Shop Local

shop localStock up your stand and get ready for some customers! We let grown-ups and siblings browse at a farmer’s market full bursting with fresh veggies, flowers, and artisanal cheeses (which, coincidentally, look a lot like foam beads).

farmers with their stands

We read Farmers’ Market Day, written by Shanda Trent and illustrated by Jane Dippold (Tiger Tales, 2013). It’s Saturday! It’s Market Day! A little girl eagerly searches for the perfect thing to buy with her piggy bank money. Cherries, flowers, pie, herbs, spices, hats, jars of honey, canvas bags – everything is so tempting! Finally, she spots exactly what she wants. A pink watering can, just her size.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • Some pieces of brown poster board or tagboard for your farm stand’s counters
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (we used a 9.75″ x 13.75″ cake pad)
  • 2 jumbo craft sticks (our were 8″ long)
  • A 4.5″ x 10.5″ card stock awning
  • 2 small clear plastic cups (ours were 1oz)
  • 2 foam beads (orange and yellow)
  • 2 mini pom-poms
  • 2 green pipe cleaners
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We’ll start with the farm stand’s slanted counter. First, I’ll  show you how we did it with brown craft boxes, then I’ll show you how to replicate it with a large tissue box. With the lid of the box raised, cut slants in both sides of the box. The slants are cut downward, towards the lid.

farm stand step 1Now make 2 folds. Fold the lid over the lower edge of the counter. Then fold the lid upwards (a.k.a. a valley fold) so it rests on the higher end of the counter. Your counter will now look like this:

farm stand step 2See the part of the lid that extends past the counter? Push that back down towards the lower end of the counter, then tuck it inside the higher end of the counter. You now have slanted bins that are sunken in the counter.

farm stand step 3Make a pair of folded tagboard bin dividers, but don’t attach them just yet!

farm stand step 4

To make a tissue box version of the counter, flip a large tissue box over and use scissors to cut the bottom of the box into a lid. Then, follow the same steps above. Cut slanted sides in the box…

tissue box stand step 1Fold the lid over the lower edge, then upwards to the higher edge. But instead of tucking the end of the lid into the box, just tape it to the higher edge.

tissue box stand step 2Finish with a pair of tagboard bin dividers.

tissue box stand step 3Use markers and patterned tape to decorate the counter, then hot glue it to the cardboard base. Now for the awning! Hot glue (or tape) 2 jumbo craft sticks to both ends of the counter. Fold a 4.5″ x 10.5″ piece of card stock in half and decorate it with markers. Put generous globs of hot glue on the ends of the jumbo sticks, then gently press the card stock awning in place.

farmers market stand awningColor and cut the produce bin backdrops from the farmers market stand template and slide them into the bins. Once you’re sure everything fits, hot glue (or tape) your tagboard bin divider in place.

veggie bin backdropsYou’ll notice that there are 2 sets of produce bins on the template. One set is for the background. The other set is for you to individually cut, drop in the bins, and sell at market!

more veggies in binsTo create the cheese table, cut a toilet paper tube in half and hot glue the halves to a piece of poster board or tagboard. Place a pair of foam bead “cheeses” on the table, then cover them with a clear plastic cup. Hot glue a mini pom-pom handle to the top of each cup, and finish with a cheese sign attached to a craft stick or wooden coffee stirrer.

cheese tableTo make the flowers, cut 2 pipe cleaners into thirds, then color and cut 6 flowers from the farmers market flowers template. Tape the flowers to the pipe cleaners, and tuck the stems into half a toilet paper tube (we made a green tissue paper shrub for the other half of the toilet paper tube, but that’s optional!). I’d recommend hot gluing the cheese table and flower vases to the base – they can get a little tippy.

farm stand flowersA few more touches. Behind the flowers you’ll see a “Today’s Specials” sandwich board (it’s on the farm stand template). On the front of the stand are “Shop Local” and “Jersey Fresh” signs, courtesy of Google images. Add some cute little flower stickers, and you’re done!

shop localThe kids lined up their fantastic stands, and the Farmer’s Market was officially open!

the farmers market is openWe gave grown-ups and little siblings magic bucks and paper sandwich bags. They browsed the stands, checking out the wares. We made a rule that you had to visit at least three stands and chat with three vendors.

customer 1Customers seemed particularly enamored with the foam cheeses. And really, who wouldn’t be? Just keep an eye out to make sure the littlest shoppers don’t enthusiastically sample the wares!

customer 2

See You on the Flip Side

see you on the flip sideIt’s flip-a-riffic! This sweet little set flips over to display two landscapes that look very different, but are definitely part of the same big, beautiful world.

We read Up Above and Down Below by Paloma Valdivia (Owlkids Books, 2011). There are different kinds of people in the world, different kinds of weather, different seasons, and different ways of doing things. But everyone dreams, loves, and celebrates, regardless of where they are and what direction they’re facing. Bonus – flip this book upside down while reading, and your story time kids can enjoy a second set of illustrations!

You’ll need:

  • 8 small boxes, all the same height
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (I used a 9.75″ x 13.75″ cake pad)
  • House and landscape decorating supplies (more on those below!)
  • box cutter
  • 2 craft sticks (ours were 4.5″)
  • 4 foam beads
  • 8 pieces of green self-adhesive foam
  • 4 wine corks
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, decorate 8 small boxes like houses (we used construction paper, patterned tape, old address labels, and dot stickers, but markers work too!). The most important thing is to keep the roofs flat. Otherwise, your project will wobble. Hot glue the houses to both side of a corrugated cardboard base, then fill in your landscapes! The summer landscape had fabric blossoms, flower and butterfly stickers, and construction paper pieces.

summer landscape

The winter landscape had a frozen lake made out of a silver mirror board with a few flat glass marbles hot glued to the edges. Finish the look with fluffy drifts of cotton ball snow.

winter landscapeWant to add some trees? Use a box cutter to make a slit in the cardboard base, then insert a craft stick halfway into the slit. Push a foam bead down the craft stick to keep it steady, then press 2 triangular pieces of self-adhesive foam together to make an evergreen tree.

winter tree

Flip the project over, slide a second foam bead down the stick, and press two circular pieces of self-adhesive foam together to create a leafy summer tree.

summer tree

The final touch? People! We used wine corks, patterned tape, and some craft odds and ends to make 4 cheerful members of the general populace. Here’s the gang, so happy together:

cork people

OK…all together now…1…2…3…

IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL! IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL! IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL! IT’S A SMALL, SMALL, WOOOOOOORLD!

350 for 50

350 fo 50_2017Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I announce the winners of our annual 350 for 50 writing contest! Each writer was challenged to compose a short, 350-word story that included the sentence, “The taste was strange, but not unexpected.” Winners from each of our 3 age categories enjoyed a $50 shopping spree at Labyrinth, our local bookstore. Congratulations to this year’s authors!


A BOWL FULL OF WORDS
By Maia Ionescu, age 9

a bowl full of words artwork by aliisa lee

Penelope always bought lunch at school. She was unhappy about it and wished that her mom made food for her instead. Sometimes she saw that kids who brought lunch from home had a sandwich or a piece of cucumber cut into heart shapes, and then she felt jealous. Her parents were always too much in a hurry to make lunch for her. So Penelope would always go to the cafeteria with a sad face.

But on the last day of school, things changed. At lunchtime, instead of the usual white trays, everyone got a silver bowl. From inside each bowl came a faint noise as if a lot of people were whispering at the same time. Penelope peeked inside her bowl and saw a small heap of words. They were: probably, splendid, licorice, freckles, memory, pharaoh, brave, loneliness, merry-go-round, and admiration. They all came in different sizes and colors. Loneliness was small and grey, brave – big and vermillion, and merry-go-round – multicolored. The words smelled good too, especially licorice and admiration.

Penelope saw that other kids had already started eating, so she picked a word from the top of the pile – memory. She paused to look and listen. There was a faraway voice repeating the word memory. The first m was vivid teal, and rest of the letters were getting lighter and paler so that the y was soft blue and almost invisible. She took a bite. The taste was strange, but not unexpected. Just like its colors, lively at first, memory burst into a strong flavor (it tasted like the strawberry shortcake that her mom made one weekend), and then it started to fade until Penelope could hardly taste anything. It felt like chewing a Juicy Fruit or forgetting a memory from a long time ago. The word probably tasted uncertain, and Penelope almost choked on pharaoh (she missed that word in the Spelling Bee). After finishing up the words, there was an announcement that a new cook, the famous Lexi Plume, had been hired. Penelope couldn’t wait to find out what she would eat for lunch in fifth grade!


the legend of sir raleigh artwork by aliisa lee

THE LEGEND OF SIR RALEIGH
By Kevin Feinstein, age 11

He heard a vulture screech and watched the leaves as they blew through the forest all around him. Raleigh Christopher pulled his rapier from his sheath, eyes trained on the opponent standing before him. They circled each other. He cried out and the duel commenced. The vulture screeched again but not as loudly as the blades clashing. They fought viciously but eventually one man fell. The fallen man weakly raised his head and watched Raleigh vanish.

The man Raleigh had beaten was the “Right Hand Man” of Lord Clarke who Raleigh had sought for months. Three nights earlier he had spotted the villain at a tavern on the way to Gedwell Castle. After a long hike through green meadows and damp swamps, Raleigh finally arrived outside Gedwell. A trumpeter accompanied him to set the dramatic tone.

“Cue the dramatic music, George II!” Raleigh commanded his trumpeter.  Raleigh jumped upon his horse, and George II onto his donkey. Approaching the gates of the castle, a guard shouted “HALT!” with a haughty sense of authority.

“I am Sir Raleigh Christopher the Eighty Fifth!” announced Raleigh, proud of his heritage. The guard sneered, but was about to regret it, THUMP!! Raleigh charged, kicking down the door and dispatched the guard with his sword! Suddenly he spied Lord Clarke.

“IT IS I! RALEIGH CHRISTOPHER!”

“Hey! I’m not the sword type, how about we settle this with a classic ruse – the poisoned drink!?”

“Alright! I brought my own.” announced Raleigh, producing his own bottle.

“But who shall drink first?”

“We shall play tic-tac-toe to decide!” Raleigh cried! Clarke was very bad at tic-tac-toe, not knowing the rules. Raleigh won but his chivalrous nature compelled him to let Clarke pick first. Clarke agonized and finally chose. Raleigh picked up his glass and they drank.

“The taste was strange, but not unexpected!” blurted Clarke, “I have won!” Raleigh laughed. “Whats so funny?” he asked.

“This is just normal water!” Raleigh laughed. Clarke looked confused. “I poisoned your drink three nights ago!” said Raleigh.

“That’s why it…” Clarke thumped onto the ground.

Raleigh left, his mission over.


the kite flyers artwork by aliisa lee

THE KITE FLYERS
By Annie Wei, age 14

Miraculously, my cardboard and tinfoil kite had stayed in the air longer than Binh’s, whose kite was quite a work of art, strung with silk ribbons. It looked gorgeous on the wooden display table in front of our school, but out of place, sitting with the background of our shabby middle school.  It had all the wonderful shades of greens and blues, and shone so brightly when the sun lit on it. Mine resembled a flying shoe.

But of course, everything about Binh’s family was out of place in our rural neighborhood, for they were the only Vietnamese family for miles around.
When I walked up to him after the competition, he was sitting on the battered up tire swing hanging in front of the school. I was holding the sorry looking kite I had fashioned, its tinfoil wings flapping in the slight breeze.

“Your kite is amazing.” I stood in front of him while he stared at his shoes. “It stayed in the air for such a long time.”“

Binh looked up at me, his dark eyes wide and questioning.

“Sorry?” His accent distorted the word, and I realized he didn’t understand me.

I raised my kite above my head, and waited until a sudden gust of wind swept it from my hands. As it rose, I smiled at him and said, “Your kite,” gesturing at his which was laying on the ground. Binh stood there for a brief moment, hesitating, watching my kite flutter like a butterfly, then threw his up in a woosh of blue and green.

I laughed as his kite did a couple somersaults as it was released in the air; then it seemed to dance, curving and floating gracefully. The sight was so strange. A cardboard and tinfoil kite flying next to a blue-green silk one.  Binh laughed too, and when the kites came down, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small neatly wrapped package.

“Banh Gio,” he said, offering it to me. “Eat.”  I unwrapped it. The taste was strange but not unexpected.


Artwork by Aliisa Lee