A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was introduced to the Star Wars Universe. My introduction was at the movie theater, during the original theatrical release of Empire Strikes Back.
The year was 1980 and, in retrospect, I was probably too young. As it was, my poor father had to watch the majority of the movie through a hole in the door. I was so terrified by the removal of Darth Vader’s helmet, I made him leave the theater and refused to go back inside.
That makes me feel somewhat less guilty about the odd way I’ve introduced my daughter to Star Wars.
When my daughter was a toddler, one of our favorite activities was making handprint paintings together. She loved feeling the cool paint as the brush tickled her fingers, and I loved having a small keepsake of her little hands. Add a Star Wars theme to the handprints, and you’ve got a perfect painting to hang on the fridge or paste in a geek mom’s scrapbook.
Here are three Star Wars handprint painting ideas crafted with small hands to make happy memories.
Order 66 is the order that was given by Darth Sidious (the evil ego of Chancellor Palpatine) to the clone troopers to kill the Jedi they had been serving alongside during the Clone Wars. The desolation of the Jedi is one of the most significant events in the Star Wars universe. Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda famously escaped their own executions, while many younglings and other Jedi were not so lucky. Master Aayla Secura was gunned down by her squadron, Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) lead the 501st Legion into the Jedi temple to kill everyone they came across, and Master Plo Koon was killed by Captain Jag. It was a dark time for the Jedi—to survive, you had to be good or pretty darn lucky.
The question I have for you is…would you survive? Take my quiz to find out!
This is Ella Rose; she is three. Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday, which is ballet class day. She loves pink and she loves tutus.
Ella was born into a very geek-centric family, so her girly-girl behavior came as a bit of a surprise to her father and me. “Pink” was never a big-bad four-letter word in our home, but we also knew how influenced she would be by the popularity of Disney Princesses among her schoolmates. We wanted to give her options, so we practiced a huge amount of “geek balance” right from the start.
She learned her alphabet from the Star Wars ABCbook. Her first eight-inch dolls were Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn, not Barbies. I shopped in the boys’ section of Target for all of her shirts, which had superheroes on them, not Mini Mouse. We bought her Doctor Who hair clips and a teddy bear companion at local craft fairs. My husband even joined in and donated to the Goldieblox Kickstarter campaign, which created toys to get girls interested in engineering.We were content with the Jedi training of our little geekling. Maybe, though, we were smug. We might even have been presumptuous.
As Ella grew, she began to exert her own personality, she chose what she wanted to wear and play with. That’s when the tide of pink and tutus began to rise. Questions regarding negative gender influence and threats to her developing mighty girl power began to plague me. Would my GeekMom card get revoked if it were revealed that Snow White was her favorite princess and not Leia?
Yoda was always perched on Ella’s pink princess potty as she trained in the bathroom. But looking him in the eye became uncomfortable. I felt a great disturbance in our family force.
I felt a strange sense of guilt about all of this. Were we not, after all, huge advocates for choice? It seemed to me that we were restricting her play and imagination to things that fit our ideology. Even stranger was that her male playmates were getting praised for putting on a crown and fairy wings. Why was it so wrong for Ella? I realize the important groundwork that has been laid and the awareness that is growing when it comes to young girls, role models, career and life choices. Frozen and the wonderful message it provides was one of her first movie theater experiences. It is truly exciting to think of Ella’s nearly unlimited future as a woman. We could be looking at a future engineer, a futureNASA pilot, or world leader. What if her future includes studying ballet at Juilliard and wearing tutus for a living? Would limiting those first experimental choices because they are viewed as damaging be playing god with her future? As parents—even geekling-parents—we need to guide, educate, and support her in whatever path she chooses. Yes, we must accept and brace ourselves that she may even find A New Hope, Dungeons and Dragons, and comic books terribly boring and lame.
Time moves so quickly. Why not let her dance in whatever color makes her happy now? There are very serious challenges just around her future’s corner. Flights of fancy, glitter, and princess dresses will give way to other stages. Letting go, we are trusting that we will all find balance in this exploration. Leaving today for her ballet class, I smiled at her and surrendered to the Pink Side. After all, they do have seriously cute tutus.
For his first birthday, my younger geekling had a flaming robot. For his second, he chose Angry Birds. This year he was committed to celebrating his third trip around the sun with Star Wars. Here’s how we did it:
There’s so much to love in Star Wars, it’s hard to commit to one character or scene for a cake, so why not hit as many as possible?
Click the small images to enlarge.
The cake is four layers each split into two halves:
10″ round: Side 1 is black with Darth Vader’s chest plate. Side 2 is white with Leia’s silver belt.
8″ round: Side 1 is Chewbacca fur with his bandolier. Side 2 represents Han Solo with white on top and a black V shaped “vest” and blue on the side with a red strip for his Corellian Blood Stripes.
6″ round: Side 1 is gold with concentric circles representing C3P0’s chest. Side 2 is R2D2.
Dome top: I used half of the Wilton ball pan to make the top of Yoda’s head (all the way around).
R2D2 for trash
You’ve probably seen an R2D2 trash can, or a child’s costume made from one. A party needs a trash can, so why not? I started with a black trash can, taped off two areas at the bottom to be “blank” where there should be space under him (rather than build legs onto the trash can). I spray painted the bottom white, the top silver, and painted in the details.
Death to the Death Star
You can find instructions all over the Internet for making papier-mâché Death Star piñatas, but the basic idea is simple. Blow up a balloon. Cover it in papier-mâché (dip newspaper strips in a flour and water glue mixture). Paint. I used the silver spray paint from R2D2’s head to coat it, then taped of sections with painter’s tape. I covered the remaining areas with spray adhesive and sprinkled black sand over them. (The sand is incredibly cheap at your local craft store.)
Lightsabers that won’t kill a toddler
And of course, you need something to bring down the Death Star. Pool noodles and duct tape are your key to cheap, safe lightsabers. If you fold a pool noodle in half and press the bent spot just a bit with a knife, it will pop in half cleanly. (You may have to sometimes saw a bit through part of it.) Add duct tape for a hilt and electrical tape for details, and in just a few minutes, you have enough lightsabers for every kid in your party to be a tiny fighter.
I didn’t think the foam would be enough to destroy the Death Star, but never understimate small children with fake weapons. They were determined and indeed broke the piñata with nothing else.
My birthday boy really wanted an ice cream sundae bar, so we set that up with Star Wars cookies made quickly and easily with the Williams-Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters. I didn’t bother to frost them since they were all going inside Darth Vader’s head. The cutters leave a reasonable character impression in the cookie.
I also made pretzel stick lightsabers by dipping them in colored candy melts and wrapping the bases in foil.
If you have young Star Wars fans in your house, and they haven’t read Tom Angelberger’s pair of origami-novel love letters to the franchise, I highly recommend you pick them both up now. And if you don’t have young Star Wars fans, but you are yourself perhaps a less-young Star Wars fan, you’ll enjoy them yourself. I’m talking about The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and its sequel, Darth Paper Strikes Back.
Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book came out last August, and I’ve been quite remiss in not writing about it before now–but not for lack of love of them both. In fact, everybody I’ve seen since then who has heard me talk glowingly about Dwight, Tommy, and their mystery-solving friends will tell you how much I adore these books.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is the paper creation of a sixth-grader named Dwight. He’s a little weird. No, he’s a lot weird. You remember that kid from your own sixth-grade class, I’m sure. Dwight himself is not that brilliant, but his Origami Yoda seems not only smart, but sometimes downright prescient. Dwight’s friend Tommy is dying to know how that can be. Is Origami Yoda “real,” so to speak? Sentient apart from Dwight? Or perhaps he just uses the Force?
The hunt for the answer is the story of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, each chapter told from the point of view of another person from Tommy and Dwight’s group of friends.
In Darth Paper Strikes Back, without ruining for you the conclusions reached in the first novel, Origami Yoda is in danger. And he’s facing a dark paper-foe: Darth Paper, created by Dwight’s nemesis, Harvey. Those who believe in the good of Origami Yoda and Dwight need to save them both from the dark side of paper.
Darth Paper is also written from multiple points of view, in the form of “case files” compiled by and shared among the friends. They’re illustrated just like your notebooks would have been in sixth grade, with doodles of teachers and sarlaacs in the margins.
As a bonus, each ends with the instructions for creating your own origami Star Wars characters, and you can see galleries of those that others have created at origamiyoda.com. You can also follow Origami Yoda on Twitter at @origamiyoda.
Best age for these books? They’re targeted at grades 3-6, ages 8 and up. My six-year-old thought they were fantastic, although I had to explain a few things, like what a school board is and what getting expelled means. Comments on Amazon suggest that their popularity skews towards the younger end of the intended audience. That said, I’m well beyond my elementary school years, and I gleefully devoured them both in one evening and thoroughly enjoyed them.