Pan Pipes

groverGet your Grover on with these simple pan pipes necklaces! I designed them for a large-scale Lightning Thief event (you can read more about the event, and our awesome Mythomagic deck here). The pipes were part of a “Pan Pipes & Pythagoras” table hosted by Music Together Princeton Lab School. Since we needed to create several hundred sets of pan pipes (event attendance was around 5,000) I needed something inexpensive that would give kids a little taste of tone and pitch.

I considered PVC pipe, empty marker tubes, empty pen tubes…but they were either too expensive, impractical, too hard to cut, couldn’t produce a satisfactory sound, or required way too much prep time. Happily, the solution came when I stopped by Fruity Yogurt, a local frozen yogurt place. In addition to soft serve, Fruity Yogurt does bubble tea, which naturally comes with a bubble tea straw.

strawsBubble tea straws are thicker than your average drinking straw. I tested a few and they were perfect! Not to mention inexpensive and they come in jolly colors!

You’ll need:

  • At least 4 bubble tea straws
  • A small craft stick (for a 4-straw set of pipes, you’ll need a 3″ craft stick)
  • A 28-29″ piece of yarn
  • A ruler
  • A Sharpie permanent marker
  • Scissors and tape for construction

Start by folding the bottom of each straw up and taping it very tightly (some bubble tea straws have pointed bottoms – you can trim the point off if you’d like).

taped straw Place the folded straw next to a ruler, and use a permanent marker to mark the desired  length of the straw. I cut my straws in 0.5″ increments. So the first straw was 5″, the second straw was 4.5″, the third straw was 4″, and the fourth straw was 3.5″.

marked straw I did some experimenting with how long or how short a straw can be before it starts losing its tone. Based on my experiments, I wouldn’t go any longer than 7.5″ and no shorter than 2.5″. Beyond those lengths, the straws seem to lose their ability to hold a note.

Next, knot the yarn on both ends of the craft stick, and reinforce the knots with tape.

attached yarnLine all your straws next to each other in ascending order. Make sure the top (i.e. the open ends) of the straws are even with one another. Secure them with a piece of tape.

taped pipesThen flip the pipes over and tape the craft stick on the other side! Done!

finished pipes

Wish Fish

wish fishA goldfish is a lovely pet…unless, of course, you had your heart set on a pony. But what if the fish could talk and grant you a wish?

We read The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino (Henry Holt and Co., 2005). More than anything else, Cynthia wants a pony for her birthday. Every year, she wishes for a birthday pony, and every year, she gets something else. This year, as Cynthia blows out her candles she wishes for a pony called Marigold. She gets a goldfish. Upset, Cynthia is about to pour the fish down the drain when it speaks! The birthday fish will grant her wish, but first she must take it to the lake and set it free. So Cynthia loads the fishbowl in her toy stroller and departs for the lake. During the journey, they meet and overcome many obstacles (bumpy roads, hungry cats, hot sun, etc.). At last, they arrive at the lake and…Cynthia decides she’d rather keep her new friend. She names him Marigold.

You’ll need:

  • 2 large clear plastic plates (mine were 10″ in diameter)
  • 1 small tissue box
  • A couple cups of uncooked rice (or aquarium gravel)
  • fish and castle template printed on a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 2 small paperclips (mine were 1.25″)
  • 1 large paperclip (mine was 2″)
  • Green construction paper
  • Fish decorating supplies (I used orange & yellow construction paper, cello sheets, crepe paper streamers, embossed foil paper, and patterned paper
  • A 5″ piece of clear elastic beading cord
  • Scissors, tape, glue stick and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating

We’ll begin with your fabulous fishbowl! Place 2 clear plastic plates rim-to-rim like this:

rim to rim plates Then tape the lower half of the plates together. Don’t tape the entire thing because you still need to put things inside your fishbowl!

taped platesNow for the base. Cut a small tissue box in half. Recycle the bottom half. You now have a 2.5″ base with an opening at the top.

tissue box cut downIf there is any plastic around the opening of the tissue box, remove it. Then, on both sides of the box, cut from the opening to the edge of the box. Then cut diagonally downward into the sides of the box. This leaves your base looking like this:

cut baseDrop your fishbowl into the base. You might have to do a little cutting and adjusting to get the fishbowl to sit upright snugly. Secure the fishbowl to the base with tape. Pour some uncooked rice in the opening at the top of the plates. This is the “sand” for your fishbowl.

rice in baseNow for some fish-friendly decor! Both the castle and the aquatic plant are anchored in the rice by paper clip “stakes.” We’ll start with the castle. Color and cut the castle from the template. Make sure you keep it in once piece (later, you’ll fold it so it can be viewed from both sides of the fishbowl).

Flip the castle over and tape two small paperclips to one side. You’ll notice that I taped just the very tops of the paperclips to the castle. This is so there would be plenty of paperclip  to stick into the rice. Fold the castle in half and tape it closed.

castle tapedTo make the aquatic plant, cut 3 curvy plant pieces out of green construction paper. Make sure they don’t exceed 6″ in height (otherwise, they start to tip over in the fishbowl). Staple the 3 pieces together, then tape a large paperclip to the bottom.

stapled and taped plantOpen the top of your fishbowl and gently push the castle and aquatic plant paperclip stakes into the rice. I recommend placing the castle all the way to the right, and the plant all the way to the left to make room in the middle for your dangling fish.

And now…the fish! Cut and color the fish from the template. Like the castle, the fish is double-sided. So leave it all in one piece.

Flip the fish over to the blank side and decorate. I offered construction paper, cello squares, crepe paper streamers, embossed foil paper, and patterned paper in hues of orange and yellow. When you’re done decorating, tape a piece of elastic beading cord to one side of the fish:

fish with taped cordThen fold your fish over and tape it closed (to make my fish plump, I taped it shut using tape loops). Next, dangle your fish in the fishbowl, adjust for height, and tape the free end of the cord to the outside of the bowl. Tape the top half of the fishbowl closed. Done!

wish fishIf you have a little extra time, I suggest playing “Pin the Tail on the Goldfish” before taping your fishbowls completely closed. I whipped up a simple game poster and made some construction paper fish tails. A white bandana served as our blindfold (and kids who didn’t like things over their eyes had the option of simply closing their eyes).

pin the tail on the fishThe prize for playing – regardless of where the tail was pinned – was a lovely little sea shell for your fishbowl. The shells were dropped in and THEN we taped the fishbowls securely closed. There was some spilled rice, but a quick vacuuming took care of that.

Still hankering for a pony? Perhaps you should check out this post.

Lights, Camera, Action!

a star is bornWhether you’re covering a celebrity event or conducting an in-depth interview, you’ll need the right equipment to get the job done. Namely a camera, a handheld microphone, and a boom microphone!

We’ve successfully “filmed” story time fashion shows, spoken with future presidents, covered red carpet entrances, and chatted with entomologists about a new bug species they’ve discovered. We’ve also let kids take over the equipment. It’s guaranteed to hold up to even the most enthusiastic documentarion.

You’ll need:

  • Black paper or paint
  • 2 cereal boxes (one extra large, one small)
  • 1 packing tape core
  • A 4″ x 4″ square of mirror board
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • A selection of dot stickers (optional)
  • 2 paper towel tubes
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • 1 black jumbo pom-pom (mine was 1.5″)
  • A 38″ piece of PVC pipe
  • A roll of black masking tape
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hot glue

 CAMERA

cameraWrap the cereal boxes, packing tape core, and toilet paper tube with black paper (we used a roll of bulletin board paper, but you could also use black paint). Hot glue the 2 cereal boxes together. Katie glued a “Channel P” sign to the side of the small cereal box as well.

To make your camera lens, cut the mirror board to fit the circumference of the packing tape core, then attach the mirror board to the core with hot glue. Hot glue the core to the front of the extra large cereal box.

camera other side Hot glue the toilet paper tube “viewfinder” to the extra large cereal box. Put dot sticker “buttons” on the small cereal box (or draw your own button panel on white paper and attach to the box). Here’s a bird’s eye view of the camera with all of its parts in place.

camera topMake sure the viewfinder is on the opposite side of the camera from the small cereal box. Otherwise, you won’t be able to hold the camera on your shoulder!

HANDHELD MICROPHONE

microphoneCut a paper towel tube down to 8″ then wrap with black paper (or use black paint). To make the spiral cord, curl a black pipe cleaner around a marker. Then tape the pipe cleaner inside the bottom of the tube.

For the microphone’s “windscreen,” bunch pieces of tin foil into a bulbous cone shape. It should look like this:

mic foil 1Layer more piece of tin foil on top of the bulb so the windscreen bulges over the rim of the paper towel tube. Then hot glue the foil to the tube.

mic foil 2Feel free to add some dot sticker buttons if you like. Your microphone is ready to record!

BOOM MICROPHONE

boom micThe camera and the handheld mic are great, but the boom mic REALLY makes this set!

First, wrap the paper towel tube with black paper (or use paint). Then hot glue a jumbo pom pom on one end. To make the cord, curl a black pipe cleaner around a marker. Tape one end inside the tube. Tape the other end of the pipe cleaner to the outside bottom of the tube.

boom mic extrasTo create the boom, wrap a 38″ piece of PVC pipe with black masking tape. Use scissors (or a box cutter) to make a hole in the middle of the tube. Insert the PVC pipe into the hole, and keep pushing until the pipe touches the interior of the tube. Secure with black masking tape.

boom mic stepsYour set is complete! When covering a news story, I sometimes throw on a coat and matching fedora. To make things more official, you know.

news crew