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

Up, Up, and Away

balloonYes, that is a chicken in a hot air balloon! Take a ride in the skies…and maybe you’ll pick up some interesting passengers!

We read Wings: A Tale of Two Chickens by James Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003). Studious chicken Harriot must rescue her clueless friend Winnie when Winnie fails to recognize that the “kind” stranger who offers her a ride in his hot air balloon is actually a fox intent on a chicken dinner with dumplings.

The craft project involved creating a hot air balloon, making “you” the pilot, and then a flight to rescue a chicken of your very own!

You’ll need:

  • A box. I used a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ white box, but you can also use a tissue box
  • 2 paper lunch bags
  • 3 strips of white poster board (approximately 22″ x 2.5″)
  • 4 pieces of twisteez wire (or pipe cleaners)
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Markers and construction paper for decoration
  • Stapler, hole punch, and tape for construction
  • 1 long piece of brown raffia for the balloon basket (optional)
  • Red and yellow self-adhesive foam (optional)
  • 2 white feathers (optional)
  • If you want to “fly” the balloon, a long piece of yarn with paperclip hook

To get started, use the markers to decorate the strips of poster board. Staple one of the strips in a circle (about the diameter of a large oatmeal container). The remaining two strips become your balloon’s “framework” and get attached to the circle like so:

frame sequentialYou’ll notice the two striped framework strips are attached closer to the top the polka dot circle. This will give your balloon a better shape later.

Wait until the two strips are fully attached to the circle BEFORE you staple them where they intersect at the top of the balloon. Otherwise, you might get a lopsided framework.

Once the framework is secure, use your hand to squish it down. Do this twice. This will mold the framework into the desirable balloon shape.

squishNow for the balloon part! Slide the paper lunch bag onto your hand, and stick it up through the circle on one side. Staple the outer edge of the bag to the circle (leave the inner edge of the bag alone). Repeat with the second bag on the opposite side. Fluff them up if you’d like to achieve full balloon-ly-ness.

balloon sequentialFinally, use the hole punch to make 4 holes around the poster board circle. This is where your basket will attach.

Whew! That’s the hard part, done. On to the basket! Take your box and, if necessary, trim off the lid and side tabs (if it’s a tissue box, cut the opening out and perhaps shorten the box a little). Use the hole punch to make 4 holes around the box. If you’d like, you can wind the long piece of raffia around the box to resemble wicker (or use markers to decorate it).

When the basket is done, use twisteez wires (or pipe cleaners) to attach the basket the the balloon. Another pipe cleaner loops through the top of the balloons framework, creating a ring to hang the balloon from.

ring 2Now it’s time for you! Tape construction paper around the tube for your face, shirt and pants (I used patterned paper as well). I really love using multicultural construction paper for various skin tones. Draw the face with markers.

figuresWhen I did this project for my story time, I prepped all the chickens myself. But kids can certainly create their own. I used self-adhesive foam pieces for the chicken’s beak and comb, and white feathers for the wings, but you can also use markers to draw them on. Your passengers are done!

As an additional activity, I attached a paperclip hook to a super-long piece of yarn, went up a stairwell, and the kids took turns attaching the hook to their balloon rings and watching the balloon “fly” up to “rescue” a chicken. When the balloon reached me at the top of of the stairwell, I dropped a chicken in the basket and lowered the balloon back down to them.