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

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.