An Ape About Town

ape about town

New York City is the place to be, especially if you are an ape who has escape the Central Park Zoo and are determined to take in all the sights! He’s wearing a disguise and the master of hiding – can you find Marvin the Ape?

We read The Escape of Marvin the Ape by Caralyn and Mark Buehner (Dial Books, 1992). It’s feeding time, and Marvin makes his move. Leaving a baffled zookeeper behind, Marvin enthusiastically explores the subways, museums, restaurants, shops, and parks of New York City. He’s definitely not going back to his former life, and what’s more, Helvetica the Hippo is hot on the heels of his success!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • 1 paper bowl
  • Scissors, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This is a simple project and a hide-and-seek game to boot! You can construct your oatmeal container ape entirely using construction paper, or you can add a few things like dot sticker eyes and a self-adhesive foam nose with dot sticker nostrils.

finished apeThe baseball cap is a trimmed paper bowl with a card stock (or construction paper) brim. We recommend using hot glue to attach the hat and the feet to the oatmeal container.

ape baseball hatThe baseball hat is just one optional for headgear of course. We basically gave the kids a bowl, a strip of white construction paper “shirt” and the Bling Bin and let them put together whatever ape disguise they wanted.Check out this feathery tiara and killer eye shadow!

fancy apeWhen everyone was done decorating, we played a game of Hot/Cold Hide-and-Seek. Kids hid their apes around our gallery and invited their grown-ups to find them. The kids gave hints if the grown-ups were getting “hot” or “cold.” Hiding games are always popular at our story times. One enthusiastic group played for over 15 minutes!

hiding apes

See-Worthy Sub

see-worthy sub

Undersea adventure abounds as you cruise the sea in your sub! The sub also doubles as a spyglass, so you can spot all sorts of aquatic wildlife. See the happy jumping fish?

fish in spyglassWe recommend Rub-a-Dub Sub, written by Linda Ashman, and illustrated by Jeff Mack (Harcourt, 2003). Zooming around in an orange submarine, a little boy encounters numerous ocean creatures – a seal, a manta ray, a horseshoe crab, and an eel to name a few! But an encounter with an enormous shark forces him to quickly retrace his steps to the surface, where he finds himself safe and sound – in his very own bathtub.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper cups
  • A box cutter
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Optional:

  • 1 paper towel tube
  • Hot glue

I’ll show you the simplest version of the sub project first, then follow it with the paper towel tube variation. Use a box cutter to cut the circles in the bottoms of 2 paper cups. Make sure to leave a little ledge around the bottom of the cup.

leave a ledge in cupNext, turn the cups end-to-end and connect them together with hot glue. If you can’t do hot glue, simply connect the cups with tape. We used black masking tape for the photo below, but regular tape works just as well.

taped sub cupsFor the paper towel tube version of the project, cut the holes in the bottoms of the cups. Then place a piece of paper towel tube inside the bottom cup (our tube piece was 6.75″ long but you might have to adjust yours a little). Place the second cup over top of the first…

pt tube variationThen hot glue (or tape) the two cups together. So…is the extra effort for the paper towel version worth it? You decide! Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the 2 projects. One could argue that the paper towel tube version looks more like a spyglass, but the cups-only version is cute too.

comparing spyglass viewsNext, cut a periscope shape out of construction paper, tab the bottom, and attach the periscope to the top of the sub. Finally, use markers to give your sub portholes, plates, rivets, and bolts. Any markers will do, but we really liked how silver metallic marker looked on the black paper cups.

finished see-worthy subMiss Marissa designed this awesome project, and she made a fantastic I-Spy game to go with it! To play, print up the characters in this template (click here for small on a single page, click here for large on multiple pages). Tape the characters in different locations and have the kids find them with their sub spyglasses. However, if you spot the shark you have to immediately head back to “home base.” This is especially funny if the shark is taped to the back of an adult who is wandering among the submarine searchers!

marissa's shark

Ghostbusters

ghostbustersWhat do you do when your dream house is haunted? Call in a professional ghost remover of course! We decorated a ghost box, whipped up 4 tissue paper ghosts, and then went a-ghost huntin’ in this custom 4-story cardboard house.

exterior house 1I hid each kid’s ghosts in various locations in the dollhouse and then invited him/her to find them and tuck them back in his/her ghost box!

ghost in atticWe read Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara (Square Fish reprint edition, 2010). A girl (and her cat) move into a new house but…oh my…the house is haunted by ghosts! The girl, however, happens to be a witch and quickly begins catching the ghosts. After a spin in the washing machine, the ghosts happily become curtains, tablecloths, and cozy blankets. This book was in the holiday section of my local library but it’s so sweet and fun, it really should be read year-round!

You’ll need:

  • A box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”)
  • Brown masking tape (or a selection of color masking tape)
  • 2 small pieces of mirror board (approximately 1″ x 1.75″ and 1.25″ x 1.25″)
  • Black permanent marker
  • Box decorating materials – I offered embossed foil paper, patterned paper, construction paper (blue, black, gray, purple, orange, pink), mirror board, small feathers, fabric leaves, white 6″ doilies, foil star stickers, and fabric flowers.
  • 12 squares of white tissue paper (approximately 6.5″ x 6.5″)
  • 4 pieces of white yarn (approximately 6″ long)
  • 1 ghost house (more on that below!)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by decorating a box for your ghosts to live in. The exterior should be quite minimal (the interior is where you go a little wild). I went for an old-fashioned steamer trunk with a padlock:

box closedIf you’re using a patterned tissue box, you might want to cover it with construction paper or paint first. Then use brown (or color) masking tape to create lines on the outside of the box.

To make a padlock, cut a rectangle of mirror board into an upside-down U shape. Use a black permanent marker to draw a keyhole on a square piece of mirror board. Hot glue (or tape) the U shape to the back of the keyhole square. Attach the padlock to the front of the box with hot glue (or tape).

padlockThe exterior of the box is finished, now for the interior! I decided to go for a classic “night sky inside a box” for my ghosts. I lined the inside of the box with black construction paper, added foil stars, and finished the look with a crescent moon.

box openSome kids replicated this look, but others used embossed foil paper, patterned paper, small feathers, fabric leaves, white 6″ doilies, and fabric flowers to whip up some amazing ghost domiciles.

With the box finished, it’s time for the ghosts! Take 2 squares of white tissue paper and lay them flat on top of each other like so:

ghost step 1Then crumple a third tissue square and place it in the middle of the flat squares.

ghost step 2Bunch the flat squares around the crumpled tissue and pinch tightly,

ghost step 3Flip the tissue bunch over and knot a piece of yarn around it to created your ghost’s neck. Trim off any excess yarn and use marker to draw a face. Repeat these steps until you have 4 ghosts.

ghost step 4You have a box, you have ghosts, now for the house! If you’d like to keep it super simple, hide the ghosts in different locations in a room, classroom, or library. You could even turn off the lights and use a flashlight for an extra spooky ghost hunt. However, if you’d like recreate our ghost house, read on!

My colleagues in Firestone Library know to call me if they’re about to dispose of any large or unusually shaped boxes (you can read more about our library-wide recycling program here). So this dollhouse began as a tall, 6″ x 33″ x 41″ box. I also had a couple old archive boxes to use up (you can see more of them in action in this post and this post).

just the boxFirst, Katie and I measured where the stacked archive boxes hit the tall box, and then cut a big hole in the tall box for the archive boxes to slide into. The leftover cardboard was used to make the roof (to which I added some tagboard shingles and a cardboard chimney).

Next, we sliced one of the archive box’s lids in half and hot glued the halves inside the two archive boxes. This created four “floors” in our ghost house. We finished by hot gluing the archive boxes inside the tall box, and added a few pieces of packing tape for good measure.

gluingTo keep the house upright and sturdy, we hot glued a 5.5″ x 17″ x 25.5″ box to the back as a base. We reinforced the connection with lots of packing tape too. We knew it was going to get bumped and bashed by the ghost hunters!

baseNext, Katie used pieces of corrugated cardboard to create the walls that divided the rooms, and tagboard to make the staircases. You can see the whole thing evolving here. And this is only the beginning of the mess we made that day. Oh yes it is.

dana and katie With the basic elements in place, we decorated the interior. For hours and hours. Katie’s son even stopped by at the end of the day to get in on the fun (my favorites are the laptop in the living room and the Angry Birds artwork in the kitchen). But rather than go into excruciating decorating details, here are photos of the different rooms of the house, as well as some ghosts demonstrating various hiding places.

Living Room

ghost in living roomDark closet under the “grand” staircase (spooky eye stickers courtesy of Katie’s son)

closet under the stairsSmall Staircases

ghost on stairsBedroom

ghosts in bedroomBathroom

ghosts in bathroomLaundry Room

ghost in laundry roomAttic (complete with Amityville windows)

ghosts in the atticAnd here is a photo of the tremendous mess we made during the building of the ghost house. Oh yeah.

tremendous messDuring story time, kids could play the ghost hunting game as many times as they liked. I came up with some pretty creative new places to hide ghosts (like the overhead light fixture in the kitchen, and the roof).

ghost on roofAt the very end of story time, interested parties put their names in a hat and the winner took home the ghost house! If, however, you’re still yearning for more dollhouses and miniatures, mosey on over here to see some truly spectacular Harry Potter creations.