Summer Reading Club Activities: Exploring Fantasy Worlds

The theme this week is Out of This World! That, of course, includes fantasy, mythology, and other worlds. Let your imagination run wild with these activities!

Weekend Kids Activity: World Building

This is really just art (and secretly an opportunity to learn about cartography, the art of map-making.) Encourage your children to design their very own world and make a map of it. You can use our scrolled map template, or make your own!

Supplies:

  • Paper (or the downloadable scroll map that we used, featured below)
  • pencil crayons, markers, crayons, sharpies or paint

A good first step is continents. You can make these up by yourself or use one of our cool tricks for generating them randomly. We decided to use the macaroni trick! Get a bunch of dry macaroni and dump it on your map. Like so:

Then arrange your macaroni into continents. Leave some on the edges or border to make islands. Then trace with a pencil. Go over it with a pen or sharpie if you would like darker lines. Be careful! The macaroni moves when you trace it. This is a good trick because it makes realistic wobbly coastlines. You can also poke little holes in your macaroni for your lakes!

Next, you’ll want to add geographical features like mountain ranges, lakes, and rivers to your continents. Then, add evidence of human habitation (if there is any in your world). This can be things like cities, villages, roads, or ruins. Lastly, add key map features like a compass rose and legend. You can draw in all of your features or simply use symbols to express them that are explained in your legend. A legend is essentially a cheat sheet explains what all the symbols on the map mean.

The last step is to colour your map! The oceans, rivers, and lakes should be a different colour from everything else. (That’s the first rule of map-making!) Our world’s oceans are made of water so we went with a classic blue and we didn’t colour anything else blue.

Extra challenge: Maybe your world’s oceans are made of something other than water, and light will be scattered and absorbed differently – making it a different colour! (Curious about why the ocean is blue? Check out this article from Nasa Science).

You map might be an ancient map from a lost world, or anything else you can imagine, so feel free to decorate it with monsters and ships in the oceans. Or perhaps an elegant border of long lost sigils. It’s your world!

Here is our finished product! Hmm, I think I’ll call it . . . Lanmè

Try and make up a story to go with your new world. Who lives where? What are they like? Is there a cursed island or swamp? Where do monsters lurk? Leave us a comment and let us know! 

Weekend Kids Activity: Mini-Catapults

This week we are making catapults, just like they had in medieval times! Except, ours are little. But, just as fun!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Popsicle sticks (12) – Optional
  • Clothespins (2)
  • Plastic or wooden spoon
  • Glue
  • Rubber band
  • Cotton balls or marshmallows or pom poms (small soft things to catapult)

Here’s What to Do:

Line up 2 popsicle sticks horizontally. Glue 10 popsicle sticks along vertically, so it looks like a raft or fence. This is the platform for your catapult.

Pro-tip: Skip this step if you’d like a more mobile catapult. Without a base it is easier to change the angle at which you fire.

Next, glue 2 clothespins together on top of each other, like so:

If using a base, glue your clothespins onto your popsicle stick “raft.” Let the glue dry completely before using your catapult or it will snap apart. (We decided not to use a base this time, but you go right ahead if you want to!)

Then, wrap a rubber band around the top prong of the clothespin so it’s nice and snug.

Slide the spoon under the rubber band so the end of the spoon handle rests on the clothespin. Make sure the rubber band is tight enough to hold the spoon in place. You can glue the spoon on the clothespin instead of using the rubber band. We prefer the rubber band because it makes it less likely for the spoon to break and gives it a little more leverage.

Now it’s ready to use! Test your aim with your mini-catapult by firing marshmallows or cotton balls. 

Pro-tip: Hold the bottom of the bottom clothespin with one hand and press down on the spoon with the other hand. When you’re ready to fire, let go of the spoon, but don’t let go of the bottom clothespin!

Look out, there’s some science here! Visit Scienceflix to find out how catapults work. Learn about things like arc length, velocity, and more.

We fired lots and lots of mini marshmallows to test it. Check it out:

Don’t worry, we cleaned up the library afterward.