DIY Lotion


While it may seem like an activity only geared toward adults, teens also enjoy creating their own lotion. When I told them the activity was making lotion, the boys didn’t seem overly interested, but they saw the process and became involved. I used this recipe: however, I only purchased jojoba oil and not sweet almond oil to decrease the overall cost of the activity. In addition, I only purchased lavender essential oil to decrease the overall cost and because it is one of the safer oils available. My activity was paired with a quiz about essential oils that included some safe handling guidelines and information about how they are extracted.

I had never worked with shea butter before, and it is an unusual substance. At first I was concerned that it would create an unpleasant smell when we melted it, but oddly enough, the smell improved as the temperature increased. We didn’t bother with a double boiler, instead I just kept the burner on low. The melted liquid lotion took longer to solidify than indicated in the recipe. It took ours about 20 minutes using a large metal bowl. If you spread your melted lotion out, it might not take as long to cool in the fridge. While we waited for the lotion to solidify, I told the teens a minute mystery, which can take a lot longer than one minute. In case you are unfamiliar with these, here is a link.

When the mixture had started to solidify, we used a handheld mixer. The mixer was very popular, everyone wanted a turn helping to mix the lotion. I had also purchased some small plastic containers that came with labels, and everyone used butter knives to fill their containers when the lotion was mixed. If you are on a budget you could use baby food jars or any other small container. There was a lot more lotion than I thought there would be because air adds volume when you mix the lotion. In general, it was a great activity for teens!


Butterfly Garden Update

It’s a boy! According to our research, the Swallowtails with larger yellow dots are male. Our butterfly garden has had a lot of caterpillar activity. The dill plant has been so popular with caterpillars that it is nearly leafless. Thankfully, we have some fennel in another location to feed our hungry caterpillars. We currently have two chrysalises in the library, and one caterpillar who looks like it will pupate at any time. Having caterpillars is such an exciting event at our library. Everyone interested to see the metamorphosis!


Dog Day

We had a Dog Day this summer. This was a teen-run activity, which involved a teen bringing their dogs to the library. Some people were wondering what we would do with the dogs. The dogs didn’t know any unusual tricks, and we hadn’t planned activities for people and dogs. However, the dogs were enough entertainment just by themselves. People loved petting them! The dogs also were very good tempered. As you can see, we had the activity in a room with a floor that is easy to clean, which was a good choice. One of the dogs had a very large poop at one point, but we were able to clean it up right away. If you aren’t able to have the dogs in the building, you could try it outside, in a park, or in a dog park.

If you wanted to make it more educational, you could add some information about the health benefits of owning a pet. They are supposed to lower blood pressure and anxiety. There is also new research that indicates children in homes with furry pets might not be as prone to develop allergies. In general, it was a fun activity, especially for the dog lovers!


Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

Here in the Young Adult section, every Wednesday is known as our Wildcard Day, which is when we do random activities.  In the past we’ve partaken in making chocolate bowls, playing SongPop, and a fantasy football draft.  But this week, we took the chance and did an activity that was a little more thought provoking and required the kids to do something absurd in the library…read!


Earlier this year while browsing for fun activity ideas, Scott came across “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover,” which required teens to pass judgement first on the appearance of a book and then on it’s contents. Basically here’s how it went down.  First, we asked the teens to choose a book they would want to read based on its cover art.  After they filled the first part of their worksheet (found here) we had them read the inner jacket and then the first couple of pages.  If they still thought that they would enjoy this book, they put a check mark on their sheet.  If not, they put an X.  After they reviewed a book, the teens were rewarded with a piece of candy.  After they reviewed two books they got the special treat of pizza rolls.  (We expand their minds AND their waistbands! haha just kidding…). They could review as many books as they wanted.

The teens seemed to really enjoy this activity, much to my surprise.  One of the kids even told Scott that if he could look at books like that at school, he would read a lot more.  Most people would assume that after the teens got their grand prize of pizza rolls, they would clear out and go back to their computer screens.  But in reality there were quite a few kids that showed real interest in finding a book, even the ones who proclaim their objection to reading.

All in all, this activity ended up being a diamond in the rough.  Often when teens are presented with the idea of sitting down and reading, the reaction is not typically a positive one.  But if the teens are given the chance to have a little fun, they won’t judge a book by its cover.

Below are the books we used during our activities:

Continue reading

3-D Paper

IMG_20131015_1423183-D paper art is really cool looking. Sometimes it is hard to imagine how it was made. Don’t worry, we’re going to make it easy. Here are some of the materials that you will need: recycled paper materials, construction paper, thin cardboard (like from a cereal box), a collection of jar lids  or compass (for drawing circles), acrylic paint, die-cut flowers, and glue or tape. Here are the easy steps: 1. Draw a bunch (3-5) of circles on a variety of different papers using your lids or your compass. They should be between 2-4 inches in diameter, and it is okay if some of them are the same size. Also, you may want to make some stems for your flowers. 3. Select a piece of cardboard (or cereal box) to stick everything to. Create a ledge out of cardboard or use the natural cereal box structure. This is what makes it 3-D. 4. Adhere everything and paint it using Q-tips. Hang it on your wall and feel fancy!

Origami Flowers and Hand-Colored Paper


These origami flowers are easy to make, but first we need to add some color to the paper. Here are some of the materials you will need: watercolor paint and brush, newish book that you wish to destroy (encyclopedias work well), scissors, and a glue stick. Here are the easy steps: 1. Rip the covers off of the book and start removing pages without tearing them too much. 2. Paint one side of the paper with watercolors and let dry. 3. Fold your paper in half diagonally and cut off the excess to form a square. 4. Watch someone else make it. Books look helpful, until you actually begin making a flower. Videos are much easier to follow, but the process can still be challenging. Here are some of the flowers I tried out: -Lily -Lotus -If you don’t flatten the bottom of this “box,” you will have a lovely blossom.
If you found those too challenging, I recommend making some blooms that require more than one piece of paper and some glue. “Origami Flowers” by Sonbooke Smith has a whole section on this type of flower making. Also,  is a good link for blooms made with more than one piece of paper.
Have a flowerful day!!!!

Literary Birds


Creating your very own “Literary Birds” silhouette is easy. Here are some of the materials you will need: old books or cool black and white collage materials, glue, a pencil, old book boards, sticky tack or an adhesive hanger, and a black sharpie. Here are the easy-to-follow steps: 1. Select and arrange your collage materials. 2. Adhere your collage materials to your book boards. Wait for them to dry a little, and use your pencil to lightly sketch some bird silhouettes on branches. 3. Color in your bird silhouettes with black sharpie. (Optional: Coat with Mod Podge or Gel Medium. Make sure your initial glue-down is liberal if you choose this option, otherwise your collage materials might bubble.) 4. Hang your artwork on the wall with sticky tack or an adhesive hanger. Lay back, and enjoy!