Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Picture It: 30 Days of Art Activities, part 1

This year’s Teen Read Week theme is Picture It @ Your Library.  It runs from October 16-22.  But don’t worry, I am here to help you get ready!

The truth is, you can do a wide variety of fun things with this type of a theme.  You can challenge your teens to picture themselves doing almost anything with the help of library materials.  Want to know more about space?  Yep, the library has what you need – just picture it.  Want to hunt dinosaur fossils?  Yep, we have that, too.

It can also be a celebration of art and self-expression.  For the month of September, in order to help you get ready for Teen Read Week, I am sharing a craft a day.  There are a lot of fun things you can do with your teens with this theme for TRW.  Have a craft a day after school as a drop in activity.  Or have 1 large program where teens can choose one or more craft stations to do.  So here is a recap of what I have shared so far on the TLT FB for the first week of September . . .

Day 1 : The exquisite corpse

The exquisite corpse is a great way to create collaborative artwork (it also works for poetry) with your tweens and teens. You can use one large sheet of paper and fold it or use individual sheets of paper. 1 person creates a head, 1 a torso, 1 the legs, etc. You are usually looking at 3 or 4 body parts. No one teen can know what the other is drawing. When you put them all together you get a collaborative creation that can represent the very best that Sci fi and horror has to offer. This is a great way to introduce those genres. Or just do it for fun. You could do it as a group activity or teens could do it on their own and turn their sheets in. There is a lot of flexibility here. They would look great decorating your teen area or scan them in and share them digitally (or do both!)
Very basic info available at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse and more artistic info available at http://www.exquisitecorpse.com/definition/About.html

Day 2: gyotaku, the Japanes art of fish prints

You can take this theme into multicultural territory with a variety of activities, including the Japenes art of fish prints. Although it is traditionally done using real fish, you can use plastic fish. In fact, you can use a wide variety of objects, including fruits and vegetables, shoes, found objects and more. You simply apply ink to one side of the object and gently press it onto paper to get a print image. Then you can embellish as you wish. Pair this with some other multicultural art projects for a great multicultural Picture It program.

Day 3: Infographics

Infographics is a visual way to represent data (great examples at the link above). Have teens create infographics of their reading experience. How many books of each genre have they read? Do they read more fiction or nonfiction? Also, you can use infographics to create a unique yearbook of your life. It can be a year in review or a life in review. Or have them create an infographic of their favorite book: how many times does Edward stalk Bella? Create a visual representation of the 12 Districts in The Hunger Games. How much of your teen collection if paranormal romance? Come on, you know it’s a lot 🙂

Day 4 : The Denim Gadget Case

You can recycle old jeans to make this cool storage case.  Hand sewing will work, no need for a machine.  Not only can you use the case for things like iPods or cell phones, you can use them for pencil cases and more.  Here is a way to expand one pocket into many and make a wall hanging organizer using recycled jeans.  You can do this as a single project or as one choice on a theme day: recycled crafts, sewing crafts, renovate your wardrobe crafts . . . you get the idea.

Day 5 : Book Quotation Celebration

Help teens turn their favorite book quotes into unique pieces of artwork.  Read all about the inspiration for this project and see examples at my original TLT blog post.

Day 6: T-shirts

Here you can learn to make original t-shirt designs using freezer paper and peel and stick sheets.  They can be book related, or not.

Day 7: 52 Reasons Why deck

Take a deck of card and share 52 reasons why you love someone or something.  Very easily adaptable.  Think, 52 reasons I love books, or 52 books I love, or 52 reasons I love Harry Potter (insert book of choice here).

Bonus CraftStar Wars crafts, including the Yoda finger puppet

I shared this earlier, but it is a great way to get Star Wars fans together and share your favorite Sci Fi series.

TPIB: Art Through the Ages

Picture It days 8-14

This year’s Teen Read Week theme is Picture It @ Your Library.  If you read through my previous Teen Programs in a Box posts, you will find a variety of fun craft/picture themed ideas.  And I have already shared one TRW idea called the Book Quotation Celebration.  But I thought I would put a fun twist on the topic and celebrate art itself.  Art has a rich history that begins way back with cave paintings and proceeds through things like pottery, pointillism, cubism, and postmodernism.  I am not an artist, but I am married to a man who was an art major.  Occassionally I have learned something from him.  So in an era where the arts are struggling for school funding and teens are struggling for the time and means to express themselves, I think a celebration of art through the ages would be a great Picture It @ Your Library program.  So jump in your time machine and let’s go back in time . . .

For an awesome Art Through the Ages program, you’ll want to choose several of the crafts below, or find your own (High School Art Lessons is a great resource), and set up a variety of stations.  At each station have a table tent sitting next to an example of the craft with a brief explanation of what historical or artistic time period the activity represents.  Also, be sure and pull a lot of your amazing craft books off the shelves and put them on display in the room where you are working.  Worried about having enough hands to help with the program?  Contact your local HS art teachers and ask for volunteers to help at each station; often they will offer their students extra credit if you agree to sign something stating they were there.  A lot of these activities can be modified for various age levels; you’ll only really need assistants if your audience tends to skew towards the younger teen years.

Cave Paintings
Some of the earliest recordings we have date back to pre-historic times in the form of cave paintings.  Cave paintings usually told stories in hieroglyphics or in pictograms.  You can create your own cave paintings using some very basic (and cheap) supplies.  Either use flattened paper bags from your grocery store or use a roll of brown shipping paper as your back drop.  This will help create a cave wall feeling.  You’ll want to scrunch them up to give them texture.  Have teens create their art work using markers, paints, stamps or whatever works for you.  This is a simple, open ended activity and in the end you can create a cave wall in your teen area decorated by your teens.

The ancient Egyptian art of Hieroglyphics is always a lot of fun.  You can get a variety of fun Egyptian stencil and stamps at Amazon.com.  Buy some air dry clay and have your teens use toothpicks to draw these symbols into clay beads that they make.  Make sure you punch a hole in each bead before you begin working on your project.  Then, simply let dry and string and you have an ancient necklace, charm bracelet or keyring.  (There are also some African design stencils available for the same type of craft).  Many colors can be used in layers to create a multi colored bead, they do not have to be one color.  If you choose to use FIMO or similar clay that must be baked, you can bake these in a toaster oven.

Pottery and Statues
Ancient Greece and Rome are known for their pottery and statues.  You can give teens the opportunity to create their own by using the same air dry clay mentioned above.  To take the theme in a different direction, you could decoupage boxes with old magazine pics of famous statues.  You could also create paper mache’ figures that you later paint, but this is a very time consuming activity.  This is a great way to get community involvement if you know someone in your community who could bring in a pottery wheel and give a demonstration.

Jewelry and adornment is a rich part of most cultures.  You can give teens a wide variety of beads and beading stuff (think necklaces, keychains, head bands, and more) and see what they create.

Murals and Mosaics
Give each teen 1 sheet of plain white paper.  Give them 15 minutes to draw, color, and fill the space.  Then use all the pages together to create a giant mural or mosiac in your teen area or some other area of the library that could use some decoration.

You could also do this with digital photography and give teens specific challenges (say, take a picture of your friends reading their favorite books) and see if they can create a reading collage.  Bonus points if you can use all the pics to make a larger picture of a book.

You can also purchase a variety of mosiac crafts (foam or tile) for the teens to do.  There are things like picture frames and boxes that would work well.  As far as activities go, this can be on the more expensive side.

You can also get individual ceramic tiles and some paint (enamel).  Give each teen a tile and let them design away.  After the tiles dry you can use them to create an amazing mural.  If you know someone with the skills, you can put them together to make cool tables for your teen area as seen here.  You could also frame them and hang them up as a picture.  You’ll want to put a clear coat (it is literally called “clear coat”) over it to protect and preserve it.  It would be great to give it that library twist and have them somehow incorporate their favorite book title or quote in their piece.

Paper Making and Marbling

Here you can find an intricate process to make paper.  There is a 45 minute process outlined here.

An easier way to deal with the history of paper and paper making would be to do some fun paper marbling activities.  The $5 Friday blog outlines and inexpensive way to do this.

Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding.  You probably have a lot of books in your collection to help you with this portion of art history.  There are also some books available on duct tape origami or origami using money.

Stained Glass
Stained glass is an intricate artform that is time consuming but beautiful.  You can make basic stained glass replicas by melting crayong between two pieces of wax paper using the heat of an iron.  You can also use tissue paper to make these stained glass windows.  Or you can kick it up a notch and mod podge layers of tissue paper onto votive holders and make stained glass votives.


Pointillism is a form of art in which a variety of small dots are used to create a larger picture.  George Seurat is one of its most famous practitioners.  You can have teens create their own Pointillism pictures using pencil erasers and water color paints or stamp pads as seen at Get Spotty.

Cubism was made famous in part by Pablo Picasso.  You can use discarded manga and magazines to create Cubism collages as seen here.

Pop Art
Andy Warhol is perhaps one of the most famou pop artists.  And perhaps his most well known works are his representations of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans in various colors.  These are fairly simple to create digitally using photo shop editing tools.  In fact, there are some iPhone apps that do it instantly for you.
Future Art
Wait, you still have some of that clay left over, right?  Make clay aliens to represent the future.  Or have teens use things like tin cans, utensils, etc. to make their own robots.
As seen at Book Clubs 4 Boys http://bookclubs4boys.blogspot.com/
Don’t forget to tap into your local resources.  If you have a college near by with an art department ask the professors for inspiration, they may even be willing to come and do some hands on activities.  The same goes for middle school and high school teachers.  There are a wide variety of art history lessons plans online for you to consult.
You don’t have to do all the time periods in one day, you could have several activities from ancient times one day, medieval another, and so on and do it as a series.  Want a literature tie in?  Make it a book/art club and read a book and do an art project from the time period.  Or since we are talking about one week, Teen Read Week, you could do an after school art project every day for the week.

TPIB: Pageturners! Save my spot!

True confessions of a bad librarian: I never have a bookmark handy.  That’s right, I am one of those people who puts a book down on the stand open to the page I left at.  Apparently that is hard on the spine.  Um, at least I don’t do the dog ear thing . . . right?  But there are a lot of great ways you can make bookmarks and it would make a great tween/teen program.  Do this as a stand alone program with a lot of bookmark options or as part of a book discussion group.  This will help protect those book discussion group books from people like me!
Book Thongs 

Using a variety of beads and thin hemp cord, you can can create book thongs.  Simply put beads on each end of the cord.  Tie off each end so the beads don’t slide off or up and down the length of the cord.  You can watch the YouTube video for directions.  Or here are written instructions.

This is a great craft to do as a bookmark program or as part of a beading program.  Flat ribbon or skinny waxed cord works best.

Monster Bookmark Corners

These are super cute.  And a great way to hold your page.  You could do a bunch of variations on this, too:  Zombify them.  Make robots.

This is a great way to use leftover paper from the craft closet.  I would offer a variety of scrapbooking papers in a wide variety of designs and colors.  Also, buy a couple of different size circle punches to make the eyes and a triangle paper punch for the teeth.  Instructions
Paint Strip Bookmarks 
Ask your local department store for paint example strips.  The genius of the paint strip is that they are already pre-cut to the perfect size and shape.  No cutting paper for you – yeah! You can do a variety of things with these. You can stamp on them (as seen to the right).  But you don’t have to stop there: you can decoupage them, cover them with words or word stickers, and so much more.  Then, punch a hole, add a grommet and some string.  Easy yet a way to promote creativity and self expression.

Paper Clip Bookmarks 

Buy large size
paperclips and a wide variety of foam shapes and stickers.  You can also use a variety of scrapbooking supplies for this project.  You want to use something strong and sturdy for the top so regular paper won’t do.  At a minimum, you can put stickers or decorations on thin pieces of cardboard and glue.  This is a great way to re-use old cereal boxes and turn it into a recycled craft.  You could also have teens make Fimo beads using clay to put at the top.  Or decoupage old Scrabble tiles and glue them on.  Again, the creativity is limitless on this.
Let Teens be the Stars – and the Designers 
Using a digital camera, some software editing tools and a printer – teens can be the star of their own bookmarks.

You can give teens free reign or fun challenges:
All your pictures have to involve nature;
Can you spell out the word READ?;
Highlight your favorite genre or title;
Involve 3 of your friends
You can do this as a series of programs or a one-time event.  Be sure to schedule enough time to take pictures, work with the photo editing software and print.  Or you could do it as an online contest.  Either way, make sure you get digital copies of the bookmarks to save for future use and to share electronically.
Be sure and print the actual bookmarks on a thicker card stock.  Once you print the final bookmarks you will have to cut them to size.  You can leave them as is or again make grommet holes and add string.  Laminate if you have the tools and the desire.  This is also a great way to get bookmarks to share in your library at a less expensive cost.  And teens love to see the stuff they create around the library.
These bookmarks were made using an iPhone and the apps: Hipstamatic, Wordfoto, and Photoshake.  Be sure to check out my previous post on iPhone apps for some great ways to make these bookmarks.
Photo Booth Bookmarks
Also, you can take a series of quick photos and make photo booth looking bookmarks.  Just upload the pictures and place them in your photo editing software and create a border.  There is, of course, a great iPhone app that will do this automatically: Mobile Photo Booth.  This would be a great drop in activity in your teen area.  Designate a time for teens to come in and visit your “photo booth”.  If you can, have some fun paper sheet contests and a prize drawing box set up in the teen area at the same time.  Have teens do their 4 poses in your “photo booth” alone or with friends.  You can print them there or have teens come in at a later time to pick them up.  For Halloween you can have teens come in their costumes or have a variety of thrift store items available and challenge them to come up with a creative costume on the spot for the pictures.  Take pictures of them holding their favorite book!  Don’t limit yourself, this is a great opportunity for creativity.
And just a few more bookmark ideas . . .