Posts tagged ‘teen’

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.

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!

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.

Hunger Games Challenge

I’ve been wanting to do a Hunger Games program for a while. I had recently planned a Hunger Games Boat Float program, and it was a big hit! So, I wanted a follow-up program for the release of Mockingjay Part 1 in November. I brainstormed and brainstormed, trying to come up with a unique idea. Finally, I stumbled upon a pre-made Hunger Games program that was along the lines of a choose your own adventure, so I decided to adapt it. Here is the original (with pictures), and below is my adaptation. I changed a few words, added a bit of storyline, added an obstacle course at the end to make it more interactive, and added survival skills questions to help those who may not have chosen wisely at the beginning of the game.

To play, you’ll simply follow the instructions in the beginning and then read anything that isn’t in parentheses, following the instructions as you go along. It’s a fairly easy program, but you may need an assistant to help keep score, set up, ask survival skills questions, etc.


Directions:  Gather or make the items listed for the Cornucopia.  Place them in the center of a large room.  Divide the students into two teams, one team on each end of the room.   At the word “GO!” one student from each team runs up and grabs any one item they choose from the cornucopia.  They run back to slap the hand of another teammate, who runs to the cornucopia to grab another item.  This continues until all players have 2 items (for 6 or fewer participants).  Then, as a teacher reads the following scenarios, if a team has the specifically mentioned item that will help them survive, they hold it in the air to claim the points indicated in the script. Though your team gets the points for your item, the items belong to each individual who grabbed them. The team with the most points wins!


The Cornucopia:

Water, Medicine, Hammer, Knife, Bread, Bow and Arrow, Boots, Blanket, Flashlight, Anti-venom, Shield, Sword, Rope, Crackers, Matches, Beef strips, Water container, Wire for traps, Slingshot, Sleeping bag, Book about edible plants, Blue tarp, Fire starters, Band aids, Sheet

(I ended up making a lot of this out of cardboard and painting it myself.)


Day 1 in the Arena:

Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. As the countdown ends, the fighting immediately breaks out for resources. You see one of your opponents go down in the struggle. Do you escape unscathed? (Each team must select one player to “battle” the selected player from the other team. These two players will come to the center of the room to be given a spoon with a plastic egg or an orange on it. They must try to knock their opponent’s orange off their spoon without losing their own. If both players lose their oranges/eggs, they will both lose 5 points for injuries sustained through battle. The winner would receive 5 points for a rush of adrenaline.)

You have been told to get water, but you didn’t want to fight your way into the cornucopia to get it.  Luckily, you found a stream. Five points (each) for having a bottle of water and/or container to carry water it in.

You had no idea the nights here would be so cold.  Five points if you have a blanket, sleeping bag, sheet or tarp.


Day 2 in the Arena. 

You didn’t eat yesterday and now you are starving.  Five points for having a book about edible plants, and 5 points for wire, because you can set a trap.  Also five points for having a bow and arrow, hammer, slingshot, knife or sword.

You have caught a rabbit stuck in the bushes, but you will not eat it raw.  Five points for matches, or a fire starter.

You kick dirt on top of the fire when you are done cooking, but the smoke alerts the Career Pack, and now they are chasing you through the forest. Five points for having water, because you can make mud to camouflage yourself as you hide in the bushes.

Unfortunately, the bushes have thorns, and you find yourself bleeding all over.  Five points for Band-aids and/or medicine for your wounds.  (If they don’t have either, they can answer a question to get medicine from a sponsor or lose 5 points for infection.)

It seems as if your pursuers will never leave, and they are so close you can hear everything they say.  Suddenly, all of them leave except one.  If you just had a weapon, you could hit him easily.  Five points for a slingshot or bow and arrow.  (The player with the bow and arrow will “battle” a player from the opposite team at “Fire, Beast, Tribute.” The winner survives and takes the loser’s item for their team as well as 5 points.)

You decide to run before the group comes back and finds a lifeless body.  You head out into a desert area, where rocks are as sharp as broken glass.  Ten points for having a pair of boots because you can run faster.  Suddenly, a rattlesnake slithers out in front of you, and you can’t stop running in time.  You step squarely on it, and it turns and bites you… hard.  Fifteen points for anti-venom, which you apply immediately.  (The team that doesn’t have the anti-venom can have a chance to win some from their sponsors by answering a survival skill trivia question. If they answer incorrectly, they will lose 10 points.

You know you have to get somewhere safe immediately, so you crawl into a shallow cave to wait while you hope the anti-venom works.  Ten points for a sleeping bag or blanket to roll yourself up in, to prevent shock. (Lose 5 points if you have none of those things.)

Apparently you have been unconscious for quite a while, but when you wake up you feel better; just unbelievably hungry. You are not strong enough to walk on your own and certainly you can’t hunt.  But you need food fast.  Five points (each) for having bread, crackers, beef strips, or a book about edible plants, because you aren’t sure if the berries you collected earlier are safe to eat or not.


Day 3 in the Arena:

You fashion a crutch for yourself out of a tree limb with your tools.  You’re glad you still have your knife or sword (five points for either) to cut the extra branches off.  Your foot is too swollen for your shoe, but you tear up the sheet (five points) and tie the strips over your foot to protect it as you move to a better cave.

However, you are not the only one to choose this cave!  You are shocked to discover there is a family of wolves here also, and the mother wolf is going to fiercely protect her pups.  You grab your shield to fend off her attacks (five points) then grab your hammer, sword or knife (ten points for any of those).  (The team without the shield can answer a trivia question so that their character might find a suitable piece of bark to use in lieu of one if they get it right. If they get it wrong, they will lose 10 points due to an injury.) You are fast with a weapon, and the wolf is now lying, bleeding, at your feet.  Quickly, you use your knife or sword (five points each) to cut the meat into strips.  You use your fire starter or matches (ten points each) to build a fire out of the nearby brush, and you roast the meat to save for later.  However, you know the smell of meat will attract more animals.  You wrap the meat in a sheet (five points) and suspend it from a tree with part of your rope (five points) to keep it protected from carnivores. (If they don’t have a rope or a sheet, they can answer a survival question to determine if they are able to fashion a sling for the meat from vines. If not, they’ll lose 5 points and their food.)

Your water bottle is dry so you must set off again in search of water.  Your foot is not so swollen now, so you put on your shoes (5 points) to head back outside in search of water.  As you go, the desert gives way to rolling hills and thorny brush.  Suddenly, you hear geese overhead, and you draw your bow and arrow (5 points) to try to shoot one down.  An excellent shot, you have just added some food and juicy meat to your supply.  You take the other part of your rope (5 points) and tie the goose to your waist so you can eat it later. (If they don’t have a bow and arrow, they’ll answer a question to see if they can catch an animal to eat in a snare they set up with natural materials. If not, they’ll lose 5 points for hunger.)

Higher up you go into the hills, and the weather gets colder.  You reach for your blanket (5 points) to put around your shoulders.  It starts to rain.  You use your shield to gather rainwater (5 points), then pour it into your empty container (5 points) while keeping your body dry by using the tarp (5 points) as a raincoat. (If they don’t have a container, they can answer a trivia question to see if they can find a stream nearby. If not, they’ll lose 5 points for thirst.)

You hear the sound of the Career pack again, and you know you have to hide, quickly!  But in climbing a tree, you scrape skin off your knees so you are bleeding heavily.  Five points for medicine that will prevent an infection, and/or for band-aids that will keep the wound clean.  (If one team doesn’t have either, they can answer a question for a gift from their sponsors plus 5 or if they get it wrong, they’ll lose 5 points for infection.) Unfortunately, your blue tarp gives you away.  (Deduct 15 points!) The group of vicious players has spotted you in the tree, but you are quicker than they are.  You throw down your hammer (5 points) to knock one of them out. Your slingshot is no use, because you have no rocks, but your bow and arrow is a great weapon.  You have only three arrows, but they all hit their mark and now you are safe. (15 points.) (The team without the bow and arrow can answer a question to drop a bunch of tracker jackers on them. If they answer incorrectly, they must lose 10 points due to hunger from having to wait out the Career pack.)

As night falls, you return to your cave.  Your flashlight (5 points) helps you see that there are no animals in there anymore.  You make a fire with your fire-starter or matches (five points for either) for warmth and cooking, and you roast the goose you shot earlier.  After your supper, you add the meat to your sheet-bag (5 points), and go to sleep thankful that your goose has been cooked.


Day 4 in the Arena

Your competition is dwindling and the gamemakers make an announcement that you will find things that you need at the cornucopia in an attempt to lure you back together and get the fighting started again. Though you know this is likely a trap, you also know that you need more supplies to survive in the arena for the rest of the game. So, you stake out in a tree to check if the coast is clear. You notice from your excellent vantage point that there is a slight disturbance in the air as if the arena had been altered in some way. You’re sure this is a trap, and your suspicions are confirmed as you see one of the few remaining tributes run past your tree only to be electrocuted by a force field that certainly wasn’t there when the games began. Now that you’re aware of what you’re facing, it’s time to make your way toward the cornucopia and the supplies you need, knowing that you are one of the few who remain in the arena. (The players who remain “alive” at this point in the game will complete a relay race obstacle course to get more supplies from the arena. If they touch any of the obstacles, their team will lose points (5 points per infraction) and they will “die.” After the obstacle course, we will tally the points and determine a winner. If there is a tie, we will resolve it through Fire, Beast, Tribute.)

We used a variety of obstacles for our course. They began by balancing a book on their head and hopping from one circle on the floor to another. Then, they had to complete a maze we’d printed off the computer. Then, they had to spin around on a bat 3 times and run to another station that had Hunger Games themed word searches. After finding 3 words, they then had to crawl through a bunch of yarn laced between chairs without touching the yarn itself. Then, they could grab an item from the cornucopia, run back across the room and tag the next person to complete the obstacle course from their team.



Fire, Beast, Tribue:

This game is played like “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”  However, this is played Hunger Games style!  The three items are “Fire, Beast, Tribute.”

  • Fire beats Beast
  • Beast beats Tribute
  • Tribute beats Fire
  • Fire– Fingers pointed up and spirit fingers
  • Beast– Claw motion
  • Tribute– 2 for two legs



Survival Skills Questions:

Q: Why should you melt snow or ice before drinking it when trying to survive in the wild?
A: To prevent dehydration. The cold will reduce your core temperature and lead to dehydration. 

Q: If you are walking toward the sun at noon in the Northern Hemisphere, in which direction are you walking?
A: South.


Q: Which of the following cannot be used to orient you to true North: anthills, wind direction, or moss?
A: Wind direction. Moss is always on the northern side of trees, and anthills are always on the south or southeastern side of trees.

Q: Why shouldn’t you sleep directly on the ground?
A: To avoid loss of body heat.


Q: If you’re looking for bugs to eat, which of these traits should you look for: brightly colored, six-legged, or hairy.
A: Six-legged. Most insects are edible and a good source of protein. 

Q: Which of these features can you use to determine if a snake is poisonous: tail, tongue, or eyes?
A: Eyes. Venomous snakes have elliptical pupils and non-venomous tend to have round. 

Q: What can you use to determine how far away a storm is from your currently location?
A: The time distance between the lightning flash and the thunder.


Q: Approximately how long can the average human live without food if they are properly hydrated? 3 weeks, 1 week, or 9 days?
A: 3 weeks.


Q: Which of the following is considered the best way to make water safe to drink? Strain it using cloth, leave it in the sun so the UV rays can kill microorganisms, or boil it?
A: Boil it
Q: Which list of survival tasks is prioritized in the correct order? A. Address injuries, build shelter, build fire, locate water, locate food; B. Build shelter, build fire, address injuries, locate water, locate food; C. Locate water, build shelter, address injuries, build fire, locate food; or D. Address injuries, build shelter, locate water, locate food, build fire.
A: A. Address injuries, build shelter, build fire, locate water, locate food

True or false: Plants are the best sources of nutrition for an ordinary person in a survival situation?
A: False (unless they are a botanist or have a guide book, the risk of poisoning is too high).

Which of the following should be avoided when selecting an area upon which to build a shelter? A. It must be large enough and level enough for you to lie down comfortably, B. Should be directly next to a river—water is vital, C. Provides protection against wild animals and rocks and dead trees and that might fall, or D. it must contain enough material to construct the type of shelter you need.
A: B. Should be directly next to a river—water is vital. Many rivers are prone to flash floods. Your shelter should be close enough to water to allow access but far enough away to keep you safe in case of a flood.

True or false: You are walking through the woods and encounter a bear. The best course of action is to run.
A: False. You should never run from a bear (unless you are with a partner that runs more slowly than you do). You should back away slowly and avoid eye contact.

Q: It’s a cold, dark night in the woods and you are exhausted after walking all day. You build a quick shelter and find yourself falling asleep. What should you do? A. Stay awake—if you fall asleep you’ll freeze to death, B. Get up and start walking again, or C. Go ahead and fall asleep. A: C. Go ahead and fall asleep. If you get too cold, you’ll wake yourself up by shivering involuntarily. Only in the later stages of hypothermia do you have to worry about falling unconscious and dying.

Q: Which of the following is not a method to light a fire without a match? A. The soda can and chocolate method, B. the battery method, or C. the animal dung method?
A: C. The animal dung method.

Q: Which of these wild berries are safe when ripe and cooked, but can cause nausea when eaten off of the bush? A. Elderberries, B. golden currants, or C. Raspberries
A: A. Elderberries


This was a pretty easy and cheap program. I believe the total budget was about $20 (including snacks). I did have a lot of the items I needed for the cornucopia, though. So, if you aren’t as lucky, it might be a bit more expensive. Then again, there’s always the option of making them yourself like I did with the hammer, slingshot, and knife.

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).
 photo 20141007_171739_1.jpg

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:

 photo 20141007_171729.jpg

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.

 photo 20141007_171709.jpg

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.

Improv Workshop

As a theatre nerd, I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite art form into my programming for this semester. Since I have several regulars who are interested in performing and are members of our library system’s storytelling group, I thought they would enjoy an improvisation workshop. It was very little prep on my end and pretty hassle free overall. It was also free which was a huge factor in my enthusiasm since the rest of my programs from this point on cost a bit of money. Imrpov is also really great for building confidence and creativity in teens!

When they arrived, I did a bit of an introduction to improv including what it is, how it doesn’t always have to be funny, that we do it every day, that it’s all about reacting to your partner(s), etc. Then, we went over the four “rules” of improv: 1) Never say “no,” 2) Don’t use open-ended questions, 3) Add on to what your partner is doing in the scene to move it forward, and 4) There is no right or wrong. If you’ve never done or taught improv before, there’s a pretty good teen lesson plan here that I drew from a bit.

Then, we jumped right into the games! I chose four games that occupied us for about an hour total. I’d recommend having a few others prepared in case your group goes through them quickly like mine did. We had an hour and a half program, and Freeze gets a little old after a while. The games we did were:

  • Word ball
  • Sentence, Response
  • Story, Story, Out/Die
  • Family Portrait: This is great for learning to work with others for a scene. The actors (usually a group of 5-10) are given a type of family (i.e. the farmer family, the pop star family, the mad scientist family, etc.), and they must strike a pose together that reflects that family for their portrait before the instructor says, “Say cheese.” To add a bit more difficulty, the actors must remain in contact with one another, and some part of each person’s body must be touching at least one other person in the portrait so that they are all linked.
  • Freeze: Two actors begin a scene, and, when one of them strikes a pose that provides a possibility for another actor in the audience to build from, that audience member yells, “Freeze,” tags the actor they wish to replace, and starts a brand new scene from the ending positions of the last scene.

(All of the games above can be found on the lesson plan here except Freeze and Family Portrait.)

I just made up the prompts I used. Some were library-themed, others weren’t. There are plenty of books for improv prompts if you find yourself coming up short of ideas.

Other games I considered were:

  • Backwards Scene: Two actors are to do an interview scene with the topic chosen by the audience (i.e. a talk show interviewing a pop star, a news reporter interviewing a witness to a crime, etc.) The catch is that they must do the scene backwards so that the first sentence they speak is the last sentence of the interview. It can get very interesting as they work their way backwards through the scene.
  • The Dating Game: One actor leaves the room while the audience provides traits or a character for the three actors remaining who will play the contestants on a dating show. When the first actor returns, they must determine who the contestants are supposed to be through their answers to the interview questions they provide.
  • Machines: Someone chooses a machine, real or invented, and the actors must all play a part of the machine, working together to make it come to life physically and vocally.

You might find other games on The Improv Game Encyclopedia.

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!

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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