Flight of the Dragon

flight of the dragonThis colorful dragon marionette twists, turns, dives, and flies with you! It was a project at To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for kids ages 6-8.

We read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, written and illustrated by Grace Lin (Little, Brown, 2009). Minli lives in a poor village overshadowed by Fruitless Mountain. When she impulsively spends her money on a goldfish, her outraged mother demands that she release the fish into the river. Minli obeys, but is shocked when the fish speaks to her of Never-Ending Mountain, where the Old Man of the Moon can answer any question Minli asks – including how she can improve her family’s fortunes. This sends Minli on an epic quest to reach Never-Ending Mountain. Along the way, she is joined by a flightless dragon, who wants to ask the Old Man of the Moon how he can fly again. The two travelers encounter many obstacles, but eventually reach the top of Never-Ending Mountain, where Minli must choose between her own wish, and the wish of her faithful dragon friend.

Minli, of course, makes the right choice and the dragon flies again. We had some HUGE dragon fans at the program, so I thought it would be fantastic for them to make their own dragons to fly.

finished flying dragonYou’ll need:

  • 1 small box (mine was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works)
  • 1 large box (mine was 4.5″ X 4.5” x 6” – a large tissue box works)
  • A box cutter
  • 2 pieces of elastic beading cord or string (mine were 22″ long)
  • 2 small craft sticks (mine were 3″ long)
  • Construction paper
  • A small rectangle of poster board (approximately 1.25″ x 2.75″)
  • 1 flying dragon template, printed on four, 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of white card stock
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • Scissors, tape, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The important thing about marionettes is making sure that the strings stay securely attached! This marionette has two strings – one for each box. Begin by knotting each piece of elastic beading cord (or string) around a craft stick. Since elastic beading cord knots tend to come undone, it helps to wrap the knots with masking tape.

Use a box cutter to cut small slits in the tops of each box, then thread the free end of the cord through the slit. My boxes had lids, so here’s a shot of the open lids with the craft stick anchors in place. If you’re using tissue boxes, simply flip the tissue boxes over so the holes are facing downwards.

marionette stringsConnect the two boxes together with a 1.25″ x 2.75″ rectangle of poster board that is tabbed at both ends (my tabs were approximately 0.75″ each). Tape the connector’s tabs to each box.

poster board connectorNext, wrap the boxes with construction paper (we went with layered strips of construction paper, cut to resemble dragon scales). Cut and color the dragon pieces from the template and attach them to the boxes. If you don’t have time to color in all the template pieces, here is a full color version. We added some craft tie spines and curls along the top of the dragon as well!

You’ll notice that there are two tail pieces on the template. Match them up, staple them together, tab along the dotted lines, and then tape the tabs to the back of the large box.

taped dragon tailWhen your dragon is finished, tie the elastic cords to a wooden dowel (and secure the knots with tape if needed). Your dragon is ready to fly!

finished flying dragon

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.

owl

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.

The Reference Reptile

the reference reptileWow I hear that new librarian is a total dragon. Like…literally.

We read The Library Dragon, written by Carmen Agra Deedy, and illustrated by Michael P. White (Peachtree, 1994). Miss Lotta Scales, the new librarian at Sunrise Elementary School, is, in fact, a dragon. A dragon who takes her book-guarding duties very seriously. The students (and the staff) are all but exiled from the library, lest they face the wrath of Miss Scales and her fiery temper. Then one day, little Molly Brickmeyer wanders into the library, looking for her lost glasses. She happens across a book and starts reading aloud. Shocked but entranced, the other students gather in the library to listen. Mean Miss Scales moves in to grab the book…but then stops. Hmmm. The children appear to be enjoying themselves in the library. And the book is about a magic dragon so…Miss Scales finishes the story herself. And as she reads aloud, her formidable scales fall off, revealing Miss Lotty, the new, and very kid-friendly, librarian.

We transformed into dragons with wings, tails, and heads with crackling tissue paper flames that activated with a quick puff of air!

dragon in the libraryYou’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • 1 dragon head left section template, printed on 8.5″ x 14″ paper
  • 1 dragon head middle section template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 1 dragon head right section template, printed on 8.5 x 11″ paper
  • 2 sheets of green poster board
  • Dragon decorating supplies (more in this below)
  • 2-3 rectangles of orange & red tissue paper (approximately 4.5″ x 7.5″ each)
  • Hole punch
  • Green yarn
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, cut the lid and tabs off one side of a box (or, if you’re using a large tissue box, just cut the entire top off). Set the box aside for a moment.

We spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to make the dragon head template fit easily over a box. The final template turned out to be over 22″ long, so I broke it into 3 separate pieces to create a printable template for you.

Print all 3 paper template pieces and cut them out. Place the middle section down first, then lay the left and right sections on top of it, using the curves of the dragon’s nose as guides. Secure the 3 template pieces together with tape.

assembled paper dragon templateNext, lay the paper template on a piece of poster board (we ultimately decided to use light green). Trace the template on the poster board, then cut the entire thing out as one big piece. You’ll notice that there are 2 dotted lines on the paper template. Fold the poster board template downwards along the dotted lines. Then slide the poster board template on top of the box, and hot glue the sides of the template to the sides of the box.

dragon head step 1Next, hot glue the middle section of the template to the top of the box.

dragon head step 2Trace the forehead template onto green poster board, and tape it to the front of the dragon’s head.

dragon head tapedNow decorate! We used markers to create spots, slivers of self-adhesive foam for nostrils, some embossed foil paper for hair, 2 sparkle stems for horns, gold mirror board pieces on the forehead, and a craft tie curly whisker. Our eyes were 2 jumbo pom-poms with self-adhesive foam pupils. You could also just use markers or construction paper to decorate the head.

decorated dragon headTo create flames, cut 2-3 rectangles of tissue paper into flame shapes, then staple them together. Hot glue (or tape) the flames to the underside of the nose. Make sure to attach the flames to the end of the poster board nose, not the end of the box. Otherwise, the flames won’t flutter properly. Here’s a shot of the underside of the box, so you can see where the flames are attached.

attached flamesTry your head on. If it’s a little loose, stuff the back and front of the box with sheets of tissue paper. To breath fire, simply blow upwards and outwards on the tissue paper flames!


Now for the wings and tail! Unfortunately, the templates for these were too big to fit on a printable page – you’ll have to freehand them. We drew half a wing, then traced it onto a folded piece of poster board. Unfolded, our wings were approximately 12″ x 22″. Bendy straws make awesome wing ribs, and so long strips of mirror board. Punch 4 holes in the wings and run yarn through them. Knot the yarn around your shoulders like backpack straps!

finished dragon wings with bendy strawsHere’s our dragon tail, which was roughly 6″ x 19″. We decorated ours with a couple pieces of mirror board (some kids went with drinking straws or just markers).

dragon tailYou’ll notice that the tail in the above photo has a 2.25″ fold at the top. The folded end tucks into the back of your pants (or, if you’re wearing a dress, punch a hole in the tail and run a yarn belt through it).

tail tucked in placeIf you’d like dragon claws (and some kids really liked this part), wrap a 3.5″ x 4″ piece of green paper around your finger, then secure the tube with tape. Wrap one end of the tube with green masking tape and cut the  masking tape into a point. Here’s Marissa modeling a fine set of claws and a truly awesome dragon onesie.

dragon clawsNow go forth dragon, and guard some books!