Walk on the Wild Side

walk on the wild sideDare to be different! Stroll down the street with your skunk. What could possibly go wrong?

We read Don’t Take Your Snake for a Stroll, written by Karin Ireland, and illustrated by David Catrow (Harcourt, 2003). What happens when you take a pig shopping, an elephant to the beach, a duck to a wedding, or a rhinoceros to a swing party? Trust me, it’s not good. This hilarious book had our story time kids in stitches. Not only are the rhymes fun and fantastic, the stupendous illustrations show you exactly what happens when you take a coyote out for a night on the town!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9” – a large tissue box works!)
  • Construction paper
  • 1 rubber band
  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 pair of wiggle eyes (optional)
  • 4 wheels (optional – more on this below)
  • A 36″ piece of yarn or string
  • Markers for decorating
  • Scissors, tape, glue for construction
  • Hot glue

Wrap a box with your choice of construction paper, then slide a rubber band “collar” onto the box. Add legs, tail, ears, mouth, eyes, and a nose. A paper cup makes a terrific snout, should you need one (I recommend attaching it to the box with hot glue). We had pieces of self-adhesive foam on hand for noses and mouths, as well as Twizteez wire for whiskers. We made a few example critters to get the creative juices flowing…

skunkmonkeymouseoctopusBecause we intended to take our animals out on the sidewalk, we put the boxes on wheels. I used leftover plastic wheels from this Richard Scarry event, and this parade project (if you’re interested, I ordered them online from Kelvin Educational).

wheelsThread the wheels on pieces of bamboo skewer, and then thread the skewers through drinking straws taped to the bottom of the box like so:

axles and wheelsYou could also use wooden spools instead of plastic wheels. Or, if you’re planning to stay indoors, skip the wheels and just drag the box on the floor (like the dog from this post). No matter yours means of locomotion, just make sure your animal’s arms and/or legs don’t drag on the ground. Ditto for the tail. Tie a piece of yarn to the collar, and hit the sidewalks!

skunk on the street 1Sure, you might get a few curious stares…

skunk on the street 2Well, let them stare! Walk with poise and confidence. And as you’re walking, say to yourself “Me and my skunk look great. And darn it, we feel great too!”

skunk on the street 3Er. Just make sure you say it, don’t spray it.

skunk on the street 4Did you spot the mouse on a walk too? Look by the newspaper boxes!

Will The Real Sasquatch Please Stand Up?

the real sasquatchIt’s tall, furry, reclusive, and tree-hugging. Long considered to be a myth, we’re going to prove that the elusive sasquatch does, in fact, exist.

We read Larf by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press, 2012). Larf is a sasquatch. The only sasquatch in the world. He likes his quiet life in the woods with his bunny, Eric. But one day, while reading the newspaper, Larf learns that a sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance at a nearby city. Another sasquatch? Despite his love for solitude, Larf decides to brave the trip to see if there is someone like him. Navigating the city (with Eric in a baby bjorn), Larf is scared, anxious, self-conscious, and full of doubts. But he sticks it out, and discovers that the sasquatch is…a fake. Disappointed, Larf is waiting for the bus to take him home, when someone compliments him on his bunny. Lo and behold! It’s another sasquatch! Shurl (with her companion bird, Patricia) came to the city thinking she was the only sasquatch. It looks like the two loners, are not longer lonely!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • 1 sasquatch parts template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 2 paper towel tubes (make sure they’re the same height)
  • Some tagboard or brown poster board
  • Dark brown, light brown, and white construction paper
  • 1 piece of crepe paper streamer (mine was approximately 27″)
  • Several large plastic buttons for counterweights, if needed
  • Scissors, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

The trickiest part of the this project is getting the sasquatch to balance on its paper towel tube legs. Other than that, it’s very simple, and the templates for all the project parts can be found on the sasquatch parts template. You’ll need lots of construction paper fringes too.

We’ll build from the bottom up! Trace two feet from the template onto tagboard, card board, or heavy-duty poster board. Hot glue the feet to the bottom of a pair of paper towel tubes, then wrap the tubes with several rows of brown construction paper fringe. Use markers to add toenails if you’d like.

sasquatch legsSet the legs aside for a moment. Wrap an oatmeal container with brown construction paper. Add a fringe of brown construction paper around the bottom of the container like a skirt. Trace the face and ears from the template onto light brown construction paper, then tape or glue them to the container. Add eyes, eyebrows, and draw a nose and mouth. Add brown construction paper fringes around the face and head.

faceLarf wears a scarf in the book, so we added a scarf (and a t-shirt) to our sasquatches. The t-shirt was a 5″ x 18″ piece of white construction paper. Kids used markers to draw a design on the t-shirt, then wrapped it around the middle of the oatmeal container. The scarf was a 27″ piece of crepe paper streamer (fringed on the ends of course). Some kids made hair bows out of crepe paper streamers as well. Very cute!

To make the arms, trace the arm template onto 2 pieces of tagboard, add some hair fringes, and hot glue the arms to the sides of the oatmeal container (you can’t see them in the below photo, but I added white short-sleeved t-shirt sleeves to the arms too). Cut some thumbs into the hands, then curl the arms around the chest and hot glue the hands together. Your sasquatch’s arms will now form a circle in front of his/her chest like so:

attached armsNow for the trickiest step. Hot gluing the legs to the bottom of the oatmeal container. Stand the legs up on a level surface and lower the body on top of them. You’ll know right away if the body needs to be adjusted left, right, forward, or backward. When you think you’ve struck the right balance, remove the body, squeeze some hot glue around the rims of the leg tubes, and gently lower the body on top of the hot glue.

If your sasquatch is still a little wobbly, use large plastic buttons as counterweights. Hot glue them to the underside of the body – front or back – as needed. Here’s a shot of the underside of my sasquatch, with a couple button counterweights attached.

counterbalance buttonsThe sasquatch is finished, but we’re not quite done with the project! You’ll notice a tree and bunny shape on the template. We made trees (with brown paper trunks) and bunnies (with white pom-pom tails) as prizes for a sasquatch finding game.

tree and bunnyOutside, we collected the sasquatches and hid them all over the library’s plaza. Then we shouted “1-2-3-Go!” and the kids dashed off to locate their furry friends.

taking offthe searchsasquatch foundThe reward for discovery was a bunny and a tree, tucked safely into the sasquatch’s arms. Awwwww!

the real sasquatchBelieve it or not, this isn’t the first sasquatch activity I’ve posted on this blog. Here’s another project for older kids that also involves a slightly different sort of search!

City of Light

city of lightThe minute I picked up Dusk by Uri Shulevitz, I knew we had to create a city full of color and light at our story time. It’s a simple project with truly magical results.

We read Dusk by Uri Shulevitz (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013). A boy, his grandfather, and their dog go for a wintertime walk. As the sky fades to dusk, the lights in the city go on one by one. People stroll and shop, and windows glow in a city that is light as day. This book is set during the holiday season, and includes Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa imagery (without mentioning any of them outright). The gorgeous illustrations and lyrical text pull you right into the story. I wanted to capture that beauty and ambiance in our story time project.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box with a clear lid
  • A piece of tagboard or brown poster board (big enough to cover the box’s lid)
  • A box cutter
  • A selection of cellophane
  • A selection of tissue paper
  • Glow sticks
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Admittedly, this project can get pricey. Especially the glow sticks (more on those later). It also requires a box with a clear lid or window. I bought my boxes online from Nashville Wraps (they’re “clear lid display boxes” that measure 2″ x 8.75″ x 11.25″). They cost $32.50 for 20, and that doesn’t include the cost of shipping. But just look at the nice, big, clear lid on that box!

box with clear lidIf you’re looking for a cheaper option, you might consider a sheet cake or pie box at your local supermarket or bakery. So long as the box has a window on one side, you’re good.

On to the project! Use scissors to cut a city skyline out of tagboard or brown poster board (we tried black paper, but brown turned out to be a much mellower color). Use a box cutter to add windows, shutters, doors, and doorways. We added a couple of elongated rectangles and triangles as well.

cut cityUse markers to decorate the exterior of your city (Crayola metallic markers look especially fantastic). Tape pieces of cellophane and/or tissue paper behind some (or all) of the windows and doors. If you’d like, use dark brown paper to add silhouettes in the windows and doorways.

finished cityAnd now, we come to the priciest part of this project. Glow sticks. Our 11.25″ boxes illuminated best with six, 4″ sticks inside them. I bought my sticks at Party City (a pack of 25 costs $10). So I spent $40 on glow sticks. Dang. Daaaang. You could definitely make do with fewer sticks and a smaller box to reduce the cost.

By the way, not all glow sticks colors have the same intensity. White, for example, is very weak (and actually light purple, not white). Yellow is strong, orange and red are somewhat in the medium range. For our project, we used yellow, red, orange, and white.

Activate your glow sticks, arrange them in your box, and secure them in place with tape.

light table 2Put the lid back on the box, and use pieces of tissue paper, cellophane, and tape to create “dusk” on the box lid. When you’re done with the sky, tape the city onto the box lid. Below, you can see my finished box with its dusk-filled sky:

finished city boxAnd here’s what it looked like in a darkened room!

finished glowing cityFor the “dusk designing” portion of the program, I turned most of the gallery lights off. There was a big gasp as kids discovered that they had their own personal light tables to work on.

light table 1Eagerly, kids experimented with different cellophane and tissue arrangements, developing the perfect little dusk. I set up a small table in a closet so they could see the full effect of their illuminated cities when they were finished. Just look at these gorgeous glowing cities!

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Later, when the glow sticks have faded, you can remove the box lid and place your city on a bright windowsill. Instant suncatcher!