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.

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: 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:


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.

Anime Club: Pancake Sushi

What I Did:

Like many of my programs, this one was born on Pinterest. I saw this sweet pin of waffle sushi, and I definitely thought it was something that sounded fun (and delicious!) Even though I have a solid budget for teen programming, though, I just couldn’t justify buying a pizzelle maker that we would probably only use once. I can think of a hundred uses for an electric skillet, though, so I figured we could just use pancakes instead of waffles and it would still be delicious!

What I Bought:

$20 electric skillet
$4 for two containers of whipped cream cheese – one plain and one berry
$2 for complete pancake mix (generic, yo!)
$1 for a spatula (you might already have one of these on hand if you do cooking programs a lot!)
$2 for some syrup
$2 for a container of strawberries
$2 for a bunch of bananas

Total, about $33 for supplies, with about two thirds of that going toward equipment (the skillet and the spatula) that we can use again and again. If you do cooking programs with your teens already, you might have these things on hand, which would make this a pretty darn cheap program.

How It Went:

IMG_2793 IMG_2794 Teen poses with awesome pancake sushi roll IMG_2797

This was my first Anime Club since school is back in session; we are on programming pause for August to give us time to recover. I was a little scared that not many teens would show up – what if my healthy summer numbers were just a fluke? What if the teens hated me? WHAT IF I’M A SMELLY LOSER?

Welp, apparently none of that is true. We had a nice crowd of about 10 teens, with a few newcomers and a good bunch of regulars. I had a teen help me measure out the mix and water (life skills!); we made sure to add a little more water than suggested to make a loose batter for better rolling. I set a teen with some knife skills to cutting the strawberries and bannanas into slices. I manned the skillet, and my flipping skills were put to the test. Some of the pancakes were more…beautiful…than others, but all were tasty. The teens had a lot of fun spreading the cream cheese on their pancakes and adding fruit. They also had a lot of fun mocking my flipping failures, but that’s life. Some teens ended up making more pancake taco, but hey, it’s still delicious in my book!

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!



Art Afternoons: An Exploration of Eric Carle

One of the goals in our Youth Services Programming Plan this year was to add some more programming for the dreaded tween population (they’re not really dreaded, but what do you CALL the kids ages 10-12?). My library has tried programming for kids who aren’t quite teens before in all kinds of ways, but it never took off. Or, it would take off for a while, and then the numbers would quickly dwindle to 1 or 2 kids a week. All our previous efforts, though, were on Saturday afternoons, which are a pretty busy time for lots of families. Realizing we had a huge audience already using the libraries on weekday afternoons right after school, I wanted to try launching some programs during that time for kids ages 8-12. After seeing a post on Art Afternoons over at Library as Incubator Project, I knew I wanted to brazenly rip it off.

I even settled on one of the artists mentioned in the post for a nice, easy start: Eric Carle. To prepare, I threw together a quick slideshow that featured some examples of Eric Carle’s work, a video of Carle working, and a short definition and history of collage. I also posed the following questions on the last slide:

What do you want your collage to look like? Take a few minutes to sketch out your animal or bug before you start cutting. Remember that big, simple shapes will be the easiest to cut out.

What colors do you want to use? Do you want to make a realistic-looking brown dog? Or a fantastical purple elephant?

How do the different layers of paper change each other? Can you put two different colored papers on top of each other to make a new paper?

What textures do you want to use? What happens if you rip your paper instead of cutting it? What happens if you wrinkle your paper up a little while the glue is still wet?

Because I wanted this program to be a fun and focused experience for our young artists, we requested that people register and capped registration at 30. By program day, all 30 spots were filled and there was a waitlist of five people.

On the day of the program I set up three rows of three tables each, and set out thirty chairs. I also set out a row of chairs in the back for parents who wanted to stay. Each table was covered with our trusty tablecloths, and I set up two tables along the side of the room for supplies. One table held every kind of tissue paper I could find in our craft closet, and the other held scissors, plates with glue, brushes, and big sheets of construction paper.

As kids arrived, my co-worker and I checked them in. Although 30 people had registered, we had about 20 kids show up. Because our registration form requires kid’s ages, we actually had a full group of kids in the specified age range, which is pretty cool! Our librarian who focuses on younger kids will be doing a session of the program with the same artists for the under 7 set later this week, which helped prevent little bitties from joining us for our more intense session. Parents were invited to wait in the back of the room or browse for books in the rest of the library.

Once the time for the program to roll around started, I introduced myself and welcomed everyone. I read The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse to the crowd, making sure to take time on each page to point out different techniques Carle used and give people plenty of time to see the art. After I was done reading, I showed my slideshow. I was really impressed by how well the kids paid attention.

After the slideshow, I passed out scrap paper and pencils to everyone and invited them to sketch out what they wanted to make before they started. I let each table go to the supply table and pick out what they wanted one at a time, to prevent a mad dash and pandemonium. Once everyone had their supplies, kids could go back to get more paper as many times as they wanted.

This program was a great success! People were already asking about next month, and the art these kids made was incredible! The kids were a joy to work with, and it was practically free. We had tons of tissue paper, glue, and scissors on hand, so it was a good stash buster activity, too.

Next month, we’ll be doing scratchboard art. I’m still debating whether I’ll have teen volunteers make the scratchboards or if we’ll buy kids. Either way, be sure to check back soon for another episode of Hushlander brazenly copies a library program to great success!

Drop in and Hang Out: Thaumatropes

I was inspired to do this week’s Drop In and Hang Out by a post over at the always awesome Library as Incubator Project. Have you seen this site yet? It’s great, and full of ideas about how to incorporate more art, science, and awesome into library services.

Anyhow, this is a super easy passive program! Just print some of the templates linked in the Library as Incubator Project, and put them out with scissors, hole punches, and yarn. This is a great way to use up some of the random yarn that tends to accumulate in library craft closets. I also made a quick sign that instructed teens how to put it together (Cut. Fold. Punch. Tie.) and put out some finished examples.

That’s it! If you’re feeling really frisky, you can also put out blank templates and encourage teens to draw their own thaumatropes. This is also a great place to sneak in some books on optical illusions.

Easy peasy mac and cheesy – and free! Another easy passive program from me to you!

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.

Drop In and Hang Out: Handwritten Notes at Hushlander

Drop In and Hang Out: Handwritten Notes

Drop In and Hang Out: Handwritten Notes at Hushlander


The inspiration for this week’s teen passive program comes from me trying to simplify my life and get rid of stuff I’m not going to use. I was sorting through my stationary and realized I have a ton of really cute notecards – way more than I’ll ever use. So I hauled in a variety of cards, and put them out on the table with some different colored pens and an invitation for teens to write a letter to their parents, friends, or future selves. We’re perpetually short on attractive containers to display program supplies in, so I grabbed a couple of sheets of scrap booking paper and used this easy tutorial to fold up some holders for the pens and stationary.

How’d it go?

Well, I’m not sure yet! I’ve actually caught up on my drop in and hang out posts, so I just put this display out today. I’ll be sure to report back!