Activities for kids: Thinking INSIDE the box

boxofwhispers-3dI’m posting my latest activity for all of us kids big and small stuck at home and trying to remain creative! I call this activity Thinking INSIDE the box.

I started delivering this activity to kids in my creative writing workshops after the publication of Kendra Kandlestar and the Box of Whispers, one of my most popular books. In that book, a young Een goes in search of a mystical container that holds something all-too precious to her societ

There are many wonderful myths and stories of enchanted vessels. One’s that pop to mind are Pandora’s box, Urashima Tarō’s box, and Aladdin’s lamp all come to mind, and can help provide extra inspiration to the young creators in your house.

What you will need:

  • Paper
  • Drawing supplies
  • The handouts (below)

Bonus:

  • Any kind of wooden are cardboard box
  • Paint and brushes

There are a few different ways to approach this activity. For younger kids, I like to use this very simple handout, which allows them to take a pre-drawn box and simply concentrate on the design, patterns, and colors.

WS-My box

Here are a few examples of student projects:

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A box holding all the magic of the sea.

 

For older students, I prefer this brainstorming sheet, which allows them to freeform doodles shapes and designs for boxes, and also prompts them to consider more deeply some of the story-telling aspects of their box.

WS-Think Inside the box - brainstorming

Here are some examples of past boxes designed

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Maker-space opportunities

If you have craft containers knocking about your house, wooden or even cardboard, then you can turn your box design into a three-dimensional model. The fun part of this, of course, is that you can FILL the magical container with items!

In my time as a creativity teacher, my students have made quite a few boxes . . .

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familystories2016-memorybox-fiona

familystories2016-memorybox-andrew

familystories2016-memorybox-avary

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And here is my model of a box . . . the Box of Whispers. It is pretty big and not only served as a great prop for when I was touring this book, but also as storage for same said books!

Een Museum - Box of Whispers

Writing prompt

In terms of writing, this project provides the platform for an epic tale—I’ve had many students take this prompt and dive into the telling of a character in search of a mythical box (perhaps after it has been stolen)!

However, I always tell teachers that a good bite-sized project is to have students write the single scene in which a character first discovers the box. This avoids students having to dwell or worry about what I call “plot paralysis”—becoming so consumed with a plot that they forget to think about character development and description. By removing overall story plot as a factor to consider, students can just focus on a character in the magical moment of discovery.

(Also, I’m just a little exhausted of trying to convince my students that they don’t have to start a story with the long boring sequence of invents that involves their characters waking up in the morning to the sun shining through the window, brushing their teeth, running downstairs to eat breakfast, running to the bus, running to school, running home after school . . . and THEN they actually something important to the plot starts! If you’re a teacher, you KNOW what I’m talking about!)

Have fun with this project. Stay safe, stay well, and stay tuned . . .

The Guardians of Zoone takes flight!

The Guardians of Zoone takes flight!

Planning a book launch isn’t all that different from planning a wedding—there are invitations, food to organize, giveaways, speeches . . . and all the stress to go with it.

Which is all to say how grateful I am that the launch for my latest book, The Guardians of Zoone, was such an overwhelming success. A big thank you to the Main Street Book Warehouse in Vancouver for hosting. The store was packed wall to wall and we sold out every book in the store emblazoned with the word “Zoone” on the cover!

I am blessed to have friends and family in many talented areas, who helped out with the event. My wife, Marcie, and our friend Stacey made delicious skyger cookies with melted turquoise chocolate. My friend, Jeff, took my drawing of the key to Zoone and turned it into a template to 3D print keys for prizes (by the way, that template is loaded up on my website, so that anyone can print their own key—the template is here). My friend, Jina, took all the amazing photographs you see below (you can check out her Instagram at @jinakimphotography).

I dressed as a portal pirate for the occasion (since they play a big part in the book) and had plenty of freebies to hand out—including keys and stickers. The prizes included the 3D-printed Zoone keys, and some props handmade by me: a dragon egg and a “moto” probe (a robotic spy that flies about the multiverse, gathering information on worlds to “motonize”).

A big thanks to everyone who came out! And, of course, you can check out the order links for the Book of Zoone here.

guardiansofzoone-skygercookies

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Door of the day: The final one!

Door of the day: The final one!

. . . well, at least for now!

Since tonight is my book launch for The Guardians of Zoone, I’m going to end my series of doors (and details) a day today. I’ve been posting for over fifty consecutive days!

Even though there are still many doors to choose from, I opted to go with this mischievous knocker from Shanghai because its personality seems to best represent my writing!  

YuGarden-Shanghai-happydoorknocker

Thank you, everyone, for all the door love, these past two months!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonebooks-Bookshelf-basement

Door of the Day: The door to happiness

Door of the Day: The door to happiness

This door is from the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.  It is one of many beautiful doors and door details that I photographed during our exploration.

MeijiShrine-japan-gates

This place holds a special memory for me. We visited Meiji Shrine when adopting our son in 2018; Hiro was only six weeks old at the time of our visit. Outside of the shrine, we stopped to get some takoyaki (a battered seafood ball—often octopus) for our lunch and the elderly man behind the stall scurried out front to see our new son cradled against Marcie’s chest in the baby carrier. He was so effusive: “Happy, happy, happy!” he cried, beaming ear to ear. We felt very welcomed!

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MeijiShrine-japan-florette

MeijiShrine-japan-lilies

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone! 🚪🗝️

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonebooks-Bookshelf-basement

Door of the Day: The spider’s haven

Door of the Day: The spider’s haven

This door knocker in Bath, England appears very stoic, despite the fact that it’s clearly the west wing of a spider’s haven.

Bath-doorknockerwithspiderwebandface

Bath celebrates its connection to Jane Austen, so if you travel there, you can visit many museums or sites related to her. For our part, we tracked down her old flat, then enjoyed tea and crumpets.

Bath-jane austen plaque-marcie

Bath-marcie-havingtea&crumpets

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonecovers

Door of the Day: The one-sided conversation

Door of the Day: The one-sided conversation

Here’s a gnomish door knocker I had a conversation with in Florence, 2013. It was a one-sided conversation (his mouth was full).

Florence-gnomedoorknocker

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone!

There are plenty of door knockers in the nexus of Zoone, mumbling away because they are just like this fellow—clamping heavy metal rings between their teeth!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Guardians of Zoone - Galaxy

Door of the Day: Guardian snakes

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The doorway at the Quetzalcoatl pyramid in Chichen Itzá, Mexico, can only be reached by a stairway flanked by a pair of snakes.

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Chichenitza-Mexico-snake

The snakes appear to undulate during sunset on the spring and fall equinoxes. In another pyramid at this site, I had a massive claustrophobic meltdown and had to make a quick exit (though it wasn’t as quick as I would have liked!)

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonebooks-Bookshelf-basement

Door of the Day: Here be zombies

Door of the Day: Here be zombies

Door of the day: the back-garden shed at the B&B we stayed at in St. Mary Bourne, England, had a door that had not been opened in a LONG time.

StMaryBourne-oldsheddoorpadlock

What’s locked behind this door? Zombies. Gotta be zombies. Right?!

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone! There are no zombies at Zoone, though there is a character in the latest book who claims he should be dead because he is Minus-ten years old.

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Zoonecovers

Door of the Day: The Door to Buddha

Door of the Day: The Door to Buddha

This is a door detail from the Kurihama area of Japan. We saw many doors and sites there, including the famous big Buddha. We didn’t go inside it, but apparently you can! Which mean that there is obviously some sort of secret door to enter him. The next time I go to Japan, I will find that door!

Kurihama-Japan-doorpanel

Kurihama-bigbuddha

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone—and the paperback version of The Secret of Zoone!

I was going to stop posting doors yesterday, since that was official book release date—but I have SO many doors still kicking around. So, I’ll keep going for another week. You’ve been warned!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Guardians of Zoone - Galaxy