Ideabox: Cardboard Best Friends

ideabox big boxes

There are some great stories out there about the power of imagination.  As a kid, I was particularly fond of stories like Bridge to Terabithia, and The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Neverending Story.  However, it’s a wide and wildly varying genre, so today I’m focusing on stories (and activities) to do with cardboard boxes.

crispinCrispin The Pig Who Had it All is officially a Christmas story wherein an overindulged pig is given an empty box for Christmas by Santa, but is a great story and amusingly illustrated for younger readers.

not-a-box-2-1-1000x1025

Not a Box is a in a much simpler style, with a much more indignant rabbit informing the off-page (and regrettably literal-minded likely-adult) that his/her apparent box is, in fact, not a box, but a…(you get the idea)
Not a Box printables for teachers at TeacherVision

Similarly, I ran across this beautiful video The Adventures of a Cardboard Box over on Vimeo:

And, of course, some people take their cardboard box visions to the extreme (and extremely cool):

Created by Christine at Pure Joy Events.  Click for link to source

Created by Christine at Pure Joy Events. Click for link to source

But for the rest of us looking for a little inspiration, here is ikatbag’s Guide to Working with Cardboard and 40 Cool Cardboard Projects, which is an excellent starting place for the corrugated-minded.

So tunnel in to a good idea (and then share it with me)!

So tunnel in to a good idea (and then share it with me)!

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 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…

 

Cool and Creepy Archaeology in October

The month is almost over, but I can’t let it go completely by without tipping my hat to Massachusetts Archaeology Month.

Since life here at PEM has been very focused on the amazing Emperor’s Private Paradise exhibit, I have to admit I’ve been more tuned to archaeology stories from that corner of the world recently, including this incredibly cool discovery which may make people reevaluate historical trade routes: Could a Rusty Coin Re-Write Chinese-African History?

In celebration of which I give you Mint Your Own Coin from the American Museum of Natural History’s OLogy page, which also features fun interviews with archaeologists, make-your-own archaeological stationery, artifact features, and more.

If you’re looking for other online archaeology interactives, check out the extensive list at Fun Archaeology For Kids.  The list includes lots of different cultures and time periods, with a great many of the interactives created by museums and other reputable sources.

And now for the creepy. (It is, after all, the week before Halloween, and I’m not entirely immune to the Salem atmosphere.)

Royal blood may be hidden inside decorated gourd.  (eeurgh!)  An intricately decorated gourd bears traces of blood which may very well have come from a handkerchief soaked in the blood of the beheaded King Louis XVI of France.

Personally, I prefer my blood 100% Pure Fake, as in the book reviewed by exhibit interactive wizard Paul Orselli.  And if that’s not enough gross and gucky exploration for you, check out Wastewater: Sewage in your face! from the San Diego department of public works, which, among other more educationally rewarding activities, has recipes for making soda and cake that look like sludge.

All creeped out?  Build an Egyptian tomb, uncover a prehistoric burial, or just make a pasta skeleton, courtesy of artist Kathy Barbro, directions here (or click the picture).

Pasta skeleton designed and photographed by Kathy Barbro. Click for link.

Ideabox: Water Balloons

Today may see a brief break in the previously unremitting gross weather of the last two weeks, but there are surely more scorching days in our future.  To that end, I present a post about water balloons.   (Because if they’re good enough for NASA they’re good enough for me…)

ideabox water balloons

Watch a Water Balloon Break in Slow-Motion

People Study This Stuff?

How does a water balloon pop in low or no gravity?  NASA wanted to know, and not just because it looks cool.  Think about delivering water to a colony on Mars, or to the International Space Station.   Think about taking a bath in orbit.  Check out the awesome video results of the Symphony of Spheres and other experiments.

If you’re looking for other cool water droplets and bursting balloons, look no further!  Doc Harold Edgerton was a pioneer of stroboscopic photography, and dozens of his videos and photographs are available from the online MIT museum collections.

But they’re mostly about fun, right?

There may be a creativity crisis in America, but these two kids have come up with 27 ways to play with water balloons…how many can you think of?

Or don’t use a traditional water balloon at all–this family documented their experiment with the amazing 120 foot water balloon using latex tubing.  (And these folks built an air-pressure-powered water balloon cannon…but if you make one of these, don’t tell me–and don’t blame me if your cannon explodes, as is mentioned as a possibility in the comments.)

Words of Wide Open Thought

Happy first day of June!  To celebrate the beginning of a new month I thought I’d break out some of my favorite quotes in praise of the phenomenon that is brain popcorn:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects.”
-Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~ Howard Thurman

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
~ Albert Einstein

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
~Mark Twain

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.  Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.  Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. ” ~Theodore Geisel

“Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence.”
~Norman Podhoretz

“The mind is a museum to be looted at night.” ~Raine, Craig Anthony, The Grey Boy

And to wrap it up, museum comics from Mark Parisi for a laugh, and a video from those Peter-Pan-like folks at TheFunTheory.com:

Cartoon Brain Food

This turned up on one of my museum discussion email lists, and I had to share it with you for several reasons.

1) Cartoon characters visit a museum and get excited about the artwork instead of running through it, destroying it, or ignoring it, ala Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, or any number of other cartoons I could name. (Granted, the fact that it was produced by a consortium of French museums does make it more likely that the art would be more of a focus than otherwise…but it’s still great and models mostly appropriate museum behavior.)

2) In one minute the three characters manage to actually model close-looking and observation of the artwork depicted. One character knows more than the others and helps them look for details, then gives them some context for what they’re seeing.  The cartoon gets away with sounding a little condescending, which I wouldn’t really advocate, but otherwise it’s a good model for teachers, docents, or parents to follow when tying in details of kids’ lives with facts about a more distant time or culture.

3) There’s a very “I Spy” attitude to the conversation, which is a game kids love, and which I’ve been tuned into recently due to the upcoming opening of Eye Spy in my section of PEM.  I particularly love the last detail of the reflection of the man in the window, since reflections, distortions, and other plays on perception are all over the upcoming exhibition.

4) This is part of a whole series of movies which feature artworks from the participating museums, so you can do a cartoon-guided virtual tour of a bunch of very cool art .  Check out some of the others on the Louvre’s YouTube channel, at the “Jeunesse” playlist.  (Some of the videos are in French and some in English.)  Note, as far as modeling appropriate behavior goes, the characters never touch any of the art, even the really appealing lion with the movable tail.  Even I wanted to give it a yank and see what might happen!