Tag Archives: passive programming

Drop In and Hang Out: Take What You Need; Leave What You Can


As I mentioned in a previous post, our teens are feeling pretty stressed out lately. Between exams, family stuff, and the holidays, it can be one of the hardest times of the year. We’re also feeling the holiday pinch in terms of staffing, so I wanted something that addressed the teens’ feelings and was easy for me to do. I ended up finding a page of printable fortune cookie sayings for kids  which were also applicable to teens. I printed up a few pages of the sayings, along with a few blank slips. I cut the slips apart, folded them, and put them in the teen area. In a separate bin, I put the empty strips. We already have markers, pens, and colored pencils in the teen area. I am hopeful the teens will create their own encouragements to leave, and will find something that will make them feel better in the meantime.

I hope all one of my readers out there are having Decembers that aren’t too stressful, too!


Drop In and Hang Out: Artist Trading Cards


A super easy passive/sneak program for teens

Here’s a real lazy days passive program for you: artist trading cards. We’ve done this program both as a scheduled program and as a passive program before, and it’s pretty durn easy.


The first thing you need to do is make or procure some blank cards. You have a lot of options for this! You can pick up a pack of blank business cards, purchase a pack of blank playing cards, or even just cut up some cardstock into playing card-sized rectangles. This particular program was inspired by my scrounging around in our passive program supplies and turning up a couple of packs of Scratch-art trading cards we bought for a scratch art program almost a year ago. I whipped up a quick sign, put out two little containers (one for new cards and one for arted-up cards, and BOOM.

If you haven’t heard of artist trading cards, I’ll be a bad librarian and point you over to Wikipedia for the history of the medium. Essentially, they’re a cool way to share art and challenge yourself to make your art on a tiny scale.

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.


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!

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!

Drop In and Hang Out: Mandala Coloring

Did you know teens love to color? Yeah, they didn’t know it either. But they do! It’s super soothing and teens get stressed! So this week, I printed off a bunch of sheets from http://www.printmandala.com/, bought a pack of art markers using a sweet 60% off coupon from Joann, and put it all out. I can’t deny, it’s pretty delightful to wander back to the teen area to tidy up and find the bright pages scattered around.

Again, if you are holding back on doing passive programming for teens because you don’t have a budget, give coloring sheets a try! Or print out some Cubee Crafts and throw them out.  Or put out some black out poetry supplies, or a sign for book spine poetry. There are so many awesome, cheap ideas on Pinterest, and I really do believe that having a stealth program going on in the teen area makes teens feel more welcome in the library. Give it a try!

Drop In and Hang Out: Photography Apps

One of the things I wanted to avoid when I was mapping out program ideas for Drop In and Hang Out was a saturation of craft programs. Now, I love a craft program (LOVE LOVE LOVE), but I know that they’re certainly not up every teen’s alley. I wanted to make sure that teens knew that although we do make a lot of stuff in teen programs, we also do a lot of other things. So, I’m trying to change it up and do non-crafty things at least half the time.


This week, I highlighted some free photography apps for iPhones and Androids. I made a quick little handout to put on the table (you can download it by clicking here if you’re interested; feel free to use it or modify it however you’d like), and created a quick sign in Canva encouraging teens to tag us on social media if they take pictures in the library. That’s it! I know lots of teens (and adults!) don’t really explore new apps very often – it seems like most people go crazy right when they get their phones and then don’t download much after that. I also know that lots of people don’t really have time to mess about looking for cool, free apps, and sometimes end up buying a program when there are cool alternatives out there. So, this is a stab at super low-pressure digital literacy. That works, right?

Passive Program: Cup Stacking

cup stacking

Okay, pretty much every single week I tell you my boredom buster/passive program is the easiest one, so you’re probably not going to believe me that this is really truly so simple you won’t believe it. Here’s what I did: I put out some paper bathroom cups (three packs – about 150 cups total) and an invitation for kids to stack them. I did also grab a bunch of books about construction and engineering, but this program is far more popular than the work I put in permits! All week kids have been creating stacks (like the one seen above – it wasn’t me who made that pyramid!) – experimenting with different shapes and structures. We’ll occasionally hear the soft “clickityclackcrash” of the cups falling, and then, without fail, a new tower will rise.

Cup stacking is like blocks for kids who think they’re too old and cool to play with blocks. Put them out, and see the collaboration and creation that results!

Passive Program: Scavenger Hunt

Passive Programming Scavenger Hunt

I knew I wanted to do some sort of scavenger hunt as part of my Boredom Buster station this summer, but it wasn’t until Tiny Tips for Library Fun highlighted Amy The Show Me Librarian’s  way of using a scavenger hunt as a way of highlighting the collection that I started thinking about what I wanted my scavenger hunt to accomplish. I definitely wanted to get kids looking at areas of the collection they might not know about, and I also wanted it to be fun enough that kids would actually do it. So, I printed out a picture of Gerald and Piggie and one of Bad Kitty (who I’ve been getting mad requests for lately). I also made up a small scavenger hunt questionnaire. I hid Gerald and Piggie by our award books, and stashed Bad Kitty below our kid’s magazines. My questions asked kids to think about what was special about the collection Gerald and Piggie were near, and how many of the items Bad Kitty was hiding under they could take home.

So, I had set up an awesome scavenger hunt highlighting our collections, but I really did want to give kids who finished a prize. I pulled out some super cute reading themed temporary tattoos we had laying around from last summer. But I wanted something more – something kids could take home with them to continue the hunt at home. Inspiration came from the strangest of places – Buzzfeed. Scroll down to number 35 on this list for the picture that gave me the idea. I pretty much retyped the nature scavenger hunt they picture, printed out the lists two to a sheet on pretty paper, and stapled the list to lunch sized paper bags. As each kid finished our in-library scavenger hunt, a staff member would chat with them about what they found, give them a tattoo, and give them a scavenger hunt to take home.

I am really thankful to Amy and Marge for their thought-provoking posts on how to make scavenger hunts in the library, you know, about the library. This boredom buster was a total success. On the first day, I spotted two different families who finished the scavenger hunt with award books in hand. I’m glad that I could shine a little light on the award section, since I feel like it gets forgotten so often – lots of parents and kids don’t think to browse there, which is a shame. I also heard so many kids excitedly chattering to their parents about where they could do their nature hunt.

This passive program does take a little more direct interaction with staff – so if you want to try it at your library, make sure everyone on staff is on board with making sure kids have a good experience when they finish. Hopefully everyone who works in your library is excited about kids using the collection and exploring, but I know that that isn’t always true. If you DO have staff who are on board, this is such a great way to 1) highlight some of the less-used parts of your collection, and 3) encourage some kid/staff interaction.

Passive Program: Collaborative Color Wheel

photo 3 (5)

This is a passive program I ripped right out of our school-aged summer series and plopped on the boredom buster table. It’s dead simple, but really fun! I took a piece of white poster board and divided it up into six wedges. I looked up my trusty color wheel colors and wrote in the appropriate colors in each wedge. Then I put out discarded magazines, scissors, and glue, and invited kids to cut things out of the magazines and paste them in the right wedges. I like making collaborative art – I think it’s fun for kids to be a part of something everyone is working on together.

My favorite part of this super simple boredom buster is the excellent collection possibilities. Art books, picture books about colors, books about color mixing, books about light…the list goes on. I grabbed a ton of colorful books and threw them up, and they checked out like crazy.

Okay, I know I’ve said all these boredom busters are easy, but this one really is easy, too! You gotta try some of this stuff if you can claim a table or corner of your library. It’s really good to have an activity out for our school aged kids so they feel like the library is a place that’s welcoming to them no matter when they get here!