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Cindy Crushes Programming: Fandom Passports, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Since the Pandemic has limited travel in a lot of ways, I have found myself exploring the world with Fandoms. I have been reading and visiting multiple and new worlds this way. I decided to make a fun twist on the travel passport by creating a fandom passport where the teens could talk about all the worlds they have visited for their favorite fandoms. It’s a great way to be creative and celebrate the things you love while creating a momento to look back on some day and remember who you were and what you loved at this stage of your life.

Cost: $ 40 but it could be cheaper if you already had some of the supplies.

Supplies

1. Notebook

2. Paper with images from different fandoms

I had some pre-printed (Pride and Prejudice, Grishaverse, Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, Among Us,  Percy Jackon, Lord of the Rings, She-ra, Various disney and Marvel, Animal Crossing, Star Wars, My Hero Academia, Sailor Moon and more) I tried to add as many maps and travel posters as I could find for my printouts

3. Some Washi Tape

4. Pen(s)

5. Glue sticks

If available: I also had extra fandom stickers that I put out

Instructions for patrons

1. Cut out the images from the paper.

2. Write out the word Fandom Passport in front. You can also use letters cut out from a magazine.

3. Place images where you want them. I like to have pages devoted to different fandoms.

4.  Place washi tape where you want it. This passport is yours so decorate and create however you envision it.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed doing this craft so I got into the spirit and got more washi tape for myself. It was super fun. One tip is to use a glue stick and not a lot of glue because you do not want your page of the passport to get super damp. The teens really liked it and were still working on it after the end time so I let them stay. I had this be an hour craft but it could be 1 ½ hours. You can also make it a Take and Make. I just put the washi tape in stripes on the paper and that worked. I did 30 craft kits as well as the in person craft.

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: Among Us in Real Life, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Today I have Faith Healy with me again talking about our in person live Among us Program.

Among Us in Real Life

With the game Among us springing into popularity especially with teens, we have tried several approaches to incorporating the game into our teen  programming. During the summer when we just had virtual programming we tried multiple game nights of Among Us to varying success getting 5-10 teens at some, and just one teen at others.

When we finally were able to start planning in-person programming we talked about having a special after hours program that we used to do for teens pre-covid. We decided to take a chance since Among Us was going a little out of style to play Among Us in real life.

So Among Us for those who don’t know is like a mafia style video game (The party game Mafia or some might know it as werewolf). TLTer Karen Jensen and her Tween take you through a walk through of Among Us in this past post.

You have a group of crewmates who are aboard a spaceship, but unbeknownst to them so are two imposters. The imposters try to kill the crewmates while crewmates try to either figure out who the imposter is or finish all their tasks before the impostors kill everyone.

It is simple enough to take the concept and apply it to the real world. You just need a system to apply roles, tasks for crewmates to complete, and a method for killing without actually killing anyone.

Creating Tasks

So in order to create tasks, I first found a blueprint map of my library. I erased, by using the paint program, all the unnecessary items like where bookshelves are located and other information to make it look super basic. I also got rid of areas I knew we would not allow teens to be and put red Xs in areas that I couldn’t erase without making the map look strange. I then label each section. You want to do this first, because knowing the layout will help you come up with tasks. I’m lucky that my library is just one floor. Depending how big your library is I would limit it to one floor unless you have enough staff to man each section. I used labels from the Among Us game for each section. I did not use all the labels in the Among Us game as we only have so much space. I also set one section aside to be an airlock. In the Among Us game, dead crewmates, and crewmates who are voted out are sent to the airlock. I used the airlock so those players could hangout somewhere while the game went on. (We realized halfway through the event we needed to place games of other materials to keep dead players from being bored as some rounds went on for a very long time)

After labeling my locations it was time to decide on tasks.

I did find this website that had a free downloadable PDF with tasks available on it, but I only used a few as I couldn’t figure out how to make some of the suggestions work. (see link below)

You want the tasks to be easy but tedious and requiring some focus so impostors can kill crewmates who are too focused on tasks. You can also do multiple tasks to make more depending on how many people you have signed up.

Check it out here: https://theholdernessfamily.com/among-us-in-real-life-free-download/#:~:text=Starting%20the%20Game,no%20talking%20during%20the%20game.

MedBay:

So in the game, your character MedBay scans by hopping on a machine. My library happens to have a scan station so I decided to incorporate that as a Medbay scan. We also have a button machine, so I made among us figure buttons for all teens. I did two of each color to prevent any arguments over colors. I had teens scan the buttons in the scanner to be medbay scan. It taught them how to use a library device and had fun during the game. Plus they loved that they got to keep the buttons. If you don’t have a scanner you can always take a hula hoop and make the teens spin around in it to be similar to the game.

Reactor:

So this one I took from the PDF. I cut out and laminated pieces of a memory game for teens to do to activate the reactor. Teens absolutely hated this task. But it leads to the game being more fun. It is very similar to the Simon Says Task in the game which makes it perfect.

Wires:

So in the Among Us game, people connect wires in each location so I applied the same to my game. To make wires, I again went to the Among Us in Real Life PDF. It has a section called fix wires. I laminated it and instead of cutting all the holes, I cut fun patterns and used yarn to be my wires. Some teens like wires, some teens hated them, but it was an easy and inexpensive task I could have at each location.

Download

So in the Among Us Game, you go to different locations to download info and other locations to upload. I wanted something like that, but to make it book related. So what I did was make every location that had a service desk, have a list of books that just so happen to be on my weeding list. Whenever teens had that task they had to go to the desk to get a book title and retrieve the book and upload it to the meeting room. This gave the task multiple steps and me some help with weeding. It also forced teens to go into teen room to find books.

Connect Shields:

So the PDF mentioned above had a shield puzzle which was good, but instead of cutting something out, I had a cool YA book puzzle. So I decided to make them connect four puzzle pieces to activate shields, another one that teens were not so fond of, but they did it.

Asteroids:

This was the most popular with teens. I only made two of this task, but if I do this again, I would make more. I printed out asteroids in the free PDF, laminated them, cut them out, and taped them on plastic cups that I then arranged in a tower. We had nerf guns that teens used to shoot the asteroids. I made it part of the task that teens had to pick up nerf bullets and restack tower. Teens were really great at clean up.

Garbage:

So in the game, you had to pick up garbage so we did the same here. You can do it in multiple locations, we just crumbled up a few pieces of scrap paper on tables in certain locations and laid  plastic bag nearby. Teens had to pick up the papers  and carry it to a box that we labeled the trash compactor in the meeting room.

Fill Up Gas:

So in the game, you are on a ship that needs to be gassed up. So I labeled two bowls upper and lower engine thus placed them in the engine room. I placed a box of beads in another location with a cup. So teens had to go to fill up the cup with beads, place it in “engines.” I was going to use water, but worried about spilling so I used beads since I had so many of them. You can use anything as your fuel, you just want different locations to force teens to go somewhere else

Navigation:

So in the game there is a fun little simple maze game where you chart your course. I was looking for one of those little mini maze games to use for that, but I couldn’t find any. So I built my own simple maze out of cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue and had teens use a ball and roll it through the maze. This was another popular activity.

Leaves

In the game, there is a fun task, or at least fun to me, where you have to get leaves out a filter. I replicated this task using a clear plastic bag, green beads and duct tape. I taped a section of the bag to be the area the teens needed to get the green “leaves” to. I sealed the bag with as little air as possible with duct tape so teen had to press hard to move the leaves to that section. 

Calibrate Electrical

So this is a task I designed all my own. I just printed out 12 copies color wheel, labeled different sections of each wheel with 1-6, cut out cardstock circles to fit over color wheel, while cutting a slice from each circle. I then connected the circles with a pin back so when you move the cardstock portion it showed a different part of the color wheel. I made 12 of these and taped them to bookshelves. Teen had to move the circle to locate numbers 1-6, but had to do it in order. This took parts of the electrical calibrator task from the game along with the switch task, to make a fun, but semi annoying task that teens like. They liked moving the circles. 

Clean Vent

So We have a room in my library that is sort like a tunnel that I assigned to be label as a vent, in which only imposters can vent. It does have windows so crewmates can catch an imposter venting. I wanted to add to the chaos thus have a task where crewmates go into the vent. To clean the vent, crewmates just walk through, but if spotted others might think they are the imposter. 

Realign Ship

So in the game, you have to realign the ship or engines. I couldn’t find a good way to replicate it, but as I mention we have a button machine that looks like a cool lever so I decided to realign the ship all the teens had to do was switch the lever. Yes, I could have made another lever, or used something else, but I was short on time and teens liked it. Plus no harm came to the machine.

Assigning Roles

So I printed out and laminated sheets of paper that had crewmate and imposter on them. I stuffed them into envelopes that we cut in half. To view, teens peeked inside, saw their role and placed the envelope bag. 

The Rules: 

 These are rules I designed to make the came work smoothly. 

  • No running! Non-negotiable. If you are told more than once, sorry you died and will wait it out in the airlock.
    • No access to forbidden areas. On the map areas with Red X’s are forbidden. Non-negotiable
    •  Playing Among Us
      • Players with take roles. Look at role card and place back. No one is to reveal their role.
      • When prompted by the captain, players will shut eyes and imposter will reveal self to the captain to receive first kill card.
        •   When you are an imposter you kill players by handing them a card. First one will be given when revealed once roll assigned.
        •   Imposter may pick up additional kill cards from the desks allowing for a kill cool down. Use word Library Card to indicate need for kill card.
        •   Imposter is unable to kill without a kill card.
        •   Imposter may complete tasks except imposters are unable to do Medbay Scan.
        •   Imposter may sabotage the reactor forcing crewmates to go to reactor to disengage it. Simply approach a desk and say: Sabotage.  Two crewmates must disengage reactor.
      • Crewmate
        •  Finish all the tasks or figure out who the imposter is
        •   Once discovering a dead body, crewmate may report by going to any desk area and asking staff to report a dead body
        • Staff will announce over intercom: Dead body found in location please report to meeting room.
        •   All players have one emergency button. They may report to any desk and ask a staff member to request an emergency meeting.
        •   If you are killed you must sit down. if you wish you may lie down, but you have to indicate you are dead without any noise. You may not reveal to anyone who killed you.
        • Once a body is reported Crewmate will report to airlock where they will remain for the rest of the game.
        • Once Body is reported discussion and vote will happen. If taking too long, Captain will impose a time limit.
        •  Voted Crewmate will go into the airlock (Meeting Room C) to wait for the rest of the game 
        •  Game continues until only imposter and one player is left.
  •   Captain and crew will reset games pieces and we will play another game
  • Captain can include the mod of Sheriff. Sheriff gets one kill to try and kill the imposter. 

Impostor Role

For the impostor, there were multiple ways I found that people used to kill. I decided to use a method of a kill card. I printed and laminated a pile of dead among us bodies to use as kill cards. I made it so the impostor had to pick up the cards from the staff to mimic the effect of having a kill count down like in the game to give crewmates a chance.  Once given a kill card, crewmates could lie down or sit down, but they had to raise the card above their head and they could not make any noise. 

Kill Card

I also allowed the sabotage of reactor. I printed out two images of the hand scanners and laminated them, attaching them to the wall with tape. Imposters could go to the staff at desk and say sabotage to activate the reactor. Two crewmates were needed to place hands on scanners to deactivate. We did not want to allow lights just in case, but that is an added element you might want to consider. 

Execution:

So I spent 2 hours setting up and had 6 staff agree to help with this after hours event. I placed the tasks, labeled the rooms, and printed enough maps for all the teens. Some teens used the maps and realy liked them, others abandoned the map right away.  We had tasks taped to a white board with a side that said need to complete and another side to put when finished. Teens would take their tasks from the board and once complete put it on the finished side. 

Since in real life, imposters can’t really fake tasks, I had it so imposters can do all tasks except for Medbay. Each staff member manned a desk so they could use our intercom system to report dead bodies, emergency meetings, and sabotages. If you don’t have an intercom system, I recommend walkie talkies, or someone with a loud voice.  I had one staff member stay in airlock to supervise the eventual dead bodies, and had another one walking around, and I stayed in the meeting room with tasks so I can manage meetings and answer questions.

Once teens arrived, I took them on a ship tour to explain where all locations were, which task were where, how to complete the tasks, and ask any questions.

We then assigned roles and played our first game.

Things I Would Change:

We had 11 teens signed up and 15 teens attended. That is better attendance than we have seen at any of our programs. I started out with two imposters, and crewmates won with a task win really fast. I had 44 tasks and they completed them fast. I upped the impostorS to 4 and it was much more fun, but crewmates still won by voting out impostors.  I would have started with 3-4 if you have a big group to make it fun. 

Also to add more fun, I added a mod called sheriff. I really love to watch streamers play games, and some talented gamers modified Among Us to add fun roles  like Sheriff, Medic, Joker. I decided to add a Sheriff Role. The Sheriff Role got one shot and would try to kill an impostor, but if selected a crewmate to kill they also die. I ended adding 2 sheriffs and it was really fun. Next time I would add more mods like the medic who can bring people back to life, joker tries to get voted out and they win. You could probably come up with some and add some more roles. This is helpful as we ended up only playing 4 games and some teens were disappointed to be crewmate everytime. So adding new roles will only enhance playing. 

Other than that it worked out really well and I would recommend it. It was a lot of work though. I was running around for two weeks trying to get everything ready, but luckily I got to rope a few coworkers into helping me finish stuff. 

If you have any questions about Among Us in Real Life feel free to email me at fhealy@whiteoaklib.org.

https://theholdernessfamily.com/among-us-in-real-life-free-download/#:~:text=Starting%20the%20Game,no%20talking%20during%20the%20game.

Among Us seems to be having a bit of a resurgence right now, so it’s definitely a good time to give this a try.

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: Fandom News You Can Use for Upcoming Programs, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

I love fandom programming. I find fandoms to be a great source of programming inspiration and it is always so much fun to have a theme. It can make marketing easier as well! Here are three popular fandoms with upcoming releases that would make great springboards for upcoming tween or teen programs. A word of caution regarding fandom programming: you always want to be mindful of copyright issues. Having said that, creating things inspired by and in the spirit of your favorite fandoms is a great way to enjoy that fandom while engaging in self expression, problem solving, and creative thinking. Fandoms are fun!

Animal Crossing

This fandom has slowed down but a huge expansion pack is being released this week and this is sure to bring back fans. This is perfect to create, take and make. I did two take and make last year around Animal Crossing. Faith Healy did one as well where she gave felt and different patterns to make their own villagers (templates at the end of this post). This was a super popular take and make. We are working on a new one right now.  Clay fossil charms would be super cute or DIY Villager Figures.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s version of Red is coming out this month. We are planning to write an escape room based on her albums released on her birthday, December 13. There are plenty of activities to do such as a listening party to the new album or a sing a long, Taylor Trivia or even a book display based on any of her many albums.

You can also create Taylor Swift inspired book reading lists, like these examples:

Disney

Disney World will be celebrating it’s 50 year anniversary throughout the year. My co-worker Emily Lif gave a great presentation on Dis-tory: Celebrating 50 Years of Magic Kingdom History. My other co-worker Jessi Wakefield made DIY mouse ears. I did a Disney World escape room to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park and a Cinderella’s Castle necklace craft. There is so much lore about Walt Disney World. You can check your streaming license to see if you have any films you can show. We use Swank and all the big Disney films are on it. Please be mindful of copyright as Disney is very strict about copyright protections.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeOg0ZtWPPR7-EIYxQxn0NdjoZEDiFeHASHtEuiPpZI6Sf68A/viewform?usp=sf_link

What Fandoms are you doing for your upcoming programs?

And here are the templates for the DIY Animal Crossing inspired felties we promised

What Fandoms are you doing for your upcoming programs?

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: 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.

Escape (Room) the Teen Book Club!; a guest post by Teen Librarians Rachel Spivack and Austin Ferraro

Are you looking for a fun and innovative way to get teens involved in a book club? Today’s guest bloggers have a great idea for you!

Our to-do list for our Teen Book Club in September went something like this:

– Borrow wire cutters to trim the tomato cage and hot glue gun Mardi Gras beads on it to make a chandelier
– Make 6 origami flowers (Note – find instructions for origami flowers)
 – 3D print something with a hidden compartment
– Cut six capital letter As out of blue vinyl (Note – measure plastic ants first)
Don’t forget to finish the book.

An unusual list for an unusual book club, but we think that the amount of fun our teen regulars have every month means it’s working…even if reading the book is more what you’d call a guideline than an actual rule.

Let us explain.

In late 2020 when our library system was soft-launching virtual book clubs, we spent a closing shift on a dreary, wintery Friday evening frustrated. With specialties in Makerspace and Teen Services respectively, we didn’t see how book clubs were going to let us reconnect with the patrons we were used to seeing in the comfortable chaos of our library spaces. As we were talking through the challenges, it occurred to us that even without a pandemic, there’s a lot about a standard book club that makes it inaccessible to teens, especially teens with learning disabilities (including ADHD). One thing led to another and soon we had permission to run a virtual teen book club, which has since transitioned to a successful monthly in-person meeting. The thing that makes it work? The book club is an escape room.

Escape Room? Book Club? How Does It Work?

The book club is advertised like more a typical library program than a typical book club in that promotional materials emphasize the escape room activity over the monthly book selection. Additionally, we make a point to list all of the formats that the novel is available in through our catalog (e.g., graphic novel, audiobook, ebook, etc) so readers are aware of their options. Our preparation for the program includes planning 4-5 puzzles for the teens to solve (which add up to the final puzzle), and staging an interactive station for #ambiance, all of which are themed around the book choice that month. The station includes props that we have made ourselves. Bringing creativity and a “maker mindset” to this really makes a difference!

We start the program by chatting about any major thoughts and/or feelings the teens want to share about the characters, plot, writing style, etc. Once they are done sharing, we invite them to dive into the puzzles. The teens interact with the items on display (and each other) like a typical escape room, looking for clues to open various locks and combinations. As needed, we may offer hints to help the teens along if they seem stuck, but we try to walk the line of encouraging some productive struggle with the challenges. The clues all add up to the final combination lock of a BreakOutEDU box that contains small prizes – snacks, donated books, little items made in the Makerspace. As we wrap up the program, we take turns talking about other books we have been reading and making recommendations to each other (staff included). There are months where they spend almost as much time chatting about book recommendations as working on the escape room! The conversation may meander, but the fact that it has gone on that long between teens who did not know each other prior to the program demonstrates the advantage of letting them guide the discussion.

This is a novel book club in many ways, but here’s part of it: teens are not required to read the book to participate. The escape rooms are structured to provide a slight advantage to the teens who read the book, but they’re perfectly doable without it. And that seems insane because is it a book club if they don’t have to read the book? Yes. For us, a library book club is a success if it makes teens feel welcome in the library and encourages them to want to read – and this does.

In our escape rooms, teens have positive interactions with literacy on their own terms. By not requiring the teens to have read the book before attending the book club, we’re distancing reading from the academic assignments that they’re inundated with while still creating informal learning opportunities. We’re also not creating additional stress for teens who may, for whatever reason, struggle with reading speed and/or comprehension. They know that we love it when they read the book, but also know it’s okay if they don’t have time. When we didn’t finish a book, we’re honest about it too! We focus on encouraging them to think, problem-solve, move around, and try different solutions rather than asking them to spend more of their day seated and quietly answering questions about something they read. Even when it comes to discussing the book, we ask them about their impressions, feelings, and reactions rather than pushing them to answer questions about themes or character decisions. The result? After every single meeting of this book club, the teens who didn’t read or finish the book walk away really wanting to read it.

But Why?

The pandemic changed how we do everything out of necessity, but we saw an opportunity in that necessity to create space in the library for teens who might not necessarily see themselves as readers who would participate in a book club. In practice, this means that the structure of our book club is adaptable to the interests, needs, and dynamics of the teens who attend. We also wanted the book format to be flexible for our teens. More available formats means more accessibility, and we only choose titles that come in at least two formats – sometimes this is full-text and audio, although sometimes it’s full-text and graphic novel, and on two occasions we have picked books with strong movie adaptations as well.

By making multiple formats explicitly advertised and available and creating an environment that focuses on activity over analysis, we’re directly addressing aspects of standard format book clubs that neurodivergent teens find stressful and off-putting. A dyslexic reader might prefer audiobook or graphic novel format, whereas a reader with ADHD might switch between formats while reading or find that they have an easier time focusing on one format over another. We both personally find different formats easier to read ourselves, in fact.


Flexibility has been the key for this book club since the beginning – and that’s what makes it work. We started out online, but were explicit at the beginning of each meeting that while we would like to see their faces on camera and we’d like to hear them talk, that there were other ways to participate. One of our escape rooms actually happened with no verbal communication between the teens at all; they used the chat, reaction buttons, and raised hand features instead. When we moved to in-person, we didn’t know what it was going to look like so we kept our goals simple: have some discussion of the book, and do an escape room. Now that we have done several in-person programs, our teens have developed a structure that really works for them, but that’s the key: aside from our basic goals, our structure is entirely driven by the teens. This is especially important with neurodivergent teens because their needs are much more specific and individualized; the exact structure that works for us now might not work for us later, and it might look entirely different at a different library.

Curious? Give it a shot!

Rachel Spivack Rachel Spivack, M.A.T., is an educator-turned-library staff at Loudoun County Public Library in northern Virginia. For three years she has helped run the library’s makerspaces, teaching patrons and staff how to use various creative STEAM technologies, such as 3D print & design, carving & lasering, and robots (definitely robots). Prior to the library world, Rachel taught students with disabilities and credits them with a lot of her current inspirations and ideas.

Austin Ferraro Austin Ferraro is a teen librarian with a background in academic libraries, a brain full of ADHD-fueled ridiculous ideas, and too many books to read. He started at Loudoun County Public Library in Virginia shortly before COVID-19, so his move from academic to public libraries has been both interesting and eventful. 

Cindy Crushes Programming: DIY Evee Evolution Pins, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

We are joined again by my fabolous Coworker Faith Healy who is here to talk about her super cute craft Eevee Evolution Pins! So if your teens love Pokemon give this a try. 

So I am particularly proud of this craft as I created the template from scratch and it came out so cute. This is not the first time I made a template from scratch, but sometimes you get an idea in your head and it does not work out the way you want. This one worked out great!

Designing the Template

So I was looking for program ideas on my go to site Pinterest when I came across a cute template for sewing Eevee evolution plush heads here is the link for anyone interested: https://cholyknight.com/2018/01/12/eeveelution-blob-plush/ . For My teens,  the amount of sewing it called for might be a little tough, but I hoped I could do something with the template. Unfortunately the template was very complicated, but it did have a reference photo. I looked at the photo and knew I could make a template that was simple just using the photo. It was harder than anticipated, but I did it. I used the Silhouette studio to trace the image to create an outline. It did not work great on all the images. Some I had to trace myself, but all that matters is that I created a usable design that I am happy to share!

Deciding the Materials

I went with foam, but you can use any material with this template. I just happened to have foam around to make some samples when testing my DIY template. I chose to do pins since I did have a bunch available from a past craft and I have done Pokemon badges before in foam and my teens loved them. You could do this using foam, felt, paper even. You could make them pins, pendants, earrings. I would just test out materials before making any decisions.

Making the Craft Kits

So I made the terrible decision to put all nine templates in one kit. I was just unsure which Eevee evolutions would be more popular with teens so I decided to all nine. I do not recommend this. It was a lot of work. I did make 36 kits, 12 for each of my library’s three branches. The cost was around $50 for the foam, pins, and bags.  If attempting this craft kit, I would break it down by Eevee Evolutions, just make sure to include Eevee in all the kits. If you are unaware, Jolteon, Flareon, and Vaporean are the og Eevee Evolutions. Umbreon and Espeon were the next generation. Then Leafon, Glaceon, and Slyveon came out, though Slyveon I believe came out a generation after Leafon and Glaceon.  Enough of pokemon lore, that would be how I would break it down in the future and what I would recommend to anyone attempting this craft kit. It is possible to do all nine, but be prepared for a lot of work.

One thing I had to do when making the kit is figuring out how much of each color I needed in each kit.  So I made the following charts below. I figured out the color breakdown of each eevee evolution, than I broke it down by color. The colors that are used more, I made sure to buy more of them in foam.  This method might not work for everybody, I am just more of a visual person.

Once I figured out what I needed I bought the foam. I cut up the foam so I would have 36 of each color that are big enough for what is required to be cut. From there I did the lengthy process of stuffing them with each color, 9 pins, 9 templates, and instructions.

Making the Instructions

I feel like it is pretty clear on how to construct, but I know instructions are always helpful. I made sure to include a color guide on the instructions so they know what colors to use with what piece. The instructions are not as pretty as I like, but I got sick with bronchitis and had to take a week off work and the release date was looming near, so I might have done them in a rush.

This is a simple and fun craft. It works great as a Take and Make. We literally have people come in to just pick up this craft kit.

I will also say this craft could be a fun program where you watch Pokemon and make your favorite eevee evolution pin.

Please feel free to share and use any of the documents I have provided.

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: Tips for Me, and Maybe You Too, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

So at my library I have begun to program in person again. It has been a challenge for sure. The first program I did was a pirate themed scavenger hunt. I had no one sign up. I did get two to do it who had walked into the library. Then I did a backyard clean up of the library for volunteering. It was eventful. We got locked in the courtyard. Oops. We found a dead animal. We also found trash that should have not been left under our tree. So I started to remember what in person programming was like. I have to remind myself that everything is different. Here are the things I told myself:

  1. Low attendance is okay: Not all teens are vaccinated. I would rather teens be safe than sorry.
  2. We are starting over again: A lot of my teens aged out and I have not been doing school visits because of Covid so the younger teens do not really know me and what the library offers to teens.
  3. Do not spend a lot of money right now: We do not know how the attendance numbers will be so try to not do programs that will take up a lot of our budget.
  4. Keep doing some virtual programs: We know that some teens can not get to the library right now and this is a way to keep them engaged with the library.
  5. Try to not do too many educational programs: Things are hard and teens want to have fun and be able to take their minds off the pandemic.
  6. Do not over program: This is the number one thing I have to tell myself. I love doing programming but quality over quantity is key with programming.
  7. Be kind to yourself: You are dealing with a lot right now. The pandemic is still here and does not seem to be going away as much as we wish it would.
  8. Let things go: If something happens and you have to cancel a program that is okay. Things happen. It does not make you a bad person to cancel a program.
  9. Listen to the teens: This is what I have been doing the most. I am trying to do stuff that they want to do. Not things I think are cool. They are going through a hard time. We have to try to help them.
  10. It’s okay to be upset: If a program goes wrong it is okay to be upset and feel those feelings. You do not have to lie to yourself about how you feel.

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: Let’s Talk Dungeons and Dragons Beyond, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

I recently went to a program run by Natalie Dejonghe. She taught all about how to use Dungeons and Dragons Beyond (DND Beyond). It was really helpful and has given me a few ideas on how to improve my libraries Dungeons and Dragons program. I asked Natalie here to ask her some information on DND Beyond and how she uses it for programming. I really liked it because it help do all the math for leveling characters.

Interview with Natalie DeJonghe

Hello Natalie, Thank you so much for being here. How many years have you been playing Dungeons and Dragons and what edition do you use?

ND: I have been playing D&D regularly for about 7 years, but played a bit here and there since I was a kid. I currently run all my games using the 5th edition put out by Wizards of the Coast.

How does one start using Dungeons and Dragons Beyond?

ND: I think the best way to get started with DND Beyond is to play around with the character building tool. This is a great starting point because the site will walk you through the entire process with tips and links to more information on things. It’s a really straightforward way to start exploring D&D without having to dive into the rule books right away.

How do you use it when programming?

ND: I use it a lot for tracking characters. My players can share their character sheet with me through DnD Beyond and then I can see changes that happen as they level up. There is also a free encountered builder that DMs can use to figure out how many monsters to add to a battle, how much experience it will give players, etc. I also have a lot of personally purchased content on the site so I can also use it to pull maps and adventures.

What is you favorite tip or trick for using the website?

ND: For DMs, my favorite thing is definitely using the quick character build for NPCs. It will give you a fully fleshed out character sheet complete with portrait. I find that this makes keeping track of NPCs in the game a lot easier.

How does it work when playing a game in person versus playing a game online?

ND: There’s definitely more of a learning curve when playing online because it can be more difficult to see the faces of players so you may not realize if someone is confused about something. But I think if you pace yourself and make sure to start out explaining everything, thatit works pretty well. Most of my players have been brand new beginners and we managed to get through things pretty well.

In-person can make it a little easier to keep track of how players are feeling about things, but there’s also a higher possibility of players getting distracted with side conversations. In-person can also be a bit more hands on because you can have large, drawn maps, miniatures, etc. You can have that to an extent in an online game, but being able to actually touch everything does make things easier for many players. Whether you’re playing online or in-person, I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no one right way to run a campaign or play a session. If you’re a player, try weird things.

You’d be amazed at what your DM will let you get away with if you can spin a good enough story. If you’re a DM, remember that while D&D does have a set of rules, as the DM you’re running the story. If adhering too strictly to the rules is going to make things too difficult for players, then adapt as needed. It’s your game. Make it fun for yourself and your players and, in
my opinion, you have a successful campaign.

More DND here at TLT:

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.