DIY Lotion

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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!

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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!

 

Snake Day II

We had our first World Snake Day  (July 16th) program last summer, and it was a success. It is important for people to learn about snakes and their place in the ecosystem. While there are some dangerous snakes out there, not all snakes are bad.

This summer, we collaborated with the Children’s Department in order to create an all-day Snake Day event with activities for all ages. In addition to the sewing activity, the kids made clay snakes, and Sternberg Museum of Natural History visited the library with some of their snakes.

Click here to learn how I made the snake pillows. It is a good idea to have two sewing machines running, and also schedule participants in groups of four every 20 minutes.

Someone also mentioned making snakes out of old neckties as a good activity, but I haven’t tried that yet. Whatever you do, have a good Snake Day!

 

Murder Mystery Luncheon: The Last Straw

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This summer, our murder mystery luncheon was called The Last Straw. Here is the setting: The play takes place at a therapy dude ranch near Area 51. People come from all over the world to cure their unusual addictions by being out in nature and bonding with horses. At the beginning of Scene I, everyone has just returned from a horseback ride on the mesa.

This was our most collaborative script to date. We had four teens who contributed either by providing ideas, writing, or editing the script. We only had about a month to get it all together, so I am very proud of how hard everyone worked.

I think we have finally created the easiest and most popular menu for the event: salad (soup was very unpopular last year), roast chicken and mashed potatoes, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

I have also discovered these wonderful name tags that say “Hello, my name is…” which saves a lot of time typing, printing, and cutting name tags, which is what we used to do in the old days.

Here is our script. Feel free to use it for your own event 🙂

Butterfly Garden: Caterpillar

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We saw a caterpillar in our butterfly garden! According to the research I did, this caterpillar should turn into a Black Swallowtail. I have not seen the fellow for a while, which I hope means that it has formed a cocoon in some safe place.

The first time I saw caterpillars eating dill in a friend’s garden, I said “I think you have a problem.” She informed me that she was letting the caterpillars eat her dill on purpose because they were going to turn into Swallowtails.

We have had a little trouble with the hungry/thirsty birds. I created this very simple bird bath to help quench their thirst, and maybe stop them from eating the plants (and pollinators).

Here is more information about our Pollinator Project.

Teen Cuisine

We started the Teen Cuisine program last summer, and “more food activities” were requested this summer, so we are cooking once more (and eating too!). It is important for teens to learn how to cook, so that they can create their own meals in the future. The program includes five different activity days: Chicken Day, Beef Day, Veggie Day, Apps Day, and Dessert Day. For each day, participants watch videos that show them how to prepare each dish.

Here are links to all the recipes we tried:

Chicken Day: BBQ Chicken Nacho, Fajita Chicken Salad, Teriyaki Chicken Rice

Beef Day: Steak and Potato Nachos, Swedish Meatball Pasta, Ramen Carbonara

Veggie Day: Spinach and Artichoke Mac n’ Cheese, Black Bean Burgers, Veggie Spring Rolls (Veggie Spring Rolls didn’t work for some reason. We got these strange alien babies instead of food.)

Apps Day: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, Bacon Guacamole Chicken Bombs, Waffle Grilled Cheese

Dessert Day: Cinnamon Sugar Twists, Homemade Ice Cream ,Apple Pie Bake

Happy cooking 🙂