acorn and spell books 001

I think acorns are cool. For this reason, I scheduled a craft that was just called Acorns. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but then I found this:

We had a box of pine cones from another activity and a bunch of burlap. I didn’t want to deplete the supply of Easter eggs, so we bought some Styrofoam eggs. The directions in the above link are pretty awesome. In addition, I would like to add that removing pine cone “petals” is easier with needle nose pliers. Happy Fall :)

DIY Spell Books

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We were so excited about this project that we started a day early. Here are some of the materials we used: withdrawn library books, cheap Halloween toys, brown packaging paper, glue, Mod Podge, hot glue, glass pebbles, eyes cut out of magazines, acrylic paint, gold Rub n’ Buff, and letters printed on card stock.

The first thing to do is hot-glue the larger items to the book. If you want a skeleton with wings, you have to cut the bat’s wings off and glue them next to the skeleton. If you want an eyeball, you can find one in a magazine, glue it to your book, and glue the glass pebble on top of it. Next, you need to wet the packing paper. Then, slather glue or Mod Podge over the skeleton and the cover of your book (but don’t cover the eye, of course). Gently lay the wet paper over the skeleton and tamp down with your finger. When it is dry, you can paint it black or brown. When the paint is dry, you can don a glove and add a miniscule amount of gold Rub n’ Buff (a little goes a long way).

This is where Scott found the idea online:

And I found this video:

One thing I didn’t realize is that the teens don’t want a fake spell book, they want a real spell book that they can write in. This led to the removal of the pages and the insertion of blank pages. It might be helpful to have a saddle stapler on hand to staple the new pages into the book. Alternatively, you could use composition journals.

Also, this activity takes a while. Even if you plan to do it for two days, some people may want to finish it the first day, so plan on setting aside a couple hours, and be careful with those spells ;)

Leaf Candle Holder

Once again, an activity involving glass containers was very popular. I had this experience with baby food jars and also with glass cookie jars. It doesn’t seem to matter what shape the glass comes in or if we are gluing or painting; glass seems to be an interesting surface for everyone to work with. In order to prepare for the activity, I gathered a bunch of freshly fallen leaves from the park. I also used the die-cut machine to cut leaf shapes out of tissue paper.

After I applied a layer of Mod Podge, the tissue paper easily stuck to the outside of the jar, but some of the leaves I gathered did not stick as easily. In general, smaller leaves stick more easily, and it helps if thicker leaves are slightly damp and flexible. It is also easier for the leaf to adhere to the glass if the side with the veins faces out.

Here are some of the materials we had available: real leaves, grasses, pine needles, tissue paper leaves, spider tissue paper, Mod Podge, acrylic paint, jars, raffia, hot glue, glass pebbles, and candles. I made sure the teens went over a little fire safety: Don’t leave your candle unattended, and don’t place flammable things near the flame. I also tried the candle holder with a little LED tea light at home, and it worked very well. I would recommend highly recommend this project. Some of the teens wanted to make more than one, so make sure you have plenty of jars. Everyone seemed thrilled with their creations!

Here is the post that inspired our activity:

Gumdrop People

At first we thought “Oh no… who scheduled this?” Then we looked at some gumdrop people online and thought “Oh, how cute, let’s make some videos.” Some of the materials that we got out included: Dots, toothpicks, acrylic paint, hot glue, wooden beads, skewers, and fabric. At first I was a little hesitant to mix non-edible stuff with edible stuff, but it work out really well. There were even fantastical creatures like the gumdrop unicorn, deer, and jellyfish. We brought everyone’s creations to life by creating video interviews. Many of the teens were hesitant to have their voices on the video, so Scott asked them a few preliminary questions and then he became their character for the interview. We also were able to make a very short stop motion video of jumping gumdrop people.


(Wine) Cork Pendants



Most of the corks were actually wine corks, but I felt a little odd advertizing something with the word “wine” in it as a teen activity. I liked the idea of weightless jewelry, and reusing something that has inherent aesthetic appeal is always easier. I cut the corks with a box cutter and sanded both sides to create a smooth painting or gluing surface and let the teens use their imagination. One of the coolest effects can be created with a Mod Podge transfer, but the text will be reversed. Here are some of the materials we used: various types of cork, wire, screw eyes, sand paper, acrylic paint, Mod Podge, ribbon, lace, and elastic cord (for the necklace part). The activity was very cheap because we used materials we had on hand.

The link below has some really great photos, including pendants with transferred text:

Magic Show

Cards disappeared and reappeared in unexpected places. Teens may act like they are too old for it, but everyone loves a good magic show. We had the opportunity to host a magic show by the magician Malakai Matt, one of our YA patrons. Anytime we have patrons who want to lead an activity or program, we encourage them. The magic show was a great way for the teens to be entertained by a peer, and also Malakai was able to get some more experience interacting with the audience.

Boats and Turtles

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One day we made turtles… then we made boats and the turtles went sailing. Making turtles out of egg cartons seemed like a craft for children, but as soon as the teens saw the cute little turtles, they wanted to make their own. Both crafts were inspired by a book called Look What You Can Make With Dozens of Household Items edited by Lorianne Siomades and Kathy Ross. The book offers craft ideas for all kinds of reusable materials. Constructing the turtles was pretty self-explanatory and included these materials: cardboard egg cartons, Popsicle sticks, acrylic paint, googly eyes, and hot glue.

The boat making activity was a little more complicated. I was going to have a boat race, but it is pretty challenging to get boats to sail well and move in the same direction. It became more of a floating contest. As you can see, there were many different designs, and a variety of materials including: plastic containers, corks, skewers, paper, Popsicle sticks, glass gems, and hot glue (of course!). OneĀ  of my favorite designs was the Popsicle stick raft with the square white sail. It looks great and floats fairly well. We tried using a fan for wind, but it was too strong even on the lowest setting. For some boats, it was getter not to have a sail at all, it just made them top heavy. One of the greatest benefits of this program was learning how to make a successful boat, and of course playing in the water, which never gets old.