Craft: Origami Bats

When we celebrate holidays like Halloween, we usually decorate with symbols like black cats, witches, pumpkins and bats. Bats might seem spooky, but they are actually an important part of our ecosystem. Bats eat bugs that people find annoying, like mosquitoes. They also eat other pests that might hurt plants. At Tudor Place, we’ve built a bat house in the garden to make it a welcoming place for bats.

Washington, DC is home to many different bat species. These species are broken up into two different main groups

  • “Cave bats” hibernate in the winter and form groups called colonies in the summer.
  • “Tree bats” are more solitary and travel long distances in the spring and fall.

Cave Bats found in Washington, DC include the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus), the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus), the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) and the Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis).

This area’s Tree Bats include the Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis), the Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus), the Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), and the Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis).

You might be able to see bats in your neighborhood just before dark. Even if you cannot, you can make some bats out of paper to decorate for Halloween.

Watch the video below to create your own bat origami:

 

Vocabulary:
Ecosystem: the interactions between all the living and non-living things in a specific place.

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Craft: Picture Yourself

Woodrow Wilson by Marietta Minnegerode Andrews, Collection of Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, 61693.02

 

Today if we want a quick picture of our friends or family, we can grab a camera or phone and snap a picture. But what did people do before cameras? If they did not have the time or money to get their portrait formally painted, they may have instead paid for a silhouette.

Silhouettes, like the one above showing President Woodrow Wilson, are quick and cheap compared to portrait painting. Artists could replicate a person’s profile with just some paper and a pair of scissors! In the United States, silhouettes were very popular from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s when the camera was finally invented. There are many silhouettes in the Tudor Place collection. In fact, a silhouette is the only image we have of Columbia Peter (Thomas and Martha Peter’s daughter). You can see her silhouette here, on the left, next to her cousin Lorenzo and her sister America.

 

America, Lorenzo, and Columbia Image. Caption: America Peter, Lorenzo Lewis and Columbia Peter by Marietta Minnegerode Andrews, Collection of Tudor Place Historic House & Garden 6129, 6139, 6140.

Although they only showed a person’s profile, silhouettes could capture their personality too. A silhouette artist named Marietta Minnegerode Andrews was part of the Peter’s extended family. She created the silhouettes below.

Self-portrait by Marietta Minnegerode Andrews, Collection of Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, 61693.06

 

General Pershing by Marietta Minnegerode Andrews, Collection of Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, 61693.03

Now it’s your turn to create a silhouette! Grab a friend, family member, or toy to get started.

First, pose the subject of your art next to a blank wall. Experiment with a flashlight to see what creates the best shadow. For example, a flashlight closer and just off-center gave us a strong shadow.

Step 1: Create a good shadow

Then, place a piece of construction paper behind your subject, where their shadow is. Traditional silhouette art uses black paper, but you can be creative and use colorful or even patterned paper.

Step 2: Tape paper onto the wall behind the shadow

Next, use a white crayon to trace the outline of the shadow.

Step 3: Outline the shadow with white crayon or pencil

Finally, carefully cut along the outline you traced. Once you have your silhouette, glue or tape it to a full sized white piece of paper, the sign your artwork. Now you can share your silhouette with your friends and family!

Step 4: Cut out your silhouette outline and glue or tape it to a full piece of paper

 

 

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Activity: Create a Carton Bird Feeder

 

In his will Armistead Peter 3rd wrote:

“It is my wish that Tudor Place will always be a refuge for the squirrels and rabbits that make it their home. The birds should be given special consideration… in particular, the fountain and bird bath on the lower walk I request be maintained in its present location, where it has given infinite pleasure both the birds and to me.”

Tudor Place has always been home to squirrels, rabbits, birds and other wildlife. Our garden staff work hard to make sure they have comfortable spaces to live. One way you can help the birds that live near you is by making your own bird feeder.

Follow the directions below to turn a juice carton into a bird feeder.

What you’ll need:

  • A cardboard juice or milk carton
  • Scissors or an x-acto knife
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Googly eyes (optional)

First, on two sides of a recycled carton, draw outlines for an opening. These can be any shape you want. We made ours rectangles. Then, on the two sides you haven’t used, draw an outline for a wing-shaped flap. This step is optional. If you don’t want your bird feeder to have wings, you can add more openings. Next, have an adult help you cut out the openings and flaps.

Finally, it’s time to decorate your bird feeder. We made ours look like a bird with paint and googly eyes. If you paint your bird feeder, you will probably need three or four coats of paint. The cardboard exterior that juice cartons are made of makes paint difficult to stick.  Pro tip: make sure to let the paint dry completely before painting the next layer. If you want to hang your bird feeder up outside, punch a hole in the top, and add a loop of twine.  Happy bird feeding!

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Activity: What do you collect?

Photo: Tudor Nights: Stepping Out in Style, October 17 2019

At Tudor Place, we tell the stories of the Peter family and of the people they enslaved and employed. One way we tell this story is through sharing the objects the Peter family owned.

The collections manager and curator at Tudor Place are two people who help to share these stories while keeping historic objects safe. The collections manager keeps track of all the objects in the Tudor Place collection and makes sure they are stored and displayed in ways that preserve and maintain them. The curator researches objects and arranges them in special ways that help visitors experience and learn from them.

Just like Tudor Place tells the story of the Peter family using their collection of objects, you can tell the story of your family with objects of your own. Everyone collects things – you might have a collection of games, puzzles or books. Sometimes people plan out their collections very carefully, and sometimes they happen accidentally. Tudor Place has a collection of over 18,000 objects that the Peter family owned, including furniture, clothing, art, jewelry, plates and silverware. Your collection is probably a little bit smaller.

Tudor Place staff have their own personal collections too!

Katie collects mugs. If she displayed her mugs in an exhibit, they would tell visitors all about the places she has travelled:

Katie’s mug collection


Helen collects earrings. Helen’s earrings tell a story about her colorful fashion sense:

Helen’s earrings collection

Now it’s your turn to be the curator. Take a few minutes to think about your own collections. Answer the questions below once you have:


What do you collect?

 

If you put your collection together into an exhibit, what stories could you tell?

 

What could a curator 200 years in the future learn from your collection? What or stories might they be able to tell about you?

 

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Activity: Design A Summer Fountain

At Tudor Place, you can find many statues and fountains. The Peter family added them because they liked how the decorations looked with the plants and flowers. Some of the fountains have a special purpose. There are fountains for birds to drink from and wash off in. Some fountains were meant to be homes for goldfish. Some of the fountains and statues are there to look pretty. Some statues look like animals and some look like people.

 

On hot summer days, it is nice to imagine dipping our fingers into a cool fountain. What kinds of fountains would you put in your garden? Would your statue be based on an animal or a person? Would it have a special purpose, or would it be there just for decoration? What material would it be made of? What color would it be? Design your own fountain using the worksheet below.

Click for “My Fountain” worksheet 

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Craft: Painting Fireworks

In the United States, we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day. On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence. In it, the colonists explained why they wanted independence from England and formally stated their separation. Ever since then, Americans have celebrated the 4th of July with concerts, bonfires, parades and fireworks.

The Declaration of Independence begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, it would take almost another hundred years until the passage of the 13th Amendment ended legal slavery in the United States.  Since 1776, there have always been people working towards equality for all. We’re still working towards it today.

As you celebrate 4th of July with your family, bring fireworks indoors with this fun and easy craft.

What you’ll need:

• Recycled paper towel or toilet paper rolls
• Paper Plates
• Scissors
• Paint
• A pen

How to create a fireworks painting:

First, draw a line around your recycled paper tube about 2/3rds down. Using scissors, carefully cut one half of the tube into vertical strips. Press it against the table so that the strips fan out and the roll can stand up on its own.

Add paint to each paper plate. You can do one color per paint or mix it up. Each paper plate should get its own paper towel roll, but if they get mixed up, that is OK too!

Press the paper towel roll into the paint, and then stamp it onto your paper. You can repeat as many times as you would like.

When you’re done with your fireworks, hang them up on a wall for your own private show!

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Craft: Summer Solstice Monoprints

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the official first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, summer solstice is June 20th. Washington DC will have almost 15 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset. People all over the world celebrate the summer solstice and have for hundreds and hundreds of years.

In your summer solstice observations design a monoprint to celebrate the extra sunshine. Monoprints are a way of making prints that can only be used once – which means you have plenty of opportunities for creativity.

Watch the video below to see how to create your own sunshiny prints.

What you’ll need:

  • Paper (a heavier weight is better, but printer paper is fine)
  • Paint (we suggest yellow, red or orange)
  • Paint brushes
  • Q-tips

 

How to create a sunny monoprint:

First, load your brush with paint and paint a circle on your paper. Next, drag a Q-tip through the paint to create your designs. You can always add more paint or smooth it over with the paintbrush to restart.

When you are happy with your design, gently lay a second piece of paper on top of your paint. Very gently pat the top paper to transfer the paint. Lift the paper off and check out your print. It’s OK if your print isn’t perfect. In fact, it probably won’t be. Add rays or other decorations using paint or markers. You can repeat as many times as you would like by adding more paint to the first piece of paper.

When you are done with your monoprints, hang them individually or string them together to make a banner.

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Activity: Create a Journal

 

Armistead Peter Jr. Diary, 1921.Tudor Place Archive.
Historians use primary sources to learn about what happened in the past. Primary sources are written materials or objects that were created at the time being studied, by people who were there. For example, if we were trying to learn about the early days of Tudor Place, we might look at journals that Martha and Thomas Peter wrote.

Journals are really helpful primary sources. “Journal” and “diary” are synonyms, so they mean the same thing. Journals tell us all about what people did on a certain day and sometimes how they felt about it.  The Tudor Place Archive contains lots of  journals written by people who lived here. For example, if we were interested in learning what Armistead Peter Jr. was doing in the spring of 1921,  we can look at his journal entries.

 

March 29

Every thing froze last nightSallie and Kate Nelson dined with us and we went to see “Blossom Time.”

April 1

Clear. Mrs. Beall, the three children, and Lucy Mackall lunched here and we then went to see “Really Truly Loud.” Miss Hawk’s dancing class.

April 5

Bought set of cold tea spoons for Nan. [?] 25th.  Attended Director’s Meetings at 4PM and am very thankful to find things improving. No one seems to know what the outcome of the Traction Bill, recently passed at Albany, will be, but can only hope for the best. This evening, went to see “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

Armistead Peter Jr. Diary, 1921. MS-14, Box 73, Folder 6. Tudor Place Archive.

Now we know: that it was cold at the end of March in 1921, the names of Armistead Peter Jr’s friends and we know a couple of movies he saw.  It is no different today.  Sometimes we write journal entries for school or to talk about our days. We can also write journal entries about what we see outside in nature.

Pick one of the prompts below to get started with your own journal entry.

Daily Life Diary

Garden Journal

  1. What was your favorite thing you did today?

  2. What was one thing about today that surprised you?

  3. What is one mistake you made recently, and what did you learn from it?

  4. What is something that helps you when you are worried or scared?

  5. What is one thing you’ve accomplished recently that you’re proud of?

  1. What is your favorite part of being outside?

  2. What do you see, smell, and hear where you are sitting? What are your senses telling you?

  3. What can you learn from this garden?

  4. What do you think is special about this garden?

  5. What does a garden need to be healthy and strong? What do you need to be healthy and strong?

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Craft: Cicada Origami

green paper cicada

Cicada origami found in the Tudor Place garden. Photo credit: Tudor Place Historic House & Garden.

This month, Washington, DC is experiencing the emergence of a group of cicadas called Brood X. You can learn more about cicadas and Brood X by checking out the Education at Home Activity on using Cicada Safari to map the cicadas you see.

If you visit Tudor Place in May, you will see cicadas in the garden. Don’t be worried! They might be loud, but cicadas don’t bite or sting humans.

They also are not hurting the plants. Cicadas don’t eat leaves or flowers. Instead, they drink the sap from tree roots and make tiny cuts in branches where they lay their eggs. Young trees might be harmed if too many cicadas try to lay eggs in them, so the Tudor Place garden staff have wrapped up small trees in bug netting to keep them safe.

Tudor Place is working hard to keep the cicadas out of the historic house, but here is one cicada you can take home. Watch the video below to create your own origami cicada.

This activity is the second of two in a cicada activity series.

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Activity: Cicada Safari

adult cicada and empty shell on tree branch

Adult cicada and empty shell. Photo credit: Gene Kritsky, Mount St. Joseph University.

During May 2021, something exciting (and noisy) is going to happen. A group of cicadas called Brood X is going to emerge. These cicadas have been underground for 17 years!

Baby cicadas are called nymphs. When the nymphs hatched, they crawled underground. They spent the last 17 years digging tunnels and eating tree roots.

Now these nymphs are coming out of the ground to shed their exoskeletons and develop wings and hard, adult skins. As adults, these cicadas will mate and lay more eggs and the whole cycle begins again.

The cicadas that emerge during the same year are called broods. Brood X was first seen in 1715 in Philadelphia – before Tudor Place was even built.

Scientists study these cicadas to map where the broods emerge and to understand more about their life cycles. One way to help scientists learn about cicadas is by using the Cicada Safari app.

When you see a cicada (or many cicadas!) take a picture of it and mark its location on the map. You can also find out where other people in your neighborhood, state or region have seen cicadas.

Check out the video below for a walk-through of the app.

Now you’re all set to record your cicada observations! Check out past Education at Home posts to learn more about what makes a good observer and to create garden crafts.

This activity is the first of two in a cicada series.

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