Humans vs. Zombies

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So I asked my TLAB (Teen Library Advisory Board) students what they wanted to do for Halloween this year. And the verdict was unanimous: Humans vs. Zombies. With NERF guns. After hours. In the library.

*Cue hysterical laughter*

Don’t get me wrong: I love crazy, off-the-wall programs. But the prospect of hosting a full-fledged NERF war in the stacks after dark made me a little nervous. Would the Director go for it? Would people show up? Would we actually be able to pull it off?

Fortunately, the answer to all of those questions was yes. 🙂

IMG_1514In the weeks leading up to the event, we marketed our program. Hard. My volunteers made a commercial that was broadcast at the local high school and handed out flyers to all of their friends. Teens had to register in advance and fill out a liability waiver. I bought ten Zombie Strike NERF guns (since that’s all our budget would allow). The first ten registrants were guaranteed a gun; anyone else had to bring their own.

The night of, the teens arrived early. They “zombified” their shirts, did their makeup, and helped decorate the library. We used red paint to to create “blood splatter” on plastic tablecloths and hung caution tape. Then I turned them loose and had them shuffle around as our “starter” zombies. They snarled and lurched as the “human” participants arrived at the library. 🙂

The game play was pretty simple. We herded all the visiting teens into the survival shelter (aka our meeting room) for review of the rules.

Everyone, except my volunteers, started out as humans. Humans could shoot zombies anywhere but the head (our zombies were a special mutation). A zombie who got shot by a human had to go to a penalty box for 1 minute before rejoining the game. Any human who got two-hand touched by a zombie was “turned,” had to surrender their gun, and don a green “zombie” bandana. Myself, our director, and another adult served as referees.

In total, we had 24 teens participate in our Humans vs. Zombies Program. This one’s definitely going to be an annual event for us. 🙂

Teen Craft: Edible Calaveras

ss1Halloween is, undoubtedly, my favorite holiday. So I wanted to do something fun and exciting for our teen Halloween craft this year. What better way to “bring out your dead” than by making Mexican Sugar Skulls?

Traditionally, calaveras are made with sugar, water, and meringue powder (or egg whites). These skulls are so hard that, if you tried to bite into them, you’d end up chipping a tooth.

Fortunately, I found a lovely tutorial on how to make an edible version from Dollar Store Crafts. If you want step-by-step directions, make sure to check it out. This site is an absolute budget life saver when it comes to crafts and one of my new favorite haunts.

Supplies:

1 cup of sugar (the white, processed kind)

1 rubber skull ice cube mold

2 teaspoons of water

Several tubes of Betty Crocker’s “Gel Decorating Icing”

Basically, you just mix the two teaspoons of water into the sugar until it’s the consistency of sand. Then you press the sugar firmly into your mold, place a cookie sheet on the back, and flip them. When you pull the mold away, you should have lovely little sugar skulls waiting for you!ss3

I also had a giant skull mold that I borrowed from a co-worker. I ended up using a combination of white and raw sugar while making it (since it took five and half whopping cups). The raw sugar gives the bottom half of the larger skull a nice golden color. However, the white sugar definitely hardens better, so I recommend only using it.

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After letting my skulls dry overnight, I got to decorate! It was a lot of fun and I really think the teens are going to enjoy it. I’ll be sure to post the pictures after we host the craft. Happy skull making!

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  Senor Calavera y sus amigos

My Year in Numbers (aka Teen Library Program Attendance)

MegStats2So excuse me while I geek out for a moment. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m also ridiculously competitive. I can’t stand to lose. So my goal during my first year as a Teen Library Assistant was very, very simple:

I wanted to blast my predecessor’s teen program attendance record out of the water.

One habit I picked up from my time as a teacher is using data to drive your efforts. Otherwise, you end up stumbling around blindly as you attempt to reach your goals. So I sat down with my boyfriend who, very generously, helped me create an Excel spreadsheet. I used it to track my monthly progress and see how I was doing.

I wasn’t sure I’d make it. Some programs were more successful than others. But I’m pleased to announce that I improved teen attendance at our branch by an average of 96% this year! Ninety-six whopping percent! I am beyond ecstatic. 🙂 Guess that means I’m doing something right. Here’s to a successful year!

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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!

Supplies:

– 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.

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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. 🙂

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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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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!

Supplies:
– 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.

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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!

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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.