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!

Using a DIY Escape Room Kit

One of our most popular teen programs this summer has been Escape the Library!, an escape room-style event. I have hosted four so far and still have two to go. This event took a lot of planning. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a good story, nor did I have the time to invest in creating puzzles. I looked at Breakout EDU, but it was a little out of our price range for this fiscal year. Luckily, I found Lock, Paper, Scissors (formerly known as Heist Party).

Lock, Paper, Scissors is a business that creates DIY escape room kits. For $20, I was able to purchase a kit that I can use over and over again. There are four kits to choose from. I selected Escape Room Z, which involves zombies trying to steal your pizza. Once you purchase a kit, you gain access to a file with everything you need to print the game at home. The file includes all of the clues, posters, and a Publisher file that allows you to edit the game.

Once printed, I had a little difficulty figuring out the set-up but Lock, Paper, Scissors provides a handy YouTube tutorial that walked me through it.  For our programs I used some real props to make the game more interesting and to make it seem more like an actual escape room, rather than our library meeting room. I recommend making a map of where you’ve hidden the clues, because I found myself forgetting a couple of times. Also, try a practice run with some staff members before your actual event.

The game was a little difficult for our teens, but they still managed to solve the puzzles and escape within about 30 minutes (with LOTS of hints). Escape Room Z is recommended for groups of 4 -6 players. We’ve been averaging about 15 teens per event. To accommodate all of the teens, I printed off multiple copies of the game and color-coded the clues. The teens were then divided up into teams by color and then all played simultaneously to see who could finish first. The team play went smoothly, but it’s a good idea to try and have a “hint master” per team. After all teams “escaped”, the teens were allowed to shoot the zombies with toy dart guns. This was their favorite part. We served pizza, but I think they even enjoyed shooting the zombies more than the pizza.

Overall, I think the DIY kits from Lock, Paper, Scissors are an easy and affordable way to host an escape room event at your library.


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.

Urban Fiction for Teens Bookmark


Urban fiction flies off the shelf at our main branch library. It’s been so popular that we carved out a separate collection for it in our adult fiction stacks. However, the genre remains interfiled in our teen fiction collection. In order to help our patrons find teen urban fiction titles, I created the bookmark above. Click here to download the printable PDF to use at your own library.