Rockin’ Rhino

rockin-rhinoWant a pet rhino? Of course you do! But pet ownership is a tremendous responsibility. Get prepared with a customized accessory bag that contains a water dish, rhino snacks, and a cozy fleece blanket.

We read Rita’s Rhino by Tony Ross (Andersen Press, 2014). Rita wants a pet, but her mom insists on something small. Like a flea. Or a tadpole. Unimpressed, Rita heads to the zoo and invites a rhinoceros home. She’s thrilled, but there are some problems. Like coaxing the rhino into the elevator, cramming him into her family’s small apartment, paying for heaps of specialized rhino food, and dealing with the enormous piles of poop that must be hidden in the park every day. Rita’s rhino is a good sport about his new, cramped life. Until he’s mistaken for a bouncy castle during a visit to Rita’s school. That does it. The rhino heads back to the zoo. But Rita and the rhino miss each other. So they agree to meet up, every summer, for a little beach vacation.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (mine was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • Light blue poster board
  • A rhino body template, printed on 11 x 17 paper
  • White poster board
  • 1 small rectangle of tagboard or poster board (approximately 1.75″ x 3″)
  • 1 piece of yarn (approximately 29″ in length)
  • A pair of wiggle eyes
  • 1 paper bag
  • A rectangle of felt or fleece (approximately 11 x 15.5″)
  • 1 paper cup
  • A rectangle of blue cellophane (approximately 4″ x 5″)
  • 1 small drawstring bag (or a small paper bag)
  • A bit of paper crinkle
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

The rhino basically is a pull string toy, and we wanted it to glide effortlessly across the floor on its leash. So we attached wheels to the bottom of our boxes. We used the same plastic wheels assemblies from this crêpe cart project (and if you’re interested in purchasing the wheels, you’ll find info in this post). Tape shortened drinking straws to the bottom of the box, thread some bamboo skewer axles through the straws, then stick the plastic wheels on the ends of the skewers.

rhino-wheelsYou can also use cardboard wheels or skip the wheels entirely and simply slide the box across the floor. Now for the rest of the rhino! Fold a large, 7.5″ x 28″ piece of light blue poster board in half. Cut the rhino body from the template, then place the nose of the rhino template against the fold in the poster board. Cut the template out of the poster board, leaving the nose fold intact.

rhino-body-step-1Cut a rhino horn out of white poster board and hot glue it inside the fold. Hot glue 1″ of the entire front of the fold together as well. This gives your rhino the appropriate muzzle shape. Tape or glue the rhino body to the box, making sure the leave about 1″ of space between the rhino body and the bottom of the box.

rhino-body-step-2Cut a piece of light blue poster board to fit the back section of the box. Round the top of it and tape or hot glue it to the box. This is your rhino’s rump. Again, leave about 1″ of space between the rhino body and the bottom of the box. And don’t forget to add a tail!

rhino-body-step-3

Attach a pair of ears, a pair of wiggle eyes, and 4 legs. Our legs were 2″ x 3.5″. We bent them slightly so they wouldn’t drag on the ground or rub against the wheels. Use markers to add nostrils, a smile, and toenails. Decorate two strips of white poster board (ours were 1″ x 6″) and attach to either side of the neck to create a collar.

rhino-body-step-5

Did you notice the red yarn leash in the above photo? To make a leash, cut notches in a 1.75″ x 3″ piece of tagboard or poster board, then knot a 29″ piece of yarn around it.

rhino-pull-string-knotAttach the leash assembly to the front of the box (under the rhino’s the “chin”). Keep the assembly towards the bottom of the box. If it’s up too high, your rhino will keep tipping over.

rhino-body-step-4That’s it for the rhino, now for your accessories! Our paper accessory bags held a water dish, a bag of African grass, and a fleece blanket (we offered a choice of pink, blue, or purple).

rhino-care-kitThe water dish was a shortened paper cup  with blue cellophane taped to it. In the book, Rita’s rhino eats African grass, so we hot glued labels to the front of a small drawstring bag (left over from this Viking event). The kids colored in the labels and stuffed the bags with a green paper crinkle.

african-grass

You’ll notice the paper bag and the water dish have the rhino’s name emblazoned on them. You can write directly on the paper bag, but we used address labels for the water dish. I loved this part of the project. The names were so creative! A few of my favorites? Bluebell, Giga, Bubba, Trix, Tany, Twinkle, and Baki. You gotta love Twinkle the rhino.

Walk the Dog

ian walks the dogReady for a walk? Don’t be surprised when a friendly pup follows you home, courtesy of a long piece of clear elastic beading cord that clips to the back of your pants (you can juuuust see it if you squint at the screen).

walk the dog with cordThe dog doesn’t just tag along behind you…it also carries a bone in its mouth (with the assistance of magnet tape and a paperclip).

dog with boneWe read The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle (Puffin, 2009). A boy wants a dog. Really, really, really wants a dog. But his mother gives him plenty of reasons why he can’t have one. But when he asks if he can have a dragon, well, mom says yes if he can find one (pretty clever mom!). It takes some searching but the boy finally finds a dragon and invites him home. Unfortunately, the dragon is loud, messy, and completely naughty. So what’s a boy to do? Get a dog to chase the dragon away of course!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”)
  • A selection of construction paper for the dog’s body, ears, tail, and muzzle
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • 4 rectangles of white poster board for the legs (approximately 3″ x 5.5″)
  • Black dot stickers if you’re going dalmatian
  • 1 3oz. plastic cup
  • 1 jumbo pom-pom
  • 1 small rectangle of red construction paper for tongue (approximately 1.25″ x 3.25″)
  • A 1.5″ strip of self-adhesive magnetic tape
  • 2 large wiggle eyes
  • dog bone template printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 jumbo paper clip
  • A 4′ piece of clear elastic beading cord
  • binder clip (mine was 1.25″ wide)
  • Tape and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by wrapping three sides of the box with construction paper to create your dog’s body. We offered the following “dog” colors: brown, black, yellow, and…ahem…pink. Since our boxes were white, kids desiring a white (or dalmatian) dog left the box uncovered. If you are using construction paper, make sure to leave the bottom of the box construction paper free, so it slides along the floor easily.

Now for the collar! Use the patterned tape to add a collar on three sides of the box. You’ll want to indent the tape 2.5″ from the front of the box so you have room for your dog’s ears.

dog collarThe collar is done, now for the feet! Round one edge of each poster board rectangle to create a “paw” (you can also use markers to draw “paw lines” on the poster board too). Then fold the straight edge of the rectangle downward like so:

leg tabAttach to the side of the box with tape. Make sure the leg doesn’t actually touch the ground, or your dog will have trouble sliding across the floor.

leg on boxUse construction paper to make ears and a tail. To create the muzzle, tape construction paper around the plastic cup and then hot glue the cup to the front of the box. Attach the wiggle eyes and pom-pom nose with hot glue as well. This is a good time to add any extra doggy details with markers or, if your pet is a dalmatian, use the dot stickers to create spots.

I had a little extra time when I was prepping this project, so I made the tongues in advance. I simply rounded one edge of the red construction paper rectangle, and then drew a red line down the center.

tongueTape the tongue securely to the underside of the muzzle cup. Then, peel and stick a 1.5″ piece of self-adhesive magnet tape on the underside of the muzzle, but…make sure it’s on top of the tongue. Some kids put the magnet tape under the tongue and the magnet’s connection to the paper clip wasn’t strong enough. It should look like this:

dog magnet attachmentNow for the dog bone! Cut the card stock bone from the template, then slide the jumbo paper clip on the middle. It’s best to position the paper clip diagonally, so there’s more contact on the magnet tape.

dog boneThe last step is the invisible cord. I gave each kid 4′ of cord, and then let them adjust it to the desired length. Attach one end of the cord to the binder clip by knotting the cord around the bottom of one of the silver handles. Reinforce the knot with tape.

knot on clipThe other end of the cord gets taped to the TOP of your dog box, directly above the forehead. We tested this and concurred – the top / forehead placement results in the best pull on your dog!

dog front viewTo walk the dog, attach the binder clip on the back of your waistband, and then flip the handles down for extra stability (if you’re wearing a dress, just bunch up some of the fabric and attach the clip to that).

clip and flipThe cord is attached…start walking and your dog will follow! And, just in case you’re wondering, Ian (our fabulous dog walking model) IS whistling “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?” in the photo. We’re into details like that.

ian walks the dogWould you prefer that a dragon follow you home? No problem! Click here.

Fish in a Suitcase

not normanWe read Not Norman: A Goldfish Story, written by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick, 2008). A little boy is terribly disappointed when, instead of a dog or cat, he gets a goldfish for his birthday. However, Norman the fish’s goofiness, appreciation for the boy’s tuba playing, and his friendly presence when there is a scary noise at night wins the boy over. Now, he wouldn’t trade any pet in the world for Norman!

The boy pulls Norman around in a little red wagon, but I thought we’d go even more portable for our story time. Hence, a fish in a suitcase!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box with a window (I used a 7″ x 7″ x 3″ pastry box)
  • Blue construction paper
  • 2 green pipe cleaners
  • 4 pieces of green raffia
  • A selection of crepe paper streamers
  • Small shells (optional)
  • Orange poster board for fish
  • 1 piece of orange self-adhesive foam
  • 1 wiggle eye
  • Hot glue
  • 1 small piece of clear elastic beading cord
  • Markers, yellow cellophane, and golden paper for decorating
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • 1 tagboard strip for suitcase handle (mine was 12″ x 2″)
  • 1 luggage tag (optional)

The key to this project is finding a box with a window. I had a bunch of pastry boxes left over from another program, but you can find something similar in the bakery section of your local supermarket.

Cut the blue construction paper to fit the back of the box and secure with tape (or a glue stick). Draw in a few bubbles and waves with markers. The “water” is done…time to add some aquarium plants!

Plant #1: Cut two green pipe cleaners in half. Bunch the four pieces together and twist at the bottom. Give the pieces a little curl if you so desire. Then bend the twisted part into a “foot” and tape it to the bottom of the aquarium.

plant 1Plant #2: Knot four raffia pieces together. Tape to the bottom of the aquarium.

plant 2With the plants in place, it’s time for your “aquarium sand.” Crumple up some crepe paper streamers to give them a “sandy” texture, then hot glue them around the plants and the bottom of the aquarium. You can hot glue some little shells on the “sand” as well.

Now for the fish! Cut a fish shape out of orange poster board. To create fantastic fish lips, cut the piece of orange self-adhesive foam into an oval:

fish lips 1Then peel and stick it on the fish’s mouth:

fish lips 2Use scissors to cut a smile!

fish lips 3Secure a wiggle eye on with a dash of hot glue, then tape the elastic beading cord to the back of the fish. Decorate with yellow cellophane, gold paper, and markers. When the fish is complete, dangle it from the elastic cord, adjust for height, and tape the cord to the top/lid of your aquarium. Get the height just right, and your fish will wiggle and sway in a realistic way.

To turn the box into a suitcase, simply add a tagboard handle to the top. Originally, I used hot glue to attach the handles to the box, but they popped off pretty fast. So I would recommend using brass fasteners to really secure it.

With the handle in place, all your suitcase needs is a “luggage” tag. Write your new friend’s name on it and get ready for adventure!