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

Sneak Peek: Willy Wonka Escape Room

giant lollipopNow that’s a large lollipop! Tomorrow, our library is hosting an original Willy Wonka escape room, designed by the same genius (i.e. Katie) who brought you our Sherlock Holmes escape room last year. And I must say, she’s outdone herself this time.

The premise is thus: there’s a job opening in Willy Wonka’s top secret Inventing Room, but in order to make the cut, teams of 6 kids will have to solve the puzzles he’s left behind. And this isn’t your ordinary lab, of course. For one thing, the candies are unusual sizes, including this humongous lollipop, which we hope will measure up to the escape room challenge (heh heh, that’s a hint!).

We’ll have a complete breakdown of the escape room puzzles and solutions for you next Friday (and here it is!). But today, here’s how we made this giant lolly!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pool noodle
  • 1 large wooden dowel
  • Clear cellophane
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors and a box cutter for construction
  • Hot glue

This project starts with a pool noodle, which are the long, Styrofoam tubes you can find for a couple bucks in pool toys section of Target, or even at the Dollar Store during the summer months. We bought ours bulk from Oriental Trading company, because we plan to use them for another event. Our noodles were 46″ long, with a 2.5″ diameter.

pool noodlesStart by cutting a pool noodle in half. Katie used a box cutter and scissors. She found that neither tool was ideal, but the scissors worked a little better for her. Both methods, however, resulted in shredding, so definitely work over a trash can.

To create the spiral head of the lollipop, glob a bunch of hot glue on the end of a pool noodle half, then roll it inward. Keep globbing and rolling, and Katie advises LOTS of hand pressure to make sure the glue really adheres.

rolling the pop When you get to the end of the first noodle half, glue on the second half and keep rolling! Note: there will be a gap where the two halves meet, but it’s not too bad:

gap in noodleWhen the lollipop head is finished, use a box cutter and scissors to create a small hole in the bottom of the spiral (about 1.5″ deep), for the lollipop’s stick. We used 36″ wooden dowel that was .75″ in diameter. I found them at Michael’s Craft store for $1.60 a piece. Insert the stick, and glob a ton of hot glue in and around the hole to secure the stick in place. Katie’s also used color masking tape to reinforce the perimeter of the lollipop spiral.

lollipop stickFinally, use clear cellophane and a ribbon to wrap your lollipop head. Here’s our finished lollipop…the final length was a whopping 46″. I included a marker to show you the size ratio. Notice the measurement notches along the stick? Shhhh! It’s a clue!

finished lollipopAnd just in case you’re wondering, yes, it is a lot of fun to run around the office wielding giant lollipops. Definitely recommend it.

Fast Funny Free Writes

fast funny free writes

It Conquered the World, 1956. From Mad Mad Mad Blog

We’re always on the lookout for fast, fun activities for Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12. Recently, we took an unusual approach to the concept of the free write. Instead of writing prose from a prompt, we wrote speech bubbles. Using B-movie science fiction screen shots, of course. Here’s a small sampling of the hilarious results (and here’s the caption sheet if you’d like to try it yourself)…


PLANET OF THE FEMALE INVADERS, 1967
From flickr

fantastic duo 3_be quiet and stylefantastic duo 3_ghost of washington fantastic duo 3_all for publicityfantastic duo 3_fabulous banana


THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK, 1958
From Dwrayger Dungeon

problem in the lab 4_too good looking problem in the lab 4_sureee problem in the lab 4_it's in the brain problem in the lab 4_it wasn't decaf


CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON, 1953
From Say: Hello Spaceman

  3 dudes in suits 4_rice will not help you 3 dudes in suits 4_when will life end3 dudes in suits 4_he's knitting


THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, 1951
From IMDb

big robot 2_last tacobig robot 2_wear the cool suit big robot 2_time for your iron   big robot 2_toaster is a jerk


UNIDENTIFIED FLYING ODDBALL, 1979
From Cybernetic Zoo

rover chase 5_game of tag rover chase 5_it was fake rover chase 5_no space hererover chase 5_amateurs