Next Stop, Cannes

next-stop-cannesReady, and…action! This fantastic camera shoots in 3 different screen modes, so you can exercise your complete creative freedom and film a breakthrough masterpiece. Add a fabulous movie poster, a plot synopsis, and you’re totally Oscar bound!

We read Young Charlotte, Filmmaker by Frank Viva (Harry N. Abrams, 2015). Charlotte carries her camera everywhere she goes, preferring her black and white world to the world of color. One day, her parents take her to the Museum of Modern Art and Charlotte meets Scarlet, who works in the film department. They bond over their mutual love of film. Inspired, Charlotte shows Scarlet her latest creation and Scarlet insists that it be shown at a museum screening. The big day arrives and Charlotte, sitting in the theater, is worried what the audience will think. Her film ends and there is total, awful silence. Then…applause! They loved it!

You’ll need:

  • A small box (mine was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works too)
  • Black paper
  • A strip of black poster board (approximately 1.75″ x 8.5″)
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • 4 foam beads
  • 1 round container to act as a camera lens (more on this later!)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 bendy drinking straw
  • 1 screen slides template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 3 rectangles of tagboard or black poster board (approximately 2.5″ x 3″)
  • Hole punch
  • 1 box cutter
  • 3 small rectangles of different color cellophane (approximately 1.75″ x 2″)
  • 1 movie poster template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

movie-cameraFirst, wrap a small box with black paper. Tab both ends of a strip of black poster board, then attach the tabs to the box with hot glue (or tape). Use color masking tape to add some snazzy accents to the camera. Hot glue 3 foam beads to the top of the camera (these are your “operating” buttons) and 1 to the front (this is your “light”).  For the lens, I found these fantastic 2″ mini containers with clear lids at Oriental Trading Company:

mini-container-with-clear-lidWe hot glued a circle of silver mirror board to the bottom of the container to make it extra reflective. Then we popped the lid back on and wrapped the perimeter of the container with black masking tape. We attached it to front of the camera with hot glue. The containers cost $8.50 a dozen, which can get a little pricey. A cheaper option? A shortened toilet paper tube.

The other side of the camera has the viewfinder and the screen slides. The viewfinder is a toilet paper tube wrapped with black paper and hot glued to the side of the box. The screen slides slides cover one end of the viewfinder. Each slide has a different color cellophane taped to it. Simply rotate the slides up and down to adjust the color you’re seeing through the camera’s viewfinder.

movie-camera-with-screen-slidesTo make the screen slides, cut 3 screen slides from the template. You can either use them directly from the template, or trace them onto something sturdier, like tagboard or poster board (we used tagboard). Punch a hole in the top of the slide, then use a box cutter to cut away the rectangular window in the center. Tape a small piece of cellophane over the  window (we offered choices of orange, red, purple, blue or green).

lens-cellophaneNext, cut the top section off a bendy drinking straw (i.e. the section right above the ribbed segment). Make sure to leave the ribbed segment untouched.

cutting-the-strawsThread the 3 screen slides onto the opposite end of the straw, sliding them down towards the ribbed segment. Don’t slide thread them over the ribbed segment. The ribbed segment is what keeps the slides from falling off the straw later. You want this to remains as rigid and un-squished as possible.

lenses-on-the-strawPlace the straw on top of the toilet paper tube viewfinder and adjust the screen slides. The slides shouldn’t be packed together – they need plenty of room to rotate upwards and downwards. Once you’re satisfied with your spacing, cut the straw down and hot glue it to the viewfinder. Note! The straw should be slightly shorter than the viewfinder. Excited kids are going to be putting their eye right up to the viewfinder, and you don’t want them getting poked in the eye with a straw.

screen-slides-straw-on-cameraThe camera is done! Slide your hand through the strap, select a screen slide, place your eye against the viewfinder, and start filming! Here’s the view of the different screen slides through the viewfinder:

screen-slidesThat last screen slide might look like clear cellophane…but it’s not! It’s a plastic lens from a pair of prism glasses. You can get these paper glasses from Educational Innovations (a pack of 10 costs $9). When you look through them, they diffract light into its spectral components. In other words, you see lovely rainbows everywhere.

rainbow-lensesIn addition to making a camera, we also made movie posters with plot synopsis on the black. Print the movie poster template on white card stock. Draw your poster on the front, and write your synopsis on the back. Here’s my poster:

escape-from-monkey-island-movie-posterAnd here are a few kid posters I managed to snap…

a-funny-movie-posterghostbuster-movie-posterpurple-hair-movie-posterfairies-movie-posterthe-falling-book-movie-posterJust in case you can’t read that last poster, the movie is plot is “A book falls from the sky, hits a dinosaur, and a volcano erupts AND a sky monster comes from it, and the dinosaur swims in the water and the monster can’t swim because he has no gills. THE END.”

So, how did this project go over? Oh wow. Oh wowie wow wow. They LOVED it. The gallery was filled with kids filming everything. Siblings, parents, puppet shows, inanimate objects. I had a little band of paparazzi following me around as well.

filming-dr-danaOne filmmaker marched into our offices and captured Ian’s best angles. You’re a shoe-in for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ian!

ians-cameo

Say Freeze!

say freezeWhat happens when you give a bunch of penguins a camera? In order to find out, we made oatmeal container penguins and armed them with tea tin cameras. The results? Here’s one image…scroll to the bottom of the post to see the rest!

penguin with witherspoonWe read Penguins by Liz Pichon (Orchard Books, 2008). It’s a regular day at the zoo…until a little girl accidentally drops her camera into the penguin habitat. Curious, the penguins gather round. It doesn’t take them long to figure out how the camera works, and pretty soon everyone is having a good time taking pictures! When the camera stops working, the penguins quickly put it back where they found it. The next day, the zookeeper finds the camera and returns it to the little girl. After the pictures are developed, she’s surprised to find photos of monkeys, lions, tigers, elephants, and lots and lots and lots of penguins (don’t miss the adorable fold out photos at the end of the book)!

Both parts of this project are very simple to make. Parents, caregivers, and kids were especially tickled by the tea tin cameras with a clicking shutter button.

camera frontYou’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • 2 rectangles of orange poster board (approximately 2.25″ x 3.25″)
  • 1 circle of black construction paper (approximately 5.25″ in diameter)
  • 1 rectangle of white construction paper (approximately 5.75″ x 9″)
  • Black construction paper
  • 1 triangle of yellow self-adhesive foam (approximately 1.5″ tall)
  • 2 black dot stickers for eyes (optional)
  • 1 Twinings brand tea tin
  • 1 strip of construction paper, any color (approximately 2.75″ x 12″)
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • A 17″ piece of ribbon, any color
  • 1 scotch tape core (approximately 1.5″ in diameter)
  • 1 small circle of mirror board or tin foil (approximately 1″ in diameter)
  • 1
  • 1 small small gemstone
  • 1 penguin viewfinder template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 bug clicker (more on this below)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished penguinPenguin first, then camera! First, tape (or hot glue) a black construction paper circle to the top of a large oatmeal container. Then, cut 2 rectangles of orange poster board into penguin feet. Hot glue them to the bottom of the container.

penguin feetWrap a rectangle of white construction paper around the front of the oatmeal container (right above the feet) and secure with tape. Next, wrap a piece of black construction paper around the back of the oatmeal container and secure it with tape (or hot glue). The black construction paper will overlap the white construction paper, creating your penguin’s white tummy and black “jacket.”penguin tummy and jacketCut a pair of rounded penguin flippers out of black construction paper, then tape (or hot glue) them to the sides of the container. Add a self-adhesive foam triangle beak and two dot sticker eyes (or skip the stickers and draw the eyes with markers). Use markers to add a pair of eyebrows and you’re done!

Now for the camera! Wrap a tea tin with construction paper (I went with classic black). Add strips of patterned tape to the top and bottom.

camera steps 1 and 2To make a camera strap, take the lid off the tea tin and tape the ends of a ribbon inside it. Close the lid, and your strap is extra secure!

interior of tinNow for the camera’s focusing ring, lens, flash, shutter button, and viewfinder:

camera front labeledTo make the “focusing ring,” wrap the outside of a tape core with construction paper. Since I used cardboard tape cores, I colored the outside rim with a black marker. Here’s a before and after shot:

wrapped tape coreHot glue the core to the middle of the tin, then hot glue a small circle of mirror board inside the core. The mirror board is your camera’s “lens.” You could also use tin foil. To make your camera’s “flash,” hot glue a small clear plastic gemstone to the top of a large plastic button, then hot glue the button to the upper right corner of the tin.

flashThe “shutter button” of this camera is actually a bug clicker. Have you seen these things?

bug clickerWhen you press the little plastic tab on the back of the device, it makes a crisp clicking sound. I bought my clickers on Amazon, but I’ve also seen them in party supply stores and the dog training section of pet stores. At our story time, we covered the outside and sides of the clicker with black masking tape, then hot glued it to the lid of the tea tin. But you can skip the tape and glue them straight to the tea tin if you’d like!

clicker placementYou’ll notice the clicker is mounted off-center on the lid, and the clicker’s tab is close to the edge of the lid. That’s important! You want those little fingers to be able to reach up and click the shutter button.

Because most kids are used to digital cameras with viewfinders, I added a viewfinder to the back of the tea tin (with an image of a penguin, of course!). Print and cut a penguin from the template, and then use masking (or patterned) tape to attach it to the back of the camera.

camera back Project in hand, kids scattered to different parts of the gallery to pose their penguins and take “pictures” with their cameras.

penguin in galleryThere may have been a penguin photobomb or two…

penguin photobombThe fun continued at home! Look at this lovely photo shoot:

penguin posesMysteriously, my camera went missing for a few hours that day. Imagine my surprise when the following shots were e-mailed to me…

penguin 0penguin 1penguin 2penguin 3penguin 4penguin 5penguin 6penguin 7penguin 8penguin 10penguin 11penguin 9penguin 12


Charles Willson Peale, George Washington at the Battle of Princeton, 1783–84. Oil on canvas. Princeton University, commissioned by the Trustees. Courtesy of the Princeton University Art Museum.

Lights, Camera, Action!

a star is bornWhether you’re covering a celebrity event or conducting an in-depth interview, you’ll need the right equipment to get the job done. Namely a camera, a handheld microphone, and a boom microphone!

We’ve successfully “filmed” story time fashion shows, spoken with future presidents, covered red carpet entrances, and chatted with entomologists about a new bug species they’ve discovered. We’ve also let kids take over the equipment. It’s guaranteed to hold up to even the most enthusiastic documentarion.

You’ll need:

  • Black paper or paint
  • 2 cereal boxes (one extra large, one small)
  • 1 packing tape core
  • A 4″ x 4″ square of mirror board
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • A selection of dot stickers (optional)
  • 2 paper towel tubes
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • 1 black jumbo pom-pom (mine was 1.5″)
  • A 38″ piece of PVC pipe
  • A roll of black masking tape
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hot glue

 CAMERA

cameraWrap the cereal boxes, packing tape core, and toilet paper tube with black paper (we used a roll of bulletin board paper, but you could also use black paint). Hot glue the 2 cereal boxes together. Katie glued a “Channel P” sign to the side of the small cereal box as well.

To make your camera lens, cut the mirror board to fit the circumference of the packing tape core, then attach the mirror board to the core with hot glue. Hot glue the core to the front of the extra large cereal box.

camera other side Hot glue the toilet paper tube “viewfinder” to the extra large cereal box. Put dot sticker “buttons” on the small cereal box (or draw your own button panel on white paper and attach to the box). Here’s a bird’s eye view of the camera with all of its parts in place.

camera topMake sure the viewfinder is on the opposite side of the camera from the small cereal box. Otherwise, you won’t be able to hold the camera on your shoulder!

HANDHELD MICROPHONE

microphoneCut a paper towel tube down to 8″ then wrap with black paper (or use black paint). To make the spiral cord, curl a black pipe cleaner around a marker. Then tape the pipe cleaner inside the bottom of the tube.

For the microphone’s “windscreen,” bunch pieces of tin foil into a bulbous cone shape. It should look like this:

mic foil 1Layer more piece of tin foil on top of the bulb so the windscreen bulges over the rim of the paper towel tube. Then hot glue the foil to the tube.

mic foil 2Feel free to add some dot sticker buttons if you like. Your microphone is ready to record!

BOOM MICROPHONE

boom micThe camera and the handheld mic are great, but the boom mic REALLY makes this set!

First, wrap the paper towel tube with black paper (or use paint). Then hot glue a jumbo pom pom on one end. To make the cord, curl a black pipe cleaner around a marker. Tape one end inside the tube. Tape the other end of the pipe cleaner to the outside bottom of the tube.

boom mic extrasTo create the boom, wrap a 38″ piece of PVC pipe with black masking tape. Use scissors (or a box cutter) to make a hole in the middle of the tube. Insert the PVC pipe into the hole, and keep pushing until the pipe touches the interior of the tube. Secure with black masking tape.

boom mic stepsYour set is complete! When covering a news story, I sometimes throw on a coat and matching fedora. To make things more official, you know.

news crew