Teen Craft: Glow-in-the-Dark T-shirts

IMG_1529To finish out our Summer Reading Program, ” I decided to host a “Glow-in-the-Dark” T-shirt craft. The beauty of this craft is that it’s ridiculously simple. All you have to do is cut out some cardboard, supply the paints, and let the teens loose!


– cardboard & a box cutter

– Tulip Glow Fabric Paints

Have the teens stretch their t-shirts over the pieces of cardboard. This will allow the shirts to lay flat as the paint dries (4 hours) and make it easier to take the shirts home (even while wet). Make sure to pre-measure and cut the cardboard pieces ahead of time. I used a medium-sized t-shirt to help me estimate the appropriate size.


Once the shirts are on the board, the rest is up to the teens! They can decorate however they see fit till they run out of paint. 

In total, we had 9 tweens and teens show up for this craft. And it only cost us $40! We’ll be bringing this one back again. 🙂



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! 🙂



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.


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.






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. 😉


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



Alien Masks


 IMG_1132IMG_1175Bottle Cap necklaces and TARDIS keys



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.


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









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!


















Teen Craft: Celestial Lamp

10489977_10152191248496778_3538135555116919174_nAs part of our Teen Summer Reading Program, “Spark a Reaction,” I thought a craft featuring electricity would be a perfect fit! This craft is fairly simple and user friendly. Plus it will cast beautiful designs on your wall in a dark room!

– poster board
– Martha Stewart’s Star Punch
-hot glue + gun
– scissors
– a 2 ft strand of Christmas lights
– 1 small, round wooden box



Step 1:

If your box has a lid, detach it and throw it away. Trace around your circular box on the poster board to create the “top” of your lamp. Then wrap the poster board around your box to measure and mark the width of your lamp’s “body.”

Step 2:
Cut out the pieces you measured. Punch as many stars as you like into the poster board.


Step 3:
Hot glue the lamp “body” to the wooden box. Drop your Christmas lights into the lamp and thread the cord out through any stars you have in the back. Then hot glue your “top” on.

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Step 4: Plug it in and enjoy!


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.

IMG_0489 IMG_0494 IMG_0493 IMG_0492 Children’s Activities  

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.


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.


Teen Activities


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!


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.


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.


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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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).


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!

Zombie Fest 2013

Zombie teen volunteers!

Zombie teen volunteers!

Fun fact about yours truly: Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have a minor obsession with all things creepy and crawly. So do many of my teens.

So we held our first ever Zombie Fest this year and it was a tremendous success! We had book displays and give aways, zombie food, a costume contest, and watched Warm Bodies. 



We went all out for this event. We created fake “wooden boards” for the windows, had zombie cut outs hanging front the ceiling, and blood red table cloths. We even created a banner and had a “Zombie Goodies” table for participants.



Station 1: The Entrance

Our teens had to walk through a row of tombstones to enter Zombie fest. Stan, our creepy standee, greeted them at the door.



Station 2: Food

Our budget was fairly tight, so I did a lot of baking for this event. I made Zombie Fingers and Zombie Cupcakes (with oozing, strawberry centers). They were a huge hit. The fingers, in particular, were a source of much excitement. Some teens were too grossed out to try them! 🙂




Station 4: Zombie Movie and Costume Contest

We had each zombie shuffle over to our registration table and pick up a number. He or she was then scored by one of three adult judges using a pre-printed rubric. The top three zombies received copies of Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry and The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.



We had 20 teens come hang out for an afternoon of zombie-themed fun: a new record! We’ll definitely be bringing this one back next year!