Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Cindy Crushes Programming: Scrape Painting, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Last night I tried a new method of painting I discovered on TikTok. I was excited to show it off to teens. Unfortunately I did not have any teens at the event, we’re still feeling effects of the pandemic, but it was still a fun way to paint and I recommend it for a programming idea. It was cheap because most of the supplies I already had on hand at the library, which is always a bonus.

Supplies 

  • Paint different colors
  • Cardboard cut up
  • Paint pad or a canvas
  • Table clothes (It can get messy)

Steps

  1. Put out table clothes
  2. Put out your paper or canvas
  3. Put small dots of paint on the canvas
  4. Use the edge of the cardboard to scrape the paint (This step can be repeated)

Final Thoughts

This is one craft I know that the teens would have made it look better than my examples. I would love to try this again and hope we can get teens to come. I do think it would work. I just think attendance is hard to get at the moment. 

More on Scrape Painting

https://kidmademodern.com/blogs/posts/scrape-painting-art

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.

Boredom Busters, Brain Builders, and Creativity Connectors for Teens, By Lisa Krok

Like many libraries, we have experienced a scarcity in teens during the pandemic due to different restrictions. As some of these are gradually being lifted, I have been brainstorming ways to keep them engaged as they return. In the before times, we did not have much turnout at planned in-person programs. I suspect this is due to transportation, as the library is not walkable from the local schools. We seemed to get best results in more spontaneous, open-ended programs. If a group came in, we would sometimes throw some popcorn in the microwave, grab some board games and head to  our meeting room that also has a bank of computers off to the side. We have video gaming consoles in there, so between the board/video games and computers, the kids would happily munch their popcorn and hang out. We ended up calling these “Teen Hangouts”.

Pre-pandemic, we had a computer lab with about 20 computers in a relatively tight enclosed space. Obviously that is not a good idea now, so the computers were dispersed in groups of two to four throughout the building. When our library first reopened, we had a small number of computers by appointment on the first floor only. With the teen department being on the third floor, they had no choice but to use those first floor computers, where some adults were sometimes not understanding of their developmental levels, needs, and volume. Something needed to be done to accommodate the teens who were returning and needed to feel welcomed in the midst of restrictions.

Step one was to get some computers placed in a space that was just for teens- obviously the teen department, right? We have designated some computers that have teen priority (during the school day if teens are not there, adults may use). CHECK.

Step two – how to engage these teens so they can just drop in when they are able and have a variety of things to do?

I decided to create a cart that would be like a portable program on wheels that could be used in the teen room or taken to a meeting room to use along with snacks, video gaming, and other activities. I began searching through different types of carts. Typical library book carts from Demco were out, due to flat surfaces and high cost. I wanted something very durable that had tray style shelving so that things wouldn’t slide off. After searching the usual suspects (Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc.), I found just what I was looking for in an unusual place: a restaurant supply store. They had the three shelf, tray style model I wanted in a 36” size to hold an abundance of supplies. It is heavy duty and comes in a variety of colors. The wheels lock so it can stay secure in place or use freely to roll away as a mobile program cart. It was shipped requiring minimal, simple assembly that took less than ten minutes. This is what I chose:

Teen cart

Next step – what goes on it? I wanted a variety of things, and a good stock of art supplies. Fortunately, Target had a great back to school sale with free shipping – BINGO! I ordered what I hope is a year’s supply of crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, glue sticks/glue, tape, pencils, erasers, etc. Some are on the cart, and a stash of refills is in the cabinet for later.

Uno was very very popular in the past with our teens, so I purchased more of that and some other card games. Some are fun just for fun, and some are mind stretchers like Brain Yoga.

I also ordered clear plastic pencil boxes, which I used to store the art supplies and the card games. A labelmaker was a must- I wanted things labeled and easily organized. I know, as much as teens can be neat and organized – I kept it simple with clear boxes and labels. All of the items listed above are on the top shelf for ease in finding and returning. Also – hand sanitizer, of course!

The middle shelf contains handheld games like mini Etch-a-Sketch, Rubik’s cube, and activities like magnetic poetry, and puzzles. The other half of the middle shelf is a funky neon green 4 letter tray. This is dually purposed for both art and writing. There is plain paper, lined paper, blank comic panels, and coloring sheets. Again, everything is clearly labeled to find and return.

The bottom shelf was the easy part – an assortment of board games including classics like chess, dominoes, and Clue to Giant Uno, Star Wars Battleship, and more. We have more games in the cabinet that I plan to swap out periodically to keep things interesting.

With things changing rapidly regarding the pandemic, we will likely keep this cart as a passive-only program for now and not do the spontaneous groups with the video gaming and snacks, etc. added in. When things are safer, we can resume group programs. Because I am a librarian, of course I put the cart next to a book display- if you build it, they will come, right? I found these great posters of authors from a broad spectrum of demographics and printed and laminated them to place on the wall, then pulled books from those authors. I found the posters on The Dimpled Teacher’s website at https://sites.google.com/view/thedimpledteacher/class-decor . She is fabulous about sharing good free materials.

Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the Adult and Teen Services Manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians (ABC-CLIO). She reviews YA for School Library Journal, is a regular blogger for TLT, and her passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. Lisa has served on both the Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s teams. She can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach

Cindy Crushes Programming: The Dog Days of Summer, by Cindy Shutts

One of my favorite events that my Library district, White Oak Library District, puts on is Dog Days of Summer.  It is hosted at our Crest Hill Branch. It is an annual celebration of all things dogs.  We have many pet rescues come and bring their animals to show off. We are so lucky to have seen animals who were adopted one year come back with their pet parents the next year. We are so excited to be back at this year after having to cancel due to the pandemic in 2020. What is great about this program is must of it takes outside.  This event takes place on August 28, 2021 starting at 10:00am. So if you are in the Illinois area please Join us!

I am having our Crest Hill Branch Manager, Amy Byrne here to answer some questions about Dog Days of Summer. She came up with the idea.

How did you come up with the idea for Dog Days?

I can’t claim full credit for our Dog Days of Summer event; I expanded on an idea a colleague at our Lockport Branch had. Since moving to the south Chicago suburbs in 2010, I noticed that there are A LOT of rescues in the area, particularly dog rescues that are home-based foster organizations without one physical location. The Crest Branch Library has a large outdoor space that’s perfect for outdoor gatherings, and it’s a perfect way to bring dogs to the library.

How do you prepare for Dog Days?

There’s a lot of preparation with many moving parts! This year, I started in March by talking with the store manager of PetSmart in Joliet to see if they were interested in being a partner in the event, and in what way PetSmart would be able to partner. As in past years, they’re donating 200 reusable PetSmart shopping totes with goodies inside.

Next, I emailed hundreds of rescues, veterinarians, clinics, small business retailers, services, nationally-known dog brands, etc. to announce the event and secure their space at the event. At this same time, I contacted Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s office to invite him and his League of Extraordinary Canines to open the day, and Deacon Kevin O’Donnell to offer pet blessings to those who want them – both said yes.

Because this is such a large-scale event, representatives for each of our three Branches are Pack Leaders for the different aspects of the event. The Pack Leaders choose staff to work on their committees to generate ideas, and get all of the work amongst their Pack finished. We have monthly Zoom meetings with the Pack Leaders from March through July, and then weekly Zoom meetings leading up to the event, with an in-person final meeting the week of Dog Days of Summer.

What types of rescues and other animal resources come to Dog Day?

All kinds! We have dog rescues that rescue all kinds of animals, some that only rescue dogs, some rescues that focus on a particular breed, size, or age. Additionally, veterinary clinics, specialty services like canine massage, service dogs, comfort dogs, foundations, trainers, and more. You can see who’s coming at http://whiteoaklibrary.org/Dog-Days-of-Summer

Charm, a good boy

What type of activities do you have for dogs that come to Dog Days?

This year, we’ll have an expanded and fun agility course, customizable bandanas you can decorate for your dog, and a yogurt bar with dog-safe toppings. Additionally, there are a series of contests for dogs and their humans, like peanut butter licking competitions, costume contests, and trick contests. We’re also offering a photo booth with fun props for dogs and humans, and you’ll be able to either take your own photos, or buy a print.

What type of activities do you have for the people who come to Dog Day?

In addition to all of the activities above, there will be demonstrations on canine massage, CPR, etiquette for approaching dogs, the dangers of puppy mills, and how hearing assist dogs change the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are also raffles with great items that are donated by brands like Earth Rated, Kong, and FURminator (Spectrum Brands). This year, tickets will be $0.25 each, or five for $1.00, and at the end of the event, we’ll draw the name of one rescue that’s in attendance to receive the money from the raffles.

New this year is a dog food and supply drive that will benefit Wet Nose Food Pantry. Anyone can drop off items, including gift cards, cash, or checks, to any of the three White Oak Library District Branches through August 31st.

For more pet centered programming, check out this previous TLT post:

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: Making Silhouettes with Faith Healy, by Cindy Shutts

Today I am here to share with you a fantastic program idea with my coworker, Faith Healy. Faith made beautiful fandom silhouette crafts and she is here to walk us through what that process looks like.

A silhouette is basically an outline or shape of an object or person filled in with a solid color, which is often black but does not have to be. Silhouettes work best for a recognizable shape, object or person.

A Completed Silhouette Craft

One great way to do an easy and appealing craft kit is to do Fandom Silhouettes. This is a simple craft to do for any teen.

Supplies

  • 4×4 Canvas ($9 for set of 24 I got 2)
  • Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow Paint ($1.99 per bottle) – I used washable paint for parents sake since it is easy to wash off if it gets on clothes or anything. One drawback is that the paint went on much lighter to the canvas but you can layer it for a darker color and just have to wait between coats for it to dry than add more paint. I made 48 kits and only used half of each bottle.
  • Container for Paint ($9 for a set of 100)
  • Vinyl Sheets ($1 per 12×12 sheet, I used 12 sheets)
  • Precut silhouettes made with a Silhouette Cameo or Cricut – this is a preparation step you do before the initial program

Putting the Kits Together

For the fandom kits I gave teens six options to do, five different ones for each color. We did keep one fandom silhouette consistent across the board and that is the Among Us Silhouette.

I tried to keep from the same fandoms for each kit. I made sure each kit had a Disney silhouette, Star Wars Silhouettes, Pokemon, Video Games, and Sponge Bob while picking different characters that correspond to the different paint colors. Those are pretty popular fandoms for my teens, but you can always switch it up.

I made and cut out each of the stickers on vinyl. I made them about 1.5 in x 1.5 in which fits perfectly for a 4×4 canvas. I used the Silhouette Studio and the Silhouette Cameo Cutter to make them. I simply search for a silhouette of the image I want then in the Silhouette Studio I trace that image to make the cut design.

This can be done on any cutting software. I just happen to work in a library with the Silhouette Cameo Cutter and am familiar with using it. It did take me about four hours to finish all the cutting so it is a bit time consuming, but the results speak for themselves. This kit only lasted two days at my branch before they were all gone.

I had made 16 for each of the three branches in my library district. 4 of each color. I created instructions and color coded them as well as included the silhouette options. This was helpful in picking out which color they wanted. I found cute white gift bags at my local craft store that were perfect for making the colors pop.

The kit can be done one of two ways. You can paint the canvas, let it dry than place the vinyl sticker on it. This is the most simple way and might appeal to teens who want it done faster.

The second way is placing the sticker and painting around it. I did have some issues with this method in that if you glop the paint on too thick it bleeds under the vinyl sticker (You can see this in the example photo of Cinderella Silhouette.)

You can also have fun with this craft in how you apply the paint. The paint I used tended to leave paint strokes so I had fun in changing my direction, dabbing, using different methods that created different results. Using something like a sponge would leave an awesome texture on the canvas. 

Red: Charmander, Kylo Ren, Mario, Mr. Krabs, Mulan, Among Us

Blue: Squirtle, Stitch, R2D2, Squidward, Cinderella  Among Us

Green: Bulbasaur ,Baby Yoda, Peter Pan, Tiana, Yoshi Among Us

Yellow: Pikachu, Hamilton, Spongebob, C3P0, Belle, Among Us

Here are some other silhouette ideas and walk throughs for you:

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through turning your own photo into a silhouette using the open source (which means free!) online GIMP program

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through using the Silhouette App on a smart device to create your silhouette. There are several photo apps that you can use to create silhouettes.

These silhouettes were made using the Silhouette app. The one on the right is then blended with a space background using the Fused app. Because this graphic is from a different post it was made blue, but black silhouettes often make the most striking contrast.

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through creating a silhouette using the Silhouette Cameo machine

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: Programming by Themes, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Want a hot tip about planning, organizing and promoting programming for teens? I like to take a themed approach, which was my approach even before the pandemic. I would find a theme that appealed to my teens and program around it. In the past, I have done themes such as My Little Pony, Divergent, Hunger Games, Superheroes, Anime, Mythology and so many more. Having a place to start when talking about programming is so helpful, and themes work really well.

When we first started doing pandemic programs, we were honestly just trying to see what worked. If we could find anything that encouraged our teens to use our services virtually or for take and makes we would do it. We learned a lot about the teens we worked with during this just trying anything. We could not do the educational programs that we used to sprinkle in. They did not want it. School was too much. We had to remember that right now a lot of what everyone is trying to do is survive. So we decided to focus all of our programs on fun things. We started to go back to what had worked in the past: themes.

We knew Animal Crossing was popular, so we did multiple Animals Crossing crafts. This was the beginning of the themes coming back for us.

Last month our theme was Dungeons and Dragons. We had the craft, the dice bags created by Linden Galloway. I ran my first campaign on roll20 for the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. I also created a Dungeon and Dragons themed escape room. Here is a link to my escape room. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfKSs-dVCAGiCHR8zBu3y9ubiQiGC3VGt2o8rLbbKQ-cNTVPA/viewform?usp=sf_link

We are now planning our themes out. February is space. We are doing two Among Us sessions, One Among Us escape room using google forms, and an Among Us handwarmer craft we are borrowing from another library, Star Wars trivia, and origami.

Yes, some things do not fit in our themes, like My Woodchuck Revolution escape room that is coming out at the end of February. But I think doing themes makes life easier for us. We always do a craft, a trivia session and an escape room using the theme. These programs are the ones we know work well for our patrons.

As someone who does regular programming, themes make my life easier. I can find out what teens like and plan around them. I am curious what other libraries are doing during the pandemic. Are you using themes or are you just doing a similar schedule of programs that you did in the before times? What themes are popular at your library?

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: 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: DIY Silhouette Framed Art

Today for Cindy Crushes Programming librarian Cindy Shutts walks us through a quick, easy craft that turns silhouettes into art.

DIY Silhouettes Frames

Supplies:

  • Photo Frames
  • Glitter Glue, light colors
  • Background Paper: I used Handmade Modern Luxe Paper Pad that I got at Target. You could use scrapbook paper.
  • Silhouettes: I use the Silhouette Cameo Machine, but you could make them yourselves. For more information on creating silhouettes, please see Step 1.

Step 1: Make Your Silhouette

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through turning your own photo into a silhouette using the open source (which means free!) online GIMP program. Using this method you would print your silhouette off on regular printer paper and then cut it out by hand.

These various items were made using the GIMP silhouette tutorial above

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through using the Silhouette App on a smart device to create your silhouette. There are several photo apps that you can use to create silhouettes. Once you have created your silhouette using this method, you will print it out using your printer and then cut it out by hand. With this method you will need a way to print from a smart device to a printer.

These silhouettes were made using the Silhouette app. The one on the right is then blended with a space background using the Fused app. Because this graphic is from a different post it was made blue, but black silhouettes often make the most striking contrast.

Here’s a tutorial that walks you through creating a silhouette using the Silhouette Cameo machine. This method provides for better cutting lines as you are having the machine do the cutting for you. You can also find for free or purchase a variety of SVG silhouette graphics online if you don’t want to make the silhouette yourself. This is the method that I used. If you have access to a Silhouette Cameo, this is the quickest and easiest way to make a silhouette. You can even pre-make some popular silhouettes and have them already cut out and ready to use.

Step 2: Frame Your Silhouette

  • Open the picture frame and remove the back.
  • Take your scrapbook paper and trace the back of the frame on it. Make sure to trace it on the back of the paper. I cut it a tiny bit over the line. This will be your background.
  • Cut out the paper in the shape of the back of the frame.
  • Glue the silhouette image on the paper toward the middle.
  • Cover the paper and image with light colored glitter glue.
  • Please let it dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Glue the paper to the back of the frame.
  • After everything is dry, place the back of the frame back into the frame.

Final Thoughts: This was a relatively easy craft. Everyone loved it and wanted to do a second frame. I highly recommend it because it is easy and really attractive.

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Harry Potter Book of Monsters

Harry Potter is a series that continues to be popular as new tween and teen readers discover it every day. In celebration of all things Harry Potter, Cindy Shutts recently hosted a program with her teens and taught them how they can create their own book of monsters. The steps are outlined below.

Supplies

  • Hot glue and gun
  • Fake fur
  • Large googly eyes
  • Red felt
  • White felt
  •  Composition notebooks

Step One: Measure the composition notebook.

Step Two: Cut and measure the fur a little bit larger than the notebook. This allows there to be a little overlap and gives a better effect. Excess can be trimmed off.

Step Three: Hot glue the fur on the notebook. Start at one end and press the fur down as you glue. This ensures that the glue does not dry before you have a chance to attach the fur.

Step Four: Cut sharp looking teeth out from the white felt. It looks better if you do it free hand rather than tracing it because the trace marks often show. Hot glue the teeth on the inside cover of the notebook.

Step Five: Cut a tongue out of the red felt and hot glue it on the inside cover of the notebook.

Step Six: Hot glue the googly eyes on the felt so it looks like a monster.

Step Seven: Let dry then enjoy your book of monsters.

Finals Thoughts: This was a very enjoyable craft. I had been avoiding it because of the costs, but I saw a picture online that looked easier and cheaper. I used a 40% off coupon on the fur. The fur is the most expensive part of this program. Use a coupon if you can! There are more difficult versions that cost more money to make, but this one was perfect for us. The teens loved it and wanted to do it again.

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.

DIY Neon Signs, Part 2

After figuring out how to make DIY Neon Signs (see the initial posts and instructions here), I recently hosted a Teen Makerspace night where we put the program outline into practice. As you may recall, the first DIY Neon Sign The Teen and I made did not have a background and it was just kind of a wire word, and although it works and is up in Thing 2’s room, we just felt it needed a little something something. So we modified our plans and added a wooden background, which helps it hold its shape better and gives it a bit of stability that it was missing.

I have a carpenter friend who helps me with the Teen MakerSpace programs and he came with pre-cut wood, nails, hammers and wire cutters to help with background. You will recall the other supplies you need are EL wire and batteries. In the neon sign we made with no background, we originally attached the EL lights to wire using zip ties to help it hold its shape. With a background, this step proved unnecessary.

So here’s what we did.

Step 1: Write your word on a piece of paper in cursive writing. You need one continuous word for the project to be successful and it’s simply easier. The Teen provided the excellent penmanship here.

Step 2: Following the outline of the word, hammer nails into your board along the shape of the word to hold the EL wire in place. Think of it as doing string art, but with EL wire instead of string.

Step 3: You will then wrap the wire around the nails to create the word in EL wire.

The trick is to use enough nails and get the placement right to hold it all in place. If you would like, you can use glue like e600 glue to adhere the wire to the wooden background. We wrapped the remaining wire and power source around the back and held it in place with zip ties and nails. You then just tear out all the background paper and you have a pretty awesome neon sign.

This is a pretty cool project and we all really liked the final results. There is a part of me that wishes I would have pre-painted the background wood white or black, but the natural wood color is attractive as well. The big thing is that the tweens and teens in attendance all thought this was really cool.