Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens

December 5 is National Ninja Day. Did you know that? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. Last December I wanted to celebrate this day with the teens, so we held a program called Teenage Mutant Ninja Teens. I invited a martial arts instructor to come and teach teens basic self-defense/karate/martial arts for the first 30 to 40 minutes. He went over his expectations which were very strict but very appropriate–things like calling replying with “Yes, Sir” and always standing at attention. Afterward, I set up several games for the teens to play to practice the art of being a ninja:

    • Patience: Make the tallest card tower in a ten minute period
    • Composure: Cotton Ball Relay; move cotton balls from one end of the table to a cup at the other end using chopsticks
    • Endurance: Hula Hoop Challenge
    • Posture: Book Balance; balance books on your head and walk from one end of the room to the other and back
    • Agility: 15-yard box tag; we marked off a square in the room and the teens had to be the first to tag the other person without stepping out of the box
    • Acuteness: bow and arrows; unfortunately, this one never happened. We tried several instructions on making bow and arrows from popsicle sticks and q-tips but they never really worked, so we eliminated this one.
    • Snack: Fortune Cookiesninja3

The teens who came to this program were the teens that regularly visited the teen department but not necessarily our programs. I remember it was raining very badly on this night so the group of 20 teens I was expecting never came–but they had would have had to walk a few blocks in the cold, dark, downpour. I had a mixture of boys and girls come and they both enjoyed it equally. The week prior I set up a display at the teen desk with a sign and YAninja-themed fiction and non-fiction. If nothing else, the teens talked about it and picked up the books to read at the tables in the departments.

I wanted to repeat this program this summer, but unfortunately, I planned it during the week of July 4th–I’m not sure why I did that. The martial arts instructor is unable to make it due to lack of staff at his own business, and since we haven’t had any sign-ups for the program, I’ve decided to make it a passive program instead. So as I was perusing Pinterest last week, I found a fun ninja-themed craft, and it was then that I decided to offer a make-it-take-it craft to teens who come in lieu of a live-action program.


Box of supplies needed for ninjas: pipe cleaners, pony beads, wooden beads, straws, instructions, Sharpies, and scissors.


Designer Duct Tape

photo 2Over the last couple years, I have learned just how different working in an urban library can be. Not having truly grown up in this area, it was hard to know exactly what these teens would enjoy doing. In fact, it’s still hard to know. Last summer, we started a weekly, and then a bi-weekly, crafting program. Currently, we call it Monday Crafternoons. Simple crafts that don’t involve a lot of prep work, time, or material. (We have a separate art club that meets once a month for more involved projects.)

I love these crafting programs. It gives us a chance to get to know the teens because we usually get about five to six teens to participate. And it’s usually in spurts throughout the hour. The most we will have at one time might be two or three teens. You never know what you will hear from the teens–it’s when you go from library staff/crafter to social worker.

So this week, we did designer duct tape pens. I found the idea here.

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The teens had a lot of fun. Some of them really went to work methodically placing certain colors of tape in certain places. It only required fun, designer duct tape, inexpensive pens and various colored feathers. The teens figured out how to tear the tape into different widths and roll it around the pens. They needed a little help with the feathers, but most of them were proud of what they created…in their words: My pen is exclusive. And then of course, we had to add the feathers. Even the two boys who came added feathers!photo 1