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?


As a precautionary measure, Princeton University closed the gallery of the Cotsen Children’s Library until further notice, and our children’s programming as been suspended during this closure. Until our library reopens, the blog will post once a week. So every Tuesday, please check in to see what we’re up to…from story time projects to awesome interviews!

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!


As a precautionary measure, Princeton University closed the gallery of the Cotsen Children’s Library until further notice, and our children’s programming as been suspended during this closure. Until our library reopens, the blog will post once a week. So every Tuesday, please check in to see what we’re up to…from story time projects to awesome interviews!

 

Seeds of Love

It’s a simple project bursting with love…a mama tree hugging her baby seed!

We read The Little Tree, written by Muon Van, and illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi.The smallest tree in the forest watches time pass, the land change, and wonders what will happen to her little seed. Finally, with the help of a world-traveling brown bird, she releases her little seed to the skies. Then she waits and worries about her little seed. Then one day, a gift arrives…a leaf that belongs to the tallest, strongest, and brightest tree the brown bird has ever seen. Yes, it’s the Little Tree’s precious seed, grown up strong and beautiful!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • Brown poster board
  • Green poster board
  • Tree decorating supplies (more on this below!)
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, cut 2″ off a paper towel tube, then hot glue it to the top of a small box. Glue 2 circles of green poster board to 2 sets of brown poster board branches (our branch template is here), then hot glue everything to the top of the paper towel tube. Add a pair of brown construction paper arms to your tree, and tuck a green poster board “seed” into them. Finally, decorate your tree with markers, or use green construction paper, embossed foil paper, fabric flowers, gold mirror board, and shimmer ribbon like we did. Done!

The Little Tree is a very touching book. In fact, Katie and I had a bet that I wouldn’t be able  read it aloud without crying (it was a draw – I did choke up at one point!). Even more touching, however, is the author’s note at the end…

The book is a tribute to Muon Van’s mother, who fled the post Vietnamese-American war regime with her two children. In America, she gave birth to five more children. Even though she only had a third grade education, she put them all through college, and in some cases, grad school. Van lovingly praises her mother who, like the Little Tree, was brave enough to override her fears, doubts, and limitations and provide her children with a life she could not imagine for herself.