Shell Collages and Creatures

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The inspiration for this activity was, originally, a donated bag of seashells. So, I thought creating shell creatures would be a good idea, and it is a good idea, but making a shell creature doesn’t take very long (unless you sew a top hat for it). I asked Addie what she thought we should do, and she came up with this fantastic shell collage idea. For her sample, she stenciled a large letter “A” onto a book page, which was then cut out and used as a design element. Since I was not entirely sure the teens would have the patience for tracing and cutting out stencils, I printed out (Times New Roman font size 550) the letters on colorful paper and cut them out before the activity. I didn’t make a whole alphabet, I just created letters for the folks who usually come to the activities. There was a little bit of printing going on during the activity, but not that much.

Here’s a list of materials we had out: printed letters, shells, rocks (some are covered in glitter), glass pebbles (also called “dragon tears”), hot glue, glue sticks, book boards, sand, black felt, and string. We used book boards from discarded books for the support. If you want to hang the project on the wall, you can poke holes through the top of the book board using and nail or screw and a hammer. I whacked the screw a few times for every hole and used a large needle to poke the string through the hole. Make sure you have something like a cutting mat under the book board in case the screw goes all the way through the book board.

One of the most interesting questions I had during the activity: “Are those real shells?” Answer: “Yes.” I was not aware that there were so many unreal shells out there ;)

Balloon Rockets

Balloon rockets are fun! (Especially when they go fast.) Materials include: string, straws, and duct tape. If your teens are like our teens, they might have even more fun drawing faces on their balloons and naming them :)

Cautionary Note: Balloons make noise and can become projectiles.

Vinyl Record Clocks

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We had a lot of clock parts and we had a lot of records… so we put them together. This program was more popular than I anticipated. I found myself digging for more clock part packages and looking in the closet for records. Also, there is a bit of prep time with this project. You will realize that the spindle hole in the record is just a little too small for the clock shaft. I did not have a drill, so I had a teen help me sand each hole until it was large enough for the shaft. To do this, you can roll medium grit sand paper into a small tube and sand the spindle hole.

The clock parts may look a little daunting, but most kits come with directions. I printed out directions for everyone, and they were pretty good at putting the clocks together. You may want to use needle nose pliers to tighten the hex nut. If the hex nut is loose, the minute hand will run into the hour hand. If this seems confusing, don’t worry, it will make more sense when you have all the parts in front of you. Here are some of the materials we had out for decorating the clocks: hot glue, glitter glue, scrapbook embellishments, buttons, and beads. There were also some numbers that came with the clock kits. I spent a little time painting black clock hands with white nail polish, so that they would show up against the black records. Don’t forget, you will need AA batteries to make the clocks run. There is nothing quite as satisfying as putting together your very own working clock!

Spy Day

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Spy Day took place mid-week on a very cold day. It was just the pick-me-up we needed. The basic idea was to have an indoor spy challenge course. Ours included: laser string, lava, a helicopter pad, imaginary gunfire, finding the decoder amongst boardgames, and using the decoder to crack the code. Upon completion participants were awarded with candy. We also timed the spies; the fastest spy was able to complete the course in about eight seconds! (My time was more than twice that, and that was without searching for the decoder.) This program is very inexpensive, and the materials are probably on hand. Our materials included: paper, tape, brads, and string. You can also play spy music while completing your mission.

Chef Day

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We like to include our teens in the planning and running of programs, as much as we can. Sometimes, we have someone with a talent or area of expertise who wants to run a program. This was the case for Chef Day. One of the teens has recently been attending a local tech college and learning how to be a chef. He taught them a little about professional knife skills and shared his love of cooking. For Chef Day, he made chili and pork chops using crock pots and electric skillets. It was amazing and delicious. Yum :)

Duct Tape Wallets

Duct tape wallets is a great teen activity. There are many different designs out there, but whatever type of wallet you choose, the teens will need help. Duct tape is sticky, and it takes some finesse to get it to stick to itself in just the right way. However, you will probably find that one or two of your teens are already very skilled at making wallets, and they can help others. There are a few things I plan on doing differently next time I make wallets. I will research (a lot more) and find the easiest design before I make my sample. This time around, I picked a pretty complex design for the sample, so everyone wanted to make that wallet. It was a little rough. Another challenge can be that people sort of trickle in, so they are all at different stages of the process. I will try to start everyone off at the same time and complete each step as a group.  Also, make sure you allow extra time for this project. We had some people working on their wallets for almost two hours (this may have been due to design complexity). Despite the challenges, the teens were really excited about the wallets they made. Also, usually I give my sample projects away, but this time I didn’t even have to ask… The wallet just mysteriously disappeared. Here are the videos I watched: (complex) (easy) (coin purse)