Witchy Kitchy

witchy kitchy

From the well-stocked shelves, to the bubbling cauldron, to the secret storage space…this kitchen is ready to concoct some scintillating brews. It also folds down into a snappy little travel case, complete with your shopping list clipped to the outside!

witchy kitchy travel modeWe read One Witch, written by Laura Leuck, and illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Walker & Company, 2003). A witch visits her ten sets of (unusual) friends to gather ingredients for the ultimate brew. She cooks it up, sends out invitations via bat, and a massive party ensues – including a special bowl for you! This is a fantastic counting book, plus a real family favorite. My kids asked me to read this book to them year round!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 small tissue box
  • Poster board
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 wooden coffee stirrer
  • 1 mini cauldron (or paper cup)
  • 1 ingredient bottles template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 2 plastic sample cups
  • 2 snippets of drinking straw
  • 2 buttons
  • 1 small rubber band
  • 1 spooky shopping list template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We used our standard craft boxes for this project, but I’m also going to show you how to build it with large and small tissue boxes. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the project:

witchy kitchy birds eye viewAs you can see, it’s a box within a box. The left side of the kitchen is the unfolding countertop/secret storage area, the the right side is the fireplace for the cauldron (which we stoked with brown poster board logs and red paper crinkle, but construction paper works too). The front of the fireplace is a V-shaped door that folds down. Use markers to create the stones for your hearth.

If you want to make the project with tissue boxes, the key is to flip the tissue boxes upside down and cut the bottoms into lids. Here’s the large box:

witch kitchy tissue box alt step 1The issue, of course, is you have a big hole in the floor of your kitchen. No problem! Just glue or tape a piece of poster board over the hole (shown here in yellow):

witch kitchy tissue box alt step 2To make the unfolding countertop/secret storage space, flip a small tissue box, cut the bottom to make a hinged lid, cut the box down to the proper height, then attach it inside the large box. Cut the V-shaped hearth door and you’re set!

witch kitchy tissue box alt step 3The shelves along the back of the kitchen are basic poster board pockets. Cut and color the various bottles in your template to stock your kitchen:

witchy kitchy shelvesIn the secret storage are little plastic sample cups for mixing, snippets of drinking straws, plus (optional) ingredient bottles repurposed from old-school film canisters. We filled ours with fabric flowers, foam beads, and green paper crinkle. I also added little cleavers I cut from silver mirror board.

witchy kitchyBut my FAVORITE item in the kitchen is the cauldron. We used plastic mini cauldrons, but you can also fashion a cauldron from a paper cup. To hang the cauldron, cut little notches in the sides of the boxes, then slide a wooden coffee stirrer into the notches.

The outside of the box gets a poster board carrying handle, as well as a shopping list you can either tape or clip to the front:

witchy kitchy travel modeThe box does get a little heavy. In fact, our lid kept popping open. So we added extra support in the form of two buttons, which we hot glued to the lid and body of the large box. Wrap a rubber band around the buttons, and you’re set!

A week after this project, we ran into one of our story time kids. She wants you to know that “THIS IS MY FAVORITE TOY AND I PLAY WITH IT ALL THE TIME I MAKE SOUPS THAT I FEED MY BROTHER!”

Potter After Hours

potter after hours at the franklin instituteKatie is once again off on wild adventures. Remember that time she spent a year in Europe? Or how about when she dropped by Antiques Roadshow? This time, Katie journeyed to the Franklin Institute for a veeeeeery special Harry Potter event. Take it away, Katie!


It’s universally understood the Harry Potter series has captured the hearts of children, but adults are just as passionate about Harry and his adventures at Hogwarts. I count myself as one of those adults who is a Harry Potter fanatic, so naturally I leapt at the opportunity to attend Wizard School, an after-hours adult only program held at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

katie at the franklin insitute science after hoursThe Franklin Institute is one of the oldest museums in the United States dedicated to science education and research, and it is absolutely one of my favorite places to take my son when we have a free day. Named after Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute has four floors of amazing science exhibitions, a planetarium, IMAX theatre, and even a telescope observatory on the roof.

Science After Hours is a series of events the Franklin Institute holds for adults 21+ and is designed around a specific theme, like Wizard School, with demonstrations, live speakers, music and dancing, activities, a chance to explore the entire museum at night, and…a cash bar.

As soon as I arrived, I snagged a cup of Butter Beer and started wandering through the museum to various activity tables. Wizard’s Chess anyone?

wizarding chess at the franklin instituteIn the Giant Heart exhibit, I tested to see if I was a pure blood by pouring a glass of clear liquid into a second glass of clear liquid. If the mixture turned red, you were a pure blood. If it didn’t, you were a Muggle. The magic is a pH indicator, phenolphthalein, being mixed with water and reacting to sodium carbonate, which is present in the second glass. The sodium carbonate and phenolphthalein react and turn the liquid red. If one glass didn’t have the chemical, the liquid remained clear. My glass turned red – I’m a pure blood witch!

pure blood testing at the franklin instituteI made my way past a very long line of people waiting to make a magical amulet so I could watch part of the Raptores Maximus show. Mike Dupuy, a local falconer and educator, introduced several of his birds of prey. Including Mr. Big Owl, a Eurasian owl who had the most stunning orange eyes.

mike dupuy with mr. big owl franklin instituteNext, I journeyed on to Pepper Hall, where I was greeted by 2 very long lines: 1) Make your own wand; and 2) Visit the Slimy Serpent, Critter, and Creature Magic Supply Shoppe. The Supply Shoppe was a tremendous display of potions ingredients and various critters you may discover as a student at Hogwarts, including snakes, spiders, frogs and even a jar of leeches. But I opted for wand making because I was curious to see how the Franklin Institute would handle a wand craft for well over a thousand people after our experience with our much smaller Wand Works event.

The wand craft was impressively simple, but quite impactful. As you approached the front of the line, you selected a colored light bulb with wire legs (identical to the bulbs we tested in the Circuit Clay kit). You moved forward and were given a small button cell battery and a paper straw that had been cut on one end to provide a slit for the battery to rest. Volunteers demonstrated how to slide the two legs of the bulb onto each side of the battery, illuminating the bulb, and then gave you two pieces of tape to secure the bulb onto the battery and secure the battery into the slit at the top of your straw.

The final step was a wood clothespin, which is where you insert the paper straw. The clothespin is wrapped with more tape to keep the straw from falling out and becomes the handle of the wand. After the wand is complete, there were tables with markers, star stickers and tiny jewels to bedazzle your wand. No two wands were alike!

wand making at the franklin instituteI tried to attend a presentation called The Absolutely True Fake Story of the Philosopher’s Stone. I should have used an Apparition spell to get me to the theater faster because the seats were full by the time I arrived. Not deterred, I walked through Platform 3.14 to see the Hogwarts Express (cleverly disguised as a Baldwin 60000 locomotive engine, which is on permanent display in the Train Factory exhibit).

platform 3.14 at franklin instituteMany of the demonstration tables had student volunteers from nearby colleges, including Drexel University, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania. The students were enthusiastically full of scientific information – such as the possibility of real-life invisibility cloaks (i.e. lasers and thermal imaging cameras). They were ready to be peppered with questions from everyone. Including Voldemort.

voldemort at the franklin instituteThe OwlCapella group from Temple University was serenading those in the ticketing atrium who had paused to rest their feet or have a snack, and I got a good laugh when I noticed Harry Potter conducting, unbeknownst to the choir. Total Potterbomb.

owlcappella at franklin instituteThe grand finale was held in the Franklin Memorial Hall, in front of a giant statue of Benjamin Franklin. Everyone was asked to raise their newly made wands and chant the Incendio spell. The result was a mighty green fireball explosion, courtesy of about a dozen large balloons filled with hydrogen. Very cool.


And just in case you’re wondering, Dr. Dana has ignited giant fireballs in the name of wizardry as well. You’ll find that here.

Wizard School was so popular, the Franklin Institute added a second date at the end of November! Dr. Dana and I are eagerly awaiting the Science After Hours schedule for 2019 with hopes there will be another literary related evening for us to enjoy. Stay tuned!

Wrist Owls

wrist owlsCats might make you sneeze and toads are rather old-fashioned. What you really need…is an owl! This project (which is derived from these wrist parakeets) is designed to be simple, inexpensive, and a snap to assemble at large-scale events with minimal staffing. The owls were a huge hit at a Harry Potter event we did in 2007, and again in 2017 at Wand Works.

You’ll need:

  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Construction paper
  • A selection of small feathers
  • 1 pair of dot stickers (optional)
  • 1 small triangle of self-adhesive foam or construction paper
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors, tape, and hole punch for construction
  • Brown or black markers

The color of your construction paper and feathers varies depending on the color of your owl. At our event, we offered both brown and white options.

Wrap a toilet paper tube with construction paper, then use tape (or glue) to attach feather wings and ear tufts. Use a marker to draw the owl’s eyes – or – use dot stickers for an extra pop of color. We added details to our sticker eyes with a Sharpie ultra fine point markers. Attach a small triangle of self-adhesive foam for the beak (or just use a snippet of orange or yellow construction paper).

The earlier incarnation of this owl project used different shades of brown construction paper for the owl’s head and its stomach:

alternative owlBut we simplified things further and just used markers to draw outlines of feathers on the owl’s chest. Finish by punching 2 holes on the bottom of the tube. Thread a pipe cleaner through the holes, then fasten the owl to your wrist. You’re ready for Hogwarts!

off to hogwarts