Ice Capades

ice-capadesTwirl, leap, coast and spin! The skating rink is open and you’re invited to strut your stuff, courtesy of a magnet attached to the bottom of a toilet paper tube skater. If things start to get a little chilly, glide through our cozy hot chocolate shack for a fill up!

hot-chocolate-stopWe read Little Red Gliding Hood, written by Tara Lazar, and illustrated by Troy Cummings (Random House, 2015). Little Red is a great skater, but her ice skates have definitely seen better days. When a skating competition is announced, along with a prize of brand new skates, Little Red is thrilled. Unfortunately, it’s a pairs skating competition, and she has no partner. Unfortunately, while searching for a partner, she encounters the Big Bad Wolf! After a face-paced and spirited chase across the ice, he finally catches her. But he’s not going to eat her…he just wanted to tell her that her laces were untied! Turns out the not-so-bad Wolf needs new skates too, and he’s a great skater to boot. The day of the competition, Little Red and the Wolf enter the completion. They put on such a great performance, the judges give them a perfect 10 and the grand prize!

You’ll need:

  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 2 circles of tagboard or cardboard (approximately 1.75″ in diameter)
  • Construction paper, various colors
  • 4 s
  • 2 champagne (or wine) corks
  • 1 small tissue box
  • 1 hot chocolate shack template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 8 medium craft sticks (4.5″ long)
  • 1 skating rink (more on that later!)
  • Tape and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We’ll begin with the skaters, which are toilet paper tubes with magnets glued to the bottoms of them. Later, the skaters’ magnets will connect with a magnet wand held underneath the cardboard skating rink. Move the magnet wand, and the skater magically glides!

First, hot glue 2 tagboard circles to the bottoms of 2 toilet paper tubes. Definitely use hot glue – you really want those circle to stay adhered to the tubes.

skater-tube-circlesNext, use construction paper and markers to turn your tubes into a pair of ice skaters. In keeping with the book, one of our skaters was Little Red, and the other was the Big Bad Wolf. Katie put this adorable duo together, and added a bit of red ribbon for Red’s hood and the Wolf’s sash.

skating-duoHot glue a button magnet to the bottom of each tube.The bigger the magnet, the better the results on the rink! Our magnets were 0.75″ in diameter. We tried smaller ones, but they just couldn’t keep the connection.

magnet-on-bottom-of-skaterNext, hot glue button magnets to the bottoms of 2 corks (but test to make sure the skater magnets and the wand magnets attract before hot gluing them to the corks). We used champagne corks because they have a bulge at the bottom that was easier for little kids to grip. But wine corks work too.

skater-magnet-corkNow for the hot chocolate shack! Cut the bottom and 2 sides off a small tissue box. Your shack should have no floor, and the doorways should be tall enough for your skaters to glide through easily.

shack-boxWe used tagboard for the sides of the shack and the roof, but construction paper works too. Cut and color the sign and 2 windows from the shack template and attach them to the shack. We reinforced the sides of the box by gluing craft sticks on above and below the windows and on both sides of the doorways. The final touch – a chimney- is totally optional. Cut a bubble tea straw down to 6.75″ and add a little polyester fill smoke rising from it.

hot-chocolate-shack

Now for the ice skating rink. We snagged a huge, 3″ x 63″ box lid through this program. Since kids needed to reach underneath the rink, we hot glued four 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” craft boxes in each corner, and reinforced them with packing tape.

ice-rink-on-boxesPlace your skater on the top of the box, then place your magnet wand underneath the box. The magnets will connect through the cardboard, and you can start skating!

skater-on-icePlunk your hot chocolate shack down, crank up the Tchaikovsky, and skate!

on-the-ice

We learned that if you tilt the magnet cork juuuust so while you’re pulling your skater, you can actually make him/her spin rapidly. Check out these fantastic moves:


When story time was over, the giant skating rink stayed at the library for a future project. But we did give each kid a 14″ cardboard cake circle to continue the skating fun at home.

Looking for another way to enjoy the ice? How about a little ice fishing? Or maybe you need a little frozen magic? Or you might be dreaming of spring

Thrift Store Costume Challenge

thrift-store-costume-challengeThe challenge? To costume as many literary characters as you can in 180 minutes. The catch? You can only use what you find on the racks of Nearly New consignment and thrift shop in Princeton.

nearly-new-clothing-rackFor those of you unfamiliar with Nearly New, it’s an independently-owned consignment and thrift store with tons of fantastic stuff. Toni Maher, the owner, is always helpful when I drop by looking for costume items for work (or, heh heh, just shopping).

nearly-newToni’s also extremely accommodating when it comes to more unusual requests, such as  borrowing a mannequin for this Cinderella dress design event, or hunting for teacups and saucers for this Victorian Tea program. She didn’t even bat an eye when I asked her if she’d be up for hosting the costume challenge.

The other major player was Princeton University sophomore James Jared. Last year, James designed and sewed the Mathamagician’s robes for our Day in Digitopolis program (seen here on our Instagram, and in more detail in this post). He also works in the costume shop at the Lewis Center for the Arts. James is incredibly talented, and was totally game for the challenge. There’s an interview with him at the end of the post!

The big day dawned and Marissa and I headed to Nearly New with photo equipment and a long list of possible characters (we went with female characters because, as James so astutely pointed out, the women’s sections of thrift stores are much bigger than the men’s sections). James and 4 Princeton University students who agreed to model met us at Nearly New. Then it was full steam ahead. In 180 minutes, James costumed 9 characters. Are you ready to see his results?


#1 NANCY DREW

nancy-drew-costume


#2 VERUCA SALT

veruca-salt-costume


#3 THE GRAND HIGH WITCH

the-grand-high-witch-costume


#4 MS. FRIZZLE

the-frizz


#5 PROFESSOR TRELAWNEY

professor-trelawney-costume


#6 MRS. COULTER

mrs-coulter-costume


#7 DOLORES UMBRIDGE

dolores-umbridge-costume


#8 MISS TRUNCHBULL

miss-trunchbull


#9 THE WHITE WITCH

the-white-witch


James’ costumes look fantastic, but they’re even more fun when you learn some of the behind-the-scenes facts. Nancy Drew, for example, is wearing a belt in her hair because we couldn’t find a headband. Miss Trunchbull is wearing men’s shoes, men’s socks, and little kid’s jacket to make her look bigger and bulkier. Dolores Umbridge’s sweater was overwhelming her dress, but James expertly pinned it to a better length. Professor Trelwaney is holding a fishbowl. And the White Witch’s crystal daggers? Those are salad forks that she’s holding handle-side-out.

The other thing I didn’t really appreciate until we got there was the volume of items and how fast James had to sift through them. To find the perfect belt, James had to dig through dozens and dozens of belts while simultaneously looking for earrings, dresses, and boots. He did this while expertly delegating the models to bring him possible shirts, skirts, sweaters, and hats. Also, James could find an awesome dress, but if it didn’t fit the model, or match the personality of the character, it was out. Finally, I learned that it’s not easy to make pieces from different decades work together without just the right vision.


JAMES JARED

james-jaredWhat’s your costuming background?

I’ve always loved making Halloween costumes, but I officially taught myself how to sew in high school when I started to cosplay (make costumes based on characters from movies, tv shows, books, etc).

What was the costume challenge like for you?

I was very nervous going into the challenge because I’ve never done anything of the like before, and I was worried that the time constraint would prove difficult to work under. In the end, though, I had a fantastic time and I’m very proud of the costumes that we were all able to make together.

Did you have an overwhelming favorite?
I think my favorite costume had to be Trelawney from Harry Potter. There were so many scarves and shirts that fit the character in the thrift store that her outfit almost seemed to show up without having to look for it. It almost became less of a question of which scarf would be best and more how many scarves we could get away with throwing on her.

Which was the toughest character to costume?
The hardest character to costume was the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia. Her character description includes a crown, which the shop didn’t have, so it took a while for us to come up with a way to mimic the crown. Eventually we found a circlet that suggested royalty, as well as some spiky earrings that were reminiscent of icicles to use as a necklace.

If you had more time, which character were you hoping to do?
I would have loved to costume someone as Kate Wetherall, as the Mysterious Benedict Society was one of my favorite books growing up. Unfortunately, her costume is fairly specific and there isn’t much room for leeway.

What’s your major at Princeton University?
I’m just starting out in the Electrical Engineering department.

Do you see any connections between your major and costuming?
Interestingly, I once told an employee in a fabric store I frequent at home about my major, and she said that she often thought of sewing as a type of engineering. Though I’d never have put the two together on my own, as soon as she said that I knew she was right, and I think it applies to costuming as well.

In both costuming and engineering you have to pull materials together using techniques you’ve learned to create a final product that’s more than the sum of its parts. I think I enjoy sewing and costuming so much for the same reason I like engineering, which is that it’s a great feeling to have created something new out of basic materials. And that’s something I think anyone can do.


A big, enthusiastic “Huzzah!” to James Jared, costumer extraordinaire, who aced the costume challenge with style and flair. Warm waves of gratitude to the Nearly New for letting us overrun your store and create chaos in your racks.

And finally, many thanks to models Amanda Blanco, Ailyn Brizo, Joani Etskovitz, Grace Turner, and Marissa Warren. It wasn’t easy to keep a straight face through it all, much less glower, growl, look haughty, or stare intensely into the camera wearing shoes that were at least one size too small for you.

outtake

Tweet Tweet! Reading is Sweet

tweet-reading-is-sweetWhen it’s time for your next library visit, perhaps you’d consider bringing a canary with you? I hear they’re friendly, quiet, and quite avid readers. Make a sweet little canary on a perch and a sparkly, decorative birdcage to go with it. And don’t forget that mini library book!

We read Quiet! There’s a Canary in the Library! By Don Freeman (Viking, 1969).
One day, at the library, little Cary wonders what it would be like if animals and birds could visit to the library and browse.  She imagines the canary would arrive first, followed by lion, bear, elephant, peacock, turtle, giraffe, porcupine, a family of monkeys, horse, and cow. Things are going pretty well until the mice arrive and chaos erupts. Thankfully, clever canary sings that it’s time for everyone to leave, and it works! Whew!

You’ll need:

  • 1 circle of poster board (approximately 7″ in diameter)
  • Hole punch
  • 8 silver sparkle stems
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Yellow and orange construction paper
  • A few small feathers
  • 1 small piece of poster board (1″ x 3.75″)
  • 1 small piece of tagboard (0.75″ x 6″)
  • 2 silver craft ties
  • A few scraps of white printer paper for mini book
  • Scissors, tape, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished-birdcageWe’ll begin with the birdcage, and finish with the reading canary! Punch 8 symmetrical holes into a circle of poster board, then decorate the poster board with markers (we used Crayola metallic markers and they looked fantastic).

birdcage-step-1Wrap the ends of 8 sparkle stems through each hole.

birdcage-step-2Gather the free ends of the sparkle stems together over top of the poster board circle. Adjust the stems, as needed, to create a birdcage, then twist the ends of the stems together. We also added a decorative silver embossed foil seal in the center of the poster board circle, but this is optional of course.

birdcage-step-3To make the canary, cut a toilet paper tube down to 2.75″ and wrap it with yellow construction paper. Add a small feather crest, and use markers to draw a beak and eyes (or use eye stickers and a self-adhesive foam triangle like we did). Cut a pair of yellow construction paper wings, and hot glue them to the sides of a little book (which we made by stapling white paper inside a green construction paper cover). Position the book in front of the canary’s face, then hot glue (or tape) the wings to the body.

bird-holding-bookCut a tail out of yellow construction paper (our tail was about 2.75″ long). Hot glue (or tape) it to the canary’s body, and add a small feather on top. We covered the top of the feather with a yellow dot sticker, but this is optional.

bird-tailNow for the perch! Punch a hole in each end of a 1″ x 3.75″ piece of poster board. Cut a pair of orange canary feet from construction paper, then hot glue them in the center of the perch. Finally, hot glue a 0.75″ x 6″ strip of tagboard on top of the feet. Bend both ends of the tagboard strip upwards to create perch “prongs.” Your perch should now look like this:

perch-step-1Slide the prongs into the bird tube, then secure them to the inside of the tube with tape.

perch-step-2 Next, wrap a silver craft tie in each hole of the perch. Bring the ties over the canary’s head and twist them together. Note! Because of the height of the birdcage, you’ll need to twist the craft ties fairly close to the top of the canary’s head. Finally, curl the little orange canary toes over the edge of the perch.

perch-step-3Slide your perched canary inside the cage, adjust for height, and then wrap the free ends of the craft ties around the top of the cage to secure it in place. Circle and twist the extra craft tie to create a carrying handle for your birdcage.

finished-birdcageYour canary is ready to go to the library! I hear section 598 is pretty interesting…