Love Potion No. 9

love potion no 9

Magic abounds as you create your very own “Love-Never-Lies” potion and examine the mystical properties of liquid nitrogen. Katie recently unleashed her science wizardry at To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for 6-8 year-olds!

We read The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (Little, Brown, 2017). Back in the Dark Ages, in a dangerous woods, two children from warring tribes unexpectedly meet. Xar is from the Wizard tribe, even though he possesses no magic, and Wish is from the Warrior tribe, even though she is clumsy. Both feel out of place in their homes. Both are a tremendous disappointment to their royal parents. And both are currently doing something they definitely should NOT be doing. Their meeting sparks an epic adventure involving magic, dangerous creatures, daring escapes, clever double-crosses, a fainting assistant bodyguard, and the discovery of what friendship truly means. The Wizards of Once is hilarious, fantastical, and face-paced read-aloud. Our story time absolutely kids loved it.

One potion that plays a pivotal role in the book is “Love-Never-Lies.” It has two properties:. 1) If you eat, drink, or smell it, you fall in love with the next person (or animal!) you see; and 2) If you are holding the potion and tell a lie, it changes from red to blue. The bigger the lie, the darker the blue.

So with color changing potions in mind, Katie put together an awesome little demonstration with acids and bases using household items and red cabbage juice.

katie experiements with pHThe red cabbage indicator demo is simple, inexpensive, but impactful. The experiment involves adding red cabbage juice to various household acid and bases, and then observing how the acids and bases change color according to their pH level. Katie used these instructions from ZLIFE Education’s website, and lectured about pH, acidity, and anthocyanin. Then, she upped the science magic with liquid nitrogen.

scientist katieWearing gloves, wielding protective eye gear, and armed with her knowledge of nitrogen-infused particles, Katie froze balloons, carnation flowers, and made clouds. It was AWESOME.

nitrogen balloonfrozen carnationsnitrogen cloudsThe grand finale was mixing your very own bottle of “Love-Never-Lies” potion to take home. Katie purchased some 5″ vintage replica bottles with corks from Amazon (10 bottles cost $20). These are the same bottles we used with much success for our Sherlock Holmes escape room.

three potion bottlesKatie filled the bottles with water, and then kids came forward to choose the color and amount of food dye for Katie to drip into the bottle. As the colors mixed, the kids predicted the final color of the potion.

potion color predictionCressida Cowell is also the author of the How to Train Your Dragon series. If you’d like to see what we did with that book, you’ll find the post here. And holy clouds, if you haven’t seen the trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 3, get thee to the internet!

Timeless Classic

timeless

In a dark castle, a clock hangs, hands frozen. Our stylish cardboard clocks, however, work perfectly! This clock was one of the most popular To Be Continued projects of all time. Considering our previous projects have involved singing stones, tabletop magic shows, and booby-trapped Incan temples, that’s saying a lot!

We read the classic book The 13 Clocks, written by James Thurber, and illustrated by Marc Simont (Yearling, 1950). Once upon a time, in a castle full of stopped clocks, there lived a cold and ruthless Duke and his beautiful niece, the Princess Saralinda. Scores of suitors seek the Princess’ hand, but all are chased away, sent on impossible tasks, or slain for trivial reasons (such as starting at the Duke’s gloves for too long). One day Prince Zorn, disguised as a minstrel, asks for Saralinda’s hand. The cruel Duke decrees that Zorn must find 1,000 jewels in 99 hours. Also, when he returns, ALL the frozen castle clocks must be striking the hour. However…unlike the other suitors, Zorn has the help of the Golux – a funny little man with an indescribable hat and distinctly sideways logic. An impossible task, yes. But you never know. With the Golux, things might just work out happily ever after!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box lid
  • 1 box cutter
  • 1 circle of white card stock
  • A couple pieces of brown poster board or tagboard
  • 1 clock mechanism kit (more on this below)
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

First, let’s talk about clock movements. You know the hour hand, minute hand, second hand, and the little motor that makes them move? All those parts are knows as a clock movement. You can find clock movement kits in the woodworking section of Michaels Craft store.

clock movementAt $8.50 a pop, they can get pricey, especially if you’re doing this project with multiple kids. However, you can find them for a couple bucks cheaper on Amazon. The important thing to keep in mind is the length of the motor’s shaft (i.e. the part that the clock hands slide on to). The shafts can range anywhere from .25″ to 1″.  For this project, you want to aim for the shorter shafts. Otherwise, your clock hands will stick pretty far out of your cardboard clock base. Also pay attention to the lengths of the clock hands. You don’t want them to extend past the body of your clock.

So…onto the clock! The project begins as a cardboard lid. We used these 9.5″ x 11″ cardboard trays (you might recognize them from this bear cave and this butterfly garden). Decide where you want your clock face to be, then drill a hole into the lid (I used an electric drill to keep things tidy). If you’re going to add a pendulum, you’ll also need to cut a narrow rectangular slit in the bottom of the box (our slit was .25″ x 3″ ).

clock box step 1Next, place a piece of tagboard and a circle of white card stock over the hole, then redrill the hole. The circle is your clock face, and the tagboard piece elevates the clock face a little bit.

clock box step 2Before you glue the tagboard and the clock face to the lid, however, you’ll want to use markers to add numbers and decoration to your clock face. Check out these awesome clock faces. The smiling kitty!

clock facesWhen your clock face is finished, glue it to your clock. Then start adding a bunch of tagboard flourishes. We cut a bunch of different shapes and styles of flourishes, and let the kids decide what they wanted to use on their clocks. The more layers and texture, the better it looks.

finished working clockYou can also use markers to decorate the clock. We offered Crayola metallic markers, and the results were fantastic.

decorated clocksWhen all the decorating is done, install the clock movement. Just follow the instructions on the packaging, add a battery (a single AA), and you’re done!

If you’d like to add a pendulum, punch a hole in one end of a narrow rectangle of tagboard, then glue a tagboard circle to the other end. Stick the top of the pendulum through the slit in the clock body, then thread a piece of balloon stick (or a drinking straw) through the hole. Secure the balloon stick to the inside of the box with tape. Here’s a shot of the interior of the clock box with the threaded pendulum.

attached pendulumTap the pendulum to watch it swing back and forth. Eventually, it winds down and comes to a stop, but while it’s swinging, the illusion of a working clock is quite real!

Adventure Awaits

adventure awaitsSolve the riddles, find 3 keys, and discover an ancient temple at To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for ages 6-8. Crawl inside the temple to find treasure, but be warned – the traps hidden within these dark walls will make your blood run cold. Unless, of course, you like traps. Then it’s going to be AWESOME!

We read Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas by Jonathan W. Stokes (Philomel Books, 2016). Addison Cooke and his younger sister Molly live in New York City with their  Aunt Delia and Uncle Nigel, who are world-renowned archeologists. Uncle Nigel has just discovered the first of three mythical Incan keys rumored to lead to a vast treasure. Unfortunately, Uncle Nigel’s nemesis, the ruthless Professor Ragar, wants that treasure very badly. He kidnaps Uncle Nigel and Aunt Delia, expecting them to lead him to the treasure. But what he doesn’t expect is the intrepid Cooke children mobilizing their friends and, with the assistance of Uncle’s credit cards, heading off to South America to beat Ragar to the treasure and rescue their family. Caiman-infested rivers, booby-traps in buried treasure vaults, limousines driven by panicky middle-schoolers…nothing can stop Addison Cooke when he sets his mind to something!

When the kids arrived at story time, I read them the first of 4 clues. This led them to a plastic box with a key and a clue to the next box (here’s the template for the keys if you’d like it).

clue box with key The 3 box locations were quite some distance apart on Princeton University’s campus, so there was a fair amount of excited running. Marissa went with the gang, and managed to get some great action shots.

prospect garden clueHere’s my favorite. Look at those feet coming completely off the ground!

feet off groundI don’t know about you, but I find rhyming clues really challenging to write. Especially when you want the kids to figure out where to go without being too obvious or clunky. I was, however, pretty happy with this one. Here’s a photo of the location:

chapel clue settingAnd here’s the clue that led to it:

It’s time to hurry! The last key awaits!
Next to the Chapel, in a special place.
Facing Firestone, peaceful and bright,
Benches of stone and flowers of white.

While Marissa and the kids were finding keys around campus, I was busy setting up the mysterious temple back at the library. It was a whopping 87″ long and 50″ high. We used 15 boxes, 2 tubes, 7 cardboard flats, multiple rolls of packing tape, and gray paint we had left over from this knight helmet project. The temple broke into three pieces so we could get it out of storage, hustle it through a doorway, and set it up in the gallery.

Incan templeHere’s a shot from the side so you can get an idea of the size and how we constructed it.

side of Incan templeThe ramp in the front of the temple lifted to reveal a felt-covered doorway. From there, kids entered a creepy, cob-web covered chamber illuminated with votive LED candles. One at a time, the kids crawled across a floor rigged with bubble wrap to snag a golden treasure box (which we lit from above with an LED light mounted in the top of the treasure vault box).

interior of templeThe minute the treasure left the vault, it triggered cardboard spikes dropping from the ceiling! That was me outside the box, manually raising and lowering the spikes from a slit in the ceiling. There was lots of laughing and screaming. Good times!

interior of temple with spikesThe characters in the book have a couple run-ins with caiman, so the final touch was an alligator puppet (operated by Marissa) that snapped at the kids as they exited the temple. The hard-earned treasure boxes were plastic jewelry boxes I found at the Dollar Store. They were loaded with plastic gemstones as well. Each kid received a treasure box, and, to make reloading the treasure vault easier, we cut a little trap door in the back of the box.

treasure box and gemsAfter everyone had received a treasure box, we opened the temple back up and just let the kids have fun entering and exiting, dodging the spikes. Some of the younger siblings tried too (sans spikes of course). And then there was this little baby who was totally fascinated by the interior of the temple. She hung out for quite a while!

brave babyAddison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas is a fantastic read-aloud. It’s hilarious, adventurous, faced-paced, with strong strains of Indiana Jones and The Goonies. Definitely looking forward to reading more books in this series!