Merry Mixer

mix it up

Even with practically zero prep and minimal supplies, this story time will get kids sharing and giggling at different crazy creature combinations. The silliness is endless!

We recommend reading I Saw a Bullfrog by Ellen Stern (Random House, 2003). Playful from the very start, this book takes kids through the twisted linguistics and hilarious illustrations of a bullfrog (bull head and frog body), rat snake (rat head and snake body), tiger shark (tiger head and shark body), and so on. At the very end, however, the author provides the actual illustrations and interesting information about the real mammals, reptiles, plants, insects, and birds depicted in the book.

You’ll need:

  • Paper plates (the sturdier the better)
  • Pencil, ruler, and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The key to getting this project to work? Making sure your creatures’ body sections ultimately mix and match with the other paper plates. In order to do this, use a ruler and a pencil to divide the bottom of each paper plates into 3 sections. Then make 2 little “notches” along each dividing line. I made my notches at 2″ and 4″ like so:

marked paper plateThat’s ALL the prep you need! Now draw your creatures on the plates (we went fantastical instead of realistic). Make sure the necks, bodies, and tails start and stop along the notches:

paper plate creaturesCut the paper plate along the pencil lines, resulting in 3 separate pieces. Have the kids walk around the room with their pieces, mixing and matching with others. The results are very funny…

mixed up creatureYou might wonder why we used paper plates instead of index cards or pieces of paper. We found the elevation of the paper plates nice to draw on, and the workspace just tall and wide enough for many forms of creatures. Also, the raised edges of the paper plates make it easy for little hands to pick up, manipulate, and match the pieces.

Night Vision

night visionChange a familiar landscape to a nocturnal world full of shadow and intrigue. It’s our Snap Story Time version of night vision googles, ready to go in a few simple steps!

We recommend reading The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein (Little, Brown, 2015). When Sylvie the cat wakes a sleeping boy, it leads to a nocturnal adventure through the house to a backyard sprinkled with stars. The animals gather, waiting for sunrise, which comes with wild, gorgeous bursts of color.

You’ll need:

In the Author’s Note, Gerstein describes waking up in the dark as a child and seeing his familiar backyard transformed into a place “full of dark shadows and strange silvery shapes.” I loved that concept, and designed this project to semi-replicate the experience.

First, use a box cutter or scissors to cut eye holes in the bottom of a large tissue box:

night vision goggles step 1Then tape rectangles of blue cellophane over the opening of the tissue box. We did 3 layers of cellophane to darken things down quite a bit.

night vision goggles step 2We added a black poster board frame to the tissue box with a foil moon and stars as well:

night vision goggles step 3To operate, place the goggles up to your eyes and watch as your familiar space is transformed to a cool blue night world!

looking through night vision goggles

Crunchy, Colorful Leaves

crunchy colorful leavesSchool has started, fall is around the corner, and the leaves are starting to change. So it’s the perfect time to post a simple sound and color story time featuring fall leaves!

We recommend reading Ska-tat! by Kimberly Knutson (Macmillan, 1993). Leaves are falling off the trees with a “Sh-kah sh-kah” sound, and there is so much to do! Scoop them up with a “Krish-krash! Ka-rak!” or jump into piles with a “Sha-shoo! Ska-tat!” This highly poetic book beautifully creates sound words for various fall leaf activities. It’s a fantastic and fun read aloud.

You’ll need:

  • Green, orange, yellow, and red cellophane
  • Scissors

First, a word about cellophane. While rolls of green, yellow, and red cellophane can be founds in most dollar stores (and this is a good, cheap option for tight budgets), the color orange can be a little elusive. Also, when you use rolls of cellophane, the shapes you cut out tend to curl back into their original roll positions. It’s rather annoying. So I was very happy when I discovered cello sheets:

cello sheetsI bought these 8.5″ x 11″ cello sheets at Discount School Supply ($7 for a pack of 48). The sheets are flat, so no problem cutting out shapes and having them curl up on you. The trade off, of course, is volume. In the above pack of 48 sheets, there are only 6 of each color. However! I did spot a 104 pack on Amazon with 13 of each color for $9. If you ultimately decide go with rolls of cellophane instead of sheets, try flattening the shapes under a stack of books overnight to see if that helps uncurl them.

four leavesFor the story time project, cut various leaf shapes out of cellophane. Then have the kids crumble and crunch them, crinkle them madly, stomp on them, toss them in air, slide with them under their shoes, put them over their eyes to see the world in red, yellow, orange, and green…in short, PLAY. When you’re done, tape the leaves to a window to brighten things up!