Sneak Peek: Teddy Bear Picnic

sneak peek teddy bear picnic

Hold onto your binkies, we’re hosting a baby event! While we do host a weekly baby social hour, and while we did have legendary librarian Peggy Salwen do a story time at our library, next week we’re trying something new…something that involves this amazing snail ball pit!

The event is called Teddy Bear Picnic. The concept is pretty simple. Katie and I designed a picnic/outdoor “setting” for babies to explore. Our goal for the babies is interaction – with the setting, with their caregivers, and with other babies. Plus, we’re doing teddy bear giveaway. We’ll share full details, plus lots of photos, soon!


In the area and would like to attend? Teddy Bear Picnic is Monday, November 18th from 11am – 12pm in the Cotsen gallery. The program is intended for children ages 0-2. Details can be found here.

Red Letter Day

red letter day

Hosting a community event table and need something creative, literary, and simple? We highly recommend this wooden letter key chain project, which clips oh-so-conveniently to your bag or backpack!

The project just requires wooden letters, markers, rubber bands, and carabiners. We bought our carabiners from Oriental Trading Company – a bag of 50 costs $12. Our 2″ wooden letters are from Amazon. A set of 120 pieces (which also included symbols # & @ $) cost $22. And they come in this handy-dandy tray too!

letter keychain table layoutAt the event, we simply laid everything out and invited kids to decorate! I think we made around 350 keychains that day. Also, since we were representing Princeton University, Katie and I wore tiger onesies (like we needed an excuse, right?).

dr dana and katie tigersThe project was quick, easy to explain, inspired a lot of creativity, involved alphabet letters, and kids of various ages (plus a few college students!) really enjoyed it. You can’t get much better then that!

Pomp & Circumstance

It was a day of much celebration and fuss…after 11 months of renovation, the gallery of the Cotsen Children’s Library has re-opened. Cue the trumpet fanfare!

You might recall that Katie and I have been bunking in a multipurpose room for almost a year, driving each other crazy with our rock music and the way we chew our lunch salads. We did, however, host some fun off-site programs: a Tintin event, a Sherlock Holmes escape room, a Bhangra dance performance, and Pop Up story times in Rocky Hill, Pennington, and Bernardsville.

We wanted to welcome our community families back in style, so we devised a three-part celebration for our official reopening. First, we filled the front of the library with 34″ inch helium alphabet letters. Yup, we inflated 130 letters and let kids charge through them.

It was a huge hit! We ordered the balloons online from ACi Party ($4 each), and our balloon weights and ribbons from Oriental Trading Company ($8.50/dozen for the weights, $9 for a dozen, 60′ ribbon spools). The helium tank was donated by the good folks at Airgas, to whom we are very, very grateful.

It took 3 hours and 4 people to inflate, tie, and position 130 balloons. We are happy to report that, even with all the kids dodging in and out, we only had ONE balloon pop at the event.

The back of the gallery had a hands-on art extravaganza – decorating paper mache letters! This isn’t the first time we’ve trotted out this very popular project, though it is the first time we’ve done it on such a large scale. The 8″ paper mache letters were purchased from Consumer Crafts ($2 each). Some tape, glue, and a small mountain of art supplies later, the results were stupendous!

Here are my personal favorites: a fluffy butterfly E, a polka dot metallic duo, and a royal P!

Also, this L garden. My daughter insisted I tell the entire internet world that this is her personal creation. She made me pinky promise!

tree L 2The art area consisted of 3 tables piled with art supplies and a hot glue station. 6 smaller tables acted as work stations for the kids (exactly the same as this event, actually). Here’s a quick snap of the work stations at the very the beginning of the event. But mostly we included this photo because of the epic photo bomb.

The third and final part of the event were gift basket giveaways. There were 11 baskets in total (one for each month we were under renovation). Every basket had a literary theme, from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Diagon Alley! Katie fell in love with the giant cheeseburger and squishy fries in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs basket (we had so much fun shopping for these).

Every adult and child who came to the event earned a chance to win a basket, HOWEVER! If you came to the event in a literary costume, you earned an additional entry form. Did some literary celebrities show up? Absolutely! Here’s Little Red Riding Hood…

Mr. Harry Potter…

Some Hogwart’s students…

Pippi Longstocking…

Charlotte the Spider and Laura Ingalls Wilder…

And the cutest little Peter Rabbit, ever.

Katie and I were dressed up as well. Katie was a truly amazing Eloise…and I was the physical manifestation of the Dewey Decimal classification for Mythology (291.13 was written on my forearm in Sharpie).

At the end of the event, we encouraged families to take home the alphabet balloons. We later received reports of balloon sightings all over town. Balloons sailed past restaurant windows, bobbed down sidewalks, and filled up the windows of cars. I like the idea of a floating, traveling alphabet. We even sent a few home with Princeton University students.

And one balloon shucked its tether and ended up on the library ceiling. It’s sort of ironic that it’s the letter C that got stuck up there.

Amid the chaos, art supplies, and bopping balloons, we were delighted to see families taking time to enjoy stories together. And triple bonus points that these two are reading Betsy Bird’s Giant Dance Party.

It has been a long 11 months, but we are delighted to be back. Please come and say hi!