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

The Plowman Cometh

the plowman cometh

A huge snow storm demands the toughest snowplow around. But not necessarily the BIGGEST. Sometimes, small gets the job done!

We read Small Walt, written by Elizabeth Verdick, and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (Simon & Schuster, 2017). Walt is the smallest snowplow in the fleet, and he’s always last in the pack to get picked by a driver. But when a huge storm hits, Walt and a good-natured driver named Gus get to work, plowing mile after mile. Even the biggest hill in town can’t stop this terrific team!

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes, or 1 large tissue box
  • 1 snowplow cab template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Black poster board
  • 1 craft stick
  • 2 medium yellow pom-poms
  • A piece of yarn (ours was 24″ long)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

snowplow

Shout out to Katie for designing such an awesome snowplow! We hot glued two, 4″ x 4″ x 4″ craft boxes together. One of the boxes is cut down to 2″ of course, to create a snowplow with a pickup truck bed. But you can also cut a large tissue box down like so:

tissue box snow plow Color and cut the side doors and windshields from the template, then tape them to the box. I would, however, like to bring your attention to this very clever variation on the template. The kid bent the doors outwards, and drew a snowplow driver inside!

driver inside snowplowWe provided color masking tape for stripes and other details. And added a craft stick bumper to the back as well…

back of snowplowThe wheels and blade of the snowplow are black poster board. Add 2 yellow pom-pom “flasher lights,” a yarn pull string, and you’re done! We decided to add an extra challenge to our story time project in the form of these fabric snowballs. I scored a dozen packages of these on deep, deep discount this summer.

snowtime snowballsKids were challenged to navigate our gallery, rolling the snowballs in front of the plow without losing them. Then they got to take some snowballs home!

snowballs and snowplowDid you notice the little blue bow on the snowplow’s windshield? In the story, Gus ties his blue scarf on Walt to celebrate the little plow being “Number One!” We definitely wanted to capture that sweetness here as well.

And in case you’re wondering if we played with the piles of fabric snowballs, the answer is YES. Here’s our friend and former office-mate Ian, being ambushed at his desk this summer. This was only one of many such incidents.