Happy Holidays: Make Your Own Nutcracker & Mouse King!

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Family, Fun and games, Kids, News

Queue up Tchaikovsky on iTunes, decorate the tree, and while you’re caught up in the spirit of decorating, pull out the crayons and scissors for some holiday playtime.

From puppeteer Noel MacNeal, author of 10-Minute Puppets, here’s a brand new 10-Minute Puppet just in time for Christmas! Maybe you can help these two archenemies from The Nutcracker become  friends in time for Christmas (how’s that for a plot twist?). And while you have the crayons out, prepare for Act II by making a whole fleet of Sugar Plum Fairies (download the Teeny Ballerina template, here)!

 

Materials:

-The Nutcracker & The Mouse King template

-Colored pencils, crayons, or markers

-Scissors

-2 empty toilet paper tubes

-Clear tape

 

Make It:

1. Download and print The Nutcracker & Mouse King template. Color in the two designs.

2. Cut out the two designs from the page.

3. Carefully cut around the dotted lines of the Mouse King’s ears and gently curl or fold them forward.

4. Attach strips of tape along the white edge of each of the templates, then lay the templates facedown (so the tape is sticky side up). Press an empty toilet paper tube into the tape on each template and wrap the template around the tube.

5. Secure the open ends with tape. Then insert the tubes onto your fingers, and it’s on to the Kingdom of Sweets!

The Nutcracker & Mouse King are a brand-new puppets by professional puppeteer Noel MacNeal, based on his book 10-Minute Puppets.

 

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Can Your Egg Dance the Jig?

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Family, Fun and games, How-to, Kids

We all know that once upon a time, Humpty Dumpty suffered from a great and unfortunate fall, but did you know it happened when he was attempting a grand-plié-triple-pirouette-arabesque-jump? Or was it the Electric Slide? Or maybe it was the Humpty Dance. (As you can see, my sources are fuzzy).

From puppeteer Noel MacNeal, author of 10-Minute Puppets, here’s a brand new 10-Minute Puppet just in time for Easter that will definitely put make your eggy more leggy! (Just steer clear of tap-dancing across–or sitting on–any walls.)

Materials:

-The Dancing Easter Egg template

-2 colorful, square Post-it notes

-markers or crayons

-lightweight cardboard (file folders work well)

-glue stick

-scissors

Make it:

1. Cut out the foot template and line up the straight edge of the template with the sticky edge of one of the Post-it notes. Trace it and repeat with the second note. Cut out the feet and set them aside.

2. Color in the egg and glue it onto a piece of lightweight cardboard.

3. Carefully cut out the egg (don’t forget the holes!).

4. Insert your first and second fingers through the holes in the egg to be the egg’s legs. Press the tips of your fingers onto the sticky part of the Post-it feet.

5. Now let’s see a high kick…crack!…is that an emerging chick?

The Dancing Easter Egg is a brand-new puppet by professional puppeteer, Noel MacNeal, based on his book 10-Minute Puppets. Catch him in a segment with Shelley Goldberg on NY1 (and corresponding markets) this weekend, where he’ll be appearing with one of his many puppet alter-egos, Lionel, from Between the Lions!
UPDATE: Watch the segment here!

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Leprechaun Yourself!

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, How-to, Kids

It’s like Elf Yourself, but with puppets. And a leprechaun. And it’s easy-peasy!

1. Download the “Puppet Called You” template from 10-Minute Puppets by Noel MacNeal.

2. Color in the body. Glue the template to a piece of lightweight cardboard (a file folder or empty cereal box work well) and cut around the edges.

3. Print out a photo of yourself (I chose 10-Minute Puppets author Noel MacNeal), with the face about 2 .5″ to 3″ wide. Cut out only the head and glue it onto the body.

4. Tape a chopstick or straw along the back of one leg to use as a handle.

5. Now run along and find your pot o’ gold!

Author Noel MacNeal, as leprechaun:

Fun fact: The author of this post once leprechauned herself in real life for the photoshoot for The Halloween Handbook, proving that leprechauns come in all sizes.

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I Just Called to Say…I LOVE YOU!

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, Family, Fun and games, How-to, Kids

…and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. No self-respecting Valentine’s Day serenade is complete without a valentine that can actually help out with the melody. I’m not talking about those singing greeting cards with sound chips. I’m talking about a heart that talks–and sings, too, if you let it. Ladies and gentleman, lovers and friends, it’s a puppet!

Noel MacNeal, author of 10-Minute Puppets, made a 10-Minute Puppet (download the Lovin’ Heart template here) especially for you this Valentine’s Day (you know, in case you’re shy and need someone else to deliver the message to your sweetheart).

Materials:

Lovin’ Heart puppet template

Steps 1 and 2

Crayons or markers

Scissors

Drinking straw

Tape

Your hand

Make it:

1.) Print the template sheet and use crayons or markers to color in the heart, the arrow point, and the arrow tail. (There’s no need to color in the finger strap since it will be hidden behind the puppet.)

Step 3

2.) Cut out the four template pieces. Then fold the Heart in half, lengthwise along its narrowest point, right sides facing.

3.) Fold the top part of the heart up halfway, so the top lip lines up with the bottom lip. Then flip the heart over and fold back the bottom of the heart at the bottom lip.

4.) Place the heart face down. Fold the ends of the finger strap and tape the ends flat against the top of the mouth (leave a loop big enough for your fingers!). Optional: Cut an extra strip of paper to roll into a thumb loop, then tape it together and tape it to the bottom of the mouth.

Steps 4 and 5

5.) Cut the straw in quarters. Tape the arrow point to the end of one straw piece and tape the arrow tail to the end of another piece. Then line up and tape the arrow tail to the top back of the Heart, along one side. Tape the arrow point to the bottom back of the Heart, opposite the arrow tail.

6.) Now slip your fingers through the loop and start crooning your love ballad!

Step 6

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Can you spot the Workman Author at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Family, Fun and games, Kids

Spotted! 10-Minute Puppets author Noel MacNeal on the Sesame Street parade float! What, you don’t see him?

Here, I’ll give you a hint: He’s hiding inside an eight-foot two-inch tall bright yellow bird. Now do you see him?

Noel MacNeal is a regular Muppet and Sesame Street performer, and this Thanksgiving he scored the awesome gig of being Big Bird on the Sesame Street float! Says Noel: “Turkey Day was great. Got to be a big bird before eating a big bird!”

Here’s Noel, outside the Bird but still in the nest, with fellow Sesame Street character Abby Cadabby and her puppeteer, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph.

And here’s his book, with a hue to rival those yellow feathers, and a quote on the cover from the puppeteer who created Big Bird!

Photos by Alan Muraoka
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4 Ways to Spend the Next 10 Minutes!

Categories: Calendars, Crafts and hobbies, Diet and fitness, Fun and games, How-to, Kids, News

Okay, okay, maybe you don’t have 10 minutes to spare exactly (I know you’re busy), but surely you have the inclination to steal 10 minutes here or there to do something good for you. Think of it this way: You deserve it.

I was flipping through our catalog recently and came to the conclusion that, boy, do we have you more than covered when it comes to ways to exercise your brain, body, and creativity…in 10 minutes.

1. If you’re feeling playful, 10-Minute Bananagrams will test your brain with a series of anagram puzzles that will drive you bananas! (Based on that cute, bestselling game that comes in a banana-shaped pouch. I think you know what I’m talking about.)

2. Whether your 10 minutes comes in the form of a airport flight delay, waiting in line at the grocery checkout, slow restaurant service, a chorus of are-we-there-yets on the family vacation, or your typical weekend rainy day, 10-Minute Puppets has 30 characters for you and your child to create and play with. In this instance, the initial 10-minute investment of making the puppet will pay out in hours of play!

3. Ready to nerd out on some 10-Minute Crosswords from our friends at Mensa? Peel off the calendar page and take it with you so you can stay sharp during your train commute or intermission at your kid’s dance performance–or solve a puzzle during the commercial breaks from that mind-wilting TV show that you just can’t turn off!

4. Feeling antsy? 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough is the solution to that age-old excuse for not going to the gym: I don’t have time! Oh, but it turns out you do. You can change your entire fitness outlook with a series of 10-minute mini-workouts once a day. And you can do them anytime and anywhere that you might find yourself: in a hotel room on a business trick, at home watching TV, slogging away at your desk at the office, or of course, at the local health club.

According to my calculations, you could also make at least 6 new friends or close at least 6 business deals in those same 10 minutes.  So, how would YOU like to spend the next 10 minutes?


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Spotlight on: Author Noel MacNeal @ Maker Faire 2010

Categories: Authors on tour, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, How-to, Kids, News

Noel and Mattie pose with a larger-than-life cover of 10-Minute Puppets!

Nothing but the brightest colors for this emerging butterfly!

Busy puppeteers in craft mode.

"I am the cutest paper bag puppet ever to have pink eyebrows!"

Two sisters demonstrate that butterflies and elephants can be the best of friends.

In the penultimate Author Spotlight from Maker Faire, we introduce to you 10-Minute Puppet author Noel MacNeal, who was in the house… err, tent… making paper bag puppets and more. (You may not know his face, but if you could hear his voice, you might recognize him as the lovable Bear from Disney’s Bear in the Big Blue House or perhaps Mommy Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street or Kako on Nick Jr.’s Oobi.) And though Noel has rubbed elbows with some impressive puppets (and their puppeteers), his favorite budding puppeteer may be his son Mattie, who assisted him at Maker Faire. (Not the first father-son duo to grace the workshop table at Camp Make!)

10-Minute Puppets, as you might guess, is a book full of enchanting puppets that can be made in just ten minutes! (Bet you didn’t see that coming.) There’s a fierce dinosaur made from a cardboard box, a sock donkey with buck teeth, a dog inspired by Shari Lewis’s beloved Hush Puppy… and more. The idea is that the nearly instant puppets can bail you out whenever and wherever you find yourself with a bored kid: At the restaurant, transform a cloth napkin into a bunny or a ghost. When you’re waiting in line at the bank, turn the deposit envelope into a bird. Or keep a marker in your pocket to make Handford puppet the next time your flight is delayed!

Would-be puppeteers gathered around Camp Make to color, cut out, and glue to their hearts’ desire. Kids with less time could take home a Little Pachyderm puppet, already complete–just add imagination! Ready-to-color templates (included in the book) plus some chopsticks and tape ensured that a rabble of Flutter by, Butterflies emerged from their paper cocoons. And the templates for eyes and tongues (also included) ensured that every paper bag puppet on the premises was appropriately monster-fied.

Children will love it!” (so predicted Caroll Spinney, puppeteer for Sesame Street’s friendly, yellow Big Bird). As you can see from the photos, he wasn’t wrong–kids at Maker Faire did indeed enjoy making and playing with their new friends from Noel’s book.

PS: If you happen to be attending New York’s Comic Con this weekend, Noel will be there in conjunction with the ToonSeum as part of a panel of notable children’s television characters and puppeteers, to share a rare behind-the-scenes look at the history of your favorite shows. Noel will be signing a limited number of advance copies of his book, too!

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Workman’s CAMP MAKE Demo Schedule: Maker Faire

Categories: Authors on tour, Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, How-to, News

Mark your schedules for the following activities and appearances by Workman authors at World Maker Faire this weekend in New York City! For more information, click here.

SATURDAY, September 25*

10:00 AM Fold Origami and World Record Paper Planes – Jillian Ceravalo & Liz Davis, Workman

11:00 PM The Kids Make It Better Activity Kit and Design Your Own Do Something! Superhero – Stefanie Rosenblum & Liz Davis, Workman

12:00 PM Stitch ’n Bitch Book Series Signing and Yarn GiveawayDebbie Stoller, Stitch ’n Bitch

1:00 PM How to Make a Doodling Squiggle Bot (plus, take home a piece of original Squiggle Bot art!) Randy Sarafan, 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer

2:00 PM Potato Propulsion Pipe Experiment and Giveaway – A. Kurzweil & Son, Potato Chip Science

3:00 PM T-shirt Refashioning Demo and Book Signing – Megan Nicolay, Generation T

4:00 PM Potentially Catastrophic Science Demo and Poster Giveaway – Beth Wareham, Workman

5:00 PM Play 1,000 Blank Cards from The Games Bible – Avery Finch, Workman

SUNDAY, September 26*

10:00 AM Pop Bottle Science Experiments – Avery Finch, Workman

11:00 AM T-shirt Refashioning Demo and Book Signing – Megan Nicolay, Generation T

12:00 PM Stitch ’n Bitch Book Signing and Yarn GiveawayDebbie Stoller, Stitch ’n Bitch

1:00 PM Play 1,000 Blank Cards from The Games Bible – Avery Finch, Workman

2:00 PM Make-and-Take Paper Bag and Butterfly Puppets Noel MacNeal, 10-Minute Puppets

3:00 PM How to Make a Doodling Squiggle Bot (plus, take home a piece of original Squiggle Bot art!) Randy Sarafan, 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer

4:00 PM Potato Propulsion Pipe Experiment and Giveaway – A. Kurzweil & Son, Potato Chip Science

*Free button-making all day!

Special appearance by members of the Do Something! team

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Workman’s CAMP MAKE at World Maker Faire NYC!

Categories: Authors on tour, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games, Kids, News

This weekend the World Maker Faire is coming to NYC for the first time. And Workman will be there! Stop by our “Camp Make” booth in the Craft Corral in Zone B at the former World’s Fairgrounds in Queens to meet and make with some of your favorite Workman authors! Make fashion, make explosions, make puppets, make yourself smarter, make robot art, make a difference, and more!

World Maker Faire is a festival full of, well, making. In addition to the fun at Workman, there will be incredible feats of technology and stunning visual displays (ArcAttack’s Singing Tesla Coil as seen on America’s Got Talent), family-friendly activities (the BioBus!), delightful eats (gourmet truck food, anyone?), live music, and a crafty yarn bomb. If it can be made, it will be there: A 13,500-lb, 40-ft-tall Raygun Gothic Rocket, a life-size version of the game Mouse Trap, a bubbling Coke-Mentos fountain… In other words, it’s going to be epic.

If you are in the NYC area and decide to come (day and weekend passes are available for on-site purchase), please stop by the Workman booth and say hi!

What:

World Maker Faire at the NY Hall of Science at the former World’s Fair Grounds in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens!

Where:

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)

47-01 111th Street

Queens, NY 11368-2950

When:

Saturday,  September 25 10 am – 7 pm

Sunday,  September 26 10 am – 6 pm

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Let’s Make a Squiggle Bot!

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Fun and games

The other day we made My First Squiggle Bot (see, sometimes we make  things other than books over here!), a doodle-happy recycled robot from 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer by Randy Sarafan. This jittery little doodler is made using a fan pulled from an expired computer in the office IT closet (plus a battery, a connector, some rubber bands, and a handful of markers). Office Squiggle Bot wowed in a publicity meeting earlier in the week, then had a brilliant encore when Mattie and his dad, 10-Minute Puppet author Noel MacNeal, visited Workman last week.

After construction (pages 131-133 in the book), we simply attached red wire to red wire to activate and…look Ma, no hands! Squiggle Bot churns out masterpiece after masterpiece…

Now that we have two Squiggle Bots in the office, it’s time for a showdown! Will Squiggle Bot Beta take down Squiggle Bot 1.0? Or will they doodle happily together into the sunset? Remove your pen caps and start your engines, gentle-bots. And the rest of you, go ahead and place your bets, because it doesn’t get much more exciting than this.

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