Pigs on Parade

pigs on paradeCue the marching music and rev up the float…it’s a pig parade! If, of course, the pigs cooperate. They might not, you know.

We read A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, written by Michael Ian Black, and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Simon & Schuster, 2010). A pig parade might sound like fun, but this book will convince you otherwise. Pigs refuse to wear majorette uniforms, don’t care about floats (unless it’s a root beer float), prefer sad country music ballads to marching music, and can’t manage giant parade balloons. So let’s face it. A pig parade is a terrible idea. But a panda bear parade…well…! This book is hilarious and fun read-aloud. Hawkes’ illustrations are colorful and funny, detailing exactly what happens when a pig parade goes awry.

For the project, we made mini parade floats, adorned them with 3 pigs, and started marching to the beat of a kazoo. And wouldn’t you know it, those pigs cooperated very nicely. No problem with this pig parade!

finished floatYou’ll need:

  • 2 bamboo skewers
  • 2 drinking straws
  • 4 wheels (or wooden spools)
  • 2 small, flat boxes (mine were 1″ x 2.75″ x 2.75″  tape roll boxes)
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (mine was a 9.75″ x 13.75″ cake pad)
  • 1 small craft stick
  • A piece of string or yarn (mine was 27″ long)
  • 1 large tissue box
  • Parade float decorating supplies (more on those later!)
  • 3 toilet paper tubes
  • Pink construction paper
  • 1 kazoo (optional)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We’ll begin with the parade float’s wheels! We used plastic wheels from Kelvin Educational (originally purchased for this Richard Scarry program). But wooden spools also work. Cut 2 bamboo skewers to approximately 6″ (they might need an inch or two longer if you use wooden spools). Next, cut 2 drinking straws a few inches shorter than the skewers (my straws were 4″). Thread the skewers into the drinking straws, and slide wheels on the ends of the skewers.

wheel assemblyAs you can see in the above image, the skewer is the axle, and the straw is what allows the axle to turn freely (you might need to wrap the ends of the skewers with masking tape to keep the wheels/spools from sliding off). Tape each drinking straw to a small, flat box. I found that leftover tape roll boxes were the perfect size. Hot glue the tape boxes to the bottom of a corrugated cardboard base.

attached wheelsKnot a piece of string around a small craft stick, and tape the stick to one end of the base. This is the pull string for your float.

attached pull stringFlip the base over, you’re ready to decorate! To get the juices flowing, we suggested a number of parade float “themes,” such as:

When Pigs Fly
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
I Loves You, Porky
Pigs in Space
The 3 Little Pigs
Green Eggs and Ham
Little Piggies Go To Market
Piggie Tales
Some Pig
Bad Piggies (from Angry Birds)
Mad Swine-tists
It’s Hammer Time!

It was easier for kids to decorate the tissue box and base separately. But before we embarked on decorating, I had them trace the outline of the tissue box onto the base. Then I asked them to keep the area inside the outline free of art supplies. Otherwise, they might not be able to hot glue the box to the base at the end of the project.

Decorating supplies included construction paper, crepe paper streamers, large gemstones, pipe cleaners, sparkle stems, pom-poms, embossed foil paper, patterned tape, mesh tubing, and craft ties. Flags were created by pushing a short piece of balloon stick into a wooden bead, and then hot gluing the bead to the base. I also had a few small boxes available in case someone wanted to add yet another level to their float. And don’t forget a fringe of construction paper around the bottom!

finished floatNow for your piggy passengers! Wrap 3 toilet paper tubes with pink construction paper, and use some scraps to make ears and arms. I offered eye stickers, and pink dot sticker noses, but if you don’t have any handy, just use markers.

pigYou can also use the decorating supplies to fancy up your pigs. Such as these “Rock n’ Roll” pigs. Love how the artist stuck jumbo pom-poms in the top to create hair!

rock and roll pigsWhen the floats were finished, I handed everyone a kazoo and we marched around the gallery. 18 kazoos at once was…pretty interesting. I bought the kazoos from the party supply section at Target. Buy extra, because some didn’t work!

kazooAnd speaking of music and marching, major props to Marissa for crafting the pig band that started off the post. You can really appreciate the detail in this shot:

pig marching bandSeriously amazing stuff Marissa!

Hauntingly Delicious

hauntingly deliciousIt’s a scrumptious birthday cake, but be warned…this cake is haunted. Pull the flame on the candle and out pops a ghost!

We read The Bake Shop Ghost, written by Jacqueline Ogburn and illustrated by Marjorie A. Priceman (Houghton Mifflin, 2005). Miss Cora Lee Merriweather’s cakes and pies might be sweet, but her personality is downright dour. After she dies, she haunts her bake shop, chasing off potential successors one by one. But she finally meets her match when Annie Washington moves in. Annie’s determined to not be scared by loud noises, poltergeist activity, or ghostly heads rising up through her baking table. She confronts Cora Lee and they make a wager. If Annie can make a cake that brings tears to Cora Lee’s eye, a cake “like one I might have baked, but that no one ever made for me,” Cora Lee will stop haunting the bake shop.

Annie tries everything. Moon cake, white cake, tiramisu, fruit cake, cheesecake, carrot cake. Nothing works. Finally, after some research at the local library, Annie makes a… birthday cake. The ghost is so touched that Annie remembered her birthday, she sheds a tear and loses the wager. But Annie, knowing a world-class baker when she sees one, invites the ghost to become her business partner. The two bakers make fabulous baked goods together. And every year, they make birthday cakes for one another.

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes (mine were 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 6″ and 4″ x 4″ x 4″)
  • Construction paper (we offered pink, brown, white, and yellow)
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (or paper plate)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • A square of white poster board (approximately 2″ x 2″)
  • A box cutter
  • A selection of patterned paper
  • Cake decorating supplies (more on this below!)
  • 3 squares of a white plastic garbage bag (approximately 13″ x 13″)
  • 1 piece of white pipe cleaner (approximately 5″ long)
  • A black permanent marker
  • Scraps of colored mirror board for candle flames (or use construction paper)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Hot glue

You can use 1 box and create a single layer cake, or you can use 2 boxes and go for a double layer cake. I used white craft boxes, but tissue boxes work too. You might, however, want to cover the tissue boxes with white, brown, or yellow, construction paper before you begin.

Cover the tops of the boxes with construction paper “icing.” Cut bumps into a strip of construction paper, and wrap the strip around the box to create a scallop of icing along the cake’s edge.

cake step 1Next, use a toilet paper tube to trace a circle onto a square of white poster board. Cut the circle from the poster board and use a box cutter to cut a small slit in the circle’s center:

ghost circleSet the circle aside for a moment. Wrap the toilet paper tube with patterned paper and hot glue it to the top of the small box. Then hot glue the small box on top of the large box. Finally, hot glue the large box to a corrugated cardboard base. If your box is small enough, you can use a paper plate for the base. If your cake is too big, try flipping the paper plate upside down to gain a tad more room. For our bases, we used 10″ cake circles:

cake step 2It’s time to decorate! We used construction paper, patterned tape, tissue paper squares, craft ties, self-adhesive foam shapes, dot stickers, and rickrack ribbon. I take no credit for the masterpiece you see below. This is the work of Miriam Jankiewicz, a rare books staffer who was helping me out that day. I love the tissue flowers with the delicate little craft tie curls!

decorated cakeThe cake is complete, now for the ghost! Place 2 squares of white plastic trash bag flat on top of one another. Crumble a third square and place it in the center of the flat squares.

ghost flame step 1Bunch the flat squares around the crumble and twist to create the ghost’s head and neck. Wrap one end of a short pipe cleaner around the ghost’s neck and twist tightly. Bend the rest of the pipe cleaner straight up. The twist and the straight part of the pipe cleaner should both be located behind your ghost’s head.

ghost flame step 2Thread the free end of the pipe cleaner through the slit in the poster board circle. The circle will rest on top of your ghost’s head like a hat.

ghost flame step 3Use a permanent black marker to draw eyes and a mouth on your ghost. Tape scraps of red and orange mirror board (or construction paper) to the front of the pipe cleaner. These are the flames of your candle. The front of your ghost should now look like this:

finished ghost flameThe final step is to tape the back of the ghost’s head to the pipe cleaner. This will keep it nice and steady when you yank it from the cake.

ghost flame step 4To operate your ghost cake, stuff the ghost into the toilet paper tube candle. Wedge the poster board circle into the top of the tube (you might have to trim it a little to get it just right). Present your cake to an unsuspecting individual, then grab the candle flame and pull the ghost out. Shouting “Boo!” is optional, but entirely appropriate.

cake ghostLooking for a few more spooky ideas? Take a look at our haunted dollhouse, glowing skeleton marionette, creepy carrots, shadow puppets, bat mini-exhibit, mummy in a pyramid, and Spooky Old Tree. And don’t miss this plump and perfectly simple toilet paper jack-o’-lantern!

A Little Batty

a little battyThis terrific poster board bat can hang just about anywhere, thanks to its paper clip foot. The bat is a little science lesson too – open its wings and discover a mini exhibition of bat information!

bat wings openYou’ll need:

  • 1 rectangle of brown poster board (approximately 6″ x 13.25″)
  • 1 bat template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 jumbo paperclip (mine was 2″ long)
  • 1 bug template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • Bat facts templates (more on those below)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick  for construction
  • Black marker

Fold a rectangle of brown poster board in half (we used brown because brown (and red) bats are the most common bats in NJ). Use the template to trace 1/2 of a bat onto the folded poster board. Use a black marker to draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Next, fold each wing inward, across the bat’s body.

bat stepsUnfold the wings and glue bat facts and bugs to the bat’s body. Two important things to remember: 1) Since the bat hangs upside down, you’ll want to attach the facts and bugs upside down as well; and 2) Keep the things you are gluing out of the creases in the wings. Otherwise, your bat’s wings will not fold as nicely.

We offered 4 different types of bugs (here’s the bug template again) and 6 different bat facts. Kids could pick and choose which bugs and facts they wanted to add to their bats. The facts are listed below, along with their templates.

I’m not blind, but I don’t use my eyes,
to navigate through the dark night skies. ECHO! Echo! echo!
bat fact 1 template

If life is fair and food is plenty,
I’ll live to the ripe old age of 20!
bat fact 2 template

Nature’s #1 bug zapper!
bat fact 3 template

“Flying mice?” That’s not very nice.
What’s more true?
Bats are more like YOU!
bat fact 4 template

I’m a bug muncher all right,
I eat half my weight every night!
bat fact 5 template

See me swoop and spin and fetch?
I grab some bugs with a one-arm catch!
bat fact 6 template

Once your facts and bugs are glued, grab a jumbo paperclip. Bend the inner part upwards until the paperclip forms a 90 degree angle.

paper clip footTape 1/2 of the paper clip to the back of your bat, right at the very bottom:

taped paper clipOK, your bat is ready to hang! Place the free end of the paperclip onto a shelf or tabletop. If you’d like to hang the bat on your shirt, on a nail, or on a garland with other bats, adjust the paperclip accordingly.

I designed this project for a “Bats in Your Backyard” table at a library event in 2013. The table was hosted by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. The foundation put together an amazing table packed with information about bats. And check out the bat houses on display!

conserve wildlife foundation of nj That’s MacKenzie Hall in the above photo. She’s a researcher, conservationist, wildlife educator, and author of the fabulous rhyming bat facts. This month, along with two other women, she won the Conserve Wildlife’s Foundation’s “Women and Wildlife” Inspiration Award. You go MacKenzie!