Posts tagged ‘game’

The Inevitable Pokemon Go Display

Around the time Pokemon Go was released, we realized our traffic had increased. Soon after I began playing, I realized it was because our branch was a Pokestop. I began brainstorming how to tie this into a program of some sort, but I started with a book display. In addition to what is shown in the pictures, I added a passive program in the form of a foam board attached to the easel display where patrons could write which Pokemon they caught at the library.

Family Feud

My teens love game show programs as we saw with my Minute to Win It program. We’ve done Jeopardy at my branch in the past, so I wanted to find a new game show to do to keep interest up (and because I was personally a little burned out on Jeopardy). When I brought up the idea of Family Feud, there was a lot of excitement, so I went for it. It was a very easy and very cheap program. I just spent about $5 on snacks and drinks from the dollar store and about $5 on prizes (which weren’t even necessary since we don’t typically give out prizes to winners at competition programs; instead they usually “win” the thrill of victory).

For this program, I found a pre-made Family Feud Powerpoint here. I used the first one, but I’ll tell you now that it’s a bit difficult. You have to follow their instructions precisely on the site, and you can’t edit it to have more or fewer answers than are already displayed. So, you have to make sure you’re using questions with the same number of answers when you plug in your own. In addition, there’s a bit of a glitch where it will show all the answers for a split second when you go to a new round before covering them up. I had to get a bit creative here and made signs that everyone had to put up in front of their faces whenever I switched slides. It can be a bit glitchy on some computers too, so make sure to test it on the computer you’ll be using. Other than that, however, it worked great! It looked very realistic, and everyone loved the music and animation.

For my questions, I did not go out and poll 100 people. There are a couple of sites who have already done this, and I just used the questions and answers I thought my teens would be more likely to know (and which were appropriate) to plug into my Powerpoint. Here’s one site, and here’s another.

Overall, it was a very popular program with one of my highest turnouts ever!


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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