Tomorrow is “Poetry at Work Day”

Feeling the need to bring some creativity into your workplace in the new year?  Get off to a good start with “Poetry at Work Day” tomorrow, the brainchild of the folks over at tweetspeakpoetry.  They have all kinds of resources, including a free ebook, graphics, and line art of assorted popular poets that you can print out, color in, and stick on a pencil to take around the office for the day.

Who is your favorite poet?  Perhaps you want to print out a few copies of one of your favorite poems and leave them in the break room tomorrow.

Related posts you may like:
Are You A Curiosity Addict?
Varying Your Information Diet
Encouraging Creativity at Work
Poetry Constructions


Twelve Days of Popcorn (Day 5): All the World’s a Stage

I’ll save my thoughts on the importance of an educator’s being a ham for another day, but for today I’d like to highlight the magic that is live theater, from playing ‘dress-up’ in your backyard to setting King Lear on the Moon (okay, that I’ve never seen, but wouldn’t you like to?).  Here’s a collection of fun and fascinating links for you on theater, puppetry, and the Bard:

Make Your Own:

Jim Henson on making Muppets from things you find around the house.

A lesson plan on making shadow puppets in the classroom.

A video tutorial on making joints for shadow puppets (which has proved very useful for Eye Spy art activities this year!)

A historical make-your-own: 19th century children’s paper theaters on exhibit at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.

Download a pdf of a paper theater to color and construct yourself from London's V&A. Click for link.

Or try a modern equivalent with one of Robert Sabuda’s Peepbox PopUps.

Make You Laugh:

‘Superclogger’ commits random acts of theater from the back of a truck on LA’s crowded freeways.

A Christmas Carol re-envisioned…in Klingon.  (You’ll never appreciate Dickens until you’ve read him in the original…)

Call for Submissions: A Steampunk Shakespeare Anthology (Maybe I’ll get that King Lear on the Moon after all…)

On the fifth day of popcorn, these ideas gave me glee: five puppet theaters, four juicy questions, three chugging trains, two coral reefs, and a pop-up folding snow-bedecked tree…

Twelve Days of Popcorn (Day 3): Trains

We set up the HO trains under the family Christmas tree this weekend, which is always fun and knocks about twenty years off my apparent age.   It’s amazing how enduring a fascination trains can hold, whether they’re models or massive machines, still or belching smoke and whistling like a time machine.  Trains even make good bait for getting a small child through an art museum (those luminists and Hudson River types often had creeping inroads of steam power in their paintings, after all, and you can enjoy the brushwork and color while the kiddo bounces around looking for train tunnels).

George Inness’ Lackawana Valley

So it was with great delight that I discovered OurStory, a website hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  The site is a family- and teacher- friendly resource for approaching history from the ‘story’ angle.  There is a searchable booklist, a great thematic list of activities to do at school or home, and one of their current features on the homepage is a downloadable packet of ideas and activities to explore the world of trains in your own backyard, from the local train station to the nearest rail museum.  (And even more book suggestions and activities on the thematic ‘trains’ page.)

One of NMAH's recommended reads

The NMAH has, of course, an impressive transportation collection of its own, but I love the fact that they’ve created resources which reflect the geographically wide-spread nature of visitors to a website.  “Can’t get to the NMAH?  Here’s how to find cool similar stuff near you.”  Fabulous.  Site specific materials can be fantastic, but accessibility is key.

Asher Durand, Progress (The Advance of Civilization), 1853

Twelve Days of Popcorn (Day 1): Seasonal Papercraft

In recognition of the holiday season, I have decided to celebrate with twelve posts of things that make me happy, inspire me, make me think, or otherwise stick alluringly in my brain.  (Expect a bit more humor and a bit less curriculum!)

Today’s Topic: Seasonal Papercraft, with a highlight on origami and snowflake making

Photos from the Origami Resource Center

Round Up of Origami Snowflakes and Snowmen directions from the Origami Resource Center.  Very cool stuff.  I love the idea of using wax paper or patty paper so that you get the layered translucent snow-like effect.

Decorating the Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History:

Photo by snowflake designer, see link for details

How to Make Star Wars Paper Snowflakes

Robert Sabuda’s Winter’s Tale, a pop up book that makes me happy every time I open it.  His site has templates for creating all kinds of cool pop ups as well.

A page from Robert Sabuda's Winter's Tale


On the first day of popcorn, this idea gave me glee–a pop-up folding snow-bedecked tree…


Plum Blossoms, Bamboo, and Pine Sprigs

Welcome in Lunar New Year with the spirit of friendship (as represented by the flower arrangement above) and with an arrangement of my own suggestions for cool resources and activities.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year Parade, Chinatown, New York City 2009, photo by ho_hokus

History and Culture

A brief but interesting collection of information on the New Year as celebrated in China, from the University of Victoria

A nice resizeable map of China, with or without more detailed information, from National Geographic

Asia-Art.Net, a collection of really beautiful examples from several cultures, organized by medium or by culture.


Why is it Lunar New Year?  Observing the Moon, from Science NetLinks

Arts and Crafts

Disney’s family activities offer up some fun and easy decorations for the holiday: a festive ribbon dragon, a beautiful lacy banner, and a good-luck goldfish.

The Smithsonian strikes again!  (I love these guys as much as I love National Geographic!) The Sackler and Freer Museums are home to the Smithsonian’s Asian collections, and they have both Chinese centric and Across Asia teacher resources as part of their larger set of Online Guides.

Theater and Music

Two fabulous resources from the Kennedy Center’s Artsedge:

Puppets on the Move: China and the Silk Road and

The Sounds of China Pod Page, with music to listen to and connected information and activities.


Also from the Kennedy Center, Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting

And finally, from Read-Write-Think, which is run by the National Council of Teachers of English, a very cool Fairy Tale Autobiographies lesson plan, which uses Chinese tales but could be adapted for pretty much any culture.

Not enough?  Then come celebrate with the Peabody Essex Museum, on Saturday February 27! (Chances are very good you’ll find me making paper lanterns in East India Marine Hall…)