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Yesterday, on the President Obama declared National Day of Making, another Youth Services colleague – none other than the fabulous Emma Carbone of Miss Print — and I worked with teens to create marbled paper, in our weekly Makerspace program! The teens got a real kick out of it, as did we, as well as some of our colleagues! No one wanted to stop~ :-)

Two lessons we learned:
  1. We Must do this program Again!
  2. Next time, we will most definitely use cardstock, as that had the best results, although the thinner paper did yield some lovely floaty tie-dye results.
Enjoy the pics!
(oh and if you’re wondering what we used to get these effects, the kit we used is called the Aitoh Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit. It’s fairly simple: You just need to also have water and a large(preferably shallow) container containing water. And a willing clean-up crew. :-)
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The other day I went to a local middle school to make presentations about Summer Reading to sixth graders. In one classroom, the inquisitive ones started asking me about the looming budget cuts my library system is facing.

While I was there to tell them about how and why they could/should join Summer Reading, I was impressed with their interest in the library’s woes, and so briefly talked about the budget crisis, and said that we’re facing about $20 million in cuts and that this could impact the service that they receive.

At this, one energetic boy started to wildly wave his hand, which I could not ignore. When I said, yes?, he bursted out, “No, it’s $25.2 million!”

I gave him a salute.

Today was just oh such a satisfying creative writing day at the library — every week I host a creative writing workshop for teens and tweens. While last year I had a crop of older teens who were just drop dead gorgeous writers, this year I’ve had a bunch of sweet and yet slightly recalcitrant tweens, who really want to come to the program but often have second thoughts about actually writing… So we do a lot of (a LOT of) ice breaking and chatting about what’s up in middle school, to coax them into something resembling a writing mood. Dude, middle school’s tough stuff, you know? Plus, writer’s block at any age is a doozy. (I should know, I’m mired deep in a writing project that’s going at the pace of… frozen ghee.)

At any rate, I don’t know what to attribute it to, but both this week and last, the girls (yes, mostly it’s girls that are drawn to this program, at least at my library) produced some beautiful work. And better even, they seemed to get into it! They were sweetly proud of what they had written and wanted to share, and truly, some of the images they came up with were just marvelous. (I don’t have examples in front of me, but, some real good showing vs. telling, which by the way, I’m breaking the rule right now, as I write this, and yes, I know it!) Yay, them!

… maybe it’s the fact that both last week and this week we did activities that somehow hit the sweet spot for them and hooked their interest. I noticed that it’s always better if I give plenty of opportunity for them to talk about stuff that’s on their minds, especially small (to us adults) irksome things that happened at school, but which for them, are major… It’s like talking them out for a bit lets them relax into writing.

The activities? Last week we did “found poems,” where we cut out a whole slew of interesting words and phrases from newspapers and magazines, pushed them all together into a big shared pile, and then people grabbed whichever ones caught their fancy, arranged and rearranged them on a piece of construction paper until they had “found” their poem, and then there was the über-satisfying act of glue-sticking them down. And then the grand finale of sharing creations with the group. (Or not, in the case of certain shyer individuals).

Today’s activity was to create a “list” or “catalogue” poem – one which lists a bunch of ways to think about just one idea. My tweens tend to be concrete thinkers, so for this first foray into list poetry, I gave them a template, and everyone wrote on the same topic – “Happiness is…” Now one would think that this would lead to rather sticky-sweet treacly goo-messes of poetry, but the results were deeply touching, especially in illustrating the importance of family in their lives.

It’s times like this that make me smile.

Oh and one more unrelated thing. I also do a weekly arts and crafts program for kids of all ages. Yesterday a little boy came running up to me an hour after the program and asked, Are you really my sister’s art teacher? Looking backward, he directed me to his sister who was sitting at a table some distance away, smiling and waving at me. I waved back and smiled too. “Yes, I surely am,” I declared, so pleased to be termed “an art teacher” that I was probably beaming. “Will you be my art teacher too?” he asked. “Sure, Sure, definitely!” Gosh. I had a smile on my face for at least an hour after that… love the kids. Got to love the kids.