Fly the Friendly Skies

When my son was younger wooooo did we read a lot of transportation and construction books. To this day, I still excitedly point out backhoe loaders, simply by reflex. I think we wore out not one but THREE copies of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, and my son was the inspiring mind behind this event. Today’s post is also my son’s invention…a simple zip line tram car!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • String or yarn
  • 2 chairs (plus books to weight them down)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Construction paper, markers for decorating
  • Hole punch

First, the tram car! Flip a large tissue box upside down, and decorate the side with construction paper and markers. Cut a paper towel tube down to 7.5″ then attach firmly to the roof of the tram car (I used hot glue AND tape).

Next, turn the box on it’s side and punch a hole in the back. Knot a 15-24″ string through the hole. This is the string that your kid will use to pull the tram car up and down the zip line. Otherwise, it’s going to be YOU doing it. Probably the very moment you are trying to get lunch on the table while answering work texts during a Zoom meeting while also searching for your daughter’s lost LEGO figurine.

Next comes the zip line! I used kite string, but we tested yarn and it works as well. We  rigged our zip line on stairs, but a tree in the yard or a tall chair & shorter chair works too. Two very important things: WEIGH BOTH CHAIRS DOWN WITH BOOKS. There will be quite a bit of kid traffic on and around the zip line. Weighing both chairs reduces the chance of nudging or tipping.

Next very important thing: if you are doing this on a stair case, SET BOTH CHAIRS BACK FROM THE STAIRS. Especially if you have two or more kids. You don’t want anyone falling down, or tripping up, the stairs. Below is the minimum I would set the chair from the top of stairs. More so for younger kids and.or multiple kids.

Once the chairs are set up and weighted down, thread the zip line string through the paper towel tube on your tram car, then tie the string to the backs of both chairs. Make sure there is plenty of tension in the string so your tram car really zips!


One more helpful hint…if you need to “park” your tram car for a moment, simply tuck the pull string into one of the books weighing down the chair, as demonstrated in the photo below:

Home for Halloween

jack o lanternIt might be a smaller, simpler Halloween this year, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less spirited (oooo bad pun alert!). We decided to do a round up of our Halloween posts for you to peruse, just in case you needed some projects, activities, costumes, or inspiration. But if you are just here to see Katie’s ingenious candy chute, scroll to the end of the post!


Above you see our cute toilet paper roll pumpkin project (bonus…the project is reversible, so no toilet paper wasted), but here’s a variation on it, using a balloon and an LED light. You might try this little lantern project, or go for this spooky votive castle

illuminated castle tissue box

For those of you looking for projects to do at home with limited materials, we recommend this printable skeleton marionette, or this simple but adorable paperclip skeleton:

el esqueleto

You can also try our hanging bat STEAM project, or this adorable ghost box (pair with a story time book and hide and seek game if you’d like)…

ghostbusters

Or make your very own shoulder raven! (and meet the REAL Poe raven here):

dr. dana as poe

Looking for a slightly more complicated project with a big WOW factor? Try this tabletop Pepper’s Ghost box, which can be constructed with items in your home, promise!

seeing spirits

For your costuming needs, we invite you to check out our thrift store costume challenge, where we basically pulled stuff from an average closet to create literary characters…

dolores-umbridge-costume

And here’s our Top 20 literary halloween costumes (the hobbits! the hobbits!), character makeup transformations, and some historic makeovers that will wow ’em at those Zoom Halloween gatherings!

model 5

For those of you wishing to ramp it up a notch, how about recreating our Dracula escape room? You’ll find a full breakdown here, including the puzzles and props we used…

full dracula room shot 3

For the younger kiddos we offer this box haunted house with ghost-hunting activity. No box? No problem! Drape a large table with a cloth and you’re set!

i-aint-afraid-of-no-ghost

If you’d like to keep it all virtual this year, try our online Sherlock Holmes escape room, take a look at some historic book curses, or enjoy our interview with this pumpkin carving master!

And finally…drum roll please…for Halloween 2020, check out Katie’s candy chute for the socially distanced trick or treaters! She constructed it with a 5″ HVAC tube, a pool noodle, and orange and black duct tape. The chute is about 5.5 feet long, which is perfect for distributing goodies to eager ghosts and goblins. I also want to confirm for the world: yes, Katie will be offering packets of Fun Dip this year. Oh YEAH!

IMG_0573

Operators Are Standing By

Hey, how are you doing? The answer to that question may vary hour to hour, but here’s a chance to voice those feelings on your very own “Feel-O-Fone” line! All you need are a few household items to chat with your head and your heart.

We recommend reading The Boy With Big, Big Feelings, written by Britney Winn Lee, and illustrated by Jacob Souva (Beaming Books, 2019). Read here by Hannah Michahelles. A boy’s emotions are so big, he worries he can’t hold them in, deal with them, or make friends. But he soon learns that big hearts are better then ok, they’re the BEST!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 toilet paper roll
  • Construction paper
  • 1 large paper clip
  • A bit of string, ribbon, shoelace, or wire
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Wrap your tissue box and toilet paper tube with construction paper, then decorate your phone with markers. I used pushpins to create textured buttons on my phone, but you can also glue on clothing buttons, bottle caps, or draw the buttons with markers.

The toilet paper tube is the phone’s “receiver.” To hang the receiver, slightly unfold a large paper clip, then tape it to the side of the box. The receiver tube slides onto the bent paperclip:

Connect the receiver to the phone box with a piece of ribbon, string, or a shoelace (I used the cable from an ancient set of ear buds). Hang the phone on the wall, and you’re done! To operate the Feel-O-Phone, unhook the receiver and simply talk…tell it how you’re feeling! Happy? Sad? Scared? Worried? Silly? Share away, operators are standing by…