Coloring Feathers

This week libraries, archives, and cultural institutions around the world are sharing free coloring sheets and books based on their amazing collections. Hosted by The New York Academy of Medicine, the #ColorOurCollections archives is up year round, and the 2021 edition features 95 institutions from around the world, including the Princeton University Library!

The library’s “Coloring Feathers” pages were selected by Jennifer Cabral-Pierce, and are part of “Capturing Feathers,” her fantastic digital exhibit. It celebrates a collaboration between Princeton University Library and the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Together, they worked to digitize and study the personal journals of ornithologist Charles H. Rogers (1888-1977).

In honor of the “Coloring Feathers” theme, Katie and I also selected some blog bird posts we love, utilizing materials you can find at home. Note: If you don’t have feathers handy, just fringe some paper!

An easy-to-assemble bird puppet with fantastic flapping wings:

spring chicken

Our ever popular wrist parakeet (and an owl version for all you wizarding fans):

perfect parakeets

A hilarious hide-and-seek duck game in your own home:

fridge duck_4

A reading birdy on a perch (birdcage optional if you have pipe cleaners around!):

tweet-reading-is-sweet

Or, how about a snack worthy of a swan?

the snack of the swan 3


Coloring page is from Physica Sacra, (ca. 1731-1735), vol. 1, page 642, Princeton University Library Collection Treasures of Rare Book Division, EX Oversize 5366.816q, Rare Book Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

All Things Bright and Beautiful

all things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small gather in this colorful jungle city, which doubles as a beautiful sun catcher! This was such a simple project – clear sheet, tissue paper, glue, and scissors – but it’s been one our patron’s favorite story time projects this year!

We read Animal City by Joan Negrescolor (Chronicle, 2018). Nina loves to visit Jungle City and read stories to her animal friends. While each animal has a favorite (the flamingos, for example, like Mythology), the story they like best? The very book you’re reading! This book is absolutely gorgeous, and we tried to capture the artist’s color and shape play with our project.

You’ll need:

  • A clear plastic sheet (more on this below)
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors and glue for construction

The key to this sun catcher project is the clear plastic sheet. We used 16″ x 20″ archival mylar sheets (one of the perks of being a rare books library!). But you can use thinner clear cellophane wrap, which is sold in the gift wrap section of Michael’s Craft store. Another possibility? Parchment paper, found in the supermarket baking aisle alongside the aluminum foil. It’s opaque, but still lets plenty of light through.

To create your sun catcher, cut, arrange, and glue the tissue shapes to your clear sheet. We purchased pre-cut tissue circles and squares, but also had larger tissue sheets available to customize. We recommend using glue sticks, which allowed for better control and dried perfectly clear (even the purple ones!).

sun catcher artist at work We also recommend markers, just in case kids wanted to add details, or draw¬† expressions on their animals…

animal expressionWhen your creation is complete, tape it to a window or door and admire the shapes and colors. It’s especially cool when the colors overlap!

sun catcher and artist


James Herriot fans…today’s blog post title was for you! Animal city, indeed!

Crunchy, Colorful Leaves

crunchy colorful leavesSchool has started, fall is around the corner, and the leaves are starting to change. So it’s the perfect time to post a simple sound and color story time featuring fall leaves!

We recommend reading Ska-tat! by Kimberly Knutson (Macmillan, 1993). Leaves are falling off the trees with a “Sh-kah sh-kah” sound, and there is so much to do! Scoop them up with a “Krish-krash! Ka-rak!” or jump into piles with a “Sha-shoo! Ska-tat!” This highly poetic book beautifully creates sound words for various fall leaf activities. It’s a fantastic and fun read aloud.

You’ll need:

  • Green, orange, yellow, and red cellophane
  • Scissors

First, a word about cellophane. While rolls of green, yellow, and red cellophane can be founds in most dollar stores (and this is a good, cheap option for tight budgets), the color orange can be a little elusive. Also, when you use rolls of cellophane, the shapes you cut out tend to curl back into their original roll positions. It’s rather annoying. So I was very happy when I discovered cello sheets:

cello sheetsI bought these 8.5″ x 11″ cello sheets at Discount School Supply ($7 for a pack of 48). The sheets are flat, so no problem cutting out shapes and having them curl up on you. The trade off, of course, is volume. In the above pack of 48 sheets, there are only 6 of each color. However! I did spot a 104 pack on Amazon with 13 of each color for $9. If you ultimately decide go with rolls of cellophane instead of sheets, try flattening the shapes under a stack of books overnight to see if that helps uncurl them.

four leavesFor the story time project, cut various leaf shapes out of cellophane. Then have the kids crumble and crunch them, crinkle them madly, stomp on them, toss them in air, slide with them under their shoes, put them over their eyes to see the world in red, yellow, orange, and green…in short, PLAY. When you’re done, tape the leaves to a window to brighten things up!