a Book for That

And because we try to have a book for every activity we do or station we create in our Teen MakerSpace, we were very excited to find this book:

shrinkshrankshrunk

A Couple of Notes

We experimented with other shapes, but found that circles worked best and didn’t have any rough edges that could poke.

You can technically do this with traditional shrink plastic and hand drawn images as well. For example, we found that our teens loved to make their initials or names.

Some of Karen’s Favorite Photo Apps

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

App Review: Prisma

App Review: Aviary

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Image Chef

Tech Talk: App Review – BeFunky

Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

Meme the Apps

More Photo Crafts

Instagram crafts

10 Things to Do with a Blank Canvas part 1 and part 2

Share it! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children