The Rapunzel Issue

the-rapunzel-issueRapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair…GAAAAAAAAAAAH!

rapunzel-hair-beforeWhoa! What is this snarled, knotted, mess? Sigh. Our children’s dolls come out of the box looking so perfect. But somehow, over the course of a few weeks, their hair slowly begins to revert to a feral state. Eventually, a severe scissor intervention is required. But is a dramatic haircut really necessary? Or is there a magic recipe for working out those knots? We decided to tackle six of the Internet’s most popular methods for getting Rapunzel’s hair a little less, well…Tangled.

Our six testing methods can be further subdivided into 2 categories: 1) Detangling; and 2) Curling. We mixed and matched a bunch of different detangling and curling techniques, and then used the best results to attempt to sort out the Rapunzel doll.

But before we get started, a quick word about an essential piece of equipment – a comb. As you will soon see, plastic combs DO NOT work. They’re just not strong enough to hold up to the knots. The best thing to use is a flea comb from your local pet store. A flea comb has very fine, very strong, and very compact teeth that work very well.

flea-combTo find testing subjects, I went to the local thrift store. There, I found plenty of dolls who were having bad hair days, including Rapunzel. Then it was on to research and supply acquisition. For detangling, we decided to try spray-on detangler, fabric softener, regular hair conditioner, and white vinegar. For curling, we tried drinking straws, bubble tea straws, and markers. With these supplies in hand, Marissa headed to the staff lounge’s sink for a somewhat brutal spa day with the dolls. Take it away Marissa!


METHOD #1: SPRAY DETANGLER

doll-1-beforeFirst, I thoroughly covered the doll’s hair with spray detangler (purchased from the baby care section of Target). Then, I used a plastic comb to work on the knots, brushing from the bottom of her hair and working my way up. My first piece of advice  – make sure you hold the doll’s head tightly. Otherwise, it could pop right off! My second piece of advice – don’t use a plastic comb. It doesn’t work. In fact, I broke a tooth off mine and had to dig through the mess of her hair to find it. Phew!  Eventually, I laid the doll’s hair flat on the counter and really tore into it with the comb. The knots came out, but so did chunks of her hair!

Now that the hair was detangled and rinsed, it was time to curl it. I curled sections of the hair around plastic drinking straws, which I pinched shut and secured with rubber bands.

drinking-straw-curlersI had read that dunking the hair in hot water would lock in the curl, so I dunked the doll’s hair. Note! Be careful when you remove the doll from the water, because hot water gets into the straws and can dribble out, giving you a nasty burn. I let the hair air dry with the straw curlers in it. And…the results were great! Smooth, untangled hair with lots of soft curls.

doll-1-after


METHOD #2: FABRIC SOFTENER

doll-2-beforeI’ll start by saying that this doll’s hair was SUPER knotted. I didn’t think I was going to get any of the tangles out! I filled a plastic cup halfway with warm water and added a tablespoon of fabric softener (Mrs. Meyer’s Natural). Then I soaked the doll’s head in the mix for a minute or two, swirling her around to make sure her hair was completely soaked. This time I used the flea comb. It was much better than the plastic comb, but her knots were still pretty crazy. So I dunked her head in fabric softener again. It was much easier to comb after that! Finally, the knots were out, and her hair was thoroughly rinsed. Unfortunately, the doll lost a significant portion of her hair during testing, leaving parts of her scalp visible. She also lost an earring. Huh.

doll-2-after


METHOD #3: HAIR CONDITIONER

doll-3-beforeI rinsed the doll’s hair under warm water, then added regular hair conditioner (Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Coconut to be exact). Using a quarter-sized amount, I massaged it evenly through her hair. Then I started combing with the flea comb. It worked well, but pretty soon the conditioner and the loose hair make a kind of paste, which was really gross. I was happy when I finally got to rinse it out. Interestingly, this doll did not experience as much hair loss as the previous 2 dolls. Maybe it was because her hair was much shorter? In the end, her hair turned out puffy and soft. Maybe a little too puffy. It necessitated a binder clip in the back to get the wave under control for her reveal photo.

doll-3-after


METHOD #4: WHITE VINEGAR

doll-4-beforeThis doll had greasy hair (ewwww!). I’m thinking a previous owner had put some product in it which left it quite unpleasant to touch. I thought she was the prime candidate for a white vinegar treatment. Hoping to dislodge some of the goop, I let her hair sit in very hot water for a few minutes. Then I used the flea comb to get the knots out.

I mixed 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and dunked her hair in it for a few minutes. Then I rinsed her hair (which successfully remove the vinegar smell), and set the doll aside to dry. Well, it didn’t work. Her hair was still greasy. In fact, it seemed greasier then before! Maybe dish soap would have been better?

doll-4-after


METHOD #5: DRY COMBING

doll-5-before I decided to not use any product on this doll’s hair. I just dry combed it with the flea comb. It was a bit challenging. If you use this method, I recommend laying the hair flat on the counter and working from bottom to top. Once the tangles were out, I decided to curl it using fatter bubble tea straws. Like the doll in Method #1, I rolled a section of the hair around the straws, then pinched the straws shut with rubber bands. Next came the hot water dunk. Then I wondered – would the curl stay in if her hair was wet?

wet-curlsYes, it worked! Even soaking wet, the hair was curled. It held its curl while drying too!

doll-5-after


METHOD #6: MARKERS vs. STRAWS

doll-6-beforeThe curl results from Method #1 and Method #5 got me wondering about the radius of the curlers and the sort of curl it produced. So for my final doll, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison. For the wide curls, I decided to try something firmer than bubble tea straws. This time, I used fat Crayola markers.

First, I dry combed her hair with a flea comb. Then I wrapped one half of her hair with markers, and the other half with drinking straws secured with rubber bands. I knew that dunking in hot water locks in the curl, but what about NOT dunking it? I skipped the hot water dunk and just left the markers and straws in to set overnight. It worked! The markers made big bouncy curls. The straws made smaller, tighter curls.

comparison-curlsShe definitely had lots of body to her hair, so we brought out the binder clip once again.

doll-6-after


AND NOW, THE GRAND FINALE…RAPUNZEL!

rapunzel-hair-before

If I thought I had dealt with knotted hair before, it was NOTHING compared to Rapunzel’s mess. To further complicate things, her hair was interlaced with sparkly tinsel. After testing six different methods, I decided to go with spray detangler. It worked really well for doll #1, and I could also spot spray the really big snarls. It took 3 people 2 days and several hours to get the tangles out. Rapunzel lost a ton of hair in the process.

rapunzel-hair-clumpSince her hair was 15″ long, I decided to use markers to curl it (I also read good things about using wooden dowels, but didn’t have any on hand). Her long hair resulted in some pretty bulky curlers, so I secured them with pieces of twine. Here’s her  big reveal…

rapunzel-hair-afterTA-DAH! You know, I think she looks pretty good! Sure, she lost a lot of hair, but there’s still enough left to climb a tower!

Cow Wrestling is NOT a Spectator Sport

cow wrestling is not a spectator sportCrank up “Eye of the Tiger” and get PUMPED. Because the wrestling match is ON. Can your oatmeal container cow launch off the ropes and knock over “Big Red,” the biggest, meanest bull in the ring? A golden paper cup trophy awaits the victor!

We read Clancy the Courageous Cow by Lachie Hume (Greenwillow Books, 2006). Clancy is a Belted Galloway who was born without a belt. Because Clancy is different, he is alienated from the herd. Additionally, the Belted Galloways are caught in a vicious cycle with their neighbors, the Herefords. Every year, the Herefords win the big Cow Wrestling Contest, which earns them the right to graze on the richest pastures. This allows the Herefords to stay big and strong, and the Belted Galloways to remain small and weak. But Clancy, with his missing white belt, can sneak over to the Galloways’s field at night. He gets HUGE. He also meets Helga (a Hereford with no white spots). When it’s time for the annual Cow Wrestling Contest, Clancy wins! But as they Belted Galloways chase the Herefords from the field, Clancy and Helga speak up. They say it’s high time that cows put aside their differences and live peacefully together. And they do!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Brown, white, red, and black construction paper
  • Brown, white, red, and/or black poster board
  • A pair of wiggle eyes
  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • 1 cow wrestling ring (more on that later!)
  • 1 gold paper cup
  • 1 black paper cup
  • 2 strips of gold metallic poster board (approximately 1″ x 4.5″)
  • Scissors, glue and tape for construction
  • Metallic markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, your cow. Use construction paper to wrap and decorate a small oatmeal container. In the book, Clancy and Helga have a baby named Clanga who is brown, white, and black. So that’s what we went for.

black white brown cowSince the cows are going to get pretty beat up in the ring, I recommend using poster board for the horns, arms, and legs. We attached these with hot glue. We also did a self-adhesive foam nose and mouth, and wiggle eyes (but you can just draw these on with markers).

Your cow needs an massive opponent, so, in this corner, we have…Big Red! I made sure to use a large oatmeal container to accentuate the size ratio.

big redBig Red is constructed the exact same way as the smaller cow except that he has a sparkle stem ring through his nose, an ear tag, a mohawk, and tattoos on his arms.

cow tattoosYour cows are finished, now for the wrestling ring! The ring is basically an up-ended table with 8 rubber band ropes. Our table was 4′ x 4′. I strongly recommend using a table with fixed legs. Even a table with locking folding legs might not be able to withstand the pressure of cows being launched repeatedly from rubber bands. Here’s our table, in progress:

cow ringI had some huge 6″ rubber bands that I looped together to make the ropes, but smaller rubber bands will work too (it’ll just take a little more time to put them together). Make sure you have extra rubber bands on hand too, because we had a couple snap during the wrestling frenzy.

Once you have 8 rubber ropes, slip the first 4 ropes over the legs of the table, placing them about 6″ from the bottom of the table. The second layer of ropes should be about 9″ from the table top. To “wrestle,” pull your cow back on the rubber bands, then release it, slingshot style, towards Big Red. Here’s Marissa with the demo:


Did the kids have trouble operating the slingshot? Yes, at first some did (and we gave them the option of just throwing their cows into the ring). But after some practice and a little coaching, they learned fast. There were lots of excellent moves…

The “Classic Charge”

classic charge“No Cow Left Behind”

no cow left behind“More Cowbell Face Crunch”

cowbell crunch

While the kids were wrestling, Marissa set up a trophy decorating area. 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 metallic poster board handles with tape or hot glue.

As kids finished in the wrestling ring, they came to the trophy area to celebrate their victories and decorate a trophy. We had metallic markers and plastic gemstones on hand. We also had sticker labels so kids could customize the trophies with their cow’s name.

cow wrestling trophy

Crocodile Smile

crocodile smileHelp your crocodile keep that winning smile with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouth wash, and reward stickers! This project was designed by our own Miss Marissa, who, I’m delighted to report, has had some really, really good news of her own to grin about.

We read Clarabella’s Teeth by An Vrombaut (Clarion, 2003). Ruby the Rabbit, Liam the Leopard, Max the Monkey, and Zoë the Zebra can all brush their teeth quite quickly, but Clarabella the Crocodile, with her extra-wide smile, takes forever. In the course of a day, she misses playtime, lunchtime, AND tumble time. When she’s finally done brushing – doh! – it’s bedtime. Her friends put their heads together and give her a gift. An extra large toothbrush so brushing will be a snap. Now, they can all play together!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • A box cutter
  • Green, red, white, blue, and black construction paper
  • White card stock or poster board
  • 6-8 small pieces of green self-adhesive foam (optional)
  • A strip of tagboard or poster board for a box handle
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 1 foam bead
  • A piece of string or dental floss
  • A jumbo craft stick (mine was 8″ long)
  • 1 white cotton ball
  • 1 small rectangle of stiffened felt
  • A couple reward stickers (optional)
  • Scissors, tape, glue, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We’ll begin with the crocodile! Use a box cutter to slice 3 sides of a large box. The uncut 4th side of the box is the hinge of your crocodile’s mouth.

cut croc boxCover the box with green construction paper. Cut strips of pointy teeth from white card stock and attach the strips to the upper and lower parts of the mouth. We also added some self-adhesive foam nostrils and reptilian bumps, but you could simply draw these on with markers. Finally, cut a pair of eyes from white card stock, tab the bottoms, and attach them to the top of your alligator’s head with tape or glue. We used black dot stickers for pupils, but you could draw them on with markers too.

finished croc boxNext, open the alligator’s mouth and attach a red construction paper tongue. I recommend gluing or taping the tongue to the upper part of the mouth hinge like so:

croc tongueKids have pretty small hands, so Marissa added a handle to the back of the box to make it easier for them to hang onto the box. The handle was a tagboard strip, tabbed on the ends and hot glued (or taped) to the back of the box.

croc handleYour crocodile is done, now for the dental hygiene accoutrements! To make the mouth wash, wrap a toilet paper tube with construction paper. Tape a circle of construction paper to the top as a lid. Draw a label for the mouthwash, then tape (or glue) it to the tube.

mouth washTo make the toothpaste, wrap a toilet paper tube with white paper and hot glue a circle of white card stock on one end. Hot glue a foam bead in the center of the paper circle. Flatten and staple one end of the tube. Draw a label for the toothpaste, then tape (or glue) it to the tube.

toothpaste tube

To make the toothbrush, pull apart a cotton ball, and hot glue about 1/3 of it to one end of a jumbo craft stick. Flatten the cotton ball a bit, then hot glue a rectangle of stiffened felt on top of the cotton ball. Your floss can be real dental floss or white string.

brush floss stickers

You’ll notice some cool BOOM! and BAM! stickers in the above photo. These are “Superhero Stickers” from Oriental Trading Company (the set also includes ZAP!, WHAM!, SMASH! and ZAPOW!). A roll of 100 costs $2.50.

We decided to use these exclamatory stickers as rewards. After the kids had finished their projects, they carefully brushed, flossed, and rinsed their crocodile’s teeth. Then they brought their crocs to the “dentist.” Very carefully, the dentist checked out the teeth. If they looked good (and they all did), I gave them reward stickers! BAM!