Posts tagged ‘adult’

Book to Movie Display

One of my most popular book displays was my first display with 3D elements that looked good enough to eat! I chose to highlight books being made into movies in the coming year or being released on DVD soon. I added 3D popcorn and a few other fun elements to liven it up.

Mystery Display

The first display I did at my new branch was quite some time ago. After a bit of a delay, I’m finally showing off my handiwork. I was asked to make a YA mystery display.

Teen Romance Display

Before we reopened my branch after renovation and inventory, I decided to change out the YA displays that had been up for a while. I decided with spring upon us, summer romance was on everyone’s mind.

Divergent Party

I wanted to do a program for the upcoming release of the Insurgent movie, so I decided to throw a Divergent party! This was actually my last young adult program at this branch. I’m leaving this position next week, so, though this was a very fun program, it was also bittersweet.

I wanted to design a party similar to the Harry Potter program from last month so that the teens could have a few options for activities and float around to whatever struck their fancy.

I started with a sorting station with a laptop on which I’d pulled up the official faction sorting quiz on the Divergent website. Next to it, I placed some Hershey’s miniatures that were marked for each faction. I got the idea from Inksplasher, but sadly their printable doesn’t work, so I had to format the wrappers myself which involved a bit of trial and error.

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After they were sorted, we had a table for each faction with decorations and an activity inspired by the manifesto of each group as well as their element (i.e. blue water for Erudite, soil for Amity, glass for Candor, fire/charcoal for Dauntless, and stone for Abnegation). First, we had our Dauntless. I decided that since Dauntless values bravery with a bit of recklessness, we would sum that up with truth or dare.

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We also would have done temporary tattoos here, but I had the brilliant idea to buy tattoo transfer paper on Amazon to print out our own instead of buying pre-made tattoos, and ($19 later) I discovered that the inkjet transfer paper doesn’t work even when you follow all the instructions.

Then, we had Abnegation. Since Abnegation is all about selflessly serving others, I decided we’d have a card making station for soldiers serving overseas.

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Next was the Amity station. I decided we’d sum up friendship with a friendship bracelet making station.

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Then came Erudite with a bit of trivia as well as some free bookmarks for our friends who value knowledge above all else.

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Finally, we had Candor with a game of would you rather which forced the players to be honest about their choices and summed up the emphasis on honesty perfectly.

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For our Divergent table (for those who fit into more than one faction), we had Cranium since it basically combined all the different factions. If you’re not familiar with Cranium, it is like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, charades, and a few other games all rolled into one.

Overall, this was a pretty cheap program. I think the total (minus the tattoo transfer paper that didn’t work) was about $20, and we had a nice turnout since I timed it so close to the movie release.


Harry Potter Party

Last semester when I was formulating my plans for programming in the spring 2015 semester, I was short on ideas for my teens. So, I sat them down after my Hunger Games Challenge in the fall and asked what they’d like to see me do. They told me that they’d like more game show programs (hence my Family Feud program) and that they would like for me to do a Harry Potter program, even though it was “old” because no other librarians in the system would do that until the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them rolled around.  I was thrilled!

Harry Potter is my fandom. I love other books and belong to a variety of other fandoms, but Harry Potter is my main one. I ran HP fansites growing up, I participated in HP roleplay, wrote HP fanfiction, went to HP conventions like Infinitus and LeakyCon, and cosplayed as Narcissa Black/Malfoy, Luna Lovegood, and Fleur Delacour. It’s my thing, so they knew that I would put together something fantastic, and I was excited since I hadn’t thrown a Potter party in at least four years or so.

I started with the activities. Since it was a party, I wanted it to be fairly free. I wanted to have one main organized activity for everyone and then stations they could go to as they wanted. So, I decided to do a few simple games like Harry Potter BINGO:

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I found a site to create your own Bingo cards and just plugged in some Harry Potter words. I made one card (the blue one for Ravenclaw) for people more familiar with the books where I would give them a clue like “Centaurs roam the Forbidden Forest by Hogwarts. In Greek mythology, centaurs are half man and half” that they would have to answer (“Horse”) in order to find the correct square to cover. The red cards were more straightforward, and I would just call the words on the cards themselves for those who weren’t familiar with the books or thought the Ravenclaw version of this game was a little too intimidating.

In addition to Bingo, we had Draw the Scar on Harry. I used Pin the Tail on the Donkey as a model and blew up a picture of Harry, laminated it, and put it on a poster. That way, each player could have a different color dry erase marker to try to draw the lightning bolt scar on Harry’s forehead in the correct position while blindfolded. The person who got the closest won, and we could just erase the marks and start another round.

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Our final small game was a Bertie Botts Challenge. I was warned when I was planning this program that the teens had been forced to eat the actual Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans that you can buy at the store at a previous Potter program, and they had hated it. Personally, I hate them too. So, we did a “guess how many jellybeans are in the jar” game with regular old jellybeans. The person who got the closest would win the jar.

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I originally got the idea to do a scavenger hunt (aka “Horcrux hunt”) from The Leaky Cauldron’s section on Harry Potter party ideas. There was a link to a finished hunt complete with clues, but I decided to make my own clues to better suit my needs. I just wrote up a few rhyming clues, printed out pictures of the horcruxes, and hid them around the room. (That’s really what spurred me to make the majority of my decorations.) Here are the clues I came up with:

  • Your journey begins “once upon a time,”
    But you won’t find Mother Goose near these nursery rhymes.
    Remember, you won’t get far without your card
    For how else would you check out the tales of this bard?

    This led to The Tales of Beedle the Bard in my Harry Potter book display in which was hidden the next clue and the diary horcrux.
  • Not much is seen of vampires in the world of young Harry.
    But what we do see makes they seem a bit scary.
    Unlike the ones in this tale that set everyone a-twitter,
    They feared the sun, but didn’t sparkle and glitter.

    This led to Twilight in my “Other” book display in which was hidden the next clue, a set of scrambled letters, and the ring horcrux.
  • Unscramble the letters and a word you will find.
    If you cannot, you’ll be in quite a bind.
    But save yourself some time and a bit of a pickle
    If you know where you get if a pear you do tickle

    This led them to the kitchen where they found the next clue with the cup horcrux.
  • This clue certainly separates the wheat from the chaff.
    To find what you seek, you must venture where none walk but staff.
    This closet may not be under the stair
    But in it, we keep all supplies that are spare.
    This led to the staff supply closet in the meeting room in which was hidden the next clue with the snake horcrux.
  • You’re getting close but still so far.
    What you seek next might fit a queen or a tsar.
    You must prove your worth, I decree.
    And Rowena Ravenclaw must surely agree.
    Solve the riddle. Show your worth
    For the next item you must unearth.
    Tall I am young,
    Short I am old,
    While with life I glow,
    Wind is my foe.
    What am I?

    The answer is a candle, so this led them to a battery operated candle on one of the tables where the next clue was hidden with the diadem horcrux.
  • One more item, and then you’re off the hook!
    Look for it alongside a spellbook.
    In order to solve this ongoing mystery,
    You might want to brush up on your history.
    This led them to the History of Magic spellbook I’d made and the final (locket) horcrux.

I also set out some Harry Potter crosswords and word search puzzles that I found online.
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I knew that in order to have a great party, you need to have a photo booth so I set aside some time and money to make some great photo booth props. First, I bought a set on Etsy that you can just print out and attach to dowels. It was easy and cost about $9. There’s another set for about $12 and another for about $8. I already had the Spectrespecs at home from my Luna costume.

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Then, I made a wanted poster similar to the one seen in the movies for Sirius Black as well as an Azkaban sign to hold (which you can see above under the props) for the photo booth. I used a technique similar to this tutorial, but I ended up just cutting out all my letters by hand and gluing them on the sign after painting it to look weathered and torn.

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For our backdrop, I just took a plain white sheet, cut it to the size I wanted, and stamped it with a spare brick dipped in red paint to make it look like a brick wall. Then, I made a sign to hang on it, and voilà! We had Platform 9 3/4. You could also cut a slit in the sheet to use it as an entrance/door, but I wanted it to be solid for the backdrop.
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Here are a few photos of me at the photo booth all dressed up in my Luna Lovegood costume.

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I am a huge wizard rock (or “wrock”) fan. If you’re familiar, it’s a genre of music based on the Harry Potter novels. Though other fandoms created their own genres (“Twi-rock,” for example), wizard rock was the first genre of music inspired solely by a series of books. There are plenty of amazing songs and wizard rockers out there, and I ended up going through my own wrock library and finding teen-appropriate songs. (Be very careful if you choose to incorporate wrock into a teen program because some lyrics aren’t appropriate for all audiences). I stuck with bands like The Butterbeer Experience, The Ministry of Magic, Marked As His Equal, and (my personal favorite) Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls.

What kind of party would it be without some themed treats? I found several printables for treat bags:
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Beverage Labels:
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Candy Labels (which went in the treat bags:
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(I used oatmeal cream pies for the Cauldron Cakes, Safety Pops for the Acid Pops, toffees from Dollar Tree for the Ton Tongue Toffees, random hard candies from Dollar Tree for the Fizzing Whizbees, turtle clusters for the Cockroach Clusters, and off-brand jellybeans for Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.)

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Since we had so many games, we have to have prizes, right? I dug around in my collection of HP stuff and found a few magnets that I felt comfortable parting with as well as a few Dark Mark temporary tattoos, some Harry Potter gift tags, a couple journals, and some candy leftover from the Family Feud program.
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I also set up a Pottermore station with our laptop so the teens could check out the site that JK Rowling made to supplement the books. If you’re not familiar with Pottermore, you can get sorted (by a quiz that JK herself designed), buy books and pets, make potions, and see amazing artwork for each scene described in the books!
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Now, all that is left is decorations which were some of the most fun to create! I started with my potions table.
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The Hogwarts yearbook on the potions table was actually the program from LeakyCon 2011. It just went so well with the décor that I had to include it. Now, on to the potions!
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I already had the cauldrons at home. I bought one at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and one was a present from a friend. Then, I found printable labels for the bottles and cut them out. Most of the potions are just water with food coloring in pretty bottles (some of which were donated and some of which came from Michaels). I just got on the Harry Potter wiki and found out what color the potions were supposed to be and got the coloring as close as I could. For some of the ingredients, I had to make them myself.
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The bezoar is air-dry clay with lumps of glue painted as gross a color as I could manage. I ended up asking my co-workers every hour or so if it looked disgusting enough to have come from the stomach of a goat. This was the end product.
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The ashwinder eggs are just air-dry clay, and the moonstone I had at home.
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I mixed up some stage blood for the dragon’s blood (see the recipes on my Special FX Halloween makeup program post).
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The ground bicorn horn in the back is just sand, and the venomous tentacula leaves are bay leaves.
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I just used air-dry clay, wooden dowels, some paint, and some modge podge to make these. It was pretty simple. I was trying it out (as well as a few other methods for making wands) with the idea that I would incorporate this craft into the program, but I quickly realized that it was too time-consuming to be part of any program. It would need its own time slot. So, these would-be “examples” turned into decorations along with the wand I bought at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the Ollivander’s experience when I was chosen.

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I made these spellbooks by just printing out the covers from this site and covering old books with colored paper.

I also set up two book displays, one for Harry Potter books and the other for related young adult books. I included The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and several books written about the series and fandom like Harry, A History and Dear Mr. Potter in my Harry Potter display and other very popular YA books in my related display.

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I also hung up a few Education Decrees around the room as a finishing touch.
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And that was our Harry Potter party. All together, it cost about $35 because I had so many materials at home.

Stained Glass Ornaments

My December YA program was very simple. I’ve never been big on craft programs because most of the crafts I like and think the teens like have been done to death (tie dye, jewelry, etc.) or are not very inclusive for the guys in the group. So, when I wanted to do a craft program, I wanted to do something very different. Well, that didn’t necessarily happen since almost every library offers an ornament decorating program (my branch alone offered two–one for adults and my program for teens). However, I decided we should do something new that I’d just learned about.

Alcohol inks are the craft supplies for the crafting impaired. (Yes, I include myself among that number.) It’s virtually impossible to screw it up, but if you manage to do it (I did), you just use the blending solution to wipe away the mess and start all over. There’s virtually no wasted supplies! That definitely appealed to me.

So, I went out and bought 3 packs of various colored alcohol inks and metallic mixers as well as two containers of alcohol inks. I’m not going to lie. This was a fairly expensive program. I think the total for ink and other alcohol ink supplies was about $40 or more at Hobby Lobby (our Michaels didn’t carry alcohol inks and the people at Joann’s didn’t know what I was even talking about when I asked). I ended up saving money by using leftover bulbs from the other ornament decorating program at my branch. So, my total for this program was about $45 with snacks.

If you’re not familiar with alcohol inks, I’d suggest reading up on them at All Thumbs Crafts, Art Without Anxiety, or By Stephanie Lynn. Then practice, practice, practice. There are a bunch of techniques, and each one turns out differently, so you’ll want a few examples and a few tips and tricks to pass along during the program.

Because the inks themselves were so expensive (and I have read that you can make your own from permanent markers or something and that certain rubbing alcohols can be replaced for the blending solution but I didn’t try it because I know my luck at trying to be cheap with things like this and my budget last semester allowed me to use the real stuff), I ordered a box of gloves from the programming department for free to make sure my teens didn’t get the ink on their hands (because it is a big pain to get off, believe me!) and made my own applicators from extra felt scraps left over from making flannels and handles made from cardboard scraps. You can also use felt attached to a stamp base, but I didn’t have those on hand this time.

Then, I warned the kids to wear old clothes, put out some snacks, set up the work stations with q-tips, cotton balls, some applicators, bowls for mixing the metallic additives, a pie plate to work over, lots of newspaper and wax paper, and let the teens get creative. There were some really beautiful pieces made at this program (much better than I made during my experiments), and the teens seemed to really enjoy it.

Special FX Halloween Makeup

For this month’s teen program, I played to my strengths. As I believe I’ve said, I was a theatre major in college, so I’ve taken my fair share of stage makeup courses. I loved them, and I was encouraged to add a makeup minor by all my instructors, but I never had the time in my schedule. With Halloween coming up, I thought it would be fun to share some of my knowledge about special effects makeup. To appeal to the guys and the girls, I did a few gory makeups and one beauty fantasy makeup. I won’t lie; this would be a very expensive and somewhat difficult program the way I laid it out if you didn’t have any training or makeup at your disposal. I think I only spent about $10 of my programming budget on it, but I already had well over $200 in makeup at home that I wax happy to use for this program.

If you’re still interested, here’s what we did.

I started out with a little talk on the basics of makeup (stage makeup vs. movie makeup vs. Halloween makeup, all the things we can do with makeup, etc.). After that, I had them all sign up for the makeup they would like me to demonstrate on them. Then, we moved on to the first demonstration–bruises.

I chose to do a black eye. I talked about how bruises form, shape, old bruises vs. new bruises, how to blend, back story behind a bruise, etc. I did all the lecture while demonstrating the makeup to help with time. If you want a guide on how to do bruise effects, here is a good one.

After the bruising, I would have demonstrated how to create a scar with nose and scar wax, but I was concerned about running out of our time (I was squeezing all of this into an hour-long program). So, we ended up skipping it. Here is a guide for working with nose and scar wax.

Next, I would have taught them how to do a scrape, but, again, I was worried about time because my next few makeups were very time-intensive and much more impressive. To do this, you really just need a stipple sponge, some red cream makeup, some blood, and possibly some latex.

Then, we moved onto an open wound. This was a real hit with the teens, but it involves latex, so make sure no one has an allergy! Here’s the guide for making this particular wound (it’s very easy, even if you have no real training), and here’s the result (without stage blood).
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While I was in the middle of that makeup, I started my next demonstration because the latex takes a few minutes to dry for both of these. The next makeup I did was a bit more complicated, but if you’re relatively crafty, you should be able to manage it. It does take some prep time beforehand, though. I did a compound fracture. Here’s the guide I used, and here’s the result:

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I always seemed to take my pictures before I added the blood. It really looked a lot better once I added blood.

After those had dried and been finished, I demonstrated my last makeup. This was the one the girls had been waiting for–the pretty one. I did a mermaid fantasy makeup. Here’s the result as demonstrated on my coworker who was volunteered to help me practice all these makeups a week in advance of the program.

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This is another makeup that is easier than it looks. I had to choose fairy easy applications for such a short time limit. Here’s the guide I used.

During the downtime in demonstrations and lectures about anatomy and how it affects makeup application, back story, various tools, other makeup techniques, etc., the teens were advised to visit our two stage blood stations where they could mix up their own realistic, and very yummy sta,ge blood to take home. Here’s where I found the recipes. (We used method 3 “Chocolate blood” and method 14 “chocolate syrup and coffee.”)

I think this program went over well. The teens seemed to love getting all made up and joking around about what had happened to them.

Hunger Games Boat Float

This program fit into the water unit in the Teen Reading Program 2014. The basic idea for this program was mentioned at the summer reading training program we attended in the spring, but the former youth facilitator and I decided to expand the idea to make it more interesting.

The basic premise is that the teens will compete to make a boat out of recycled materials provided in the program. This boat must float longer than their competitors’, and, if there is a tie, quarters will be added one at a time until the weight causes one boat to sink and a winner is declared.

But that would be too simple. So, we decided to shake things up with a Hunger Games theme!

In the center of the room, we put a cornucopia of recycled materials. Around the cornucopia, we set up work stations for the teams of teens. Each work station had an equal number of recycled materials that they could use as well as anything they would accumulate throughout the game. We chose to give each team a DVD case, two paperclips, two glue dots, scissors, two 6-inch pieces of string in a bag as well as paper and a pencil for sketching plans. You could also assign your teams district numbers and have a bag with their corresponding number in the cornucopia with their allotted materials inside.

In our cornucopia, we had an empty stapler, egg cartons, cardboard, strips of leather, string, tape, and anything else would could find that might float or help attach the materials to one another. It was covered with a tarp when the teens arrived.

Once the teens arrived, we explained the rules for the game:

  1. You are the build a boat that floats with the help of your team Each boat must be made from at least six materials that are attached to each other, and the boat must be made within the twenty-five minute time allotment.
  2. If there is a tie and more than one boat floats, quarters will be added to weigh down the boats, and the last remaining boat floating will win.
  3. Each team has been equipped with equal resources to begin with, and they will each be given six inches of tape. You must use everything in your bag.
  4. Each group may take up to five items from the cornucopia after the countdown to bring back to their station and use to build their boat.
  5. Teams may barter with one another for assistance and to procure other materials.
  6. You may only use materials provided for this project–you cannot use anything you may happen to have with you.
  7. There are surprises hidden around the room that may help you accomplish your task. If you find one, present it to the Game Maker (a.k.a. Me) so that you can use your advantage.
  8. There will also be help from “sponsors” throughout the game, just as in The Hunger Games.

Then, we asked for questions, unveiled the cornucopia, and counted down from 5 before the participants could begin choosing their items. After that, the building commenced!

Some of the cards we hid around the room included:

  • You’ve been injured in an attack. You’re stunned and dizzy. (Each person on your team must do three spins around a bat before continuing to work.)
  • You managed to trap a rabbit for dinner using only some sticks and a vine. Good job! (Add 5 minutes to your time allotment.)
  • You’ve received a gift from your sponsor (We hid three of these and gave out gifts randomly like extra tape, glue, staples for the empty stapler that was in the cornucopia, pipe cleaners, brads, string, or extra paper clips.)
  • You managed to steal one of your opponent’s weapons while they were sleeping. (Take one item from an opposing team to build your float.)
  • Under the cover of darkness, you manage to sneak back to the cornucopia to replenish your supplies. (Take another item from the cornucopia to build your float.)
  • Either your mentor is mad at you or your sponsors are clueless. You’ve just received a worthless gift. (Get a bag of heavy coins from the Game Maker that you must incorporate into your float.)
  • The other tributes snuck up on you while you were sleeping, and you were seriously injured. (You’ve lost the use of your left hand for the rest of the game. We forced this teen to wear an oven mitt on their left hand to ensure they didn’t use it.)
  • You’ve managed to steal some game from one of the other tribute’s traps, benefitting you and sabotaging them. (You can give one of your materials to another team that they must use to make their boat.)

After their twenty-five to thirty (depending on the cards they drew) time allotment was over, we had them put their boats in a bin of water to determine which floated.

Even though I planned this program, I was unable to be there when it took place. I heard that the teens loved it, and when they saw that I was doing a Hunger Games program for the fall semester, they wanted to know if we were repeating this program because it was so much fun. Everyone kept telling me it was a huge hit!


This program was created and executed by myself and the former youth facilitator at my branch. It was held as our Halloween program in 2013. Since then, some of the notes have gone missing, so I am creating this post based on what survived and memory.

We chose to do a library themed live-action Clue game with our teens last year. First, we had to choose our suspects, weapons, and locations. We chose the following suspects:

  • Dr. John Watson
  • Harry Potter
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Lady Guinevere
  • President Snow (from The Hunger Games trilogy)
  • Mrs. Marisa Coulter (from the His Dark Materials trilogy)

We found pictures of each suspect and created what we called character cards for each player (you could also separate your teens into teams if you have too many participants for the six suspects). On these character cards, which we handed out shortly after the program began, we put pertinent information they would need marking it for them to keep hidden from the other players or to reveal it at a certain moment in the game. We’ll return to these cards later in this post.

Then, we decided to select weapons found in the library since it would be the scene of the crime:

  • Stapler
  • Hole Punch
  • Book Cart
  • World Atlas
  • Scissors
  • Cake Pan (Our system circulates cake pans, and it was a new feature we wanted to display for this program. You might choose a pencil or something else found at your branch if you choose to do this program.)

Finally, we looked at the layout of our branch and selected the areas where we could play the game without disturbing patrons to be used as our locations for the game:

  • Kitchen
  • Children’s Room
  • Cataloging
  • Meeting Room
  • Young Adult Section
  • Office

Once we had all that established, we could move on to the more intricate parts of our game. You see, we wanted it to be more interactive than simply walking to the various locations throughout the library and making guesses. We wanted there to be a motive that the teens had to deduce along with the weapon, murderer, and location like Clue usually requires. Below, you’ll find each suspect’s potential motive for killing the librarian and the information we included on their character cards:


  • Dr. John Watson: Motive–To protect his friend Sherlock Holmes
    Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Mr. Watson was undoubtedly loyal to his friend and mentor, Detective Holmes. So, when Holmes was publically reprimanded and his account was blocked, both Holmes and Watson were visibly distressed.
  • Harry Potter: Motive–To end his feud long-standing feud with the librarian and end her tyranny once and for all
    Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Everyone knows Harry and the librarian had a long-standing feud. He found her incessant Shh-ing irritating, and she found his Abracadabra practices in public places both annoying and disrespectful.

  • Dr. Seuss: Motive–To play “harmless” tricks on the librarian to get her to lighten up
    Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) The good doctor could not understand why the librarian insisted on conforming to every rule and procedure and often acted out in blatant rebellion. The harmless tricks took a sinister turn when Seuss began tinkering with library equipment.

  • Lady Guinevere: Motive–To get revenge on the librarian for humiliating her by throwing her out of the library
    Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Guinevere was known for using her good looks and charm to pit young men against one another. One time, while two potential suitors dueled for her affection, a fire alarm was accidentally sounded, and the librarian was forced to throw all three parties out of the building at once. Guinevere never recovered from the public embarrassment.

  • President Snow: Motive–To seek revenge against the librarian for not allowing him to censor books he found to be offensive
    Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.)  The trouble started when the librarian fined President Snow for blacking out entire passages in books he found to be a threat to the Capital.

  • Mrs. Marisa Coulter: Motive–To stop the librarian from including texts that she deemed unsuitable and undermined her research.
    Character Card: (Warning: DO NOT share this information with the other teams.) Everyone would agree that Mrs. Coulter devoted her life to the process of intercision. After discovering that the librarian had undermined its necessity, she flew into a rage and immediately sent an angry letter to the Magisterium.
    Once the information above is revealed to all the other players, displace the blame by reading the following:
    “What about Lady Guinevere?!?! Wasn’t there an incident last week where the librarian had to kick her out for sounding an alarm? She looked mortified, and pretty ticked off!”

Before our teens arrived, we set up each location with one weapon and hid clues we’d created that would point toward each suspect’s motive. When they arrived, we had a quick meal of pizza in the meeting room and handed out the cards while we waited for someone to discover the body. Finally, someone ran in to announce that a librarian had been murdered. We ushered the teens to the place where the body had been discovered, reminding them that even though it was in the office, the body may have been moved. Then, we explained how the game would work and that the team who discovered the guilty person, the location of the murder, the murder weapon, and the murderer’s motive would win. We handed out the suspect, weapon, and location cards just like the board game Clue (each team got a random assortment of three cards that they could use to eliminate possibilities). You’ll note from the character cards that even the murderer might not know they were guilty so they could play along too.

After that, we began our game. Since we were in the office already, we allowed the teens to search the area for clues if they wished. One teen unearthed a Darth Vader cake pan, and another found incident report made by the librarian about Detective Holmes who had made a scene at the library after he was told he had a late fee. He had apparently jumped on top of a table and given the rest of the patrons a loud and irritable lecture about overthrowing the tyranny of the librarian. The incident report also stated that Detective Holmes was asked to leave along with his friend Dr. Watson who had stepped in and become upset on behalf of his friend.

We gave the teams some time to make notes and gave the first team (Dr. Watson) a chance to make a guess including the location, suspect, and weapon (but not the motive) just as one would do in the board game version of Clue. The team to their left attempted to disprove them. If they couldn’t with the cards they were given in the beginning of the game, the next team to the left attempted to disprove their guess, and so on until one card was produced to prove their guess was inaccurate.

Next, we took the teens to the children’s room. We’d also put one of the weapons (the stapler) nearby. When we entered, we said something to lead the teens to look for the clue. I don’t quite remember the wording, but it hinted at the feud between the librarian and the boy who lived. Eventually one of the teens figured out that we were talking about Harry Potter and looked for the books from the series on the shelf. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they found a piece of paper that had been crumpled up and defaced. It was a note from the librarian to Harry Potter informing him in no uncertain terms that she had warned him for the last time about his antics in the library and that, if she had to take further action, he would be permanently banned from the library. We gave the teams some time to make notes and gave the next team (Harry Potter) a chance to make a guess.

Then, we moved to the young adult section which was hiding a pair of scissors and a clue about President Snow hidden in Mockingjay. Again, we gave the teens a hint about where they might find a clue by saying something about a text that had been defaced because it was incriminating to President Snow. One of the teens took the book down and found a photo copy of the passage about President Snow killing his enemies to be blacked out. There was also a sticky note from the librarian informing Snow that he would have to pay for a replacement and that his account was blocked until he did so. We gave the teens some time to jot down some notes and allowed the next team (Dr. Seuss) to make a guess.

We moved into the kitchen after there where a note was stuck to the refrigerator. The teens found it right away along with the atlas laid on the table. The note was from Mrs. Coulter to the Magestrium. In it, Marisa discussed the librarian’s inclusion of books into the collection that argued that intercision was unnecessary and brutal. After it was read to the group, Mrs. Coulter’s team did as they were instructed on their character card and turned the blame to Lady Guinevere by exposing her expulsion from the library the week prior. After that, the teens took notes and the next team (Lady Guinevere) was allowed to make their guess.

Cataloging was our last step for clues. Right when we walked in, someone spotted a red and white hat reminiscent of The Cat in the Hat and figured the clue incriminating Dr. Seuss was underneath it. When they found a journal made from Green Eggs and Ham, they knew they were correct. Inside, they found plans for tinkering with library equipment and a passage expressing a desire for the librarian to lighten up. Another teen found the hole punch nearby while everyone else took notes. President Snow’s team was allowed to make a guess, and then we all moved back to the meeting room.

There, we found the book cart, and Mrs. Coulter’s team was allowed to make their guess. We sat down to finish the pizza, formulate theories, and allow the teams to make another guess if they wished. Then, anyone with an accusation (a guess with the room, suspect, weapon, and motive) could make it. If they were wrong, their team lost. If they were right, they won the game.

In the end, we chose for Dr. Seuss to be the unlikely murderer with the book cart in the office. None of our teens guessed it, but they had a great time playing detective and came very close. All they were missing was the location.

We managed to do this entire program in an hour, but I would highly suggest at least giving yourself an hour and a half because we were very rushed. I also feel sure that the teens would have gotten the answer correct if they had more time to make guesses and process the information.

Minute to Win It

When I started planning my young adult programs for my first semester, I had big plans for several of them, but I knew that I would want something fun to kick off the fall semester that wouldn’t be as time-intensive as some of the other programs I was planning so that I could prepare them in a timely fashion. So, I searched a few library blogs and stumbled upon Rad Books for Rad Kids and their Minute to Win It Program. I had never seen the show, but it certainly looked like something that would fit what I was looking for and that my teens would enjoy. So, I decided to give it a whirl.

I chose to do the following games:

    • Breakfast Scramble: Players reassemble a cereal box cover cut into 20 identical pieces.My teens enjoyed this game. I cut up two boxes, one they would all be familiar with and one they might not be so they could choose the more complicated challenge or the easier version.
    • A Bit Dicey: Players hold a craft stick in their mouth and stack six dice on it. Once balanced, they must hold it for three seconds (or five if you want to make it more difficult).
    • Play It By Ear: Using only their senses of hearing and touch, players will place bottles/cans in order from left to right in order from the one with the fewest pennies inside (5) to the one with the most pennies inside (40).
      I’m not going to lie, this game was hard for me to run. If I would have had a helper, it would have worked, but I had to time the challenge, tell them if they got it right while under the same time limit they were (because I was the only one who knew the code I’d placed on the bottom of the bottles to know how many pennies each contained), and answer any questions other players not working on this game might have during that minute. So, keep that in mind if you choose to do this game. In addition, choose a hard code to crack. I taped letters to the bottom of my bottles that spelled a word when they were in the right order. The teens spent most of the program trying to crack my code to cheat. No one did because it wasn’t in English, so get really creative with it to deter cheating. Incidentally, not one teen completed this particular game within the time limit.
    • Face the Cookie: Using only the muscles in their face, players must move a cookie (or if you want it to be harder, two cookies) placed on their forehead into their mouth.
    • Defying Gravity: Using only their hands (or one hand if you want to make it harder), players must keep three balloons in the air for a minute.
      This one is harder than it seems because only a few of my teens managed to complete this challenge.
    • This Blows: Players must inflate a balloon and use only the air inside it to knock 10-15 cups off a table. They can inflate the balloon as many times as they wish within their sixty seconds, but they can only use the air inside it to accomplish their task.

      For this one, because it had to be reset between every attempt, I put a line of colored dots on the table to mark where the cups should go so that it was uniform for each player.
    • Moving On Up: Players will move a differently colored cup from the bottom of a stack of 39 similar colored cups to the top moving only one cup at a time and using alternating hands.
    • Stack Attack: Players must stack 36 cups into a pyramid and dismantle the pyramid moving diagonally to return the cups to their original stack all in sixty seconds.
    • Keep It Up: Using only their breath, players must keep two feathers in the air for sixty seconds.

      We quickly determined that this challenge was impossible after first moving around the room to find a place to attempt it that was far enough away from vents. No one completed this challenge, not even me after the teens insisted I try.
  • Elephant March: Players must knock over two lines of bottles using only a baseball inside the leg of a pair of pantyhose worn over their head.This one is fairly easy. I think there were only two teens that didn’t complete it. One was because she refused to attempt it and mess up her hair, but that is something to keep in mind for the teen girls.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, as I was, here’s how it works. Each player starts out with three lives. They can lose these lives by failing to complete a challenge within the time allotted or by violating the rules of the challenge (i.e. using their hands in “Face the Cookie”). After they lose all three of their lives, they’re out. For each challenge they complete, they get the points for that round which goes as follows:

  • Level 1 = 1,000
  • Level 2 = 2,500
  • Level 3 = 5,000
  • Level 4 = 10,000
  • Level 5 = 50,000*
  • Level 6 = 75,000
  • Level 7 = 125,000
  • Level 8 = 250,000
  • Level 9 = 500,000
  • Level 10 = 1,000,000

My program was organized like the game show, and that’s the reason I chose only ten challenges for the teens to complete to give them the correct number of levels. When a player completes level 5, they are guaranteed 50,000 points no matter what happens after. Even if they lose all their lives, they will end with 50,000 points. Before that point, if they lose all their lives, they walk away empty-handed.

I assigned each pair (one teen to time and one teen to complete the challenge) a challenge with which to begin. I gave everyone a scorecard and had them write down the name of their challenge in the level 1 box. Then, when they completed their attempt, they would come to me and get a circle stamp (for completed) or an X stamp for a failed attempt. I would also cross off one of their lives on the bottom of the scorecard at that point, if needed. Then, they would have a second attempt if they had failed or move on if they had completed it to the next challenge and move clockwise around the room until they lost all their lives, elected to quit with the points they currently had in between challenges (not in between attempts of a challenge), completed all the challenges, or we ran out of time in our hour-long program.

This quickly fell apart when I realized A) almost all my teens had lost their three lives in the first ten minutes of the program and B) I had to be in 20 places at once to take pictures, time challenges when needed, run the “Play It By Ear” challenge, stamp everyone’s scorecards, and record who currently had the highest score on the whiteboard. Again, if I would have had a helper, this program would have run perfectly.

So, we threw the lives out the window and just awarded points for any challenges they managed to complete in the time given. So that if one teen finished one challenge, they got 1,000 points; if another finished three, they got 5,000; and so on. It didn’t matter in what order they completed them or how many times they failed. I also let them keep track of their failures and successes on their scorecards because their partners who were timing them were keeping them honest about their failures and successes.

In the end, our winner had 75,000 points while the runners-up had about 5,000 each. I must remind you that these challenges seem simple, but they are hard!

If you choose to do a Minute to Win It program, keep in mind you’ll need stopwatches for this program. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow several from friends, but we had to get a bit creative and use the library’s iPad for one stopwatch because they are so expensive. I only provided about five stopwatches for the teens to use.

I only spent about $4 all told for this program because the library or friends or family had most of the materials lying around. I only had to buy cookies and balloons. For that $4, I’d say I had a very successful program since I literally had to shepherd the teens out the door when our time was up. They wanted to keep trying all the challenges until they beat them. I had several of them beg me to include it in the lineup for next semester.

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