Seuss Mini Golf

March is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and this year, the actual day (March 2nd) fell on a Saturday. Which we took as a big ‘ol green light to create a huge, crazy weekend event. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you…Seuss Mini Golf!

The art of Dr. Seuss is perfect for mini golf. The curves! the colors! The zaniness! But we wanted to encourage personal creativity as well, so we decided that, in addition to building a few holes, we would also provide the supplies for families to build-their-own. The results? 4 hours of 400 enthusiastic, highly artistic golfers!

This is going to be a long post, so I’ve split it into three parts: 1) The basics on how we designed the event; 2) The special golf holes we created; 3) An interview with our talented course designer, Ricky Feig!

PART 1: THE BASICS

The great thing about this event is its flexibility, both in size and in cost (especially when it comes to the materials you use for your course). Here’s a quick list of what we utilized for the event:

  • Green 6′ x 8′  outdoor rugs
  • PVC pipe
  • Pool noodles
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Wrapping paper tubes
  • Paper plates
  • Drinking straws
  • Construction paper
  • Plastic ball pit balls

This event really came together when Katie and I discovered these 6′ x 8′ green outdoor rugs at Lowe’s ($21 each). Their turf-like texture was perfect for the greens, and they didn’t have any backing, so they were easy to cut with fabric scissors.

You could do the event without the rugs (and we priced green felt to cost approximately the same) but we highly recommend them. Not only do they give you a good physical parameter for each hole, they just make the course work visually.

Also in the cart you’ll notice a BIG coil of white PVC pipe (a 0.5″ diameter x 100′ coil costs $12). We used the PVC pipe to make the barriers / bumpers for the course. You can use the PVC pipe on its own, or do what we did – shove them into pool noodles!

Pool noodles can get pricey (we purchased ours on Amazon – a 35 pack is $60), so you can save a little in your event budget by leaving them out. Or raid your local Dollar Store this summer. The kids LOVED sculpting with the noodles. We also discovered that if you put a pool noodle under the rug, it makes a really cool “hill” on your putting green.

Also on our course were pieces of cardboard, boxes, and tubes all scored from our library recycling program. Some of these we fashioned into ramps, which went over REALLY big at the event. We threw in stuff left over from other programs too. Like inflatable candy canes and Smartie rolls from our Willy Wonka escape room. And straight pool noodles sans PVC pipe. Here’s a shot of someone putting our items to good use…

At the top of that last photo is an example of the golf clubs and holes we created for the event. We wanted each kid to leave with a ball, club, and hole, so we kept it simple. The golf club is a toilet paper tube cut in the middle with a wrapping paper tube shove into it. Reinforce the connection with tape.

We had all the toilet paper tubes we needed at the office, but had to order the wrapping paper tubes online from Ace Paper Tube Corporation. We ordered 300 tubes and the total came to $300 (but mind you – shipping was $65 of that total). If you’d like to avoid that price tag, start saving wrapping paper tubes now, or explore the costs of PVC golf club handles. Lowe’s sells straight, 0.5″ x 10′ PVC tubes for $2.31. You can get four, 30″ club handles out of 1 tube. So you would pay around $175 for 300 club handles. Another option? Make a certain number of clubs in advance, and ask families to return them when they’re finished playing.

Ultimately, we splurged and ordered the wrapping paper tubes. At the event, we offered color masking tape, stickers, and markers to decorate the clubs. And decorate they did!

The golf hole is a paper plate with a drinking straw flag which kids could decorate with markers and stickers. Note the keyhole shape of the hole. After testing a couple different shapes, this is definitely the one that works, catching the ball in place as it rolls in.

Finally, the balls. Ping pong balls were too light, golf balls too heavy (and a little dangerous when hit by an enthusiastic 5 year-old). Plastic ball pit balls were perfect. And inexpensive! On Amazon, 400 balls cost $45. That’s 11 cents per ball. Yay.

As far as event logistics, we had the club, hole, and ball tables as you entered the room, the greens laid out, and building supplies in strategic piles around the event floor. Did we have fun? Oh, we had fun.

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In conclusion, if you’d like to budget down on this event, skip the green rugs and pool noodles and build your course using PVC pipe as bumpers. Add in recycled boxes, cardboard, and other odds & ends to the course and you’ll be set! You can’t go any cheaper then plastic ball pit balls and paper plate holes, but you can save by hording wrapping paper tubes and/or having a limited number of clubs at the event.

Oh! One last thing. Have Sharpies on hand to write kids’ names on the plastic balls. This will allow them to keep track of them in the golfing chaos.


PART 2: SPECIAL HOLES

Never ones to rein ourselves in (please see Katie’s comments under #3 in this post), we decided to up the event a notch by having a few Seussian holes already in place. Katie led the charge by designing a “Pair of Pants with No One Inside Them.” The boat was salvaged from an art installation, and the waistband of those green toddler pants are strung with wire.

Katie also used a deeply discounted pool float and cellophane to make a Green Eggs and Ham hole. The float was propped up on oatmeal containers. And, if you can’t see it in the photos, rhymes from the book are written on the white parts of the bacon. YES!

Princeton University student Michelle Vilarino also crafted some holes. Here is her Seuss tunnel, which also doubled a secret clubhouse hideaway for many kids during the event…

And here are Thing 1 and Thing 2 on a teeter totter! By the way, those are Styrofoam wine holders, reused from this bee hive story time.

Michelle also made a One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish hole/ toss game for the younger kids. A ramp she built inside the box automatically rolled your ball back to you.

And THIS special Whoville hole was designed by my 10 year-old son! #superproudmom

But the ROCK STAR of Seuss mini golf? That would be Princeton University student Ricky Feig. He put in many mighty hours of research, design, and construction to make something truly special. Beginning with Oh, The Places You’ll Go

And look at this! The Sneetches! By the way, if you’re wondering if the Sneetches coming and going from their respective machines have stars or no stars on thars, the answer is YES. Ricky didn’t miss a single detail.

Below is Ricky’s rendition of The Butter Battle Book. His cleverly crafted mechanisms rigged with elastic bands allowed you to launch the ball in different ways. The cardboard wall was plastered with Yook and Zook propaganda posters…

But the total show-stealer was Ricky’s Onceler’s tower from The Lorax, complete with boarded up windows, a swooping wire ladder, fish swimming in ponds, and four gorgeous Truffula trees crafted from tissue and pool noodles.

Ready to meet the artistic genius behind these amazing creations?


PART 3: AN INTERVIEW WITH COURSE DESIGNER RICKY FEIG

Tell us a little about yourself!

Ever since I was a little kid, I have liked building things. I started off with LEGO’s and train tracks, but in middle school I started doing Odyssey of the Mind (which is a creative problem solving competition for teams of up to seven students). The best part about Odyssey is that there are strict non-interference rules for non-team members (especially parents).

As a result, I built a lot of cardboard and PVC structures (most of which failed). On the other hand I feel like these failures mean that I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how to build things than I would have if I had just been told what was possible. Since starting at Princeton, I’ve become pretty involved in the tech theater community on campus. Though I would not consider myself artistically talented, since I started designing sets for Princeton University’s Theatre Intime, I’ve really enjoyed finding ways to apply my talents to artistic projects.

What was the research and development process for your creations?

I started by just looking through images from all of my favorite Dr. Seuss books to get ideas of what I wanted to build. My image for the course was to base different holes off of different Dr. Seuss books because while Seuss has a distinct drawing style, many of the books have their own unique look (especially the color scheme). Once I selected the books I wanted to recreate I made some sketches of each hole.

In many ways, it was the same initial process I would use for designing a set, except that Dr. Seuss has a strange aversion to right angles. The lack of right angles made it difficult to draft out more detailed designs, and I also knew that I would have a hard time recreating those sketches working with cardboard. So I decided to just dive right in and start building.

Is this the weirdest thing you’ve created?

Fortunately or unfortunately this is not the weirdest thing I’ve created. In Odyssey of the Mind, I built a twenty foot tall giant (which I think you can still find if you Google me). I also hope to continue to out do myself and create weirder and weirder things as I get older.

What was the greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge I faced was creating irregular 3 dimensional shapes out of cardboard. The construction method for the Sneetches holes and the Onceler tower were not techniques that I had used before. What I ended up doing was cutting out two irregular faces and creating an interior column to hold them at a fixed distance. Then I curved cardboard around strips around the edge to create a seal container.

Do you have a favorite hole on the course?

It’s hard to pick a favorite hole. I think the Onceler hole came out closest to how I pictured it looking, and was the most physically impressive because of how big the tower was.

What was it like to see kids play your course?

It was a lot of fun to watch people play the course. This is a little evil of me, but I really enjoyed how much trouble parents had with the Oh, The Place’s You’ll Go hole. That was the first hole I built and I only got the ball in the hole once, even when it was perfectly set up. There were a couple parents trying to up their kids golf game on that hole, and I really enjoyed knowing that I had them beat.

I also enjoyed watching kids have fun and be creative with the course. At the end some of the kids had figured out how to build some really cool structures with the pool noodles. This really impressed me because I had more or less given up on the noodles as an impossible material to work with.


In conclusion, this event was a lot of work, but it was AWESOME. The room was a total frenzy of creative activity for 4 hours. All the holes took a serious beating and eventually succumbed to the crowds. Especially the Trufulla trees. However! At the end of the day, there was one Trufulla tree still standing. And so, I will end this post with a final nod to Seuss…

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!

Pop Turns Five (and Ian Says Goodbye)

pop turns 5It’s August! It’s Pop‘s fifth birthday! That’s right…5 years and 422 posts strong we be. Five years is also how long Ian has worked at our library, but ladies and gentleman, it is a bittersweet announcement I’m making today.

Ian, our Curatorial Assistant, is moving on.

But being Ian, he is moving along in the most awesome, stylin’ way possible. He completed his library degree at Rutgers AND is a newly minted Fulbright Student (he was also awarded a scholarship to Rare Books school in London this summer!). In short, Ian is shining, and we are so very proud of him.

So today’s post is a retrospective of all the things we convinced this intellectual powerhouse to do for the blog. But if you’re just here to see him smash birthday cupcake in my face, skip to the bottom of the post.

ian walks the dogWe first met Ian in this 2013 post. Usually, it only takes a couple weeks for me to ask people to start doing ridiculous things for me (like walk box dogs on invisible leashes). Ian made it 4 months. But once the flood gates opened…

ian

Ian tests printable tattoos

spreading the loveIan strews hearts

groverIan jams on pan pipes

penguin 1Ian is photobombed by a penguin

ians-cameoIan encounters the paparazzi

pudding taste testIan taste tests Harry Potter pudding

i heart robotAnd the grand finale…Ian gets shoved in a robot costume with low visibility and questionable foot gear. For the 5th birthday post/ Ian retrospective, we thought it appropriate to ask him 5 questions:


Where are you off to, Ian?

I’m off to Baku, Azerbaijan. For the other geography nerds out there: Azerbaijan is a small country on the eastern side of the Caucasus between Iran and Russia, and Baku is the country’s bustling capital on the west bank of the Caspian Sea.

Why Azerbaijan?

I chose to pursue my Fulbright in Azerbaijan because I am fascinated by the complexities of the region. Azerbaijan is a land of mixing and clashing cultures, a border land of influences and diversity since antiquity, positioned at a crossroads of migration, colonization, and cultural exchange. I wanted to be in a modern city, but one with an ancient and medieval past. I wanted to be some place less familiar and rewardingly challenging.

What will you miss about our library?

It has been a true privilege and a joy to work with the rare books and other materials here at Cotsen. Every day is filled with new discoveries, new learning, color, art, and mystery. I forget sometimes how lucky I am to get to experience what “old books” can show us and how the chance to do what I do for a living is rare indeed. I’m not sure I’ll ever work in an “office” this fun again. And I will miss my colleagues at Cotsen most of all because one will always miss their friends when they move away.

What was your favorite thing you did for Pop Goes the Page?

Definitely the time I got crammed into a robot costume. Not only did I get to dance the robot dressed as a robot, I was also really happy to be part of a story time activity featuring a really sweet book. The kids liked it too, I got a lot of hugs that day!

Who is cooler, Dr. Dana or Katie?

Dang, honestly I think they’re both nerds! Good thing for them that at the library, nerds are cool!


A birthday is nothing without sugared toppings, so I grabbed a couple cupcakes for Ian’s final blog photo shoot. Except that meant there were extra cupcakes sitting around. To be smashed into my face. Before final consumption.

cupcake smash montage

Ian, we are really going to miss you. Best of luck in your world travels, academic pursuits, hopes, and dreams! Waves of love and joy from us, your friends, to you – Ian the Indomitable.