The Small Screen

the small screen

It’s a mini puppet theater with a retro twist! With just a few supplies, you can create a B-movie extraordinaire…and did you notice the television screen illuminates?

You’ll need:

  • 1 cupcake box
  • A couple wooden coffee stirrers
  • White card stock
  • 1 sparkle stem
  • 1 light source (more in this below!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • A pen for drawing your characters

This project works best when you use a cupcake box with a plastic window. I purchased my 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 3″ cupcake boxes from Oriental Trading Company (item #3/3581). A dozen boxes cost $5.

side view of television theaterThe mini theater is basically the cupcake box with the lid raised. Simple, right? I cut the tab off the lid and added a sparkle stem antennae, but I left the sides of the lid intact because it makes the screen more stable. I also added a rectangle of black construction paper to make the television appear to be resting on something, but that’s optional.

To make your puppets, draw your characters on white card stock, then tape them to the bottom of wooden coffee stirrers. Store your puppets in the box when not in use!

mini puppets on sticksThe real fun is when you turn down the lights and illuminate your screen by dropping a submersible LED light in the box! You can find these lights in the floral section of Michaels Craft store:

submersible ledHowever, at $20 for 12, they can get pricey. So bring one of Michaels’ standard-issue 40% off coupons, or go with a cheaper alternative, like a glow stick. Here, for example, is a green glow stick in action…

green screenDefinitely gives new meaning to the phrase “green screen special effects.”

Red Letter Day

red letter day

Hosting a community event table and need something creative, literary, and simple? We highly recommend this wooden letter key chain project, which clips oh-so-conveniently to your bag or backpack!

The project just requires wooden letters, markers, rubber bands, and carabiners. We bought our carabiners from Oriental Trading Company – a bag of 50 costs $12. Our 2″ wooden letters are from Amazon. A set of 120 pieces (which also included symbols # & @ $) cost $22. And they come in this handy-dandy tray too!

letter keychain table layoutAt the event, we simply laid everything out and invited kids to decorate! I think we made around 350 keychains that day. Also, since we were representing Princeton University, Katie and I wore tiger onesies (like we needed an excuse, right?).

dr dana and katie tigersThe project was quick, easy to explain, inspired a lot of creativity, involved alphabet letters, and kids of various ages (plus a few college students!) really enjoyed it. You can’t get much better then that!

Ghostly Guppy

ghostly guppieAfter spotting the fabulous upside down goldfish ghost Marissa designed for her literary exhibit, I vowed I would find a way to replicate it as a story time project. And behold! A floating paper plate goldfish ghost marionette!

We read Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2017). Goldfish Ghost, who comes into being floating on top of his fishbowl, floats out the window to seek company. But the world is vast, loud, and bustling. Goldfish Ghost is disheartened to find no company. Until he meets the ghost of the lighthouse keeper. Now the two are the best of friends, settled in quietly together, by the lighthouse light.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • White construction paper
  • String or clear elastic beading cord
  • 1 drinking straw
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Black markers for decorating

goldfish ghost marionetteTo make the marionette, trim the outside perimeters off 2 paper plates. Use marker to draw eyes, a mouth, and scales on the plates.Next, tape a white construction paper tail and fins to the inside of 1 plate.

In the book, Goldfish Ghost floats upside down, so tape a length of string or elastic beading cord to the belly of the fish. Then tape the 2 plates together. Knot the string around a drinking straw, and your fabulous marionette is complete!