Message in a Bottle

message in a bottle

Messages of love, thoughtful notes, warm invitations…they’re all heading your way to be captured and stashed in your fishing creel AND your heart!

We read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, written by Michelle Cuevas, and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Penguin, 2016). The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles’ job is to spot message bottles and deliver them to their proper recipients. But secretly, he yearns for someone to write a message to him. One day, a bottle arrives with a party invitation, but no name. So the Uncorker asks a number of people if the message belongs to them. Finding no success, he decides to take the bottle to the party and report his failure. However, when he arrives, he finds everyone he talked to earlier, waiting and ready to have a party with him!

You’ll need:

  • 1 tissue box
  • 1 strip of poster board strip for a box handle
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • 1 piece of string
  • 1 wine cork
  • 1 button magnet
  • 1 message bottle template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 3 rectangles of clear plastic (more on this below!)
  • 3 paperclips
  • Scissors, tape, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, your equipment! The fishing creel is a box with a poster board handle stapled to the lid. We decorated ours with color masking tape, but markers work too! The fishing pole is a wooden dowel, and the “hook” is a button magnet hot glued to a wine cork.

bottle catching creel and poleColor and cut the 3 bottles from the template, then tape a little pocket of archival mylar to one side. You can find mylar sheets on Amazon, or you can use clear gift wrapping cellophane. Tape a paper clip to the top of the bottle. Finally, use extra paper from the template to write messages and tuck them into the pockets of the bottles.

message bottle constructionReady to fish? My son and I crafted this awesome row boat we dubbed the “Cape May III.”

the cape may III

At story time, I scattered the kids’ bottles in the “ocean” while they sat in the boat. Then they “fished” off the side, connecting the magnet hook to the paper clipped bottles, which were then hoisted and deposited into the creel!

catching message bottlesThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles was actually a special request from Lydia, a little girl who was aging out of our Tiger Tales story time program. So Katie and I made a very special bottle message for her, and snuck it in with her other bottles. A little story time magic, straight from the heart :)

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 paperclip 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.