Of Mice And Movies

of mice and movies

Enjoy a fabulous film with your furry friends! First, stop by our mouse-sized concession stand for popcorn, candy, and drinks. Then head to the “story time theater” for a special screening of a Mickey Mouse animation short!

katie at the movies

We read Martha the Movie Mouse by Arnold Lobel (Harper & Row, 1966). Martha is a mouse with no home. One night, however, she wanders into a movie theater. The beautiful chandelier, the candy counter, the soft-drink machine – it’s a wonderland! Martha soon meets Dan, the projectionist, and they become friends. But one day, entranced by a musical number, Martha dances her way on stage and there’s a huge fuss. Once again, Martha is out in the cold. But when the projector slips a gear the audience is demanding a diversion or their money back, Martha comes to the rescue. She takes the stage and sings and dances her heart out. Wow! Overnight, Martha the Movie Mouse becomes a star! Martha is happy with her new life, but most of all, she loves quiet evenings watching movies with her good friend, Dan.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • 1 small box (ours was 2” x 4” x 4” – a small tissue box works too)
  • 1 clear plastic favor box (more on this below)
  • 1 concession stand template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1-2 sheets of white computer printer paper
  • Poster board
  • 2 white paper sample cups
  • 2 clear plastic sample cups
  • 2 cotton balls
  • 2 snippets of drinking straw
  • Grey construction paper
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 2 mini pom-poms
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

concession standFirst the concession stand, starting with that awesome popcorn machine! Our popcorn machine is a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ plastic favor box from Oriental Trading Company (item #13705345, 24 boxes for $9.50). Cut the clear lid off the top of the favor box and set it aside. Later, the this lid will be the “glass” front of the candy display case. You can leave the top of the popcorn machine open, or use a piece of poster board to create a new lid.

popcorn lidCut and color the popcorn sign from the template and tape it to the top of the favor box. Then hot glue the popcorn machine to the top of a large box. To make the popcorn, scribble on 1-2 pieces of white printer paper with yellow marker. Cut the paper into tiny squares and crinkle them tightly. Serve your popcorn in 2 small paper sample cups. Use a marker or crayon to draw red stripes on the cup if you’d like!

popcorn buckets

Next up…the candy display case! As you can see in the photo below, both the display box, and the shelf inside it, are tilted backwards. You can also see how the cardboard lid of the box has been replaced with the clear plastic favor box lid. We hinged our lid at the bottom of the display case, but some kids opted for a top hinge.

candy display

To make the display case, tri-fold a piece of poster board and: 1) Hot glue (or tape) the top fold to the top of the box; then 2) Hot glue (or tape) the display box to the middle fold. As you can see below, the lower fold tilts the display case backwards very nicely.

candy display box tilt steps

The shelves inside the display box are very similar. Tri-fold a piece of poster board, then tuck it into the box.

candy display shelves

We wanted 2 shelves of candy, so we taped a folded snippet of poster board in the center of shelves. Then we stocked the shelves with candy labels printed on white card stock (thank you, Google image search!).

candy on display

Finally, beverages. Stick some cotton balls in plastic 1oz. cups, add a couple snippets of drinking straw and you’re done! In the below photo, you can also see how we constructed our toilet paper tube mice. Each kids made 2 mice to go with the 2 drinks and 2 popcorn buckets at the concession stand.

mice and soda

For a little extra flash, cut and color the art deco panel from the template and add a couple foil star stickers to the stand.

concession stand

When the concession stands were complete, mice lined up for goodies and then headed to the movie theater to watch the film. Our “movie screen” was Katie holding up a Microsoft tablet (we didn’t want to prop it up and risk having it take a tumble).

katie IS the moviesWhat was playing that day? A mouse movie of course! It was Mickey’s Garden, a charming 9 minute Disney cartoon from 1935.

Next Stop, Cannes

next-stop-cannesReady, and…action! This fantastic camera shoots in 3 different screen modes, so you can exercise your complete creative freedom and film a breakthrough masterpiece. Add a fabulous movie poster, a plot synopsis, and you’re totally Oscar bound!

We read Young Charlotte, Filmmaker by Frank Viva (Harry N. Abrams, 2015). Charlotte carries her camera everywhere she goes, preferring her black and white world to the world of color. One day, her parents take her to the Museum of Modern Art and Charlotte meets Scarlet, who works in the film department. They bond over their mutual love of film. Inspired, Charlotte shows Scarlet her latest creation and Scarlet insists that it be shown at a museum screening. The big day arrives and Charlotte, sitting in the theater, is worried what the audience will think. Her film ends and there is total, awful silence. Then…applause! They loved it!

You’ll need:

  • A small box (mine was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works too)
  • Black paper
  • A strip of black poster board (approximately 1.75″ x 8.5″)
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • 4 foam beads
  • 1 round container to act as a camera lens (more on this later!)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 bendy drinking straw
  • 1 screen slides template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 3 rectangles of tagboard or black poster board (approximately 2.5″ x 3″)
  • Hole punch
  • 1 box cutter
  • 3 small rectangles of different color cellophane (approximately 1.75″ x 2″)
  • 1 movie poster template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

movie-cameraFirst, wrap a small box with black paper. Tab both ends of a strip of black poster board, then attach the tabs to the box with hot glue (or tape). Use color masking tape to add some snazzy accents to the camera. Hot glue 3 foam beads to the top of the camera (these are your “operating” buttons) and 1 to the front (this is your “light”).  For the lens, I found these fantastic 2″ mini containers with clear lids at Oriental Trading Company:

mini-container-with-clear-lidWe hot glued a circle of silver mirror board to the bottom of the container to make it extra reflective. Then we popped the lid back on and wrapped the perimeter of the container with black masking tape. We attached it to front of the camera with hot glue. The containers cost $8.50 a dozen, which can get a little pricey. A cheaper option? A shortened toilet paper tube.

The other side of the camera has the viewfinder and the screen slides. The viewfinder is a toilet paper tube wrapped with black paper and hot glued to the side of the box. The screen slides slides cover one end of the viewfinder. Each slide has a different color cellophane taped to it. Simply rotate the slides up and down to adjust the color you’re seeing through the camera’s viewfinder.

movie-camera-with-screen-slidesTo make the screen slides, cut 3 screen slides from the template. You can either use them directly from the template, or trace them onto something sturdier, like tagboard or poster board (we used tagboard). Punch a hole in the top of the slide, then use a box cutter to cut away the rectangular window in the center. Tape a small piece of cellophane over the  window (we offered choices of orange, red, purple, blue or green).

lens-cellophaneNext, cut the top section off a bendy drinking straw (i.e. the section right above the ribbed segment). Make sure to leave the ribbed segment untouched.

cutting-the-strawsThread the 3 screen slides onto the opposite end of the straw, sliding them down towards the ribbed segment. Don’t slide thread them over the ribbed segment. The ribbed segment is what keeps the slides from falling off the straw later. You want this to remains as rigid and un-squished as possible.

lenses-on-the-strawPlace the straw on top of the toilet paper tube viewfinder and adjust the screen slides. The slides shouldn’t be packed together – they need plenty of room to rotate upwards and downwards. Once you’re satisfied with your spacing, cut the straw down and hot glue it to the viewfinder. Note! The straw should be slightly shorter than the viewfinder. Excited kids are going to be putting their eye right up to the viewfinder, and you don’t want them getting poked in the eye with a straw.

screen-slides-straw-on-cameraThe camera is done! Slide your hand through the strap, select a screen slide, place your eye against the viewfinder, and start filming! Here’s the view of the different screen slides through the viewfinder:

screen-slidesThat last screen slide might look like clear cellophane…but it’s not! It’s a plastic lens from a pair of prism glasses. You can get these paper glasses from Educational Innovations (a pack of 10 costs $9). When you look through them, they diffract light into its spectral components. In other words, you see lovely rainbows everywhere.

rainbow-lensesIn addition to making a camera, we also made movie posters with plot synopsis on the black. Print the movie poster template on white card stock. Draw your poster on the front, and write your synopsis on the back. Here’s my poster:

escape-from-monkey-island-movie-posterAnd here are a few kid posters I managed to snap…

a-funny-movie-posterghostbuster-movie-posterpurple-hair-movie-posterfairies-movie-posterthe-falling-book-movie-posterJust in case you can’t read that last poster, the movie is plot is “A book falls from the sky, hits a dinosaur, and a volcano erupts AND a sky monster comes from it, and the dinosaur swims in the water and the monster can’t swim because he has no gills. THE END.”

So, how did this project go over? Oh wow. Oh wowie wow wow. They LOVED it. The gallery was filled with kids filming everything. Siblings, parents, puppet shows, inanimate objects. I had a little band of paparazzi following me around as well.

filming-dr-danaOne filmmaker marched into our offices and captured Ian’s best angles. You’re a shoe-in for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ian!

ians-cameo