Teddy Bear Picnic

teddy bear picnicCalling all adorable bumble bears! Today we’ll be sharing the details of our Teddy Bear Picnic baby event. It was crowded, chaotic, happy, and messy. In short, stupendous!

As I mentioned in the sneak peak, we offer a regular weekly baby social hour in which we bring out soft vinyl obstacles, toys, tents, and manipulatives for kids ages 0-2 to explore with their caregivers and peers. The goal is for babies to be active and social, all the while building motor, concentration, and vocabulary skills through free play.

We followed this same format for our Teddy Bear Picnic event, but the fun was in designing a woodsy-themed playscape for the babies. We aimed for activities and manipulatives that complimented this phenomenal range of physical and mental development in children.


log bridge

Locomotion – namely wiggling, rolling over, crawling, and walking – are the hallmarks of this age, so we included two balancing activities at the event. The first is this vinyl log bridge, which could be treated like a balance beam or a speed bump. The “creek” is a roll of contact paper we stuck to the carpet. It took about 5 minutes for the contact paper creek to get pulled off the floor and totally crumpled. So…we won’t be doing THAT again, unless the contact paper is stuck to a harder floor.


stepping stone lineThese non-skid stepping stones were our second balancing activity at the event (and you might recognize them from this post about our most popular toddler activity of all time!). Though some kids were flipping the stones over and using them as trays to carry things around!


turtle poolThis turtle, and the foam blocks inside it, are the STAR attractions at our weekly program. There is literally a baby stampede every time we bring it out. The colorful padded mat inside, the 9.5″ walls, the smiley face that also acts as a step, it’s perfect.


ladybug cushionsLight, round, and with striking contrasting colors….perfect for tummy time and crawling babies! For the older kids, they became picnic companions!


tree tentKids love to own small spaces, whether it be a pillow fort, underneath a table, or a play tent (which is why we included 3 at our Secret Garden event). This tree tent, with its roll-down door flap, fit the bill perfectly. Inside were colorful sheer scarves, a staple for baby/toddler play.


picnic blanketThis heavy vinyl picnic blanket was the centerpiece of the event! We stocked it with 2 fruit and veggie sorting games. They were very popular and versatile. Babies on their tummies reached for the colorful fruits. Babies sitting up practiced taking out and putting in. Toddlers loaded up and moved things. Older siblings engaged in imaginative play with picnic partners.


super snail ball bathWe knew this snail ball bath was going to be huge, and it WAS. It was constantly packed, including one innovative toddler who rode on its neck! This tough little toy stayed intact the entire time, too.

About 20 minutes into the event, I circulated the floor with my camera, fully intending to get all sorts of adorable photos for this post. Folks, we were so packed I could barely get a clear shot. So I just decided to step back and let those busy babies and toddlers explore!

teddy bear picnic montage

The final event activity was a teddy bear and book giveaway! We had so much fun shopping for these bears and books at JaZams, our locally owned and operated toy store.

teddy bears and booksParents and caregivers were very eager, and very appreciative, to have an event for the 0-2 year-old set. Teddy Bear Picnic was a whopping success, with over 70 attendees. We thought it would be funny to share the before and after photos. Here’s how we set the event floor up…so nice and tidy…

teddy bear picnic beforeAnd here’s what it looked like an hour later! And that doesn’t even capture all the stuff scattered left, right, and behind me in the photo. Hah hah!

teddy bear picnic after

If you’re interested in the prices or links to any the items you saw in the post today, please e-mail Katie: zondlo@princeton.edu It should be noted that in the case of the larger, more pricey items (such as the log bridge and the turtle pool) we fully intend to integrate them into our year-round baby program. A bit of an investment, but very much worth it!

Sneak Peek: Teddy Bear Picnic

sneak peek teddy bear picnic

Hold onto your binkies, we’re hosting a baby event! While we do host a weekly baby social hour, and while we did have legendary librarian Peggy Salwen do a story time at our library, next week we’re trying something new…something that involves this amazing snail ball pit!

The event is called Teddy Bear Picnic. The concept is pretty simple. Katie and I designed a picnic/outdoor “setting” for babies to explore. Our goal for the babies is interaction – with the setting, with their caregivers, and with other babies. Plus, we’re doing teddy bear giveaway. We’ll share full details and photos soon!

In the area and would like to attend? Teddy Bear Picnic is Monday, November 18th from 11am – 12pm in the Cotsen gallery. The program is intended for children ages 0-2. Details can be found here.

Cursed Books

Black is the raven…black is the rook…blacker the child…who steals this book…’Tis the season for ravens and spooks, so we thought we would share something from the Cotsen Library’s special collections. Namely, book curses!

Book curses have existed for centuries as a method to discourage and punish thieves. Typically located on the front or back pages, they are literally a description (often presented as verse) of what will happen to you should you unwisely decided to steal the book.

Some book curses are incredibly detailed and intense, other are more playful, like the bookplate you see above. The plate is pasted inside Littledom Castle : and other tales, written by Mrs. M.H. Spielmann and illustrated by Arthur Rackham in 1903. Look at the gorgeous cover:

Littledom Castle: and other tales by Mrs. M.H. Spielmann; with a preface by M.H. Spielmann ; illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London : George Routledge & Sons Ltd. ; New York : E.P. Dutton, 1903.

Katie and I also found this book, Goldfish at School, or, The Alphabet of Frank the Fisherman, published in 1853:

Goldfish at school, or, The alphabet of Frank the fisherman; London: Hodgson & Co., 1823.

Below is the book curse. It’s a little faint, but it reads “Steal not this book for fear of for over he’s the owner.”

If you hop over to Cotsen’s fabulous curatorial blog, you’ll find this post, A Field Guide to Fairies. Inside a 1742 edition of Histories, or tales of passed times by Charles Perrault is a book curse penned by Mary Fearman:

Histories, or Tales of Passed Times by Charles Perrault. London: R. Montagu, and J. Pote at Eton, 1742.

A few more curses from Cotsen’s collections:

Virtue in a Cottage; or, a mirror for children in humble life, London, ca. 1790: “”Ellen Nickson / her Book Stal not / this Book for  / of Shame for hear / you see the owners / name Ellen Nickson”

The Protestant tutor enlarg’d, London, 1707: “Them that doth this book take / I will send them straight to the Perly gate”

Almanack, London, 1775-1789: “Steal not this Book my honest friend, or else the Gallows will be your end; and if I catch you by the Tail, I will lodge you safe in Newgate Gaol; and when the Judge will come to say where is that Book you have stolen away, and if you say you do not know, he will say go down below.”

Speaking of ravens, would you like to meet THE raven? If so, follow this link (if ye dare)!