Sneak Peek: Willy Wonka Escape Room

giant lollipopNow that’s a large lollipop! Tomorrow, our library is hosting an original Willy Wonka escape room, designed by the same genius (i.e. Katie) who brought you our Sherlock Holmes escape room last year. And I must say, she’s outdone herself this time.

The premise is thus: there’s a job opening in Willy Wonka’s top secret Inventing Room, but in order to make the cut, teams of 6 kids will have to solve the puzzles he’s left behind. And this isn’t your ordinary lab, of course. For one thing, the candies are unusual sizes, including this humongous lollipop, which we hope will measure up to the escape room challenge (heh heh, that’s a hint!).

We’ll have a complete breakdown of the escape room puzzles and solutions for you next Friday (and here it is!). But today, here’s how we made this giant lolly!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pool noodle
  • 1 large wooden dowel
  • Clear cellophane
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors and a box cutter for construction
  • Hot glue

This project starts with a pool noodle, which are the long, Styrofoam tubes you can find for a couple bucks in pool toys section of Target, or even at the Dollar Store during the summer months. We bought ours bulk from Oriental Trading company, because we plan to use them for another event. Our noodles were 46″ long, with a 2.5″ diameter.

pool noodlesStart by cutting a pool noodle in half. Katie used a box cutter and scissors. She found that neither tool was ideal, but the scissors worked a little better for her. Both methods, however, resulted in shredding, so definitely work over a trash can.

To create the spiral head of the lollipop, glob a bunch of hot glue on the end of a pool noodle half, then roll it inward. Keep globbing and rolling, and Katie advises LOTS of hand pressure to make sure the glue really adheres.

rolling the pop When you get to the end of the first noodle half, glue on the second half and keep rolling! Note: there will be a gap where the two halves meet, but it’s not too bad:

gap in noodleWhen the lollipop head is finished, use a box cutter and scissors to create a small hole in the bottom of the spiral (about 1.5″ deep), for the lollipop’s stick. We used 36″ wooden dowel that was .75″ in diameter. I found them at Michael’s Craft store for $1.60 a piece. Insert the stick, and glob a ton of hot glue in and around the hole to secure the stick in place. Katie’s also used color masking tape to reinforce the perimeter of the lollipop spiral.

lollipop stickFinally, use clear cellophane and a ribbon to wrap your lollipop head. Here’s our finished lollipop…the final length was a whopping 46″. I included a marker to show you the size ratio. Notice the measurement notches along the stick? Shhhh! It’s a clue!

finished lollipopAnd just in case you’re wondering, yes, it is a lot of fun to run around the office wielding giant lollipops. Definitely recommend it.

Tachi-e Puppets

tach-i puppetsFlip the puppet back and forth to reveal a simple, dynamic story! This project was part of our library’s World Kamishibai Day performance. Called tachi-e (“standing pictures”), the puppets originate from 19th century Japan.

You’ll need:

  • 2 rectangles of white paper
  • 2 rectangles of black poster board
  • 1 pair of new, intact chopsticks
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers, pens, and color pencils for decorating
  • Hot glue

A tachi-e puppet is two sided. The first side is the puppet at rest, then quickly flip it to create a change. This Japanese lantern ghost was designed by artist Tara McGowan:

lantern ghost by tara mcgowanIt’s way cooler to see the puppet in action though…


First, draw a 2-step sequential scene on 2 separate rectangles of white paper. Cut each drawing out, then glue each on a rectangle of black poster board (our rectangles were 5.5″ x 8.5″). Hot glue a pair of new, intact chopsticks to the back of the first poster board rectangle, then hot glue the second poster board rectangle on top of it. Twirl the stick to operate the puppet!

The kids had some great idea for puppets. I managed to snap a couple. A hatching chick…

chicken duo

A budding tree (with squirrels running up the trunk!)…

tree duoA very sweet butterfly…

butterfly duoA single fish that goes “Pop!” and turns into a school of fish…

fish duoAn exploding firework…

bam duoAnd a girl that duplicates into 5 girls!

girl duoIf that last one seems a little confusing, it was inspired by a kamishibai performance of Manmaru manma tantakatan (written by Fumiko Araki, and illustrated by Takuya Kusumi). It’s about a ninja boy who duplicates himself to foil a wicked serpent.

 

From Amazon

Mission: Hugs for All

hugs for allIt’s a big world out there. A world with lots of things in it. And those things need HUGS. The question is…are you up to the task? Are you a Hug Machine?

We recommend Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Atheneum, 2014). Prepare yourself world. The Hug Machine (a little boy in a striped shirt and red rain boots) is on a mission to cheer people up, calm people down, and make things right. Tree? Hug! Park bench? Hug! Crying baby? Hug! Even a spiky porcupine gets a special padded hug. It’s impossible to read this book without smiling. Highly recommended!

Today’s simple project was designed by Jennifer Hyde, an ingenious teacher in Logan, Utah. Jennifer’s “Paper Hug” was featured in Family Fun magazine many years ago. I modified it only slightly for today’s post.

You’ll need:

  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Trace your left and right hands at each end of a 5.5″ x 27″ strip of poster board. Keep the hands connected as you cut them out of the poster board.The result is a long “hug.” Decorate the hug with markers (or use color masking tape like we did).

poster board hugOK, you’re ready to start hugging – and by hugging we mean go forth and find things to wrap your poster board hug around! You can just use the paper hug, or get right in there and use your arms too. Always dedicated to seeing a project through, Katie and I hit the streets on a rainy afternoon to share the love with Princeton.

Hugging John Witherspoon, Founding Father and past President of Princeton University…

witherspoon statue hug

The classic tree hug. It was a little damp, but who cares?

tree hugA mailbox clearly in need of a hug.

mailbox hugHugging a roaster and barista pal at our awesome local coffee shop, Small World.

small world coffee hugA hug for House of Cupcakes, who sell me donuts and cupcakes. Like, everyday.

house of cupcakes hugHugging a rainbow narwhal at JaZams, our stupendous local toy store.

jazams hugNo park bench escapes me…

bench hugNor jungle-like foliage…

leaf hug

A super-sweet hug from the folks at the Bent Spoon, best bakery in the world.

bent spoon hugAn attempted hug of one of Princeton’s famous black squirrels…yeah, no go.

attempted squirrel hugFinally, a hug from a random person who totally rocked the love. Awwwww!

random person hug


Sending hugs to those experiencing devastation and loss in Florida following Hurricane Michael. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.