Running a Teen Crafting Club at the Library

By Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library-Hollywood


Teen from Tualatin's "Make it @ the Library" club.

Teen from Tualatin’s “Make it @ the Library” club.

Whilst in the throes of hosting Lego Club mayhem where 4-8 year-olds were building madly, I got pulled out of the program to answer a question from a young teen. She wanted to know where the library clubs were for her. She saw we had the Lego Club for kids, she felt too young and intimidated to join either the Teen Council or Teen Book Council, and Anime Club just wasn’t her thing. She wanted something at the library where she could come make or do things like crafts or maker-type things on a regular basis too. It was a good question.

In the spirit of Connected Learning and responding to the interests of your teens, and knowing the importance of HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out), I felt that it was time to seriously considering adding something like this for those teens and tweens that wanted a regular program where they had laid back time with others while doing something with their hands. So I asked the great OYAN brain to see what they were doing, and what sage advice they had to share.

Aimee Meuchel at Tualatin Public Library has a monthly “Make It @ the Library.” Successes in the group have been to “put out a bunch of duct tape and let them go crazy.” She has also gotten different cookies/candies with frosting and had them make monsters. Upcoming she will have them do fusible beads, and jewelry making with beads, embroidery floss, and other items. It is drop-in that runs for 2 hours. She says, “Don’t plan too much.  Give them materials and let them create.” Her one thing that didn’t turn out so well was snowglobes.

Lisa Elliott and Jaime Thoreson at the Tigard Public Library do a teen “Random” club every summer at the library. This summer they are doing a Fandom Club where crafts will be integrated. They meet every week for a two-hour stretch for 5-6 weeks. Things that they have done in the past include mustache crafts, mini-polymer food charms, goth socks, doodle bots, washi tape, “neon” signs, wire rings and pendants, buttons, and book making.

Teen showing her duct tape bag from Tualatin's "Make it @ the Library" club.

Teen showing her duct tape bag from Tualatin’s “Make it @ the Library” club.

Lisa says that

“The consistency is great to bring in a group of regular kids. Too much structure scared away teens who were not interested in the craft.”

Other advice was,

“Teens especially dig crafts that they will use- things they will wear, give as gifts, etc. We always try to give them something that will feel substantial, not cheap or junky. It can be tricky planning for the full spectrum of teen motor skills, from the still-developing 6th grader to the very meticulous 12th grader. It’s best if you can use a space where they can socialize freely. They will likely come up with something completely different and much more awesome than you had planned.”

Kristy Kemper-Hodge at the Corvallis Public Library has had great success with perler beads (fuse beads) and patterns she’s pulled from Pinterest and printed for the kids. Felties made with felt and embroidery thread have also been a hit. She finds that putting out the same materials each time is a little boring, so she works on trying to offer a variety of projects. She started offering a monthly 1.5 hour crafting program for teens and had a small, regular group who’d come. In effort to draw a bigger crowd she combined the crafting program with gaming (video games and tabletop/board games) and now does it twice a month. Upcoming projects are blackout poetry, turning perler creations into jewelry and keychains, and stenciling.

I haven’t gotten a crafting club going yet, but I have started putting out materials during our monthly Anime Club. We have made Sootballs, valentine’s, buttons, and paper crafts. I have noticed that teens are just a bit more relaxed when there is the option to have something to do with their hands.


Letting Go: Unexpected Aches and Benefits to Teen-Led Programming

by Violeta Garza, Multnomah County Library-Troutdale


Troutdale Library Teen Council.

Our Teen Council at Troutdale Library is full of the kind of teen volunteers who are so stellar, it’s like I dreamed them up. There’s the whirlwind 17-year-old young woman who is poised to be valedictorian of her class, but still finds time to volunteer for everything she hears about. There’s the goofy 14-year-old who is a genius at coming up with silly icebreaker questions for the group, but still asks those hard-hitting “big picture” questions about the group’s contributions to the community. And there’s the sweet 15-year-old who doesn’t mind washing the cups after the group is done with them. I know, I know. I sound like I’m making them up so our library can look good. If you’ve worked with teens for any period of time, you’ll know that sometimes you go through dry spells and sometimes you have sparkly magic. This is my year of sparkly magic.

There are roughly fifteen teenagers in my Teen Council, and when I saw potential in their vision, I hosted elections for four positions: President (though she prefers to be called General Manager), Secretary, Icebreaker Man (though he prefers to be called Father Time), and Tech Manager. Three months later, I noticed that even though the President was running the meetings, the group still looked to me to be the authority. I started to feel that my presence was hindering the actual leadership of the group. So I made the choice to consciously step out of the meeting last month. It was the biggest gift I could give to the group, and a difficult one for me. That hour with them is my favorite of the whole month, bar none. Yet I knew that there would be huge benefits to these teens feeling like they were actually in charge.

After about thirty minutes of this group meeting without me, the President came to my desk and said, “We’re done.”

My brain: Oh. Alright. Huh. They’re done with a really hefty agenda, just like that? Wow.

I gave her a few more topics covering events way into the future. In fifteen minutes, she came in to tell me she was done with that as well. I was intrigued. When the meeting was over, I learned that they got through the agenda so fast that there was a lot of time left over to socialize. Everyone agreed that it had been a good meeting. I was ecstatic for them. Until…

My brain: Wait a second. Am I a problem at these meetings?

So I asked our secretary if we should do a similar meeting again. He said, “Sure.”

My brain: That’s… awesome! But… what’s my role in all of this?

That evening, I went home partly thrilled for their success and partly heartbroken over my brain’s allegation that perhaps I was hampering their growth. It was embarrassing. Yet once I allowed myself to feel the “happy hurt” without judgment, I was able to truly admire their accomplishment.

 And it’s highly convenient that I did. Because while this is the year of sparkly magic in terms of teen programming at the library, it’s also the year of a monstrous flu plague that knocked me out for over two weeks—right in the middle of our much-anticipated gaming series Battle Week. I was only able to attend 2 out of the total 10 hours of this 5-day program, but because they are used to being independent, they hosted their program like pros while I was recovering– with the help of some very kind staff members.

In other words, it’s the best compliment of all that they don’t really need me, but that they appreciate me enough to make me several hilarious “get well soon” cards out of cardstock and markers. I know they will eventually age out and I’ll probably go through a dry spell again, but for now, I’m learning to let go and just enjoy the heck out of the magic.


Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

reviewed by Polina Verkhovodova, Beaverton City Library

Fahrenheit451In the futuristic society of Fahrenheit 451, books are banned and thus destroyed when discovered. Suburbanites of this society remember vaguely – if they do at all – their past lives and established history. Guy Montag is such a citizen. He is a fireman, and, suffice to say,  very fond his job. He enjoys midnight runs and finds joy in watching pages consumed by flames. Montag never questioned anything until he meets a seventeen-year-old girl who prompts him to examine his life. He later meets a professor who tells him of a dreamland where people can think. Montag then decides that in order to stay human, he must rebel against the ways of the society.

Fahrenheit 451 is not only a story in which books are outlawed and destroyed, but it is one of the power of intellect, the importance of knowledge, and the physical ability to read books. This classic dystopian novel stands at the side of George Orwell’s 1984, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Bradbury’s use of figurative language and striking imagery helps develop the symbolism and themes found within this novel. Fahrenheit 451 is considered to be one of Bradbury’s best novels. Ray Bradbury’s ideas leave as much of an impact on readers today as it did to readers sixty years ago.


From Puppets to YouTube in 2 Hours: Stop Motion Movies for Teens

By Barratt Miller, Crook County Library


Want to do some sort of tech-y, maker-y program for your teens but have limited time, money, and fancy supplies? Never fear! You, too, can get a room full of teens to make 30-second stop motion movies in a single 2-hour program using supplies you probably already have on hand.

What is a stop motion movie, you ask? The formal definition is “a filming technique used in animation, in which the camera is stopped after filming each frame or every few frames so as to allow objects within the scene, such as clay figures or paper cutouts, to be adjusted for the following frame.” For our purposes, it’s movie-making using photographs instead of video footage.

I don’t have room to include the full lesson plan or song clips in this article. If you want to use any of my resources, shoot me an e-mail at and I’ll send the files your way! [Files are available on the OYAN Blog:]

Step 1: Preparation, Preparation, Preparation…and Set Some Limitations

I modified the lesson plan from a workshop I attended in grad school. Luckily for you, all of the resources have been put online at:

Since it’s easy to get carried away with time-intensive activities like arguing over the plot or choosing the perfect soundtrack, I set some limitations to keep the teens on track:

Each person chose ONE character for the film. We used the puppets from our children’s storytime collection and borrowed action figures from other staff members.

Films had to be 30-seconds or less. To keep the plot simple, I gave the teens a worksheet that asked: where do you character start, where do they end, and how do they get there?

 I preselected the music. Prior to the program, I used Jamendo ( to find Creative Commons-licensed music and used Audacity ( to edit the songs into 30-second clips.

No dialogue or video clips allowed. While these elements could have been used in the program, having too many options makes it easy to get distracted. Keeping it simple kept everyone on schedule.

Prep your tech. I made sure all of our computers were pre-loaded with the audio files and Windows MovieMaker so that the teens could start editing their films as soon as they were done taking photos. It also helps to make a practice video so you can help the teens with the editing process. If you want to post the videos online, you’ll also need to sign up for a free YouTube account.

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

Luckily, the supply list for this program is pretty straightforward. You’ll need:

Characters. Toys! We used puppets from the children’s storytime collection and action figures on loan from other staff members. You could also pick up toys from the thrift store, order tiny dinosaurs from Oriental Trading, or ask teens to bring their own.

Craft Supplies. Index cards, pencils, plot worksheets, construction paper, scissors, string. We used some of the supplies for activities and some were available to create speech bubbles and scenery. String (especially fishing line) allows the teens to manipulate their characters for effects like flying.

Technology. Cameras or some sort of picture-taking device. Computers loaded with Windows MovieMaker. Audio files for the soundtrack, preferably loaded onto a flash drive. A YouTube account if you want to post your videos online. We had a camera, an iPod, and an iPad available but all of the teens used their own cameras or smartphones. (If you ask teens to bring their own tech, make sure they also bring connecting cables so you can upload the photos onto the computer!)

Step 3: Stick to the Plan

6:30-6:45 PM: Introductions. What is stop motion? Watch Penguin’Stuff video.

6:45-7:00 PM: What is a character? Choose a character. Write the character’s name and one interesting fact about them on an index card. With your group, choose a setting for your film.

7:00-7:15 PM: What is mood? Listen to music samples and choose your mood. What is plot? Fill out plot worksheet with your group.

7:15-7:45 PM: Spend up to 10 minutes doing a walkthrough to work out any bugs before you start taking pictures. Take your photos.

7:45-8:15 PM: Import your photos into Windows MovieMaker. Import your soundtrack. Edit the film, adjusting the length of the photo display time to match the music.  Save movie (Save movie arrow_310_1 For high definition display saves it as a YouTube compatible file, not a MovieMaker file) and post to YouTube.

8:15-8:30 PM: Watch movies. Clean up.


The short films are fairly basic but impressive nonetheless! Our teen’s produced three 30-second masterpieces:

Best of all, teens can use their newfound knowledge to make more complex stop motion films using their smartphones and free video-editing software.