Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Cindy Crushes Programming: Hosting a Starfinder RPG, an interview with Nicholas Vidmar

We’re kicking off the new year with a fresh installment of Cindy Crushes Programming. Today YA librarian Cindy Shutts interviews adult librarian Nicholas Vidmar. Together, the two of them host a successful Starfinder program at White Oak Library. Starfinder is a role playing game (rpg) similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but with a more science fiction setting.

Background: At the White Oak Library in Romeoville we have been running an RPG (Role-Playing Game) called Starfinder. I help run this program with Nicholas Vidmar who is an adult services librarian. He takes the role of GM (Game Master) and runs the game. I help out by making the connections with our teens and bringing them to the table and I also play during the game to help make sure we can finish a scenario. Nicolas plays a variety of RPG games. He paints his own figures. We are lucky to have him because he brings a lot of his own materials to make the game run smoothly. Starfinder is a great RPG game, if you have played Dungeons and Dragons and are looking for something new.  Nicholas calls it Guardians of the Galaxy D and D.  I interviewed Nicholas about Starfinder and how librarians can add it to their programming. 

Starfinder Interview:

How long have you been playing role playing games and what are some of your favorites?

Nicholas: I was introduced to TTRPGS (Tabletop Role Playing Game Systems) about 5 years ago. There was a struggle getting into it as I played my first game in (Dungeons &  Dragon v3.5) for two very rough sessions then did not touch the genre for 6 months before I got invited to a 5th edition game that died after 3 sessions. Then I started GMing to keep games alive and have been running weekly games since. I have the most time put into 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, but since Starfinder’s release two years ago it has rapidly become my favorite. Aside from these two I also play/run Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Dark Heresy, Zweihander, and the occasional game of Kobolds Ate My Baby.

What supplies do you need for a Starfinder program at your library? About how much does the program cost?

Nicholas: This can vary greatly. If you run absolute basics, you can have everything for up to 10 players for about $20 plus some printing costs. The basics consist of a set of 7 dice per player (d20, d12,d10,d10,d8,d6,d4), a character sheet (free online), writing implement, and the rule book. Pathfinder and Starfinder stand apart from many TTRPGS because the whole ruleset, not just basic rules, is available free online because of an open game license. If you were to buy the books, still something I would recommend, they each run between $40-$60. Though a one-time investment, this cost does make TTRPGS more cost prohibitive. To move up from basics, the next recommended items are a GM screen and a battle mat. The screen gives the GM quick reference and hides his/her notes and rolls from the players. A battle mat is a one inch grid set on the table to help players visualize combat. Starfinder is unusual in that it requires both a square and hex grid. The cheapest mat is a roll of wrapping paper, many have a grid printed on the back. Once you have a mat, then you can get into minis, the most expensive and superfluous part of the game. Most of these resources are good for many games, so there are no ongoing costs except new character sheets.

How long is set up and what does it entail?

Nicholas: So TTRPGS have two layers of set up: pre game, and at the table. Before the game: characters need to be made, the rules learned, and an adventure planned. How long these take depend on the division of labor and type of GM. Players can make their own characters, or leave it to the GM if they find the rules confusing. It takes about an hour to make a fully fleshed out and kitted supplied character. Pregenerated characters are also available for certain levels. For Starfinder there are about 50 pages of tactical rules and supplements on other aspects of the game. Having a general knowledge of this content is important to keep the game running, but you can also reference the rules midgame. Lastly there is the process of planning the adventure. This can be extremely meticulous if you need to know every possible outcome of potential player actions, or a non-existent step if the GM is comfortable winging it. Generally it is agreed that a middle ground of an adventure framework with flexibility to accommodate crazy player choices is the best option. At the table the GM needs to set up the battle mat and the resources they need to run the planned game. Printed out stat blocks, minis, dice, GM screen, etc. Players just show up and get out their character sheet, dice, and a mini if they have one. Usually this takes 15-20 minutes.

What types of storylines are in Starfinder?

Nicholas: Starfinder is a Science Fantasy setting so you have aliens, spaceships and laser weapons alongside Elves and magic. This allows for a huge variety of adventures. You can go from starship combat to raiding an ancient temple on a forgotten world, to navigating the servers of a corrupt corporation to bring them to light. I personally fancy the derelict space drift where something went wrong; a little mystery, and little horror, sometimes an ethical dilemma, and often some really abominable creatures. It can also be as light hearted as playing a bunch of friendly furballs trying to make sure their boss is safe, if that sounds fun go play Skittershot, a fantastic introductory adventure published by Paizo.

What is the difference between Starfinder and Dungeons and Dragons?

Nicholas: The setting is different. It is a different world in a different time. D&D is high/epic fantasy while Starfinder is science fantasy. Overlap does exist, 5th edition has aliens, looking at you Froghemoth, and Starfinder has fantasy races. Still the focus on technology is a significant difference. Classes and mechanics are even further apart. There are minor parallels like Envoy to Bard and Solider to Fighter, but otherwise classes are entirely apart. It is a preference of flavor here. Starfinder is more mechanically complex than 5th edition, more actions have rules supporting them. They are both still d20 systems and so have inescapable parallels, but how the numbers get modified varies. 5th edition uses rerolls while Starfinder uses numeric modifiers, yes that means more math.

How did they teens like Starfinder?

Nicholas: Many loved the setting and possible character concepts, like a psionic psychedelic space walrus named Phoomph Debloomp. There was a great deal of excitement over getting to fly a starship. The teens were split on the increased complexity. Some thought it was awesome to see so many factors making them powerful, but others felt limited because they could not roll to win. Not every system is for every player, but there is an RPG for everyone.

What is your favorite part of Starfinder?

Nicholas: The setting has me hooked, and starship combat is a treat.

What would you like librarians who are trying new RPG systems to know?

Nicholas: It is a front loaded endeavor; the prep work to start is heavy. This means that one off programs are a poor choice if you are running in house. If the program is recurring it is fantastic because the cost and effort drop to very minimal levels. Eventually, players can take up the reigns and the program can become self-sustaining. It can also buff circs as the rule books are easy recommendations coming off the game. I will also caution others of the Chaotic Stupid archetype that is rampant among new players. TTRPGS are cooperative, but often new players want to be evil for the sake of evil. This is very bad for the health of the table and can quickly kill the interest of other good players and then kill the program.

What are your final thoughts on Starfinder as a whole?

Nicholas: Starfinder is great for its fun guardians of the galaxy style, colorful setting, and mid-range mechanical depth. It may not be the best system to introduce players to TTRPGS due to this depth, but the crunch will appeal to some players. There are plenty of unique aspects to get hooked on while playing.

TTRPGS have an immense breadth and while Starfinder is my personal favorite, I will always say to look beyond and see what else is out there. There are so many iterations that it may take a bit to find one that resonates with you and your patrons.

See Also: So You Want to Play Dungeons and Dragons in Your Library

TableTop Game Review: Ultimate Werewolf

I found out about today’s game, Werewolf, from one of the best sources of all: a teenager. In fact, right now, this game is very popular with the teens that I know. It’s kind of a cross between the old school room classic Heads Up 7 Up and a role playing game. I’ve also been told that it’s a version of another game called Mafia, which I am unfamiliar with.

The premise of Werewolf is simple: All of the players in your game live in a village that is being attacked by werewolves. You want to eliminate – which means identify – the werewolves before they kill all the villagers.

Here’s a brief how to on YouTube:

And here’s a breakdown of the game on How To.

Please note: This game need a large number of players to be played. We recommend 10 or more. So from a library perspective, you’re going to want to play this in a meeting room.

You are going to hand out cards to each player. At least 2 of those cards will be werewolf cards. There will also be one seer, who can ask to identify one character each round. The remaining cards will be villager cards. There are additional cards you can add, but this depends on how many players you have. For example, you can have a priest or doctor card which allows the priest or doctor to heal one person once during the game.

The game operates on a day and night cycle. During the night cycle, the werewolves will identify the next person in the game that they want to kill and the seer will ask the moderator the identity of one player. During the day, the players will nominate people to kill in hopes that they are killing the werewolves and not their fellow villagers.

There is a moderator that oversees the game. The moderator controls the flow of the game. They will tell everyone during the night cycle to go to sleep and everyone lowers their heads. You can have participants tap on their legs or something to help provide a bit of noise coverage. The moderator then says, “Werewolves, open your eyes” and the werewolves choose someone who they want to kill. They are then told to go back to sleep and the seer is awoken. It is here that the seer will find out the identity of one person of their choice. Without revealing anyone’s identity, the seer tries to help sway choices regarding who is killed or saved during the day cycle. The moderator will do this routine every night cycle until either all the werewolves or all the villagers are eliminated.

It is now day time, and the moderator will awaken all of the players. The moderator will tell the player that has just been killed by the werewolves that they are no longer in the game. Players will then nominate a player to be killed, hoping that the player they are choosing is a werewolf. Once all the players agree on a player with a majority vote, that player is also killed. So each round two players are eliminated from the game.

The key to a successful Werewolf game is that players must keep their identities secret. The second key to a successful game is a good moderator. For example, even if the seer or other special characters are eliminated, the moderator will pretend to keep waking them up during the night cycle so that the remaining players don’t know which identities have been eliminated.

If all the villagers are eliminated and only a werewolf remains, the werewolves win. If the villagers identify and eliminate all of the werewolves, then the villagers win. I recently played with a group of around 11 tweens and teens and the werewolves won every time.

This game was a lot of fun and easy to play. And remember, it was the teens themselves that told me about this game so it already has a teen endorsement. It’s quick, easy, fun, and there isn’t a lot of set up.

You can find the official Werewolf rules here.

More Table Top Game Talk at TLT

DIY Games

Take 5: Table Top Games Teens will Love

Cindy Crushes Programming with a Live Action Donner Dinner Party Game

Cindy Crushes Programming: Cindy’s Favorite Tabletop Games

Game On at Your Library

Cindy Crushes Programming: Mission to Mars Escape Room

In today’s episode of Cindy Crushes Programming, Cindy Shutts shares with us how she hosted a Mission to Mars themed escape room with her teens.

To learn more about the basics of hosting an Escape Room, please check out Breakout Edu as they have basic kits that you can use as a foundation. You can also read a couple of previous posts on Escape Rooms here at TLT and online:

TPiB: Build an Escape Room by Michelle Biwer – Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Locked in the Library! Hosting an Escape Room by Heather Booth

Cindy Crushes Programming: Stranger Things Themed Escape Room

Programming Librarian: Creating a DIY Escape Room for Your Library

Plot: Welcome to the Mars Space Station! Unfortunately, the station is losing oxygen and you have 45 minutes to find the key for the manual override to fix the oxygen levels. A former, disgruntled Space Station employee has hidden the clues to restart the system in the breakroom.

Supplies:

You could use the Breakout Edu Kit

  • 4 digit lock
  • 3 digit lock
  • Word lock
  • Key lock and key
  • Two lock boxes, one small and one large
  • Empty bag of Space Ice Cream
  • I hate Ares note
  • Books
  • Mythology Book
  • Breakroom supplies like plates, salt and pepper shakers, napkins, silverware
  • Mars Space Station Manual (See documents below)
  • Nasa Mars Posters (https://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/resources/mars-posters-explorers-wanted/)
  • Various images of Mars printed out to look like Mars is outside the window. I like using a porthole or making portholes with paper plates.

Instructions: I made sure I read the prompt, so everyone knew what was going on. I also let them know they had two hints. I am always prepared to add one more hint later on if they need it.

Room Set Up Instructions

Red Herrings:  I will have an empty bag of Space Ice Cream and a Tang Container.

Word Lock: This clue will be in the Space Station Manual. I have bolded the letters L A S E R in the document. This lock will be on the large box.

3 digit Lock: I will have a note on the table saying I hate Ares who is the god of war in Greek Mythology and Mars is the god of war in Roman Mythology.  I am going to bring a book about mythology and have a Roman numeral written in the book on the page about Ares that says 3 9 9 or III IV IV. This lock will be on the large box.

Key Lock: Key lock will be on the small black box. The key will be placed in the large box.

4 Digit Lock: 0319 On the break table, There will be 3 blue paperclips, 1 green paperclip, 9 yellow paper- clips. I will hide a note in the trashcan that has a picture of Clippy, the old Microsoft mascot.  This lock will be attached to the large box.

Final Thoughts: My teens were really on the ball and finished on the 30-minute mark. I would add a directional lock to make it harder next time. I am doing a Star Wars Escape Room in July and I plan on making it a little harder so it will take more time. All the teens were happy and liked the directions.  I was grateful to Nic Mitchel, a fellow teen librarian who helped me made the prompt punchier.

Teen Services 101: What Do We Know About Teen Programming?

Today I am ready to resume our Teen Services 101 discussion (I’ll put all the previous posts at the end of this one) by talking about Teen Programming. Programming, as you know, is an important part of teen services. Here we discuss some of our thoughts regarding teen programming. I am specifically going to share with you some things that we – and here by we I mean teen librarians who answered an online survey – have found to be true of teen programming likes and dislikes. Specifically, in broad categories, I’m going to share with you what is often most successful and what is often least successful when it comes to teen programming in public libraries. Please keep in mind that there are always outliers and exceptions, but as a general rule, this is what we find tends to work or not with teens and programming.

How this data was collated: 1) Around 50 teen/YA librarians responded to a very informal poll and discussion about what has worked or not worked for them regarding teen programming, 2) this list was then vetted by 10 of my closest peers and respected YA/teen services librarians, and 3) this has been proven true time and time again in my 26 years of working with teens. It’s a curated list of best practices presented to you with the knowledge that as with all things, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but it is a good reference point.

Things that typically prove successful with teens and programming

Programs that offer opportunities for self-expression

There is a reason that I know 22 different ways to make a t-shirt: t-shirts are a great way to get teens engaged with making and programming while also giving them an opportunity for self expression. Poetry, journals, digital media, etc – these are all programs that have been successful for me time and time again. Teens are going through a tremendous amount of identity exploration and they seem to enjoy creative opportunities where they can embrace and express who they are.

The Teen making a T-shirt bag in the Teen MakerSpace

Popular culture tie-ins

Some of my most popular and well attended programs have been Harry Potter, Doctor Who and Sherlock related. The trick is you have to pay attention to what your teens are into and strike while the iron is hot. Sometimes this means putting together a quick, last minute program. Cindy Shutts recently shared a WWE program that she did with her teens, something that would not have occurred to me but demonstrates the value of knowing your teens and responding to their interests in a timely manner. Take a few moments each day to talk with your teens, discover what they love, and tie your programming into these things. This simple act communicates respect and value while inviting your teens to have fun with you in the library.

Escape rooms

Escape rooms are fun ways to get teens into the library to work together as teams and engage in creatively problem solving while having fun. I find these to be slightly similar to interactive murder mysteries, which I have also successfully hosted in the past. There is something fun about solving puzzles, following a trail of clues, and trying to escape a room or solve a mystery.

Maker programs

You do not have to have a dedicated makerspace to host a maker program. In fact, a large amount of teen program has always been maker related. Crafting, DIY – it’s all a maker program and they are popular for a reason. The best part about maker programs is that teens usually have something to take home with them. Also, they are another way to get teens engaged in creative self-expression as mentioned above.

Craft programs

See above. Crafting is making – and it is popular. A bulk of my programming over the past 26 has involved crafting or marking of some type in large part because that is what has always been the most attended type of programming for me. Also, most people like having something fun to take home.

Gaming (tabletop and electronic)

Gaming of any variety has always been fun and popular with teens. It’s not necessarily quiet, so chose your space and time accordingly. There is a ton of research out there about the various benefits of both types of gaming and I urge you to look into it if you need to make a defense to admin about why gaming should be a part of your teen programming.

Trivia events

I love a good trivia night! Stump the librarian, popular culture trivia nights, general trivia nights – there are a lot of ways you can incoporate trivia events into your teen programming. They can be an event in and of themselve or a part of a wider themed event. For example, most Harry Potter programs usually have a trivia component to them. I highly recommend hosting trivia events with your teens.

Life size games

I was turned on to life size games when Heather Booth blogged here about Life Size Angry Birds. I repeated that program multiple times while the game was popular and it is a lot of fun. I have seen various posts about life size chess, Candy Land, Hungry Hungry Hippos and more. These games are fun because they make something little quite big and tap into childhood nostalgia.

Childhood nostalgia

When one of my previous makerspace assistants suggested that we put a perler bead station in the makerspace, I argued that it was too juvenile for teens. I was proven wrong. Time and time again my teens remind me that as they sit on the cusp between childhood and adulthood, they often like to do things that are childlike or remind them of their childhood. Sometimes teens just want a moment to dive back into the carefree moments of their childhood.

Food

I have mixed feelings about food and programming. One in twelve people has a food allergy, some of them life threatening, and my child is one of them. I hate the way everything in our world is food based as it can exclude a lot of people. At the same time, I know that 1 in 5 children goes to bed hungry so having food at a program, even in a fun way, can be a great way to help address this situation. And food based programming is fun and popular. Cupcake Wars like events have proven popular for me, for example. What I would recommend here is to be mindful of food allergies – know what the top 8 food allergens are – and make sure and provide a variety of options so that participants can partake safely. You’ll want to make sure your advertising makes it clear that food will be present and keep all packaging so participants can look at the ingredients listings if necessary. Also, because of the prevalence of deadly peanut allergies, I highly recommend not having any peanuts or peanut butter. You’ll also want to be aware of what the food handling laws in your immediate area are before introducing food at your library.

Things that typically prove unsuccessful with teens and programming in public libraries

So what doesn’t work as well when it comes to teens and library programming? Well, we’re going to talk about that. And I’m sorry to say, I’m going to have a moment of heresy here.

Teen book clubs in public libraries (more successful in school libraries)

I feel like this is heresy to say, but in my experience it is very hard to host a successful teen book club in a public library. It’s not impossible, I know, for example, that Amanda MacGregor has hosted a successful book club both in the public and now in the school library. I have tried and failed to start three book clubs at three different locations. I know only a handful of public librarians that have led successful book clubs in a public library setting. Many respondents to my survey have also indicated that they too have been unsuccessful at book discussion clubs/groups. Those that are successful indicated that they partnered with the local school and did it on the school grounds and teachers offered extra credit for participating. Like I said, your mileage may vary, but I definitely wouldn’t start with this if you are trying to start putting together some teen programming.

So what about the books? We’re going to talk more on Wednesday about how to tie books and reading into our teen programming in creative ways.

Information sessions/lecture type programs

Again, there are always exceptions here, but on the whole, teens seem the least interested in attending information sessions or lecture type programs. I know that Heather Booth has hosted some well attended career panels, proving that this is not a hard and fast rule. Irving Public Library hosts author panel discussions that have well over 100 teens in attendance. But over the course of 26 years, my least attended programs have always been something that was more education based.

Things without a lot of personal choices involved

I have also found that the more personal choice a teen has, the more successful a teen program will be. For example, if you are going to host a craft program, consider offering a choice of five programs instead of one so that a teen can choose what they do within that time and space. Having some stations as opposed to one activity chosen and dictated by an adult seems to have more teen appeal. Whenever you can in whatever way you can, open up your teen programming to allow teens to make more personal choices within that time and space. We all like restaurants that have more on the menu as opposed to less, so think of programming in the same way.

Things that feel too much like more hours in school

The number one response I got when I asked my fellow teen/YA librarians about teen programming was this: it can’t be anything like school. By the time our teens come into the public library, they have already spent eight hours in school and the last thing they want is to be involved in anything that resembles school. I’m not saying here that programming can’t, isn’t or shouldn’t be educational, what I am saying is that it should help teens achieve educational goals in fun ways. But also, keep in mind, teens deserve recreational opportunities and downtime just as much as any other group.

And there you have it, a brief overview of what overwhelmingly tends to work and not work when it comes to teen programming in public libraries. As I mentioned in my introduction, there are always exceptions. These are not hard and fast rules, they are more here’s what we know and think based on experience and current best practices. Your mileage may vary and you should definitely do what works best for your patrons.

What tips, tricks, stories and experiences do you have to share with us? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Teen Services 101

I’m just getting started, what do I need to be successful?

Foundations: Understanding Teens Today

What Do Teens Want from Libraries Today?

The Challenges and Rewards of Serving Teens Today

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: DIY Wizard of OZ Necklaces

Supplies:

Our library had a series of programs that were themed around the Wizard of Oz. I worked on coming up with craft I could make when I saw my friend, Andrea Sowers, post on her Twitter account a necklace craft she had made. That’s when I realized that what I wanted to do was to make a pendant necklace.

I talked to my coworkers who loved jewelry making and asked Andrea a couple questions about how she made her necklace. I then combined everyone’s contributions to make my own process, which I have outlined below.

Step 1: Print out small images that you want to use in the pendants. Remember they need to be able to be cut in a one-inch circle.

Step Two: If you want to have glitter glue in the image, make sure to tell the teens to use very little because you want the glitter glue to dry before you attach the round cabochon. I used a tiny bit of red glitter glue for the Ruby Red Slippers. Others used silver for Glinda’s wand or green for the Emerald City. I used a toothpick to make sure that I made the glitter glue attach well.

Step three: Take the round cabochon and put a layer of diamond crystal on it and attach the image. Use a toothpick to smooth it out. Roll the toothpick on the back of your picture like a rolling pin to release any air and help it stay flat. Wait for it to dry before staring the next step.

Step four: Use the e6000 glue and put it on the front of the pendant tray. You will want to put your dried round cabochon with the image attached on the tray. I would press it gently. Let it dry completely before wearing.

Final Thoughts: This craft turned out great. I really enjoyed it and I am doing a Disney pendant craft in April. I would have gotten longer necklace cords, because people have different neck sizes and not everyone likes having a tight necklace.

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.

Conversation Snapshots: Let’s Talk YA Lit Titles & YA Programming Success

teenprogram

YA Lit Suggestions

Although I do a lot of blogging here, sometimes good conversations happen on Twitter. Last Sunday, I wrote a post about updating YA titles that are discussed in media discussions and then I asked people on Twitter to recommend books for those updated discussions. Follow the tweet and you will see some of the recommended titles.

There were several recommendations for Scythe by Neal Shusterman, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. All great recommendations.

I keep thinking about how odd it is in retrospect that all these articles that talk about older YA don’t mention two of the first really popular – like word of mouth and all the teens come in asking for them popular titles: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. What titles – old or new – do you think need to be included in the conversation? Please let us know in the comments.

Teen Programming Success!

The second question I asked this past week was about popular YA/Teen programming. What, I asked, is the most popular program you have ever hosted past or present? You’ll get lots of great programming ideas by reading through this thread. Many have them have been and continue to be popular for me and some of them are completely new ideas that I am looking forward to trying out.

Have some other teen programming success stories that you would like to share? Drop us a comment.

TPiB: Build an Escape Room by Michelle Biwer

tpibEscape rooms and breakout rooms are a buzzworthy program in librarian world of late. I tried building my first escape room in the fall, and recently finished my second one! Here is my strategy:

Steps for Building an Escape Room

1. Pick a general theme! Murder Mystery? Based on a book? Science?

2. Who is your audience?

How many people are you expecting? How many people do you want to be able to go through the room at once? What kinds of stories might interest them? What is the age range? All of these factors will affect what choices you make when you design your escape room game.

Because I want to maximize participation I do not make teens sign up in advance for escape room events. I just block out a 2 hour chunk of time where I can run the game as many times as I need to. I also design my escape rooms to be adaptable so that they can be played by varying numbers of players in different time limits.

3. Storytime: Why are people locked in a room?

How can they escape? Is escaping their only goal? This part is important,  as when I was fielding suggestions from teens they had awesome ideas like “build the trash compactor from Star Wars.” But it doesn’t make a ton of sense that they would have to unravel clues in that situation. We ended up going with the room being an abandoned spaceship and their goal was to escape AND to get the coordinates for their destination.

4. Think about design.

What space are you going to use? A conference room or the whole library? What materials do you need to turn your library or conference room into this place? A coworker and I recently put together a box of supplies for escape room programs that will be shared systemwide. The most important material is different colors of masking tape! It is amazing what teens can design with just tape. There are also props for mystery and sci-fi theming in the box

5. Time to build the set!

Don’t worry about the clues at this point. Just give your TAB teens or volunteers all of the decorating supplies, tell them the theme and what the room is supposed to be, and set them loose. Anything they think up will be cooler than what you could make on your own.

6. Plan the clues, then plant the clues.

Base this on your answer to the story question. For inspiration look at Breakout EDU’s example games. It can be as simple as hiding keys and lock combos in various places. It can also be as complicated as hiding clues in VR environments, in Minecraft, or having multiple goals in order to escape the room. I recommend doing this after the space is decorated because you will have a better sense of where you can hide things, plus the decorators can still participate in the program because they don’t know what the clues are.

7. Write everything down!

If you get more than a few teens for your program you will want to run the escape room multiple times so having a record of where everything is hidden and what clues lead where is important! You can adapt Breakout EDU’s brainstorming worksheet for this purpose.

Here is my chart from my latest escape room:

Theme: Star Wars

Story: You are a team of rebels assigned to a mission on the planet Tatooine. Your mission has gone awry and Stormtroopers are chasing after you. You have found this abandoned rebel ship. To escape on this ship from Tatooine you must:

  1. Find location of closest rebel base.
  2. Find launch codes for primary, secondary, and tertiary control panels.
Purpose What Will They Do With It? Where Will it Lead?
Mini Safe with Combo(on top of utility shelf) Conceal location of closet rebel base Open it-(password hidden under random chair in room) Location of Yavin 4, closest rebel base (on flash drive)
Numeric Lock 1 Lock up box Open box-(key hidden underneath red lightsaber) Secondary systems control launch code
Numeric Lock 2 Lock up box Open box-(key inside Darth helmet) Primary systems control launch code
Alpha Lock 1 Lock up kitchen cabinet Unlock-Password hidden under safe (password set to DOAY, anagram of Yoda) Tertiary systems control launch code

See Also:

TPiB: Locked in the Library! Hosting an escape room program

TPiB: Escape Room The Game, a review

All About Escape Rooms | School Library Journal

TPiB: The Great Ornament Hack

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Every once in a while, I feel like I have a moment of genius (it’s not often). This Teen MakerSpace activity was one of those moments, I hope. I was standing in Michael’s when I saw this big tube of clear plastic ornaments. In the past, I have done the paint inside the ornament craft with my kids, both at the library and at home. But what, I wondered, if I asked them to take it further? Thus was born The Great Ornament Hack.

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The challenge is simple: Use ANYTHING (Except Legos!) in the Teen MakerSpace to make your ornament how ever you would like. Everything includes both traditional craft and tech elements.

For example, one teen was working on hacking the cap of his ornament to add an LED light so that it would light up.

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We are giving teens about 4 weeks to make their ornaments. Each ornament is being given a number and hung from our ceiling. Beginning December 5th, teens will be invited to vote for their favorite ornament. One lucky teen will receive 100 button making pieces – which is a very popular incentive (we also used this as one of our summer reading prizes).

This is a really open-ended challenge that allows teens to create whatever they want to represent themselves. It can be holiday or non-holiday themed. It can be personal or a gift. The possibilities are limitless and the creativity has been off the charts and exciting to see.

The response to this has been overwhelmingly positive. In the first two days alone we had about 15 ornaments created.

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Some of our hacked ornaments hanging to dry

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Mixed media spider

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There’s a color theme happening here

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Makey Mouse made by me with computer bits and pieces from our Tech Take Apart station

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Mario in process

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Steampunk ornament

As I have mentioned, in addition to having our regularly opened space and standard stations, we like to have temporary stations to keep it fresh and interesting. This challenge has proven to do exactly that.

The complete Mario ornament

The complete Mario ornament

To find out more about the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, start here:

Small Tech, Big Impact: Designing My Maker Space at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) (School Library Journal article, February 2016)

1 Year Later, What I’ve Learned (School Library Journal article, November 2016)