Doctor Who Day

IMG_1183We did it! After over a month of preparation, hours of painting, printing, and planning, our “Doctor Who Day” was a complete success!

We had 54 tweens, teens, and their parents attend our event. Many came in costume, dressed as their favorite Doctor or Companion.

At the end of the day, we raffled off all seven seasons of Doctor Who. We also raffled off a TARDIS mug as a runner-up prize.

This program was possible solely through the generosity of the Friends of the Library. I am tremendously thankful for their support. So are all my Whovians! 🙂

Decorations

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As always, I wanted this event to feel immersive. I tried to include as many specific details from the series as possible.

Most of my decorations were inspired by various Doctor Who episodes, including our “Badwolf” and “Cassandra” posters, as well as our K-9 and Weeping Angel standees. We also hung a number of famous Doctor Who quotes from the ceiling.

Food

We had four main dishes at our Doctor Who program: Sonic Screwdrivers (chocolate covered pretzel rods), Adipose Babies (marshmallows), bananas (because, as the Doctor said, “Always bring a banana to a party”), and Dalek cupcakes. The cupcake wrappers were ridiculously cute and can be found on Deviant Art. We also had bow-tie shaped lollipops from Oriental Trading, as well as popcorn.

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Book Station

Even though Doctor Who is a TV show, as a library, we still want to promote literacy. So I made sure to pull every Doctor Who book I could get my hands on to put on display. I also made some custom bookmarks in Publisher and had them laminated. Our teens were excited by the wide selection. Suffice to say, we kept the circulation desk very, very busy. 😉

Crafts

I wanted to make sure we had plenty for our teens to do. So I came up with several crafts for them to enjoy.

Felt Bow-Ties

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Alien Masks

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 IMG_1132IMG_1175Bottle Cap necklaces and TARDIS keys

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Games

I wanted to provide a variety of games for our teens to enjoy. So we had two board games: Doctor Who Jenga and Doctor Who Yahtzee.

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We also had two carnival-style games: “Time Lord Toss” and “Pin the Plunger on the Dalek.”

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At the end of the day, everyone had a fantastic time. This was our best attended teen event yet. Here’s to the Doctor! Allons-y!

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Star Wars Day

Our Summer Reading Program for both kids and teens this year is science-based, so what better way to encourage an interest in science than by tapping into one of the greatest sci-fi stories of all time: Star Wars!

Lord Vader did not approve of my "Rebel" T-shirt. ;)

Lord Vader did not approve of my “Rebel” T-shirt. 😉

We decided to make Star Wars Day a multi-age event, with programs for little ones in the morning and activities for tweens and teens in the afternoon. In essence, we hosted an all-day Star Wars book bash.

The Food & Decorations

I really wanted our patrons to to feel immersed in the Star Wars universe when they walked in the door, so we hung tie-fighters and x-wings from the ceiling. We created them by printing mirror images on cardstock; then we glued the images together, punched a hole in the top of them, and strung them up using thin, white, thread (which looks invisible to the naked eye). We also made a paper mache Death Star, but it ended up looking more like a Death Egg. We’ll have to blow the balloon smaller next time! 😉

Other decorations included blue and black star balloons and a homemade pennant banner. And, by some strange stroke of luck, my boyfriend’s mother stumbled across his childhood Star Wars action figures, which we used to help add character to each of our tables. And, of course, we had cardboard standees of R2D2, C3PO, and Yoda.

We wanted the food to be as “themed” as possible, but with a limited budget and time constraints we had to get creative. So I hunted through Pinterest, naturally, and found dozens of cute ideas. I used Microsoft Publisher to create custom labels for all our foods. We ended up going with Wookie Cookies (Star Crunches), Leia Buns (Honey Buns), Ewok Treats (Teddy Grahams), and Thermal Detonators (Whoppers). We also had popcorn and Yoda Soda (Mountain Dew) for the older kids.

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Station 1: Crafts

We had three basic craft options available for our kids. They could color/make a Yoda Mask or Princess Amidala crown, they could make a space-themed door hanger, or they could enjoy some of our Star Wars coloring sheets. IMG_0578 Station 2: Games

We had two posters drawn up by some of our lovely teen volunteers so that the kids could play “Pin the Bun on Leia” and “Pin the Lightsaber on Yoda.” We also had a Star Wars Ring Toss, in which we taped printed images of various characters on to 2 liter bottles and lined them up.

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Station 3: Jedi Academy

I borrowed this idea from Kelly on Here Comes the Sun. Her DIY lightsaber idea has been shared numerous times on Pinterest. So easy. So brilliant. Grab a few pool noodles, cut them in half, wrap the ends in duct tape and voila! Instant, kid-safe lightsaber.

We decided to kick things up a notch by putting our padawans through their paces at the Jedi Academy. We blew up about twenty balloons (no helium) and gave one to each child. Then, after counting to three, we had the kids throw the balloons in the air! The kiddos then had to keep their balloons in the air for two minutes using only their lightsaber. When they finished, each child got a Jedi Knight Certificate and a piece of candy.

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Station 4: Video Games

Simple, easy, and effective. We hooked our Wii system up to the projector and let the kiddos go to town on Lego Star Wars and Star Wars Angry Birds.

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Teen Activities

Crafts

Our teens had a choice between two crafts:

1) A Star Wars Marble Magnet

2) A Star Wars Bottle Cap Key Chain

These crafts and dozens more can be found in the Star Wars Craft Book, which proved to be an invaluable resource while planning this event!

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Light Saber Dueling Lessons

I wanted the teen program to be “edgier” than the one we provided for the kids, so what better way to spice things up than with a professional sword fighting lesson?

Paul Stonebridge, a local librarian who happens to be skilled in swordsmanship and martial arts, graciously came to our branch to teach our tweens and teens. They learned the eight basic sword fighting moves and four basic blocks commonly used in the movies.

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The teens had an absolute blast. We’re extremely grateful to Paul for making our event so special.

The 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist

Even Darth Vader enjoys the occasional selfie.

Even Darth Vader enjoys the occasional selfie.

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the 501st Legion. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, the 501st is a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting an interest in Star Wars – namely through dressing up as some of its most famous villains. 🙂

The 501st came to our branch free of charge and posed for pictures, interacted with our patrons, and answered Star Wars questions. Our event would not have been the same without them! They were a simply phenomenal addition to our program.

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In total, we had over 120 patrons attend this program – not bad for a small library! We had a fantastic time and we can’t wait to do it again.

Divergent Book Bash

Teen Volunteers/Faction Leaders

It’s finally here: the post you’ve all been waiting for. I managed to survive my Divergent Book Bash and snagged a few photos in the process!

I believe librarians, just like teachers, should beg, borrow, and steal from one another. So feel free to use any of the ideas you see here for your own programs (though I’d love a shout out if you do).

Choosing Ceremony

I had the teens take a personality quiz to see what faction they belonged in, then sent them off to their home factions. Each student received a “Mission Card” with five tasks: one task for each faction. In order to be eligible for my Divergent raffle, they had to complete all five tasks. At the end of the afternoon, I gave away a copy of the trilogy and tickets to go see the movie next weekend.

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Dauntless Station

In Dauntless, teens had to do two things: choose a temporary tattoo and play a round of Super Smash Bros on the Wii. Given Dauntless’ fondness for both tattoos and fighting, I thought these tasks were appropriate. 🙂

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Erudite Station

In Erudite, the teens had to work as a team with their fellow faction members. Each teen was given a library scavenger hunt with seven clues. These clues took them all over the library in search of seven envelopes. Inside the envelopes, were puzzle pieces. Once the teens found all the envelopes and completed their hunt, they raced back to Erudite Station to put their puzzles together. I had the puzzles made by Printer Studio for only $4.99 a piece.

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Amity Station

For Amity, I wanted to capture the fact that this faction houses both farmers and artists. So teens painted flower pots and then planted a flower or herb of their choice.

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Abnegation Station

Since Abnegation’s focus is selflessness, I really wanted this station to be meaningful.  During a Google search, I stumbled on a wonderful organization called Send Kids the World. This group provides postal address for children with terminal or long-term illnesses. Individuals can then create cards for these sick children to cheer them up. So all of my teens in Amity were given the photo and story of a child. They then worked together to create custom cards to let these little ones know they matter.

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Candor Station

Since Candor’s main quality is truth, what better way to test your honesty with a round of Divergent “Truth or Dare”? My biggest concern here was that I wanted the game to be fun – not cruel or embarrassing. So I made Truth and Dare cards with pre-selected topics. I had teens take turns and roll a dice to determine their fate. Evens = Truth. Odds = Dare. Teens could switch from Truth to Dare, but not the other way around. The teen with the most truth cards at the end won the game.

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Food

I tried really hard to capture the favorite foods of each faction. Ex: soda for Erudite, chocolate cake for Dauntless, etc. Candor’s ice cream was too hard to manage for a two hour event, so I went with Oreo cookies instead since they’re black and white (Candor’s colors).

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Dauntless Cupcakes

Dauntless Cupcakes

Amity Apples and Peace Bread

Amity Apples and Peace Bread

Abnegation Appetizers

Abnegation Appetizers

Erudite Soda

Erudite Soda

Candor Cookies

All in all, I had forty-four tweens and teens turn out: a record breaking number for our small, seaside library. I’m absolutely ecstatic with how things went. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or would like some advice on throwing a Divergent shindig of your own!

Divergent Book Bash Teaser

I’m currently in the process of prepping for my Divergent Book Bash, which will be held March 15 (the weekend before the movie is released in theaters). I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of some of the things we’re doing. I’ll post more photos and details when I come up for air next week.

Obviously, one of the key parts of the Divergent series is figuring out your faction. So I thought it would be fun to divide the teens into one of the five groups. I made a print version of the Faction Quiz from divergentfans.com. Each student will take it when they enter to figure out what faction they’re in.

P.S. Forgive the “Abnegation” typo in the image. I promise I know how to spell it! 🙂

Faction Quiz

After they’ve been sorted (excuse the Harry Potter reference), each teen will go through the Choosing Ceremony. There, they will receive a button with their faction symbol after retrieving it from the appropriate bowl. I had the buttons custom made by wackybuttons.com for about $30.

I made sure to follow the book as closely as I could, modeling each bowl after the ones described in the actual text. Candor got glass beads,  Abnegation got pebbles, Dauntless got coals, and so on.

faction cups

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I’m really excited and I think the teens will get a kick out of it. Drop me a comment and let me know what faction you’re in! I’d love to hear from you!

Book Bash 101: aka “How to Throw a Book-Themed Party”

At my library, we are immensely fond of Book Bashes. A Book Bash is basically a shindig centered around a particular novel or series.  For example, to celebrate “Read Across America” this past Saturday, our library threw a Dr. Seuss-themed book bash and we had over thirty local children and their parents attend.

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Book Bashes are a fantastic way to increase foot traffic at your library. Not to mention the obvious fact that it’s a great way to foster kids’ love of reading and build relationships in the community. Plus it’s fun! Tweens and teens love them too – as long as you maintain the “cool” factor.

Book Bashes take an incredible amount of work, but they are definitely worth it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when throwing a book bash of your own.

1) Plan Ahead

This is not something you can throw together at the last minute – no matter how good you are. I’m a procrastinator by nature but, for Book Bashes, I plan at least three to four months in advance. It helps to surf the net and see what major literary events are on the horizon: author birthdays, book releases, movie debuts, etc. For teens, in particular, I like to focus on book-to-movie releases. That way, the weekend before a movie comes out, I can throw a Book Bash to match it.

Divergent, for example, comes out March 21st. So on the 15th, we’ll be having an epic, faction-finding, mission-completing Book Bash (more on that in another post).

2) Food & Giveaways

Basic rule for any youth services event: if you feed them, they will come. Especially when there’s free stuff too.

But the food shouldn’t be random, nor should the giveaways. Everything should tie into the theme of the Book Bash you’re throwing.  Think oozing finger-shaped cookies for a Warm Bodies, zombie-themed party or glittering cupcakes for Fancy Nancy. If there are specific items mentioned – ex: nightlock berries front the Hunger Games – they should be included in your event.

For little ones, save up book donations you don’t plan on keeping and give them away as prizes. For older kids and teens, raffling off a book series or tickets to see the movie version can be a big draw.

3) The Dollar Store is your best friend. So is FOL.

Book Bashes are NOT cheap in any shape, form, or fashion. So clip your coupons and prepare to bargain hunt in order to get everything you want. Sometimes this means thinking out of the box and doing extra work yourself. For example, I often bake treats myself instead of paying full price for them at the grocery store.

And don’t be afraid to bat your eyelashes at your local Friends of the Library Members. 😉 They are generous, giving, wonderful people and are a great resource. Most of my Book Bashes are funded by the Friends and I’m eternally grateful for their support.

4) Stations, Stations, Stations

Once you’ve amassed your horde of attendees, they have to have something to DO. So set up stations around the room with unique, book-themed activities. At our Dr. Suess Bash, we had a crafting stations where kids could make a Cat in the Hat decoration, a Fox in Sox puppet, or color a red fish/blue fish bowl. At our “Fantastic Food” station, they decorated Seuss-style cookies and made fruit loop necklaces. At our game station, they played Thidwick Moose ring toss (where they tried to get the rings on his antlers). Finally, we had a Thing One and Thing Two picture station where kids could pose with their friends.

In essence, a Book Bash should be a completely immersive event. Kids should feel as though they’ve been transported inside the book the moment they walk in the door.

I hope these tips have been helpful and that they inspire you to plan a bash of your own! I’ll be posting photos and play-by-plays from my Bashes soon, so stay tuned for more details! 🙂