If I had the time, I would LOVE to start a whole new blog devoted only to serving tweens in the library. Instead I will work towards presenting at a conference on the topic (!!!), and in the meantime I will continue writing about it here.
Tween Club, for grades 5 – 8, is all about promoting silliness, creativity, and acceptance. I love surprising tweens with wacky and non-traditional library events. Zombie Barbies was the perfect Halloween event – creepy and creative and absolutely ridiculous. Here’s how I did it.
- 30 plastic dolls
- Doll clothes
- White or grey spray paint
- Acrylic paint (especially in red, black, white, brown, and green)
- Hot Glue Gun (optional)
- Paper plates and wooden dowels for mounting finished dolls (optional)
- Plastic table cloths
- Collect the dolls. You’re going to need a lot of used dolls to make this happen! I asked for donations from the community and purchased a few from a local thrift shop. Any plastic doll will do, but most of what I got were Barbies.
- Prime the dolls. I decided to spray paint the dolls white a week before the event so the tweens could focus on decorating – I highly recommend this. The base takes a long time to fully dry. I wish I had used grey instead of white, but I was able to add streaks of grey using acrylic paint. Remove the clothes before painting, and make sure to get some paint in the hair!
- Make an example and take pictures. I had a ton of fun making my example. I drew on a face with sharpies: green zombie eyes, dark red smudged mouth, and dirt and blood markings everywhere. I used paint to put red and brown smudges all over, and dressed her in a black barbie dress. I cut rips in the dress. I glued glitter all over (prom princess zombie?) I even ripped out some of the hair and added “brains.” The pictures of the zombie around the library were a huge hit online and helped draw attention to the program!
- Set up the room. I set up the tables in a giant U shape, lay a tarp on the floor, and put up plastic table cloths. Primed barbies, paint bottles, brushes, glue, glitter, and scissors were spread around the tables. I had inspiration sheets out with pictures of other zombie barbie crafts. I had a volunteer ready to help at a glue gun station, and one table covered in doll clothes. Put on a fun playlist. Get ready…
- Let the zombification begin! Let in the tweens and let them go wild! It will be loud. It will be messy. It will be extremely fun. Take lots of pictures.
My absolute favourite part of the event was that the youngest, shyest, sweetest attendee made the most horrifying creation – a bandaged and bloody zombie Ken with a noose around its neck. Crying blood. When I commented on how creative and creepy her doll was she giggled and quietly said “I really like horror.”
Some tweens went all out, removing limbs and creating backstories for their creepy zombies, while others just tried to make the wackiest creation possible with piles of glitter and swirls of bright paint. Overall, this was an extremely fun program that I will be running again next year.
If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments!