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

Pyramid Party

pyramid partyDeep inside this golden pyramid is a lavish tomb complete with jeweled table, companion cat, mysterious hieroglyphics, decadent sarcophagus, and of course, a mummy!

mummyWe read Ten Little Mummies: An Egyptian Counting Book, written by Philip Yates and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Viking Juvenile, 2003). Ten little mummies, dead bored, decide to emerge from the tomb for a day of play and mischief. As the countdown progresses, each adventurous mummy encounters  something different – heat stoke, adoption by baboons, a chariot race, being unwound on a pyramid slide, vanishing into the night on a hippo, etc. Finally, one sad, lonely little mummy returns to the tomb to discover that – surprise! – the other nine waiting for her, all safe and sound.

You’ll need:

  • 1 corrugated cardboard pyramid base (approximately 7.25″ x 11″)
  • A selection of embossed foil paper
  • 1 rectangle of golden metallic poster board (approximately 9.5″ x 21″)
  • 1 heiroglyphics sheet printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white paper
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 1 rectangle of black construction paper (approximately 2″ x 6″)
  • A selection of eye stickers
  • 3 – 4 strips of white construction paper (approximately 0.75″ x 18″ per strip)
  • 7 – 8 mini pom-poms (mine were 0.5″ in diameter)
  • 1 paper cup (I used a metallic-colored one)
  • 1 small beverage cap
  • A selection of large gemstones (and small ones as well)
  • 1 cat and lid template printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 small wooden spool (mine was 1″ tall)
  • Extra scraps of gold poster board and embossed foil paper
  • Tape, scissors, and glue stick for construction
  • Metallic markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We begin with a corrugated cardboard pyramid base (I cut mine out of a copy paper box). Glue or tape a sheet of embossed foil paper on one side, right on the middle. This is the floor of your tomb. The foil paper won’t go to all of the edges of the base, but we’ll fix that later!

Next comes the pyramid. I used gold metallic poster board (ordered online from Blick Art Supplies. It’s gold on one side, white on the other). It looked fantastic, but yellow poster board would look good too. Unfortunately, my pyramid template didn’t fit on an 11″ x 17″ piece of paper, so I wasn’t able to make a printable template for you. Here are the dimensions:

pyramid baseOne important thing to note is that the pointy top of the pyramid is NOT part of the 10.75″ and 10″ sides. I left some extra room during the original cut and then cut the pointy top out of the excess. This template is not perfect, but the kids didn’t seem to care if their pyramids were a bit lopsided.

If you don’t want to tackle this pyramid, here is an alternative. Simply cut a triangle out of poster board, then hot glue it to a box “tomb.”  See? This mummy is just as happy in this type of pyramid as the other one…

alternative pyramidWith the pyramid cut, use the hieroglyphics sheet to write messages on the interior walls. The talented Miss Joani did these with metallic markers (the bottom one says “Tiger Tales Rocks”). She also did the drawings for the templates! Awesome.

writingWhen you’re done with your hieroglyphics, fold the pyramid template along the blue lines and tape it the top of the cardboard base. You might have to do a little shaping with the scissors to get it just right.

pyramid foldsReady for the mummy? First, wrap the black construction paper rectangle around the top of the toilet paper tube and affix eye stickers. Run a glue stick down one side of a white construction paper strip and, starting at the bottom of the tube, wrap it around your mummy. When the strip runs out, start another until the mummy is complexly wrapped (but make sure to leave its eyes peeking out).

mummy stepsNow for the sarcophagus. Cut a toilet paper tube in half, lengthwise. Glue a small piece of embossed foil paper on the interior of one of the tube halves (like a metallic mattress for your mummy to rest on). Then flip it over and hot glue 4 mini pom-poms on the bottom for legs.

bottomNext, use metallic markers to color the sarcophagus lid template and hot glue (or tape) it to the top of the remaining tube half. I added some small plastic gems as well. Lay your mummy on the bottom half of the sarcophagus, then gently place the lid on top.

sarcophagusJust a few more touches remain! Cut the paper cup down to 1.5″ then hot glue large gemstones on it. This is your table, to which you can add a beverage lid filled with mini pom-pom fruits.

Color the cat template, then flip it over and hot glue a wooden spool to the back.

cat backAll that’s left now is general decorating fun. Use extra pieces of gold poster board and embossed foil paper to fill the gaps in the floor and add flourishes to the walls. I also had some some gold embossed foil seals handy (purchased from Nashville Wraps).

pyramid partyOne clever story time artist added an eye sticker to the center of the seal and I just had to do the same on mine. Behold the Eye of Horus!

eye