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

Chick Magnet

barnyard with magnetThis little farm is fun, but adventure takes on a new meaning when your pom pom chick starts exploring on his/her own, compliments of a magnet wand underneath the base!

We read Good Morning, Chick by Mirra Ginsberg, illustrated by Byron Barton (Greenwillow Books, 1989). A newly hatched chick explores a barnyard and learns about animals, sounds, and…getting wet! The plot is very simple, but this book reads in a lovely, fun, and engaging way – especially if you invite kids to make sounds and imitate movements along with you.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small yellow pom-pom
  • 2 tiny wiggle eyes
  • 1 tiny orange construction paper triangle for chick’s “beak”
  • 2 button magnets
  • 1 flat corrugated cardboard base (mine was 7.5″ x 15″)
  • 1 small box (mine was 2” x 3” x 3”)
  • Red construction paper
  • 1 piece of brown poster board for barn roof (mine was 3″ x 4″)
  • 1 piece of brown poster board for tunnel (mine was 2.5″ x 4″)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Green tissue paper
  • 1 fence and sunflower template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 2 green pipe cleaners, cut into thirds.
  • 1 small piece of blue cellophane (mine was 2″ x 4″)
  • Green construction paper
  • 1 wooden spool
  • Markers for decorating
  • Scissors, white glue, and tape for construction
  • Hot glue

For this project, it’s important to make the chick first. You will need the chick to measure the various openings you create in your barn, tree, fences, and tunnel. It would be tragic to get everything glued down and then realize your chick won’t fit!

I prepped the chicks in advance, using white glue to attach 2 wiggle eyes and the orange construction paper beak to a yellow pom-pom. Then I hot glued the chick to the button magnet.

chick magnetNow for the farm! We’ll start with the biggest object first – the barn. Here are the steps I used to create it. Your barn might vary slightly, depending on the size and shape of your box. The box I used had a lid at the top, and four tabs on the bottom that interlocked to create the bottom of the box.

barn step 1I cut the lid off the box entirely, and then flipped the box over so the interlocking tabs were facing upwards (the above image on the right).

One important thing to note – the bottom of your barn needs to be open. Meaning, the “floor” of the barn is actually the corrugated cardboard base. This is so the chick magnet can slide in and out of the barn.

barn step 2To make the roof of the barn, I cut two of the interlocking tabs into triangles to form the “front” and “back” of the roof.  Then I folded the other two tabs together to form the peak of the roof. Trim and tape securely.

barn step 3Next, I cut out the barn doors. Make sure you measure to make sure the chick fits through the doors!

barn step 4Cover the barn with red construction paper, and add a brown poster board roof. Use markers to add some details.

finished barnThe tree is next! Cut four tabs in one end of a toilet paper tube like so:

tube tabsThen cut a entryway at the base of the tube for your chick. Make sure to measure!

tree testTo create foliage for your tree, ball up some green tissue paper and glue it to the tube tabs. Use markers to add a hole and some “bark” on the tree.

finished treeTo create the pond, draw some fish and frogs on the corrugated cardboard base. Then tape a piece of blue cellophane over your drawing. Try to make the cellophane as flat as possible, so your chick magnet can glide over the pond and take a “swim.”

pondTo make a sunflower garden, color and tape the flowers from the template onto the pieces of green pipe cleaner. Then bend the bottom of the pipe cleaner into an “L” shape and tape it to the corrugated cardboard base.

The fences on the template can go just about anywhere, but if you want to create a corner fence like mine, follow these steps. Cut the fences from the template, making sure to leave some space below the fence for your tab. Then, fold along the dotted line of the fence.

fence step 1Now you have a tab that attaches the fence to the corrugated cardboard base.

fence step 2Cut a slit in the middle of the tab…

fence step 3Then fold inward and tape the corner securely.

fence step 4Your corner fence is complete! And don’t forget…if you want your chick to get through the fence, make sure to cut a hole for him/her (and measure, measure, measure!).

finished fenceFor the tunnel, tab the bottom of each side of the brown poster board, and then fold and shape it into a tunnel. And…let’s say it all together now…don’t forget to measure your chick!

tunnelWhen all the pieces are complete, hot glue them to the corrugated cardboard base (the tunnel, however, does better if it’s taped). We used green tissue paper (crumbled and glued) and fringed green construction paper (secured with tape) for landscaping. We also added some details with markers (including worms for the chick to eat).

birds eye view farmThe final step, of course, is the magnet wand. This is simply a button magnet hot glued to the top of the wooden spool. HOWEVER…before you hot glue it, test it out on the chick magnet. Make SURE that the two magnets attract (rather than repel).

magnet connection checkOnce you’ve confirmed that the magnets attract, glue the magnet onto the spool.

magnet holderTo set the farm in motion, place the chick on top of the corrugated cardboard base. Place the magnet wand underneath the base and slide it over to the chick. The two magnets will connect through the base, and your chick can explore the farm!

Farm Fresh

produce standInspire a love of fruits and vegetables with this peppy little produce stand!

We read Market Day, written by Carol Foskett Cordsen and illustrated by Douglas B. Jones (Dutton Juvenile, 2008). When the Benson family oversleeps, they’re in such a rush to get their produce to market, they forget to feed the cow! The hungry cow solves the problem by following them to market, wreaking unintentional havoc along the way.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (I used a 9” x 4 ½” X 4 ½” brown craft box)
  • 1 piece of 10.5″ x 4.5″ poster board for your roof, any color
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • 1 tea tin (or another little box)
  • A selection of patterned paper
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 standard paper cup, any color
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (approximately 14.5″ x 7.5″)
  • Hot glue
  • 2 jumbo craft sticks
  • 2 clothespins
  • 1 produce stand template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 red pipe cleaner
  • 2 green pipe cleaners
  • 2 beverage caps
  • Scissors, tape, and hole punch for construction
  • Markers for decoration
  • Scraps of tissue paper
  • Assorted pom-poms

First, pattern the box with color masking tape (or markers).  Decorate the poster board “roof” with markers and fold lengthwise. Tape a piece of pattered paper around the tea tin. Snip a toilet paper tube into two pieces (one piece was 2.5,” the other was 1.5″). Cut the top part of the paper cup off, creating a “basket” out of the bottom, with 1.5″ sides.

Then bring everything to hot glue central.

Whip out your corrugated cardboard base and glue the box in the center, the tea tin on one side, the toilet paper tube pieces on the other side, and the paper cup in front of the tea tin.

produce stand pointersThen, hot glue the bottom of 2 craft sticks on either side of the box (sorry about the blah image, I thought it would be easier to demonstrate it this way).

craft stick supportsBlob hot glue on the tops of the craft sticks, then gently press the roof on.


Finish by hot gluing two clothespins on the front of the box to hold your “posters.”

clothespinsWhew! That’s quite a lot of hot gluing (especially since there were 24 kids at my story time that day)! To keep them busy, I handed out the produce stand template for coloring and cutting. Next up, the hooks for the hanging baskets! Cut the red pipe cleaner into fourths. Then, fashion each piece into a hook like this:

pipe cleaner hookThen tape the top of each hook to the underside of the roof.

hook taped to roofUse the hole punch to punch out the black dots on each hanging item on the template (namely, two baskets, a bunch of bananas, and a bunch of peppers). Hang each item on a hook. Now it’s time for other creative decorating details, such as:

  • Taping the template “trays” to the box “counter.”
  • Clipping the template “posters” to the clothespins on the front of the stand.
  • Taping the template flowers to green pipe cleaner pieces and tucking them in the toilet paper tube “vases” (you can put tissue paper in the vases too).
  • Filling the beverage caps with tissue paper & pom pom produce.
  • Filling the paper cup “basket” with pom pom produce.
  • Taping the template “Special!” sign somewhere. Perhaps on the paper cup basket?

I had some 3.5″ organza bags left over from another program, so I taped an extra hook to a craft stick roof support and hung 2 bags from it. Some kids started “shopping” for produce with the bags right away. Pretty cute!

organza bagNow for the FINAL challenge – the cash register! It’s a little tricky to fold, so some kids might need help. To begin, face the cash register towards you like this:

cash register step 1Then fold the “tab” downward.

cash register step 2Then fold the parts above and below the “base” downward.

cash register step 3Flip the register over, and tape the “tab” panel to the back of the sales panel (the sales panel is the one with “$3.00” written on it).

cash register step 4Done!

cash register completeTape the register to the top of the tea tin and your produce stand is complete!