You Complete Me

you complete meYou can’t fly with one wing. But if you join up with another one-winged friend, well…the sky’s the limit! This project also double as a cute motor skills hook and balance game.

We read Horsefly and Honeybee by Randy Cecil (Henry Holt, 2012). Horsefly and Honeybee get in a fight over a flower, and each loses a wing. The helplessly earth-bound Honeybee is soon captured by Bullfrog. To make matters worse, her old enemy Horsefly is captured too. The two glower at each other on a lily pad until they hear Bullfrog returning for dinner. Clutching each other, they flap their combined wings and discover that together, they can soar far out of Bullfrog’s reach! The two friends also discover that there is plenty of room for both of them on a flower. Seriously, this book wins most adorable.

You’ll need:

  • Two toilet paper tubes
  • Construction paper
  • 1 piece of twisteez wire or pipe cleaner (approximately 3″)
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • 1 small box (ours was 2” x 4” x 4″)
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • 1 piece of yarn (ours was approximately 22″)
  • 1 small paper clip
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

To make the dynamic duo of Horsefly and Honeybee, wrap 2 toilet paper tubes with construction paper. We added dark brown and black bands on their bodies, eye stickers, and a paper of pipe cleaner antenna for Honeybee. And of course, each gets one wing. Hot glue (or tape) them together, then tape a twisteez wire or pipe cleaner to the back. This is how you’ll lift them during the fishing game.

completed duo The other two game pieces are a lily pad and a flower. The lily pad is made out of construction paper, and the flower is a cupcake liner I found in the discount Easter section of Target. The flower is a small box hot glued to the top of a 6″ piece of paper towel tube. We added some green paper crinkle to the inside as well.

lily pad and flowerThe final step is to rig up a fishing pole. We used a wooden dowel, yarn, and an unfolded fishing hook. To play the game, place Horsefly and Honeybee on the lily pad. Then hook them with the fishing pole and fly them to the safety of the flower.

horsefly and honeybee gameSome story times, kids will grab the project’s supplies and create something entirely impromptu. So may I present…a Venus Fly Trap?

venus fly trap

Gone Fishing…For Vowels

gone fishing for vowelsSome wild and crazy vowels are on the loose, and you must grab your magnetic fishing rod and catch AEIOU…and sometimes…that mysteriously elusive Y.

We read Sue MacDonald Had a Book, written by Jim Tobin, and illustrated by Dave Coverly (Henry Holt, 2009). Sue MacDonald had a book, but AEIOU made a break for it. So Sue must hop a train, ride a hot air balloon, delve into a sewer system, wield a fishing rod, and more to catch those rascally vowels. Honestly, this book should be in every early education classroom. Fantastic writing, great illustrations, and best of all…you SING the book to the tune of Old MacDonald!

You’ll need:

  • 1 vowel template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • A long piece of (ours was 32″)
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • 7 jumbo paper clips (mine were 1.75″ long)
  • 1 magnet
  • A piece of string (approximately 55″ long)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The fishing poles are just about identical to the ones we constructed at our ice fishing story time. First, tie a jumbo paper clip to a piece string, then lower the paper clip into a piece of PVC pipe. Keep lowering the paperclip until it’s hanging well below the pole and there’s just a few inches of string sticking out of the top. Next, turn your pole so it looks like this:

polePush the unattached end of the string against the pole, and cover it with color masking tape. Continue wrapping the pole until you’ve created a 3″ handle. If you’d like, use the color masking tape to decorate the rest of the pole.

wrapped handleFinally, tape a magnet to the paper clip. We used little ceramic block magnets. Since these were potential choking hazards for younger siblings, we checked, double checked, and triple checked to make sure everyone’s magnet was firmly taped in place.

vowel magnet hookNext up, the VOWELS! Cut the vowels out of the 2-page template. You can use just markers to decorate them, or you can do what we did and bring out the Bling Bin and eye stickers.

wild and crazy vowels When you’re done decorating, tape a jumbo paperclip to the back of each letter. Spread the vowels on the floor, take a few steps back, and try “hooking” them with your rod.

catching the letter ACheck out Mr. Expert Fisherman…3 on 1 hook! Nice!

3 in 1The letter Y is on the template, but at our story time, we decided to do something a little special with it. We traced the Ys onto gold mirror board:

golden letter Y Then, as kids were fishing, we quietly dropped the golden Ys into their pile of vowels. If they caught the Y, they got to take it home (and of course, everyone caught the Y)!

Did you notice that some our our fishermen and women in the photos are wearing backpacks fashioned from manilla office folders? If you’d like to make one for your vowels to ride home in, the instructions are right here in this camping post.

Ice Ice Fishy

gone (ice) fishingToday, we’re heading to the frozen lakes of Minnesota! Climb into your cozy ice shack with your fishing pole and tackle box stocked with delicious snacks. Who knows? Maybe you’ll catch a northern pike, a walleye, or a pumpkinseed!

tackle boxWe read One Frozen Lake, written by Deborah Jo Larson, and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012). A boy and his grandfather head to a frozen lake to do some ice fishing. The fish aren’t biting, but the duo’s patience is finally rewarded. The boy catches a fish…but ultimately decides to throw it back! This clever little counting book introduces all sorts of fishing terminology – line, jig sticks, lures, tackle, sinkers, spoons, spins, rigs, jig sticks, test line – and the fantastic illustrations help place everything in context.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 6”)
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • 1 poster board strip for tackle box handle (mine was 1.75″ x 12.5″)
  • A 6″ piece of pipe cleaner for tackle box hook
  • 1 snack template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • A rectangle of white construction paper (approximately 5.5″ x 7″)
  • 1 plastic sandwich bag
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 rectangle of tagboard (approximately 2.5″ x 4.25″)
  • A 15″ piece of PVC pipe
  • A 35″ piece of string
  • 4 jumbo paper clips (mine were 1.75″ long)
  • 1 wine cork
  • 1 button magnet
  • A 4″ piece of pipe cleaner for fishing lure
  • 2 mini wiggle eyes
  • 1 fish template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Scissors, tape, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue
  • 1 ice shack (more on this later!)

We’ll begin with the tackle box! Use color masking tape and/or patterned tape to decorate the outside of a box (if you don’t have tape handy, plain old markers work too). I wrapped a few pieces of masking tape around the poster board strip too. Tab the ends of the poster board strip and staple them under the lid of the box (if your box doesn’t have a lid, just attach the handle to the sides of the box with staples or hot glue).

stapled handleBend a 6″ piece of pipe cleaner into a “V” and twist both sections of the V together tightly. Curl the bottom into a hook, and tape it to the side of the tackle box. Later, you’ll use this hook to hold the fish you catch.

tackle box hookThe tackle box is done, now for the snacks! To make buttered popcorn, use a yellow marker to scribble on both sides of a rectangle of white construction paper. Cut the paper into small squares, then crumble the squares and drop them into the plastic sandwich bag.

snacks To make a can of juice, color and cut the juice label from the snack template. Then wrap it around a toilet paper tube. To make a chocolate bar, color and cut the chocolate bar label from the template. Wrap it around the rectangle of tagboard (or brown poster board).

Finally, your fishing pole! Tie a jumbo paper clip to a piece string, then lower the paper clip through the hole at the top of a piece of PVC pipe. Keep lowering the string until the paper clip hangs well beyond the bottom of the pole and there’s just a few inches of string sticking out of the top. Next, turn your pole so it looks like this:

polePush the unattached end of the string against the pole, and cover it with color masking tape. Continue wrapping the pole until you’ve created a 3″ handle.

wrapped handleTo make a fishing lure, bend a 4″ piece of pipe cleaner into a “U” shape. Use color masking tape and/or patterned tape to attach the pipe cleaner to a wine cork, then continue wrapping until the entire cork is covered with tape. Hot glue a pair of mini wiggle eyes on the sides of the cork, and a button magnet on the bottom.

lureCut each fish out of the template and slide a jumbo paper clip over its mouth. Make sure, however, to extend the paperclip a little past the fish’s mouth (so it can hang on the tackle box hook later). Secure the paper clip to the fish with tape.

fish paperclipReady to fish? Hook the fishing pole’s paperclip through the pipe cleaner on your lure. Slowly lower the lure toward the fish’s mouth. The paperclip on the fish will attach to the magnet on the lure…and you’ve caught yourself a fish!

lure and fishFeel free to fish on a tabletop, out of a big bucket, off a blue towel “lake” on the floor…but if you’d like an ice shack like ours, read on!

ice shack 1 sidePeople at work know to get in touch with me before they recycle a big box (read more about that program here). I greedily drag these boxes into my lair for future story time use. I must admit, however, that my current stash was threatening to outgrow my storage space. So we had a big box blowout and made two ice shacks. We used 2 big boxes, 2 oversize box lids, and 2 old archive boxes.

Speaking of oversize box lids, you can see the bottom halves of the boxes in action at this retail-licious story time. For past projects that have utilized old archive boxes, check out this haunted house, this miraculous mechanism, and this fast food stand.

But back to the ice shack. An oversize box lid is the key since it transforms into the “ice” the shack rests upon.

ice shack ice shownMy box lid was 5.5″ deep x 24″ wide x 42″ long. Since multitudes of kids were going to be sitting on it, we reinforced the underside with sliced up archive boxes. We hot glued everything together, then reinforced the connections between the boxes with packing tape. Here’s a photo of the underside of the lid, all glued and taped. You can also see the round “hole” we cut in the ice for future fishing.

reinforced bottom of box lidWhen the underside was finished, Katie covered the top of the lid with light blue poster board “ice.” She attached the poster board with hot glue, then reinforced the edges with packing tape. Meanwhile, I cut a doorway and a window in the sides of a big box (my largest box was 22″ x 27″ x 32.” The second box was 22″ x 26″ x 26″). I made a shingled tagboard roof, added a paper towel tube chimney, and hot glued a cardboard sign on the front.

Katie used packing tape – lots of it – to secure the ice shack to the box lid “ice.” IMPORTANT! When positioning your shack on the ice, make sure the hole is located towards the rear of the shack. Otherwise, kids run the risk of tripping on the hole as they enter the shack.

ice shack 1 frontAs a finishing touch, Katie lined the doorways and windows of both shacks with color masking tape. She used very special colors – purple & black for the Minnesota Vikings, and green & gold for the Green Bay Packers.

Finally, Katie made fish identification charts and attached them to to the sides of the shacks. We found some excellent wildlife illustrations on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website, and they were kind enough to let us reproduce them for story time and the blog template. The kids loved matching their fish up to the charts.

using the fish chartI’ll leave you with one final image. Katie hails from the Midwest. When she was a kid, she actually went ice fishing with her grandparents in Spring Grove, Minnesota! She’s also been ice fishing in Colorado. While prepping this story time project, she expertly fielded my questions about ice fishing, ice shacks, bait, driving trucks on ice, operating ice augers, and the expression “derhey.” She brought her cold weather gear to story time too. Just look at this dedication to authenticity folks!

katie in her gear


Fish illustrations used with permission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.