Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TLT Turns 10: 10 of My Favorite Programs Shared on TLT

I currently don’t do a lot of library programming, but I have done 1,000s of library programs, many of which I have shared here on TLT. Here’s a little secret for you: I actually share my program ideas and outlines here so I have easy access to them for the future. I repeat programs all the time, because why not. And I’m not the only one who shares programs here. In fact, teen librarian Cindy Shutts shares programs the first and third Wednesday of every month with her regular Cindy Crushes Programming column. So today, I’m going to share 10 of my favorite tween and teen programs that we have shared here on TLT.

The Summer of Shirts

When I do presentations and I have to introduce myself one of the things that I share is that I know more than 22 ways to change, upcycle, or decorate a shirt – because I do! And one summer, I hosted a summer of shirts in my teen makerspace. This proved to be one of the most successful program series I have ever hosted. I have always found that teens like craft programs where they get to be creative and self expressive AND they get to take something home. Shirts are a great take home!

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

I love button making so much, I own my own button maker! Just as I know more than 22 different ways to make a t-shirt, I know tons of ways to make buttons. In fact, I have found that tweens and teens like having specific button making challenges, so when I found the idea of challenge cards, I jumped!

Virtual Escape Rooms (by Cindy Shutts)

In 2020 when libraries closed, everyone had to scramble to figure out how to still engage teens and keep them safe. Cindy Shutts has been sharing her virtual escape rooms here and I love them! She does such a great job. I think that every library should continue to offer some virtual programs when libraries re-open and virtual escape rooms are a great way to do this.

Live Angry Birds (by Heather Booth)

An important part of teen librarianship is knowing what’s hot and figuring out how to turn it into a program. Former TLTer Heather Booth did just that in 2011 when Angry Birds was super popular. After she blogged about it, I did this program several times at my library and it was fun! It was also cheap!

Instagram Scrapbook

One day I really worried that we weren’t doing enough to promote books in our teen makerspace, so we found ways to make them! And with the popularity of Instagram, it wasn’t hard to find resources to make this happen. It took everything we loved – sharpie art, duct tape crafts, and photography – and turned them into something we love even more: books!

Look, We Made a Lego Wall

Several things surprised me when I started using Legos as part of my MakerSpace programming. One, I was stunned to learn how expensive they can be. Two, I was surprised to learn how many tweens and teens had never played with Legos, in part because of revelation #1. I was also surprised to learn how much tweens and teens needed more specific directions when you offered them Legos. This is, in fact, how I found and began the challenge cards I mentioned above with the button making. If you are going to offer Legos, I recommend having daily specific challenges.

Mini Book Charm Bracelets (by Cindy Shutts)

Jewelry making is a great program because you get to take stuff home. And I love how Cindy turned a popular YA series into book themed jewelry. This is such a great craft idea. And yay for books!

DIY Do Not Disturb Door Spinner (by Kara DeCarlo)

Every once in a while, a librarian contacts me and says hey, can I do a guest post about x, y or z. And if we can make it happen, we do. This DIY Do Not Disturb Door Spinner came about because of the pandemic and everyone trying to do Zoom school, but it’s actually great for any time. Teens love privacy and I think it’s a great idea. Don’t want your sibling knocking on your door because you are doing homework, trying to sleep, or whatever? This door spinner is right for you! It would be a great addition to one of my other favorite programs: Renovate Your Room.

DIY Neon Signs

A lot of the program things I have done over the years have been craft related, and as cheap as possible. But this one time, I did something more expensive and high tech and it was super cool! In fact, I made a neon Space sign which still hangs up in Thing 2’s room. That’s pretty awesome.

Get to Know Your Library (Library Boot Camp)

One of the library’s I had the honor of working at had a really well established library program that they hosted every year to get 6th graders into the library and teach them how to use the various resources. It was also a great way to transition the elementary kids to the teen services center. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work and required a lot of staff and a lot of staff time, but it was a pretty great program. The only thing I would change is that if I was doing this program now, I would probably call it something different. I like the program itself, but I’m pretty hesitant personally to promote things around the framework of war, and I say this as the proud military kid of a veteran.

So there you have it, 10 of my favorite programs that we have shared here on TLT. In one way or another, I love something about all of them. And if I was making this list again next year, I might have a different one. But today, this is my Top 10 Programs. What programs have you loved that we have shared here on TLT? We’d love to know, so please share in the comments.

Teen Program in a Box: Nostalgia and Stuffed Animals

Since this week is all about nostalgia and we look back at 10 years of TLT, I thought I would share with you a program outline for a program that taps deep into nostalgia. It begins with a stuffed elephant named Pinkerton.

Pinkerton, in the before times

Pinkerton is a pink stuffed elephant that my dad won for me at a county fair when I was around 7. It has traveled with me for 40 years from state to state and home to home and as you can see, she is well loved. So I recently decided to try and do some Doc McStuffins like rehab for my beloved friend.

Viva Ventina @viva.ventina is a popular Tik Toker who helped rehab stuffed animals. There have been some write ups about her online and she is a popular and great resource of information: https://www.dailyadvent.com/news/bcbc839611a209bf8c85d5f21cffcb66-TikToks-Viva-Valentina-Restores-Stuffed-Animals-and-Childhoods-at-the-Same-Time

There is also a British show called The Repair Shop that you can watch on Netflix that talks about restoring all kinds of family treasures, including on occasion stuffed animals. I thought my kids would hate this show but they both loved it.

So, here’s what I did and then after I walk you through the steps, I will share my program ideas.

Supplies Needed:

  • 1 well loved stuffed animal in need of repair
  • Seam ripper
  • Stuffing
  • DAWN dish washing detergent
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing needle
  • Optional: A wash basin, hair dryer, towels

To begin, we gently ripped a seam out of the back of Pinkerton and removed the stuffing. It was old, gross and disintegrating. You’ll want to have a trash can nearby to throw it directly into.

I then gently washed Pinkerton in the sink using cool water and Dawn dishwashing detergent. I figured if Dawn is good for those oil covered baby ducks, it was probably safe for Pinkerton. I didn’t use a lot. To do this in a library space, I would use a small sink basin prepared with cool water and soap. And if I had the space, I would do it outside.

I then let Pinkerton mostly air dry. At the end I did get impatient and use a blow dryer to finish, but she was mostly dry at that stage.

We then re-stuffed Pinkerton using doll stuffing we bought at the local craft store. We used Polyster stuffing. You can read more about doll stuffing here: https://www.funkyfriendsfactory.com/blog/toy-stuffing/. Because of the sentimental value of Pinkerton to me, I also printed a picture of my dad and I and placed it inside.

We then gently sewed her back up. And Tim wants you to know by we I mean he did. Tim sewed Pinkerton back up for me.

This is what she looked like after all of those steps were completed.

She was firmer and sat up better, and was slightly cleaner. But as you can see, there were still a few problem areas. Over the next few days I would gently brush her out with first a comb and later a gentle brush. This is what she looks like now.

I am so happy to have my Pinkerton back in a huggable form. This memory is so important to me.

But wait, you are thinking: What does this have to do with teen programming? Well, both of my girls and many of my tweens and teens have beloved stuffed animals. And even now, they are sharing some real love, by which I mean wear and tear. So I think this is definitely a program idea that you can do with teens, just walking them through the steps of reviving a beloved stuffie with the help of a famous TikToker.

But you can take this a few steps farther with teens:

You can set up a photo booth and teach them how to take photos of their stuffies. Or them and their favorite stuffies.

You can teach them how to make stop motion pictures using their favorite stuffed animals.

If you want to go a much cooler and more morbid route with old toys, you can do FrankenToys, where you take bits of pieces of old toys and make new ones.

Have a Toy Story marathon in the background while you talk about, share, and revive your favorite childhood toys. The teen years are really interesting, teens are not yet adults and no longer really children, so I have found that they often like to have “nostalgia” like programs that allows them, for just a moment longer, to rest in the safe space of childhood.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Make and Take Crafts Including Dice Bags and Magical Lanterns

Dice Bags

This craft my coworker Linden Galloway came up with. It turned out so well. It was one of the fastest Take and Makes we ever had. My branch had theirs go within a day.

Supplies:

Felt cut into a 10 inches in diameter circle with marks 5/8 inch long each, and it must be 1/4 inch away from the edge. This should be put in the kit like this. The teen will make the cuts themselves.  Total of 24 cuts!

  • 20 inch ribbon use a thinner ribbon to make it thread easily.
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

Instructions for Teens:

All you need is a sharp pair of scissors!

(Fabric scissors preferred)

1. Cut the circle out if not already cut out.

2) Hold the circle in front of you with the lined side facing away from you

3) Fold one edge over slightly so you can see half of one of the lines

4) Snip with the tip of your scissors in the middle of the line, but don’t cut to the edge of the fabric!

5) Unfold, and use the hole you created to cut to the ends of the line

6) Repeat steps 2-5 for all of the lines

7) Take the ribbon and weave it between the holes you created

8) Pull the ends of the ribbon to close your dice bag, tie in a bow, and enjoy! No-Sew Dice Bag

Magical Lanterns

These lanterns were done by my co-worker Faith Healy. We used our cameo Silhouette machine. You could use a cricut machine also. This is an extremely popular craft but does take a lot of prep time to cut all of the patterns. Faith found the patterns she used online.

Supplies:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Cardstock
  • Tea light

Librarian instructions: Find a lantern pattern online and print it out using either the cameo or Cricut machine.

Teen Instructions:

  1. Warning: Be gentle when assembling tissue paper and parts of the lantern are delicate and if you use too much force  it may tear.
  2. Fold along the folding lines. This will make it easier to assemble later.
  3. Use a glue stick (Any glue will do, but glue stick is the easiest and least messy) and glue the back of the lantern.
  4. Trim the tissue paper to the correct size and place the tissue paper firmly on glue side. You may also trim after gluing tissue.
  5. Fold the lantern this time and glue the tabs in place. Place glue on them and press firmly to help stick. There is one side tab and three tabs on the bottom.
  6. Place light in your lantern and Enjoy!

Teen Winter Care Kits

Our teens did not have finals so we gave them winter care kits instead. We included a hot cocoa bag, a candy cane, red and white pipe cleaners to make a pipe cleaner candy and printable snowflake kits. We found the snowflake online. This one does not take much work for the teens but it was a lot of counting and sorting. I did 45 kits. This one you could do with any season like spring you could use paper animal kits like origami, you could do peeps as candy. Find ways to make it fun and find out what your teens want and are interested in it. You could do a kindness rock if you have leftover rock. This is a great take and make to use leftover supplies.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Tile Art

I love doing drafts with tiles. They are super cheap and it is easy to do many projects with them. I get my tiles from Home Depot, Menard’s or Lowes. I purchase the white ceramic tiles. The size depends on the price and type of tile available. I will discuss two of my favorite tile crafts below.

Book Mod Podge Tiles

Supplies

  • Tiles
  • Book cover images
  • Mod Podge
  • Brushes

Steps

  1. Print out and cut book images. If you have old School Library Journal issues that you were going to recycle, they would be perfect for this craft.
  2. Position the images on the tile to see how it will look. You can do one big book cover or many smaller book covers. I love doing many book covers.
  3. Place a layer of Mod Podge under the image and then place another layer on top. Next glue all of the book images at once with another layer of Mod Podge. Then you will want to put a few layers of Mod Podge on top of the whole tile. Be very careful when explaining this step to the teens they will want to us  too much Mod Podge. Gentle layering works best for this project.

Thoughts: I love this craft for Teen Read Week. It is a simple craft and teens can celebrate their favorite books. They can make lovely coasters or a work of art.

Nail Polish Tiles

Supplies

  • Tiles
  • Nail Polish (avoid glitter nail polish)
  • Water
  • Aluminum Half Size Deep Foil Pan
  • Stick

Steps

  1. Pour a layer of water into the foil pan.
  2. Put nail polish in the water. Pour it in gently. Try to swirl it when you put it in the water. Use multiple colors.
  3. Put the tile in the water, but do not submerge it. It should be just deep enough so it hits the nail polish layer that is floating on the top. Pull the tile out quickly and let it dry.
  4. Use your stick to get rid of the extra nail polish in the water so you can keep your pan nice and clean
  5. You can add a little more nail polish by hand if you missed a spot on the tile.

Thoughts: This is a really pretty craft and also super cheap. I did learn, however, that glitter nail polish does not work well on this craft.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

cindy

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

TPiB MakerSpace: Love Your Pets

makerspacelogo1

In our Teen MakerSpace, we have kind of drifted into a model where we have themes to unite our making, which teens can choose to participate in or not. Some teens, we have found, need some type of guidance while others do not. So for the month of February, we wanted to do something that tied into Valentine’s Day but didn’t necessarily emphasize romantic love. Love Your Pets was our February celebration of the love that we have for our pets or favorite animals and it was the unifying theme for all of our making that month in the Teen MakerSpace.

pets1

Now it does happen that the two Teen MakerSpace Assistants and I have pets, dogs to be specific. And of course many of our teens know this because they hear us talk about them. So we included them in our promotional materials. Charm is our family dog, he is a long haired dapple coat Dachsund. He is also, for the record, a great cuddler.

We then set up a variety of stations around The MakerSpace with examples of how they can use those stations to make pet themed items

pets4

Stamps, Stickers, Buttons and More!

We bought a variety of pet themed stamps and stickers which could be used to make a variety of pet crafts, including a wood painted signs, buttons, banners and more.

pets5

DIY Pet Toys

We had a variety of discarded t-shirts which could be braided to make hand-made pet toys.

33 Dog Toys You Can Make From Things Around the House – BarkPost

44 Really Cool Homemade DIY Dog Toys Your Dog Will Love

25 Frugally Fun DIY Dog Toys To Pamper Your Pooch – DIY & Crafts

Perler Beads

Perler beads can be used to make a pet portrait.

DIY Pet Tags

And we bought an etching tool and dog tags for our Silhouette Cameo to make hand-made dog tags. We could even teach you how to make a paracord pet collar to hang that hand-made tag off of.

pets2

A note about etching on the Silhouette Cameo: it took us several attempts to find out what settings to use to get a good etching. There is a tutorial here that is helpful: https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2014/10/engraving-with-silhouette-7-tips-to.html. My biggest tip is that you will want to set up your settings to make as many passes as possible.

In all honesty, I have done a version of this program before with different DIY crafts and as a one-time event. Doing it as a theme in the Teen MakerSpace proved to be a tad bit more ideal in that teens could come and go and work at their own pace instead of trying to finish a variety of crafts in 1 to 2 hours. But it is a great program whatever scenario you choose to set it up as.

TPiB: Rick Riordan “Gods and Heroes” Party by Michelle Biwer

One thing is for sure, the popularity of Rick Riordan’s multiple middle grade series based in various mythologies is only increasing. After the hit Percy Jackson series (Greek myth) that started it all, Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus (Roman myth) and Magnus Chase books (Norse myth) became NYT bestselling hits with tweens and librarians alike.

I created a “Gods and Heroes” party for middle schoolers centered around all of Riordan’s iconic mythological worlds.

When the teens first enter they spun a wheel to get claimed by their godly parent.

Greek Gods: Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hades, Demeter, Athena, Hermes

Norse Gods: Loki, Thor, Freya, Frey, Hel, Ran, Odin, Sol

After they had been claimed I presented them with a claiming certificate and instructed them to complete their demigod training.

 

claiming certificate

 

Demigod Training Stations:

Hephaestus and Blitzen Hardware Construction Station

Hardware jewelry creation (materials needed: washers, nuts, hemp, wire, jump rings, etc..)

Build Thor’s Hammer (materials needed: tissue boxes, paper towel rolls, duct tape)

 

Athena’s Wisdom Test

Rick Riordan Book Trivia

 

athena's wisdom test 1athena's wisdom test 2

 

Ask the Oracle

Teens shook a plastic ball I filled with platitudes/predictions and received their “fate.”

 

Design Your Own Valhalla

Teens designed their own version of Valhalla in Minecraft or with LEGO®.

 

Demigod Quest

Scavenger hunt throughout the library. When they returned I gave them a prize (iron-on Camp Half-Blood patches I received at an ALA conference years back).

 

Hero's Quest

All of the templates I designed in Canva for this program can be found here.

TPiB: Easy Peasy DIY Jack-O-Lanterns

So I got a Silhouette Cameo and I was trying to figure out how to use it, and how to use it with teens, when I stumbled across an easy and fun craft idea. You can do it with or without a Silhouette Cameo, it’s easily adaptable. I made my examples using the Silhouette Cameo.

silhouetteproject1

What You’ll Need:

ornamentpic1

  • Clear plastic craft bulb/ornaments
  • Orange acrylic paint
  • Styrofoam or plastic cups
  • Black markers/stickers/or vinyl if using a Silhouette Cameo
  • OR black paper and a sticker making machine
  • Hemp cord or twine for hanging

Step 1: Painting Your Ornament Orange

You are going to be painting the inside of your ornament, not the outside. Start by saying that before anyone gets all excited and starts painting the outside, not that this has happened to me. Nope, not once.

Take the top off of your ornament and fill it with a few drops of orange paint. You’ll want to roll the ornament around a bit to make sure you completely cover the inside with paint. Place your ornament opening down into a cup to let the excess paint drip out and let it dry. It will dry quicker if you don’t use too much paint, so use paint sparingly.

ornamentpic2

Step 2: Making Your Face

While your ornament is drying, think about what you want you Jack-O-Lantern face to look like. You then need to make your elements, which you can do in several ways.

Paper: Cut out your face elements using a template you download or hand draw. You can use glue or a sticker making machine to turn your paper into stickers and place them onto your dried ornament.

Sihouette Cameo: Download a design or make your own design, cut using Oracal 651 permanent vinyl, and place on your dried ornament.

Getting Creative:

This doesn’t just have to be Jack-O-Lanterns. You can do ghosts, monsters, robots and more. And it doesn’t have to just be Halloween, you can do a variety of animals, for example. You can also do school colors and logos, sports teams, interests and more. Or, better yet, have teens make an ornament that represents their favorite books and see what they come up with. See also, our annual Great Ornament Hack.

TPiB: Ollie Robot Challenges for Teens by Michelle Biwer

tpib

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

TPiB: Superhero Lock-In by Michelle Biwer

tpibThe recent release of the amazing Wonder Woman film was the perfect excuse to host another teen lock-in for two hours on a Friday evening.

With 3 floors of library to work with, there was lots of opportunity to let the teens run around (literally) and utilize all of our meeting rooms for different activities. With 4 staff members and 4 teen volunteers, we had at least one staff member on every floor and had teen volunteers to help lead different activities.

Icebreaker Activity: As we were waiting for all of the teens to arrive, a teen volunteer led a Superhero versus Villains version of the popular party game Mafia. This is a great team building and warmup activity because teense can join in the game as they arrive and the game can be ended at any time.

After the icebreaker activity, the teens were free to go to any of the 5 stations we had set up for the next hour.

Trivia Station: At my last TAB meeting a few teens had made superhero themed Kahoot! Quizzes. Some teens didn’t have phones, in which case we played in “team mode” with library tablets.

Light-Up Captain America Shield: Nothing too techy ever succeeds at my library as a standalone teen program so I’m always looking for ways to bring STEM into my well attended “fun” programs. Instructables has a neat tutorial on how to make sewable circuit superhero badges. I adapted their instructions to use cheaper materials with a similar result. With just conductive thread, felt, and LEDs, the teens sewed a circuit into their superhero badge.

Perler Bead Craft: We printed out some example perler bead creations for teens to follow, but some opted to make their own creations! Of course a librarian was on hand to do all the ironing.
perler beads

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Screening: A low key option for teens who might need a little rest from the excitement.

Scavenger Hunt: Legendary DC and Marvel villains kidnapped various superheroes and hidden them around the library! Teens had to find where the superheroes were hidden based on clues. All teens who completed the scavenger hunt received a prize from one of our summer reading sponsors.

Superhero Themed Escape Room: Once again I turned one of our conference rooms into an escape room. This time groups of 8 or less teens were superheroes trapped in a creepy abandoned warehouse by the Trickster (anyone else watch The Flash?). I do not think my coworkers have ever been so disturbed as they were when they saw the room. That is how I knew it was creepy enough to be a success! The teens had to locate two bomb detonators and turn them off in order to save Central City and themselves. They also had to “escape” the room. For an extra challenge, I gave groups the option to escape the room in the dark, with only blacklight flashlights to help them solve the clues.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 9.47.04 AM

While this after hours program series takes a lot of work to put together, they always get great attendance and the teens always leave asking when the next lock-in will take place!

TPiB: Wonder Woman Amazon Training Academy for Free Comic Book Day, a guest post by Liz Gotauco

This past weekend, Wonder Woman broke box office records – yay! Today we are excited to share a great Wonder Woman themed program from YA librarian Liz Gotauco.

wonderwomanweektraining1

As a comics reader and ardent Wonder Woman fan, I’ve enjoyed hosting Free Comic Book Day events at libraries for the past five years. But despite my devotion to the fandom, I hadn’t yet actually done a program focused on my favorite superhero.  With the first Wonder Woman movie coming out this summer, I knew I had to plan something special to honor Diana.  While I am the Teen Services Coordinator at my library, I wanted to host an activity that would work for a wider age range.  It fit in well with Free Comic Book Day as both Wonder Woman and DC Superhero Girls had titles available to give away. So the Amazon Training Academy was born.

The Amazon Training Academy worked similarly to many themed programs you’ve probably done before, with patrons taking on challenges inspired by Wonder Woman and her stories. Wonder Woman has a 75+ year history so there was a lot to choose from – maybe too much! So I focused on her most iconic characteristics.

Her strength and agility: In a million-dollar world, the Amazon Training Academy would have been like the set of that ‘90s TV Show American Gladiator, but for me I just picked one of those activities – Gladiator Jousting.  If you have a bit of money lying around, you can rent an inflatable jousting unit, with pedestals that competitors stand on and soft jousting sticks to push opponents and a bouncy-house floor.  I didn’t have said pile of money, but Google led me to a version a camp had done with gymnast mats and pool noodles.  Our middle school leant us the mats and I created large jousting sticks with the pool noodles and duct tape.  Shoving your friend with a pool noodle turned out to be a universal amusement. Parents and friends spotted each other and once in a while I had to step in to make sure pairs were evenly matched. But it turned out to be our most popular activity in the Training Academy.

Bullet-proof bracelets Another activity that we all know goes over well is target practice, whether you’re Katniss shooting an arrow or aiming for a zombie’s head with a Nerf Blaster.  Wonder Woman provides a unique spin on this activity with her bullet-proof bracelets. So I borrowed some safety goggles from our maintenance staff, purchased a Nerf blaster with darts, and assembled some goofy oversized silver cuffs out of toilet paper rolls and more duct tape. Pairs stood across the room from each other (to counter-act how fast those darts fly) and the person in cuffs and goggles tried deflecting darts with their wrists.

wonderwomanweekgauntlets

Lasso of Truth For this I created a simple ring toss with gold rope hoops and Wonder Woman colored poles. This activity scaled the youngest but could be adapted for older ages.  If I did a program like this again, I would love to have a local talent come in to teach rope-throwing, but that seemed like it could be its own program and would take more time and space than the passive activities I was looking to run. But what fun that would be!

Wonder Woman Trivia Lastly, patrons could test their own truth-seeking skills with a simple True/False trivia board, sharing some of the interesting history behind Wonder Woman and her creators. My assistant created a colorful presentation board with lift-the-flap questions and answers, and it made for good pastime while patrons waited for the jousting to open up or stood in line for their free comic books.

wonderwomanweekdisplay

Other ideas I had that didn’t make the cut but might work at your library: a twist on “Two Truths and a Lie” for the Lasso/Truth-telling element, an obstacle course with a Greek theme, creating Diana’s accessories at a make-and-take station, bringing in a local fencing instructor (since the movie has popularized the image of her with a sword and shield), teamwork challenges in the spirit of Amazon kinship, or a screening of the Lynda Carter TV show if you’ve got the right license.  Hopefully the new movie will only increase the popularity of Diana and other woman superheroes, so give the Amazon Training Academy a whirl for your next comic book event!

Meet Our Guest Blogger

wonderwomanliz

Liz Gotauco is the Teen Services Coordinator at the Cumberland Public Library in Cumberland, RI.  She has worked in children and teen library services for almost ten years.  Prior to that, she worked with youth in theatre education with the Rhode Island Youth Theatre.  When she’s not at the library, Liz can be found singing with her cover band Overdue!, sewing a new cosplay, baking, or scouting out fashion exhibits at a local museum.  You can find her at Goodreads and on Litsy and Twitter @lizgotauco.