Monday, June 18, 2018

Paint Chip Notebooks

I love this craft. 

These pocket-sized notebooks that are so cute, I can't stand it! They're also incredibly easy to make, which I will show you step-by-step, with glamorous photos.

First of all, did you know that paint chips look like this these days? At all the hardware stores I visited, the paint chips were short and wide, rather than long and skinny. If yours are different, you will need to measure your own pages, but I've done all the hard work for you, if you happen to have paint chips that look like these. 

In addition to your paint chips, you need: 
-Hot glue (recommended) or a stapler
-Copy paper
-A pen or pencil
-A ruler

Step One

Using the ruler, measure out pages for your notebook. In this case, the pages are 4 inches wide by 2.25 inches tall. I traced grid lines onto a sheet of copy paper, and cut several sheets at once. You could trace one page out and then photocopy it, which makes this simple craft even quicker. 

Step Two

Using your ruler again, measure from the corner of the long side of the paint chip. (Note: measure from the corner, not from the curvy part of the end.) Starting at the bottom end, measure out:
- 2 inches
- 1/4 inch
- 2 1/4 inches
- 1/4 inch

Measure from both sides, and draw the lines in with pen. This makes nice, sharp creases, which you want to fold along, thus making a cute little packet. 

Once you fold along the creases, it makes a box with open sides, much like a gum packet.

Step Three

Now: Have a stack of your little pages ready to go. 

See the pocket made by the end fold of the paint chip in the photo here? Put a stripe of hot glue all the way across the cardboard, and then place your pages in. Fold the end flap over, and hold it for a few seconds. It should hold in this position. If it doesn't, add a bit more glue - you want the end flap to stay bent over like this.

Why? Well! Because now you can tuck the other end underneath the flap, and it will hold itself closed like a matchbook. Isn't it gorgeous?

Please note that the adorable flap has a tiny little bear on it (because the brand is Behr), and the writing of the paint color are facing the right side up. That's because we carefully measured from the *bottom* of the paint chip. Well done, us!

And that's it! You're done! Do you love it so much?! I DO!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Upcycled CD Art

 This summer's theme is music: LIBRARIES ROCK! So, naturally, I had to come up with / find / steal plenty of music-themed art projects. I'm going to post my craft ideas on this blog before SRP starts, so anyone can use these for their upcoming programs, too. Please enjoy. And share. And tell your friends.

Anyway. Let's start off with two ways to use old CDs or DVDs to make some new and exciting art projects.

CD Scratch Art

Did you ever, as a kid, crayon over a paper in bright colors, and then in black? And then, with a pencil or a toothpick, scratch through the black to the colors beneath, to make some very cool art?

Or, perhaps you've just bought the pre-made scratch-off bookmarks or other shapes that they sell through Oriental Trading and other such websites?

Either way. Scratch art is very cool! And it's also super easy to make old CDs into brand new artwork. All you need is:
- Old CDs or DVDs
- Acrylic paint & brushes
- Toothpicks or something else of similar size
- Pencil (optional)

Step One:

Using acrylic paint, completely cover the shiny side of an old CD or DVD disc. It's totally your call what color you use, but I really like the way that the black makes the shiny silver stand out. 

Step Two: You don't have to plan out your design ahead of time, but it can be nice to have at least a vague idea of what you're doing. If you feel so inclined, sketch out your design lightly with a pencil. It can be as simple or as complicated as you desire.

 Step Three: Using a toothpick (or something else of that size - a small dowel, the end of a paintbrush, a BBQ kabob skewer, whatever), scratch through the paint to make a design. 

Enjoy the wondrous beauty that is your new piece of artwork.

CD Suncatchers

 You need actual CDs for this one, because DVDs aren't put together the same way, but any CD should do! I am using discs from an old audio book for this, and they're working perfectly. Excellent use of discards if I do say so myself! 

There are a couple ways to do this that I've seen, involving puffy paints pr colored glue to make the lines of "stained glass," but I'm doing this with kids, so I'm going for the easiest method: markers.

Step One: Remove the Silver

I read a few sets of instructions online that weren't totally clear on this part, so I'm going to spell it out in very clear steps.  Put your CD down and scratch the top of it with something somewhat sharp - I used the edge of my scissors - to make a little scratch in the silver. You might even see it start to flake away. 

See that little scratch there? Now, put a piece of tape over it - regular old Scotch tape will work, but you'll need quite a bit of it.

Now, pull off the tape. A big chunk of lovely silver CD should peel off with the tape. 

Excellent. Now we've got it started.

Now, cover the rest of the CD (again, top side) with more tape. 

When you peel it off, the rest of the silver should come off, too! 

Most of mine came off in one large, silver sheet (which I saved, and will figure out what to do with it later.)

If you have any small bits of silver left (mine usually stuck around the outside edges and also a bit around the sticker in the center), you can use another piece of tape to remove it.

Getting off the library sticker was the hardest part, but Goo Gone and rubbing alcohol worked for that. 

Step Two: Color the plastic.

As I said above, there are a few different methods for this, but I wanted to use what I thought would work best for my patrons. Puffy paint and colored glue would look amazing, but I didn't want to make the kids wait for that to dry, so we're just using markers. As before, you can make your design as simple or elaborate as you like, though I recommend coloring over a piece of white paper, so you can see the colors on the clear plastic CD as brightly as possible. The design above (on the musical note CD) was made by coloring in shapes, and outlining them with a black marker.

Step Three: Profit? Enjoy.

I will add to the blog as new ideas are planned and tested. Please check back soon to see what else I've got planned!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tiny Easels

I love this so much.

I remember seeing this craft a while back, and loving it, and then not doing anything with it and forgetting all about it, but then - and I don't even know why - it popped into my head the other day. 

A quick Google turned up this amazing Instructable, but since I can't always watch videos at work, and since I like to take photos as I do stuff so that I remember how I did it, and since why the heck not, I decided to take photos of the process and post it on here.

What You Need

  • 6 clothespins (the kind you pinch open, not clothes pegs)
  • 1 small dowel - a toothpick will work in a pinch
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
That's it. So easy.

What To Do

  1. Plug in your hot glue gun to preheat. The rest of this goes pretty fast. Now, take apart 2 of your clothespins. This is easily doable by twisting the top part away from the bottom part. 
  2. Take one of the half-pins and apply glue to the edge that was the bottom inside when it was a whole pin (see photo). Glue to the bottom inside of one of the whole pins. Repeat twice more, since you need three of these. I made sure to make all 3 of mine facing the same direction, but I really don't think it makes much of a difference. You should now have three identical pins with glued-on legs, one complete and untouched pin, and a small dowel.
  3. Thread the dowel through the top holes of three clothes pins. I turned the middle one upside down here, so they were all facing in the same general direction. NOTE: This looks much nicer when it's done if your front legs (the outside two) have the extended side of the pins on the table, and the unglued side on top.
  4. Gently pinch the two outside pins so they are touching the center pin, while angling them outward like a capital letter A.
  5. Dab hot glue at the base of the whole clothespins, and lay your last (whole) pin on the glue, thus attaching it to the easel. This is the stand where you can rest your artwork.
  6. Stand up the tripod by allowing the center pin to fall back, as a third foot. You can see the dowel sticking out both ends of the top of your easel. You can either break of the unneeded pieces, or mark the spot with a pencil and cut it off. (My dowel was thin enough to use a pair of scissors to cut it.)
  7. If desired, dab hot glue onto the dowel where it meets the pins, to keep the whole thing in one piece. I also added a dot of hot glue to the bottom of each leg, to add traction, so it stands up without slipping. Paint or decorate as you please.
  8. Add artwork/post-it notes, or photos to your easel, and enjoy.


How It Went

I actually have this project on the calendar for next month, but I wanted to make sure I had the steps all set to go ahead of time - this was a test to make sure it wasn't frustratingly difficult, and it was perfect! I'm really looking forward to this one. I hope I get a nice crowd. The plan is to make tiny easels, and then paint "Mini Masterpieces" to go on top of them. (Maybe I'll even bring in my Bob Ross Funko to take photos with the tiny paintings! How cute would that be?)

Having said that, I have my sample on my desk, and even though it's only been there for a day, I've already gotten several compliments on it, from people of all ages. I wouldn't do this with the younger crowd, because hot glue, but it would make a nice adult craft, too. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Science Club: Forensics

As an avid fan of Forensic Files, I can assure you that I think forensic science is fascinating. As such, I figured it would be a fun idea to bring a little bit of it into science club. Specifically, we're concentrating on ink chromatography and fingerprints today.


Chromatography is the separation of a material (in this case, ink) into its component parts (in this case, the colors that make up the ink) by using a solution in which it dissolves (such as rubbing alcohol) on a medium in which different colors move at different rates (here, a coffee filter).

Basically: Different brands of pen will use different types of ink, which are all *slightly* different shades of blue. Perhaps one pen is a little more green, and another is a bit more purple, but it's hard to tell by looking right at the ink. What to do? Separate the ink into its component colors! Every pen will have a different pattern, and you'll be able to see which pen wrote the note.

The Story

I started by telling a very sad story: SOMEONE has stolen Miss Kat's chocolate! They left a note saying, "sorry!" but didn't sign it. How can we figure out whodunnit?

Well, I just so happen to have collected the favorite pen of three of my coworkers. I've already used chromatography to analyze the ink in the note - now we have to analyze the ink in the pens to see which pen wrote the note (and therefore which person ate my chocolate). 

You Will Need

  • At least 3 pens of the same color, in different brands (I used blue pens, because it was easier to see the color differences in blue than black ink)
  • Coffee filters
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clear plastic cups
  • Pencils and small binder clips

Setting Up

Step 3: My guilty party.
1. Cut the coffee filters into rectangles, roughly 1" wide and 3" long. You will need 3 rectangles per participants, plus extras in case anyone messes up.
2. Label the pens, so we can keep track of which pen makes which mark. I labeled mine with the names of coworkers (with their consent), but using A, B, and C, or 1, 2, and 3 would work just fine. 
3. Use chromatography to separate out the ink of one of the pens, as described below. This is your guilty party, which the scientists will all try to match the suspects' pens to.


Each participant gets one lab report, three coffee filter rectangles, three binder clips, a pencil, and a plastic cup.

Take turns using the pens to write on the coffee filters; at the top of each, write the suspect's name. About 1/2" from the bottom of the filter, draw a thick horizontal line (or, scribble with pen enough that it looks like one solid line). 

Clip one binder clip to the top of each rectangle, and thread all three clips through the pencil. Add about 1/2" of rubbing alcohol to your plastic cup, and suspend your pencil and its test rectangles over the cup. The bottoms of the rectangles should reach the liquid, but the ink line should be above the liquid's surface.

Wait and watch in wonder as the ink starts to separate. It may take a good 15 minutes before your samples are done, so this is a good time to start on fingerprinting. (Of course, it starts right away, so sometimes it's hard to stop watching it...)

See that teal stripe at the bottom?
It was LAURA who stole my chocolate!
Once the ink has stopped separating, you can carefully remove the rectangles from the cup, and examine them to see which pen wrote the note - and therefore which coworker stole the chocolate.

NOTE: If you don't want to use rubbing alcohol, this experiment can be done with washable markers and water.


I had originally intended to use an ink pad for fingerprinting, but that can be messy, and there's an easier way.

What You Need

  • Pencils
  • 2 pieces of paper per participant
  • Clear tape

What to Do

  1. Using your pencil, make a large dark mark on your paper. 
  2. When you have plenty of graphite on the paper, rub your finger in the spot until it's covered. 
  3. Then, press the sticky side of a piece of clear tape to your finger and press down. 
  4. Remove the tape and stick it to a piece of clean paper (or, in this case, the lab report). 
  5. Repeat for all fingers.
Then, take a look at all the whorls, arches, and loops that your fingerprints have. Do any of yours match? Do they match anyone else at the table? They shouldn't! It's a one in a million chance that someone has even one fingerprint the same as you do. 

Lab Report

Here's the lab report I made up for Chromatography and Fingerprinting. I actually taped my Guilty sample to the "The Culprit" section of the paper and color-photocopied it before we began.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Super Quick Bunny Craft

I did a bunny storytime today, and I supplemented my books and bunny songs with a very easy bunny craft. Then, some of the kids who come to my older craft club saw it, and they needed to make bunnies, too (which was awesome! But I made them cut out their own).

What You Need

  • Cardstock
  • Glue Sticks
  • Crayons, markers, googly eyes, etc. to decorate
  • Pom-poms or cotton balls - optional, but cute

What To Do

  1. Print the template below onto cardstock - I used white, so the bunnies could be colored in any way the artists saw fit, but colored cardstock would be nice, too. Cut the pieces out.
  2. Color and decorate your bunnies while they are flat, being sure to explain that one side of the bunny is the front, and the other is the back.
  3. Fold along the dashed lines.
  4. Apply glue to the inside of one bunny head and ears; glue to other side. You don't have to go any lower than the head.
  5. If desired, glue pom-pom to the bottom at the back, for a fluffy tail.
  6. Sit back and enjoy your bunny.


I can't figure out how to upload the PDF version of this, so here it is as a JPG. It should print onto 8.5 x 11" paper perfectly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Emoji Corner Bookmarks

Emojis are, and probably will be for a while, quite popular. The emoji bookmarks that I bought are flying off my desk, and when we made valentine cards, probably half of them had emoji faces on them. As such, I decided to pull out an old standby - the corner bookmark - for Art Club this week, and make emoji bookmarks!

What You Need

Colored paper, mostly yellow
Scrap paper to cut out eyes, mouths, etc.
Glue Sticks
Colored pencils, markers, etc. to decorate with

How To Do It

1. Make sure all your paper is square. You can start with square origami paper, or cut it down to size. Be sure to save the scraps for future projects.

2. Fold your big square into four smaller squares.

3. Remove one of the smaller squares, so you have 3 left.

4. Holding the paper like a V, cut from the right corner of the bottom square, to the top corner of the right square. Repeat on the left. It will look like a kitty cat.

5. Fold one of the flaps over onto the full square. Cover the top side with glue. Make sure you don't have any glue on the bottom of the flap!

6. Fold the second flap over on top of the flap with the glue. This will make a little pocket.

7. Keeping the opening of the pocket at the top, decorate your bookmark. I found that cutting out eyes and other features from paper and gluing them on worked better than markers or crayons, but it's up to you. Note: You probably don't want to use anything 3D like googly eyes or sequins, because then your book won't close flat.

8. To use, slip a few pages into the pocket of your bookmark and save your page.


Mmmm! March!
I've made these to look like monster faces, Harry Potter characters, big arrows that say "I stopped reading here!", etc. It's a very easy, flexible craft, and can be as detailed or basic as you desire.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Soda Can Science

My science club has hit a bit of a plateau. I only get 3 to 5 kids, and their ages are so varied that it's hard to find something that interests all of them. I read somewhere in my travels that diet soda floats, while regular soda sinks (Really!!), so I designed this density experiment to celebrate the awesomeness of this fact. 

This week, I only had three kids for Science Club  - but they were all of similar age, and they all had a fantastic time. Plus, it was easy!

What You Need

  • A large clear plastic tub mostly filled with water
  • 6 cans of soda - a mix of regular and diet (please note: this doesn't work with mini cans)
  • Canister of salt
  • 2 plastic cups
  • Kitchen scale
  • Something to stir with (we used a ruler)
  • About 20 sugar packets
  • About 20 artificial sugar packets
  • Orange (nice but not required)
  • Aluminum foil (optional)
  • Willing kids to participate (hereafter referred to as your scientists)

What To Do

The Optional Part
Place the tub of water on a table so everyone can see. Shape your aluminum foil into a little boat. "Will this float, or sink?" Your scientists will all agree that it floats. Demonstrate.

Crumple the foil into a ball. "Will it float now, or sink?" (Please note: you need to crumple it REALLY WELL, or it will continue to float, and you will look silly.) The scientists usually agree that it will sink - if you did it right, it will. So, what changed? The density changed, which is a measure of how much something weighs compared to how much room it takes up. 

"Will the orange sink or float?" You may get differing answers on this one but the orange should, in fact, float. Neat. What if we peeled it? Your scientists will probably agree that it will still float, but they will be surprised to see it sink! Why? Because the orange peel has so much air in it, it acts as a flotation device, like if you wore a life jacket when you went swimming. So what does it mean if it doesn't have as much air in it? The orange without the peel is more dense. (You see where I'm going with this.)

The Rest Of It
SO! Will a can of soda float, or sink? Drop the cans in one at a time, starting with a regular (non-diet) soda. It will sink. ("Duh," I was told.) Then, try a diet can. It... floats? WHAAAAAAT? Continue with all of your cans. 

What's the difference between the cans that sink and the cans that float? The ones that float are DIET sodas. So what's the difference between a regular soda and a diet soda? Fish out all the cans and take a look. (You can put your tub of water aside now, if you have room.)

The sodas all have the same amount of liquid in them - that's the volume. Put them on the scale one by one and notice that the diet sodas weigh less than regular sodas. This means that the regular sodas are more dense than the diet ones.

This is 16 packets of sugar.
But why? Well, take a look at the sugar content of the sodas. The regular soda cans that I had each had 49 grams of sugar (!) while the diet ones have sugar substitutes in them.

Put an empty plastic cup on your scale and zero out the weight. Ask the scientists to add enough sugar to make 49 grams, and count how many packets of sugar that takes. (Our count was 16 packets. SIXTEEN PACKETS, in one can of soda!)

Put a new cup on the scale and zero it out. Now, take 16 packets of artificial sugar and see how much that weighs (about 16 grams). Allow the kids to feel the difference in the weight of the cups, and also the weight of unopened packets. Wow, so that's why it's such a difference in weight, and therefore in density!

If you have moved your water tub, it's time to bring it back. Ask if anyone has any ideas on how to make all the soda cans float. (Mine didn't, aside from pouring out the cans.) "Well, we can't change the density of the cans, but we can change the density of the water." Bring out a container of salt and allow the scientists to pour it (all of it!) in, and stir (we used a ruler for this) until it was as dissolved as possible. 

We put the cans back in and noticed that the diet ones bobbed at the surface even more than before. The cans on the bottom sank more slowly than before, but when one of our scientists started stirring the "soda soup," we noticed that the cans moved when the water moved - it was hard to see, but they were, in fact, floating. Magic? No! Science!

Kat's Note: because of the sugar content of ginger ale, which is less than most cola, orange soda, and grape soda, ginger ale will float, but not as high in the water as diet soda. Maybe skip the ginger ale.

Lab Report

I made this lab report with Canva. I have it in PDF form; just shoot me an email if that works better for you. Otherwise, right click and save these images and paste into a Word document to print.