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).

Teen Summer Lock-In


We’ve had a Lock-In for several years now. It’s also a good time (and intriguing for teens) to spend the night in the library, mostly trying to stay awake the longest. Our lock-ins have all run smoothly. It is all about planning well in advanced and having plenty of activities through the night. This year we had “Fear Factor” activities every hour on the hour, if a teen was awake then they had to participate. In between that we had videogames, movies, music, board games (get some cards for Sandwich and Three (Obviously you may refer to these games by different names in your area)), and group games (Ninja, Sound Ball, Super Ninja, and Mafia). This year’s event was planned by the awesome Nomi and Addie from the Hays Public Library. After the jump you can read our time schedule and download our waiver.

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Pumpkin Patch Update

Photo: Today was the last activity for the garden club!  They had a great time this summer taking care of our library's pumpkin patch.  A big thank you goes out to the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center.

This week we had our last group visit to the pumpkin patch. There were cute little baby pumpkins, and the squash bugs had been eliminated. We got to use some custom tools in our weed battle (great for the zombie apocalypse as well). After slaughtering a few weeds, we received  a tour of the weather yard where instruments in little white houses create accurate rain, temperature, and humidity measurements. Many thanks to the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center, and also thanks to Addie Billinger for the fine footage below:

Zombie Apocalypse

Table Terrifica


We had this table that was loosing its top.  The colorful vinyl was peeling to reveal a sticky wood-grained vinyl. I chipped off the rest of the colorful vinyl and laid on a layer of Mod Podge. With some help from the teens, I collaged this old table into table terrifica! Then Scott and I added two layers of epoxy resin to create an impenetrable surface. Tips: If there is sticky smelly glue on your table, you should really try to remove it before you make the collage, as it can interact with the epoxy. Also, epoxy is really odd stuff. Be sure to read the directions. It smells like wet dog, and is probably pretty toxic. However, we found that it wasn’t necessary to mix the epoxy for three minutes. Just mix it thoroughly and watch for the little bubbles to come out as you are stirring it vigorously.


Felt Creatures

This project was created by two of our summer volunteers. They found the craft in a book called The Big-Ass Book of Crafts by Mark Montano. They drew posters and advertized, made a sample, got materials out, and assisted people who were new to sewing. Participants made bears and bunnies, as well as earless creatures that looked like gingerbread men. It was a fun time for everyone, and it gave the activity leaders a sense of pride and ownership that is only formed by creating your own activity. Notes for creating creatures: Help them draw a general template for the body to make cutting the bodies out a little easier. Also, sew the face on before you sew the body together, and make sure everyone’s needles will fit through their buttons.

Dream Snatchers and the “Maker Faire”

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We had this really cool idea: a “Maker Faire.” This idea and it’s name originated from Make Magazine.  At the Faire there was a blacksmithing demonstration (sorry, no photos) a mixed media mobile/dream catcher activity, and a stop-motion animation activity. I brought in sticks from my yard for the mobiles, Scott got out the play dough and paper for stop-motion animation, and we had some hotdogs to grill while the blacksmithing demonstration was happening. While the turn-out was less than what we expected, there were some valuable lessons learned: never underestimate the exodus that occurs after school lets out. In addition, the day after Memorial Day is also like a holiday; no one is in town, and if they are, they are probably worn out from traveling. However, I think the teens who were there had a very enjoyable afternoon, and we were able to spend some quality time with them. The “dream snatcher” pictured above is one inventive solution. It is designed to trap good dreams (instead of bad ones), and may appeal to those who like to be scared. Below is the stop-motion animation short made by one of our teens.

Wood Monsters

Wood Monsters was was one of our Convenience Crafts, which were created with the intention to provide time for teens to work on their projects for an entire week, or at least more than one two-hour period. So far, lots of people have spent more time on their projects.

Materials for this project were very inexpensive; the only things we bought were wood glue and sandpaper.  I have a large box of donated acrylic paint, so that was free. Googly eyes and hot glue are part of the craft supplies we have on-hand. I collected scrap wood for this project from some friends who were making their own frames, which created interesting shapes and sizes. I also brought in my handsaw. In addition, I had some electrical wire for hair.

Notes: You might want to encourage teens to glue on eyes and hair before they paint. Googly eyes can be wiped off easily when the paint is wet, but hot glue will not stick to wet surfaces. Also, tell them wood glue is stronger, but it takes longer to dry. I used torn cloth strips to hold the wood in place while it dried.