Category Archives: Crafty

Displays, crafty ideas for merchandising and promotions, and just fun!

Library Displays: An Awesome Resource

Library displays are the best way for our kids to discover new books.  The books on the shelves are for the kids who already know what they want.  We should never assume that our kids can figure it out on their own- even if they don’t want our help.  Ever notice how fast you have to refill the display books? There’s an excellent reason for that.

I love this Padlet, made by Jennifer LaGarde (Library Girl). We need to all add to it, stat. 🙂



Wreaths Change the Entire Look of My House: A Lesson for Our Libraries

I am blown away by how much of an impact a wreath can make.

Over the weekend, I taught myself how to make Deco Mesh Wreaths.  I first saw them at a craft fair, and loved the look.  I didn’t love the kitschy embellishments that most crafters seem to add.  For instance, a Halloween wreath with a big hat in the middle and witch legs dangling from it.  I want to class up my front door, and I just don’t think that does it.  Totally my opinion.

Here’s the Halloween wreath I made…

And the Thanksgiving one that I will put up next month!

Really, decorating of any kind just adds warmth, comfort, and a sense of familiarity.  That’s why I never hesitate to decorate in the library.  I don’t worry about offending anyone and I try to be inclusive of all. I just can’t stress enough the difference it makes to the kids.  Here’s what Sue and I did for Halloween:

Your typical window clings…

These guys kind of remind me of Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo:

I love our book display.  The ghosts, especially.

This guy’s eyes flash red when he detects motion, which is actually terrifying.

These are removable, but I kind of like them…

The pumpkin lights just catch your eye immediately.

The best part is that decorating really gives the kids something to talk to you about.  It’s a natural icebreaker.  And, it’s just a little way you can show your students that you care about them.

Have a great Halloween!


Infographic Library Displays!

Last year, my parapro, Wendy, and I were having fun doing some quality professional development on Pinterest one day, and we had an idea.  We decided to take some of those great Infographics that Epic Reads and others are always posting, and to turn them into some amazing library displays.  We were tired of the same old, same old.

Here’s some inspiration for you. 🙂  The only supplies you need are a color printer, some time, some good markers, and a die cutter (I used my Silhouette Cameo, but you can use whatever you have).

We turned this:


Into THIS!


IMG_1285 IMG_1286 IMG_1287

I was really happy with that one.  I think it is my favorite.  But this one was pretty boss, as well…

We turned this:


Into THIS:


IMG_1279 IMG_1280 IMG_1281 IMG_1282 IMG_1283 IMG_1284

And this year, I did this one…



Became THIS:


IMG_1277 IMG_1278

How did we survive before Pinterest?  Check out Epic Reads for more great infographics, too.  They are so creative over there.

For those of you who are heading into Spring Break tomorrow (ME!), enjoy!  Here in Chicagoland, it is supposed to snow today. Grrr. 😡

Happy Reading!


An Awesome Idea for Library Self Promotion

Last year, I was at the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference, and heard a couple of really good librarians from Hinsdale South High School talk about the ways they push into classrooms.

They mentioned one idea that really stuck with me.  They created a flyer and called it a “take-out menu.”  Then, they put it in chinese takeout boxes with a fortune cookie, and gave it to teachers.  I loved this idea.  Couldn’t stop thinking about it.

With my graphic designer husband, I knew we could do something ridiculously cool.  So, in August, before school started, we did.  I am really proud of how it came out.


Notice the Fortune Teller Miracle Fish and the Chinese Finger Cuffs?  There was a fortune cookie in there, too, but I ate it. 🙂 My thinking behind those was this: I was giving these to teachers at the beginning of the year kickoff meeting.  It is not exactly an exciting meeting, if you know what I mean.

I bought a gross (144) of each thing on Amazon, and my entire total was 60 bucks.  Not too shabby.

Everyone seemed to really love them.  And I know people actually read the menu, because I have already had a few people come to me to ask about some of the new services I detailed inside.  That was the goal, so we’ll call this a win.  I think it is going to be a great year.



Readbox: Yay Pinterest!

I have had MANY comments and hits because of this awesome Pinterest find… and then my own effort became a Pinterest success as well.

I am often asked for two things: the font used for the top lettering, and the graphic used for the touchscreen.  Both were created by my amazing husband.  He literally created the font by hand, and he also recreated the graphic.

Because I completely believe in sharing cool stuff like this, I am going to share his work (with his permission, of course!).

Just a funny side note: I am challenging you to a game.  If you decide to construct this, keep a tally on how many people think it sounds like REEDbox.  I inwardly chuckle about this all of the time.

ALSO, please, please, please, post pics here when you use my awesome, amazing husband’s art on your own wonderful Readbox.  My students love it.  Those books get checked out more often than you can imagine.  Please: If you have the time, give us a shout out here.

Thanks!  Have fun!


Note: The pdf files below are individual letters that spell Readbox and also the touchscreen graphic.







readbox screen generic


The Meaning of Gift Giving

Wow! I can’t believe there are only a few days until Christmas. My son’s birthday is this Friday, too, so it is absolutely crazy at my house right now- we are throwing a birthday party for him and 25 of his closest friends on Friday after school (he is in Kindergarten- we are inviting the entire class). Then I might start wrapping Christmas presents on Saturday.

Every Christmas, I get more and more annoyed with the commercialization of gift-giving in general. I don’t care whether it is Christmas or my birthday, it really is the thought that counts, in my opinion. My family did the most ridiculous, pointless thing one year. We used to have a grab bag- most families do, right? Except, I think that some people in my family had gotten so picky and had so completely forgotten the point that it was decided that year that the grab bag would be a “gift card grab bag.” We essentially exchanged plastic fifty dollar bills. I think that was the last year we did the grab bag. Big surprise.

So anyway, every year I try to make as many gifts as I can. I usually crochet most of them, but I have made soaps, bath salts, and crocheted jewelry in the past. The gifts that I do buy tend to be things that require thought- books, mostly. I am a librarian, after all.

This year, aside from the crocheted gifts, I have focused on jewelry. I found more ideas on Pinterest (big surprise) and I thought I would post my experiences. I found that there were some essential modifications and some that I felt were just better.

Scrabble Tile and Washer Pendants

WashersThe instructions for these suggested that you Mod Podge scrapbook paper to the 5/16ths washers, and then cover with Dimensional Magic. Bad idea. Some of the scrap paper lifted and cracked, and some of it just flaked right off. The Mod Podge does not work well enough on metal. I tried E600 and it was too goopy. I ended up with good old fashioned Elmer’s. It worked the best (on the metal washers but also on the scrabble tiles). After I cut out the paper with an Xacto knife, I used a cheap plastic watercolor brush to paint a light coat of Elmer’s glue onto the washer or scrabble tile and stuck the paper onto the item. After I let that dry for a couple of minutes, I brushed (with a different brush) a light coat of Mod Podge over the image to seal it. As a matter of fact, here is an image of some of the different materials I use for the project:


It isn’t going to be perfect. That is where the files come in. After the Mod Podge and the Elmer’s have completely dried, give the edges a good file. I try to go in the direction of the paper on the item so that there is no lifting.

scrab3fixYou can really tell that the black one hasn’t been filed well enough. My favorite one above is the one that says, “rest for three slower and soft measures.”

After filing, all that it needs is a coat of Dimensional Magic (Diamond Glaze- above- is the same thing). Be careful of bubbles, and realize that it comes out very runny. You don’t need much. Outline your area with it first and then fill in as needed. Sometimes, I find that I can just move around with the tip of the bottle and it will fill in on its own.


The only other thing needed is a bottle of E600 glue and bails for the backs of the scrabble tiles.


I had a really hard time deciding which kind of necklace to use, and ended up choosing ball chain. It looks the best, matches any design I choose, and doesn’t interfere. Some of the ribbon and leather necklaces I tried just looked all wrong. They really took away from the pieces themselves. I couldn’t take a picture because Amazon hasn’t gotten the spool of chain to me yet.

Aside from the glue, the biggest change I made from some of the others I have seen online is in design. I don’t like using scrapbook paper for everything. It just seems so canned that way. Sometimes, I do use it. However, for this project, I also used sheet music, an old Archie comic book, Yoga Journal, Newsweek, a picture of my niece, and who knows what else. I feel like my own creative expression shined so much more on those than when I just used scrapbook paper. I was able to add a message that was unique to the person I had in mind for the gift or that was unique to me. Scrapbook paper can make necklaces that are pretty, for sure. When I venture away from scrapbook paper, I can make necklaces that are pretty AND have meaning.


The tiles above are at the Mod Podge stage. Notice Archie, Om, the symbol for Karma, the tree (which I love), and more. None of these were “scrapped.”

The message I really want to get across, though is this: I think gifts need to be meaningful. If you haven’t agonized over whether it is a good choice, then maybe it isn’t. If you are giving because of obligation, you can still give a meaningful gift. You might just become someone’s favorite aunt. You might make someone feel special without ever realizing it. I don’t think the Walgreen’s Chia Pet or even a gift card can do that.

Happy Holidays!

Pinterest Threw Up All Over My Library.

In my little library, we have a full-sized computer lab that takes up a quarter of the space.  Sooo, with MAP Testing going on, the LMC is closed for business.  And very, very quiet.  Which is maddening nice, because we have time for special projects.

Special project time is when my Pinterest addiction becomes dangerous handy!

First, I ordered a used copy of Where’s Wally from Amazon for a penny and cut out the pages.  I was able to match up five full scenes.  Since they are back-to-back, not all of the scenes will be useable.  This was perfect for me, though, because I had five tables that needed some pizzazz.

After laminating the pages, I taped them to the table tops.

The five tables with Wally

Who could resist?

Who could resist?

That was Pinterest find #1.  I was far from done, though.

I decided to make a statement on my TV.  Note how awesomely vintage it is, by the way…

My Awesome TVSo that was #2.  We are just warming up.

Next, a freshened up display table.  I had a great classics door banner that I bought during my first year of teaching.  Ah, the days when we spent oodles of money on fun stuff for our classrooms, huh?  After the first or second year, we wizen up.  This is a gorgeous vinyl banner made for a classroom door.  My library is a 40 ft by 80 ft rectangle, so a little room dividing is always a good thing.  I made a Classics display.

I Love The Classics

Next, I broke out the Mod Podge.  Yep, my library stunk to high heaven.  Everyone who walked through stopped to ask what on earth I was doing.  The original Pinner (OP in Pinterestland) used wood, but I am much too lazy for such things.  I used foam core.

First, I Mod Podged strips of old dictionary to the foam core.  That dried overnight.  Then, I used a paint pen and some really neat stencils I found next to the paint pens at Hobby Lobby to add the places.  Mount Doom points to our district office.  I’m a Gen-Xer.  We buck the establishment.

Since I used foam core, I was able to use 3M mounting strips to attach the arrows to my incredibly ugly post.  I think it adds character.  I kinda like that the post is there now!


The last thing we did (I say we as in my parapro and I) was this.  It needs no explanation, but I will add it anyhow.  My husband is a graphic design teacher, so I had him make the “touch screen” for me.  All of the books on the display have been made into movies.  The kids love it.


If you want more dangerous creative ideas, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!