Iron Chef: Ramen

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Iron Chef is always a big success in our department. This time, Ramen was the secret ingredient. Teams had to make an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, and each dish had to include Ramen. After the teams had created their dishes, staff members tasted the dishes and choose 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. There was much anticipation as the judges decided; the teens plastered themselves to the windows trying to see who was going to win. Then the winners were announced, and everyone ate.

This is a particularly good activity if you find that you have accumulated a lot of random food items, and you are not entirely sure what to do with these food items. It is also a great activity to have near the beginning of the school year, so that the new teens in the department have a memorable and fun experience in your department. We always have a cutting station, and only one person is allowed to cut at a time (the knife is not very large or sharp). It is also a good idea to allow extra time for cleanup, in case you need to scrape the peanut butter and chocolate off the tables. I strongly recommend you try this program; it appeals to a wide range of teens and promotes teamwork :)

Exploring India with Henna Tattoos


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This fall, our library decided to start having themes for our displays and programming. Our first theme is “Passport to the World.” With this in mind, many of our activities relate to the traditions and foods of different countries around the world. Recently, we did henna tattoos to celebrate the traditions of India. We used paste that was purchased online.

If you read about henna, you will learn about black henna, which is pretty bad stuff, so make sure you are getting brown henna, and that the ingredient list is short and contains recognizable items (like henna). Try to avoid pastes that have essential oils, in case people are sensitive to the fragrances. Our paste had a small about of essential oil, but I wish it didn’t because I am a little sensitive to that sort of thing.

Next time I order henna, I am planning to get the powder and mix it myself. I think it might work better and also keep longer. All you need to mix henna paste is henna powder, sugar, and lemon juice. You can also use a mixture of 1 part sugar to 3 parts lemon juice as a sealant. The sealant can be applied to the henna design with Q-tips when the design starts to dry out. The longer the henna is moist and next to your skin, the better your henna design will look. The henna will stain different types of skin for different lengths of time. Thicker, lighter skin holds the dye longer (feet and hands), although most of the designs we created will probably be gone in about a week.

After the henna starts to dry, it feels sorta itchy. When it is totally dry, it might start to flake off. You can rub the rest of it off with baby oil. Even if the henna isn’t that dark when it starts to flake off, it will still continue darkening.

This is a great program for teens!

Note: You should purchase a metal-tipped squeeze bottle applicator because it works much better than the cones.


Cork Boards and Cassette Tape Pencil Holders

For the Back-to-School Party this year we decorated cork boards and constructed cassette tape pencil holders. Part of the reason for creating both projects was to use materials we had on hand. I had a large roll of cork left over from an earlier project, and the cassette tapes were discarded books on tape. I used spray adhesive to attach cork to a backing of cardboard. Decorating materials included: buttons, ribbons, lace, sharpies, and maps. We used hot glue and Mod Podge to adhere materials to the cork. Each cork board had a loop of string attached to the back with hot glue. The cassette tape pencil holders were also put together with hot glue, and the base was a square of cardboard. We also had snacks and soda :)

DIY Snakes for World Snake Day!

July 16th is World Snake Day! I was not aware of this until I received a donation of small snakes made from pipe cleaners. I thought they would make great gifts for people who checked out items. What better day to hand out snakes than World Snake Day.

Coincidentally, we were having Knit and Nosh on that day and in need of a project. Making snakes is pretty simple if you have a sewing machine. We bought our sewing machine last year and it has been a great success. We also have a large supply of donated upholstery samples, and a few bags of Poly-Fil left over from making snowmans at Christmas, so we didn’t need to buy anything new for this project.

The snake makers chose their fabrics, and I ran the sewing machine. The first step for sewing was to connect all of the fabrics. Then I made a long inside-out tube tapered at one end (the tail) and open at the other end (the head). Tongues were made from ribbons, and eyes were buttons. The teens flipped the snakes right-side-out, stuffed them, and sewed the mouths shut. We had snakes of all shapes and sizes. What Fun!


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This idea came from Jennifer King, who works at the Great Bend Public Library. Our teens were so excited that they arrived almost an hour before the activity was scheduled to start. I told them they could make sketches and plan what sorts of creatures they wanted to create. The activity is very cheap and relatively simple, but it is pretty messy, so plan for extra time to clean up. All of our stuffed animals were donated by the Community Assistance Center (a local thrift store). We also used hot glue and sewing supplies (needle, thread, buttons).

If you are feeling adventurous, you can use plastic toys, and cut them apart for the teens with a serrated knife. However, the activity is fine without getting into the realm of plastic toys. The animal’s appendages can usually be hot glued to the chosen body, but there are times when sewing is more effective. Let’s face it there is something oddly satisfying about cutting up stuffed animals to create your very own frankentoy!

DIY Magic 8 Ball

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At first, I had some reservations about this project… A glass jar filled with water coated in clay? I thought the jar would leak. And it probably would, if you didn’t seal it with hot glue. As long as you make sure your jar is dry, the hot glue really does make a good seal. It is amazing! Model Magic is also an easy way to coat the outside of the jar. It was cool to see what people made with their model magic.