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

Running with the Royals

running with the royalsA princess or prince to pal around with? Check! Gleaming castle with banners flying? Check! Bejeweled crown to wear upon thy head?

crownCheck! You’re ready to run with the royals!

We read Princess Me, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Christa Unzner (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007). This sweet rhyming book describes all the qualities of “Princess Me,” a kind, gentle, mannerly, and just princess who benevolently reigns over her land of toys and dolls. The twist comes at the end, after the princess is tucked into bed with a kiss from the king and queen. That’s when we learn that Princess Me is, in fact, Princess You!

You’ll need:

First, use the box cutter to cut a drawbridge out of the front of the box. Make sure, however, that the door’s “hinge” remains attached to the bottom of the box.

drawbridge step 1Next, hot glue a rectangle of tagboard to the outside of the door.

drawbridge step 2The tagboard will give the drawbridge some some heft and weight as it opens and shuts.

drawbridge step 3Use scissors to cut the paper towel tube “towers” to the desired height for your castle  (my tubes were 7″ tall). Now decorate the tubes and your castle with metallic paper, construction paper, aluminum foil, mirror board, foil seals – whatever you like! When you’re finished decorating, hot glue the towers to the sides of the castle.

Wrap a piece of patterned paper around the top of each coffee stirrer, then secure with glue or tape. Trim one edge to create a banner-style flag.

bannersIf you’re looking for an easier flag to assemble, use colored masking tape to make a banner flag (as seen from this mini circus tent project).

circus tent flagTo make “turrets” for your castle towers, snip the top off a cone water cup like so:

flag stepsThen drop the flag’s pole into the top of the cup. Center it, then wrap it with tape to attach it to the cone cup. Repeat with the other cup and flag.

taped flagpoleHot glue the turrets to the tops of the castle towers. Ta da! Your castle is complete!

castleTo make your princess or prince, wrap the top of a toilet paper tube with multicultural construction paper, then use markers to draw a face. Wrap the remainder of the tube with a piece of patterned paper and add a fancy collar if you like. Attach construction paper hair and a gold poster board crown. This project definitely cried out for jewels (i.e. rhinestones), which we attached to the crown (and castle) with hot glue.

princessNow it’s time for your crown! Cut a crown pattern out of a large rectangle of gold poster board, wrap around your head, remove, then staple. Decorate your crown with the remaining art supplies on the table. We encouraged kids to have their crowns somewhat match their tube counterparts. Finished!

crown and friendNeed a little entertainment at your castle? Perhaps this post would be of some assistance!