One Two Books

It’s a story line, an illustration exercise, and an optical illusion all wrapped into one simple project! “One Two Books” is an activity I like to do for Draw With Dr. Dana, our Zoom illustration program (you can sign up for it here)!

You’ll need:

  • 1 piece of paper
  • Markers and/or pens

To begin, fold a piece of paper in half like a card (I use the heavier stock 9″ x 6″ paper from the inexpensive sketch books Target sells in their office supply section). Label the front of the card with a number 1:

Then open the card and, in the exact same position in the interior, label it with a number 2:

Now decide the story you want to tell. One Two Books only have 2 pages, so I encourage kids to think about a simple action, reaction, or scenario. The younger the artist, the simpler it should be. So here we have a sleeping dog and a grumpy bird on a window sill…hmmm…

Flip open the card for the action…a shouting bird and a shocked, no longer sleeping dog!

One Two Books are a great way to think sequentially, but they are also a terrific way to teach you to think logically and visually. For example, in order for the image to work, the window, rug, and floor line need to occur in the same place on both pages. If color is used, it needs to be consistent between pages. Your characters need to be in somewhat similar orientations or the story won’t make sense. And for the older kids, I show how dialogue or emotive lines adds to the scene (example: the “zzzzz” for the dog on page 1, and its surprised reaction lines on page 2).

The books are also optical illusions! Flip them quickly open and shut to see your characters in motion. Here’s the bird dog story:


And here’s a goldfish story I did with another young illustrator…


The visual action of One Two Books are similar to thaumatropes, which are fantastic optical toys from the Victorian era. Check out this post, which features our awesome Alice in Wonderland thaumatrope project, complete with instructions and printable templates!

thaumatrope demo

Unlike thaumatropes, however, One Two Books allow you more space to create. You can have several action sequences happening on the page at once, for example. Or more elaborate backgrounds. You can have dialogue between two characters as well.

Another interesting storytelling form to try is kamishibai, which originated in Japan. You can find more information about its history and instructions on how to illustrate stories here.

just the cards

There’s also a Japanese version of thaumatropes called tachi-e puppets. You’ll find instructions for those here!

Let’s Labyrinth

Do you have some restless rovers in the house? How about sending them out to build and navigate a custom labyrinth or maze…for less then five dollars! This idea came courtesy of the Princeton Buddist Meditation Group, which hosts this little labyrinth in the community space behind their center.

You’ll need:

  • Open space
  • Rocks

For starters, you need a bit of open space. Any patio, porch, driveway, or sidewalk will do. If you’re in an apartment, you can always clear a room or build a tabletop version.The only other thing you need? Rocks! Bags of these are available at home improvement stores and garden centers. A 0.4cu foot bag of white rocks at Lowe’s, for example, is just $3.98.

To create the labyrinth, simply line the rocks up to form the walls of your winding path, and off you go! If you don’t want to create your own design, there are plenty of labyrinth templates available online for you to replicate.

What’s the difference between a labyrinth and a maze? A labyrinth is a single winding path that ends in the center of the creation. The focus is on the journey. In a maze, the path has choices, dead ends, and may or may not end in the center. The focus is on entering and exiting.

This rock labyrinth can certainly be modified to become a maze. The beauty of using rocks is that you can switch things up at anytime! And if you’d like a slightly crazier maze challenge, why not try our “No Right Turn” maze here?

Protecting Our Most Precious Companions

protecting our companions

Today’s simple project is the result of a news photo I saw the other day…an exhausted-looking mother in NYC, pushing a heavily covered baby carriage. She was wearing a medical mask. Gripping tightly to her other hand was a little boy, also in a mask, toting a stuffed dog.

But the stuffed dog wasn’t wearing a mask. And my daughter has the exact same stuffed dog. Something in my heart just pulled.

So here’s how to use two common household items to make a mask for those most beloved companions. The ones your children reach to for comfort and reassurance. And hey, if you want to give Domino the Dog a quick cuddle yourself, you just go and do that.

You’ll need:

  • 1 flat bottom/basket style coffee filter
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Scissors

Apologies for the image quality…I’m shooting from my not-so-camera-ready home studio!

Stuffed animal heads, noses, and ears vary wildly, so you might have to cut the coffee filter down a bit. Same goes for the rubber bands! You can see how I shortened my rubber band below:

shorter rubber band

Flatten the coffee filter, then fold the top and bottom inwards like a burrito. The size of the folds will, of course, vary with the size of your stuffed animal’s head.

Now tightly bunch both ends of the folded coffee filter. Use scissors to snip a small hole in the bunching on each side (and aim a little ways in from the ends so the rubber bands don’t tear through). Finish by looping rubber bands through the holes.

Slide the mask over your stuffed animal’s nose and face, and the rubber bands behind its ears. Adjust as needed. Stay safe, little friend!