Camping? Nom Nom Nom

camping nom nom nom

Pack your tents and hit the great outdoors with your friends Monster and Mouse. But keep an eye on Monster…he tends to eat the equipment!

We read Monster and Mouse Go Camping, written by Deborah Underwood, and illustrated by Jared Chapman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Mouse is very excited to camp, but Monster is reluctant…camping seems a little scary. However, with the promise of food, Monster is happy to try. Except that he eats the lantern, sleeping bags, and tent. Another problem? Mouse forgets to pack the ACTUAL food. Now the two friends are quite cold and hungry. Then they spot another campsite. Polite inquiries are made…only to get a unexpected reaction that makes this one of the FUNNIEST read-alouds, ever. Highly recommended!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 box cutter
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 manila file folder
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 monster camping equipment template on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

front of camping monster

First, the monster! Use a box cutter to create a mouth in a large tissue box. Then decorate the box with construction paper (we also offered large eye stickers). While you are decorating, make sure to leave the tissue box hole hole open in the back. This will allow you to retrieve your camping food later.

back of camping monster

As you can see in the above photo, our monster is also sporting a backpack. Ours was fashioned from an old manila file folder using this template. Curl the wings of the template around the circle, then secure everything in place with tape to create a “cup” backpack (we used color masking tape to decorate the backpacks too).

Attach the cup to an extra strip of manila paper, then tape or glue it to your monster box. Add a toilet paper tube mouse if you’d like:

side view of monster backpack

Now for the equipment! Color and cut the items from the template, then feed each item into the monster’s mouth. Retrieve the items using the hole in the back of your monster box. And yes, we did make sure to include all the fixings for s’mores in the set:

monster edible camping equipment

One things I love about the simple and open-ended decoration projects is the styles and color combinations kids come up with. Here are just a few from story time!

Air Your Happy Laundry

air your happy laundry

Everyone has a grumpy and un-positive load of laundry from time to time. But a suds and spin in our optimistic washer and dryer will DEFINITELY help!

We read Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer (Albert Whitman & Company, 2016). Penguin is in a flat out grumpy mood, and stomping his feet and shucking his rain gear doesn’t help. But a nice bath, cozy pajamas, hot cocoa, favorite book, and grumpy pants on a positive spin cycle? Ahhhhh…THAT did the trick.

The cool thing about our little story time washer is that it really spins your laundry…

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes with lids.
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base
  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 brass fastener
  • A box cutter
  • A selection of patterned paper
  • 1 piece of yarn (ours was 29″ long)
  • Scissors, glue and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

The washer and dryer are two small boxes with lids.The washer opens from the front, the dryer opens from the top. Both are hot glued to a corrugated cardboard base.

washer and dryer We added a white poster board instrument button panel to the top of the washer, foam bead buttons and dials, and decorated our base with color masking tape, but that’s all optional, of course.

Also optional are a little paper cup laundry basket, a toilet paper tube soap container, and a tiny box of fabric softener sheets (which were banana scratch and sniff stickers)!

basket soap fabric sheetsThe turning mechanism for your washer is a paper cup inside the box (we cut ours down to 2.25″). The cup pivots on a brass fastener. It’s important to get a tight connection, so we hot glued a circle of silver mirror board over the head of the brass fastener to strengthen it (white poster board works too):

inside washer

On the back of the washer, we doubled tabbed a piece of poster board to make it easier for the kids to grasp and turn (and again, we reinforced the connection with hot glue):

back of washer

Your washer and dryer are ready. Now for the laundry! Our laundry was 2 matched sets of patterned paper….a wrinkly “dirty” set, and a “clean” flat set.

dirty and clean clothes on line

Did you notice that the clean clothes are taped to a yarn clothesline? We taped the other end of the line inside the dryer…

inside dryerSo you can drop your wrinkly dirty clothes into the dryer and magically pull the flat clean clothes out!


The final part of the project? In keeping with the beautiful self-care message of the book, we asked kids to write grumpy things on the backs of the dirty clothes, and then the solutions on the backs of the clean ones!

laundry solution b

Hey U!

hey uThere’s trouble at the ranch…the letters are getting mixed up and causing a word ruckus! Grab your lariat, jump up on that cow pony (with your stuffed kitty, Kiki), and let’s wrangle the alphabet ya’ll!

We read Lexie the Word Wrangler, written by Rebecca Van Slyke, and illustrated by Jessie Hartland (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017). Lexi is a word wrangler, taking little words and roping them together into bigger words. But lately, some pretty strange things have been happening at the ranch. Someone is stealing words, putting them in different places, and switching things around. The final straw comes when Lexie goes to sleep under the S-T-A-R-S and finds herself under the R-A-T-S. Looks like she’s got a word rustler to catch, but maybe, just maybe…they can be friends?

You’ll need:

  • A stick horse (more on this below)
  • A paper mâché or card stock letter (more on this below too!)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • A long strip of poster board
  • Yarn
  • Hole punch, stapler, scissors, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

cowboy stick horse

We made our standard story time stick horse for this project…you will find the instructions for it here, in our Show Jumping post. Our only modification was to add some construction paper spots. Our cow letters were also recycled from another project…

front of cow uYou might recognize the paper mâché letters from the activity we did at our grand gallery reopening. We added paper horns, hair fringes, wiggle eyes, and a sparkle stem nose ring to our cow letters, but you can just go with markers if you like!

The 8″ letter you see above was purchased online from Consumer Crafts. At $2 each they can be a little pricey, so our alternative is to print the card stock vowel template from our Fishing for Vowels post. In order to stand the letters upright, hot glue pieces of toilet paper tube to the back.

back of cow uThe final piece of the project is the lariat, and this is very easy. Staple a 1.5″ x 28″ strip of poster board in a circle. Make the circle as wide as possible and definitely using staples, as it gives the lariat some heft when you’re tossing it. Punch a hole in the circle, then knot some yarn through it. Done!

lariatTo wrangle, place your cow letter on the floor, swing up on your stick horse, circle the lariat, then drop it over the letter! Yelling “YEEHAW!” optional.