Sometime back in December, I bought a bag of rubber bands. You know, the ones that you can loom all kinds of bracelets and other creations with. I wanted to see what they were all about. Soon after I learned my first simple weave, I was in my library when a bunch of teens were milling about and starting to get restless. I brought them over for a 10 minute lesson and gave them a fistful of bands. For 15-20 minutes, those kids were not thinking about running around and what they would do to kill time. Win-Win.
Fast forward to January, and me starting my new job as the sole Children's Librarian in a new village. I made lots of bracelets to wear up my arm, because I knew kids would comment on them. They did, and I shared my bracelets with them. Then kids were stopping by my desk for bands. Then they were teaching me new techniques. Then they started asking for programs!
So this month, we had a Rubber Band Loom In. This is a very small community, so 13 girls at an after-school program is pretty exciting. They marched in with their looms, their cases of bands, and their enthusiasm to share what they knew with each other. "Look what I made!" or "Sit here, Ill show you how" for a solid hour. I had to kick them out when their parents showed up!
The reason I share what seems to be an obvious idea is this: For about $1, you can buy 300 bands and 12 clips. For $10 you can get a loom, instructions, and bands. You can loom on your fingers, two pencils, or in ways I haven't even tried yet. The value of the bracelets though, lie in the connections you can make with your pre-teens. You are showing them the common ground. You are learning their names, finding out their likes, and allowing them to see you as a cool new friend. Priceless.
I can't wait to do this program again. New fads are sometimes just that. Fads. But fads like this can add so much value to the library, when you see kids so excited to come over, and you see parents so grateful that the girls are laying down their cell phones and actually hanging out and talking to one another. Very cool.