Running with the Royals

running with the royalsA princess or prince to pal around with? Check! Gleaming castle with banners flying? Check! Bejeweled crown to wear upon thy head?

crownCheck! You’re ready to run with the royals!

We read Princess Me, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Christa Unzner (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007). This sweet rhyming book describes all the qualities of “Princess Me,” a kind, gentle, mannerly, and just princess who benevolently reigns over her land of toys and dolls. The twist comes at the end, after the princess is tucked into bed with a kiss from the king and queen. That’s when we learn that Princess Me is, in fact, Princess You!

You’ll need:

First, use the box cutter to cut a drawbridge out of the front of the box. Make sure, however, that the door’s “hinge” remains attached to the bottom of the box.

drawbridge step 1Next, hot glue a rectangle of tagboard to the outside of the door.

drawbridge step 2The tagboard will give the drawbridge some some heft and weight as it opens and shuts.

drawbridge step 3Use scissors to cut the paper towel tube “towers” to the desired height for your castle  (my tubes were 7″ tall). Now decorate the tubes and your castle with metallic paper, construction paper, aluminum foil, mirror board, foil seals – whatever you like! When you’re finished decorating, hot glue the towers to the sides of the castle.

Wrap a piece of patterned paper around the top of each coffee stirrer, then secure with glue or tape. Trim one edge to create a banner-style flag.

bannersIf you’re looking for an easier flag to assemble, use colored masking tape to make a banner flag (as seen from this mini circus tent project).

circus tent exampleTo make “turrets” for your castle towers, snip the top off a cone water cup like so:

flag stepsThen drop the flag’s pole into the top of the cup. Center it, then wrap it with tape to attach it to the cone cup. Repeat with the other cup and flag.

taped flagpoleHot glue the turrets to the tops of the castle towers. Ta da! Your castle is complete!

castleTo make your princess or prince, wrap the top of a toilet paper tube with multicultural construction paper, then use markers to draw a face. Wrap the remainder of the tube with a piece of patterned paper and add a fancy collar if you like. Attach construction paper hair and a gold poster board crown. This project definitely cried out for jewels (i.e. rhinestones), which we attached to the crown (and castle) with hot glue.

princessNow it’s time for your crown! Cut a crown pattern out of a large rectangle of gold poster board, wrap around your head, remove, then staple. Decorate your crown with the remaining art supplies on the table. We encouraged kids to have their crowns somewhat match their tube counterparts. Finished!

crown and friendNeed a little entertainment at your castle? Perhaps this post would be of some assistance!

School for Scoundrels

famous literary villainsBehold the vilest collection of literary villains ever to gather in an esteemed place of learning! In other words, here is the cast from School for Scoundrels, a program we hosted at my library. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a complete listing of who’s who!

School for Scoundrels began as a tribute to the various villains who hounded our favorite heroes. Then I thought…what if all the villains belonged to an elite school? What if kids could attend the school and learn all sorts of nefarious, gross, and classically villainous things? A program was born!

In addition to mingling with the school’s famous “alumni,” kids practiced ciphers and codes, started a petri dish bacteria farm, produced a nasty “severed finger” gift box (and received instructions for more gross out activities to try at home), met Aragog the live tarantula (and made a dangling arachnid of their own!), learned how to detect a lie (and fool a polygraph machine with hot and cold packs), built a secret lair (suggestions: classic castle, wooden fort, tank, gingerbread cottage, innocuous bungalow), created an evil nickname (aided with our helpful hint sheet), swashbuckled with pirates, designed a wanted poster (with caricature assistance from Kemy Lin, a very talented student artist), and got into magical mischief with some select Harry Potter spells (the most laugh-inducing was Confundo).

They also practiced cape twirling and evil laughter. The cape twirling was my favorite, especially with names like “The Classic Reveal,” the “Side Arm Sweep,” the “Full-Extension Glide,” and the “Dramatic Egress.” When all the courses were complete, kids earned their very own School for Scoundrels diploma:

diplomaThis program wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous assistance of Princeton University student actors, who were recruited and coached by my student assistant, Sarah Paton. They were SO game to dress up and stay in character the entire time. But they also knew when to take it easy on the younger (or more timid) kids. For a program of this nature, that’s really important.

famous literary villainsTop row, left to right: Professor Moriarty (Matt Trujil), Iago (Gregory Kufera), Wicked Witch of the West (Katie McGunagle), Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella (Kerry Brodie), Eye of Sauron (Gideon Grossman), Evil Queen from Snow White (Julie Chang), Slytherin Students (Kemy Lin, Vivian Qin), IT (Dana Sheridan). Bottom row, left to right: Long John Silver (Ambika Vora), Captain Hook (Sarah Paton). Well, Mrs. Silver and Mrs. Hook, respectively.

p.s. – You might notice the name tags. They said things like “Hello! My name is The Evil Queen.” Parents LOVED them!