Category Archives: everything else

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.



Anime Club: Lucky Star Jars


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


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.


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.

DIY@Your Library For Teens: Metal Stamping

DIY@Your Library for Teens: Metal Stamping Workshop

What I Did:

Sticking with my theme of offering less-crafty, more fun and maker-y stuff for DIY@Your Library for Teens, I set to Pinterest and started scrolling. I noticed some really cool metal jewelry pinned from Etsy that had bookish things printed on them, like this cool Not All Who Wander Are Lost bracelet. We could totally do that! I set to work gathering supplies, put a couple of metalworking books on hold, and set to work.

What I Bought:

1 set of lower-case 1/8 inch letter stamps (tip: buy these at a discount tool store like Harbor Freight! You won’t get as many cool fonts, but they’re literally a fourth as much as from a hobby story): $12

Twenty or so soft strike jewelry blanks from Hobby Lobby: $10

Jewelry hammer from Hobby Lobby (if I did this again, I’d probably buy regular hammers from Harbor Freight so I could get more – here’s a listing for five hammers for $17) : $10

Jewelry printing block (this is just a heavy block of metal) : $10

So, total cost of the program was $42, but the majority of the items are reusable. I only bought one hammer since I only had two teens registered for the program, but you’d want to scale up if you had a larger turnout.

How It Went:

The good news is that one of my favorite regulars showed up for this program! The bad news is that that’s the only person who did! Bummer. We spent an hour chatting, and she hit stuff with a hammer, so it wasn’t a complete wash. The jewelry from this program looks really cool and industrial, and I think these supplies would make a great addition to a maker space, especially if you bought several sizes and fonts of stamps.

I’ve decided to give this ill-fated program three more months, until December, before I scrap it. Hopefully attendance will pick up, but I’m thinking that the slightly out-of-the-way location, combined with the lack of regulars, might be the kiss of death. We shall see!



Easy DIY Zen Garden

Anime Club: DIY Zen Gardens

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?

IMG_2728 Easy DIY Zen Garden

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.

Teen Display: Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

I’ve been trying to make our teen displays more flexible and accessible to teens – sometimes it’s easy to fall in to the trap of, like, narrative nonfiction books about people who lived in the 1920s and who are named Jim. Which makes a cool display, if you can fill it, but makes it difficult for other staff to feel like they can jump in and refresh the display, and sometimes leaves you with a display that mostly empty space a week in. By choosing broad topics, I’ve found that 1) I can actual fill the display with backlist books that are awesome, but need the right reader, 2) the displays look full and happy, 3) other staff are more likely to help out, and 4) I only have to change out the displays once a month. I’m super duper lazy, and I do not have the time or inclination to change them out every week. That’s crazy!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I really wanted to do a display that highlights some non-neurotypical characters. I didn’t want to just plop down a display that was like “LOOK AT THESE PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES!!!”, because that seemed weird and abrupt. So, I settled on the idea of walking in someone else’s shoes, headed over to Morgue File, and found some shoes. I took those shoe pics over to Canva (Canva is my new boyfriend, y’all), whipped up a poster, and grabbed some books with characters who are struggling with different kinds of challenges (OCD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia). Boom! Display!

If you’d like to grab the display sign for yourself, download the PDF here: Walk a mile.

Have you done any great displays lately? How do you get ideas for displays?

Colorful Bird Guessing Game

Because I’m a wimp, I decided to go with colors for my storytime themes during our Winter Session. I figured that color are nice and wide themes that offer lots of opportunities to use different books. I wanted to make an interactive board that I could use every week. I was originally going to snag a board with cars and garages that our Early Literacy committee made for an awesome transportation themed play and learn, but alas, those are in the wind at one of our branches. Then, in a flash of brilliance, I remembered that I had a lot (like a LOT) of paper plates cut in half from a hedgehog craft last year during SRP. So, I painted them a different colors, cut out some felt birds, and came up with a rhyme. Here’s the result:

Birds in Nests

Each week, I’ll take out all the birds, and for each bird, we’ll say:

Little bird, you’ve flown so far, 
and now you need to rest.
Fly back and sleep in your RED (or yellow, or orange) nest.

I think my toddlers will definitely enjoy the game-like aspect of this, and they really enjoy the songs we repeat every week! I’ll report back on how it goes!

Kidslit Review: Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl

Genie Wishes” Fifth grade, that’s when everything started to get weird ” says an insightful and slightly older character to Genie, main character in Elisabeth Dahl’s Genie Wishes. And weird it is, even for Genie, smart and sweet fifth grader at a small private day school. When she’s elected to be class blogger, Genie expects for the school year to be great. Everything seems to be changing, though – from boys to bras to best friends. Can Genie get through the year in one piece?

Full of humor, well-rounded characters, and all the drama of middle-school, this chapter book did an excellent job of capturing a really difficult transitional period that everyone goes through. Family relationships are well-balanced with friend and body issues.

One thing I really liked about this book is that there were lots of things that could be an issue in other books (like a parent dating after the death of a spouse, or different kinds of nontraditional family arrangements) that are just seamlessly integrated into the background of the novel. It makes the story much richer than it would otherwise be, and I think it really affords lots of kids to opportunity to see themselves in the book.

A funny and sweet book, I would recommend this title to kids who like Meg Cabot’s Allie Finkle books, or elementary school girls looking for a humorous realistic fiction read.

Patrons and Parents

One of the challenges I’ve had to deal with at every library I’ve worked at is parents. Not that all parents are challenging! Most of them are really nice people. Lots of them are excited that their kids or teens are reading (or worried that they aren’t!) and are happy to be in the library.

Many parents, though, are, um, kind of nightmares.  There are two primary kinds of problem parents: ignore-rs and hover-ers. Ignore-ers are, pretty much, exactly what you’d expect. They’re the parents come to the library and immediately become blind to their children’s actions. Their toddler is pulling out toilet paper and using it like streamers in the bathroom? Ignore. Their infant is screaming their tiny, adorable face red because they don’t have anything to do? Ignore. Their preschooler is dragging his sister across the floor because they got into it at the early learning computer? Ignore.

The hardest thing when dealing with Ignore-ers is asking them to pay attention to their children without implying that they’re being neglectful parents. It’s really hard! I’ve definitely gotten a little better at this over the past few years, but I still find it incredibly uncomfortable to draw attention to the fact that people’s children are misbehaving.  Often, I try to just solve the problem indirectly by offering the baby a board book, or guiding the preschooler to the coloring table.

Weirdly, Hover-ers are just as bad. I’ve mostly encountered these parents when I’m trying to do reader’s advisory or reference research with a kid or teen. These parents are the ones who insist that their kids would never be interested in a mystery, even while the child is clutching five to their chest. Or the parents who really want their kids to “only read the classics”, and won’t let me show their kiddo how awesome Bone is.  Other than carefully spinning my book blurbs to appeal to parents and kids alike, I haven’t mastered the Hover-ers.  I usually just try to spin my book blurbs in to something that will appeal to teens (or kids or whoever) and parents alike. But have you tried that? It’s super hard! Kid-tested, parent-approved indeed.

So, there you go.  My challenge this week? Work on dealing with parents of both types so that we all get what we want: happy kids.