This idea was originally inspired by this pin from, of all places, Highlights magazine. I wanted to make some miniature zen gardens – but just putting some sand and rocks in a container would take all of like five minutes. I wanted to pick out some boxes that teens could easily decorate. I was poking around Discount School Supply and discovered that papier-mache boxes were surprisingly expensive! I did stumble upon these hideaway paper books that are about $14 for a dozen. I ordered one pack, since my usual anime club turnout is small. Because I had a large turnout last Anime Club (because of summer!), I was afraid I would run out of supplies. So on a Hobby Lobby run, I spotted and picked up some of these white jewelry gift boxes; I got a pack of seven for $8.
For decorating the outside of the boxes, I ordered a pack of 100 washi tape rolls from AliExpress for $7. AliExpress usually takes a loooooong time to ship, so I made sure to order a couple of months in advance. I also grabbed the Sharpies we keep on hand for additional decorating.
While I know I *could* have foraged for sand and rocks, I took the easy way out and grabbed two bottles of white craft sand from Discount School Supply for $4 each. I also picked up two bags of rocks from the Dollar Tree. I grabbed a pack of plastic forks from the craft closet to serve as rakes.
So, here’s what I spent:
$13 on paper books
$7 on jewelry gift boxes
$8 on craft sand
$2 on rocks
$7 on washi tape
forks, Shapries were already hanging around and free!
So, I spent about $37 total for enough supplies for twenty kids. This is definitely more than I would have spent at my old library, but the library I’m currently at has a pretty solid teen programming budget, so I think we did okay.
How’d It Go?
This was a little bit of a strange Anime Club because we were displaced from our usual meeting room location because of a children’s performer. I just wheeled my cart back to the teen area, though, and luckily there were already some teens back there. I offered up some iPads in case the teens wanted to stream some anime from Crunchy Roll, but nobody wanted them. They preferred just hanging out and chatting.
I could tell at first they thought I was crazy with my craft idea. After a couple of teens started, though, they others jumped on board. I let them pick what kind of box they wanted and then turned them loose to decorate it. They came out awesomely! One teen made a Death Note box, which I thought was an ironic contrast to the soothing aspect of the Zen garden. The washi tape had some really cute patterns, and some that were pretty…strange…but part of the fun was picking through them and making fun of the scary vegetable ones.
We had a pretty big turnout again, and I think meeting in the teen area was actually kind of great. I feel like I got to chat with everyone and it was pretty chill. I’d like to get new furniture in our teen area, and get a TV back there, so we can do programs more easily.