Natty Nessie Neckwear

nessie-neckgearNever has a Loch Ness Monster sighting had so much style! Customize a super-long Nessie scarf, then circle the scarf on the floor to create a tossing game that involves…believe it or not…a bowl of oatmeal!

We read The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster: A Tale of Picky Eating, written by A.W. Flaherty, and illustrated by Scott Magoon (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Little Katerina-Elizabeth is going to visit her grandmother in Scotland, and it’s her very first time traveling alone on a big ocean liner. Her parents, planning ahead, select what they believe to be the absolute best breakfast food for their little girl. Oatmeal. Katerina-Elizabeth loathes oatmeal and promptly tosses it out a porthole. The oatmeal is discovered by a tiny sea worm who eagerly eats it and grows twice its size. The sea worm follows the ship across the ocean, gobbling the oatmeal as fast as Katerina-Elizabeth can toss it overboard. They form a friendship that lasts all the way to Loch Ness where the boat disembarks. There, the sea worm discovers that Scottish children also hate oatmeal. It circles Loch Ness, grazing on oatmeal and growing to monstrous proportions. To keep the tourists intrigued and the oatmeal coming, the Loch Ness Monster allows itself to be seen on rare occasions. But the most famous sighting is when the sea worm rises out of the water to give Katerina-Elizabeth a friendly smooch as she sails home. I won’t give away the very end of the story, but rest assured it had all the parents at story time cracking up!

You’ll need:

We wanted the kids to have really long scarves for this project, but we didn’t want them tripping over their new neckwear! Ultimately, we went with 5″ x 56″ scarves that we shaped into round heads, tapered bodies, and dragon-like tails. We also hot glued green felt fins towards the front end of the scarves (about 13″ down from the top of the head). We prepped the scarves in advance. Here’s a shot of an undecorated scarf so you can see the shape:

nessie-scarf-shapeAt story time, we gave kids a whole pile of self-adhesive foam to cut and apply to their scarves (just make sure you test how well the adhesive sticks to your felt – ours stuck surprisingly well). Hot glue wiggle eyes and a pair of 12″ curling ribbon whiskers on the head, and you’re done!

nessie-faceKids got really creative with their Loch Ness Monsters. Here’s just a few I managed to snap. This one’s got a pretty fantastic pair of lips:

nessie-1And this one’s sporting an impressive set of teeth…

nessie-2There were flowers…

nessie-3And manicures!

nessie-4But here’s my favorite. This little girl spent a long time making a color gradient down her Loch Ness Monster’s back. She did this all by herself!

nessie-5To make the oatmeal bowl for the toss game, decorate a paper bowl with patterned tape and self-adhesive foam. Fill the bowl with a handful of polyester fill. Don’t glue or tape the oatmeal in the bowl. It’s funnier when it flies out during the toss game!

bowl-of-oatmealMake as many bowls of oatmeal as you like. Then circle the scarf on the floor, step back, and try to toss the bowls into the circle.

nessie-ring-tossIf the circle toss is a little too challenging, stretch the scarf straight and toss the oatmeal over it like a finish line!

nessie-line-tossWhen you’re done with the toss game, drape your Nessie around your shoulders for the ultimate look in Loch Ness apparel.

nessie-scarf

Speaking of mysterious creature sightings, did you know that Bigfoot has been spotted twice on this blog? You can catch a glimpse here and here!

Baked Goods for Bovines

baked goods for bovinesDo cows and cookies go together? You bet. Especially in this matching and sequencing game we created, complete with a grinning, cookie-eating cow!

We read The Cow Loves Cookies, written by Karma Wilson, and illustrated by Marcellus Hall (Simon & Schuster, 2010). All the animals on the farm enjoy their daily fare. Horses eat hay, the chickens enjoy chicken feed, and the hogs dig enthusiastically into slop. But the cow gets (and LOVES) cookies! Why? Everyday, the farmer and the cow share a picnic, and finish the meal with cookies (which he provides) and milk (which she provides). The clever rhymes make this a super fun read-aloud. By the end, the kids were all joining me in the refrain, “But the cow LOVES cookies!”

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (mine was 4″ x 4″ x 4″)
  • A box cutter
  • 2 strips of white card stock (mine were 1.25″ x 10.5″)
  • 1 large box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”)
  • 4 toilet paper tubes
  • White, brown, black, and pink construction paper
  • 2 medium pom-poms (approximately 0.75″ in diameter)
  • 2 black dot stickers
  • 1 cookie game template, printed on 2 sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, the cow’s head. Use a box cutter to slice 3 sides of a small box. The uncut 4th side of the box is the hinge of your cow’s mouth. Use a black marker to draw “tooth lines” on 2 strips of white card stock, then attach the strips to the upper and lower parts of the mouth.

cow teeth stepsStick a brown oval nose on the front of the box (we used self-adhesive foam, but construction paper works too). Hot glue a pair of pom-pom eyes to the top of the box, and use black dot stickers (or circles of black construction paper) to create pupils. Use white construction paper to add ears and a fringed forelock.

cow's faceWrap 4 toilet paper tubes with white construction paper, then hot glue them to the bottom of a large box. Hot glue the cow’s head to the edge of the box as well. Add an udder, a tail, and 4 brown construction paper hooves.

cow from the sideThe final step is to cover your cow with spots. We used sheets of self-adhesive foam that the kids cut into customized spots, but construction paper is also an option. I definitely recommend offering a rainbow of spot colors – the results are fantastic. Check out this pink and white cow with the heart spot on her flank!

pink and white cowThe cow is finished, now for the cookie matching and sequencing game! Here’s how it works. Cut 4 white circles from the template, then use markers to decorate each circle like a cookie. All the cookies needs to be different.

circles to cookiesCut the rest of the template into 5 strips, making sure that each strip contains 4 cookie circles. Decorate the strips with different cookie sequences. All the strips should be different (and it’s totally OK if you don’t decorate all 5 strips).

various cookie patternsTo play the game, randomly select a cookie strip. Match your cookie circles to the sequence on the strip, and then feed the cookies to the cow in that order. When done, remove the cookies from your cow’s mouth, select a different strip, and play again! You can play the game at your own pace, or have a countdown from 10 to make it more challenging. Another option – place the cow on the other side of the room, so you have to run back and forth from the cookies to the cow!

I Am Kitten, Hear Me Snore

i am kitten, hear me snoreGet ready for bed with a cozy nightcap and flickering lantern. You might, however, want to bring some earplugs…someone out there is snoring to beat the band, and it’s going to take some searching to find out who (hint: think furry and very, very cute)!

We read Roar of a Snore, written by Marsha Diane Arnold, and illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Dial Books, 2006). It’s night, and the household slumbers peacefully. Except Jack. He’s wide awake, being treated to a roof-lifting, floor-rumbling, full-on ROAR of a snore. Who is disturbing the peace? Jack systematically awakens the residents of the house, who join the investigation. Eventually, the entire family find themselves in the barn’s hay loft, where the culprit is revealed. Who knew a tiny little kitten could make so much noise?

You’ll need:

  • 1 strip of poster board (approximately 1.75″ x 22″)
  • 1 sheet of tissue paper (mine was 20.5″ x 30″)
  • A selection of self-adhesive foam shapes
  • 1 rectangle of yellow construction paper(approximately 2.75″ x 8″)
  • 1 piece of ribbon (approximately 4.75″ long)
  • A selection of colored masking tape
  • 1 9oz plastic cocktail glass
  • 1 square of circle of white poster board or mirror board (mine was 4″ x 4″)
  • 2 mini tin foil pie plates (mine were 2.75″ in diameter)
  • 1 sparkle stem (or regular pipe cleaner)
  • 1 LED votive
  • A selection of foil star stickers (optional)
  • 1 snoring kitten (more on this below)
  • Stapler, scissors, and tape for construction

We’ll begin with the nightcap! Lay a sheet of tissue paper (in landscape orientation) on a table. Place a 1.75″ x 22″ strip of poster board at the bottom of the tissue paper.

nightcap step 1Fold the bottom edge of the tissue paper halfway up the poster board strip. Secure in place with multiple pieces of tape.

nightcap step 2Now roll the poster board strip upward, once. This is the “hatband” for your nightcap.

nightcap step 3Trim the excess panels of tissue paper off. The excess panels are the sections that are not attached to the hatband (the cuts are demonstrated below with dotted lines).

nightcap step 4Circle the hatband around your head, and secure the ends together with staples.

nightcap step 5Decide how tall you’d like your nightcap to be, then bunch the tissue paper together at the top. Secure with colored masking tape (I used purple tape). Regular tape works as well!

nightcap step 6Trim the excess tissue paper off the top of the hat.

nightcap step 7Set the hat aside for just a moment…it’s time for the tassel! Fringe a 2.75″ x 8″ rectangle of yellow construction paper, then tape a 4.75″ piece of ribbon to one end. Roll the paper around the ribbon, and secure the paper roll with tape. Tape the tassel to the top of the hat (I used purple masking tape once again – regular works too). The final step is to decorate the hatband with self-adhesive foam shapes!

finished nightcapThe hat is done, now for the lantern! My lantern consists of a plastic cup, 2 mini tin foil pie pans, a circle of mirror board, a sparkle stem, and an LED votive. However, if you don’t have these supplies (or if you’d like to construct a simpler lantern) I recommend this super easy one. Otherwise, read on…

Begin by tracing the mouth of a 9oz plastic cocktail cup onto a square of poster board (or silver mirror board). Tape the circle to the top of a mini pie pan. This forms the base of your lantern.

bottom of snore lanternTo make the lantern’s handle, punch both ends of a sparkle stem through a second mini pie pan. Twist the loose ends together. Tape the pie pan handle to the bottom of the plastic cup like so:

top of snore lanternPlace an LED votive in the center of the lantern’s base, then put the plastic cup handle on top of the base. Since you want to be able to open the lantern to get to the LED votive, use tape to create a “hinge” on one side of the cup, and masking tape to make a “latch” on the other side (you can see my latch below, in purple). Finish by adding some (optional) foil star stickers to the plastic cup.

finished snore lanternWhen your nightcap and lantern are finished, it’s time to play the “Find the Snore” game, starring THIS fantastic snoring kitten!

snoring kittenI drew the kitten on a small poster board facade, then taped it to a hand-held tape recorder. I bought it back in 2003 when I needed something inexpensive to record and transcribe my dissertation interviews. A quick Google search led me to a snoring sound track, which I recorded right out of my computer’s desktop speakers.

snoring tape recorderWhen it came time to play “Find the Snore,” we darkened the gallery, and asked the kids to cover their eyes while I hid the kitten and pressed “play” on the recorder. Wearing their nightcaps and carrying their lanterns, the kids had to follow the snore to find the kitten!

searching for snoresThe first few times, I kept the kitten fairly low to the ground, or just above eye level.

kitten on the hearth

But the final time, I stuck it waaaay up high, and watched them dash around for quite a while. They heard it, but couldn’t find it! Eventually, however, they spotted the kitten, snoring away overhead.

kitten up high

If you don’t have a tape recorder, a smartphone would work too. Or get a staff member to brush up on his/her comic snoring and hide (bonus points if he/she wears cat ears).