Go With the Floe

go with the floeHeading to the North Pole? South Pole? Or perhaps you’re on an unintentional grand tour of the globe? Hop on this convenient ice floe with some slightly puzzled penguins and polar bear and prepare to see the world!

We read Poles Apart, written by Jeanne Willis, and illustrated by Jarvis (Nosy Crow, 2015). One fateful day, the Pilchard-Brown penguin family depart for a picnic at the South Pole. But a wrong turn takes them to the North Pole and Mr. White the polar bear, instead. Mr. White kindly offers to help the penguins get home. Unfortunately, Mr. White’s sense of direction isn’t much better then the Pilchard-Browns. He leads them through the United States, England, Italy, India, and Australia. Finally, they arrive at the South Pole, where Mr. White must say goodbye and travel back to the North Pole. He’s feeling lonely…and that’s when he discovers a little surprise in his hat.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (ours was 2” x 4” x 4”)
  • White poster board
  • 2 sets of wheels (more on this below)
  • 1 piece of string (ours was 26″)
  • 1 packing tape core
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Black and white construction paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

ice floe

First, the ice floe! This is a white poster board “floe” hot glued (or taped) to the top of a small box. Just make sure you make the floe large enough to carry the polar bear and all 3 penguins. The pull string attaches to the front. Here’s the underside of the floe:

underside of ice floeWe used plastic wheels from Kelvin Educational (originally purchased for this Richard Scarry program). But wooden spools also work. Cut 2 bamboo skewers to approximately 6″ (they might need an inch or two longer if you use wooden spools). Next, cut 2 drinking straws a few inches shorter than the skewers (my straws were 4″). Thread the skewers into the drinking straws, and slide wheels on the ends of the skewers.

Now for the polar bear and the penguins! For the bear, we wrapped a 3.5″ tall packing tape core with white construction paper. The earmuffs are a sparkle stem and two pom-poms attached with hot glue.

polar bear with earmuffsTo make the penguins, wrap 2 toilet paper tubes with construction paper. Cut one of the tubes in half to create the 2 small penguins. Attach wings, faces, and tummies. We also added ribbon scarves and a world map to our penguins trio (and if you want to be true to the book’s illustrations, attach the map upside down).

penguin family with mapPlace the polar bear and penguins on top of the ice floe and travel the world! Some kids opted to tape their passengers to the ice floe to keep them from falling off…

ice floe and trainI snapped this adorable traveling quartet en route to our gallery, but did you also notice the vehicle in the background? One little boy decided to create a “snow train” using project materials. The penguins are riding inside the engine. Fantastic!

Mission: Hugs for All

hugs for allIt’s a big world out there. A world with lots of things in it. And those things need HUGS. The question is…are you up to the task? Are you a Hug Machine?

We recommend Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Atheneum, 2014). Prepare yourself world. The Hug Machine (a little boy in a striped shirt and red rain boots) is on a mission to cheer people up, calm people down, and make things right. Tree? Hug! Park bench? Hug! Crying baby? Hug! Even a spiky porcupine gets a special padded hug. It’s impossible to read this book without smiling. Highly recommended!

Today’s simple project was designed by Jennifer Hyde, an ingenious teacher in Logan, Utah. Jennifer’s “Paper Hug” was featured in Family Fun magazine many years ago. I modified it only slightly for today’s post.

You’ll need:

  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Trace your left and right hands at each end of a 5.5″ x 27″ strip of poster board. Keep the hands connected as you cut them out of the poster board.The result is a long “hug.” Decorate the hug with markers (or use color masking tape like we did).

poster board hugOK, you’re ready to start hugging – and by hugging we mean go forth and find things to wrap your poster board hug around! You can just use the paper hug, or get right in there and use your arms too. Always dedicated to seeing a project through, Katie and I hit the streets on a rainy afternoon to share the love with Princeton.

Hugging John Witherspoon, Founding Father and past President of Princeton University…

witherspoon statue hug

The classic tree hug. It was a little damp, but who cares?

tree hugA mailbox clearly in need of a hug.

mailbox hugHugging a roaster and barista pal at our awesome local coffee shop, Small World.

small world coffee hugA hug for House of Cupcakes, who sell me donuts and cupcakes. Like, everyday.

house of cupcakes hugHugging a rainbow narwhal at JaZams, our stupendous local toy store.

jazams hugNo park bench escapes me…

bench hugNor jungle-like foliage…

leaf hug

A super-sweet hug from the folks at the Bent Spoon, best bakery in the world.

bent spoon hugAn attempted hug of one of Princeton’s famous black squirrels…yeah, no go.

attempted squirrel hugFinally, a hug from a random person who totally rocked the love. Awwwww!

random person hug


Sending hugs to those experiencing devastation and loss in Florida following Hurricane Michael. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

The Squirrels Have It

the squirrels have it

The race for the perfect acorn is on…but will these squirrels in snazzy running shoes be able to catch the elusive offering of the Quercus borealis maxima? We made oatmeal container squirrels and designed the perfect acorn. Then, kids chased down their grown ups to “catch” said acorn. Chaotic? Yup. Did we get photos? Oh yeah!

We read Aw, Nuts! by Rob McClurkan (Harper, 2014). Acorn-loving Squirrel has been stashing nuts all season, but when the most perfect nut of them all drops from a tree, he HAS to have it. But fitting the nut into his already overcrowded home? Problem. In fact, Squirrel’s house pretty much implodes with the new addition, sending him on a cross-country chase after the runaway acorn. He finally succeeds, but wait…is that a NEW delicious acorn Squirrel sees out the window?

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • Poster board
  • 1 packing tape core
  • 1 paper bowl
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

squirrel with sneakers

The squirrel is very simple. Wrap a small oatmeal container with brown construction paper. Add arms and ears. Use markers to draw on eyes, a nose, and a mouth (or use wiggle eyes and a bit of self-adhesive foam like we did). Hot glue a dark brown poster board (or construction paper) tail to the back. The squirrel’s sneakers are white poster board, which are decorated and hot glued to the bottom of the oatmeal container. Check out these killer sneaks:

awesome squirrel sneakersNext, the acorn! This is a packing tape core. Our cores were 3.5″ tall, which is slightly taller then your average core (we get them through our recycling program). But a regular core works too. Or a small box, really. The cap of the acorn is a paper bowl that has been cut down, flattened around the tape core edges, and hot glued in place. And don’t forget the pipe cleaner stem!

enticing acornYou might have noticed the acorn looks a little…unusual. That’s because kids were instructed to make the acorn as enticing as possible. Which means going crazy with , patterned tape, and markers!

When everyone was finished, we headed outdoors to the library’s plaza to chase down some acorns. Katie was behind everyone with her camera to capture the race, I was in front snapping the blog photo, and the story time grown ups brought out their cameras to create what Katie calls “the ultimate story time paparazzi shot.”

story time paparazziWe asked the kids to line up. The grown ups, acorns in hand, got a little head start. Then on the shout of “Go!” the kids chased after their respective acorns!

acorn race 1 acorn race 2 acorn race 3