• Programs

    Tween Night: Taste Test Challenge

    November’s Tween Night was for the brave! Tweens tried 9 differents foods, guessed if it was Pepsi or Coke, and tried to guess Pringle flavors, all while blindfolded!

    Set Up & Supplies:

    Preparing for this program was a lot of fun! It started with a trip to the grocery store to search for weird food items. Our library’s policies on food safety limited my selections to prepackaged food. This did not feel like a hindrance. I was able to find plenty of options. Another thing to keep in mind is allergies. I completely avoided nuts and tried to purchase what I thought were safe foods.

    I shopped for 9 random things for the first round, and then shopped the chip isle for the second round. I ended up leaving with:

    • Trix cereal
    • Twinkies
    • Raisinets
    • Cookies and Cream Poptarts
    • Sour Punch Straws
    • Powdered Donuts
    • Orange Popcorn
    • Red Velvet Oreo
    • Outback Beans (I had never heard of these. They are black licorice beans)
    • Coke
    • Pepsi
    • Pringles (Original, Loaded Baked Potato, Salt & Vinegar, Dill Pickle, Pizza)

    Other things I needed for this program were food safety gloves, table clothes, plastic cups, paper plates, napkins, blindfolds, answer sheets, and pencils. There was also a water fountain nearby if they needed an in between drink.

    I also made numbered signs to hide the food behind to add to the mystery.

    The night of, I decided to set up the tables in an U shape. As a former caterer, this made sense to me, because it allows easier, smoother food serving.

    Time to Taste:

    There was a good mix of anticipation and nervousness in the room as we got started. The kids would blindfold themselves, and my coworker and I would put a piece of food on their plates. Once everyone had eaten their sample, we announced that they could take their blinders off and write down their answer. It took a couple rounds to get this down, but soon we were getting through the foods no problem.

    The first portion was 9 different foods and a 10th round for Pepsi vs Coke. I may have went too easy on them. They were confident with their food answers, and as was revealed later, they were right! The only food that really threw them for a loop was the black licorice beans. Most of those got spit back out immediately. Which, from my standpoint, was hilarious.

    The big upset of the night was the Pepsi vs Coke round. The majority was wrong on that one. A big shocker for the tweens!

    To finish the night was the Pringles showdown. We had five rounds for five different flavors. The Dill Pickle chip was a love it or hate it. We got some groans out of that one. They identified all of them except the load baked potato.

    What I learned:

    Set up for this program started with a pretty big hiccup. I didn’t know until I was putting everything together that the blindfolds I had ordered never arrived. I don’t know how I missed this, but I knew I had to find a solution fast. My answer to the problem was to cut old table clothes into strips. It worked just fine. The kids never knew that something didn’t happen as planned. It was also a good chance to practice flexibility and improvisation.

    This program was a small one. I had a turn out of 16. It probably felt even smaller because October’s Tween Night was so large. I was initially borderline bummed about it, but I realized that was ridiculous. It felt like quality time spent. Also, this program drew in faces I had never seen at my programs! That’s a win in my book.

    Shout Out!

    This program was inspired by Ontarian Librarian. Check out her blog! It’s fantastic!

    Her version of the Taste Test Challenge.

  • Programs

    All Hallow’s Read Program

    After a successful October Tween Night, I wanted to do more for the Halloween season. As a kid, I loved hearing and sharing spooky stories. Halloween is also the perfect time of year for Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy. The plan was to hang out in the tween section and get scared together.


    Set up & Supplies:

    This program didn’t cost anything to run! I chose a spot that I could darken without taking light from the rest of the library. I used bean bags that we have for story time to make a cozy circle around a fake fire. Our children’s department had an inflatable campfire leftover from a different program. I stuck some battery operated book lights inside of it so it glowed. The only other thing needed were scary books to read!


    Scary Stories in the Dark:

    Once the kids arrived, I opened up the floor. I asked if they had any tales to share with the group. I was not expected the awesome response I got! Every kid had a story to tell. It was so much fun! As spooky stories were told, I passed out the books I had brought, and they chose their favorites to read out loud.

    We did this for an hour. They were all perfectly creeped out when they left.

    What I learned:

    I had been worried that it would end up being me reading the whole time. I’m glad I gave them the opportunity to share first. It was a wonderful surprise when they went for it! I will ask first in future programs too.

    I also learned that there’s value in smaller, more intimate programs. I had 10 kids, and I felt like I connected with each one. I want to run this program again next year.

  • Programs

    Tween Night: Tween Scream

    October’s Tween Night was all about Zombies! The program activities included the building of a grave treat, target practice, and zombie tag!

    Set up & Supplies:

    The general plan of the night was to have target practice and treat making the first half, and end the night with tag.

    For the zombie grave treat, I set up covered tables with the required food supplies along with some paper plates. Fun part for me was making an example! The food I used was:

    • Rice Krispie Treats
    • Chocolate Icing
    • Cookies (as headstones)
    • Cookies (to be crumbled as dirt)
    • Sour Patch Kids (the emerging zombie!)

    Next it was time to set up my Nerf shooting range!

    On the other side of the room, I marked 4 lanes with tape. Each lane got about 5 balloons that were decorated as zombie targets. The Teen department of my library graciously loaned me their Nerf gun collection for this! I made sure each gun was working/loaded and placed one in front of each lane.

    For our ending games of tag, I created slips of paper saying human or zombie so the tween knew which to start as. I also made mock survival supply boxes to incorporate into a remixed version of zombie tag. They were labeled things like “food,” “water,” and “antidote.” My inspiration for this came from this post.

    The last bit of set up was a table by the entrance that served as a find your zombie name station. I found a kid friendly list online that the tweens could match their initials to figure out their undead name. (I was Brainy McBrains hehe) Also provided were name tags and markers, so they could show off their names for night.

    The night of tween zombies:

    I am so happy that two of my coworkers had been recruited to help me with my event. We were expecting a good turn out, but we did not anticipate 80 kids!

    Both activities were a hit. The grave treat even more so than the Nerf guns. I had flashbacks to Bad Art Night, because their creations did not resemble my example at all. This is in part of me allowing it to be self guided, and I’m okay with that.

    The target practice did require a little more attention. Making sure that kids were sharing and taking turns was the main responsibility.

    There was a natural slow down as the tweens finished their crafts, and this cued it was time for zombie tag! My coworkers and I, along with some of our attendees, pushed the tables out of the way to create room. Next bases were established, and the zombie/human slips were passed out. Then it was GAME ON!

    This first game did not go well. As you can imagine with a group of kids this large, the noise level was high. Luckily the room we were in was equipped with microphone headsets. This helped minimize confusion because all the kids could now hear us and the rules!

    The slip of paper system did not last past the first round. After that failed, we decided to do random assignments like “All boys/girls are zombies” or based on birthday months. The anticipation in the room during these moments was so intense and also hilarious for us staff.

    They played tag for the remaining 20 minutes. This ended the event on a great note. Everyone had a great time. I saw so many happy faces!

    What I learned:

    I think I had forgotten how fun tag is. They loved it! There was a sort of simplicity to this program that I would like to carry with me into future events. Also, having fun music playing makes a difference. During the first half, we had a Kidz Bop Halloween album playing. It helped make the atmosphere just right.

    An oops I had was during the transition between the craft and the tag portions. I didn’t account for the balloons that were taped to the ground, and what would happen to them once tag started. I should have secured them elsewhere. As you can imagine, they ended up free to float up to the ceiling. My coworker saved me on this one. She had a system to get them down. It was just one of those things that you can only learn after being an awesome librarian for a while.

  • Programs

    Tween Night: Bad Art Night

    September’s Tween Night was a blast! It was all about creating and having fun. The only rule was to do your worst. Most of the 30 kids had no problem doing that!

    Set up & Supplies:

    I had two tables of random arts and crafts supplies. It was a great opportunity to clean out the workroom and use up old/unwanted supplies. We even had a bag of socks, and these ended up being a huge hit. I also set up six additional tables to serve as work stations. To protect the carpet, I laid down a painter’s plastic under all the tables. The last part of getting ready was making a fun, carefree playlist to make “art” to.

    The Making of Bad Art:

    True “Messterpieces” came to life. They could use anything and everything they could find on the tables. Glitter was everywhere. They were given roughly 50 minutes to create. Honestly, I think they could have kept going for hours. They were sad to leave, and that makes me feel like I did my job right. Through out the night, I saw jelly fish, rainbows, sock puppets, a “plate of poop”, and others that can’t be defined. So many creations! Before the tweens left, we took pictures of their makings that would later be displayed in the library.

    What I learned:

    I learned that I need to tape down the floor covering next time. It slipped my mind, and the carpet ended up being exposed. Luckily no harm was done.

    I am always amazed at what kids come up with.  I want to do more programs like this in the future. I want to offer more chances at  freedom of expression.


    Shout Out!

    This program was inspired by Ontarian Librarian. Check out her blog! It’s fantastic!

    Bad Art Night: Library Program Outline

  • Programs

    Tween Night: Spirit Animals

    August’s Tween Night was based off the popular book series Spirit Animals. The series accounts for 6 of our 50 most circulated Junior Fiction books!

    This program had several stations. First was find your spirit animal. I made 3 old school paper fortune tellers, one each for earth, air, and water. We gave them the option to stick with the one they got, or they could choose their own.

    Next was face painting! Always a winner with the kids. I bought face paint crayons to avoid a terrible mess. They painted their own faces or had a friend help them out. Some kids just did this the whole time and were perfectly content.

    Matching the face painting was a paw print tattoo table. This is meant to imitate the passive state mentioned in the books. Not as many kids did the tattoos. The face painting beat it out.

    Once the Tweens were done with their faces and tattoos, there was a photo backdrop for them to take pictures at.

    To finish the night was a scavenger hunt. It was a hunt for the talisman of the “Four Fallen” from book 1. I created 4 puzzles, each leading to an envelop hidden the Junior section of the library. I was nervous about this, but they did a great job. When they turned in their four tokens, they got a cup of animal crackers and their choice of candy from a basket. This made ending the program easy. I could clean up as they hunted. They saw themselves out after they got their treats.

    I think the kids genuinely had fun. I got great feedback from them. One thing I would change for next time would be to have music playing. Since I had a smaller group, 22 kids, there was minimal noise. This size of group was also great because the program didn’t have to have a rigid structure. They were able to go at their own pace.

  • Programs

    Tween Night: Angry Birds

    Welcome to my first program ever!

    Before the Tween Assistant Librarian position existed at my library, back in May I was given the opportunity to try out programming. I decided on Life Size Angry Birds. It only required collecting boxes and rubber balls. I figured it’s low cost, easy to do, and interesting enough to draw the kids in.


    My coworker and I set up two box towers with Angry Bird characters taped on them. Each station had rubber balls to throw at the targets. The original plan was to sling shot the balls, but it didn’t work as well as planned. We also had the Angry Bird soundtrack playing in the background.



    Talk about high energy! The kids were instantly involved. The hardest part of it all was keeping them in line. We took a craft break when it started to get too rowdy. We provided coloring pages and pig origami boxes. The origami was a hit. Once everyone had settled down, we finished with a few more rounds of knocking the boxes down.  At the end of the program, the kids went home with a chocolate egg.



    Overall the program lasted about 45 minutes. We had 30-40 kids come and go. I would call it a success. As my first program, it was a huge learning experience. Being responsible for a large group was new for me. I also learned that I don’t have the mom voice. Despite that, I knew I wanted to do it again. I have been blessed with the Tween position since then. I will have many opportunities to try new ideas and grow.