Your Royal Tinyness

its a small worldIt might be a small, small world, but you can always dream big! Create a lavish, three-story castle with throne room, balcony, and bedroom with a view. And don’t forget His (or Her) Royal Tinyness, expertly fashioned from a wine cork.

We read The Tiny King by Taro Miura (Candlewick Press, 2010). Once there was a Tiny King who lived in a huge castle. He had everything he could want (a big army, enormous feasts, a huge bathtub, a gargantuan horse). But the Tiny King was sad and lonely. Happily, he falls in love with a big princess and marries her. They have ten children who fill their lives with joy, love, and laughter. That huge castle? As it turns out, it was exactly the right size!

You’ll need:

The beauty of this project is that you don’t need much beyond a paper plate, a few boxes, some construction paper, and a wine cork. And the boxes can be just about any size. Just decorate, stack, glue, and you’re done! If, however, you’d like to replicate some of the elements we incorporated, read on…

finished 3-story castleThe base of our castle is a flipped over paper plate. Remove the lid and tabs from the first box, and hot glue it to the paper plate. Add a pair of castle doors if you’d like. Our doors were made out of tagboard – they were simply hot glued in place and didn’t open and shut. To complete the “throne room,” add a rug (construction paper) and a throne (a tape core with poster board taped to the back).

castle first floorThe second floor of the castle has a balcony. Cut the tabs off your box, but leave the lid intact. Fold the box’s lid outward to create the floor of your balcony, then cut the floor to your preferred shape (we went semi-octagonal).

Hot glue the second box on top of the first box. Then shape a piece of paper (or poster board) around the perimeter of the balcony to make a railing. Tape the railing in place. Furnish the second floor with a little table (a circle of tagboard (or poster board) and a wooden spool).

castle second floorThe third floor of the castle is the bedroom. It has a window, and the wall in which the window rests opens and shuts. First, cut the tabs off your box, but leave the lid intact. Next, use a box cutter to cut a window in the box’s lid (we cut all the windows in advance). Hot glue the third box to the second box. Here’s our window:

castle third floorSince the castle is tall and narrow, we decided it would be best to have the window wall open downward (as opposed to one side or the other – too tippy!). Below you can see how the wall folds down, revealing the interior of the bedroom and a paper baking cup bed.

castle third floor open

The final step is to make the castle’s tower. This is a cone water cup hot glued to a toilet paper tube. The toilet paper tube is then hot glued to the top of the third box. And don’t forget the flag! Once all your castle pieces are stacked and glued, it’s very important to add reinforcement to the back of the boxes. We hot glued a 2.75″ x 9.75″ piece of corrugated cardboard to the back of our castle:

reinforcement on back of castleYou can decorate the castle rooms before you glue the boxes together, or you can decorate as you build. We offered construction paper, patterned paper, and plastic gemstones to our castle architects.

golden castleWe also provided metallic markers, which produced some spectacular results. I love the gold-rimmed paper plate base in the photo above. And look at this alligator in the “moat!”

alligator in moat

And this! Gold flourishes on the tabletop and the white wall, echoing the Moroccan-influenced wall paper. Gorgeous. The pink shutters rock too.

pink shuttersThe last thing your castle needs is a king or queen! Used permanent marker to draw a face on a wine or champagne cork, then hot glue a little paper crown to the top. Wrap the remainder of the cork in paper. Done!

king cork

Welcome Back, Potter

welcome back potterIt’s Harry Potter week at Pop Goes the Page! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 will be released this weeked, and there will be launch parties and countdown events galore. I thought it would be helpful to compile all of Pop’s Harry Potter posts and projects, just in case you find something that might come in handy at your wizardly celebration.

Perhaps our most popular Harry Potter post is Magical Miniatures. It’s an interview with Sally Wallace, a miniaturist and artist who constructs astounding Harry Potter dollhouses and miniature scenes. Feast your eyes on Hogwarts!

greenhouse1 smallerHowever, if your magical real estate aspirations need to be on a slightly smaller scale, try this Gothic votive castle. See the greenhouse to the left of the castle? Peek inside and you’ll see that the mandrakes are ready for re-potting!

greenhouse3 smallerHerbology continues with this little dried herb amulet

amulet smallerAnd these dashing, yet simple, snapdragons. You only need a paper cup, construction paper, and pipe cleaners (more ambitious gardeners can try these magical “growing” box gardens).

get-snappy smallerAnother Harry Potter post I dearly love is this suitcase boggart. I designed it for a Defense Against the Dark Arts table. The secret to making the suitcase thump and bump convincingly? A battery-operated pet toy called “The Weazel Ball!”

the-perfect-boggart smallerWe’ve also made plenty of dragon and monster projects in the past, from this food chain to a black light tin foil dragon. Representing the forces of good, however, is this phoenix puppet. You can make it out of a tissue box, and stroll around with it cradled in your arms.

fantastical-phoenix smallerMoving on to school supplies, try these simple, but immensely popular, quill pens.

quill-pens smallerAlso necessary for any Hogwarts student is an inexpensive PVC pipe wands (with your choice of core, of course). There are also flying books, and things that fly OUT of books.

these butterflies can book

And don’t forget your wrist owl to deliver the mail (but not a Howler)! This handsome little fellow is made out of a toilet paper tube and pipe cleaner.


Once your school supplies are assembled, hit the classroom with the Chemistry of Magic!

chemistry-of-magic-web- smallerOr, learn some smaller spells. A pair of Slytherin students joined us at our School for Scoundrels program and taught kids Aparecium, Furnunculus, and Inanimatus Conjures. But Confundo was definitely the most popular.

There’s also this post, which features a DIY Harry Potter party put together by Hope, our kid tester. Here, you’ll find inexpensive decor ideas, templates, recipes, and useful links.

brick wallAnd what would Harry Potter be without some treats? Check out the gourmet pumpkin pasties crafted by Melody Edwards, a Princeton University graduate who is currently in culinary school. They were yummy. Yum-MMY!

happy birthday harryThose wanting a more academic perspective on Harry Potter (not to mention a look at some goodies from our rare books vaults) should check out the Harry Potter and the Mystery of the Author’s Name post on Cotsen’s curatorial blog. It shows the different ways J.K. Rowling’s name has been spelled (and misspelled!) over the years.

If you’re wondering about the image that started this post (like how I magically manage to appear 9 years younger?), it’s a promo photo from a Harry Potter event we hosted in 2007. You can read more about the image, as well as some of my hints for promoting programs, here.

This Castle’s a Keeper

illuminated castle tissue boxOn the market for some truly radiant real estate? Perhaps this elegant castle votive will do! This simple, but way cool project was part of To Be Continued, our story time for kids ages 6-8.

We read Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon (Puffin, 2015). Castle Hangnail isn’t the most ideal evil castle. For starters, it’s situated on grassy hills peppered with flowers (as opposed to, say, a wind-blasted cliff or a lonely moor). But an ever bigger issue is that currently, it doesn’t have a resident Evil Master or Mistress. Soon, it will be magically decommissioned and shut down for good. Desperate, the castle’s faithful minions send out a final round of invitations. They get just one response. A 12 year-old Wicked Witch named Eudaimonia. Or at least the girl says her name is Eudaimonia. In reality, her name is Molly, and she is a maybe-not-so-wicked witch who has told some whopper lies to her parents in order to fill the castle’s vacancy. Molly quickly falls in love with Hangnail Castle and the minions. In fact, everything appears to be working out beautifully – until the real Eudaimonia shows up. Will Molly and her friends be able to win Castle Hangnail back from the Evil Sorceress?

A shadow spell plays an important role in the book, so I wanted to do a project that involved castles, light, and shadow. Also, we had only 20 minutes at the program to complete the project, so I needed something simple. This castle votive project fit the bill perfectly!

illuminated castleYou’ll need:

  • 2 castle template pages (more on this below), printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • An x-acto knife
  • A small box with a window in the lid – the top of a small tissue box works great!
  • 1 large square of tin foil (mine was 12″ x12″)
  • 2 castle borders template pages, printed on 8.5″ x 14″ paper
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Metallic markers (optional)
  • 1 LED votive
  • Hot glue

Usually, I draw the project templates myself. But while researching the project, Marissa discovered this beautiful little castle votive by artist Lova Blåvarg. Lova’s castle is in color, but we thought it looked more Gothic when we printed it in black and white. The template and instructions for making Lova’s castle can be found here.

castle template finished

Castle by Lova Blåvarg for Sweet Paul magazine

The most time consuming part of the project is cutting all the little castle windows out with an x-acto knife. Marissa, the champion of all things x-acto, printed, cut, and hot glued 16 castles in preparation for the program. That’s 64 castle panels and 640 tiny little windows! Daaaaang.

You could make the castle, drop in the LED votive, and stop there. But I wanted to add a base to give the project a little more heft. I used these window boxes from Discount School Supply. The boxes are nice and sturdy, but a set of 12 costs $17, which can get pricey.

window boxA cheaper option is to use the top of a small tissue box. Cut approximately 2.5″ off the bottom of the box. If you don’t like the pattern, cover it with your choice of construction paper. Remove any plastic from around the mouth of the box, and your base is ready to go!

cut tissue boxLine the inside of the box with a square of tin foil (if you’re using a tissue box, you’ll need to secure the tin foil in place with tape and peel it back from the mouth of the box).

foil inside boxNext, print the castle borders template and select your favorites. Glue the borders to the sides of the box, Then hot glue the castle to the top of the box. Done! Here’s the finished window box version:

finished castle window boxAnd here’s the finished tissue box version:

finished castle tissue boxWe offered the kids metallic markers for additional decorating, but this step is totally optional. Finally, drop an LED votive into the box and bask in the glow! Here’s the illuminated window box version:

illuminated castle window boxAnd here’s the tissue box version! The halo of light coming out of the bottom is rather cool, don’t you think? In fact, I believe I like the tissue box version better than the more expensive window box version.

illuminated castle tissue boxAnd speaking of glowing, when we did the project for the program, I darkened the gallery, turned out the lights, and had the kids create by “candlelight.” The effect was very cozy actually. Ah, home sweet castle!

working on castle