Why So Blue, Chicken?

blue chickenSeeing blue chickens? Do not adjust your monitor. Cerulean poultry are a perfectly normal story time occurrence.

We read Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman (Penguin, 2011). An illustration of a barnyard sits on a drawing board. It’s almost finished – until a white chicken gets loose from the page and tips over a pot of blue ink! Now, nothing looks right. The ducks are no longer yellow, the pansies are no longer purple, and the other farm animals are totally peeved. Luckily, a dash of water will set things right!

To celebrate that adventurous blue chicken, we made some box birds, cozy nests, and then headed outside for a multi-color egg hunt!

You’ll need:

  • A long strip of white poster board (approximately 2.25″ x 22″)
  • A sturdy, 7″ paper plate
  • 1 box ( mine was 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 6″ – a small tissue box works too!)
  • Blue, white, yellow, and brown construction paper
  • A pair of wiggle eyes
  • 9-12 small feathers, blue of course!
  • 4-6 plastic eggs
  • Stapler, scissors, tape and glue for construction
  • Hot glue

We’ll begin with the nest (which is a replica of the nest from this egg beauty contest). Circle a strip of white poster board around the outside of a paper plate and staple it securely (you’ll need to remove the circle from around the plate to staple it properly).

nest step 1Slide the paper plate back inside the circle, pushing it all the way to the bottom.

nest step 2Now flip the “nest” over and use tape to reinforce the connection between the plate and the circle. I used at least 4 pieces of tape:

nest step 3I also reinforced the inside connection with a ring of hot glue.

nest step 4Finally, decorate your nest with uneven and crinkled strips of brown construction paper. Attach the strips to the nest with tape and/or glue.

finished chicken nestSet the nest aside, it’s time for the chicken!

finished blue chickenWrap a box with blue construction paper. Glue a pair of yellow paper feet on the bottom, and blue paper wings on either side. Make a red paper cone beak, and hot glue it to the front of the box. Add a pair of wiggle eyes, or simply draw the eyes on with markers. Glue or tape feathers to the wings (add tail feathers to the rear if desired). Use red paper to make a comb for your chicken’s head. Then tab it and glue or tape it to the top of the box.

chicken comb attachedWhen the chickens were done, we headed outside to the library’s plaza, where we had hidden a bunch of plastic eggs. We told the kids they needed to find 5 eggs each, then shouted “1-2-3 Go!” To insure success, we tried to make the hiding places fairly obvious (and even held a few back to drop right in front of the kids while they were hunting):

egg hunt 1egg hunt 2egg hunt 3egg hunt 4egg hunt 5egg hunt 6You might recognize that ornate door from this post. It’s actually one of the side doors of the University Chapel, which shares the plaza with my library. If you’d like to take your eggs home in style, consider adding some blue paper crinkle to the nest. Awwww…so cute…now why does this make me think of marshmallow Peeps?

nest with crinkle

Let’s Do Donuts

lets do donutsThe shop is open, the customers are arriving, and you, the donut chef, must make the most delicious, different, and decadent donuts you possibly can. But wait, there’s more! Your donut shop doubles as a matching game, thanks to the coupons tucked behind the counter!

We read The Donut Chef by Bob Staake (Golden Books, 2008). A donut chef owns a very popular donut shop. But when another donut shop opens on the very same block, the two chefs start competing for customers. They keep their shops open later, up the frosting level, and introduce unique flavors such as “Peanut-Brickle Buttermilk” and “Gooey Coca-Mocha Silk.” As things escalate, the donuts get weirder. There are square donuts, calamari donuts, pointy donuts, and cone donuts. So when little Debbie Sue walks in and orders a plain glazed donut, the donut chef is completely taken aback. Plain? But he whips one up and Debbie Sue loves it. And as his customers clamor for more of those plain glazed donuts, the donut chef realizes what his customers really want. Simple, delicious, donuts.

You’ll need:

Here’s the finished set with all its pieces. If you don’t have a clear plastic box to make a display case, don’t worry! I’ll have an alternative display option for you a little later in the post.

donut shop with partsFirst, glue a piece of patterned paper (or construction paper) to the top of the corrugated cardboard base. It’s OK if it doesn’t cover the entire base. Decorate a box with patterned tape and/or markers (we also used star stickers). Hot glue the box to the base, but not smack in the middle. You’ll need to leave a little room in the front for your shop signs, and a little room on the right-hand side for an extra counter.

donut shop step 1Fold, then tape a piece of tagboard to the side of the box to create the extra counter.

donut shop step 2Set the base aside for a moment, it’s time for donuts! Because we wanted to display, remove, and reset the donuts on the tray, we made them magnetic. Use markers to decorate various foam beads like “donuts,” then attach a little piece of self-adhesive magnetic tape to the back. Attach a matching piece of magnetic tape to a tagboard “tray.” We made 2 trays of donuts for our shops.

donuts on trayI made display cases for the shop using leftover plastic boxes from this firefly lantern project. As you can see in the photo below, I slid a triangular white poster board base inside the plastic box, then placed the donut tray on top.

display caseIf you don’t have a plastic box, just use the triangular base! To keep your donut tray from sliding off, tape a small piece of plastic drinking straw to the bottom of the base.

simple standYour shop will need a cash register, and you might recognize the one on the template from  this lemonade stand story time (which, curiously, also featured a book by Bob Staake). First, fold the bottom tab of your register inwards like so:

cash register step 1Then, fold both sides downwards from the base like this:

cash register step 2Curl the tab around to meet the opposite side of the register

cash register step 3Then secure the tab with tape. Hot glue (or tape) the register to the extra counter.

cash register step 4I couldn’t resist adding a napkin holder to the set too. It’s a folded piece of silver poster board with little bits of paper towel tucked into it. Hot glue (or tape) it to the counter.

napkinsThe blank signs on the template get colored in and attached to folded pieces of tagboard.

shop signAnd finally…the giant donut sign! Write the name of your shop on the banner, and tape (or glue) it across the giant donut. Tape the sign to a wooden dowel, then tape the dowel to the side of the extra counter. Here’s a finished stand with a display case:

finished shop with caseAnd here’s the version with the simple display stand. Both are totally adorable.

finished shop with standWe had some blank white visors in the art cabinet (from Discount School Supply – 24 cost $9), so I dug them out and we decorated them with the names of our donut shop as well.

donut shop visorYour shop is ready, now you need to entice your customers to try some donuts! We developed a simple coupon matching game for the kids. Print the coupons from the template, then draw donuts on the coupons that match the donuts in your case. As your customers arrive with their coupons, see how fast you can find and match their orders!

donut couponsMake sure to hot glue (or tape) an envelope to the back of the counter for convenient coupon storage.

coupon envelopeWe wish you the sweetest success in all your donut endeavors!

Going Underground

going undergroundHello from the Big Apple…we’re riding New York City’s subways today! We made tissue box subways, toilet paper tube passengers, and customized some special story time dollars. A quick stop at the MetroCard machine, and we were ready to zip through the tubes (and we mean that quite literally)!

We read Subway by Christoph Niemann (Greenwillow Book, 2010). It’s raining, and a Dad and his two kids decide to spend the entire day riding NYC’s subway trains. The clever, bouncy rhymes not only introduce the subway trains and their riders, but the various routes as well. There’s even a shout out to the “critters” who live on the tracks of the J! This vibrantly illustrated book is a fun read-aloud and a useful map for the twists and turns on NYC’s famous transit system.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 subway template, printed on two, 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of white card stock
  • 2 jumbo paperclips
  • String
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Decorating supplies for subway passenger (more on this below!)
  • Magic bucks template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • MetroCard template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 MetroCard machine (more on this below!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

I did this project at my library’s story time, but I also brought it to my son’s kindergarten class!  I’ll begin with the story time version first, then show you how I simplified the program for a classroom setting.

Begin by cutting the top off a large tissue box. Cut and color the pieces of the subway template, then tape (or hot glue) them to the sides of the box.

finished subwayUse tape to attach a jumbo paper clip underneath the front of the subway. The paperclip should extend approximately 0.75″ past the box. Later, we’ll use this paperclip to pull your subway through the tunnel.

subway paperclipCut a toilet paper tube down until it fits inside your subway box, then decorate (we offered multicultural construction paper, regular construction paper, patterned paper, and patterned tape. Use markers to draw features on the face. Place the passenger in the subway.

subway passengerCut and color some magic bucks from the template (you might recognize them from this itty bitty retail story time). Cut the MetroCards from their template as well. All you need now is a MetroCard machine!

metrocardI made my machine out of a copy paper box. I cut slits for the money and the cards, then decorated it with poster board and construction paper. During story time, when the kids slid their cash into the slot, the machine would promptly dispense a MetroCard (this was done by a helper sitting behind the machine, catching the dollars and feeding cards through the slot).

The kids were super delighted by this marvel of technology! One little girl was peering closely at the machine, obviously working something out. Suddenly, she put her hands on her hips and shouted “Hey! I figured it out! There’s a person behind that machine!”

The subways are ready, the passengers are aboard, the MetroCard is in hand. Now for the ride! This entire story time was inspired by a 6′ tube gifted to me via library recycling. I taped some paper towel tubes to the sides to keep it steady. Voila! A subway tunnel!

recycled tubeIf you don’t have a tube, don’t worry! Throw a sheet over a table, or use a couple boxes to make a tunnel. So long as the subway travels through something, you’re good to go!

However, if you are using a tube, test to make sure your finished subway fits in it. We tested the boxes at the beginning of our prep work, but we didn’t test them after we attached the templates. “Pish,” we thought, “the templates don’t extend that far beyond the original box, yup no problem here.” Well, the morning of story time, we discovered that our subways were too tall to slide through the tube! We had to do some quick chopping to make it work.

Next, tie a long string to a jumbo paperclip, then bend one end of the paperclip out a bit.

subway paperclip stringYou’ll notice there are two strings attached to the paperclip in the above photo. The second string allowed my helper to pull the paperclip back through the tube after each subway had finished. Otherwise, we would have had to stop, stand the tube on its end, and let the paperclip slide back down to the mouth of the tube every time.

Ready to ride? The kids gathered at the mouth of the tube with their subways. One by one, a helper slid the subway’s paperclip onto the string’s paperclip…

attached subwayThen the kids dashed to the other end of the tube, crouched down, and watched as I pulled their subway down the tube towards them. Awesome.

subway in tube

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I brought this story time to my son’s kindergarten class. I definitely had to tweak it. For starters, we only had 15-20 minutes! So I prepped all the subways in advance. I hot glued the subway templates to 16 tissue boxes and attached the paperclips to the front. At the story time, all the class had to do was color in their subways.

Also, instead of using lots of supplies to decorate the passengers, I brought white toilet paper tubes and asked the kids to draw directly on the tubes (if you don’t have white toilet paper tubes, wrap the brown ones with white paper). Here are the lovely passengers, waiting to board. I especially like the hairy one with the pink eyes all the way to the left.

classroom passengersFollow exactly the same steps with the magic bucks and the MetroCard machine…and then haul the subways through the tube. The story time was a big hit! And the MetroCard machine actually stayed in the classroom, where it happily dispensed cards for the remainder of the school year.