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!). One  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.

Candy Ball

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Our candy ball game was pretty fun, and entertained many teens for longer than we expected. It was a sort of reverse Hunger Games, as one of the teens noted. The unraveling of the ball was successful do to the expert wrapping by Addie, and also I think the mix of plastic wrap and tape was very helpful. The odd thing about candy ball is that some teens seemed to get very large piles of candy while others only got a few pieces. This may have been due to the way that some of them attacked the ball while others calmly picked away at it. We evened things up a bit by giving out some more candy at the end of the game. This blog post was very helpful:

Foam is Awesome

It doesn’t need to be anything complex, just get one of those pink or blue sheets of foam insulation from the hardware store. Note: You will probably need to cut the foam so that it will fit in your vehicle, so bring a sharp box cutter. I purchased our sheet for Minecraft Swords, back in the spring. It was a very popular craft, and there were no injuries even though we made swords. I still had a lot of foam left over, so when I decided to do featherweight jewelry, I pulled out the foam again.  The interesting thing about foam is the creativity and imagination it inspires. When people didn’t want to make jewelry, they made masks, small works of art, amulets, dancing ribbons, and thingamabobs. I let the teens cut the foam with some relatively dull kitchen knives, but you can also make neat designs by picking foam away with your fingers. Everyone painted their various creations with acrylic paint, and one person even sewed a few stitches through the foam. I also plan to make prints with the foam in an upcoming activity.

Post-It Note Art Show


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We usually try and do something special for the Art Walks, which take place four times a year. The Post-It Note Show was fun because the usual importance and snobbery connected with art is totally out of place when post-it notes are involved.  Many teens who said they “Weren’t good at drawing” ended up drawing anyway because of the causal nature of the show. We used many mediums on the post-it notes including: pencil, marker, colored pencil, paint, oil pastel, and collage. We also noticed that the stickiness of the note was not enough to keep it on the wall, so each of our post-it notes has four small dots of sticky tack on the back. Everyone had a great time trying to make as many pieces of art as possible before the show, and we learned that it takes a lot of little notes to cover even a small piece of wall. Also, during the opening, we invited the guests to add their art to the show, so it became an interactive experience as well. This project is especially rewarding because of the creative freedom the teens had and the way they get to interact with each other.

Summer Reading Ending Party

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At our Summer Reading Ending Party we had prizes, games, and food for all. Someone even won a popcorn maker! Everyone’s summer reading points were entered in drawings for the prizes that they wanted, and winners were randomly selected. We also had a “store” where the teens could buy items with their left over reading points. The turtle with the rocket strapped to his back was the result of a “Take n’ Make” project, which involved the teens taking materials home to make creations from their imagination.

Water Wars


Summer is a great time to have a “Water Day.” However, what do you do? Water Balloons are kind of a bust (pun intended). You can spend hours filling hundreds of water balloons and then they are gone in a few minutes. Sure throwing balloons and shooting each other with squirt guns can be fun and refreshing, but we wanted water day to be a little different. Luckily, the internet is filled with gems and Josh came upon Jimmy Fallon playing Water War (slightly NSFW).

This game was GREAT! Just take the old-fashioned card game of War and infuse it with throwing water at each other. There are even waterproof playing cards. We played a few rounds of this and it was a blast. Even then, one game can’t be your entire water day.

So we also created water bombs. These are easy and reusable (unlike water balloons). Just cut up some sponges and zip tie them together. Then you get a squishy watery grenade of H2O awesomeness! We did have the teens wear goggles to protect their eyes from the zip-ties, but I am sure there are better ways to make these. You can make the water bombs as a mini-craft and then put them in most games that require water balloons.

Sorry we don’t have pictures from the actual Water War (we didn’t want to get our Camera(Nexus 7) wet).