A Proper Toast

Meet a toast with a LOT of personality! Today’s blog post is a story time, simple project, AND quick snack, all rolled into one!

We recommend Toasty by Sarah Hwang (Margaret Ferguson Books, 2021, read here by the Loveland Public Library). Toasty is a piece of toast, but he really wants to be a dog. Even though he knows there are differences and major challenges, the intrepid Toasty heads to the park to meet some pups. Unfortunately, all does not go as planned. But when a girl appears at the moment Toasty needs her the most, a beautiful friendship begins.

You’ll need:

  • A piece of toast
  • A toaster or oven

Why I didn’t figure out this toast drawing thing when my kids were smaller?!? It’s adorable. Use you fingers to very firmly press the design (or a letter or word) you want into an uncooked slice of bread. Hint: the firmer you press, the more the design will show up. Pop the slice in the toaster, and done!

Of course, we being who I am, I did wonder if the cooking time/temperature impacted how the design appeared on the toast…

a proper toasttoast test 3The answer is basically no. Above you can see 3 slices of toast cooked on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd settings on my toaster. The design appears about the same. Or maybe I only did the experiment so I would have an excuse to eat three yummy slices of toast that morning? Hmmmmm. Totally not telling.

Ransom is as Ransom Does

Quick! You have 90 seconds to describe the inside of Chuck E. Cheese, using only 75 random letters. OK, how about asking your neighbor to borrow something from their kitchen? Summarize the Star Wars movies? Explain to a grocery store worker why you have a monkey with you?

Welcome to Ransom Notes (by Charty Party), an awesome word magnet game that challenges up to six players to create the best description they can…using very few words…and zero grammar!

ransom notes box 4Retailing for around $40, the game includes 840 word magnets, 6 metal player submission cards, and 255 prompt cards.

I will tell you that the game does not come out of the box ready-to-play…you have to individually separate multiple sheets of magnets. But after that, you’re ready to go!

Each player gets a metal submission card, and grabs 3 pinches of the letter tiles (about 75 tiles total). Then each player organizes their letters facing up. This process takes a WHILE. But I will say that the 2 players I played with had a good chuckle over their words, and were spontaneously stringing together funny sentences while also getting organized for game play.

The round begins when a prompt card is flipped. Players then have 60-90 seconds to come up with a response using their magnet tiles (note: I played this game with my 13 and 10 year-old, and we extended that period to 2-3 minutes). When the time’s up, everyone shares their ransom note! The results prompted much laughter. Here’s one of our rounds:

With the results revealed, a Judge is selected (and there’s a new judge every round). You can decide who judges the round, or – and I really like this – you can spin the bottom of the game box on the table. One side has “you’re the judge” printed on it, and whoever it lands facing is the Judge!

you're the judge 5 The Judge picks the winner of the round, and the winner is awarded the prompt card. The next round begins, and the game ends when one person has won five prompt cards total. The Judge can pick themselves to win a round, but the rest of the players must unanimously agree.

In summary, Ransom Note is really funny and we enjoyed it!  It’s simple to play, and there is a whole lot of creative writing happening. The prompt cards are hilarious and unusual. The game box states Ransom Note is intended for ages 17+ but that mostly refers to some of the more adult prompt cards. Those can easily be removed from the deck if you’re playing with younger kiddos. My only quibble is that the magnet words don’t always adhere to to metal game cards very well. But you only have to use them for a short amount of time, so eh…it’s fine.

Highly recommended!

Pop’s Top 10: Our Favorite Posts of 2021

12 month 46 hour library 4Wow wowzers wowie WOW are we looking forward to turning the page to 2022! But before we put a lid on 2021, we thought we would revisit some of our favorite posts! Here they are, in no particular order, our Top 10 posts of 2021!

#1 TOTALLY RANDOM


Never in a million years did I think a recycled pasta box would go viral, but this was one of our most popular projects! It’s a simple writing prompt machine, inspired by an arcade claw machine from summer vacations past.

#2 LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND NOBLE


Medieval Vogue front 1

Katie and I had a good time revisiting this fashion-parody-but-it’s-actually-historically-factual magazine. Medieval Vogue was part of a massive 2012 Robin Hood event. You can read more about the event fun here.

#3 DESTINATION: SLEEPY HOLLOW


It’s not everyday you get to check a box on the life list! Visiting Sleepy Hollow, NY has been something I’ve always dreamed of….and our 2021 trip will always be something to remember.

#4 BRINGING LITERATURE TO LIFE


Katie was delighted to interview Australian blogger Bryton Taylor, whose amazing literary parties and original recipes give us much inspiration!

#5 LITERARY AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES


moby dick ride_2

A Top 10 list in a Top 10 list? We couldn’t resist including this one because it was pure joy to research.

#6 FLOWERS FOR FERDINAND


In addition to featuring one of Katie’s favorite picture books, this post was full of hope, spring, and a fantastic wildflower identification app!

#7 FROM FOLKLORE TO FANTASY


Co-hosted with Vineet Chander from Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life, Hindu Life Program, this live Zoom webinar with talented authors Sanyantani DasGupta and Roshani Chokshi was just magical. And the Q&A with the kids was epic! You can find the entire event here.

#8 SPLASHY SPELLING


This one made the list because it was almost a huge fail and it turned my hand pink. Yes, PINK! Though I ultimately managed to produce a cute bath time spelling craft, my digits were blush for days!

#9 PUPPY POST


more puppy post 1Of course we’re going to include the post that introduced Finley, the newest addition to Katie’s family! Look at him, rocking that doggie delivery mailbox! Awwwww!

#10 THE 12 MONTH, 46 HOUR LIBRARY


12 month 46 hour library 4 Otherwise known as the craft kit that almost took Katie down. It might have taken a year, but now we have an adorable physical representation of Katie’s persistence and perseverance (and just look at that cute library ladder)!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! HERE’S TO 2022!