Holiday Crafts for Teens – Paper Christmas ornaments

So, this craft went through a few changes during the planning process…originally the plan was to make felt Santa/elf hats that the teens could wear, but when my coworker and I went to Michaels to buy supplies, we realized that we just didn’t have the budget to buy the big sheets of felt we would’ve needed to make adult-sized hats. We did some quick thinking and some mad internet searching, and decided to make little hat-shaped Christmas tree ornaments out of paper. A little cone of paper could be decorated as a Christmas tree, a santa hat, and elf hat and more.

This definitely wasn’t the most popular craft station, but it did have to compete with stuffed toys and candy, so I can’t really blame it. Still, it’s cheap and cheerful Christmas craft, and one that would be great for school-aged kids, too!

Paper Christmas ornaments

cone2

Supplies: Paper, tape/glue, scissors, decorating supplies (stickers, glitter, markers…), paper plates (you’ll see!)

Step 1: Use a paper plate to trace a circle on a piece of paper. Cut out the circle, then cut it in half. Each circle will make two cones.

Step 2: Fold the half-circle into a cone and tape/staple/glue.

Step 3: Decorate and add a ribbon/thread to the top to hang!

cone

We used a hole punch to make little while polka dots and had crafting scissors with different shaped blades available, which the crafty teens put to good use.

Holiday Crafts for Teens – Felt stuffies

I first made felt stuffed toys with the teens over the summer as part of our Teen Maker’s Camp, and it was without a doubt our most popular craft. The teens just loved making little toys and ornaments for their backpacks – I included a few fun templates like Pacman and little monsters that were a major league hit.

This time around we chose a few simple templates – a stocking, a Christmas tree, a gingerbread man and a star. We had red, green, brown and yellow felt for traditionalists, but also some purple, pink, blue and other colours for the nonconformists among us. ;)

stuffie1

Felt Stuffies

Supplies: Felt in assorted colours, thread, needles, scissors, stuffing material, buttons and other decorations.

Step 1: Trace the template twice onto a piece of felt and cut out.

Step 2: Sew or glue on decorations (it’s much easier to put them on before sewing the stuffie together!)

Step 3: Sew the two pieces of felt together, using either a running stitch or a blanket stitch. Don’t sew all the way around – leave a gap so you can stuff in the stuffing.

Step 4: Once you’ve stuffed your stuffie, finish sewing it closed.

stuffy2

We had some very skilled sewers among us, and everyone was really into the craft – boys and girls, older and younger teens – it’s a surprisingly popular craft that never seems to fail us! The sewing station was actually one of the quietest in the room, as the teens were concentrating so completely on their craft that there was barely any talking at all!

Holiday crafts for teens – Waffle cone Christmas trees

Yesterday was first Teen Library Council-hosted event of the year – a Christmas “crafternoon” – two hours of teen-led holiday crafting. The teens researched and selected each of the crafts on offer (there were four different craft stations), and they had a blast teaching each other how to make different holiday-themed goodies. I’ll be sharing instructions for the easy, budget-friendly crafts they picked, which just happen to be perfect for kids and teens (and cost-conscious librarians/educators…!)

edittree1

Waffle Cone Christmas Trees

Supplies: Waffle cones, paper plates, icing/frosting (make your own or buy it in a can), food coloring (for tinting the icing green – this is optional and we didn’t end up using it), candy for decorating (the bulk section of your local supermarket is your friend!)

Step 1: Use some icing to stick your waffle cone to a paper plate (you might need to trim the bottom of the cone to make it flat).

Step 2: Use frosting/icing to stick candy decorations on to your tree.

Step 3: Admire and enjoy!

This is a slightly messy, very easy and very popular craft that’s great for kids and teens.

tree3

Pro tip – don’t put all your candy stock out on the table at once – a large percentage of the decorations are going to go straight from the bowl to the mouth without stopping on the waffle cone tree, so try to keep some candy in reserve to refill your supplies!

edittree4

Allergy AlertBecause we bought our candies from the bulk section of the supermarket, where there is always a risk of cross-contamination, this craft is not suitable for children or teens with food allergies. You can purchase candies marked “peanut/nut free” and use egg-free royal icing recipes if your location has allergy policies (this will probably make the craft more expensive), but the cones themselves might still be problematic for children with gluten intolerance, and the general sweetness of the craft might not be suitable for diabetics. Teenagers are generally more aware of their allergies (though I shudder to think of the risks I used to take as a teen with life-threatening allergies), but when working with children it helps to be aware.

Baby Story Time – December 12, 2014

A new high for baby time – 50 people! It may not sound like a lot, but I was originally get 20-25 people when I started in September, so I’m pretty chuffed. Our meeting room is quite small, so a group of about 50 is a really nice, comfortable number. For baby time in particular, a smaller group is so nice, because it really encourages interactions between parents and caregivers, and this social networking is such an important part of what a baby time is all about!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Well hello everybody, can you touch your nose?
  • Baby put your pants on
  • Orca whale
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Duck and Goose it’s time for Christmas / Tad Hills

duck

Songs/Bounces

  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • I want someone to buy me a pony
  • Pudding on the plate
  • I wish I were a little bar of soap

Book Two: Christmas Peekaboo

peekaboo

Movement Songs

  • Dancing with bears
  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • Up up up in the sky like this
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Yo te amo
  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I love “yo te amo” because it introduces Spanish, but can be adapted to use pretty much any language, and we have a very diverse group at our baby times. I like to sing it in Spanish, English and French, just to illustrate how easy it is to adapt it. It’s also just such a sweet, lovely little lullaby. In the past I’ve included Croatian (thanks Aaron!) and Korean (thanks Korean dramas!), to show just how versatile it can be. Depending on the size of your group, you can go around and ask people to share how they say “I love you” in their language, and everyone can sing it together, which can make for a very warm and welcoming experience. Just lovely.

Family Story Time – December 12, 2014

Oh. My. Word…..We managed to cram 98 people into the meeting room for story time today, with a small crowd gathered outside watching. Normally I have someone outside monitoring the situation and cutting off entry at a manageable point, but because of a miscommunication with a new staff member, the post was left unmanned, and the crowds kept smooshing in! It’s hard to kick people out while reading a picture book, so it was a little stressful to say the least, and I hope people didn’t mind too much….Oh well! It’s the last story time of 2014 – I successfully completed my first full season! I also saw my attendance rise from an average of 60 to an average of 100+, not too shabby in three months, if I do say so myself, even if it has caused us a few logistical headaches…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly! / Mo Willems

friends

Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • When cows wake up in the morning
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat the Wheels on the Bus

pete

Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom
  • Orca whale
  • Well hello everybody, can you touch your nose?
  • Here we go a driving
  • The elevator song

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

One of the challenges this week was that the books were really, really short, which meant I had to scramble a bit to fill up the full half hour. With such big groups in such a small space (that’s the real challenge – I don’t mind big groups, but you need an appropriate space so that everyone can sit and move around comfortably) I have been struggling a bit with my books – I have been turning to really short, simple stories that I won’t lose my voice shouting across the crowd. It’s OK, but it’s certainly not ideal.

We’ve been doing our informal branch survey to find out when people would like to see an additional story time, and it looks like Thursday morning and Saturday morning are the favourites, though both have challenges. Thursday morning would involve specially opening the branch before regular opening hours, while Saturday would involve a different staff member, and probably wouldn’t solve our size problems (in particular the number of nannies and home child care providers who come to our weekday story times). I’m going to talk about it with the branch manager and see what we can figure out for the new year, so that our story times can be both inclusive and accessible for as many kids as possible!

Unwrap a Read!

I feel very festive today, as my desk is strewn with tape dispensers, scissors, gift tags, and rolls of wrapping paper. It’s “Unwrap a Read” time across the library system, and this morning I’ve been getting our branch’s display up and running.

The idea of “Unwrap a Read” is simple – it’s kind of like going on a blind date with a book. We wrap up some of our nicer, newer paperbacks in festive wrapping paper, then put a gift tag on them with a little clue that hints as to the content and genre of the book. Patrons check out the books using the self checkout machine, which can read the RFID tag through the wrapping paper. They then unwrap and read the book at home, and return it by the regular due date.

Mystery book Untitleddisplays are a great way of introducing patrons to new authors or titles that they might not otherwise consider checking out, and they look very pretty! Depending on the wrapping paper you use, “Unwrap a read” can be festive without being overtly “Christmas”, a nice touch in diverse communities where different holidays might be celebrated.

Our display is just for kids 7-12, though last year around Valentines day we did a “blind date with a book” display that had sections for kids, teens and adults, and included a little bookmark that patrons could use to “rate the date”, giving us feedback on the books.

Although we try to have clear and understandable signage, there are always patrons who don’t quite understand the nature of mystery book programs, and who merrily pick up a wrapped book and walk right out of the library, setting off all the gate alarms…

 

Baby Story Time – December 5, 2014

Last Friday I was away from the branch at a training workshop, so I wasn’t able to do my regular story time. I was however able to learn a whole bunch of new songs and rhymes that I can’t wait to share with my families. Today I worked a couple of new songs into the program.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Wake up, feet
  • Eyes, nose, cheeky cheeky chin
  • Orca whale
  • Roly poly

Book 1: Time for Sleep, Sheep the Sheep / Mo Willems

sheep

Songs/Bounces

  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus
  • I want someone to buy me a pony
  • I wish I were a little bar of soap

Book Two: A Kiss Like This / Mary Murphy

kiss

Movement Songs

  • Dancing with bears
  • My bonny lies over the ocean
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Rain is falling down

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I really enjoy finishing off with a soothing song or two after the exhilaration of zoom zoom and the elevator song – it feels like the session is actually wrapping up properly (as opposed to running out of time…). I used to simply sing a goodbye song after our movement songs, but it ended up feeling a bit too rushed, with too sudden an ending. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a program feel more professional and more structured (but not too structured!)