Kitty Karaoke

kitty karaokeThe roar of the audience, the flashing lights, the first strains of your big number thrumming through the arena…grab the mic…it’s time for some kitty karaoke. We made rockin’ oatmeal container cats and then hit the stage to sing our hearts out. But, given the feline nature of this rock star, you could only sing in “meow.”

We read Cats Got Talent by Ron Barrett (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Hal, Dora, and Geneva are cats. Once, they had homes and owners, but there were issues. Hal has a tendency to shred curtains and destroy furniture. Dora lived in a dress store where she admired all the pretty frocks. Until she tried to become one herself. Geneva was surrounded by love, but the starlet who owned her went broke, and out Geneva went. Now, living in an ally, the three friends decide they’re going to make a new start and form a band. Opening night arrives, and the cats give it all they’re worth! Soon, they are showered by the audience’s “avid” reactions to their singing. But those fish heads, old shoes, and wilted flowers? They’re exactly what each cat is looking for – food, fashion, and adulation. So… who’s ready for an encore?

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • A selection of construction paper
  • A selection of self-adhesive foam pieces
  • 2 pieces of twisteez wire (each approximately 5.5″ long)
  • Rock star decorating supplies (more on those below)
  • 1 small rectangle of black poster board (approximately 0.75″ x 2.5″)
  • 1 small rectangle of silver mirror board (approximately 1.25″ x 1.5″)
  • A black permanent marker
  • 1 rock star stage (more on that below)
  • Tape, scissors and glue for construction
  • Metallic markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished rock star catWrap a large oatmeal container with construction paper, then add an additional strip of black construction paper around the middle for a “jacket.” To make whiskers, tape 3 Twisteez wires to front of the oatmeal container:

cat whiskers step 1Then peel and stick an oval of self-adhesive foam over the tape.

cat whiskers step 2In the above photo, you’ll also notice how I used self-adhesive foam shapes to make eyes and a pair of lips (but you can also just use markers).

Use construction to make hair, feet, arms, paws, ears, and a tail for your cat. To glam up our cats, we offered small gemstones, embossed foil paper, metallic dot stickers, iridescent fabric shapes, and the the Bling Bin. We also used paper crinkle for hair, and it was WAY popular.

The final step is to make a microphone! We prepped these in advance. Taper the bottom of a rectangle of black poster board. Round, and then taper, the rectangle of silver mirror board as well. Hot glue the two pieces together. Use permanent marker to add some “mesh.” Hot glue (or tape) the microphone to the cat’s hand.

cat microphoneNow for the concert! We made our stage out of an old archive box. As you can see in the image below, we hot glued the lid to the base (and reinforced the connection with packing tape). The stage lights are toilet paper tubes wrapped in black construction paper with black masking tape wrapped around one end. The stage lights are attached with hot glue, then reinforced with a bit of packing tape.

stage from the sideWe used black and fuchsia poster board, mirror board, and a ton of metallic dot stickers to create a sparking wonderland of rock-stardom. Oh. Yeah.

stage from the frontFor the final touch, we wrapped two LED floor lights with purple and blue cellophane, and pointed them at the stage. You certainly don’t have to go this elaborate. A shoe box wrapped with tin foil, a sparkly scarf on the floor, a section of carpet with a light shining on it. Really, it all works!

For the concert potion of story time, we closed the shades, turned off most of the lights, and had the audience sit in front of the stage. Then, kids were invited up to sing with their cats. Singing was, of course, optional. Some of the shyer kids preferred to just watch, even though many of them warmed up and gave it a go in the end.

There were many performance styles. There was facing outwards to the audience…

singing 1Facing inwards to the stage…

singing 2Facing inwards to the stage with backup singer…

singing 3The power duet…

power duetYou might notice the kids are using a real microphone! I use a wireless amp for my story time programs, so I busted out a hand-held microphone and let kids experience the power of amplification. A cheaper (and less noisy) option is to make a paper and tin foil microphone. You’ll find instructions for that right here.

And what would this post be without some concert footage?


Here’s an awesome “Down By the Station” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” mashup:


Bring it home Marissa!


[Raises lighter] Woooooooooooooooooo!


Hooray! It’s Haiku!

hooray haikuWe get a lot of weird things through our library recycling program, but these little babies take the cake. They’re stiff felt pieces – I assume from a vintage felt board set?

Yes, they’re funny because they’re so obviously retro. But what’s also funny is that only these pieces of the set remain. When you group them outside the context of the larger set, the effect is rather…weird. Honestly, I think it’s the basket of fish that puts it over the edge.

Never one to pass on an opportunity to share the weirdness, I decided to turn these pieces into a writing prompt for Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12. I told the kids they had to take these objects and create a story or describe a situation. But to make the prompt extra challenging, I told them they could only do it…in haiku. Here are a few of the resulting poems:

Three naughty children
Trying to catch a big bird
Oh no, that is bad

The bird eats the fish.
Can the bird eat the weird fish?
Suddenly it dies.

Yellow, pink, red, green
Let the fish swim in the stream
In a crate they scream

The bird flurries by,
A calm wind trails behind her,
Whee! This is so fun.

Flowers so dandy
Too bad birds eat the flowers
Sad so really sad

The boy ate dyed fish
Have fun in the stomach fish
Good bye Good bye fish!

The bird sips nectar
It’s so sweet, so delicious
Yummy yummy, yum!

Why so surprised fish?
Knee socks are really hip now
Too bad you’re knee-less

It’s gonna die soon!
It’s going on a flower!
It doesn’t matter.

The exercise, of course, was primarily meant for a bit of fun. And as you can see, there were silly poems, crazy poems, and goofy poems (did you spot mine?). But then, this little piece of perfection floated off a pen…

My nose is tired
Of the many smells of spring
When will winter come?

You’re So Dull (I bet you think this post is about you)

you're so dull

Today, we’re going to be boring. That’s right. The whole point of this project is to make your house look exactly the same as everyone else’s. No variations please. Will we be using bright, bold colors? No way. We’re using grey, brown, white, and black. Feel the dullness lulling you into a stupor…lull…lull…lulllllll. Until, of course, you turn the house around and look at the other side. Wow! It’s a wild, crazy plethora of patterns. A virtual riot of color! Dullness begone!

really exciting houseWe read Meet The Dullards, written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (HarperCollins, 2015). The Dullard kids (Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud) are causing trouble. For starters, they’re – gasp – reading circus books instead of staring at blank pieces of paper! And last week, their parents caught them trying to play outside! Things are getting so chaotic, the Dullards decide to move to a less exciting neighborhood. But while Mr. and Mrs. Dullard are (literally) watching the paint dry on their news walls, the kids sneak outside to play circus. This is just too much! The Dullards move back to their old neighborhood. As Mr. and Mrs. Dullard fall asleep, they feel assured that their lives are finally back to being perfectly boring. The kids, however, have other plans. They’ve joined the circus.

You’ll need:

  • 2 rectangles of tagboard or poster board (approximately 7″ x 11.75″)
  • 1 house facade template printed on 8.5″ x 14″ paper
  • Rectangular white office file stickers (optional)
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • A selection of eye stickers (optional)
  • Construction paper (including multicultural construction paperr)
  • Decorating supplies (more on that below!)
  • 1 large tissue box
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by tracing the house facade template onto 2 rectangles of tagboard or brown poster board. Cut, and set one of the house facades aside. On the other facade, use office file stickers to make plain windows and doors. At our story time, each kid got the exact same pre-marked windows and a door (if you don’t have office file stickers, just use markers). I strongly (yet comically) encouraged the kids to make their houses look exactly like my example.

dull houseNext, we made a dull toilet paper tube person. Here, I used the book’s illustrations as a guide. Grey clothes, black hair, etc. I only offered one kind of eye sticker too! We don’t want any overstimulating variations on eyes now, do we?

dull personYour dull house and person are finished. Set them aside. Pick up the second house facade…and go CRAZY! We brought out the Bling Bin, a bunch of additional supplies, and encouraged the kids to decorate like mad. They also received more door and window stickers. Here’s Marissa’s super shiny house.

exciting houseOur decorating supplies included mylar, patterned paper, feathers, pom-poms, construction paper, large gemstones, craft sticks, foam beads, patterned tape, self-adhesive foam shapes, , and embossed foil paper.

While the kids were decorating their houses, they were also decorating a second, non-dull toilet paper tube person. Check out the yellow cellophane cape on this little lady!

exciting personWhen the exciting house facades are finished, hot glue them to one side of a large tissue box. Hot glue the dull facade to the other side of the box. Twirl the box around to view the dull and exciting sides. And speaking of exciting sides, check out these masterpieces…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That’s not to say that dull houses that look exactly the same are necessarily bad. I mean, I hear that Camazotz is quite lovely this time of year. Especially if you’re looking to score a delicious turkey dinner. Leave your little brother at home though.