Fox Trot

fox with wagonRoll out the red wagon…this little fox is going to market! We made tissue box wagons, grabbed our shopping lists, and headed to the market to play a vegetable matching game. Sporting fox ears and tails, naturally.

We read Red Wagon by Renata Liwska (Philomel Books, 2011). Lucy the fox has a new red wagon and a big job to do. She must take her mother’s list to market and buy some groceries. Lucy sets off with her animal friends, and while they do eventually bring the veggies home, they also have adventures as the red wagon transforms into a boat, covered wagon, caravan, train, rocket ship, and construction vehicle. After Lucy’s big day, the red wagon serves one final purpose…a place to take a nap!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • Red and white construction paper
  • 1 wheel assembly for the wagon (more on this below)
  • 2 drinking straws (our were 10″ long)
  • An 16.5″ piece of string
  • 1 small rectangle of tagboard (approximately 1.25″ x 2″)
  • As many veggies templates as you need, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 set of veggie market signs, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock (color version here)
  • As many shopping lists as you need, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • Red poster board
  • Scissors, stapler, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

finished red wagonWe’ll begin with the little red wagon! Cut a large tissue box down to 1.75″ inches tall, then wrap with red paper. Next, attach the wheels. We went with our classic assembly of drinking straw pieces, bamboo skewer axles, and plastic wheels from Kelvin Educational. We hot glued foam beads on the outsides of the wheels to keep them from sliding off the axles as well. Here’s a shot of the underside of the wagon with the finished wheel assembly:

under red wagonYou can also substitute wooden or cardboard wheels. Or hot glue shortened paper towel tubes the bottom of the box to suggest wheels, and drag the wagon on the fixed tubes.

For the wagon’s handle, you can use a simple pull string, or you can make a drinking straw handle like we did. To make our handle, thread an 16.5″ piece of string through a drinking straw. Pull 1″ of string out of the straw, fold it down, and tape it to the side of the straw. The other end of the string should extend, unattached, from the opposite end of the straw.

handle assembly step 1Next, cut two notches the center of a 1.25″ x 2″ piece of tagboard. This is the anchor for your wagon handle. Wrap the string around the notches in the tagboard, but don’t wrap all the string around it! Leave 1″ of string between the tagboard and the end of the straw. This will allow the handle to move left and right while you’re pulling your wagon.

handle assembly step 2Bend a second drinking straw into 3 sections, pinch the ends together to form a triangular grip on the handle, then tape the ends of the straw firmly together.

handle assembly steps 3-5Fold and slide the taped section of the handle into the open end of the first straw. Cover the taped string with colored masking tape if you like (I used black in the photo below).

handle assembly steps 6-7Here’s what a finished wagon handle looks like. A drinking straw handle, a 1″ gap of string, and a tagboard anchor wrapped with the remaining string.

finished handle assemblyTape the tagboard anchor to the front interior of the wagon. Done!

taped tagboard on wagonTo make your fox costume, circle a strip of red poster board around your head, then staple it. Cut a pair of fox ears from red poster board, and add white construction paper ear interiors. Staple the ears to the headband. We attached our ears close to the front of the headband, and tilted them upwards slightly. Somehow, that just looked more foxy.

fox earsNext, cut a 6″ x 22″ rectangle of red poster board into a fox tail shape. Glue a little brush of white construction paper on the end of the tail, and tab the top. The tab slides inside the waistband of your pants (if you’re wearing a dress, punch two holes in the top of the tail, thread string through them, and tie the string around your waist).

tabbed fox tailYour wagon and costume are finished…now to market! The matching game is very simple. Print the market signs, then put each sign next to the corresponding veggies from the template. I used 8″ table card holders (which you first met in this sneaky math post), and had little plastic baskets for the veggies. We had eight market stops in total, all scattered around the library’s main lobby.

market signThen we gave each kid a shopping list. You’ll notice the lists are all slightly different. This was to avoid everyone rushing to the same area at once, like some sort of vegetable / woodland creature version of Black Friday. We also gave kids little shopping bags (basically, a brown paper lunch bag cut down to 4″). Following their lists, the kids located the matching sign, loaded the vegetable in their wagons, and checked it off their shopping lists.

at the marketOnce they had all their vegetables, they pulled everything back to the project area to color the vegetables and customize their paper bags!

market shopping list

Costumed Champions!

costumed champion

It’s your dog’s day! Dress your canine in a stylish outfit and enter our story time dog show. From pink tutus to super hero capes – everyone wins a trophy!

We read Zorro Gets an Outfit by Carter Goodrich (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Zorro and Mister Bud are ready for a walk. But before departing the house, Zorro’s owner dresses him into a super hero cape with a hood. Zorro is totally embarrassed, and for good reason. Every single dog (and cat!) they encounter on the walk has a good laugh at Zorro’s outfit. Mister Bud tries to cheer him up, but nothing works. Things change, however, when a new dog arrives at the park. Dart is fast, fun…and he’s wearing an outfit too! So Zorro’s outfit is no longer a problem. In fact, he’s proud of it!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (mine was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • Construction paper in assorted colors
  • 1 pair of wiggle eyes
  • 1 medium pom-pom
  • 1 gold paper cup
  • 1 black paper cup
  • 2 small strips of gold poster board (approximately 1″ x 4.5″)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Hot glue

The dog is basically a box with construction paper ears, paws, and tail. Hot glue a pom-pom nose and wiggle eyes and you’re set! Use more construction paper to create the dog’s outfit. We offered a choice of a white or brown box and then let the kids take care of the rest. It’s always a good idea to provide examples, so Katie made this dashing dog with a sweater and ear muffs.

dog in sweaterI made a princess poodle, in a tutu, with construction paper eyelashes. Her name is Kami.

poodle in tutuIn addition to construction paper for the outfits, we couldn’t resist adding tissue paper, ribbon, felt, cotton balls, and the Bling Bin to the mix.

To make a trophy, cut a black paper cup down to 1.5″. Flip it over, then hot glue a gold paper cup to the top of it. Add a pair of gold metallic poster board handles with tape or hot glue. We prepped a bunch of trophies in advance, and attached blank labels to the front.

dog show trophyWe also came up with some potential award categories in advance. Such as:

Most Photogenic
Best Stripes
Best Use of (Color)
Most Original
Best Spots
Most Magical
Nicest Smile
Best Ears
Most Creative

While kids were decorating, Katie and Melinda circled around, making notes on what the kids were doing and what award their dogs might win. They also created some new award categories, depending on what they saw. Then they put on their official judge hats…

dog show judgesAnd everyone headed to the library’s lobby! Acting as the announcer, I asked the kids to circle, change direction, halt, and twirl for the judges. While they were doing this, Katie and Melinda were furiously writing award categories on the trophies. I recommend writing a few general ones (Most Creative, Most Original, Best Smile) on the trophies in advance, because the kids get tired of circling around the show grounds pretty quickly!

Finally, it was time for the awards. One by one, I called the kids up to receive their prizes to the applause of the story time crowd. Then it was back to the program area, where Katie hot glued their choice of a large gemstone to their trophies.

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Ewer Unique Essence

ewer unique essenceIt’s a mysterious bottle filled with a unique, glowing essence. What could the essence be? Happiness? Triumph? Panache? The Thrill of Your First Ride on the Back of an Arachnimammoth? This radiant project was part of To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for 6-8 year-olds.

We read The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston (Razorbill, 2013). Elliot von Doppler is thrilled when his uncle Archie invites him to his workplace for a tour. Uncle Archie works in the top secret Research and Development Department at DENKi-3000, a company known for its amazing inventions. Elliot and his new friend Leslie soon learn that Uncle Archie’s secret department is staffed by creatures – bog nymphs, fairy-bats, knucklecrumplers, and bombastadons (to name a few). But DENKi-3000 is also in trouble. If the Creature Department doesn’t come up with a ground-breaking new invention in a few days, the company will be taken over by the relentless Quazicom Corporation. But, like DENKi-3000, Quazicom isn’t quite what it seems…

In my favorite part of the book, Elliot and Leslie visit “The Abstractory,” an enormous library/pantry that houses millions of bottles. Inside each bottle are different creature essences – namely, the special feelings, thoughts, and emotions that power creature inventions. Some essences are simple, like “Justice.” Others are more complicated, like “The Overwhelming Suspicion Something Big and Hungry is Hiding Under Your Bed.” Depending on their contents, the bottles glow, vibrate, flash, shimmer, and rattle. We wanted to capture a little of that fun with this project. Hence, a glow-in-the-dark bottle that contains an essence of your own making, complete with label.

finished bottleBut, because DENKi-3000’s research and development department is shrouded in secret, the entire project came as a take-home kit with strict instructions to NOT open the box until you get home.

DENKi-3000 boxYou’ll need:

  • 1 small glass bottle with lid
  • 1 rectangle of white card stock (ours was 2.25″ x 2.75″)
  • Glow-in-the-dark pigment or paint (more on this later)
  • 1 paintbrush
  • 1 square of glitter tulle (ours was 3.5″ x 3.5″)
  • 1 small bottle label with string
  • 1 wooden stirrer (we used a 4.5″ craft stick)
  • Scissors and white glue for construction
  • Pen

Below you can see the contents of the kit. There’s a glass bottle, a container of white glue, a plastic bag of glow-in-the-dark pigment, a wooden stirrer, a paintbrush, a rectangle of white card stock, a square of glitter tulle, and a small label with an elastic string. We gave the kids 1 extra piece of card stock and 1 extra piece of glitter tulle, just in case they messed up. Not pictured in the photo – a set of kit instructions.

creature bottle kit First, the bottle! We used 2.25″ screw-top jars scored from the wedding section of Michaels craft store. 20 jars cost $21, but we had a 40% off coupon. Woot! To make it look less like a spice jar, we hot glued a clear flat glass marble on top of the lid.

empty creature bottle

Use the paintbrush to paint the inside of the bottle with glow-in-the-dark glue or paint. We used non-toxic glow-in-the-dark pigment (read about it here) mixed with white glue. Why? We wanted the kids to feel like little alchemists – pouring the pigment into the glue, stirring it with a wooden stick, and watching it transform into glowing goo.

mixing glow glueThe glow glue goes on opaque, but as you can see below, it dries semi-transparent. Glow-in-the-dark paint (which we found in the t-shirt decorating section of Michaels) also dries transparent:

treated bottlesThe glow glue, however, glows much stronger. Perhaps because you can control the ratio of pigment to glue? But the paint is glowing. And it requires a lot less measuring and mixing. So you can’t go wrong with either choice.

treated bottles in the darkIt’s time to create your creature essence! This is basically a card stock shape wrapped in tulle. Since we wanted the bottles to also look pretty in daylight, we went with glitter tulle, which you can find in the ribbon section of Michaels.

Cut the card stock into your desired shape (we went with a spiral). Make sure the shape fits in the bottle! Then, paint both sides of the shape and the tulle with glow-in-the-dark glue or paint (we recommend doing this on top of wax paper or parchment paper). It might seem like the glue or paint isn’t sticking to the tulle, but we assure you, it is! Here’s the finished painted tulle and card stock spiral:

treated tulle and card stock Once the bottle, the shape, and the tulle are dry, gently wrap the tulle around the shape and tuck it into the bottle. Screw the lid on, write the name of your essence on a label, and attach the label to the bottle. We used 1.25″ price tags with elastic strings, found it the beading section at Michaels. We found the plastic baggies for the pigment there too. Both of these things cost just a few bucks.

You’re done! Charge up the bottle, take it to a dark room (or hold it next to a black light) and watch your creature essence illuminate! I love how the tulle makes the card stock shape look like it’s suspended in fog.

ewer unique essenceThere was another reason I was so keen to do a glow-in-the-dark project for The Creature Department. The book’s cover GLOWS IN THE DARK!

creature department book coverEvery story time, without fail, the kids would ask to see the cover glow. No matter how many times we looked, they never lost their enthusiasm for it. In the video below, you can’t  see the book, but you can definitely hear the kids reacting to its cover!