Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

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.

Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Riverdale Fan Party

Today as part of Cindy Crushes Programming, Cindy is continuing her series of Riverdale themed programs that she recently hosted with her teens. Since beginning this series, actor Luke Perry suddenly passed away and we want to offer our heartfelt sympathies to the cast and his friends and family.

My library had a month of teen programming based on the popular television show Riverdale. I had an escape room, which I outline here, and a fan art night. On fan art night I made fan collages and gave my teens coloring sheets. Teens are very into coloring.

riverdale1There are a few Riverdale DIY craft ideas and coloring sheets on this Pinterest board

I had one more Riverdale event: a Riverdale fan party.

I was a little nervous wondering if I had used up all my Riverdale ideas already. What could I do to make it more interesting? Honestly, I was freaking out a bit.

I knew I was going to do Riverdale trivia because my teens love trivia. I used the same Jeopardy style PowerPoint many have used in the past. My categories were Actors, Episodes, Characters, Music and Serpents.  This was one of my most competitive trivia events I have ever held. Everyone was prepared and this shows how much the teens truly love the show.

Some Riverdale Trivia Sources: https://www.sporcle.com/games/tags/riverdale ; https://www.popbuzz.com/tv-film/quizzes/riverdale-trivia-quiz/ ; https://quizizz.com/admin/quiz/5bafa75eba102200190795f2/riverdale-trivia

ukcrest

My next competition was making a city crest for Riverdale. I explained how towns and families often have crests I even pulled up the Shutts family crest to show them an example of one. I talked about how the British crest has a unicorn which is the national animal of Scotland. The teens were very interested. They were very competitive about making their crests and asked often for more time because they were taking it so seriously. I loved the wining one so much. It had a serpent, a bottle of maple syrup, and the high school symbol on it. They used various elements of the show to tell the story of Riverdale.

DIY Coat of Arms

The last contest was a fan fiction challenge. I gave then all a prompt and told them to write a story from where the prompt left off. The prompt I used was, “Jughead walks into Riverdale High one Sunday morning and finds the principal dead.” I did have to explain what fan fiction was to teens who did not know. I explained that they were writing a story inside the Riverdale universe using the characters and the places in the show.  They all worked really hard and it was nice for them to get to use their creative writing skills. It was an enjoyable night

P.S. I had already taken my Riverdale display down when I heard about the tragic death of Luke Perry. I had watched the first two seasons and really enjoyed seeing him play Fred Andrews. He was an amazing television dad. I am sending love to all of his friends and family.

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: 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: Escape Room The Game, a review

escaperoom

Today’s Teen Program in a Box literally came in a box – that I bought at the store. This weekend my family, friends and I gathered together to play this Escape Room game so that I can see if it would work well as a teen program at the library. The short answer is: no.

The longer answer. . .

Escape Room the Game has four Escape Room scenarios inside for you to play and I purchased mine for around $35.00. My family thought it was a really high price to pay for a game, but those of us who do teen programming know that this is not a high price to pay for a teen program. Scratch that, it’s not a high price to pay for a successful teen program. This would not, I believe, make a successful teen program. Not the idea of an escape room, that I think the teens would love. I just think that this game would not translate into a successful teen program.

The first escape room scenario is titled Prison Break and you are asked to break out of prison. The game comes with a timer in which you must insert a series of 4 keys in the proper sequence if you want to break the code. Each scenario has 3 challenges within, so you have to insert the correct sequence of codes in 3 times if you want to escape.

Readers, we did not escape. As I write this I am still theoretically stuck in prison somewhere. Please send me a cake with a file in it. I am not cut out for prison life.

The biggest flaw with this game is that many of the items and clues are literally too small and difficult to read. It doesn’t come with a magnifying glass, but you’ll want to have one on hand. Our youngest player was 11 and our oldest was in their 60s, all agreed that parts of the clues were virtually unreadable.

Also, it’s not an escape room in the truest sense of the word. It is, quite literally, a board game. Now I do think if you wanted to go all out you could adapt it to a more traditional escape room, but you would have to play each scenario first in order to figure out how to adapt and set up your space to make it into a live play escape room as opposed to a board game.

But good luck reading the clues. Did I mention they are really small and hard to read? Yeah, I can not emphasize this enough.

This game has timed hints that you can reveal as you play the game. This turned out to be imperative for us because the clues were not as intuitive as I think the game makers thought they might be. At some point, the hint cards actually gives you the answers. They literally give you the answers, and we still failed to solve the game puzzles because we couldn’t read the game pieces themselves.

Here’s How it Works

escaperoom2

Each game scenario is played in 3 parts. You open the envelope for part 1 and try to find the first sequence of keys to place in the decoder. If you are correct, it makes a happy sound and you know that you can go to part 2. If incorrect, it cusses you out in buzzer form and you lose a couple of minutes off of your time.

We got the first sequence of keys correct all by ourselves, but upon reading the answers in a walkthrough (I talk more about this below), it turns out we got the correct answer for the wrong reason. Basically, we got lucky. I shall now hang my head in shame.

You then proceed to part 2. Part 2 was a floor layout of a prison cell. It was chock full of clues that, you guessed it, we literally couldn’t see to read. They also involved math. I’m not opposed to math, but math when you can’t see what you’re supposed to be mathing is somewhat more difficult. Once you get the correct sequence of keys here – and we did but only because the final hint card for this round basically told us the answer – you can proceed to part 3 of the game.

Here you get a smaller picture of a laundry room in a prison. Once you understand the clues for this part, they certainly make more sense then everything that happened in part 2.

The time clock is called a Chrono Decoder by the way and it has some ciphers on the side which are helpful in playing the game. This review, which I found after playing the game as I was looking for a walk through to explain what had just happened, mentions what types of ciphers they are. The official page of the game actually has a really good walkthrough which I consulted after playing to explain what had happened. After playing it the information as explained in the walk through all makes sense, but I don’t know that we would have figured it all out on our own. The hint cards were completely necessary for us. Also, you’ll notice in the review I just shared that they also mention how small and difficult to read many of the clues were. It’s a real thing.

Although I have only seen this one in stores near me, there are apparently a few other escape room board games that you can try:

3 Best Escape Room Board Games of 2017

I do not recommend doing this board game, at home or as a library program. It didn’t give us the experience we were hoping to have, it was fairly inaccessible, and it was ultimately disappointing. But fear not, our own Heather Booth has already written about successfully hosting an Escape Room with teens in the library and you can find that information here:

TPiB: Locked in the Library!

Give this game a hard pass and do what Heather did. That’s my best advice to you.