Mandrake Made Easy

mandrake made easy

Behold! An easy – but totally awesome – mandrake that even the littlest wizard or witch can repot. Katie and I created this project while planning a Harry Potter event. We were looking for something creative, simple, low mess, and appropriate for a wide age range. Ultimately, we decided to not do this mandrake craft at our event, but we definitely wanted to share it with you!

You’ll need:

  • Crayola Model Magic (we used the color terra cotta)
  • 1 small plastic cup (we used 1.25oz Solo cups)
  • Green construction paper
  • Clay sculpting tools (chopstick, paperclip, X-acto knife, pencil, etc.)
  • Scissors

Since this craft was going to take place in our carpeted gallery, we wanted zero mess. Model Magic is perfect for this purpose. It’s light, soft, spongy, non toxic, leaves no residue on the hands, and air dries beautifully. A 4oz package made 4 mandrakes.

First, take a chunk of Model Magic and form a root plug at the bottom, 2 arms, and a head. Gently twist the arms and head to make them appear gnarled and root-like.

twisting the arms and headUse sculpting tools and smaller bits of Model Magic to create the face. Then push the mandrake’s plug into a small clear plastic cup. Cut leaves from green construction paper, and gently pinch the Model Magic around the leaves to hold them in place. I love the expression and leaf placement on Katie’s mandrake:

mandrake with leavesYou can add a label to your pot if you’d like. Ours was a bit of manila paper adhered to the plastic cup with a glue stick. We went with the plant’s Latin genus name, Mandragora.

Also optional for this project: a pair earmuffs, charmed with extra soundproofing.

Costumed Champions!

costumed champion

It’s your dog’s day! Dress your canine in a stylish outfit and enter our story time dog show. From pink tutus to super hero capes – everyone wins a trophy!

We read Zorro Gets an Outfit by Carter Goodrich (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Zorro and Mister Bud are ready for a walk. But before departing the house, Zorro’s owner dresses him into a super hero cape with a hood. Zorro is totally embarrassed, and for good reason. Every single dog (and cat!) they encounter on the walk has a good laugh at Zorro’s outfit. Mister Bud tries to cheer him up, but nothing works. Things change, however, when a new dog arrives at the park. Dart is fast, fun…and he’s wearing an outfit too! So Zorro’s outfit is no longer a problem. In fact, he’s proud of it!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (mine was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • Construction paper in assorted colors
  • 1 pair of wiggle eyes
  • 1 medium pom-pom
  • 1 gold paper cup
  • 1 black paper cup
  • 2 small strips of gold poster board (approximately 1″ x 4.5″)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Hot glue

The dog is basically a box with construction paper ears, paws, and tail. Hot glue a pom-pom nose and wiggle eyes and you’re set! Use more construction paper to create the dog’s outfit. We offered a choice of a white or brown box and then let the kids take care of the rest. It’s always a good idea to provide examples, so Katie made this dashing dog with a sweater and ear muffs.

dog in sweaterI made a princess poodle, in a tutu, with construction paper eyelashes. Her name is Kami.

poodle in tutuIn addition to construction paper for the outfits, we couldn’t resist adding tissue paper, ribbon, felt, cotton balls, and the Bling Bin to the mix.

To make a trophy, cut a black paper cup down to 1.5″. Flip it over, then hot glue a gold paper cup to the top of it. Add a pair of gold metallic poster board handles with tape or hot glue. We prepped a bunch of trophies in advance, and attached blank labels to the front.

dog show trophyWe also came up with some potential award categories in advance. Such as:

Most Photogenic
Best Stripes
Best Use of (Color)
Most Original
Best Spots
Most Magical
Nicest Smile
Best Ears
Most Creative

While kids were decorating, Katie and Melinda circled around, making notes on what the kids were doing and what award their dogs might win. They also created some new award categories, depending on what they saw. Then they put on their official judge hats…

dog show judgesAnd everyone headed to the library’s lobby! Acting as the announcer, I asked the kids to circle, change direction, halt, and twirl for the judges. While they were doing this, Katie and Melinda were furiously writing award categories on the trophies. I recommend writing a few general ones (Most Creative, Most Original, Best Smile) on the trophies in advance, because the kids get tired of circling around the show grounds pretty quickly!

Finally, it was time for the awards. One by one, I called the kids up to receive their prizes to the applause of the story time crowd. Then it was back to the program area, where Katie hot glued their choice of a large gemstone to their trophies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Poetry, Like Water Flowing

soaked poetIt all started when Marissa ask me if I wanted a shower notepad. Whaaaat? It turns out that, yes, there is a writing device specifically designed for the shower. Intrigued, I donned my black beret and turtleneck and headed to the bathroom to pen some poetry on the Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad.

aqua notes waterproof note padAqua Notes retails on Amazon for $8. The set includes a 40 sheet pad that’s perforated for easy tearing, and an “aqua pencil.” The pad (which is 3.5″ x 5.25″) has two suction cups on the back. The pencil has a suction cup holder as well.

I expected the paper to feel a little waxy or stiff. Nope. It just seemed a little thicker and smoother than your typical computer printer paper. There was no indication that it was waterproof at all. The notepads are recyclable and non-toxic, with soy based ink and wind energy fueling the printing process. Which is really cool. But does it work? YES IT DOES.


As you can see, I was able to write with no trouble. The pencil and the notepad magically deflected all water, and the lettering was sharp and crisp with no smudging.

initial pad testRipping the pages off the notepad, however, was considerably more difficult than a regular pad. You had to line up the perforation just right. Unintentional bonus for those of you composing long poems – the wet pages stuck to the walls of the shower like a felt board. They stayed up there too! Pages stuck to my shower wall at 1pm were still going strong at 9pm. I removed them, noting that they peeled off easily and left no marks.

One problem I did notice was that after its initial use, the pad stays damp and the pages clump together. You really have to pull them apart. You can remedy this by taking the pad out of the shower for a day to dry out. But I will say this – even soaking wet and clumped together, the pad still worked!

The aqua pencil has an eraser, so we tested that too (writing in the shower is funny, but editing in the shower really gave me a chuckle). When erasing, the writing first appears to liquefy like ink. A quick brush of the hand or a spray of the shower nozzle, and it’s gone!

the eraser testIn terms of hardware, the suction cups held up well. For two weeks, the notepad clung to the wall, even after my kids discovered it and were sliding it, pulling it, and enthusiastically illustrating on it. Their testing efforts also revealed that once an individual page is removed from the shower, it takes about 45 minutes to completely dry.

shower artworkAnd just in case you are wondering:

  1. Does the aqua pencil write and erase on regular paper?
    YES, very well!
  2. Can the special paper handle ballpoint, gel, permanent, and washable marker ink?
    YES! However, the washable marker went on smudgy and took longer to dry.
  3. If you submerge the pad in a tub filled with several inches of water, does it still work?

testing in tub

The product test was a success, but would you actually use this in the shower? That’s totally up to you, but I will say that Katie found an online review in which a husband and wife used the notepad to jot down potential baby names. Eventually, one of those shower-inspired names became the baby’s name.

I defy you to find a cuter use of the Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad.