Program – Build to Battle

What is it?

Using office supplies and instructions from the Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction book series by John Austin, create tiny catapults, bows and arrows, and other “weapons” then compete in challenges with them.

 

Price

You may be able to find what you need among you existing office supplies, or solicit donations of materials.  In this case, you could potentially run the program without buying anything.  I had a healthy budget to work with and ended up spending about $50 on building materials.

 

Why do it?

There’s a little bit of every STEAM element—science, technology, engineering, art, and math—in this program.  Not many activities hit on all that, particularly not ones with this high appeal for pre-teens and teens.  It’s a great program for disguising educational elements behind a ton of fun elements. Continue reading

Program – Extreme Library

What is it?

After the library is closed, middle schoolers can come play active games throughout the library building.  I like to really play up the fact that they will have the library to themselves, and be allowed to do things we wouldn’t normally allow.  Hence the “extreme”…though of course, it’s all perfectly safe and legal. 😉  This is the program description I use: “Zombie tag in the Library? An extreme scavenger hunt in the stacks? That can’t be allowed…but we’re going to try it anyway! We won’t tell if you don’t.”

 

Price

Anywhere from free, to however much you want to spend.  If your budget it low, plan activities that use materials you already own.

 

Why Do It?

When you’re doing something unconventional like this, it’s a good idea to prepare for the possibility that your reasoning will be challenged.  Continue reading

Program – Laser Tag at the Library

What is it?

After the library is closed, invite middle schoolers to play laser tag in the building.

 

Price

$300-$700, depending on the equipment you use.

 

Number of participants

This can vary a lot.  If you rent equipment, most rental companies will offer 10 to 20 laser taggers at a time.  It’s often cost-effective to have the equipment for a block of time.  I like to get the equipment for three hours, and break it into three time slots; participants can sign up for one slot.  Each one-hour slot has 20 players (10 on each team), so I get 60 total in one night.  After all the instructions and suiting up, I’m usually able to give the participants 40 minutes of play during their timeslot, which seems a good amount of time to me. Continue reading

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (2017)

disappearancesA unique, suspenseful mystery-fantasy set in the 1940s.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   388 (for ISBN 9780544879362

Genre(s) and keywords: mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, magical realism (yeah I know that’s like all the genres),

Tone/Style: mysterious, dark

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: hidden past of a family member, curses, blame

Themes: grief and loss, alienation, romantic relationships, family

Summary: Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up. Continue reading

What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott (2015)

what waitsTraditional horror that will scratch the itch for casual genre fans.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   288 (for ISBN 9780545691116)

Genre(s) and keywords: horror, thriller, survival, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: scary, tense

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: camping, murderers, being lost

Themes: trustdating, friendship, mean friends

Summary: For city girl Callie Velasquez, nothing sounds more terrifying than a night out in the wilderness. But, wanting to bond with her popular new friends, Lissa and Penelope, she agrees to join them on a camping trip. At least Callie’s sweet new boyfriend, Jeremy, will be coming too. Continue reading

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (2018)

princeAn uplifting graphic novel about celebrating yourself.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   228 (for ISBN 9781626723634)

Genre(s) and keywords: graphic novel, LGBTQIA+, historical fiction

Tone/Style: stylish, fairy-tale-esque

Pace: fast

Topics: gender roles, royalty, fashion, drag, secrets, marriage

Themes: being different, being oneself, friendship, responsibility, expectations

Summary: Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Continue reading