No Shave November {Self Directed Programs}

I mustache you a question: Are you ready for No Shave November?

Last year’s display and quiz were so popular that I had to do it again with my teens! Like last year, I set up a display with the mustaches on the book covers and the mustache bookmarks. I even have the Mustache tote bag to give away again to one lucky teen.


“How can a teen win this awesome bag?” you ask. By taking our Famous Beards quiz, of course! (Last year, we did Famous Mustaches.) We encourage the teens to fill out the Famous Beard quiz, add their contact info, turn the quiz in for candy, and then I choose one lucky winner at the end of the month. Oh! And I include each survey as a stat for my attendance report.  Obvs.

I have my Famous Beard quiz, pictures, and signage available in Dropbox here! Please help yourselves for your libraries!

Happy Saturday…


Paint Sample Notebooks {Self Directed Programs}

I have posted before that I am the Queen of Self Directed Programs at my library. It’s hard to get teens to participate in a library program… but leave out a little craft to do and they are all on it! This past September I decided to bring back the DIY To Go, this time with Paint Sample Notebooks. They were fun and easy to make and all 30 of my kits were made in three weeks. SCORE!

6You’ll need:

  • Paint chip sample
  • Paper scraps
  • Stapler
  • Stickers (for embellishments)

***Quick note on paint chip samples. I had to go to several different stores before I found the paint chip samples I wanted. (Walmart still carries the long skinny samples.)  I know that these are used to sell a product so I only grabbed what I knew we would use. I work on a budget so I have to plan on a budget.***




1. Choose your paint chip sample and then fold and crease one end up about a half an inch.

32. Take the top edge & catch it under that little flap on the bottom to form your little matchbook-style notebook.


53. Place the paper scraps inside of the folded paint chip sample. Staple the bottom flap to hold the paper into your mini notebook.


4. Decorate the paint chip with stickers or stamps!


Like I said at the beginning of the post, I was using these specifically with my library teens, so I put everything out on a table and walked away. Everyone was very respectful of the project. I never saw a single wasted paint chip sample, plus they saved their instructions, baggies, and paper clips so I could reuse them. (I didn’t even think to ask them to save the baggies and instructions.)

This is a fun and easy craft that would be great for birthday parties or Ladies Craft Nights!

Have fun…



Crafternoons {Duck Tape Key Chains}

Duck tape 10

Crafting with my teens at the library is kind of hit or miss.  Earlier this year I decided to make my monthly craft program, Crafternoons, drop in, meaning all the supplies are out and open for several hours to any teens that drop by our teen space. The only tricky part to anything “drop in” is that you never know how many kids to expect so I need to guesstimate my supplies. Oh. And the craft has to be boy/girl friendly. This month I decided to tackle Duck Tape key chains after coming across several pins on Pinterest. The project is fun, easy, and practical. I compiled a list of step by step instructions, but if I’m too hard to understand, check this video out here. (I would like to add, I am not as professional as this video. I don’t use Duck tape sheets and I don’t have a paper cutter.)

Let’s begin!

Duck tape 1


Duck Tape

Key ring


Duck tape 2

Duck tape 3

Step 1: Cut a 14” piece of Duck tape. Begin by folding the tape into itself so that both sides meet in the middle.

Duck tape 4

Step 2: Once both sides are folded down you can trim the edges. (You should end up with a 12” or so piece.)

Duck tape 5

Duck tape 6

Step 3: Cut a thinner piece of Duck tape in a coordinating color. Place the Duck tape along the inside seam of your first piece.

Duck tape 7

Duck tape 8

Step 4: Place key ring at one end of the long piece of Duck tape. Fold the long Duck tape piece over and use the second color of Duck tape to tape the key ring into the loop.

Duck tape 9

Step 5: Trim the long piece of Duck tape to your desired length. Then, attach one side of Velcro to the top of the long piece and the other side of the Velcro to the bottom.

Duck tape 10

Step 6: And voila! Fold the Duck tape over to Velcro shut and enjoy!

Duck tape 11

I hope you all enjoyed this easy peasy Duck tape craft brought to you by Crafternoons at my library!  {Have a fun and gender neutral craft for teens? I would love to hear about it in the comments section!}



Self Directed Programs

*** 1/12/15: The blog has moved! make sure to check out the updated version of this post here. Thank you!***

I recently gave a presentation at the 2013 New Jersey Fall Youth Services Forum entitled “Nothing Passive About It: Portable Programs for Teens on the Go”.  I work for a library that has a hard time attracting teens to “typical” library programs (book clubs, crafting events, movie tie in parties), so last year I decided to embrace the Self Directed Program.  Almost monthly I set up a “program” that my teens can take part in while stopping by the library.  They usually have to fill out a survey, take a quiz, cast a vote.  They always get candy for participating, and I like to have a Grand Prize for at least one winner per program.  I went through several of my more successful programs during this presentation and now I’m going to share them with all of you.  At the end of this post I will share a link to my “Nothing Passive About It” Dropbox folder.  Please feel free to borrow or recreate any of these ideas!

Fairy Tale{Fairy Tale Scavenger Hunt}

YA Book Brawl{YA Book Brawl}

Blind Date with a Book 2014{Blind Date with a Book}

Catching Fire Display{News from the Capitol- Catching Fire Movie Tie In}

No Shave November{No Shave November- I can’t take credit for this one. I told my supervisor I wanted to do this display, but didn’t have the time so she offered to do it for me. It came out fabulously!}

DIY to go{DIY To Go: Chevron Friendship Bracelets}

Garden State Teen Book Awards 2013{Garden State Teen Book Awards}

Round of 32

Winner{YA March Madness aka My FAVORITE Self Directed Program of all time!!}

I hope these pictures help inspire you to try out a self directed program at your library or classroom.  You can find all of my files here.  Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts… and please feel free to share any successful Self Directed programs in the comments section below.

Happy Sunday,


DIY To Go….

Remember how I was just saying that I love me some self directed programs?  Well, I do!  I especially love self directed crafting programs.  And how’s this for an easy peasy teen program? 


-Ziplock bags

-embroidery floss

-print out of instructions


-an accessible spot to put your super sweet DIY To Go kits for your tweens and teens

I stole borrowed some friendship bracelet instructions from online (I just C&P’d them into a Word document for easy printing), put them in a Ziplock bag with eight pieces of embroidery floss, slapped a branding sticker (DIY To Go…) on the front, and BOOM!  Instant self directed program.  I had 15 kits go in two days and I just added 20 more.

Feel free to steal borrow this idea for your library, teen space, et cetera.


YA March Madness


In 2009 I helped my library win a grant to build an incredible teen space called The Corner.  In the beginning, the space was amazing.  We held a few programs and the teens respected their area.  However, due to staffing, the popularity of the space, and an overall disinterest in work due to my pregnancy and new baby, The Corner sort of became overrun with a not so great crowd.  With the enthusiasm of a new boss and a lot more sleep in my life, I slowly started to take the teen space back.  Were our teens really that bad?  Welllllllll… it’s not like this library is in a bad area, but the kids were used to being in a walled in, adult free space, and (OMG!) they got a little cra cra.  This is when I introduced them to… The Self Directed Program!

What is a self directed program, you ask?  It’s really just a fancy name for a passive program, where the librarian sets everything up and your audience comes in to do all the work.  Over the last year I have held several self directed programs (posts with pics will be coming soon!), but our most recent one, YA March Madness, has been hands down the most popular.

Round of 32

We started out on March 1 with 32 popular Young Adult fiction books.  (I’m super lucky that my PR lady is awesome and she made me these incredible posters for my bracket.)  Next to the bracket, I put out my first ballot.Ballot

Over the next five weeks, I had 107 ballots given to me.  The teens were allowed to vote once a week and I gave them a piece of candy in exchange for the ballot.  I also gave them the opportunity to win a gift card to Spoon Me (our local FroYo place).

Elite 8

Each week I tallied up the winners, made a bigger book cover for the new bracket, and created a revised ballot.

Final 4

There were some big upsets, and eventually we went from 32 books…

Championship Round

…down to 2…


…and finally we had a winner!

So, why do I love me some self directed programs?  1) It is a physical reminder that you are in a library, complete with books and teen programs. 2) It gives me an excuse to talk to teens about our programs. 3) It opens up dialogue (such as, “What do you mean you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars, Miss Christen?!???”) with my teenagers. 4) Teens who can’t make it out for specific programs still get to participate in library programming. 5) I love to give out candy and gift cards!

I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe it will help inspire you to try self directed programs in your library (or classroom or maybe even at your business?!).  Be on the lookout for more posts about this topic coming soon…


DIY Coffee (or Tea… or Hot Chocolate!) Mugs

DIY Coffee Mugs

Oh glorious DIY coffee mugs. How do I love thee? I love your simplicity… your effortless… your endless possibilities. I also love that you are teen program friendly. Today begins my first ever Crafternoons program at the library and I think my group is going to love this DIY activity.


  • Coffee mug (I bought white mugs for $.99 from Ikea)
  • Sharpies (I have been told that Oil-Based Straight Sharpie Paint Markers work best)
  • An oven


  1. Use your Sharpies to draw on your coffee mugs. (I searched Etsy for creative ideas!)
  2. Once you like the design on your mug, put it in the oven to set the ink.
  3. ***Place your mug in a cold oven. After the mug is in the oven, turn it onto Bake at 350 degrees. Wait until the oven is preheated and then turn your timer on for 30 minutes. After your timer goes off, turn off the stove and leave your mug in the oven until it is cool to touch. (I left mine in overnight.)
  4. Enjoy your mug!

I hope you all enjoy this super fun (and easy!) crafty idea. Now I need to make myself a cup o’ joe in my lovely new arrow mug.



{edited 3-13-13: Awesome mugs made by some of my awesome library teens!}

DIY Glitter Shoes

Glitter Shoes

We made DIY Glitter shoes at the library today!  I saw this pin a couple of months ago and knew that we would have to do some shoe upcycling this Winter.  After looking at all the different tutorials, I decided that I liked the one at We are Not Martha best.

To recreate these shoes, you will need:

• Mod Podge (about 2 ounces)
• Glitter (any color, about 2 ounces)
• Foam Brush
• Clear Glaze Spray ( a few sprays)
• Pair of plain flats (and color will do)

(Don’t have Mod Podge?  Here’s a recipe to make your own.)


1. Mix Mod Podge with LOTS of glitter.

2. Use the foam brush to apply glitter/Mod Podge mixture onto shoes.

3. Let Mod Podge dry.  Repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times.

4. Spray the clear glaze on the shoes and let dry.

5. Enjoy your awesome new glitter flats!

(Need pictures?  Check out the awesome tutorial at We are Not Martha!)

I hope you all enjoy your awesome new glitter shoes!



No Sew Fabric and Duct Tape Purse

I love fabric and I love duct tape.  I especially love super easy, cost effective, crazily creative crafts for teen girls.  The No Sew Duct Tape and Fabric Purse was another of my recent library program successes.  I found my pinspiration here and cannot say better things about the directions found on Gem Fatale’s Style Blog.  My library tweens and teens loved this program and we plan to make more purses in the near future.  My only suggestion: when doing this project with a group of tween and teen girls have LOTS AND LOTS of duct tape on hand.  Oh. Em. Gee.  Six girls used up five rolls of duct tape!!!

{I love my key fabric!!!}

I hope you all enjoy this truly fantabulous no sew craft!

Happy pinning…


No Sew Flower Headband

I think the thing I love most about Pinterest is that it’s brought my teen programs up to a whole new level.  I’ve been a Young Adult (or teen) librarian for four years now and as my kids have grown up and gone away to college, I’ve noticed my program attendance was starting to slip.  When the same old stuff wasn’t working, I knew it was time to try something new.  Obviously, I love crafting.  My last group of teens did not.  Wellllll… it turns out I suddenly have a group of tweens who LOVE to craft, just like me!  WOOT!  So now I scour Pinterest looking for the perfect teen crafts. 

This past summer we made No Sew Flower Headbands as inspired by this Pin.  It was a great success and I thought quite easy to make.  The only tricky thing was the hot glue gun for 12 year old hands.  We had LOTS of burns.  😦  Whoops.  But if you’re good with a hot glue gun, you should have no issues at all.  Check out Little Miss Momma’s blog for her very easy to follow tutorial.  This project is sure to please girls of all ages.

And an Instagram picture of moi rocking my new flower headband:

Love. Love. Love. ❤

Happy pinning…