Surely You Jest

court jesterIt’s comedy old school style with this jester motley (a.k.a. “cap ‘n bells”) and scepter (a.k.a. “bauble”). A scroll of hilarious jokes is included, such as: Why did Cinderella lose the football game? Because her coach was a pumpkin! Oh ho ho!

We read Serious Trouble by Arthur Howard (Voyager Books, 2007). Prince Ernest has very serious parents who expect him to proceed seriously through life and eventually rule the kingdom. Seriously. The problem is, Ernest wants to be a jester. But his occupational dream couldn’t come at a worse time, because the kingdom is being threatened by a terrible three-headed dragon. When Ernest sneaks out of the castle to practice some jokes, he unfortunately runs into the dragon. The grumpy dragon agrees to let him go if Ernest can make him laugh. Can the princely comic deliver? Of course he can (it helps that dragons are way ticklish)!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large poster board strip for hat band (approximately 2.5″ x 22″)
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • 3 poster board triangles in different colors (mine were approximately 8″ at the base and 17.5″ tall).
  • 5 medium pom-poms (mine were 1″)
  • 6 jingle bells
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • 1 piece of construction paper, any color
  • Multiple pieces of curling ribbon
  • Multiple pieces of fabric ribbon
  • 1 small rectangle of construction paper (approximately 2.75″ x 6.5″)
  • 1 jester head template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 3 small pom-poms (mine were 0.5″)
  • 1 set of Ye Olde Funny Jokes, printed on standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • Stapler, hole punch, scissors, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

jester hatStart with the hat! Decorate the large strip of poster board with color tape. Then circle it around your head, remove, and staple to create a hat band. For the pointy part of your hat, use long poster board triangles that look like this:

trianglesTuck each triangle inside the hat band and staple into place. It’s absolutely OK if the bases of the triangles overlap. In fact, it looks rather snazzy.

overlap okNext, punch a hole at the end of each triangle. You want the hole to be close to the tip of the triangle, but not so close that the jingle bell might tear loose.

triangle holeThread a small piece of curling ribbon through each jingle bell, and then knot a bell through each hole. Don’t knot the ribbon too tight, or it will cut through the poster board!

bellFinish by hot gluing 5 medium pom-poms around the exterior of the hat band. Done!

hot glue hatNow for your scepter. Wrap a paper towel tube with construction paper, and use color masking tape to add some stripes. Then, take a 5.5″ piece of color masking tape and place it sticky side up on the table. Gently press the ends of the curling and fabric ribbon onto the tape. Include at least 3 pieces of curling ribbon.

ribbonWrap the ribbon tape around the top of the paper towel tube BUT…drop it about 1″ from the top of the tube.

wrapped ribbonTrim the ribbon if it seems too long, and then knot a jingle bell onto each curling ribbon (the fabric ribbon is too soft for threading). Next, cut a zig-zag pattern into the small rectangle of construction paper…

collarThen wrap it around the top of the paper towel tube. Like the ribbon tape, you’ll want to drop the zig-zag paper about 1″ from the top of the tube.

wrapped collarUse markers to color the jester head template, then curl the long tabs of the template around the top of the paper towel tube and fasten with tape. Finish by hot gluing 3 small pom-poms on the ends of the hat.

finished scepter All you need now are jokes! I printed the joke sheets in advance and used a piece of curling ribbon to turn them into scrolls. Then I hid the jokes around the gallery and turned it into a jester quest. The gallery was full of giggling, jingling kids. It was fabulous!

If you are in need of a dragon to accompany this project, try this fella!


castle shotAh, a lovely group shot outside the castle.

The above image is not Photoshopped in any way (seriously, I went outside Firestone Library and took the shot with everyone throwing me curious glances. That’s dedication folks!).

These lovely finger puppets were prizes at a Fairy Tale Boot Camp program at our library. As families entered the gallery, they were greeted by a Court Jester who asked them to guess the characters from six fairy tale riddles. Identify them all and you won your choice of three puppets (which I ordered from Oriental Trading Company). You were allowed endless hints, so everyone eventually won of course.

finger puppetsHere are the six riddles, written by me and student Kay Zhang:

There once was a girl in red,
who visited Grandma in bed.
But something was wrong:
Grandma’s nose was too long!
This little girl had been very misled.
Answer: Little Red Riding Hood

There once was a boy who was clever
He wanted to stay young forever.
Find pirates and caves,
and Indian braves,
in the land they call “Never Never.”
Answer: Peter Pan

There once was a girl in a tower,
who took a long time to shower.
Why you may ask,
so lengthy a task?
Just to shampoo took her an hour!
Answer: Rapunzel

There once was a house made of candy.
To us that may sound rather dandy.
This house has a glitch.
It comes with a witch!
So, keep a smart sister handy.
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

There once was a boy made of wood,
He told lies whenever he could.
To fulfill his dream,
he learned not to scheme.
His nose finally stayed as it should.
Answer: Pinocchio

Salt, sugar, butter, and flour.
Cook in the oven an hour.
The cookie’s ready to eat,
But be fast on your feet!
He runs on super horsepower.
Answer: Gingerbread Man

Other activities at the program included making castle blueprints (and learning some Medieval architecture in the process), taking a crash course in magical creature identification, breaching a castle wall with dodge balls (complete with heckling knight), deciphering Latin spells (from a certified wizard who also happened to be a University graduate student), searching the gallery for a hidden unicorn, making crowns and fairy wings, and examining utensils, tools, and objects displayed by the Society for Creative Anachronism. We also watched two knights whomp each other repeatedly in battle.

knightsLooking to do some sword fighting yourself? Perhaps these would be of interest.