Sneak Peek: The Secret Garden

champagne glass butterfly feederTomorrow, our library is kicking off the programming year with a Secret Garden event at Morven Museum & Garden. Today, we have a sneak peek at one of the hands-on projects, a champagne glass butterfly feeder!

This project is based on the one designed by Leslie Garisto Pfaff for FamilyFun magazine. Leslie mounted her feeder on a 4-foot garden stake using a bit of vinyl tubing. We simplified ours down to a “tabletop” version.

You’ll need:

  • 1 plastic champagne glass
  • 1 plastic pot scrubber
  • Craft foam
  • Scissors for construction
  • 1 batch of homemade butterfly nectar (recipe below, template here)

Cut leaf and flower shapes from craft foam. Cut slits in the centers, then slide the foam shapes up the stem of a plastic champagne glass. Pop a plastic pot scrubber in the top, and you’re done:

side view of champagne glass butterfly feederTo make the homemade butterfly nectar, mix 9 teaspoons of water with 1 teaspoon of white sugar. Pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Pour the nectar on top of the pot scrubber…your butterfly buffet is ready!

Whale Tale

whale tale

Join a big blue whale on an ocean of adventures, and don’t forget to stop by your adorable lighthouse island to play in some waves, chill on the beach, and collect shells!

We read Beachy and Me by Bob Staake ( Random House, 2016). Pixie Picklespeare is the only child living on a very tiny lighthouse island. She is BORED. But after rescuing a beached blue whale, the new friends spend a whole summer playing games, riding waves, and exploring the ocean. But when Beachy the whale hears the call of migration, Pixie is alone and bored AGAIN. But what’s that she hears? Her whale friend, coming back to visit, just like he promised.

You’ll need:

  • 1 corrugated cardboard base
  • 1 small box
  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • 1 plastic cocktail cup
  • 1 wine cork
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

The lighthouse island is basically a small oatmeal container and small box, hot glued to the top of a corrugated cardboard base. The light is a plastic cocktail cup flipped upside down and placed on top of the oatmeal container (we left it unattached so the construction paper light bulb taped inside can rotate).

front of lighhouseOur “ocean” consists of a curved, light blue crepe paper streamer and a fringe of dark blue construction paper waves. We had mini shells handy for the beach, but you can use images of shells, or just have the kids draw the shells on the beach with markers.

lighthouse beachWe also decided to cut the backs out of the box and the oatmeal container to create a dollhouse. Use a circle of white card stock to create the second floor of the lighthouse, then decorate the walls and floors with paper. Need furniture and some framed artwork? You’ll find templates and instructions in this post.

You can see our cork person creation in the photo as well:

back of lighthouseWhen the lighthouse islands were done, we announced that a whale had been spotted in the library’s main lobby. This was a red wagon with a whale facades taped to both sides. Kids took turns getting rides and smiling at local whale watchers!

whale rides

The Small Screen

the small screen

It’s a mini puppet theater with a retro twist! With just a few supplies, you can create a B-movie extraordinaire…and did you notice the television screen illuminates?

You’ll need:

  • 1 cupcake box
  • A couple wooden coffee stirrers
  • White card stock
  • 1 sparkle stem
  • 1 light source (more in this below!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • A pen for drawing your characters

This project works best when you use a cupcake box with a plastic window. I purchased my 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 3″ cupcake boxes from Oriental Trading Company (item #3/3581). A dozen boxes cost $5.

side view of television theaterThe mini theater is basically the cupcake box with the lid raised. Simple, right? I cut the tab off the lid and added a sparkle stem antennae, but I left the sides of the lid intact because it makes the screen more stable. I also added a rectangle of black construction paper to make the television appear to be resting on something, but that’s optional.

To make your puppets, draw your characters on white card stock, then tape them to the bottom of wooden coffee stirrers. Store your puppets in the box when not in use!

mini puppets on sticksThe real fun is when you turn down the lights and illuminate your screen by dropping a submersible LED light in the box! You can find these lights in the floral section of Michaels Craft store:

submersible ledHowever, at $20 for 12, they can get pricey. So bring one of Michaels’ standard-issue 40% off coupons, or go with a cheaper alternative, like a glow stick. Here, for example, is a green glow stick in action…

green screenDefinitely gives new meaning to the phrase “green screen special effects.”