Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Quick and Easy Crafts

If your schedule is anything like mine, you are always pressed for time.  There are meetings, book orders, programs to plan, staffing emergencies, desk time….  Things always eat up what time you have, and I can always use easy crafts when it comes time for “crafternoons or movie nights with my tweens and teens.  I’m usually flying solo with a group of ten or more, so the less involved the better.  Here are some of my favorite easy go-to crafts that have as few steps as possible.  Have some go-to crafts that you absolutely love?  Share in the comments!  We’re sharing ours this month as part of our National Craft Month celebration with The Library as Incubator Project.

Bubble Magnets

Materials Needed:  Clear rounded covers. Scissors. Insert materials (pictures, magazine pictures, drawings). Clear drying glue. Magnets.
Instructions:  Have your tweens/teens color or collage the inserts for their magnets by taking a clear rounded cover and making a picture that will fit the inside. They can be premade (Michael’s and Oriental Trading Company sell kits) or let the imagination flow with old magainzes or their own art.  Using the clear glue, stick the art face up to the cover. Then adhere the magnet to the backside of the artwork.  Voila! Bubble magnets!

Coloring Sheets

Materials Needed:  Coloring Sheets Print Outs. Colored Pencils or Markers.
My teens LOVE to color.  It’s simple, it’s relaxing, and gives them creativity without forcing them to have to be able to draw. Do a search for coloring sheets for adults (and get your mind out of the gutter) and you’ll find a host of complete patters and designs that will just beg to be colored for an hour or two.  Pair these with intricate design history and pattern books and watch their imagination take flight.

Bottle Cap Creations

Materials Needed:  Bottle Cap Blanks (available at craft stores or online).  Decorative filler (stickers, magazine pictures, their own pictures, drawings). Mod podge or clear stickers to seal pictures to the caps. Paint and/or permanent markers if desired for additional design.
Instructions:  These work very similar to the bubble magnets- just let your tweens/teens loose with their create spirits and color and create their designs for the inside of the caps, then seal to protect their art.  Depending on what type of caps you purchase, hooks can be used to create necklaces  bracelets, keychains, earrings, and all other sorts of awesome things- so be sure to either have a set design that you’re going to do during the craft, or have plenty of options for the teens.  I’ve let them loose with cords and always been amazed at their creativity.
Pony Beads

Materials Needed:  Pony beads in any and every color.  Zip lock bags. Cords for threading.
Some of the best ways I’ve gotten to know my teens have been through conversations through crafts, and it’s not been through any design.  I’ve had an hour of free time, a free table in the library, and a bunch of tweens/teens doing nothing, and brought out my stash of pony beads. We’ve made bracelets, necklaces, keychains- any color, any size, didn’t matter, no restrictions. And that freedom led to some wonderful conversations.  In fact, one of those first conversations with one of my first teens in my current job has kept up, and now I’m invited to his wedding this coming April. My point is not everything has to be structured.  Just bring out your beads, and see where things go.
Image Source: http://teachingliteracy.tumblr.com/post/28199908734/summerproject2012-paint-chip-bookmarks-these
Materials:  paint chips or scrap materials. Hole punch. Shape punches if desired. String or ribbon. Markers to decorate.
I admit, I am a home improvement store junkie.  When Disney came out with their paint, I raided stores for their paint chips- not for painting my house, but because the paint chip was in the shape of mouse ears.  We used them all over my library- achievement markers, crafts, everything you can think of. Even though my mouse heads are long gone, the paint chip crafts still live on.  Grab a whole bunch of gradients, a handful of ultra-fine point black sharpies, and let your teens decorate their bookmarks.  You can never have too many bookmarks.  Scrap ribbon from previous craft projects, or a friend’s sewing room can add an awesome touch, as well as using the cute shaped hole punches.

Karen’s note: We have a whole TPiB dedicated to a variety of different types of bookmarks. Check them out.

What are your favorite go-to crafts?


  1. Those paint chip bookmarks look amazing. You never got busted smuggling large quantities out of the store? Or did you have to make several trips?

  2. I have been lucky and asked and had them donated. Otherwise, I recommend several trips. Take a toddler along to blame. Just saying 🙂

  3. Or a large purse, or a husband that doesn't look suspicious. LOL! Actually, I've never gotten in trouble for getting paint chips, even handfuls at a time. And I've asked parents and staff to gather as well, and they've been more than willing. We all ended up hitting the ones closest to where we lived, so it was spread out.

    🙂 christie

  4. What exactly do you mean when you say “clear rounded cover” for the bubble magnets? Is this an actual item you can buy at a craft store?

  5. It's an actual thing that you can buy- usually in kits and stuff. I get bubble magnet kits, and let my kids design their own designs, but you can find them at Staples, etc.

  6. I love the bookmarks. I think I’m going today so I can make them for Valentine’s Day class gifts or girl scout gifts

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