Ship in a Bottle

ship in a bottleAhoy! Don’t toss that little plastic water bottle! This simple ship can be put together from supplies laying around any pirate den.

You’ll need:

  • An empty 8 oz plastic water bottle
  • A 4″ x 4″ square of standard white paper
  • 2 pennies
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Remove the label from the water bottle. I used Poland Springs brand because it has a paper label that comes off easily. There was still some adhesive stuck to the bottle…

adhesiveBut it came off right away with some scotch tape. Press the tape to the adhesive, and then rip it off! Repeat until all the adhesive is gone and you have a nice clean bottle.

Now for the ship! For the step-by-step folding instructions below, I used marbled origami paper to better illustrate the folds. But you can definitely use plain old white paper for your ship. Start with a 4″ x 4″ square of paper.

ship step 1Now cut the paper in half, forming 2 triangles.

ship step 2Moving forward, you’ll just be using one of the triangles (give the other to yer shipmate). Orient your triangle like so…

ship step 3Then fold the lower right point up to the top of the triangle.

ship step 4Repeat with the left point. Your paper will now look like this:

ship step 5Open your triangle like so…

ship step 6Then fold the top point down to the base of the triangle like this:

ship step 7Fold the right point up again…

ship step 8Then repeat with the left point.

ship step 9Fold the bottom point up…

ship step 10Then gentle push it back down again. This creates the base that props up your ship.

ship step 11Your ship is done!

ship step 12Since you’ll be folding a ship using standard white paper, your ship will of course be all white. Therefore, your next step is to color the base of the ship with markers (and the sails too if you like).

colored ship baseThen turn the ship around and tape two stacked pennies to the base. The pennies are important. Not only do they keep the ship upright, they also anchor the bottle on its side  AND act as a counterbalance for the bottle’s cap.

pennies on baseReady to get that ship in the bottle? Gently fold the base upwards, and curl the sails loosely around it. Try not to pinch the ship too tightly.

rolled shipInsert the rolled ship through the mouth and neck of the bottle. Use your finger or a pencil to gently unroll the ship and straighten the sails. Twist the cap on your bottle, and you’re done!

finished ship in bottleThis project was a bit hit at a large-scale Treasure Island event we hosted. Even though the origami fold is relatively easy, we folded a fleet of ships in advance for very young children, who were able to jump right into decorating them. We also developed this extremely popular (and inexpensive) pom-pom cannon  for another event table.

We had a real cannon too, courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Navy historical reenactors.

cannonThese folks were amazing. The history, artifacts, and knowledge they brought to the event were absolutely top rate.

pa navyAnother amazing educator was this gentleman from the Trenton Old Barracks Museum, who portrayed Dr. Livesey. He brought all of his period medical implements and described them in great detail. And yes, before you ask – he did bring leeches.

dr livesey

Letter Art

letter artInspire alpha-centric creativity with this simple project! This dandy “Letter Art” gallery was created by Cotsen Critix, our literary group for kids ages 9-12. First, I asked each kid (plus 2 Princeton undergraduates and myself) to select a plain paper mache uppercase letter. I used these 8″ ones, purchased from our local Paper Source store (uppercase letters are $3.95, lower case are $3.75).

undecorated letter NWe took the letters home, decorated them, and brought them to the group’s next session, where they were proudly photographed and put on display. After that, we launched into a workshop with a Japanese calligrapher, who introduced us to an entirely different approach to the art of the letter.

calligraphyBelow are larger images of the individual letters, beginning with one that was inspired by the drinking straws and rosettes on this Cinderella dress (as library VIPs, Cotsen Critix got a sneak peek at the dress before the big event).

Also, if you’re wondering… yes, the backwards R in a box is wired for electricity. The angle of the box, the letter R, and the striped T in the illuminated background all combine to spell “ART.” There’s also a backwards Z. Apologies for reversing that honorable letter of the alphabet, but I couldn’t resist capturing the side with the cotton ball storm cloud and Sharpie highlighter lightning bolt!

letter Xletter Hletter Aletter Wletter Iletter K_1letter Rletter Zletter Kletter E_2letter R_2letter Mletter Eletter R_3letter Nletter Z_2

Let it Shine

dream friendsTwinkle twinkle little light! Are your ready for your journey to dreamland? This beautiful lantern and dream friend will help guide you on your way!

little lanternWe read Dream Friends by You Byun (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013). Melody has a very special friend…a dream friend. They fly, play hide-and-seek, have marvelous adventures, and watch fireworks. But only in her dreams. In reality, Melody is a shy girl in a new neighborhood. Since her dream friend can’t leave her dreams, Melody decides to close her eyes and imagine her friend is with her. While dancing on the playground, Melody draws the attention of another little girl who asks to join her. Soon, the whole playground is dancing with Melody. Magical!

You’ll need:

  • A 5″ plastic bucket container (more on this below)
  • A 3.5″ x 5″ rectangle of mirror board
  • A selection of foil star stickers
  • Regular markers
  • Hole punch
  • 1 LED votive candle
  • A set of window markers
  • Lullaby CD
  • A selection of shimmer ribbon
  • Gold curling ribbon

A bucket container (also sometimes called a craft container) is constructed of plastic and metal. It’s meant to hold party favors, candy, etc. I purchased mine from Oriental Trading Company. You can purchase them individually at Michael’s Craft store.

bucket containerTo begin this project, use regular markers to draw a “dream friend” on the back of the mirror board (i.e. the white, non-reflective side). You could use white card stock instead of mirror board, but the mirror board is fantastic at reflecting the light of the lantern in the dark.

When cutting out your dream friend, make sure to leave a little tab at the top. Punch a hole through this tab (and round the edges if you’d like). This is where your ribbon will go later.

dream friend stepsOpen the bucket container and stick the foil stars on the “floor” of the container and the underside of lid. Some kids stuck stars on the plastic sides of the container. This is fine – just make sure they keep the stickers on the interior of the container so they won’t interfere with the markers later.

Now for the fun part. I dropped a twinkling LED votive in each container, darkened the room, put on a lullaby CD ( I highly recommend Sweet Dreams: Lullabies for Guitar by Nina Gerber), and the kids used window markers to decorate the exterior of their containers. The room was full of excited yet peaceful kids, decorating away amidst mellow, glowing lanterns.

dream workshopA tip about window markers. I purchased this brand from Discount School Supply (alas, there is no purple marker in this set). I know from experience that this particular brand works on glass AND plastic.

window markersYou have to draw slowly with window markers and allow them a little time to dry (about 30-45 second). Once they completely dry, then you can go back over them with another color. Otherwise, they get smudgy. So if you want to draw little stars with smiley faces like mine, just wait 30-45 seconds before you use the blue marker to draw the face on the yellow star.

decorated containerTo complete the project, thread some shimmer ribbon and gold curling ribbon through the punched hole in the dream friend, then tie to one side of the lantern. Sweet dreams!

lit up