Delicious Dim Sum

delicious dim sumHungry? We invite you to peruse the contents of this adorable dim sum cart. In addition to being stocked with deliciously delectable dishes, the cart is a bilingual matching game with an additional story time social twist!

dim sum cartWe read Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001). Follow a family as they sample the many little dishes served at a dim sum restaurant. Pork buns, fried shrimp, egg tarts…the carts have something for everyone! The book concludes with an excellent essay about dim sum – it’s history, traditions, and social aspects. Fantastic book!

You’ll need:

First, the cart! Use a box cutter to create a square in one of the short sides of a  box (leave the other short side intact). Next, cut hinged rectangular flaps in the long sides of the box. Fold the flaps down to create the lower “shelf” of the cart. Secure the flaps in place with tape or hot glue.

dim sum cart box cutAdd a wheel assembly to the bottom of the box (you’ll find instructions and alternative wheel suggestions here). Use leftover box cardboard to make a cart handle. We also added gold mirror board and patterned tape to make the cart extra fancy.

dim sum cartTime for the food! Color and cut the dim sum dishes from the template, then glue them on top of construction paper (or patterned paper) circles. Thanks to Lin’s awesome illustrations on the front and end papers of the book, the dishes are labeled with their English and Chinese names.

top of dim sum cartWould you also like to serve tea? The tea cups are leftover bits of card stock circled into miniature cylinders. To make the teapot, circle and tape the rectangular part of the template to create the teapot’s body. Then add a handle, spout, and bead knob on top! The circular part of the template becomes the teapot’s hinged lid:

paper teapot

The book mentions that an open teapot means you are requesting a fresh pot – something we really wanted to replicate for this project. When the carts were finished, it was time for the matching game. Each cart came with a menu (the template is here):

dim sum menu

To play the game, kids rolled the carts up to their customers. The customers would point to a menu item, and the kids had to locate it on their carts! Oh, and we also included a cute place setting for your customers (template here).

dim sum restaurant tableThe book mentions how social dim sum dining is, so we made a couple tables (i.e. brown poster board circles) and asked the story time grown ups to sit around them. Kids traveled to ALL the tables, playing the matching game with everyone’s grown up! If you decided to add this social aspect to your story time, just make sure the kids write their names on the backs of each of their dishes so they can be returned to the proper cart.

dim sum restaurantThe final touch on this awesome project? Our colleague, Dr. Minjie Chen, stopped by to write the kids’ names on their menus in Chinese characters. The absolutely loved it. Thanks Minjie!

minjie at story time

Please, sir, I want some more…

dr dana oliver twist

Countless articles, numerous treatises, and dozens of dissertations have been written on the role food plays in children’s literature. And we have certainly done more then a few posts on it (see: top secret fooj, gingerbread house contest, and Harry Potter recipe testing).

With glorious fictitious edibles in mind, I developed a quick activity for Cotsen Critix, our children’s literary society for 9-12 year olds. The task was simple: match the food to the literary character. However, the list ranged from easy to challenging, thanks to the invaluable assistance of librarians on the ALSC listserv. They came up with tons of clever matches.

Below is the game, and here is the pdf version (and NO answer key! Mwah hah hah!):

characters and foods game

If you’re wondering where on earth we found a Victorian-esque dining hall for the blog photo, the answer is Proctor Hall. It’s the dining room for Princeton University’s Graduate College. It’s absolutely gorgeous, with wood paneling, oil portraits, and a massive stained glass window.

proctor hall princeton university graduate collegeI couldn’t resist busting out a little Oliver! at the end of the shoot. If you look closely, you can see that I truly got into character by smearing mud all over my London orphan face.

Disclaimer: I have NO vocal training, and am famous for messing up song lyrics.


Many thanks to Marybeth Shippole for graciously allowing us to visit Proctor Hall, and to all the ALSC librarians for their invaluable contributions to the game!

Play With Your Food

play with your foodIt’s dinner time and the peas are flying! Can your land the pom-pom peas on the plates, bowls, and cups? Bust out your pea catapult and get ready to do some physics and math!

We recommend reading Eat Your Peas, Ivy Louise by Leo Landry (HMH Books, 2005). Toddler Ivy Louise has been tasked with eating her dinner. However, those energetic peas are running a full-scale circus on her plate, complete with acrobatics, impressive weight-lifting, and a high dive act. The grand finale? We’ll let you guess. Very entertaining for Ivy Louise. Not so much fun for Mom and Dad to clean up!

You’ll need:

  • 2 jumbo craft sticks (ours were 8″ long)
  • 6 medium craft sticks (mine were 4.5″ long)
  • Masking tape
  • 4 medium rubber bands
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • 5-10 green pom-poms
  • Paper plates, bowl, and cup
  • Markers for decorating

Our awesome craft stick catapult is from this bouncing bedtime post, so I’ve repeated the instructions below. Stack 2 jumbo craft sticks on top of one another, then wrap a rubber band tightly around one side.

rubber banded craft sticks

Now stack 6 medium craft sticks on top of one another and wrap both ends tightly with masking tape.taped craft sticksWedge the stack of 6 craft sticks in between the jumbo crafts sticks like so:

wedged

Then wrap 2 rubber bands around both sets of craft sticks to secure the catapult mechanism in place (a criss-cross formation works best).

banded

An additional step for you pea catapult…secure a plastic spoon on the end of the catapult arm with a rubber band. Don’t secure the spoon with tape – you might want to adjust the placement of the spoon later when you’re launching peas. Here’s our finished pea catapult, all loaded up:

pea catapultNow for your targets! Use markers to decorate paper plates, bowls, and cups. Make sure to assign a numerical value to each item.

pea targetsReady to play? Set your table, load up your catapult, and launch some peas! Use your math skills to tally points, and play around with physics as you adjust your spoon and your catapult to achieve maximum results.