Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Minecraft, or what happened when my new gaming equipment didn’t get ordered & I had to punt

Earlier this year I put together all of my SRC programming and publicity at the same time we submitted an order for new gaming equipment. One of those programs was a Minecraft day. Except, sometimes orders get held up in processes and bureaucracies, which means that my new gaming equipment never actually got ordered. Which was only problematic because we had spent the last 3 months advertising a Minecraft day. But having done this for 20 years now, I am excellent at punting. So punt I did.

I do have an XBOX 360 and 2 controllers, and the game is available for the XBOX 360 – so let me take a moment here to make sure and say thanks to my branch manager who ran out the day before the program and purchased the game because I know she reads this blog 🙂 But I also spent the day before putting together a variety of other activities that were Minecraft related in some way that my tweens and teens could do while they waited for their turn to play Minecraft. Because with only 1 system and 2 controllers, it could get ugly. Here is my Minecraft Emergency Prep. I ended up having around 40 tweens and teens and they loved it. No blood was shed over those 2 controllers and a good time was had by all.

Paper Crafts

It turns out, there are a ton of Minecraft Papercrafts available readily online. Every single one of those teens at my program folded a Creeper face. But you can also print and fold a variety of materials and make Minecraft in the real world. For example, you can buy a set here at Amazon. You can find some free patterns here: Instructables

Post It Note Art
I have previously done some Post It Note art and it occurred to me that this would be a good way to bring Minecraft into the real world as well. My tweens and teens were challenged to make animals, faces, and swords on the wall using Post It Notes. It looks cool, but it takes a little teamwork to make it happen. Skills like math, organization and communication are subtly being taught here.

Lego Challenges
Using only the 2×2 Legos in my Makerspace, I challenged my tweens and teens to a variety of 5 to 10 minutes challenges: build a house, make an animal, make a story, make a face. This was hands down one of their two favorite activities of the day.

 Bottle Cap Crafts

For a previous event, I ordered a ton of Bottle Caps and have been using the leftovers for a while now. It was very easy to create some Minecraft themed circle inserts to make a new set of Bottle Cap Magnets. This was the other of their two favorite activities of the day – besides playing Minecraft of course. To make your inserts, you simply create a 1 inch circle in Publisher and use the picture fill feature to fill it with whatever you wish. Pictures, clip art or letters all work. Then you glue it into the bottle cap. I like to purchase epoxy bubble stickers to place over top. Other sites will tell you to buy and mix and epoxy resin, but the circles are quicker, easier, and make less of a mess. Then just slap a magnet onto the back and voila! Or, you can buy a special punch and turn them into charms, just add an “o ring”.

Minecraft Themed Duct Tape Journals
As part of my Makerspace, I have a large amount of duct tape on hand. And I had some blank journals left over from a previous event. So I challenged the teens to cut the duct tape into squares and make a Minecraft journal. The most fascinating part was that after they made the journals many of them started writing in them. One boy was writing down tips and cheats to play Minecraft. Another boy started writing and illustrating a Minecraft themed story.

Going along with the cube/grid theme, I also brought out Connect Four and Chess/Checkers for them to play while they waited. And many of them did. You could also use other cube/grid type games like Scrabble or Boggle.

I also brought two Rubik’s Cubes to do races.

As a side note, in my emergency searching I did find that lots of people make perler bead Minecraft things, but I didn’t have this on hand and didn’t want to purchase. But I also think you could use Shrinky Dinks for this type of an event as well.

For more on Minecraft, check out Heather’s post on what happened when she let her teens lead a Minecraft after hours event.

Geek is the New Black: Low Tech Gaming in the Library

Karen talked earlier about the benefits of electronic gaming in the library; I’m not going to repeat her points- just go HERE.

However, there is a LOT to be said for low tech gaming as well. While some news outlets seem to think that today’s youth can’t be bothered with these types of games, I call bull. Otherwise, why do I have a line for the games at my library, and a ton of tweens and teens asking me to play games with them?

The low tech games (and to be specific I’m talking board and card games) that we have are all donated in one way or another, and are used CONSTANTLY. They fulfill a host of the 40 developmental assets, not to mention get them involved with each other and off a screen. They involve reading, comprehension, math, vocabulary, memory and strategy, all of which help to build on what we want for our tweens and teens.

Not enough? Then check out this TED talk by Stuart Brown:


National Gaming Day @ Your Library is November 16th
So what to do with board games? Well, you can have an open gaming day (I call them Low Tech Gaming Days) and have two or three games set up on tables around the room, and let participants play whatever they want to play. I usually have a movie playing as well so that those who want to be in the room but who don’t want to play can have something to do.

Or, have a day set aside for a specific game. Set up a Monopoly day, or contact the local Chess Club or the American Go foundation and see if they can come out and teach a class or three on the basics of those games. 

Talk to your local comic shop about when they have their set dates for the Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon tournament plays, and then set up “free play” days for those in your area that are interested on days/times that won’t conflict with your comic shop (you don’t want to draw from their customer base). All you need are clean tables, some six-sided (normal) dice, scratch paper, pencils, and a staff person in the room willing to listen. Make it clear there’s no trading cards or playing for cards- that’s all for fun.

What games work in a library setting? Well, what do you have? Currently, these are my top games of interest:



Apples to Apples




Which ones work for you? Share in the comments.
More on Board Games: