Guest Blogger

Craft Tips for Programs

Over the years of doing crafts with all ages, I’ve learned a thing or two. Here are some tips you can incorporate into your storytimes, after school programs, and outreach programs.

The Essentials:

  • School supplies (scissors, glue sticks, colored pencils, markers, crayons) preferably in separate containers so you can control what is being used.
  • Craft sticks (in regular and jumbo size). These are great for making stick puppets.
  • Watercolor paints, paintbrushes, and reusable cups for water.

  • 4 oz. glue containers and glue pump. I like to fill the glue containers just a little bit. There is little waste in case of an overzealous child, or a spill.
  • Lunch bags (to make puppets or to prep materials) and spoons (for mixing materials).
  • Paint palettes and cotton swabs for tempera paints. You won’t waste paint this way, and it’s really easy to clean up! I also use cotton balls to paint with sometimes.

  • Dixie cups (for putting out materials to use, for “trash” on the tables), baggies (for prepping materials)
  • Dot stickers (for eyes, decorations, counting circles) and googly eyes (the self-adhesive kind are easiest to use because you don’t have to wait for dry time).
  • Hand wipes to clean up after painting and gluing.


I always setup the craft before the children enter the room. I am lucky enough to have a space big enough to accommodate this. I divide the room into two: one side for sitting on the floor and listening to a story, the other with tables and chairs for an activity. If you don’t have separate space, I suggest putting the craft in baggies or lunch bags, or layering in paper plates, and then distributing.

  • You can cover the tables with newspaper or bulletin board paper (nice recycling ideas), or even cheap bedsheets (you can wash them over and over!).
  • I always have an example of the craft in the middle of the table, with the supplies they will need to create it.

  • I use school supply caddies to separate supplies. I love keeping the scissors, glue, and coloring materials separate because the children use only what I put out. I don’t have to worry about a little sibling grabbing the scissors!
  • For the school aged children, I sometimes take away the chairs and have the children stand around the tables.

Recruit your volunteers!

My volunteers know where to find an activity if they’re looking to help. craft-prep-boxI use a computer box top and fill it with the essential supplies:

  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape
  • hole punch
  • baggies (snack, sandwich, and quart sizes)

Then I label prep work with a Post-It Note and an example:

 What’s your favorite craft tip?

(All pictures used are courtesy photos from Lisa Shaia)


Field TripToday’s guest blogger is Lisa M. Shaia. Lisa is the children’s librarian at the Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield, Connecticut. She blogs at and teaches ALSC programming classes (check out her new Storytime Tools class beginning in the fall!). She’s also very excited about her upcoming book published by ALA titled After School Clubs for Kids: Thematic Programming to Encourage Reading.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


  1. Abby Johnson

    Thanks for sharing these great tips, Lisa!

  2. Katherine Brechin

    Very useful tips here, specially the wipes idea and table cover – an old plastic party table cloth can also do the trick.

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