A Fuse #8 Interview

fuse 8 setToday, I’m over on A Fuse #8 Production, a School Library Journal blog helmed by the amazing Betsy Bird! That’s her in the red dress, perched on a vintage Barbie Dream House chair. Alas, I didn’t have time to craft a house band, but Betsy assures me that if I did, they would be Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.

Follow this link to the interview

Betsy has appeared on this blog as well! In 2014, I interviewed her about what it’s like to write and publish your first picture book. And, if you’d like to see the monstrously fun project I designed for her book, Giant Dance Party, twirl over here.

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!

Workin’ at the Car Wash, Yeah

workin at the car wash yeahDrive your customized vehicle through our super-duper story time car wash! You will be misted, wiped, soaped, scrubbed, rinsed, and dried. We had some totally awesome tunes playing too…check out the video at the end of this post!

We read The Scrubbly Bubbly Car Wash, written by Irene O’Garden and illustrated by Cynthia Jabar (HarperCollins, 2003). The family car is dirty – it’s time to get it clean at the scrubbly-bubbly car wash! Fun illustrations and fantastic rhymes make this a great read-aloud. Here’s my favorite rhyme: “Steamy spray beyond the brushes / Rinse us down in luscious rushes.” YES!

I used extra-wide magazine file boxes for my cars. But you can make a car out of anything really. Slap a couple of poster board wheels on a tissue box. Roll out your favorite toy car. Or pretend you’re a car and drive yourself through! The supplies and directions below are for a basic car, driver, and a bubble windshield.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box
  • 4 black poster board wheels
  • A section of colored masking tape
  • White poster board
  • Construction paper
  • A rectangle of tagboard or poster board
  • A rectangle of archival mylar (or transparency paper or clear cellophane)
  • 1 car wash (more on this later!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

The boxes I used were left over from a major Rare Books vault move. I grabbed a couple dozen and transformed them into cars!

plain boxfinished carAs you can see in the above image, I attached 4 black poster board wheels, taped a tagboard “hood,” across the front, and added a bubble windshield (more on the windshield in a moment). I used 2 large embossed foil seals for headlights, and a piece of mirror board for the front grill. Katie used colored masking tape to add some awesome orange and black racing stripes. There were red sticker taillights on the back, and a mirror board bumper as well.

To make the car’s driver, cut an upper body outline out of white poster board. You can see the shape I used below. It’s tabbed at the bottom, so you can attach the driver to the floor of the car later.

driver templateDecorate your driver using markers and/or construction paper (I love using multicultural construction paper). Two strips of white poster board were added for arms, and the “hands” gripped a construction paper steering wheel. Hot glue (or tape) the driver’s tab to the floor of the car.

driver To make a bubble windshield, cut a frame out of tag board. There’s a simple trick for cutting frames out of heavy paper like tagboard or card stock (I learned it from a 2nd grade teacher). Soft-fold the paper in half, then cut a rectangle out of it.

cutting tag board frameWhen you unfold the paper, you have a frame! This is much better than the jab-a-pair-of-scissors-through-it-and-pray-you-don’t-stab-yourself method I used to employ.

windshield frameTape a piece of clear plastic inside the frame. I used mylar, but you can also use transparency film from an overhead projector (OfficeMax sells it) or clear cellophane. Next, use tape to attach the frame to the car. As you can see in the image below, I attached the bottom of the frame to the hood. The top of the frame curved over the driver’s head and attached to the back of the car.

finished carWe had a grand time decorating our cars and drivers. Just look at this fellow’s handsome driving cap! The stripes! The tape buttons down the front of the jacket! The green collar!

driving capFinally, it was time to bust out our story time CAR WASH!

car washThere were 6 different “stages” of the car wash. First came “Mist,” which consisted of strands of blue tulle hanging from the ceiling of the car was (you can see them in the above photo). Next came “Wipe.” These were big pieces of green felt dangling from the ceiling:

wipers in actionAfter the wipers came the “Soap” nozzles, which were 2 wrapping paper tubes with purple, green, and white tulle dangling from them.

soap nozzles in actionSoap was followed by “Scrub.” The scrub brush heads were 2 tag board rectangles wrapped with pink felt. I stuffed them with polyester fill to make them cushy, and used masking tape to attach the heads to 2 long pieces of PVC pipe.

brushes in actionIt should be noted that the Soap and Scrub portions of the car wash were operated by Katie and myself. As you can see in the below photo, that section of the car wash didn’t have a roof over it. That allowed us to reach in and soap and scrub the kids as they drove through.

dana and katie operatingAfter being scrubbed, cars went through a final “Rinse” (i.e. multiple strips of blue cellophane dangling from the ceiling) and emerged to “Dry” (2 box fans blowing on them). I recommend placing the box fans off to the side of the car wash, so little drivers don’t ram into them and knock them over.

If box fans make you nervous, have a story time helper stand with a big piece of poster board and fan the kids as they emerge from the wash. Also, make sure that all the car wash items dangling from the ceiling are at least 4″ off the ground. Otherwise, kids might get tangled in them and inadvertently yank them from the ceiling!

clearanceWe used 4 big boxes and lots of packing tape and hot glue to make the car wash. But you can also do a simplified version using 1 box, or the underside of a table. If you don’t want to go big, make a tabletop car wash for Matchbox cars.

As you can imagine, the car wash was a massive hit! We stayed open for business a good 30 minutes past story time, letting the kids drive through again and again. And, of course, we put “Car Wash” by Rose Royce on repeat play. Roll video!

Postscript: Irene O’Garden sent us a signed copy of her book! She has, quite possibly, the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen. My fingers aspire to create such exquisite lettering. Thank you Irene!

scrubbly-bubbly car wash