Drop In and Hang Out: Stress S.O.S. Kits

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It’s beginning to look a lot like finals time. The teens in my library are, on the whole, pretty academically motivated. They’re much more likely to be hanging out in the teen area doing homework than just hanging out. So, finals and midterms tend to really stress them out – they want to do a good job! I thought it would be nice to put together some stress relief kits for them.

Here’s what each kit contained:
Mini Hershey chocolate bar
Small piece of bubble wrap
Coloring bookmark
Bag of caffeine-free tea
Card of stress relief tips

I threw all this in a snack-sized baggie.  I also printed some little labels using label paper we had on hand to seal up each bag.

I swiped the bubble wrap from the ILL desk, printed the bookmark and stress relief tips, and threw in some tea I had at my desk. All I had to buy was the Hershey bars, which were about $5 for a family-sized bag. Hopefully they won’t be torn apart for the candy bars too quickly and hopefully they will help some teens feel better.

Drop In and Hang Out: IRL Tetris

easy-irltetrisThis program was inspired by a pin from of a huge Tetris board on a person-sized flannel board. I knew there was no way to replicate that in our space (we have a huge chalkboard and a huge magnet board, but no felt board…) I wanted to make it work, though, so I set to Googling powers to work. I ended up a From ABCs to ACTs, which had some really nice printable Tetris pieces available. I printed them and laminated them, then stuck small pieces of velcro on the back. Finally, I whipped up a sign challenging teens to team up with a friend to play. The children’s department loaned me one of their portable flannelboards and I was done.

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Drop In and Hang Out: Altered Magazine Art

altered magazine art

What up, guys! I haven’t been blogging, but I’ve been doing programming for the past year. I thought it’d be time to dive back in to filling the world in on what I’m doing.

I was browsing the internet the other day when I spotted a link to a post on Spontaneous Art Activities for Teens over at Expressive Art Workshops. I loved a lot of the ideas, and I definitely have a lot of artistic teens who hang out in our teen area.

So, I visited the free magazine exchange in the front of the library, and was delighted that there were some National Geographics up for grabs. I snagged a few and went ahead and cut out some pages to use. When we leave stacks of magazines back in the teen area for collage purposes, they often get “tidied” by the cleaning staff and thrown away. I discovered that our regular markers and colored pencils don’t really play well with glossy magazine paper, so I also put out some of our pastels. I whipped up a sign inviting teens to leave their art on our teen art board or to take it with them, and viola!

Given how stressed out  a lot of teens are with recent news and current events, having out art supplies that they can use to express themselves is definitely a plus. This is an easy program to do, although it works best in a space where you can leave the art supplies without fear of them disappearing (although if a teen steals art supplies, maybe they need them more than we do…?)

Fan Club, Jr: Star Wars

What We Did:

Hey, have you guys heard there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out this month? Seriously, though, we knew that Star Wars was even hotter than usual, with the crushing buzz of the new movie propelling kids and adults alike into a frenzy. Courtney wanted to make Chewbacca bookmarks and BB8s out of Model Magic, and I thought we’d through in perler beads, too (we have a ton of them, kids like them, and they’re super easy). Courtney also had the brilliant and adorable idea of making some Death Star Crunch treats, simply by taping a Death Star on a delicious Little Debbie snack cake.

What I Bought:

$8 for one pack of Model Magic
$4 for two packs of Star Crunch

That’s it! We have tons of perler beads on hand, and we also have a lot of duct tape, craft sticks, and brown felt that we made Chewie bookmarks out of.

How It Went:

We accidentally counter-scheduled one of the many downtown festivals in our area with this program, but we still had about 12 kids come out for this. We put on a DVD of Lego Star Wars, and the kids went crazy making all kinds of cool stuff. We simplified the bookmark by simply having them wrap the felt around the large Popsicle stick and making Chewbacca’s face and bandolier out of duct tape. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The Model Magic is just perfect for making a BB8, but definitely put out markers for the kids to decorate their creations. Otherwise it just looks like they’re making some adorable snowmen.

Art Afternoons: Beth Krommes Scratch Art

2015-10-06 [Art Afternoons - Beth Krommes Scratch Art]

What I Did:

Oops, I did this program several months ago and forgot to blog about it. Anyway, I love Beth Krommes gorgeous picture books, especially Swirl by Swirl  – I just adore the idea of highlighting something so common and yet overlooked in the natural world. When I first thought of using her as inspiration for an Art Afternoons program, I thought her work was done with prints – perhaps woodcut? Nope, she uses scratchboard, which is a super fun thing to experiment with! So that’s what we did, too!

What I Bought:

$4 for 100 scratch art sticks
$4 for 50 Artist Trading Card sized scratchboards
$18 for 40 8.5″x11″ scratchboards

$26 total for a program with a registration cap of 30

How It Went:

This was a fun Art Afternoons, but we definitely had some challenges. The scratchboard sticks didn’t really do a very good job of scratching off the scratchboard. I ended up pulling lots of random stuff from our craft closet – pipe cleaners, jewelry tools, sewing needles, and other scratchy stuff. I let the kids pick their tools.

It also doesn’t take very long to scratch art, so we put out watercolors for the kids to optionally paint their works afterward. This creates a really cool effect.

If you try scratch art at your library, make sure to talk warn your program attendees that they only get one large paper and one small paper (or however much you opt to give them) to use. Lots of kids are used to diving right in and then asking for another paper, which definitely works for some media, but not scratchboards.

This was also a relatively expensive program. Not breaking the bank, exactly, but definitely required more specialized stuff than I would prefer.

 

 

Fan Club: The Hunger Games

may the odds

What We Did:

I must admit that this is one of our last weekly programs that I actually had much to do with. As our Youth Services Tech Courtney settles into her new position, I’m transitioning a lot of our regular teen programs over to her. I’m focusing more on long-term planning, the volunteer program, programs for tweens, special programs, and collection development.

Anyway, I think Hunger Games was my idea, but she really ran with it and it was great! We made paper rose pins and pencil arrows. To make the paper flowers, Courtney made a template of three different sized flowers. The teens traced the template three times each, then cut out the flowers. You staple the flowers in the middle, and then just scrunch up the petals for a 3D effect. Finally, we dipped the edges of the petals in red paint, to give it an extra President Snow feel. Teens could then attach a sticky bar pin to the back, so they could wear it.

For the arrows, Courtney was originally inspired by a post she saw that involved gluing feathers to pencils. We tried it, and it’s super hard to glue feathers to pencils, guys! We ended up using duct tape, which was much easier and actually allowed for so many more colors. You just wrap the duct tape around the pencil’s end, making little flaps in several places by sticking together part of the duct tape. Then, you cut the flaps into a feather shape, and voila! If you have teens who are particularly crafty or bored, they can also make a little mini-quiver from duct tape.

 

What We Bought:

$5 for a pack of plain colored pencils for the arrows

That’s it! We had everything else on hand!

How It Went:

I made a playlist of Hunger Games parodies, interviews, and fan interviews, and we hung out for a while with some teens!  As usual, the teens actually care less about the crafts than they do about hanging out. It was a fun program, and I’m glad we kept it pretty low-key. I think either of these crafts would actually work really well as a passive program, too!

Anime Club: Lucky Star Jars

stars

What We Did:

When Courtney, our Youth Services tech who will be taking over Anime Club and Fan Club soon, suggested doing folded paper stars for Anime Club, I was immediately on board. They’re so cute! And also very easy. I  knew, though, that the teens would need a little more structure to keep their attention for the full hour. So I suggested Lucky Star Jars – we provide the paper and the jars, and they fold enough stars to fill them up and look adorable.

Then, as usually happens, I was stymied at the craft store. Jars are pretty expensive! (I later learned I could have grabbed a flat of small mason jars at a big box store like Target for pretty cheaply.) Not wanting to blow our whole budget forever on plain glass jars, and without enough time to scavenge enough jars from the thrift store, I strolled through the aisles of the store, looking for something that would work. Since it was mid-November, there were already a ton of Christmas things out (OF COURSE). So, I grabbed two packs of clear glass ornaments, and was on my way.

What We Bought:

$20 for 2 12 packs of plain ornaments (similar to these)

That’s it! We used paper we had on hand for the stars.

How It Went:

Did you know I’m terrible at folding paper? It’s true! My stars all looked like little lumps, but many of the teens were more successful than I was, and their ornaments looked so great filled with multicolored or uniform stars. Some teens decided to just fill their ornaments with scraps of paper, or curled strips of paper. Works for me! Everyone left happy, and this was a relatively cheap program.

Fan Club, Jr: Minecraft

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What I Did:

So what are a gal and her trusty youth services tech to do when they need to throw together a popular program fast with little time to prepare? MINECRAFT TO THE RESCUE!

First, I hit up my favorite site ever, Pinterest, for some ideas. Thankfully, there are some moms who are ON IT out there, and have posted a ton of information about their amazing Minecraft parties. I scavenged for ideas that would work for us, made a quick trip to the store, and *boom* we were ready to go.

Luckily, the low-res, retro feel of Minecraft lends itself extremely well to papercrafting. I printed out plenty of these blocks here and set them out with glue sticks and scissors. As a note, if you do this at your library, the Creeper blocks were by far the most popular. Next time I’d just do all creepers, probably.

I also wanted to make lifesize torches. I grabbed a template at FPS-X-Games and picked up some electronic tea lights at the Dollar Tree. They definitely had them the cheapest I could find, at $2 a dollar. I may have been able to get them cheaper online if I had planned better, but, you live and you learn. The Dollar Tree candles at my Dollar Tree were multicolored and cycled through the rainbow, even though they didn’t indicate it anywhere on the package. This didn’t bother me or any of my tweens, but buyer beware, I guess.

Finally, I put out the old perler beads. Some basic patterns are found on this amazing Minecraft party page. I love perler beads because they’re cheap (we already have a tooooooooon of them) and they take a pretty long time. So it’s win/win in terms of bang for your buck. Also, everyone seems to love them, from young elementary school kids on up.

What I Bought:

$12 for 24 tealights
$2 for two bags of pretzels (“sticks”)
$6 for a box of Rice Crispie treats (“dirt”)

That’s it! If you’re following along at home, be sure to buy a few more tealights than you think you’ll need, as there will surely be a couple of duds in there.

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How It Went:

This was a pretty darn well-attended program – we had 21 kiddos come out on a Thursday evening to celebrate all things Minecraft. During the program, we put on Minecraft videos from KidsTube, and after the first few, we let the tweens pick the next videos to watch. If you do this, put a signup sheet next to the computer! Otherwise everyone thinks they’re next.

The torches were super cool! If you do make them at home, make sure to print the template on cardstock, so it’s heavy enough to stand up on it’s own. We found that the best way to make the light stay at the top was to stuff the assembled torch full of crumpled up tissue paper, then just set the light on top.

This was a really fun program, and proof that, at my library at least, Minecraft shows no signs of letting up.

Fan Club: Steven Universe

2015-10-10 [Fan Club + Fan Club, Jr Steven Universe flyer]

What I Did:

When our Youth Services Tech resigned last month, I knew I had to take over Fan Club, if only for a month or two until we found her replacement.  I made the mistake of telling my Anime Club kids this, and they immediately started begging for a Steven Universe program. I asked them to describe what Steven Universe was, and got…confused. But, you know, I’m up for anything, so I did some quick research and agreed it sounded cool.

If you don’t know, Steven Universe is an animated show to appears on Cartoon Network. It’s about some gemstones, but they’re really people, and they save the world. Or something. I’m about a dozen episodes in and I still don’t really understand it, but it’s a funny show, and my teens made a great case for it, using terms like “good representation for QUILTBAG teens” and “body positivity” (these are actual words that came out of their mouths).

The tricky thing is, it’s not like the program lends itself to easy crafts (although what does). We could have made Steven’s iconic red shirt with a yellow star, but tshirt crafts kind of stress me out. I never know how many shirts to buy, and in what size. Plus, as a chubby kid, I would practically have an anxiety attack trying to figure out if an activity’s planner would have bought a tshirt big enough for me. Ugh, no thanks.

I instead settled on one of my all-time favorite fallback activities: shrinky dinks! I picked up a couple of packs of them, and was trolling around the internets trying to find another activity when I stumbled upon Galaxy Jars (there are a ton of tutorials out there…here’s one: http://www.m-magazine.com/posts/diy-super-colorful-galaxy-jars-for-your-friends-in-just-four-easy-steps-56612). Pretty much you put some water in a bottle, add in some paint, mix it up, and then add some cotton balls. Since I had a ton of leftover bottles from a previous program, I figured this would be the perfect craft!

What I Bought:

$12 for two packs of Shrinky Dinks
$6 for extra tiny bottles because I’m paranoid about running out of supplies (I used ones like this)
$3 for gemstones to glue on top, so it could be more Steven-universe-y

That’s it! I had cotton balls and paint on hand, along with glitter. If I were doing this program again, I would spring for some extra-fine glitter to make it an extra-special program.

How It Went:

Galaxy BottlesPretty well! Things I learned from this program: don’t let teens use permanent markers on your tables without putting down tablecloths; nail polish remover will remove permanent marker; teens are terrible at pouring liquids into tiny bottles; and Steven Universe is pretty awesome. I wish I had made pancakes so we could have had Together Breakfast, but I got pinched for time! The kids had lots of fun talking about Steven Universe and making stuff. Honestly, I think with Fan Club, the fun thing is getting together with other teens who like the same stuff you do, and the activity is just something to do while you’re hanging out. But I like to sneak in fun stuff that requires them to play around a little, too. It’s a little thing I like to call planning and decision making – TAKE THAT, DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS!

Anime Club: Terrariums

What I Did:

This Anime Club is an example of how if you don’t plan ahead and buy supplies before the day of your program, you might run into a snag! But it’s also an example of how everything will be fine anyway. So, my program started, as nearly all my programs do, with an idea I saw on Pinterest (are you noticing this theme? It’s because it’s so easy for my visual self to scroll through Pinterest and find things that sound fun!) I saw this great spice bottle terrarium craft at The Art of Making, and I thought, that sounds cool! I figured we could watch The Secret World of Arrietty, because it’s all about tiny things.

So, I set out for the store to get some spice bottles, but on the way, I passed a thrift store. I am constitutionally unable to actually pass a thrift store, and while I was in there, I noticed all manner of cute glass containers. I figured it’s cool to use recycled  materials when I can, and if I got little containers from the thrift, everyone could have something unique! so, I bought about a dozen vases, former candle containers, and glasses, and I was set (also I bought some adorable new dresses, but that’s beside the point).

I had some potting soil on hand at home that I was willing to donate, and we had plenty of sand, rocks, and glass stones left over from previous programs that I was happy to leave out. All I needed now were some adorable succulents, right? So out I head to Lowe’s. Except did you know that succulents are really expensive, and that if you shop for them in September the selection stinks! I DO NOW! So I just looked around and ended up picking some other plants.

What I Bought:

$12 for fifteen glass containers at Goodwill (color of the week for the win!)
$6 for twelve fuzzy looking plants
$12 for twelve spikey colorful looking plants (sorry that’s not more specific. I have a black thumb, and am not really up on my plant IDs)
Potting soil on hand
Glass beads on hand

So, total outlay for this program was about $30 for enough supplies for fifteen kids, which works out to about $2 per teen. If you planned ahead, I think you could put out the call for donations and scrounge up the glass containers for free. I think most people have some random vases or pickle jars around that they would be happy to unload on ya.

How It Went:

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This teen has decided that she’s going to pose like that every week for our Anime Club recaps. EPIC.

The root balls for the plants I chose ended up being a little too large for some of the containers, and nobody made Pinterest-worthy art. But I think the teens who don’t get to do outside stuff much appreciated learning what the roots of the plants are (geez, it makes me sad to type that) and everybody was excited to take something home. I’m 100% sure these plants will all be dead within six weeks, but hey, you win some, you lose some.

I had fifteen teens at this Anime Club, what what! We’ve got a couple of middle schoolers who have been coming and told their friends to come, and some older teens who have become regulars who also showed up. It’s so hard to know how much to buy for Anime Club, because sometimes I have two teens, and sometimes I have a dozen! We ran out of glass containers because at about halfway through the hour, I let some early comers make an extra terrarium. Of course, that meant five more teens came in right then and we ran out. Oh well! Everyone seemed to have fun, although I had to shut down a couple of inappropriate jokes from one of the younger teens. I know that’s one of the reasons that teen programming is so important, though – having a place to hang out outside of school that is semi-structured is a big deal and definitely meeting their developmental needs.