Synopsis: Using basic materials, children crafted small boats that actually float.
Prep Time: If you have the materials on hand, prep time is pretty negligible.
Budget: Around $20 – $40 depending on how many materials you would like to include
toothpicks or popsicle sticks or some type of small wooden dowels (these will serve as your nails to connect Styrofoam together)
craft foam material
kiddie pool or some type of large container to hold water
aluminum foil (optional)
rubber duckiees (opitonal)
Other craft supplies as desired
This is the type of program that I truly enjoy running, because the children can dive right in from the beginning and begin to tinker and play. Preparation for the program was gathering the materials and placing them out for the children to use. I also filled up two kiddie pools with water. The building blocks for the program were large pieces of Styrofoam (whenever I hear of anyone tossing out a large amount of Styrofoam, I try to snag it because I know that I’ll eventually use if for a library program.).
I did build a couple of boats ahead of time to give children some ideas of what they could create. I showed them how to connect blocks of Styrofoam together using popsicle sticks and tooth picks as ‘nails.’ I also demonstrated how to construct a ‘sail’ using pieces of craft foam and turned on the fan to show how it would push the boat across the water.
The children took over from there and, as you can see from the pictures, they came up with some fantastic boats!
The Plot In 5 Sentences or Less: Zach, Poppy, and Alice are friends that enjoy playing an imaginary game filled with pirates, mermaids, and treasure. One of the most important parts of the game is “The Queen,” an old porcelain doll that sits in Polly’s cupboard, whose real origins are unknown. As the kids are now 12, all 3 feel ambivalent about continuing to play this imaginary game in the face of criticism from their peers. Their determination is rekindled, however, when a ghost visits Polly in her dreams, claiming that she was killed, turned into the china doll, and now longs only to be buried properly in her grave. The 3 friends set out on a journey to bury the doll and put the ghost’s spirit to rest.
My Take: Doll Bones novel is really about coming of age, facing the challenges of growing up, and grieving the loss of childhood. Black captures the confusion and awkwardness of turning 12 and being unsure about what to leave behind as childish things. I appreciated that the characters were clearly from underprivileged or blue collar families and that Black does not drive the point home too finely. All 3 of the children have unsettled home lives, giving the reader the sense that the children’s quest is not just to bury the doll, but to help restore some sense of wholeness to their respective households. Finally, I liked that the setting is in the industrial area of western Pennsylvania. It lends context to the idea that these children really are journeying a through a blighted landscape.
One Interesting Note About the Author: Holly Black is also the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles. Find out more about her at her website.