Forget-Me-Nots: I love the smell of boxcars in the morning

My kids were never this self-sufficient, but after living with the Boxcar Children for five weeks, they're going
to be. I'm thrilled to announce that I'm currently working on Albert Whitman & Co's new how-to book for the new era of Boxcar Children fans to be released next fall!

Forget-Me-Nots: A Boxcar Children's Guide to Adventure will be a fun romp for kids with advice on
games (did you know there are a crazy amount of ways to play tag? I'm including my fifteen favorites including Fainting Goat Tag and Flip the Bird), plus other great ideas to play outside with friends. Also included are chapters (introduced by my alter-ego Jessie Alden) on travel, detective work, spooky stuff, loads of crafts, camping and wilderness ideas, fun and easy science experiments, and Benny's Belly -- that kid could eat!

Today I'm working on mini-planetariums and thaumatropes. Tomorrow? Probably gravestone rubbings and how to tell a sinister ghost story.  =]

Make Your Own Mini-Planetarium

There’s nothing better than to watch the night sky from your backyard but on cloudy nights, try making your own planetarium!

You will need:
· A medium-sized plastic funnel
· Black paper
· Pushpin
· Small flashlight
· Tape
· Pencil
· Book on constellations or on the night sky

Putting your mini-planetarium together:

1. Read the stories in your constellations or night sky book to find patterns that look like the stars out your window.
2. Trace the outer edge of the funnel onto the black paper and cut it out.
3. With the pencil, copy the constellation stars on the black paper.
4. Use the pushpin to press through the paper over the holes to represent the stars.
5. Tape the black paper over the large end of the funnel.
6. When it is dark, or in a dark room like a bathroom with the light off, shine the flashlight into the small end of the funnel and point the larger end at the ceiling to see the stars light up the room. If the stars are too tiny, make the holes larger with the sharp end of the pencil, or wiggle the pushpin around in a circle in the holes. Make larger holes to represent the planets!
7. Flip it around when you’re next to a sunny window to peer through the smaller hole. You’ll be able to see the constellation up close!

What was your favorite activity as a kid?

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons: Flickr and Mark Seton


  1. Mine tended to be going out on hikes, oddly enough, out into the woods. I sometimes think I was not at all a normal child. And by sometimes, I mean frequently.

    1. You couldn't have been weirder than me. Did you ever see the Sandbox Killer post?