Headgear with Major Attitude Problems

headgear with attitude problemsNot in the mood to say please, thank you, or wait your turn in line? Are you grabbing stuff that isn’t yours, refusing to share, and not listening to others? This rude behavior could describe you. Or it could be your HAT.

We read Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins (chronicle books, 2015). Rude cakes are just that. Rude. They never say please or thank you. They take things that don’t belong to them, refuse to listen, don’t wait their turn, and never share. Interestingly, giant cyclopses absolutely LOVE rude cakes….to wear as jaunty hats of course (what else would they do with cake?). When a rude cake finds itself unceremoniously hoisted onto the head of a giant cyclops, it’s feeling pretty grumpy. And get this – giant cyclopses are perfectly behaved. They say thank you and please. They share and wait their turns in line. After a day of observing nothing but good behavior, the rude cake/hat finally learns to say please (as in “Please. I’m not a hat. I’m I tired cake, and I would like to go to bed now.”).  Perhaps being polite has its benefits after all!

You’ll need:

  • 1 plastic hat
  • A strip of poster board (mine was 6″ x 25″)
  • 1 standard-sized paper plate
  • Cake decorating supplies (more on those below!)
  • cake eyes and mouth template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Hot glue

We used “Neon Happy Birthday Derby Hats” from Oriental Trading Company ($7.50 a dozen). Oriental Trading also sells child-sized black plastic top hats ($7 a dozen). Those work too!

cake hat step 1Circle a strip of white poster board around the crown of the hat and attach it with tape. You don’t want your cake hat to be towering above your head, so our poster board strips were just 6″ tall. Additionally we offered the poster board in 3 different color choices: white, pink, or brown.

cake hat step 2Next, cut a paper plate to fit the top of the poster board circle, then attach it with tape or hot glue.

cake hat step 3Time to decorate! We cut a number of scalloped icing drips from white, pink and brown construction paper. We also offered crepe paper streamers, patterned tape, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, and assorted pom-poms.

When the decorating is done, cut a mouth from the template and attach it to your cake (you decide – is your cake smiling or frowning?). Attach the eyes as well, using a black maker or dot stickers to add pupils. Finish the look with ric rac ribbon eyebrows.

cake hat step 4We had sheets of tissue paper available for those who needed to make their hats a little more snug. But I have to share the following innovation with you – a pipe cleaner hat strap and jaunty tissue paper cape. May I present…the most dapper…Captain Cake!

captain cake

From Arwen to Zombie

from arwen to zombieGet into character with a little bit of stage magic! This winter, we hosted a fantastic hands-on (or arguably, a face-on) workshop about how actors use makeup to transform themselves into a character. The workshop was expertly and enthusiastically taught by Jenny Scudder from Youth Stages, a local arts-in-education organization.

Jenny began the workshop by sharing visual examples of literary characters – Queen of Hearts, Arwen, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Wicked Witch of the West, Dracula, Frankenstein, Count Olaf, and a few Cats from the musical of the same name (you might recall that Cats is based on poems by T.S. Eliot). There were also zombies, which might have been a stretch unless you consider Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? The Walking Dead graphic novel?

Here’s Jenny, taking the kids through examples of all the characters:

jenny scudder, youth stages 1Next, Jenny discussed how, in addition to makeup, actors can also use their voices, gestures, costumes, props, and sets to bring their characters to life. She described what stage makeup is (big, bold, and expressive) and what it isn’t (it’s not meant for close-up photography like a fashion shoot). As she was lecturing, Jenny was effortlessly applying her own stage makeup, which was Grizabella from Cats.

jenny scudder, youth stages 2Jenny also talked about the names of the different brushes, and techniques for application. Finally, she brought out some latex scars and gashes she had prepared in advance. My forearm became the test subject for a massive latex scar, some red base makeup, a loaded stipple brush, and some fake blood. Here I am, modeling the finished product in my usual subtle way.

scar demoFinally, it was time to turn the artists loose on the makeup! There was plenty of it. Jars, palettes, sponges, pencils, brushes…the works!

makeupJenny divided the kids into pairs so each pair would have someone to assist with the application of his/her makeup. I really liked this because it meant that the kids weren’t sitting passively, having their faces done by adults. They were actively involved in the whole process.

applying makeup

However, Jenny, Katie, and I did jump in to help. For awhile, I was running the “soon to be bloody flaps of skin” corner of the room.

Ready to see some results? Even though there was quite a bit of smiling and laughing, I did encourage the kids to try to stay “in character” while I was photographing them. I’ll begin with Arwen, who you saw at the beginning of the post:

We had no less than 3 Queens of Hearts…

As well as 3 Cheshire Cats.

A pair of Vampires…

Rum Tum Tugga from Cats

The Wicked Witch of the West…

And a quartet of zombies. I told them to give me their best undead look…

Do you recognize the zombie on the far left from the beginning of the blog? The funny thing was, we never planned to photograph her with her hood up. As it turned out, she had to walk home from the program in full makeup. In order to not freak anyone out, she pulled her hood up. It looked so fantastic, I had to take a photograph!

Let’s Get in Formation

let's get in formationIt doesn’t matter if you’re a massive cumulonimbus or a more modest tuft. A fluffy costume, weather pom-poms, and abject enthusiasm are all you need to be part of the most adorable cloud formation ever. Did we pull some awesome moves? You bet. The video is at the end of the post!

We read Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld (Henry Holt, 2011). Cloudette is a very small cloud, but she doesn’t mind. There are benefits to being small (like always being able to see fireworks, even when the sky is crowded)! Sometimes, however, Cloudette can’t help yearning for more. Especially when the big clouds do such important things. One day, a storm blows Cloudette far from her neighborhood. Exploring the new place, she discovers a frog pond that’s almost dry. She decides to do something about it. Concentrating all her efforts, Cloudette rains and rains until she creates the perfect pond for scores of thankful frogs. Delighted, she flies off to find more jobs a useful little cloud can do.

You’ll need:

  • 2 sheets of white poster board
  • White cotton balls
  • White string
  • Hole punch
  • 2 wooden dowels
  • A set of nine, 18″ crepe paper streamers (6 in rainbow colors and 3 light blue)
  • A set of two, 2″ x18″ pieces of blue cellophane
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Hot glue

First, your weather pom-poms! We made 2, a rainbow and a rainstorm. To make the rainbow pom-pom, twist the bottoms of six, 18″ rainbow color crepe paper streamers together. Use color masking tape to attach the streamers to the end of a wooden dowel, then continue wrapping the tape around the dowel until it’s covered.

To make the rainstorm pom-pom, twist the bottoms of three, 18″ light blue crepe paper streamers and two, 2″ x18″ pieces of blue cellophane together. Attach with color masking tape, wrapping downward until the dowel is covered.

weather pom-pomsNow for your costume! Cut 2 sheets of white poster board into matching cloud shapes. Hot glue the 2 shapes together. Why? Because when it comes to gluing scores of cotton balls on poster board, 1 sheet is just too thin. It warps almost immediately. With 2 sheets hot-glued together, there’s much less warping. Glue cotton balls to the front of your cloud costume, and add a construction paper mouth and eyes if you’d like.

cloud costumeUse a hole punch to make two holes in the top of the cloud. Thread white string through the holes, adjust for height, knot the string, and hang the cloud costume around your neck.

clouds ready to goWhen everyone was ready, the clouds gathered outside on the library’s plaza. We spread out in a grid (well, we attempted a grid) to insure that no one would get smacked by a weather pom-pom. Then, facing the kids, I cued up my playground whistle, and we got in formation.


Did you know that Cloudette‘s creator, Tom Lichtenheld, used rainwater to mix his watercolors for the book? I was delighted when he sent me the link to this video, which features his young niece and nephew!