Friday, December 8, 2017

6 Tricks Parents Can Use to Keep Reading with Older Children

Today's post is inspired from one of my favorite parenting podcasts, Slate's Mom and Dad Are Fighting. One of the hosts mentioned that his six year old daughter is starting to outgrow reading with him. Part of their bedtime routine was to read a book together, but his daughter is starting to read on her own and she gets too interested in the book to wait for the next night. She started bringing the book to school and finishing it on her own. The host thought that maybe it was time to end their bedtime reading tradition.

I wonder how many parents feel this way? I read a great article that talked about parents ending reading with their kids too soon. It is something all librarians should be aware of and mentor parents through. I jumped onto the podcast's Facebook page to give some words of encouragement and found lots of parents had great tips.

So, today's post is sharing those great tips that parents have learned worked for them:

  1. Start a book that's above your child's reading level.
  2. Try reading funny books, laughing is more fun together.
  3. Have your child pick out a special bedtime book and other books for during the day from the library. If your child can't choose, have them read the first page of each and then make their decision.
  4. Try reading short stories or fairy tales at night so there's no compulsion to read the book the next day.
  5. Listen to audio books together in the car.
  6. If all else fails, you can each grab your own book and read next to each other. Then, if you or your child come across something fun or interesting, you can share it with each other.
  • Bonus tip: Start a journal to keep track of everything you've read together. Seeing your progress might help your child become proud of the work you both put in. You can also keep track of your favorite authors, find readalikes, and it's neat to look back on later to either discuss or reminisce.

Reading with my children is one of my favorite traditions. I once read an article about a father and daughter who read together every night until she started college. Not only was it a great relationship builder for them, but it also allowed them to develop a special language, relating to the life around them with things they've read in their books. What parent wouldn't want that?

Do you have any additional tips to help parents keep reading with their older children? Please share below in the comments.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday Craft Ideas for All Ages

It's arts and crafts time, my friends!

No matter what you celebrate, the holidays are a time for family and friends, enjoying each other's company, eating cookies, and decorating our living and working spaces to the nines. Because you're never too old to enjoy some glitter and glue, Kat has compiled some fun, crafty ideas for library patrons of all ages.

There are so many (SO many!) great ideas out there, but I chose a few that are a little bit different than you may have seen before. Of course, Pinterest is your best friend here!


Book Page Wreaths are the most library of all holiday decorations (except perhaps the "book tree," where you stack up a bunch of books and wrap lights all around, but you can't really have that as a DIY Night). There are instructions all over the Internet, but we particularly like the one on the Shabby Creek Cottage blog. How festive is this?! Now, she says that her wreath took several hours, but it's also 3 feet across. Smaller wreaths are easy enough for lessons, and patrons can make their own giant ones at home.

Making a Pinecone Christmas Tree is super cute, and super easy! All you have to do is buy (or find!) pinecones, and decorate them with sequins, glitter, buttons, and the like.
Directions for these can be found at

A classier (less spangly) version can be found on the Amy's Delights Blog, where the green pinecones are dabbed with white "snow," and placed into a small terra cotta pot. Either way, these pinecone trees are delightful!

For a slightly more involved craft, you can turn a sock into a snowman or penguin, by following a few simple steps. No sewing is involved! You just need clean socks, rubber bands, rice (or other filler), and some basic decorations.

Find step-by-step directions for both crafts on the Easy, Peasy, and Fun website!


Marshmallow decorating can be great fun! Did you know that they make food-safe markers, so you can draw right on your food before you eat it? SO COOL! December is the perfect time to make marshmallow dreidels, with Hershey kiss points and pretzel stick stems, as they demonstrate on went a step farther and also made chocolate-dipped marshmallow dreidels with sprinkles. Delicious! Please note, most marshmallows are not kosher - check your package before serving. (One of my amazing coworkers made a marshmallow menorah one year, and it just can't be topped. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of this, but I will have to make one and update this post!)

Marshmallows can celebrate any holiday, and make lovely cocoa stirrers if you pop a marshmallow onto a peppermint stick, and perhaps decorate it with snowflakes. Or, be extra adorable and make the marshmallow into a tiny cup of "cocoa" like they did at (Have you seen this? I LOVE this! It's like my new favorite thing.)

Cookies and Cocoa Of course, cookie decorating is always a classic holiday pastime, and is even better with hot chocolate. Enjoy a "hot cocoa bar" by providing options to decorate one's own cocoa, including sprinkles, coffee syrup flavors, whipped cream, marshmallows, and candy. Delicious! (And very Instagrammable. Can you say #delicious?) This photo is from the JorgensenBetterTogether blog.

Not the garland, sorry! Just one book.
Tiny Book Garlands Could this tiny book be any cuter? Tiny books are very easy to make, and I've done them as necklaces in the past. One of the teens at my craft class became an instant pro at making them, and after making one for each friend and family member, she made a whole garland of them for me! I have them hanging in my window, but they could easily be strung around a tree. Instructions can be found here.


Edible Christmas Trees are so easy! This photo is from, but I originally got this idea from, of all places, a Sesame Street Christmas book that I had when I was a kid. All you need to do is take regular sugar-cone ice cream cones, cover them in green frosting, and decorate. So delicious!

(P.S. The book is this one, if you're curious, but since it's from 1982, it may be hard to find. I still have my copy. It also recommends making gingerbread houses out of graham crackers.)

Kat's actual computer monitor right now
Paper Christmas Lights are fun and easy to make! All you need is paper and either ribbon (for a large garland), or embroidery floss (for smaller ones, which work perfectly decorating computer monitors and lockers). Simply cut out the shapes and glue them together to make decorative and festive- but not electric! - holiday cheer.

Macaroni snowflakes are easy, fun, and can be absolutely beautiful. has many ideas for snowflake designs. You can paint the macaroni white (or silver, or light blue) before allowing the kids to assemble them, and then they can add their own glitter (if you dare). Wagon wheels work well, as do flowers, shells, bowties, and any number of other pasta shapes. Check the link for a bunch of different shape ideas, or let the kids create their own.

All Ages

Gingerbread houses (or even just cookies) are fun to decorate, and the candy supplies provide snacks during the program with no extra effort on your part. Plus, they smell nice! There are a few different options for using gingerbread or sugar cookies in your programs. You could provide blank cookies or un-decorated houses (kits would work nicely here) and let patrons decorate their own during the program with icing and candy; graham cracker houses would be an easy, cost-effective choice as well. The image here is from, and is one of their assembled kit houses.

You could also have a contest, where patrons bring in their gingerbread creations from home and have them on display at the library. Winners could be decided by in-person ballot or on social media, thus increasing your online reach, with different prizes for different age groups. 

Ugly Sweaters And speaking of contests, you can also do a great contest with ugly sweaters - who can make the best/worst? This would be a super fun program to pull out all your odds and ends of craft materials, and see who has what it takes to win the Ugly Trophy (preferably something homemade and glittery).

As a side note: Kat somewhat objects to calling these sweaters "ugly," because she finds them to be fabulously festive and fun, but a commonly used term is a commonly used term, and so be it.

Ornaments can be fun for all ages, as well, with the difficulty varying based on age group. Clear glass ornaments can be filled with white foam beads and a snowman face drawn with paint markers; tinsel and feathers can be stuffed inside for an easier, more abstract design. There are a million ornament ideas out there; I won't bore you with mine.

Wrap Party
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that gift wrapping is an art-form, and therefore, this counts. If you have a meeting room available, set aside a day where people can come and wrap gifts, enjoy cookies and cocoa, and perhaps festive movies or music. (I did this one year and asked for donations of gift wrap and ribbons - we got TONS, and the program hardly cost us anything at all!) This was originally an adult program, but we varied it to let kids wrap gifts for friends and relatives, and had some unique wrapping options in addition to the traditional ones - paper lunch sacks that you could color or decorate with stickers, and large coloring sheets to fill in and then wrap boxes in. Of course, there were lots of ribbons and bows. 

We would love to see ideas of your holiday crafts! Please let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.

Friday, November 24, 2017

10 Things We're Thankful For This Year

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It is time for our annual post of three things everyone on staff is thankful for this year. (You can check out our list for 2015 and 2016).

Number 1: We're so thankful for our readers! 

It is not easy keeping up with a weekly blog, but it helps us stay dedicated knowing that you are all out there and reading our posts. It makes our day to get feedback in the comments (both here and on social media) and to see you sharing our content. Thank you for making this a worthwhile venture!

Jess B., 5minlib Founder and Chief Editor

Jess blogs about social media, marketing, technology, helpful librarian tips and tricks, and Teen Librarianship. She started this blog four years ago and will forever be grateful that Allie and Kat decided to join the blogging team.

1. Podcasts

I am a huge fan of podcasts. Every week, I instantly receive new content that downloads on my phone, so no thinking required. There are really great library podcasts (which we listed here) that helps me stay current in the library/book world while I walk the dogs, clean house, go on long drives, etc.

2. Facebook Events

If your library isn't utilizing Facebook Events, you might want to try it out. It is the number one way I find fun things to do with my family. Not only do I follow my library but my mom friends also find great events that (because they are going or interested) show up in my news feed. All I have to do is mark interested and I'll get an automatic reminder a few days beforehand. It is so easy to keep up with what's going on without over-scheduling myself.

3. Canva

We've done a few posts in the past about Canva, but I cannot imagine trying to create images with any other program right now. Not only do they offer a free Canva for Work for nonprofits, but they make it so easy to make templates. It was fun coming up with new designs to announce each post, but it was too time consuming. Now, we've settled on a template that works for both Facebook and Twitter (taking into account how they crop images), we can easily get one finished in a few minutes. Which is great since my free time is limited and I'd prefer to spend more time writing the articles than the image.

Kat E., Assistant Director/Youth Services Librarian

Kat blogs about marketing, databases, programming, hot library topics, and Children's and Teen Librarianship.

1. Hoopla Digital

I love Hoopla, from both a personal and professional standpoint. For those who haven't had the pleasure of using it, Hoopla is an ebook platform, that also has graphic novels, television shows, movies, music, and audiobooks. You can download a title or stream it online, and the best part is: there's no waiting! If 30 people want to read the same book at once, that's totally fine. It's the easiest database to sell to teens - I know they're using it and loving it. The company also sends me seasonal posters, and I often see little ones crowding around the Nickelodeon themed ones, or the holiday ones, telling me the names of each character they know, which makes their parents take notice, which makes them use it. WIN! It also had a bunch of books that teens needed for Summer Reading, and I was able to steer them to use Hoopla if our copies were checked out. I use it all the time for my personal use, too.

2. Good Coworkers and Colleagues

Having good coworkers makes a huge difference in life. When you've done something awesome and need to share the joy, or when life is overwhelming and patrons are difficult, or you're just out of ideas of what to do, you have people to turn to and share ideas, vent frustrations, and get excited about your job once again. This extends beyond people in your building and encompasses people you used to work with, people you wish you worked with, and members of your roundtables (and, in my case, book clubs). I also would include people I know from Twitter, some of whom I've run into at conferences and some of whom I know only via social media, who make me feel like I have friends across the country and people who cheer on my successes, and help me laugh at my failures. I am thankful for all of you.

3. Googly Eyes

Is your craft lack-luster? Does your book display lack pizzazz? Is nobody reading your event posters? Add googly eyes, and people will take notice! And talk about cheerful! Seriously, it's amazing how a few cents of plastic can turn your day around. Googly eyes for everyone!

Allie C., Head of Teen Services

Allie posts the monthly "Ready to Go" Book Lists, finding books for the three different age groups that librarians can display or order for their collection. 

1. Google Drive and Google Forms

I love Google Drive. I can access our Staff Schedule, work documents, and more from work, home or on the go. The shared feature is great so multiple co-workers can access the documents and update them as well. I particularly like Google Forms. I can create quick and fun looking surveys for patrons and staff. When results are in, I can read them individually or see the group results. They work great for a poll on our staff holiday party and to get feedback on our summer program.

2. Constant Contact

Our library has been using Constant Contact for over a year now and it's been great. We can set up different groups of people (General, Teen, Friends, etc.) and send emails to one or more groups. The templates are great. Each month I send out a newsletter to teen patrons about new items, programs and more. Using Constant Contact has made it easier to look more professional and is pretty easy to use.

3. My Boss and Coworkers

I'm extra thankful this year for my boss and coworkers. I'm pregnant with my first child and morning sickness has been overactive. They've been so helpful and understanding as I run to the bathroom or do some work from home. Having a great boss and group of coworkers really makes working so much easier.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Board Games

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go! Book Display." Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. This month I'm going to take a break from books and feature my favorite board and card games you can circulate or use in your library.

Recommendations for Adults:

Ages 17+ and 4-10+ Players
How well do you friends and family know you? Find out when you're in the Hot Seat.
Ages 17+ and 2-33 Players
The enclosed illustrated culture cards and thought-provoking opinion cards can actually be used to play 6 unique games. There's a version for everyone.
Ages 13+ and 1+ Players
From the makers of The Storymatic, this game can be used as a writing prompt, or a way to better get to know yourself, friends and family. This conversational game is a lifetime of memories in a little box.

Ages 17+ and 4-8 Players
In this game you are setting up your friend on a blind date. You just have to convince your friend to date your horrible character instead of the others.
Ages 12+ and 3-6 Players
Create and share lists on a variety of topics. Sometimes you'll want to match your competitors, some times you don't.
Ages 17+ and 4-8 Players
This is basically the Cards Against Humanity version for those of us that are "rude and well-read."

Recommendations for Teens:

Ages 12+ and 4-6 Players
It's your turn to make up the answers to Apples to Apples.  Use the dry-erase markers to write your own response on your apple slate. Now you'll always have the perfect answer!
Ages 12+ and 2+ Players
In this twist on the original Scattergories, you aren't limited to the letter on the die. Instead you'll get a category like "Things Made of Glass" and the word BOTTLE. Now name things that are made of glass whose letters start with the letters in the word BOTTLE.
Ages 12+ and 4-12 Players
Telestrations turns the classic telephone game into a drawing game. You don't need to be an artist in this game of miscommunication. Also check out the adult (ages 17+) version with Telestrations After Dark.
Ages 8+ and 2-6 Players
The only constant in Fluxx is change and you'll never play the same way twice. Featured are the new STEM related editions, but there's a version for everyone: start with the original Fluxx or Batman Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx and more.
Ages 8+ and 3+ Players
Combine character and attribute cards to make ridiculous fights and argue over who would win.
Make sure your bookshelf is nice and level, in this 3D puzzle with 40 challenges. Need more? Also check out Cat Stax and Dog Pile.
Ages 12+ and 3+ Players
You'll need your smartphone with this game that put your internet skills and photoroll to good use.
Ages 12+ and 3-8 Players
Want to play Pictionary but hate drawing? Try this. Get others to guess the prompt by combining, overlapping, and animating  special transparent cards. 

Recommendations for Kids:

Ages 3+ and 2-4 Players
Help the hungry squirrel by collecting acorns in this game that promotes color recognition and fine-motor skills.
Ages 3+ and 2-4 Players

Help Mother Hen collect her chicks in this non-competitive game that promotes counting.
Ages 5+ and 1+ Players
This colorful, nature-themed memory game features the artwork of picture book author and illustrator Melissa Sweet.
All Ages and 2+ Players
This modern twist on the classic card game has players racing to end up as the awesome Cat Lady.
Ages 8+ and 4-8 Players
Inspired by Cards Against Humanity, this game is 100% family friendly.
Ages 4+ and 2-5 Players
This game inspired by the Logo programming language will sneakily teach programming fundamentals to kids.

Friday, November 10, 2017

5 Myths of Facebook that Libraries Should Know

Over the years, we've posted about how to use Facebook pages for libraries. There are so many new ways to increase your reach and build up your followers and we've been covering these from time to time. However, as the years go by, I'm realizing that there are 5 persistent myths that people keep believing.. Myths that instantly hurt library Facebook pages before they even have a chance to reach their full potential. Today, we're going to tackle each one:

1. Libraries should ONLY post about themselves.

FALSE. Facebook is a social network, it isn't a bulletin board. You HAVE TO POST posts that will get engagement (likes, shares, clicks, or a comment). If you keep posting work only things that don't get a good response, it hurts your current post AND future posts. So, adding entertainment/fluff posts (posts that are on the common values between your library and your patrons: articles on reading, bookworm problems, fun book questions, new book info, etc. ) is NECESSARY for a successful library page. (For more information, check out The Facebook Algorithm Explained for Marketers)

2. You can treat a Facebook Page like you do your Facebook Personal Account

FALSE. A Facebook personal account (where you, as a person, connect with other individuals) is NOT the same as a Facebook Page (a business account). In the order of importance, Facebook puts personal accounts higher up the food chain. People want to know what's going on with their family and friends BEFORE they learn about local businesses and Facebook acknowledges this. So, they only show a small percentage of pages to the user. If the user doesn't interact with your page, Facebook will show them less and then less of your posts. That doesn't happen when you post on your personal account. BIG DIFFERENCE. So, whatever you post needs to be engaging or it doesn't belong on Facebook. (For more info, check out the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm History.)

3. Libraries shouldn't share other posts. They should only post original content from their own library.

FALSE. Facebook likes when you share popular content that received a lot interaction -- it is proven quality content. Think about it: Facebook wants to be the place people go to all the time. If they are finding posts that are boring, they will leave Facebook. But if they keep finding stuff that makes them respond, over and over again, they will keep coming back. So, use this knowledge and follow big pages. Share those posts that are connected to the same values that libraries share with patrons. Enjoy the bump in reach (Facebook will naturally show it to more people than your original post) and know that your future posts will do better --- especially the ones which are specific to just your library. (For more info, check out How Facebook News Feed Works and Facebook Has 50 Minutes of Your Time. It Wants More.)

Bonus: Not sure what pages you can share from? Here's a starter list for you:

4. You can post anything on Facebook.

FALSE. You should filter everything through the lens of: Will this get a response from my patrons? Will they like it, comment on it, share it? If the answer is an obvious no, then it does not belong on Facebook. A good example is library programming. If the program is specific to a small range of people (ESL learners, parents of toddlers who are available Monday mornings, etc.) then a post about the event is already at a disadvantage. Why would anyone outside of this small range of people respond to your post? You need to find a way to frame it so it appeals to the general mass of people. Maybe you can post an adorable picture of a boy reading to a dog and causally mention this is a weekly program. Then anyone can "heart" the photo because it tugged on their heartstrings. (For more info, check out: 26 Tips for Better Facebook Page Engagement)

5. You can use Facebook like you would an emailed newsletter.

FALSE. Unlike a newsletter that you can email to patrons whenever you want and it'll reach it's intended audience, Facebook doesn't work that way. The less you post, the less people will see your posts. So, monthly posts, or even weekly posts won't cut it on Facebook. You need to post daily, twice a day if you can, to keep your reach at a respectable number. And you'll need to experiment to see what times work best for reactions and what content most of your followers enjoy. Keep experimenting until your organic reach (unpaid) is consistently at 100 people or more. (For more info, check out: How Often Should I Post to My Facebook Page?)

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more about libraries and social media? WebJunction and TechSoup for Libraries is currently running a webinar series on this exact topic! I had the honor of presenting in Part 1 about Getting Started with Social Media for Your Library which will be archived. Two more are coming up soon that you can register for (and for free!): I highly recommend checking them out and learning about social media analytics (Nov. 30th, 2017) and growing your social media platform and engagement (Dec. 19th, 2017).

You can also visit these websites for more information about using Facebook Pages:

Library Resources
TechSoup for Libraries
Libraries & Social Media (Facebook Group)

Small Businesses/Nonprofits Resources (which, hey, have the same resources as libraries and hence their tips are also relevant to libraries)
Mari Smith, the Queen of Facebook
Social Media Examiner (They also have a podcast and a weekly live video show)
Social Media Today (Free webinars!)

Friday, November 3, 2017

5 Tricks to Make Facebook More Enjoyable

Facebook has been an invaluable tool for me with keeping up with library news, creative ideas, and the latest developments in the library world. However, I keep hearing of people saying they are leaving Facebook because it is too negative. While that certainly does happen, there are a few tricks you can employ first to decrease the negativity before you jump ship.

1. Don't Leave Negative Groups -- Block People Instead

There are so many great librarian Facebook Groups, ranging from different topics to different group sizes. I have learned so much from them and utilized them to ask my own questions. However, as with any public group, there are trolls who will bring you down pointless rabbit holes. Instead of leaving the group, block those individuals instead. (Yes, you can block people you aren't friends with!) I have found this really handy, and was surprised at what a difference it made with just blocking a few key offenders. I am open to hear different opinions, but if people aren't being respectful, I don't need them in my news feed.

2. Save the Great Posts!

One of the best parts about librarian Facebook Groups is that there are a lot of great information being shared. If you want to save a post for future reference, all you need to do is click on the time stamp of the post. It'll give you a special URL you can save and it'll bring you back to that specific post.

3. Make Favorite Pages a Priority in Your News Feed

Instead of relying on Facebook to guess what is important to you, take the time to go through your liked pages and make all your favorites a priority. You will need to visit each page, click "Following", and then mark it as "See First". Now their posts will appear first in your news feed, diversifying what you see on Facebook with a great variety of the stuff you love (for me, that's library comics, blogs, local newspapers, etc.) before I even get to the top posts from family/friends and groups. (You can also make people a priority, too.) My Facebook news feed feels well rounded and fun -- and I don't have to worry about constantly liking page posts so they don't disappear from my news feed.

4. Utilize the Save Post Function!

Being a librarian, there are posts that appear which I want to respond to with more depth or add a link which can be tough to do on a smartphone. I save these posts for later and then revisit them when I am on a computer. It is also useful for the interesting articles that are appearing in your news feed but you don't have time to read. You just click on the three dots and then "Save Link" or "Save Post".

5. Simplify Your Notifications

Did you write a comment and now you're getting notified of everyone else's responses? You can turn that off by revisiting that post and clicking on the three dots to the upper left. You will see an option to turn off the notifications. (See image above.) Getting lots of notifications from groups? Visit their main page and turn them off (there is an option below the cover photo). Are people you are following filling up your news feed with posts you don't want to see? You can go to their page, click "Following" and mark it as "unfollow". If you want to just block certain posts from pages they keep sharing, you can click on the three dots on their shared post and directly block the page they shared from.

Bonus Tip:

Facebook takes up a lot of space on your smartphone. If you want something lighter that also offers a less intrusive messaging app, I highly recommend using the Friendly for Facebook app.

Do you have any Facebook tricks? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Friday, October 27, 2017

So... You Want to Be a Zombie

Today, I would like to share a fun and easy program you can do with your teens (or you can do on yourself for an easy Halloween costume!). In a previous position, I held an annual Zombie Day at the library, and it was awesome - we watched two movies, ate Jello-o brains, and did our own makeup. The first year we did a Zombie Day, I hired a makeup artist to turn us undead, but the next year, I decided we could learn to do it ourselves. I'm so glad we did! Our artist was wonderful, but that was money we could spend on other things. And, as it turned out, more teens were interested in doing their own makeup, as we had about twice as many people as we did the year before!

Kat, the Zombie Librarian!
For those who would like to host their own Zombie Day, here is a quick tutorial on how to turn yourself into a zombie. I'm using my own face and hands as a tutorial, so please forgive the zombie selfie photos.

First, the supplies:

We had white, green, and black cream makeup; fake blood; liquid latex; toilet paper (to use with the latex); and LOTS of sponges. We also had small paper plates, so each person could have their own supply of makeup, for sanitary reasons.

To apply a glamorous undead look, first mix up some makeup. Using mostly white, with dabs of green and black, make a lovely disgusting color.  I found that it looked more realistic if the makeup was somewhat mottled, so try to not mix it all the way, and give it a marbleized look.

Give yourself a nice, even coating of a pale, sickly color, anywhere you would like to apply makeup - face, hands, even knees if they stick through the holes in your jeans, whatever. Try to get at least part of your neck, or else the makeup will look just like a mask.

Yes, this is me. Don't I look excited?!

My makeup ended up a fair bit more caked-on than that, but you get the idea. Try to get your lips, too, if your makeup is safe for that (it will say so on the tube).

Next, add a bit more green and black to your makeup to make a darker color, and dab it around your eyes, to make them look sunken in. Solid colors and absolute shapes aren't necessary - no realistic zombie would have a perfect circle of black around their eyes.

You can add some dark spots to cheekbones or for bruises, as well.  Add blood (with sponges! Blood stains clothing!) to your mouth or anywhere else you feel like bleeding. I had it coming out of one ear and dripping down from my mouth. Then, mess up your hair - maybe sprinkle some talcum powder in to make it ashen.  And, voila!

Now, let's say that you want to be the type of zombie that has gaping wounds. That will require liquid latex.

The first thing you do - ALWAYS - is a test patch. Put a little bit of latex on your hand or somewhere else that's easy to wash off, and make sure that you're not itching or burning. If it dries and you are uncomfortable, DO NOT USE THE LATEX! You might be allergic! Even if you've never been allergic to latex before, it is always a good idea to test any new product to see how it makes you feel, just in case. If you can't use latex, you can follow the rest of the directions using school glue; it won't be exactly the same, but it'll be similar.

Once you've tested, it's time to get started!  First, pick where you would like the wound to be.

Even with little dabs of makeup, my hand is rather boring, wouldn't you say? Let's make one here.

Add a layer of liquid latex to your hand (or wherever), and then add some toilet paper to the top of it.  You can scrunch it up or lay it relatively flat (as I did here). Put more latex on top of the toilet paper, until the whole thing is wet, and make sure it's evenly stuck to you on all sides.

The red is fake blood.  Fake, I swear!

Let it dry. (This is the boring part.)

Paint it like you painted your face. Don't forget fingers!

Once it's dry, pick at the latex a little bit, somewhere in the middle of your hand, and pull it up to reveal the skin underneath. This will make a gaping wound, with skin peeling away. Gross.

Like this.

Dab some black paint into the wound to give it some depth.

You can drip or sponge on blood, as well.

Eeew! It's a fresh bite!

The fake blood that I had dried nicely after a few minutes, so I didn't have to worry too much about it rubbing off on anything I touched. It smeared a little bit, but the blood smears seemed to accentuate the look, so I was fine with that.

Here's how one of my teens did with her hand.  It looks so gross - I love it!

A few notes on liquid latex:

  • Always do a test patch before you apply! I know we said that, but it's worth re-stating.
  • It smells really bad. Fair warning.
  • You can use this anywhere on your body, but be careful that you don't get it into your hair. If you do get it caught in your hair, it should dissolve or loosen up with oil - baby oil, olive oil, and peanut butter all work really well, much like they do with bubble gum. It takes a little while, but this does work! (I gave myself a head wound on Halloween, and ended up using the peanut butter method on my hairline and my eyebrow. I smelled delicious.)
  • You can use things besides toilet paper for texture. Coffee grounds make excellent scabs, and crushed cereal gives you a flaky, falling-apart look. Experiment and have fun!

Happy Halloween, everyone!