Ewer Unique Essence

ewer unique essenceIt’s a mysterious bottle filled with a unique, glowing essence. What could the essence be? Happiness? Triumph? Panache? The Thrill of Your First Ride on the Back of an Arachnimammoth? This radiant project was part of To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for 6-8 year-olds.

We read The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston (Razorbill, 2013). Elliot von Doppler is thrilled when his uncle Archie invites him to his workplace for a tour. Uncle Archie works in the top secret Research and Development Department at DENKi-3000, a company known for its amazing inventions. Elliot and his new friend Leslie soon learn that Uncle Archie’s secret department is staffed by creatures – bog nymphs, fairy-bats, knucklecrumplers, and bombastadons (to name a few). But DENKi-3000 is also in trouble. If the Creature Department doesn’t come up with a ground-breaking new invention in a few days, the company will be taken over by the relentless Quazicom Corporation. But, like DENKi-3000, Quazicom isn’t quite what it seems…

In my favorite part of the book, Elliot and Leslie visit “The Abstractory,” an enormous library/pantry that houses millions of bottles. Inside each bottle are different creature essences – namely, the special feelings, thoughts, and emotions that power creature inventions. Some essences are simple, like “Justice.” Others are more complicated, like “The Overwhelming Suspicion Something Big and Hungry is Hiding Under Your Bed.” Depending on their contents, the bottles glow, vibrate, flash, shimmer, and rattle. We wanted to capture a little of that fun with this project. Hence, a glow-in-the-dark bottle that contains an essence of your own making, complete with label.

finished bottleBut, because DENKi-3000’s research and development department is shrouded in secret, the entire project came as a take-home kit with strict instructions to NOT open the box until you get home.

DENKi-3000 boxYou’ll need:

  • 1 small glass bottle with lid
  • 1 rectangle of white card stock (ours was 2.25″ x 2.75″)
  • Glow-in-the-dark pigment or paint (more on this later)
  • 1 paintbrush
  • 1 square of glitter tulle (ours was 3.5″ x 3.5″)
  • 1 small bottle label with string
  • 1 wooden stirrer (we used a 4.5″ craft stick)
  • Scissors and white glue for construction
  • Pen

Below you can see the contents of the kit. There’s a glass bottle, a container of white glue, a plastic bag of glow-in-the-dark pigment, a wooden stirrer, a paintbrush, a rectangle of white card stock, a square of glitter tulle, and a small label with an elastic string. We gave the kids 1 extra piece of card stock and 1 extra piece of glitter tulle, just in case they messed up. Not pictured in the photo – a set of kit instructions.

creature bottle kit First, the bottle! We used 2.25″ screw-top jars scored from the wedding section of Michaels craft store. 20 jars cost $21, but we had a 40% off coupon. Woot! To make it look less like a spice jar, we hot glued a clear flat glass marble on top of the lid.

empty creature bottle

Use the paintbrush to paint the inside of the bottle with glow-in-the-dark glue or paint. We used non-toxic glow-in-the-dark pigment (read about it here) mixed with white glue. Why? We wanted the kids to feel like little alchemists – pouring the pigment into the glue, stirring it with a wooden stick, and watching it transform into glowing goo.

mixing glow glueThe glow glue goes on opaque, but as you can see below, it dries semi-transparent. Glow-in-the-dark paint (which we found in the t-shirt decorating section of Michaels) also dries transparent:

treated bottlesThe glow glue, however, glows much stronger. Perhaps because you can control the ratio of pigment to glue? But the paint is glowing. And it requires a lot less measuring and mixing. So you can’t go wrong with either choice.

treated bottles in the darkIt’s time to create your creature essence! This is basically a card stock shape wrapped in tulle. Since we wanted the bottles to also look pretty in daylight, we went with glitter tulle, which you can find in the ribbon section of Michaels.

Cut the card stock into your desired shape (we went with a spiral). Make sure the shape fits in the bottle! Then, paint both sides of the shape and the tulle with glow-in-the-dark glue or paint (we recommend doing this on top of wax paper or parchment paper). It might seem like the glue or paint isn’t sticking to the tulle, but we assure you, it is! Here’s the finished painted tulle and card stock spiral:

treated tulle and card stock Once the bottle, the shape, and the tulle are dry, gently wrap the tulle around the shape and tuck it into the bottle. Screw the lid on, write the name of your essence on a label, and attach the label to the bottle. We used 1.25″ price tags with elastic strings, found it the beading section at Michaels. We found the plastic baggies for the pigment there too. Both of these things cost just a few bucks.

You’re done! Charge up the bottle, take it to a dark room (or hold it next to a black light) and watch your creature essence illuminate! I love how the tulle makes the card stock shape look like it’s suspended in fog.

ewer unique essenceThere was another reason I was so keen to do a glow-in-the-dark project for The Creature Department. The book’s cover GLOWS IN THE DARK!

creature department book coverEvery story time, without fail, the kids would ask to see the cover glow. No matter how many times we looked, they never lost their enthusiasm for it. In the video below, you can’t  see the book, but you can definitely hear the kids reacting to its cover!

 


Happy Birthday Mr. Carroll

Today is the 185th birthday of Lewis Carroll, and we decided to celebrate with Katie’s Top 10 Alice in Wonderland cakes. And, if you need some party favors, we’ve listed a couple of our Alice-themed craft projects and activities at the end of the post!


Alice in Wonderland inspires all sorts of creativity, and I’ve definitely had a lot of fun coming up with Alice-themed projects over the years. In fact, in 2009 I coordinated a large-scale Alice event that included a giant chess set, Earl Grey chocolate gelato, a Snark Hunt, performances of Jabberwocky, flamingo croquet, Victorian history activities, giant mushroom bowling, horse-drawn carriage rides around campus, and more!

horse-drawn carriage nassau hallIf you’d like to see the event map, here it ’tis. The front of the map lists all the activities. The back features book quotes or informational blurbs tying the activities back to the books, Lewis Carroll, or Victorian England. Like all of our programs, the event was open to the public and free of charge.

On the blog, you can check out this playful, but incredibly easy-to-make Cheshire Cat grin.

cheshire cat grinOr this really cool Victorian visual toy called a thaumatrope. At the very bottom of the thaumatrope post, you can also see Marissa and I channeling our inner 80s – and I don’t mean 1880s folks.

thaumatrope demoAnd what about tea? 2016 was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and we put together an elaborate Victorian tea program, complete with big hats, mini scones, and a generous serving of history.

tea instructionThe Library of Congress went all out for the 150th anniversary as well. In this post, you can see some of their activities, lecturers, and Miss Joani in a replica of Alice’s iconic dress.

caucus race at the LoC photo by shawn miller 2016However, the award for the most whimsical Alice connection goes to the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books (which I blogged about here). In their children’s loft, you can follow the White Rabbit down the hole…

rabbit-hole

And return to the main gallery via twisty slide!

mazza-gallery-slideDang. I want a twisty slide in my place of employment.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. CARROLL!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

paris postcardIt’s the ultimate global adventure that ends with custom postcards in your very own mailbox! We made classic blue mailboxes, then visited locations around the globe to create postcards to send home. And don’t forget the stamp!

We read Will Goes the the Post Office by Olof and Lena Landstrom, translated by Elisabeth Dyddegaard (R&S Books, 1994). Will is excited when the post office notifies him of a package that’s arrived from his Uncle Ben. At the post office, he discovers that the package is GIGANTIC! What could it be? With a little help from Karen, Peter, John and Susan, Will and the gang carry the package home and eagerly unwrap it. At first, it seems like the box is just full of paper…but then they discover a fantastic globe packed inside! And the globe lights up! The five children (and Mama) pile in the closet to see Will’s new globe lamp shine.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small tissue box
  • 1 box cutter
  • Blue construction paper
  • Blue poster board
  • 1 mailbox signs template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • A selection of
  • 4 foam beads
  • 1 small piece of drinking straw (ours was 1.5″ long)
  • A blank postcards template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Print-outs of different locations around the globe
  • Small stickers
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This project was created by Katie, and I have to say, the kids absolutely LOVED it. I mean, who wouldn’t love this cute little mailbox? The round top! The feet! The door at the bottom!

completed mailboxTo make a mailbox, cut the top off a small tissue box. Use a box cutter to cut a little door at the bottom of the box. The postcards are 3″ wide, so make sure your door is 3″ or wider.

mailbox step1Wrap the box with blue construction paper, then use the box cutter (or scissors) to re-establish the little door.

mailbox step 2The rounded sides of the mailbox are 2 pieces of blue poster board (ours were approximately 4.25″ wide, and 3.25″ tall). Secure them in place with tape.

mailbox step 3To make the top of the mailbox, cut a 3.5″ mail slot in the center of a 4.5″ x 9″ rectangle of blue poster board. Gently curl the poster board over the rounded sides of the mailbox, then tape in place. The curling and taping is definitely the toughest part of the project. Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be perfect!

mailbox step 4Next, use colored masking tape to reinforce the edges of the mailbox, and to decorate it. Color and cut the mailbox signs from the template and tape (or hot glue) in place.

completed mailboxFinish by hot gluing 4 foam bead “feet” to the bottom of the box, and a small piece of drinking straw to the front of the little door. Your mailbox is done – grab it and get ready to travel!

a postwoman

Katie printed up photos of different places (thank you, Google image search!), and taped them up around the gallery. Katie wrote the names of the locations or landmarks, as well as the country, on the photos as well. Underneath each photo was a basket of color pencils.

taj mahal postcard

We invited kids to grab 6-8 blank postcards and visit different locations, sketching what they saw in the photos on their postcards. Here’s someone visiting London, England:

england postcard

And another traveler enjoying the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt:

egypt postcard

Ready to see some postcards from around the world?

grand canyon postcard

pisa postcardstonehengepostcardmaroon bells postcard

beach postcardWe even got postcards from places we didn’t include! Here’s a postcard from the Amazon, even though it wasn’t one of our photo locations. I think that’s a person on top of a giant tree with a ladder? Cool.

amazon postcardTo make the postcard activity official, Miss Melinda donned a stamp-selling visor and circulated the gallery, “selling” stamps that were actually cute little stickers.

melinda the stamp seller

Melinda joined us this fall – she’s a Cotsen volunteer who works at the Princeton Writing Program. I went easy on her the first couple weeks, but slowly, inevitably, Melinda will be drawn into the vortex of ridiculous story time tasks. Today, a visor-wearing stamp seller. Tomorrow, a giant paper cookie!