These Royals? Totally Rocked It

these royals rocked it

You don’t need to wait until coronation day to rock the royal look…be bold, resplendent you EVERY day!

We read Princess Hair by Sharee Miller (Little, Brown, 2014). Princesses of course wear crowns, but what about the hair underneath that sparkling circlet? In this fun rhyming book, a number of different hair styles are paired with various principals of princess positivity…puffs play pretend, twist outs twirl about, kinks love to think, curls wear pearls, bantu knots bake a lot, braids throw parades, and so on!

You’ll need:

  • 1 crown
  • An assortment of construction paper
  • 2 paper cups
  • Poster board (ours was 15″ in diameter)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

First, the crown! We purchased “Gold Foil Crowns” from Oriental Trading Company ($5 a dozen), and provided both large and small sheets of construction paper to craft hair. If you desire texture to your locks, here are our 3 favorites…the accordion fold, and 2 types of curls achieved by wrapping the construction paper fringe around a marker or pencil:

crimp & curl If you’d like to make a beard, fringe a sheet of construction paper and attach a mustache. Tape a piece of twisteez wire to the back, then loop the wire around your ears to secure the beard in place.

beard constructionThat takes care of the crown and hair, but we wanted to go big with the bling…so we also made bejeweled collars and bracelets! The collar is a folded circle of poster board (we used gold) with the center cut out so kids can slide the collar over their heads.

royal collarThe bracelets are paper cups (again, we used gold) cut to fit the kids’ wrists. We decorated everything with large gemstones, sparkle stems, textured metallic paper, gold embossed foil seals, and scrap pieces of gold poster board. I went with a textured neckline for my design…

collar with red jewels   And Katie went with a bold metal block for hers…

collar with green jewelsResplendent, indeed!

Turtle’s Terrific Town

turtle's terrific town

Why go to town, when you can BE the town? One turtle ventures forth to find the answer!

We read The Town of Turtle, written by Michelle Cuevas, and illustrated by Cátia Chien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Turtle lives a quiet life with only his shadow for company. But he dreams of a big, beautiful town full of light and laughter. So he decides to build one on his shell, complete with houses, gardens, parks, a library – even an ice-skating rink! Exhausted, Turtle falls asleep, and his dream ventures forth to other animals, telling them of the amazing new town. Enchanted, they move in. When Turtle awakes, he is surprised to find exactly what he always wished for – a lively town of happy friends, riding right on his back!

You’ll need:

  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (ours was 7″ x 10″)
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • An assortment of small boxes and tubes
  • An assortment of construction paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

turtle tableFirst, build your “turtle table.” This is a corrugated cardboard base with 4 toilet paper tubes halves attached to the bottom. We used heavier weight poster board for the head and tail, but construction paper works too. Then, gather assorted boxes and tubes to create a town!

finished turtle townWe offered patterned paper and construction paper to decorate the boxes. The windows and doors are old mailing/file labels and dot stickers. Some green pom-pom shrubs finished the look. But some kids opted to simply decorate their boxes with markers. Really, anything goes!

Two questions: 1) Does this project remind anyone of Terry Pratchett’s Great A’Tuin; and 2) Have you seen this awesome cake version by Kayleigh’s Creations?

Pop’s Top 10: Pop Goes the Page?

royal pieQ: Hi Dr. Dana and Katie! I love the Top 10 posts, and I’m wondering what your Top 10 favorite blog posts are?

A blog post about this blog? Whoa, things are about to get super-duper metaphysical. But we’re game! In order to tackle this challenge, Katie and I each picked our top 5 favorite posts and commented on them. With 5 years and 463 posts to chose from, it was tough. But, as we soon discovered, sometimes it was a childhood memory, or a behind-the-scenes, that actually made the post one of our favorites.


#10 IT BEGINS

horse and riders

Dr. Dana: I have a lot of affection for this post because it is my VERY first one. August 13th, 2013. For years, people had been asking me to find a way to share my creative projects and programs (there was even person who suggested I get my own TV show…hmmmm). It was Katie who started whispering You should blooooog in my ear. I agreed to try it, not realizing that this blog basically adds a part-time job on to my already full-time job. I will get even with her. Someday.

Katie: I remember the first time I suggested a blog about all things Cotsen, Dr. Dana and I were crafting a Tiger Tales project and fielding questions about what we were building from an inquisitive parent. I think my comment went something like, “It’s easy! Just take a few pictures of the project, explain how to put it together, and BAM! You’re done!” So maybe it wasn’t going to be that easy, and maybe it has added a few grey hairs on Dr. Dana’s head, but the blog has certainly delivered creative literacy magic across the globe.


#9 ICE ICE FISHY

gone (ice) fishingKatie: This project was near and dear to my heart. It conjured up many memories of when I was a kid out ice fishing with my grandfather on a cold lake in Minnesota. Being outside in the cold is not my favorite activity, honestly I still hate being cold, but spending time with him doing one of his favorite things in the world was totally worth suffering through the frigid temperatures. I also believe the ice shanties were one of the first large-scale props that Dr. Dana had me design and build for Tiger Tales. If I only knew then what she was going to make me create in the future…

Dr. Dana: Notice how Katie put the shack on TOP of another big box? That was so kids could actually fish into the “ice” floor of the shack. Exactly like a real shack. Fantastic. Katie rules! Also, this project taught me the phrase “Ya Der Hey.”


#8 POETRY, LIKE WATER FLOWING

soaked poetKatie: When Dr. Dana said we were going to head to her house to take pictures and/or video of her in the shower while she tested a product for the blog, I was totally up for it. What I did not realize was how I was going to have to restrain myself from laughing when she was in the shower and what ensued while she was there. You may hear me chuckle a bit and see the camera move, but the video did not show me nearly collapsing onto the tiled floor in laughter after I stopped recording. Hilarious.

Dr. Dana: Yup, writing poetry in the shower whilst wearing a soaking wet beret was one of those “Huh. First time in my life I’ve ever done this” moments. Which seems to happen ALL THE TIME on this job.


#7 ROYAL PIE

katie with pizza

Katie: One of the reasons I applied to work at Cotsen was because the job description specifically stated that applicants would be asked to wear a costume. I’ve worn many a costume during my tenure at Cotsen and transformed myself into fun characters: a renaissance princess, a steampunk spelunker, Charmander, a car mechanic, a Potter-esqe witch. I think dressing as a medieval herald is one of my favorites. The tights were super comfy.

Dr. Dana: All in my orbit must enter the costuming vortex! Mwah hah hah! And hey…who wants to see Katie as Eloise?


#6 CAN YOU DIG IT?

can you dig itDr. Dana: This was an archeological dig we designed for a Journey to the Centre of the Earth event in 2013. We really wanted to do this activity, but there were so many challenges. How do we replicate an actual dig?  How do we tie the concepts together in a way that allows kids to self-discover? How do we make this thing portable? How do we keep it hygienic? How can we produce it fairly cheaply? The results were a total home run.

Katie: We estimate that 5,000 people attended this event. Along with being able to participate in an archaeological dig, learn about spelunking, climb a inflatable mountain, meet nocturnal animals and play music on rocks, those who were brave enough got to meet a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex!


#5 GIRAFFE’S GOTTA DANCE

giraffe's gotta dance

Katie: Figuring out how to make a giraffe puppet with dancing legs and a moveable neck was tough. Really tough. Dr. Dana and I went through at least a dozen ideas and templates before we struck gold using cut straws, string and toilet paper tubes. I still have the giraffe we created hanging in my conference room office. I’m pretty proud of that little dancing giraffe. He’s quite adorable, too.

Dr. Dana: At one point, Katie and I were madly designing separate giraffe prototypes, grinding our teeth in frustration. In the end, Katie had the winner. The giraffe really dances!


#4 THRIFT STORE COSTUME CHALLENGE

dolores-umbridge-costumeDr. Dana: My specialty is unusual takes on literacy, and I think this was one of my finest moments. I challenged a Princeton University student designer to costume as many literary characters as he could in 180 minutes, using ONLY what he found in our locally-owned thrift and consignment store. My only regret was that we ran out of time before I could be dressed as Mrs. Whatsit.

Katie: Mad props to the Princeton University students who were willing to stuff their feet into shoes that were several sizes too small. And salad forks as crystal daggers? Brilliant.


#3 SHOW JUMPING!

show jumpingDr. Dana: As a horse-obsessed little kid, I was constantly building show jumping courses, which I would then jump over, endlessly. This project allowed me to revisit those happy memories, and I was surprised at how deeply touching it was. Also, the video! The cheers when the little girl recovers from her misstep over the last combination? Awesome.

Katie: This is the perfect time for me to introduce an often used phrase in our office: LID. Leave It Dana. She wanted to create an elaborate jumping course and I had to constantly remind her about our young audience. LID.


#2 KATIE HITS THE ROADSHOW

Happy to be here 5

Katie: This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of the PBS ANTIQUES ROADSHOW! I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend hanging out with my younger brother, I got to meet my favorite ROADSHOW appraiser, and I learned what some of my inherited treasures are worth. PBS is currently airing the episodes of the San Diego ROADSHOW, so tune in and see if you can spot me in the crowds!

Dr. Dana: Well, I was on Channel 20’s WOW when I was a little kid. Anyone? Anyone?


#1 THE DYSLEXIC LIBRARIAN

welcome to my worldDr. Dana: Marissa is amazing on so many levels. How can she NOT be on this list?

Katie: Yup. What Dr. Dana said.


AND THE GRAND FINALE…RUN COOKIE RUN

run cookie runKatie: I was living in Belgium when Tiger Tales kids were creating gingerbread houses and chasing an enormous cookie that looked strangely like Dr. Dana across campus, but this project still tickles my funny bone. From our apartment across the Atlantic, my son and I watched the accompanying video and we both went into hysterics when Dr. “Gingerbread Girl” Dana did her little hop and started running away from the excited kids. It takes a confident cookie to dress up like one.

Dr. Dana: This story time definitely ranks as one my favorites of all time. I distinctly remember running away from the kids, giggling madly, thinking: “I have a Ph.D., I’m dressed like a giant cookie, I’m being chased by kids on an Ivy League campus.” Life is sweet!