Designing T-Shirts in the Library with the Cricut
A fun activity I’ve run this year was designing t-shirts with our Cricut machine. I’ve it with two class groups and will extend that to a lunchtime activity and after school activity once we have our new space next year.
I love our Library’s Cricut machine. I even convinced the Design Tech department that they needed one, so now I have two to use.
Designing t-shirts is so easy with the Cricut machines and the end products look great. I loved how quickly my students picked up the design, cut and heat process. Once they got the basics down, they quickly started attempting more detailed designs.
Which Cricut machine is right for my school library?
Are you wanting a Cricut machine for your school library? Maybe you’ve heard others talk about how helpful they are or the displays they’ve created with a Cricut. Maybe you already have one and are wanting to upgrade. If you are not sure if a Cricut machine is right for your school library, you might like to start with my Cutting Machines post, where I explore what a Cricut is, what you can do with it and why you might like one for your school library.
But, if you are ready to purchase and just not sure which machine to choose, read on.
I love having a Cricut machine in my school library. Over my time in school libraries I have had and used all the different types of machines, from the very early and now outdated Expression, to the tiny but powerful Joy and the super Maker 3 and a few others in between.
In this post, I’ll explore the current Cricut machines and help you decide which one you should purchase for your school library.
Which Cricut machine should I choose?
Well, you are spoilt for choice. Don’t forget, Cricut is a brand. There are other cutting machine brands out there. You might like to explore what Silhouette offer. I’ve always used Cricuts, so I’ve always stuck with Cricuts.
Cricut currently has three main cutting machines – Joy, Explore and Maker. Cricut also produces heat presses, mug presses and other tools.
Refurbishing a Cricut Machine
I have been fortunate to have a Cricut machine in each of my past 3 libraries. I love them. I love getting creative, love how these machines can make displays, signage and crafting activities easy. So, I was excited and – let’s be honest – relieved when my new library said they had a Cricut machine.
However, I was a little shocked when the Library team mentioned that they didn’t use it and found it easier to cut things by hand. Seriously? That didn’t make any sense to me. It only took the first time me getting it out to use it to understand where exactly they were coming from and why they were finding it so frustrating. I found it frustrating! It took longer than it should and even making a simple project wasn’t easy. Why? The machine had been given to the team without the proper tools and with no training or instruction. The mats were old and either had left over paper struck to them or had lost their stick altogether. And the team had only ever been told to use it with an iPad rather than on a desktop. It was like trying to use the machine with our hands tied behind our backs. Completely impractical and a waste of time.
Thanks to having used a Cricut before, I knew what it could and should be like. And I knew I could refurbish the machine to make it fun and easy to use. Here’s what I did.
How to update a machine
If you’ve decided to purchase a secondhand machine or have inherited an older machine for your library, here’s a few simple steps and tips to get the machine running again smoothly and so you can enjoy using it.
These tips are not going to help a machine that isn’t functioning properly – I leave that to someone with technological and mechanical knowledge, but these should help you get the basics of the machine working well.
Not sure if a Cricut is right for your Library? Check out my post Cutting machines in the Library which goes into the pros and cons.
Mystery In the Library – Displays and Activities
I used the Cricut machine to cut out some detective silhouettes. The font used to create the letters is Earwig Factory.
New Shelf Dividers
It was time for an upgrade. Our library has been using cardboard boxes as shelf dividers for a while now. As our collection grows, the shelves get tighter and the boxes were taking up valuable real estate. They were also looking a little tired, not to mention the empty boxes made the perfect hiding space for students to stash books, rubbish or Easter eggs (I kid you not, the whole thing was in there all crumbled up. What a waste of chocolate!!).
So, we invested in some new acrylic shelf dividers. We purchased them from Syba Signs. While Syba sell the vinyl to stick on the dividers in a range of colours and labels, we wanted to completely control the font and colours, and customise them to our collections. Fortunately, we have a Cricut machine in the library, which can cut vinyl.
Book Week 2019 – Reading is my Secret Power Display
The theme for Book Week 2019 is Reading Is My Secret Power and there are so many ways you could interpret this theme for display ideas. Traditionally, I decorate our circulation desk window (four, large tinted windows that sit behind out prominent circulation desk) with some interpretation of the CBCA artwork.
This year the CBCA Book Week 2019 artwork has been created by Bob Graham.
Here is my interpretation.
Display – Alice In Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland provided an easy and very colourful concept for decorating our junior reading room.
Display – Wheel of Reading
Love the Wheel of Fortune TV show? Well, I love interactive book displays and I thought these two elements would be a perfect match. My focus this year has been on promoting our library genres and this wheel of reading was a great way to get kids talking about the different genres they might like to read from. They also loved spinning the wheel – so much so, that I had to make quick repairs mid-way through the week.
Display – The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Celebrating 50 Years
In 2019 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle will celebrate 50 years in print. To celebrate we decided to turn the Very Hungry Caterpillar day (March 20th) into a gigantic birthday celebration.
For years now, our Junior Reading Room has hosted a giant Hungry Caterpillar poster, created by the students many years ago. It is a much-loved favourite of our Head of Library Services and so it has held pride of place in the Reading Room. So, I decided to design and place the Very Hungry Caterpillar 50 Years display around this old poster.
The giant hanging leaf is a new addition to the reading room, purchased from Ikea, and it fit nicely into the display.
With a lot of help from our awesome student library helpers, we made 3D fruit for the Caterpillar to munch on, thanks to Mr Printables for the awesome templates. All the needed fruit is available in the free downloadable pack, we just had to colour the oranges orange to transform them from lemons. We also used these 3D fruits to create headbands to wear throughout the week (any excuse to dress up). We just hot-glued the fruit to a plastic headband.
Our handy Cricut cutting machine cut lots of coloured dots, which we strung together to add brightness to the area. (These could also be used for a Roald Dahl display, as it kind of looked like Willy Wonka had thrown a party with all the colour). A 3D caterpillar was made with styrofoam balls, green and red paint, a purple straw, goggly eyes and more hot glue.
As well as dressing up throughout the week of celebrations, we also ran a Hungry Hunt. Students had to find the fruit cutouts hidden around the library and write down the secret clue hidden with each piece of fruit. Their answers went into the draw to win this awesome prize pack – thanks to Penguin Australia for previous supplying us with Hungry Caterpillar Posters, which were both included in the prize pack and included in the display.
Electronic Cutting Machines in the Library
Cutting and crafting machines are all the rage in crafting circles. But can they be used effectively in a library? Library displays, decoration, events, marketing, makerspaces – the library is ripe with perfect opportunities to utilise such a machine.
Our library has been very fortunate to have had the use of a personal Cricut machine and has now purchased a new Cricut machine for use in the library.
So, is it worth it?