Rapunzel’s Toolkit, or How to Nurture Magic and Sanity In Your Tower

March 17, 2020

We’ve been thinking about what we could do to help you all during these strange and awful times, what we could give to our wonderful community to help sustain you through these days of isolation. To that end, we’ve created this post, which we’re lovingly referring to as Rapunzel’s Toolkit.

This is a massive list of free and low-cost resources (magazines, stories, music, museum tours, lessons, and more) and practical ideas for stuff to do or make from the comfort of your Tower while you’re practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. So many people, businesses, and projects are sharing so generously, and this is only a small sample of what’s out there, curated for maximum wonder! If you know of other free or inexpensive magical things out there or activities that you love, please share them in the comments – we’d love to hear what else is out there!

We’ll keep updating this list when we hear about new stuff, so check back for more ideas! Last update: 3/27

  • First, we’ve put two of our own fairy tales up on our website to read for free. Sara is offering up her short story “Ashes and Pomegranates,” a Persephone-Bluebeard-Cinderella mashup originally published in C is for Chimera, edited by Rhonda Parrish. Brittany is putting up her selkie tale “The Sea Does Not Need Me,” originally published in Something Rich and Strange: Tales from the Sea, edited by Donna Quattrone.
  • Enchanted Living, a beautiful magical lifestyle magazine to which we are regular contributors, has made several of their back-issues available to download, for free! They’ve also just added free coloring book pages to that page!
  • The New Decameron project plans to post a story every day, to share art and aspiration during this crisis and bring our community together. Stories will be visible to everyone, but if you support them with a pledge, the money will go to pay the creators and to support Cittadini del Mondo, a charity running a library and clinic for refugees in Rome.
  • The amazing, uniquely American fairy-tale films of folklorist Tom Davenport are available to watch online at From the Brothers Grimm (a donation is suggested, which we strongly encourage!) Fun fact: These were all filmed in the area of Northern Virginia where Brittany is from, and she grew up watching them at her elementary school! Davenport also runs Folkstreams, if you’re looking for other, wonderful folklore films available for free online (and, again, donations are awesome!)
  • Listen, for free, to folk music from all over the world at folkcloud.com! You can search by region and country, or you can listen to a random playlist.
  • Lots of places are doing free streams of concerts (many that would be very expensive to attend in person normally!) This is a great list of what’s out there. We’re particularly intrigued by Iestyn Davies and Thomas Dunford’s England’s Orpheus concert (which features all songs inspired by the myth of Orpheus) and Leon McCawley’s piano performance of Leoš Janáček’s “On an Overgrown Path” (which we like to imagine is the story of an Alice-like adventure through a magical world.)
  • The phenomenal Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta is offering free workshops, museum tours, and puppet shows via Zoom. They have absolutely incredible programing and, often, exhibits that highlight Jim Henson’s puppetry like The Dark Crystal.
  • The incredible Georgia Aquarium has a live feed of their critters! Fishes! Sharks! Dolphins! Beluga whales! Penguins!
  • Have a Netflix Party with your friends! “Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows.” And there’s a ton of amazing, fantastical content: check out She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (it’s astonishingly good, seriously), the new Dark Crystal series, the charming and folkloric Hilda, and so much more.
  • Free nightly opera from The Metropolitan Opera. The drama! The voices! The epic costumes! We’re particularly psyched for Giacomo Puccini’s gorgeous La Bohème.
  • Social distancing does not have to mean staying indoors – authorities are actually strongly encouraging getting outside for some fresh air! So go on a solo nature walk, and try to spot all the signs that Spring is on its way.
  • Free museum tours all over the place. Drool over Pre-Raphaelite beauty at the Tate Britain or the goddesses at the Uffizi!
  • Or take a tour of the ridiculously opulent and fascinating Palace of Versailles via Google Arts & Culture. The tour includes stories from the palace, up-close explorations of the artwork, and much more. The website is well-organized, stylish, and has a good sense of fun!
  • The incredible Charles Vess self-published his novel The Queen of Summer’s Twilight online, completely for free.
  • Erin Morgenstern, amazing author of The Night Circus and The Starless Sea, wrote ten-sentence tiny stories on her website every Friday from 2009-2014. They are called “flax-golden tales” and you can still read them all here. There are 261 of them!!
  • Take a visual field trip to the Great Wall of China! Or Mars! Or just stare at some otters, that is always a good call.
  • Free online ballet lessons?! We don’t know, we’re terrible at ballet, but this seems cool! Be bold? Be bold!
  • Visit the zoo!! Animals are the best!
  • Open Culture has over 1000 movies you can watch for free online! Might we recommend George Méliès’ 1899 “Cinderella,” Paul Wegener’s 1920 “Der Golum,” or the wild “Granny O’Grimm” version of “Sleeping Beauty” (2009)?
  • Skype and Facetime with your people! Pour some wine, play charades, tell each other stories, read each other fairy tales, make weird faces at each other. Tell them you love their faces.
  • Send a care package or a poem to a friend who you know is having an especially rough time right now. In a pinch, you can do something really simple like send them a box of tea via Amazon.
  • Cook something that you’ve always wanted to try to make but that has always seemed too complicated or time-consuming. Make it an all-day project. Get everyone in your house involved, play music, dance around, and enjoy the process!
  • Become a podcast fiend! Check out our episode on “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” and “The Snow Queen” at Roots of Lore if you’re looking for a great place to start.
  • Learn how to do something. Learn to code. Learn Spanish or Irish or Japanese (Sara loves Duolingo, a free phone app). Write your first poem in iambic pentameter. Crack open that set of watercolors you haven’t touched in 5 years.
  • Read. Read EVERYTHING. There’s a ridiculous abundance of mythic/ fantasy/ fairy-tale-ish journals and magazines out there that you can read for free. We even put together a great list of them for you here! Our friend Theodora Goss has been posting links to her gorgeous work online (you can read “Red as Blood and White as Bone” here), and she’s put her collections on super sale (you can buy Snow White Learns Witchcraft for $1.99 here).
  • Our next Carterhaugh Book Club event will be Sunday, April 19th, at 7PM EDT! We’re reading Juliet Marillier’s gothic fairy-tale novel Heart’s Blood. Click here to find out how to join us live!
  • Have a story read to you (even from space or by a famous actor!) YouTube is your friend for this. Here’s Neil Gaiman reading Norse mythology to get you started! We also highly recommend Elijah Wood reading the witchy children’s picture book Me and My Cat ;).
  • 113 museums are also offering FREE coloring books from their artwork! Or, you know, maybe free Cthulhu coloring books are more your thing?
  • The gorgeous art studio Castle in the Air is offering some fun paper doll crafts to print out and make – there’s even a “Little Red Riding Hood” inspired one! (Thanks for the head’s up Daylin!)
  • American Family Stories is offering a story a day, each “selected to help bring a bit of encouragment and reflection on the power of families and communities to overcome hardship by pulling together.” Sign up for emails on their website!
  • You can go through a whole Frida Kahlo exhibition on Google’s Arts and Culture website!
  • Critical Role, D&D, and Roll20 have released a FREE roleplay adventure you can do online!
  • Elementary school teach Mr. Lawrence is reading the entirety of The Hobbit on video!
  • LeVar Burton’s short story podcast is always wonderful!
  • Drag Queen Storytime is still happening virtually too!
  • The Peters Township Public Library in PA made a Hogwarts Themed Digital Escape Room?!
  • LoveWitch and Spectaculus plan to send “something fun, thoughtful, magical, silly, [and/or] practical” each morning at 9AM as “a way of feeling like we’re all connected still in this magical world.” Sign up here!
  • Emilie Autumn is offering free coloring book pages from her Asylum Coloring Book!
  • The wonderful music artist S.J. Tucker is doing an online concert on Sunday 3/29 at 2PM Central Time – she’s wonderful, and there are a bunch of other artists on the platform she’s using that are doing online concerts as well!
  • Martin Shaw has put up some videos of his excellent storytelling – they’re especially geared toward kids this time, but everyone can enjoy them!
  • Old School Bruja is offering a Facebook group called OSB Dance Fitness Fun to get some witchy movement into your day!
  • “Shelter Together” is a new series of live videos by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts that features live performances, demonstrations, and words of wisdom from traditional artists across California. Check out their Instagram feed or Facebook page every Wednesday and Friday at noon for new videos!
  • John Fluevog, the guy who designs the AWESOME shoes we’re always wearing, is doing “Storytime With John” and reading Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox a chapter at a time on video! He’s also put up coloring pages so you can design your dream Vogs ;).
  • “Listening in Place” is a new Sound Archive project by the Vermont Folklife Center that is attempting to document daily experiences during the pandemic. They will also host a series of online Virtual Story Circles.
  • Lastly, we’ve teamed up with Profs & Pints to offer their first ever VIRTUAL talk! We’re going to give a live online talk on fairylore (one of our favorite subjects!!) this Friday (3/27) at 7PM EDT – we hope you can join us!

Whew! Hopefully that will keep you busy for a while! We’ll be brewing up some more magic in the next few weeks, but for now, we have one more offering: for one week, starting today, we’re donating half of all the sales from our self-guided “Introduction to Fairy Tales” course to the CDC  (where the donation will be matched by Facebook!)

If you know of other fabulous resources or activities, please let us know in the comments – and we’d love to see pictures of things you make and of your Tower adventures in general!

We’ll get through this together <3 Sending everyone out there lots of love and a full teacup of mischief and magic.


  1. Christina

    What about dusting off that old sewing machine you haven’t touched in many years, learn to sew from online instructions. Lots on line instructions for remaking old clothes. Lists of things to make. Printrest is one sight to join for crafts of all sorts.
    Enjoy your time at home ,be creative.

  2. Daylin

    Castle in the Air (an art studio in Berkeley,CA) has some cool paper doll downloads for free. One is even a little red riding hood house. 🙂

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