May is one of my craziest months for programming. Free Comic Book Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, graduations, and summer reading kick-off parties are just some of the big things that go on within May, not to mention state testing for my tweens and teens and partial days. Just because of the sheer amount of things going on I’ve found that my tweens and teens love having self-directed programs in the library. They’re available on weekends and afternoons, they’re not on a set time, and they can do them whenever they want.
Free Comic Book Day
Over on Instructables they have super easy instructions on how to create a wallet resuing comic book pages. They use a double page for a normal size wallet, but if all that you have available is leftover manga or anime books in the smaller sizes, you can have teens piece them together to the proper size using clear tape. It works just as well and they can create some interesting mosaics.
My teens are in love with Cubees. IN LOVE with Cubees- like we could run out of printer ink in love with Cubees and they wouldn’t be satisfied. The actual Cubee site has downloadable patterns that you can print by the reamful and just leave out with scissors and tape.
A lot of times my tweens and teens will need lanyards or keychains for the summer. The ones they’ve used for school have been destroyed or are “missing” or there’s some other excuse they come up with to have a NEED to have a duct tape day. Over on Crafty Soccer Mom they have step-by-step instructions on how to create duct tape lanyards using hooks and key rings, and they are the easiest things to make. You can leave out duct tape in a variety of patterns, cutting boards or thick cardboard (to save your tables) and the key rings along with the instructions and let teens create their own for the summer. Take the instructions and shorten the length and you have key chains instead of lanyards.
Over on Craftklatch.com they have some really neat ideas for nail polish washer necklaces. I’ve done basic ones where you let the teens loose with just leftover nail polish and washers, but theirs are just amazing. They add in charms and beads, which could be easily done with extra things found in your craft closet.
Some of the most engaging self-directed programs are among the simplest, such as origami. My teens can sit for hours just making a variety of different origami creations, and all I have spent money-wise is the actual origami paper.
One of my current favorites is this origami cat bookmark:
Over on Minna May there’s a visual step-by-step tutorial on how to make these mini-stars, which are extremely cute and extremely addictive. Perfect for scrap paper and for an anime night, they take maybe three minutes to make once you have the technique down.
Finally, the easiest thing in the world is to set up a coloring station to ease the tension of testing and family obligations. It may be a little insane to think that there’s stress with graduation parties and family gatherings, but there can be a TON of stress in a teen’s life when trying to face all of these upcoming events. Nothing is more soothing than coloring, and having coloring sheets for their level instead of, “Oh, I have leftover storytime sheets,” makes them feel special. If you’re looking for some summer themed ones for your teens, try these:
Christie Gibrich found that aerospace engineering was not the right career path for her, and has been happily working with teens and tweens since 2001. She’s been on several committees, written numerous articles, and has spoken at state and national conferences on both QUILTBAG and comic/geek topics. Her pathway to geekdom and fangirl was basically predetermined having grown up surrounded by computers and sci-fi, and she now happily enjoys the worlds of comics, SuperWhoLock, Disnerds, midnight releases, and passionate debates over originals vs reboots. She's also recently relocated to the Orlando area, and exploring Florida while writing. She blogs at A Geek in Librarian’s Clothing. She tweets at @mz_christie and dabbles on Instagram and Tumblr.