Friday, August 4, 2017

Dragon Crafts

It's the height of Summer Reading, and this year we're doing a Games theme ("Come Inside and Play!")

This week's theme is Dungeons and Dragons! And as such, we have celebrated Harry Potter, watched The Sorcerer's Stone, and done THREE dragon crafts - one for kids, one for teens, and one for little guys at storytime. I know you're super excited to hear about all three, so I've put them all in this one post.

Little Kids

For dragon-themed storytime, we read Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, If I Had a Dragon by Tom and Amanda Ellery, and When A Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore. (Note: Dragons Love Tacos is much longer than I usually do for storytime, but it went really well!)We did the dragon hokey-pokey, sang "Pop Goes the Dragon,"and made what I was calling "dragon blowers," for lack of a better name.

You need:
  • Green cardstock
  • Paper streamers (red, orange, yellow)
  • crayons, markers, etc.
  • Stapler

You can use toilet paper tubes for these, but then you'd have to paint them all green, so I just made tubes out of green cardstock (cut in half and stapled at the back). We glued strips of paper streamers (the kind you use for parties - it's about $0.99 for a huge roll) to the inside. Draw eyes on the end that doesn't have fire coming out, and a couple nostrils, and you're all set! If you blow through the end with the eyes, the paper flames will flow out and look like he's breathing fire! SO COOL! A note: These are much easier to decorate *before* you staple the paper rolls together.

To be totally honest, I wasn't super thrilled with the way this craft turned out, but the kids loved it, and that was the important part.


Cut, decorate, staple - done!
His name is Norbert.
With elementary school age kids, we made dragons out of paper plates. I found this on the Pink Stripey Socks blog - you can download the template there for free.  I printed out the template on neon green cardstock (it's easier to see on a white paper plate), and cut out five copies - one for each of my four craft tables, and one extra in case it was needed. The kids were supposed to trace the pattern, cut it out, and then decorate. It mostly worked, but I neglected to realize exactly how hard it is for little guys to trace things, and I did a fair amount of helping - not that I mind, as long as I have a free hand. (They were pretty good at the cutting part, and excellent at the decorating).

Once you cut and color your dragon (we used markers and crayons), you staple him together and he's ready to be played with. That easy!

My dragon is rainbow tie-dye, because I made him and I enjoy cheerful things.


The teen craft this week was dragon keychains. If you haven't made beaded keychains before, there are lots of tutorials online, and lots of patterns once you've got the basics, and while it looks somewhat complicated, it's really not that hard once you get the hang of it. I found this amazing beaded dragon keychain on DeviantArt, and cobbled together a pattern based on it.

You need:
  • string/jewelry cord
  • beads (pony beads work perfectly)
  • Keychains/fasteners 
  • Tape (optional, but helpful)

The first thing you do tape your keychain to the table, so you have a nice, stable working area. Next, cut a super long segment of string - like, 4 feet long. Better too long and cut off the ends, than too short and have to try to tie more on. Knot the middle of the string tightly to the keychain.

Let's take a look at our pattern.
The knot at the center of the circle (the keychain) is really one long string, but the two halves are colored blue and orange on the pattern, so you can see the difference between the two strings.

Our first line (going top-down) has our orange string going through two beads - go ahead and do that. The blue string also goes through the same two beads, but in the opposite direction. When you do this, you'll have two beads on your string, with the ends hanging down on each side (kinda like a bolo tie - see below). 

String beads on both strings.
Start your second line the exact same way: string three beads on the "orange" string, then string the same three on the "blue," going the opposite direction. Continue as per the pattern.

The tricky part here (which I simplified from the photo I saw on Deviant Art) is the wings. I only used one string for each wing, doubling back on itself at both the outer tip of the wing, and the bead closest to the dragon's body. I hope the pattern makes sense to you. 

The teens needed a little help getting started, and a little help with the wings, but they had a great time, and wanted to know when we could meet again and do different characters (I'd printed out some examples, like a butterfly and a Pikachu).

Finished dragon.


Dungeons & Dragons Week went well! The kids had fun, I had fun, a good time was had by all. I will definitely do the beaded keychains again, and the other ones were cute (but I don't like to repeat too often).

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cupcake Wrapper Owls

I can't remember the first time I made these. It's been a few years, and every so often, I drag it out and do it again, because it's cute as all heck. I pulled it out this summer because we did an Oregon Trail themed week, and had the local Audubon Society come and do a show with live owls (which was SO COOL, you guys!).

So, of course, we had to make our own owls, and they're super easy and also adorable, and cheap. (Easy, cheap, and adorable is the magical trifecta of kids' crafts, in my book.) Here's how we did it:


  • Toilet paper tubes (or paper towel roll tubes, cut to size, if you have concerns about hygiene)
  • Cupcake wrappers (2 per owl)
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Markers or crayons
  • Glue


  1.  Flatten your cupcake wrappers, and decorate with markers or crayons, if desired. 
  2. Using your thumb, push in two sides of the top of the tube to make the owl's head, with "feather tufts" sticking up on either side. (See photo for what I'm talking about.)
  3. Cut two large circles from colored paper/cardstock, and smaller ones from white. Cut one orange triangle for a beak. Glue the face together as shown in the photo above, overlapping the colored paper slightly. Set aside.
  4. Cut one of your cupcake wrappers in half; these are your wings. Cut the other into quarters; these are your tail and feathers. I found it easiest to start with the bottom-front feather, overlapping slightly to make a "ruffle" on the bird's front. Then, glue the tail, and finally, the wings (which you can position however you like - is he taking flight? Perched on a branch?)
  5. Once the feathers are all glued on, glue the face on the roll, overlapping the top of your feathers. Et voila!
Variation: If you don't have cupcake wrappers, you can use coffee filters (the white kind with the wavy edges). Flatten out the filter and cut off about an inch around the outside. The inside circle can be cut in half for the wings, and the wavy strip from the outside can be trimmed into 3" sections to use for belly feathers and a tail. If going this route, you probably want to decorate it before you cut. This would be really cool if you did the whole markers/rubbing alcohol craft, but you'd have to let that dry really well before starting.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kids Craft - Paper Plate UFO (with Alien!)

My apologies for not posting lately. Summer Reading means it's SUPER busy around here! This summer, instead of following the national theme, we are doing our own thing - games! Each week this summer has a different game as its theme, and this week we are doing Space Invaders. Everything is Outer Space! 

Aside from our Star Wars Party and showing of Star Wars: A New Hope, we had Perler Beads for the teens, and this funky UFO-and-Alien craft for the kids. Here's how to make your own!


  • 2 paper plates
  • 1 clear plastic cup
  • Pom-poms
  • Googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and other alien-decorating pieces
  • Crayons, markers, paints, stickers, or other decorations
  • Glue or tape (I used hot glue)
  • String or ribbon (optional)


  1. Decorate the bottom sides of your paper plates with markers, crayons, stickers, paints – or however you like! (If painting, let dry before continuing.) This will be the outside of your UFO.
  2.  Make your alien by decorating a pom-pom with googly eyes, pipe cleaners, feathers (they make great tentacles), etc..
  3. Tape or glue the lips of the plates together, so both decorated sides are facing out.
  4. Glue your alien to the middle of the top of your UFO.
  5. Glue the plastic cup so that the alien is inside it – he’s steering your ship!
  6. If desired, glue a loop of string or ribbon to the top of your UFO so that you can hang it up.

How It Went:

I made the decision to bring my hot glue gun for this one, because it dries in seconds instead of the hours that Elmer's takes. I had expected the kids to REALLY want to use it, but it was a non-issue. I'd make this decision again, because it meant that they were sturdy and ready to be played with immediately.

Something I hadn't counted on: they're flying saucers, and so kids were throwing them around. (In hindsight, I should have known that would happen.)

Everyone had a great time with this one! We talked about different materials you could use, like applesauce cups instead of plastic drinking cups, or bowls instead of plates. I mentioned you could glue on things like buttons and bottle caps, too, and I could see the wheels turning in one little mind. (I hope he brings me pictures!)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Edible Birdhouse

This birdhouse is edible! I mean, not for humans (probably), because this one is... for the birds. (I know, I'm hilarious.)

Anyway. This is a really neat craft. The idea is, you take a wooden birdhouse (I don't think cardboard or paper mache would work too well in this case) and decorate it with birdseed. Then, the birds can eat the seed, and you can scrape off the paste and decorate all over again!

I actually have two types of birdhouses that I used: solid wooden ones from Michael's; and ones that you snap together, made out of balsa wood, that I got from Oriental Trading. Both work just fine, though I prefer the Michael's pre-made ones, because I pre-assembled all the other ones (as this program had some little guys) and it took me forever. Older kids and teens could assemble their own houses, thus negating this complaint.

You Need:

Wooden birdhouses
Small paper bowls
Popsicle sticks
Various birdseed (CAUTION: some birdseeds contain nuts, and may be an allergy issue. Read your labels!)
Roasting pans or cookie sheets (optional but very helpful)

What to Do:

I set my table like this: Each place a paper plate with a birdhouse on it, and one popsicle stick.  I put out two aluminum roasting pans per table, and filled each with good amount of birdseed. 

When children arrived, I let them pick their birdhouse, and we made each child a small paper bowl with a couple spoonfuls of flour and some water, stirred with the popsicle stick, until it made a nice paste. Kids were instructed to smear the paste onto the flat sides of the birdhouses, and then push the house, paste-side down, into the roasting pan. As long as they had good paste coverage, the house would emerge covered in birdseed. 

Repeat until all sides are covered. Then you can hang your house outside. The birds can eat the seeds, and then you can scrape the paste off and start all over again. YAY for repeatable crafts!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Teen Crafternoon - Lemon-Squeezy Canvas Art

Easy-Peasy Lemon Squeezy! 
I've seen this awesome canvas art floating around, where you use painter's tape or masking tape and block out various areas on your canvas, and then paint the different shapes in different colors, and when you peel it off - voila! You reveal the nice, clean lines underneath the paint, and it looks really professional and awesome.  So, that was my plan, but when I told my teens about it, one started explaining how she did that in art class once, but they made tree shapes. COOL, said I. LET'S DO IT!

You need:

Canvases (we had a whole bunch in the storage room)
Paint (I used tempera paint - not the best, but it works)
Brushes or sponges (we had old kitchen sponges - perfect!)
Painter's tape or masking tape
Scissors (optional, but super helpful)

Super Kat Power - activate!

Let's Do It!

So, take your canvas, and tape out a cool shape that you want to see later. For the one at the left here, I cut out flower petals and a center from masking tape, and then wrote my name with tape scraps. Be sure to push your tape down really securely, or some paint may seep under the edges (which can actually work for you, if that's what you're going for - see the second example). I would have taken a Before photo, but I honestly forgot - sorry! 

When you're satisfied with your design, you can start painting. One thing that I neglected to realize is that tempera paint doesn't sink into a canvas like acrylic paint would, so it was a bit streaky. We solved this problem in two ways: Some of us embraced the streaks and made them part of the finished art (see above), and some of us used sponges to dab the paint on and make a cool, marbled effect. For the flower picture, I used a blend of blue and green, and a bit of white. I didn't even really mix them on the paper plate that passed for a palate - I just kept daubing with my sponge until the colors blended right on the canvas. 

When you like the colors you have, you need to let the canvas dry for a few minutes. (Waiting was seriously the hardest part.) Then, you can peel off the masking tape and - behold! Your beautiful, super easy, lemon-squeezy art work!


We had a few who went with the tree design theme.
Branches were easier to manage when we used scissors to cut the tape.

This one was particularly cool because our artist not only embraced the streaky nature of tempera paint, but took the scrubby side of the kitchen sponge to streak backwards over her rainbow, making it go from "pretty neat" to "OMG that's AWESOME."

And here's my handiwork. I tried to make it look like a sunset, which... kinda worked.
One of the neat things here is that I didn't push the tape down all the way to the edges (oops!), so a small bit of my bottom paint layer - pinky orange - seeped under the tape. Which I think actually looks pretty cool. I kept telling the teens that there were no mistakes, only happy accidents (just like Bob Ross! And they knew who Bob Ross is! DAY MADE!)

Teen Trivia - Anime

My last Teen Trivia night was - by popular request- anime themed. Now... it's not like I dislike anime, but it's not my genre of choice (I'm more sci-fi and fantasy), so creating these questions took some time.  I'm posting them here in the hopes that you enjoy them, because even though 9 teens asked for this theme specifically, I only had 2 show up. (*eyeroll* Teens, right?)


1 - Soul Eater - Which animal does Eruka transform into? FROG
2 - Black Butler – Which character is a trader in opium? Lau
3- Sword Art Online – The virtual reality helmet that simulates the five senses is called what? NerveGear
4- Death Note- What does L offer Detective Mogi to keep a secret? A strawberry
5 - Yowamushi Pedal – What brand of soft drink do the characters drink? Bepsi
6- Gurren Lagann – How old is Simon when the series starts? 14
7- Kuroko no Basuke – What’s the name of the Middle School that the “Generation of Miracles” played on the same team for? Teiko Middle School
8- One-Punch Man – What name does the Hero Association give Saitama? Hagemanto (Caped Bald Guy)
9- Prince of Tennis – Who has the title of “The Prince of Tennis”? Ryoma Echizen
10- Full-Metal Alchemist – What are Edward and Alphonse searching for? Philosopher’s Stone
11- Free! Iwatobi Swim Club – When the show starts, what is the only swimming stroke that Rei Ryugazaki knows? Butterfly
12- The Devil is a Part-Timer – After being stuck in modern-day Tokyo, where does Satan find a job? MgRonald
13- Yuri On Ice – Sales of what real-life product increased when it was used by Yuri and Victor on the show? Chanel Lip Balm
14- Gangsta – Which of the four main families was named after a Swiss-German artist? Paulklee Guild (Paul Klee)
15- Blue Exorcist – The world of humans is called Assiah. What is the name of the world of demons? Gehenna 
16-Ouran High School Host Club – What does Haruhi break that she is working to pay for? An expensive vase.
17- Attack on Titan – What happened to Eren’s mother? Trapped under debris and then eaten by a Titan
18- Tokyo Ghoul – What happens to a ghoul’s eyes when they get excited? Their eyes turn red.
19- Naruto/Shipputen – What does “shipputen” mean? Hurricane
20- Kill La Kill – Ryuko wields a red half-scissor as a weapon. Who has the other half of the scissors?  Nui Harime, the girl who killed Ryuko’s father.

21 – Studio Ghibli – In Spirited Away, what do Chihiro’s parents turn into? Pigs
22- Studio Ghibli – In Howl’s Moving Castle, who turned Sophie into an old woman? The Witch of the Waste
23- Studio Ghibli – In Princess Mononoke, Okkoto is the blind god of what kind of animals? Boars
24- Studio Ghibli - My Neighbor Totoro – How do Satsuke and Mei travel to see their mother? Catbus
25 – Studio Ghibli – In "Kiki's Delivery Service," what did Tombo use to make into a flying machine? A bicycle

Bonus: Name as many purple Pokemon as you can.


In Code Geoss, there's a character named C.C. who LOVES pizza. Since we serve pizza at trivia night, it was a no brainer to throw her on this poster. (Also, Sandshrew the Pokemon, because he's adorable, and one of the soot sprites from Spirited Away.)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Crafternoon: Recycled Paper Jewelry

As you may know, I'm quite crafty. ("She's crafty! And she's just my type!") I enjoy taking random things and making them into something new, and better yet if it's something that was just going to be thrown away or recycled, anyway. Because, really, much as I hate getting rid of stuff, the sting is much less if you end up turning your trash into treasure. 

Enter the recycled book necklace! You simply destroy a book, add glue, eat lollipops, and then wear your creation afterwards. (Note: magazines work, too.) 

You will need

Shown: LOTS of paper strips
For this project, you will need:
- Old books or magazines that you don't mind destroying
- Lollipops (or other dowel-shaped objects)
- Glue
- String - hemp cord and elastic both work well
- Jewelry clasps (optional but very useful)


The Why

In my many years (eh, about 5) working in libraries, I have seen so many books - so many books - get weeded. Weeding is an essential part of library life, and yes, we do try to funnel old titles to the Friends booksales when we can, but sometimes things are just too far gone for that. Ripped pages, coffee stains, stuff you know that nobody will buy... why not upcycle?

The How

First, you find a book that you can't do anything with. 

This copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has seen better days. In fact, it's missing a cover, and the first few pages. I know that it's practically blasphemous to do anything at all to this series, but please note that I am not getting rid of Harry Potter. I have replaced it with a shiny new hardcover. Don't hate.

Lollipop for scale and flavor.
Anyway. Rip out a few pages of the book, and put it into your trusty paper cutter, and cut into long, triangular strips. I try to make them about 1/4" wide at the wide end, and maybe half that at the narrow end. You don't *have* to make them triangles, but this way they roll up into nice tapered shapes instead of cylinders.

This is when you bust out the lollipops. In my vast experience (and I have done this program several times), a lollipop stick is the perfect size on which to roll beads. A pencil is too fat, a kebab skewer is too pointy, a lollipop makes for a perfect bead size while also providing a delicious snack. I got Tootsie Pops because they're delicious and also gluten-free and peanut-free, for our friends with allergies. (And they're delicious.)

So: Place your paper strip under the lollipop stick, and hold it there (DO NOT GLUE IT ON). Roll with your fingers, kinda twirling the stick, so it wraps tightly into one adorable little bead.  

Keep wrapping, you're doing great!

When you get it to the end, secure with a bit of glue - glue sticks work well for book pages, while good old Elmer's works better for shiny picture book or magazine pages. You might need to hold it there for a few seconds.

OMG, it's beautiful. See how you can kinda see the fact that there are printed words on it? You can tell it's made out of a book, but not necessarily which book, so go ahead and use up all those copies of 50 Shades of Grey, nobody will even know. (Except, maybe not with the teens. And, um, I don't like touching copies of that one. So many not that particular title.)

Now, slide the bead off the end of the lollipop. Voila! Beads!
Repeat many, many times.

When you have a bunch of beads, it's time to string, which you can do just like any other beads. I like to use hemp cord if there's time to make a necklace, but I've found that it's often easier to assume you'll only have time to make a bracelet, for which elastic cording works much better. 



Harry Potter beads are awesome for many reasons, but if you want color variety, you might want to turn to old picture books or magazines. Again, it doesn't really matter what is on the pages, because you'll only be seeing the colors of the edges of the paper strip. 

So this strip at left (made from an old National Geographic Kids magazine)...


Turns into this bead. Neat!


This jewelry is not waterproof. Which is obvious, in hindsight, but seriously, make sure you tell your crafters this or someone's hard work will be destroyed when they go to wash their hands. You can make it waterproof by coating each bead with Mod Podge after creating it - either by painting it on with a brush, or by dipping the beads into the jar. Of course, this adds the additional time of letting everything dry, so I don't usually bother with this at the library, but I do let everyone know that it's an option.