Friday, April 15, 2011

Five Things on a Friday - Teen Programming Edition

I'm updating again! This time is all about the ups and downs of teen programming at our library. As I've said before we share a parking lot with a middle school. We get tons of teens, pre-teens, tweens, and hangers-on. Here, very briefly, are five things that work for us. Or they're working for us as of right now. It's still very much a work in progress. I will eventually write an update with our entire trials and tribulations.

  1. Food. Food brings them in. It doesn't seen to matter what, just food. We were wondering around Costco trying to find affordable relatively healthy edition. We ran into someone else buying for large quantities of teens too. Costco is the place to go. I don't know if it is our neighborhood (very low on the socio-economic scale) that heightens it, but every group of teens I've worked with can be bribed with food.
  2. Popcorn. Popcorn is cheap. We got one of those very large popcorn machines (not the countertop one, the one in its own little cart) and a 50 pound bag of popcorn, 500 popcorn bags, and a ton of oil. We're set for a while. It's simple, but the kids love it. And the coolness factor is so much greater with the machine popcorn than the microwave stuff, plus it is easier to portion out.
  3. Ukuleles. Ukuleles are cool. Teens and hipsters love them. A local store cut us a deal (ask for the educator discount) and we picked up half a dozen ukes. Our youth services librarian plays ukulele. The kids play their instruments, bring their own, borrow ours. I had them sitting out at the teen afterschool program and they were never idle. My favorite afternoons are the ones where we get impromptu concerts of kids singing and playing. One teen is even writing her own songs!
  4. Playing cards. Cards are never out of style. We have a board game cabinet for the teens to use and however many decks of cards I put in there get checked out. I remember from my own teen years always keeping a deck of cards in my backpack. Their popularity does not seem to wane and of course the games that can be played are limitless.
  5. The current iteration of our teen program is an "Open Zone" where they can come/go and hang out, play games, etc. We were struggling with how to keep track of how many teens were coming with all the in/out. So I counted how many cups I put out by the lemonade. A few kids took more than one cup (though they were encouraged to just refill) and a few kids took no drink. If we assume that those kids cancel each other out, and since it makes my life easier we will assume they do, we had 78 kids at our last teen zone event.

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