Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Comic Book Creations

Today I am hosting my first Teen program for this year’s super hero themed program. This is hands down my favorite SRC theme to date. So many cool, easy and fun things to do. Today I’m just having a kind of informal comic themes Maker program where we will cut up discarded graphic novels/manga/comic books to make a wide variety of crafts.

1. Upcycled Bottle Cap Crafts

Bottle cap crafts are quick and easy. You can make magnets. You can hang a washer with a magnet on a string and make easily interchangeable necklaces. And since we’re using GNs and comics we can use pictures or catchy phrases.


To make the bottle cap crafts you need:

  • Some type of pictures (here I used discarded GNs)
  • A 1 inch hole punch
  • Bottle caps
  • 1 inch circle epoxy stickers
  • Some type of glue to glue the picture into the bottle cap
  • Magnets

To make the necklace: tie a washer to a string long enough for a bracelet or necklace. Attach a magnet to the washer. You can then easily interchange bottle caps to change out your jewelry.


I also bought a variety of comic book and super hero themed duct tape which will work really well for making button crafts as well. In addition, I bought photo mats and my goal is to have the teens use the duct tape to cover photo mats and frame their GNs pages with it.


2. Upcycled Buttons

Buttons are actually really popular with my teens. Cutting up GNs and comics to make them is quick and easy.


3. Turn an old GN into a new (and personalized) GN

I cut up a bunch of discarded GNs to make my own GN. You could glue it to a piece of paper. I happen to have a bunch of various size acrylics to decorate my teen area so I went ahead and made it into a mural/wall art.


4. Make collages

The above wall art came about actually quite by accident. I started making a simple collage to frame because we have a ton of smaller acrylic frames that were donated and I knew they would make a fun craft for teens to take home. Then I just kind of got carried away and made it into a wall panel. But a basic collage works as well.


5. Make your own comic strips & gn pages

I am going to be doing this portion of the program in two ways.


comiccrafts8On Amazon I was able to order a few different comic book creation tools that had long comic strip sheets for teens to fill in and graphic novel templates. You can find them here and here.


comicbk3I made the above comic page using an iPhone and the ComicBook app. I wrote previously about comic book creation tools here.

TPiB: Programming with Straws

When I was Tweeting about Strawbees on Twitter, Laura Renshaw sent me the above tweet about her library’s Everything is Strawsome program, an obvious play on the popular Lego’s song Everything is Awesome. This is hands down the most genius program name ever! I was so excited about the program name that I tweeted to Laura that I wanted to do a program with straws as well, featuring Strawbees. She then replied that this Straw Ninjas craft was the craft activity that she had found that inspired the program.

Straw Ninjas

I did some looking around and found some other straw themed ideas that I am considering doing as part of a straw themed program. Strawbees plus some other straw related activities would indeed make for a Strawsome program! Man, I love that name Laura.

Some of our Strawbees creations on display at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio

Drinking Straw Cuff Bracelet

Mark Montano has a YouTube tutorial on making a beaded cuff bracelet using drinking straws.

Balloon Rockets

Straw Chinese Yo-Yos

I have mixed feeling about this one. I have done them before using small wooden dowel rods and I worry that the straws won’t be strong enough for repeated use. I guess it would depend a lot on the quality of the straws that you use. The Harvard Chinese Yo-Yo Club has some information about the history of the Chinese Yo-Yo.

Straw Wars

This is really just a fancy version of spit balls. To make it really Star Wars related, you could print off some pictures of Storm Troopers as targets.

Pixie Sticks

Using paper straws, you can make your own Pixie Sticks.

Hey, here’s an earworm for you . . . And you’re welcome!

This is currently what I’m thinking about doing for my straw themed program. If you have some other fun ideas, please share in the comments. I’m thinking this would make a great Earth Day program. Couple it with my Zip Tie Crafts and I could go with a whole upcyclying/environmental series.

TPiB: Zip Tie Crafts

I recently learned about some amazing crafts that you could do with zip ties from my friends in Ohio, MM and MM. That’s not a typo, there are two of them. They are very cool – and crafty.

Disco Balls

MM originally saw these on Pinterest and knew that she wanted to make them, but she adapted the formula in a way so that instead of hanging, you can sit them on a desk with an LED light or battery powered candle glowing from an opening underneath. The original instructions can be found at Instructables. To modify the project she just left off 4 of the plastic cups on the bottom so that her Disco Ball could sit on a table space with the LED light/candle shining through it.

Clear plastic cups
A hole punch
Zip ties
Pony beads
The best part about this modified version is that you don’t have to drill a hole in the bottom to string the lights through as mentioned in the Instructables directions.

To make this work, MM simply used a hole punch to put 4 holes in each cup, tied them together using a zip tie and added a pony bead for a bit of flair. You can used different size cups, including those little condiments cups, to make a variety of sizes.

Cassette Tape Thingy

Yes, I know that is not the technical name for this craft. The thing is, you can do a variety of things with it and they are all pretty cool. Turn it upside down with an LED light and you have a cool desk lamp or night light. Turn it the other direction and you can use it as a pen holder. This would be a great upcycling/Earth Day craft.


Casette tapes
Zip ties

It’s pretty straight forward: zip tie the cassettes together and make stuff. This cool lamp uses 10 cassette tapes. More complete craft instructions can be found here. You can also do this with old floppy disks, instructions are available at Instructables.

It turns out, there are a lot of cool things you can do with zip ties, which are also sometimes called cable ties. There are several Pinterest craft boards here, here and here.

Both of these crafts are economical, which I know lots of libraries are looking for. They can be great for a program for Earth Day. And they are very social, I said there and talked to MM while she punched holes in a cup and everyone had a really great time. The end product is really cool!

For more ideas, you can also check out this book:

We’ve Only Got This One Earth: Environmental teen programs and 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment

If you read much science fiction, you know that in the future we are forced to colonize another planet because we have destroyed Earth.  We only one life to live, and one Earth to live it on.  But have no fear, there are a lot of things we can do to help save this 3rd rock from the sun that we call Earth, and they are outlined for you in 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment by Lexi Petronis.  This little book is a great addition to your collection and has some little nuggets that you can pull out and do some Earth friendly (Earth Day is April 21) programming. 

Bottle Cap Crafts
One of my favorite teen programs I ever did was called Bottle Cap Crafts where we did nothing but make crafts out of, you guessed it, bottle caps.  You can paint the bottle caps and use them to decorate picture frames.  Put stickers in them and decoupage them to make necklaces, key chains, zipper pulls and more.  You can also fill them with beads and small items and epoxy to create shadow box necklaces.  You see these a lot at craft shows as they are very popular and easy to make.  If you glue a magnet onto the back of the bottle cap and string a washer onto a piece of string for the necklace, you can create easily interchangeable pieces.  Here are 50 bottle cap crafts on Squidoo.

School Supply Swap (Swap, Don’t Shop p. 82)
At the beginning of the school year – or half way through – host a school supply swap to get rid of those unused supplies that teens buy.

Your Library is Totes Cute: Make your own library tote bag (BYOB p. 58)
You can purchase blank tote bags at most craft stores or online and decorate with with fabric markers.  Or purchase colored tote bags and use bleach pens.

Bin Toss (Don’t Toss That p. 38)
Your programming doesn’t have to be all crafts, you can do some education and help teens learn what can and can’t be recycled by doing this simple activity.  You can make it into a game even.

Recycling Discarded Books
Libraries discard a lot of books and although most go into our booksales, some of them should never see the light of day again.  We wouldn’t want our patrons buying them for the same reason we don’t want them in our collections: the information is outdated, dangerous or just too silly to take seriously.  A quick Google search reveals a wide variety of crafts that you can make with books.  In fact, the Teen Programming in Libraries board on Pinterest has a variety crafts you can check out.  You can also use the pages to do quilling or a lot of the activities mentioned below that we do with magazines.

Some book page crafts include:
Book page Kusudam flower
Inspiration: Novel Ideas (a variety of book related crafts)
You can also check out this deconstructed art project currently on display at my library or Google book page art, upcylcing books, deconstructed books, etc.

Recycling Old Magazines
We’re always getting rid of old magazines, but they don’t have to go into the landfill.  Make crafts with them!

Marble Magnets
made with bottle caps, discarded magazines, glass stones, glue and magnets

Paper beads: roll strips of paper to create paper beads and string them to make bracelets and necklaces.

Marble magnets: Using clear acrylic rocks founds at most craft stores, you can create unique, personalized magnets.  Simply cut your word or image to size, use a clear glue to adhere to your rock, put a small backing on the back and then glue on your magnet circle. (marble magnets instructions)

Magnetic Poetry: You can make your own magnetic poetry kits by cutting out words from magazines and gluing them onto pieces of magnetic strips.  This is one of my go-to activities for National Poetry Month, which is also in April.  Pair it with some sidewalk chalk poetry outside and you have a poetry inspired Earth friendly event.

Magnetic Poetry
made with discarded magazines, magnets and glue

Decoupage: With some discarded magazines and a little Mod Podge, you can turn anything into a personalized treasure. Notebooks, picture frames, light switch plates. Good times.

Wrap it up!
If you are making any of these crafts as gifts, you can make your own wrapping paper.  Simply cut up paper bags to size, wrap and paint, stamp, sticker, and stencil. Or use those random bits of off topic paper you have lying around – just turn them print side in and decorate.

Movies suggested:
Gorillas in the Mist
Ferngully: the Last Rainforest
The Day After Tomorrow

Teen Fiction with an Environmental Theme:
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell
Torched by April Henry
Hoot by Carl Hiassen
Rootless by Chris Howard
The Pearl Wars by Nick James
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Craft books like these are not only great for your collection for your teens (and they will like it because it is very accessible), but they are great for any adults who want to do environmental activities with teens.  If you have it in your collection, you can use it for program inspriation – that’s one of the bonsues to nonfiction.