Slinky Painting

Today we hosted a really fun art program – slinky painting. Teens used slinkys instead of paint brushes to make some very interesting pieces. They experimented with lots of different techniques to achieve a variety of aesthetics: rolling the slinky on its side, flinging the slinky on the canvas, dragging the slinky around the canvas. It was a blast! Since we hosted the program outside the front entrance, a lot of people gathered around to see what was going on (there were some adults who were very jealous to no longer be sixth graders). It was also a fairly inexpensive program. We already had the paint and canvases. I purchased mini-slinkys at Dollar Tree and was able to get 40 slinkys for around $20.

If you decide to host this program, remember that it is extremely messy. Definitely consider hosting it outdoors and let participants know in advance to dress for a mess. Our teens come to the library right after school and even though I provided aprons, some of their white uniform shirts got paint on them. Also, teenagers will try to fight each other with slinkys – so be ready for that.

Overall, it was an excellent program and we had around 22 attendees. We’ll definitely do this one again!

Preparing for May the Fourth

Confession: I hate Star Wars! I blame my hatred on a college ex-boyfriend, but we won’t get too far into it (that’s what I pay my therapist for). However, I recognize that the Star Wars fandom is massive and that I should at least host a program for them on their day – May the Fourth. Here’s a run-down of what I have planned:

DIY Glow Stick Lightsabers

DIY Glow Stick Star Wars Light Sabers for Kids






This tutorial is simple and requires only glow sticks, Sharpies, and duct tape.  I thought about doing the pool noodle light sabers, but if I learned anything from our Festivus Party – it’s that my teens can’t be trusted with anything that could possibly be used to hit someone with.

The Force Awakens BINGO

Star Wars Bingo

I’m planning to screen The Force Awakens, but I wanted to do something other than just showing the movie. To make it more interactive, I created a BINGO game to go along with it (with the help of this generator from Darths & Droids). Click here to download the set of 15 cards for your own Star Wars event.


I am going to attempt to make Princess Leia cupcakes and Star Wars party mix.  For beverages we’re going to serve Yoda Soda & Vaderade.

Coloring Sheets

I’m going to leave coloring sheets out in the Teen Zone all day as a passive program.

That’s all I have planned for now. Not too shabby for a non-fan.

Squirt Gun Painting

My after-school crowd has been clamoring to do more art-related programs. I have many artist pals, but their talents have yet to rub off on me. As a result, art programs aren’t really my forte but I try to give the teens what they want (within reason). One of our branch locations hosted a squirt gun painting program, which sounded like a fun event that I could pull off without needing any amazing artistic abilities. It turned out awesome! One of the teens told me it was the best library activity ever and the paintings were gorgeous. Check them out in the slideshow below:

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Here’s what you’ll need if you want to host your own squirt gun painting event:

  • Squirt guns (the cheap ones worked okay, but a few did bust and leak)
  • Liquid watercolors (you could also mix tempera paint and water)
  • Canvases
  • Gloves
  • Smocks
  • An outdoor space to host the event

You will need to lay down the ground rules with the teens right away . For me, that was no squirting each other or pointing guns at each other. Our event went smoothly, but there’s always room for improvement. I didn’t think to label the paint colors on the squirt guns which would have been very helpful. I would also recommend planning an activity for the teens to do while they wait for their paintings to dry. Overall, this was an excellent event that gave our teens a unique creative outlet.

Cozy Crafts for Winter Months


Looking for some simple crafts for your winter teen programs? Here’s two cozy and easy fleece projects to consider:

DIY Pet Blankets 

My pup, Fancy, enjoying her DIY pet blanket.

I used this craft as the first official program that I hosted at the main branch of the library system I work for, teens could make a blanket for their own pet or one to donate our local humane society. Unfortunately, only two teens participated – so the humane society didn’t get the donations I had hoped for. However, the teens enjoyed themselves and I highly recommend this craft. I used this tutorial from Dog Milk for instructions:

Pro tip: Use actual fabric scissors. All I had available were standard office scissors and it was super-difficult to cut the fleece with those.

No-Sew Fleece Hat

Since I have tons of fleece leftover from the pet blanket program, I decided to reuse it in January to make no-sew fleece hats. These instructions from My Fabric Obsession are very easy to follow: It took me about 15 minutes to make the example below.


Who wore it best?



Paperback Wallet Craft

Paperback Wallet CraftMy regular teens seem to really enjoy destroying old books when we do crafts. My most popular crafternoon to date was a hollowed book. I guess it seems taboo to them, being in the library and all. Since they love cutting up books so much, I’ve been trying to think of a new upcycle craft for them. Before I took over teen programs, I made a paperback wallet for a friend for their birthday and he loved it. It seems like the perfect project for our teens. I tweaked the process a little to incorporate another teen favorite (duct tape) and to simplify it.

Supply Costs:

Paperbacks – $0, I plan to use recently weeded items.

Duct tape – $0, still have lots on hand from another crafternoon.

Contact paper – $0, the PR Manager had some lying around (way to go, Julie!)

Adhesive Velcro – $0, more leftovers.

Scissors – $0, a library programmer’s pantry necessity.

Pens – $0, we’re going use some from the stockpile of promotional pens.

Total Supply Costs: $0!!!! My favorite kind of craft is the craft that uses up all my leftover supplies (the director loves that, too). If I had to guestimate the cost of supplies if you don’t have leftovers, I would say $20-30 for approximately 10 teens. Just depends on where you shop and the brands you purchase (tip: always go off-brand).

Total Craft Time: 30-45 minutes.

Here are the Paperback Wallet instructions.

Sharpie Mugs & Duct Tape Bookmarks

I’ve been trying to hold our Sharpie Mug Teen Crafternoon for three months now. Each month, the event had to be cancelled due to snow. SO. SICK. OF. SNOW. Anyway, I’ve rescheduled it again. Hopefully, Mother Nature doesn’t ruin another perfectly fantastic teen program.

The Sharpie mug is an easy and cheap craft (my favorite kind of craft). Sharpie Mug

Supply Costs:

Mugs – $10 for 10 mugs (Dollar Tree, baby!)

Sharpies – $0, we already have a ton of the markers at our library for various craft purposes. I suppose, if you’re flush with cash, you could shell out the extra moola for actual ceramic Sharpies. I probably could have done that, but I’m all about keeping the Benjamins.

Oven – $0. Luckily, our library has a working oven already installed in it. If yours doesn’t, I suggest borrowing a bunch of toaster ovens from coworkers and/or friends.

Total Supply Costs – $10.00

Total Craft Time: 45- 60 minutes for decorating and then baking the mugs.

Here are the Sharpie Mug instructions.

Another event that had to be rescheduled, was a tour for an after-school girls group. The plan was to have a tour of the physical library, then a quick tour of the virtual branch (aka, our website and relevant digital resources), then do a quick craft. This event has also been rescheduled for next week. The craft planned is really the quickest craft ever: duct tape bookmarks.

Duct Tape BookmarkSupply Costs:

Card stock – $0. We’ve got lots leftover from old scrap-booking programs.

Duct tape – $0. Again, program leftovers.

Scissors – $0. What library doesn’t have 15-20 pairs of scissors lying around?

Hole punches – $0. See above.

Ribbon – $0. Thanks to our Adult Programmer, for always having craft leftovers that I can steal.

Total Supply Costs – $0 (Hurrah!)

Craft time – 10-20 minutes. It took me about 5 minutes, but with a large group it always takes longer than expected.

Here are the Duct Tape Bookmark instructions.

Cat Ear Headband Craft

catear2This month, the Awesome Readers’ Club is discussing Emily the Strange: The Lost Days. To go along with our discussion, we’re making cat ear headbands. Emily loves cats and dons her own set of cat ears in some of the illustrations (though not as colorful as mine, I’m more of a Molly than an Emily).  The teens haven’t actually made it yet, but they did see me wearing the example and thought it was awesome.

Once again, this craft was super-cheap. Frugality is one of my better qualities as a librarian.

Supply Costs:

Headbands ~ $5.00 (This would have been cheaper, but I waited til the last minute and ended up having to purchase  headbands at Kroger. The Dollar Store is probably a more economical headband vendor.)

Scissors – Zilch, I already had ’em.

Felt – Zilch again. I had felt leftover from a cassette wallet craft.

Markers – Nada. A good YA librarian always has sharpies handy.

Craft glue ~ $5.00 (I highly recommend Aleene’s)

TOTAL ~ $10.00

Active time: 15 – 20 minutes. Quick n’ easy.

Here are the instructions.

Teen Read Week – Edible Book Craft

IMG_20131002_114836 For Teen Read Week, I’m doing a Take It and Make It  Edible Book Craft. Teens will sign out a kit (pictured to the left) that contains everything they need to make edible books at home. This activity will take the place of our monthly crafternoon meeting. I adapted the idea from something I saw on the Teen Read Week website. The project cost around $15 for about 25 kits.

If you’re interested I’ve uploaded the files for the kit label and edible book instructions.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that we get a lot of participation in Teen Read Week, the branches are collaborating on many activities and I really want to see some system solidarity success. A reporter from the local paper was here and I’ve been pushing some (but not too much) on our social media sites. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Stuffed Toy Taxidermy

Tonight has probably been the best Teen Crafternoon I’ve hosted so far! We made stuffed toy taxidermy. I got the idea from the Dollar Store Crafts Blog. It’s one of those projects that looks really difficult, but is actually insanely simple. My teens had a blast, fur was flying everywhere! They really seemed to enjoy creating some stuffed animal carnage.

Supply Costs:

Plywood circles – 99 cents each at Michael’s (I spent approximately $10)
Paint and paintbrushes – free, we already had some at the library
Glue guns and glue sticks – free, we already had some at the library
Old stuffed animals – free, the teens brought their own
Total – Approximately $10

Active Time: 22 minutes

So, if you’re look for a cheap, quick, and easy craft to do with your teens – I highly recommend this one. Here are the instructions.