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Silent library.

She sat tense, ready to pounce. She knew which one she wanted and was prepared to take what was hers. Three, two, one ... slap! The sound of hands across the room hitting the table was astonishingly loud. She glanced at the phone in the center of the table. Had they been too loud? Please don't let it be me, she thought. Three, two, one ... she flipped over the card in front of her ... nooooooo! In bold red letters, her destiny awaited--"bobbing for worms." She began shaking her head vehemently. She did not want to do this. She looked at Devera, shaking her head again. "Do you not want to play?" she asked. She began shaking her head again. But before she had the opportunity to say anything, a boy stepped in to save her. "I volunteer as tribute!" he shouted. The room burst into chaos. Everyone was clapping and shouting. He had saved her. She did not have to bob for worms.

This particular event for the summer reading program at Winder Public Library is similar to the hit television show, Silent Library. The game is comprised of several different aspects: cards, an app displaying decibel levels, and a series of pranks, although the teens laughingly call them torture. The game has been played and reinvented around libraries for the last couple of years, but it is new to these teens, and the room is packed, full of those wanting to play.

This is the largest number of teens to have attended a program at this library. Ever. The staff looked at each other in shock. We might have been a little unprepared for the number of teens, but in the library world, things can change in an instant during a program, and adaptation is something for which we find ourselves well-suited.

This amazing program takes a little planning (especially for the pranks). Based on the number of participants, players are divided into teams. Ideally, you'll have six to eight people on a team. Each team will sit at a separate table. A row of cards is placed in the middle of the table face down, equal to the number of players on the team. In the center of the table is a phone or tablet that has an app showing the decibel level of sound in the room (Search in the app store for a decibel meter). A staff member counts backward (3, 2, 1), and each person on the team must grab a card and slide it in front of them. Again, on a count of three, everyone flips their cards over. The player with a card that has the name of the prank must complete the task in order to earn points for their team. In the end, the team with the most points wins the game.

Supplies will vary according to your pranks, but there are a few things you'll definitely need.

Card stock: In a word or publishing program, type the names of the pranks on the card templates and print. (We printed multiple sets because the teens are rough on the cards, and the blank cards become bent.)

Sound/Decibel app: This free app is used to keep the games "silent" (which, of course, does not happen). Players cannot win their prank if the sound of their laughter reaches a certain decibel level; however, we might have forgotten this rule, on purpose.

Silly/Fun prizes: We had a bag of goofy prizes (sunglasses, bubbles, kites, etc.) for the winners of each game.

Snacks: If you serve food at a program, the teens will enjoy it.

Sense of humor: You need to bring your sense of humor to this game. When the teens see you cracking up, they relax and join in on the fun with you.

For this program, planning the pranks is the key component. The pranks need to be a mix of silly, educational, gross, and fun in order for the teens to enjoy the game. If you are willing and able, the pranks that are silly and gross are the ones that the teens love the most. Initially, we had about twenty pranks for the teens, but with almost thirty teens in attendance, we had to cut more than half of the pranks, so I saved them for another time. The pranks we played were the following:

Sour Head: A teen must suck on half of a lemon for thirty seconds. (Warning: some teens may become nauseated.)

Cloud of Marshmallows: A teen moves marshmallows from one bowl to another using only a spoon held in his or her mouth. The team who has moved the most marshmallows at the end of one minute wins.

Twinkle Toes: A pen or pencil is placed in between the toes of a player who then must write his or her name on a piece of paper in less than one minute.

Dewey Did It: Two sets of twenty nonfiction titles must be placed in order by one member of each team. The players are given one minute to put the books in order according to the Dewey Decimal System. The first player to finish with the books in the proper order in the given time frame wins.

Colors of the Rainbow: One member from each team is given a Baggie of Skittles (or similar colored candies). They then have thirty seconds to sort and stack all of the candy by color. The first player to complete the task wins.

Just Keep Spinning: One member from each team must spin around in a circle for one minute, then walk a straight line. (Make sure there is nothing they can fall or trip over.)

Balloon Juggle: One member from each team is given three inflated balloons. The player is given thirty seconds to keep all of the balloons in the air. If a balloon hits the ground, that player is out. The player that is able to keep all three balloons in the air wins. If all complete the task, they all win.

Willie B.: (This task is named after the famous gorilla that once resided at the Atlanta Zoo.) One member from each team must act like a gorilla for one minute. This sounds so easy, but it is incredibly funny, and the teens were laughing.

Wrap, Wrap, Wrap, Wrap It Up: This prank requires three members from each team. One member stands with his or her arms by his or her sides, while the other two team members attempt to wrap up the middle player like a mummy using toilet paper. There is one minute given for this prank. The team that successfully wraps up the mummy wins.

Bobbing for Worms: This one is the best--messy and fun. One player from each team must bob for gummy worms in a bowl of whipped cream (we used whipped topping in case of allergies). Each player is given one minute to get as many worms out of the bowl using only their mouths. They can only pull one worm out at a time, the worm must be whole and intact, and the worm must end up in a separate bowl on the side.

There are many more pranks you can play, but this particular program took about one hour. We had parents who jumped in to help us by handing out cards and assisting with the games, another set of parents were taking pictures, and one set even went live on social media, showing the games online. Afterward, we did a survey of the teens to see what they thought of the program. Everyone loved it and wished there were more pranks (perfect set up for a future event).

Since this program, we have seen an increase in the number of teens coming into the library for programs and to check out books. This is one of the most successful programs we have ever had. The teens are excited and a little nervous to see what we'll come up with next. Yes, we can be serious, but sometimes, teens just want to have fun. I am not sure who is having more fun, though, the teens or us.

Devera Chandler is a teen services library assistant at Winder Public Library. She has worked for Piedmont Regional Library System for six years. Currently, she is the vice-chair/chair-elect of the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers. Chandler once dared the teens in her library to read 75,000 pages over the summer. If they accomplished this task, they would be able to pick any color for her to dye her hair. They read over 125,000 pages. The teens chose blue.
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Title Annotation:Winder Public Library
Author:Chandler, Devera
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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