Your Royal Tinyness

its a small worldIt might be a small, small world, but you can always dream big! Create a lavish, three-story castle with throne room, balcony, and bedroom with a view. And don’t forget His (or Her) Royal Tinyness, expertly fashioned from a wine cork.

We read The Tiny King by Taro Miura (Candlewick Press, 2010). Once there was a Tiny King who lived in a huge castle. He had everything he could want (a big army, enormous feasts, a huge bathtub, a gargantuan horse). But the Tiny King was sad and lonely. Happily, he falls in love with a big princess and marries her. They have ten children who fill their lives with joy, love, and laughter. That huge castle? As it turns out, it was exactly the right size!

You’ll need:

The beauty of this project is that you don’t need much beyond a paper plate, a few boxes, some construction paper, and a wine cork. And the boxes can be just about any size. Just decorate, stack, glue, and you’re done! If, however, you’d like to replicate some of the elements we incorporated, read on…

finished 3-story castleThe base of our castle is a flipped over paper plate. Remove the lid and tabs from the first box, and hot glue it to the paper plate. Add a pair of castle doors if you’d like. Our doors were made out of tagboard – they were simply hot glued in place and didn’t open and shut. To complete the “throne room,” add a rug (construction paper) and a throne (a tape core with poster board taped to the back).

castle first floorThe second floor of the castle has a balcony. Cut the tabs off your box, but leave the lid intact. Fold the box’s lid outward to create the floor of your balcony, then cut the floor to your preferred shape (we went semi-octagonal).

Hot glue the second box on top of the first box. Then shape a piece of paper (or poster board) around the perimeter of the balcony to make a railing. Tape the railing in place. Furnish the second floor with a little table (a circle of tagboard (or poster board) and a wooden spool).

castle second floorThe third floor of the castle is the bedroom. It has a window, and the wall in which the window rests opens and shuts. First, cut the tabs off your box, but leave the lid intact. Next, use a box cutter to cut a window in the box’s lid (we cut all the windows in advance). Hot glue the third box to the second box. Here’s our window:

castle third floorSince the castle is tall and narrow, we decided it would be best to have the window wall open downward (as opposed to one side or the other – too tippy!). Below you can see how the wall folds down, revealing the interior of the bedroom and a paper baking cup bed.

castle third floor open

The final step is to make the castle’s tower. This is a cone water cup hot glued to a toilet paper tube. The toilet paper tube is then hot glued to the top of the third box. And don’t forget the flag! Once all your castle pieces are stacked and glued, it’s very important to add reinforcement to the back of the boxes. We hot glued a 2.75″ x 9.75″ piece of corrugated cardboard to the back of our castle:

reinforcement on back of castleYou can decorate the castle rooms before you glue the boxes together, or you can decorate as you build. We offered construction paper, patterned paper, and fake plastic jewels to our castle architects.

golden castleWe also provided metallic markers, which produced some spectacular results. I love the gold-rimmed paper plate base in the photo above. And look at this alligator in the “moat!”

alligator in moat

And this! Gold flourishes on the tabletop and the white wall, echoing the Moroccan-influenced wall paper. Gorgeous. The pink shutters rock too.

pink shuttersThe last thing your castle needs is a king or queen! Used permanent marker to draw a face on a wine or champagne cork, then hot glue a little paper crown to the top. Wrap the remainder of the cork in paper. Done!

king cork

Extroverted Ninjas

extroverted ninjasThey say ninjas should be silent, composed, and invisible…we are not those ninjas. Make a truly eye-catching headband, belt and tunic. And forgo the nunchucks in favor of some fantastic dancing ribbons!

We read Wink, the Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C. Phillipps (Viking, 2009).
Wink is a student at the Summer Moon School for Young Ninjas, taught by the formidable Master Zutsu. Unfortunately, Wink can’t be silent, can’t stop dancing, can’t stop showing up in brightly patterned clothes, and just can’t stop drawing attention to himself. Expelled from the school, Wink happens across a young boy unsuccessfully training for the circus. When Wink offers to help him find his inner balance, he discovers that while his desire to be noticed isn’t great for ninjas, it’s PERFECT for the Lucky Dragon Circus!

You’ll need:

Our headbands were 2.25″ x 21″ pieces of poster board cut down to the appropriate diameter and decorated with patterned tape and self-adhesive foam shapes. The belts were also poster board, but slightly wider and longer (we started at 3″ x 28″ and then cut them down to the appropriate girth).

You can use a stapler to secure the headband together, but for the belt, we punched holes in either end and laced ribbon through the holes. Here’s a shot of the headband and belt from the back. Sorry this is a bit blurry (LOTS of jumping, dancing, and running that day!)

back of tunicTo make the tunic, cut a slit in the center of a big rectangle of plastic table cloth (I definitely don’t recommend going any bigger than a 39.5″ x 47″ rectangle). Stick your head through the slit and let the tablecloth drape like a poncho. Next, tie the poster board belt around your waist. Instant tunic! Trim the bottom and shoulders of the tunic as needed, then decorate it with patterned tape and self-adhesive foam shapes.

They kids had a great time putting together their costumes, but the REAL fun came when we made dance ribbons. These are the exact same dance ribbons I created for a Frozen magic project. All you need are 2 dowel rods, a metallic tablecloth, and tape.

let it go 2

I bought my metallic tablecloths from Oriental Trading Company (a 54″ x 6′ tablecloth costs $3.25). To make 1 set of dance ribbons, spread out the tablecloth and cut 8 ribbons from it. Here are my ribbon measurements (you can adjust yours according to the height of your child):

  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 41″
  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 49″
  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 60″
  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 66″

Bunch 4 ribbons (one of each size) together, twist tightly, and tape securely to one end of a wooden dowel with colored masking tape. Continue wrapping the tape downward and around the dowel until it’s covered. Repeat the above steps with a second dowel. Definitely wait until the very end to make ribbons, because once the kids get them…it gets crazy!

ninja dance ribbonsWithout a doubt, this is a high-energy-get-your-wiggles-out-lots-of-fun story time project. So make sure you have plenty of space. For there will be bouncing, kicking, twirling and leaping!

leaping ninja

It’s a Bouncing Baby…WOLF?!?

it's a bouncing baby wolfThere’s a new arrival in the family, but this baby has fur, fangs, a propensity to howl at the moon, and a very wolfish grin! You’ll be fully prepared for parenthood, however, with a bottle, diapers, blanket, bunny snuggle toy, and customized diaper bag.

We read Wolfie the Bunny, written by Ame Dyckman, and illustrated by Zachariah OHora (Little, Brown, 2015). When a wicker basket appears on the Bunny family’s doorstep, they are surprised to discover it contains a baby wolf! Big sister Dot repeatedly warns her parents “He’s Going to Eat Us All Up!” but Mama and Papa Bunny are too busy doting on the new baby to listen. The bigger Wolfie grows, the more worried Dot becomes. Even dressing Wolfie in a giant pink bunny costume does nothing to ease Dot’s dire predictions of consumption. One fateful day, while Dot and Wolfie are at the store buying carrots, a burly bear mistakes Wolfie for a bunny and tries to eat him. But brave Dot intervenes and scares the Bear off. Wolfie seizes the moment to pounces on Dot. Is this it? Does Wolfie want to eat Dot? No, he just wants to give her a great big thank you hug.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • 1 baby wolf template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 2 very small plastic cups (between 1-1.25oz)
  • Gray felt or construction paper
  • 1 medium pom-pom (approximately 0.75″ in diameter)
  • 1 pair of wiggle eyes
  • 1-2 baby diapers (optional)
  • 1 manilla file folder, letter size
  • 1 ribbon (mine was 45″ long)
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 fleece blanket (mine was 12″ x 29.5″)
  • Scissors, tape, stapler, and hole punch for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This oatmeal container wolf can be decorated with gray construction paper. But we wanted our wolves to be extra cuddly, and splurged on gray felt.  The issue with felt, of course, is that you have to use hot glue to really adhere it to the oatmeal container. Alas, hot gluing 22 wolves in 45 minutes while simultaneously completing the other parts of this project with the kids wasn’t possible. So we prepped all the felt wolves in advance.

The construction is very simple. Wrap the oatmeal container with felt (or paper). Hot glue the arms, legs, ears, wiggle eyes, and tail to the container. Wrap a small plastic cup with felt (I used Solo 1.25oz plastic portion cups from Party City), then hot glue a jumbo pom-pom on the end. Attach the cup to the face with hot glue. We a snippet of black felt to make a mouth with little card stock fangs underneath it (you could also draw the mouth and fangs with with markers).

finished baby wolfOne of the things that delighted the kids was that the baby wolves wore real diapers. I grabbed some Target brand newborn diapers (36 diapers cost $5.99).

finished baby wolf with diapersYour wolf is done, now for some accessories! Here’s the diaper bag we made. It was stuffed with an extra diaper, a baby bottle, a bunny snuggle toy, and a fleece baby blanket.

wolf diaper bagTo make the diaper bag, staple the sides of a manila folder together, then add some patterned tape to cover the staples. To make the strap, punch holes in the sides of the folder and knot a ribbon through each hole. Decorate the diaper bag with markers.

To make a baby bottle, wrap a toilet paper tube with white paper, then draw marks and numbers up the side to represent ounces. Finish by taping a small plastic cup to the top.

wolf baby bottleThe bunny snuggle toy is on the template. You can cut and use it directly from the template, or you can do what we did and trace the bunny onto white poster board. Decorate the bunny with patterned tape and/or markers, and hot glue a mini pom-pom tail to the back if you like.

bunny snuggle toyOnce the kids were finished with the diaper bag and all its contents, they selected a fleece blanket for their baby (we offered pink, blue, and purple). Then everyone lined up and a “doctor” (played by a game 7 year-old) went to the “nursery” and delivered a baby wolf to each kid (“Congratulations! It’s a wolf!”). It was hilarious to watch kids get diapering pointers from their parents. Some kids settled down to give their wolves a quiet bottle feeding, others whipped their wolf’s diapers off and ran around howling. Different parenting styles at work. It’s all good.

bottle feeding baby wolf