Someone Else’s Treasure Chest Pop-Up

a kagisippo design
a Kagisippo design

A friend from my Williamsburg Brooklyn days emailed me and asked me to make this treasure chest pop-up for his wife.  Although this is not something I would be attracted to do on my own, there was no way I was going to turn down this request from this very special person. In fact, his request came at a good time, as, rather than being in the middle of a project, what I am in the middle of is taming my workshop. I’ve been organizing my papers…

a “before” picture
After. Every corner of my work area is getting this kind of attention.


…and clearing my desk.


Yay! Cleared desk. First time I’ve seen this much desk in a while. The “before” picture is too scary to post

Having a little project that required absolutely no creativity from me was just the thing I needed right now. As it turns out this little treasure chest pop-up was an absolute delight to construct.

Little pocket inside
Little pocket inside

The paper engineering of this structure is quite wonderful. Actually really, really wonderful.  The tutorial video for it is here  and the printable templates can be found on this page.

I printed the template on card weight paper (about 67 lb),which worked great, and used mat board where it called for cardboard. Next time, though, I will use card weight (about 110 lb) for the cardboard. I think something got lost in translation: the board was really not the right thing to use.

This project requires the use of razor blades and precise folding and cutting.

Oh no. Now my desk is no longer clear…

…this is is how is begins….






Counting & Arranging, with 5 year-olds

Flower person
Jeffrey’s Flower Person. Jeffrey is five years old.

I’m writing about two separate projects here that seems to have nothing to do with each other, but there was something about doing them, one right after the other, that worked so well that this is how I am going to be writing about them.

The first project is a structured bookish making project that references counting and the composition of numbers.

The second project is one I’ve written about before,, is recomposing natural materials to make images that look like people.

The first project is not a creative activity for the kids, rather it’s more about discovery, trying to get them used to the idea that the number 10 can be seen as a composition of smaller numbers. The second project, using flower petals, leaves and other natural materials, has loads of room for improvising. There was something about following the structured project with the unstructured project that really worked for these kids.

items for bead counting project
The pieces for the Composing 10 project. Needs 10 pony beads, yarn to string them on,a hole puncher and PDFs, which are posted below

The counting project is simple to assemble, Everything is printed on a heavy copy paper. The piece with the words on it is folded into a simple pocket. I did the folds for the pocket (which is just folding up an edge on the line, and then folding in half to so it becomes a folder), punched two holes near the top, and tied a piece of yarn to one of the holes.

Here are the pdfs if you want to make this with a group of your own:

five plus five

four plus six

seven plus three

eight plus two

NIne plus one

bead counting pocket

and here’s a pdf of all of the above in a single document, which will be trickier, but possible, to use if you want to use a variety of colors Bead counting all pages together

Here what it looks like assembled.



So, ten beads. Cards go in pockets, Kids separate the beads according to the card below it, then…

…they remove the card and compare the beads on the card to their own beads.  This card then gets put in the side pocket and the next card shows…

…and the activity is repeated.

I was floored by how much the kids liked doing every bit of this activity. They took it so seriously, counting the beads and checking, and doing it for all the cards. It was lovely.

No question, kids love using beads.

This took only about 25 minutes. For about the next forty minutes we made flower people.

Cora at work

Not going to say too much about these, other than OMG. Loved how these turned out.

I photograph these, then remove the backgrounds.

Lily’s flower person

Just today I finished taking away the backgrounds. Am making prints to give to the kids.


I just love this project. Kids worked very seriously on their creations.

I had plenty of materials to work with because I had put out a request on Facebook for people in my community to drop off flowers to our classroom in the morning. Tons of stuff showed up: it was awesome. 

So much variety!

Looking forward to doing this again next summer.

addendum Sept 16, 2018

Here’s a video showing how to make the beads book.


Summer Storm


Salem Flowers

A locust tree next to our house was hit by lightning. The tree did not fall, so the curling path of the lightning all the way down the tree trunk can be seen from the ground.

No other damages, other than we have lost internet. It will be more than a week before someone will be by to do repairs. It will, therefore, be awhile before my next post. When I can be back on my own computer at home, I will write more about the lovely image above.

See you later!

summer art/math

Big Book Playground for 5 year olds



These five year-olds that I am seeing once a week this summer keep exceeding my expectations. I’m trying to engage them with relevant, age appropriate concepts, but they mostly seem to be at least one step ahead of where I expect them to be.

They will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. I am not expecting that any of them can read anything. I made this castle like construction for them so that we can play around with spatial relationships. This construction of mine has one low wall that bears the label “over”, which I wanted kids to look over. H promptly climbed over it bending one of the merlons, which made me complain. But H retorted, “but it SAYS OVER.” Grr. 5 years old.

Next to each other
Next to each other


What my thought was, for this past week, was to get the kids to pose with my castle/book such that they are acting out actions in 3D space.

I’m relying on this research https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/how-to-teach-shapes-and-spatial-skills-to-your-preschooler/    which says

“Clement, a professor at The State University of New York at Buffalo and co-author of Learning and Teaching Early Math, advises parents to use shape and space words, such as behind, under, deep, last, backward, triangle, and corner, in your daily interactions with your young kids. According to Clement, by saying things like, “Look, I cut your cheese sandwich into triangles,” and “I hid your shoes behind the sofa; can you find them?” you’re “mathematizing” your child through daily routines.” 

Through , Between

The time goes so fast in these sessions. I think about ways to leverage our work/play so that it  resonates  To make the most out of our time together, what I am doing is taking photographs of the children posing with the castle, with the shapes, and with each other, then slide the images into Photoshop to create coloring book pages.


I will make copies for the kids, with a simple binding. Haven’t done this coloring book kind of thing before. Hope it works out. So far, it’s pretty adorable.