I Heart Robot

i heart robotOur robot project has something very special inside – open its chest door to reveal a burst of birdsong, straight from the heart! And for an extra story time surprise, a life-size robot stopped by for hugs and high fives! Here’s the robot project in action:


We read The Robot and the Bluebird by David Lucas (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007).
When a robot’s broken heart can’t be mended, he is exiled to a scrap heap. As the days pass, he grows rusted and despondent. One winter day, a bluebird flies into the scrap heap, and the robot invites her to rest in the space where his heart used to be. She does, and the robot is amazed. The bluebird’s wing beats feel like his heart is beating again! Her singing makes him feel like his heart is singing! Unfortunately, the bluebird can’t stay – it’s too cold for her to survive. In fact, she fears she doesn’t have the strength to reach her final destination. So her robot friend carries her through blizzards, fog, and biting winds, until at last they come to a warm place where the sun is shining. There, the exhausted robot freezes in place, his strength finally spent. But the bluebird continues to live in his heart, and so do all the other birds. They circle around him, singing with joy.

I defy you to get through this touching book without choking up! It’s beautifully written and illustrated. What makes it even more special is that this was a special request from a story time regular who will be aging out of the program during our gallery renovations. It’s one of his favorite books. This one’s for you Aaron!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box with a hinged lid (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works)
  • 1 small box (ours was 4” x 4” x 4” – basically, anything that fits inside the larger box)
  • 1 packing tape core
  • A box cutter
  • Robot decorating supplies (more on these later!)
  • 1 wooden bird whistle
  • 1 bubble tea straw
  • Scissors, tape and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

You definitely need a box with a hinged lid for this project. We went with our standard 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 9″ handy dandy craft box.

robot box step 1But you can also use a large tissue box. Just use a box cutter to create a hinged lid out of the bottom of the box like so:

robot tissue box altNext, fit a small box inside the large box. The small box is the robot’s chest cavity, so you will need to place it near the center or the large box. We did this by hot gluing a packing tape core to the bottom of the small box, then attaching the whole assembly inside the large box with more hot glue.

robot box step 2You’ll notice that the lid of the box is cut into 3 sections. These sections eventually fold over to form the front of the robot. Secure the top and bottom sections closed with tape, but leave the middle section open so you can access your bird whistle later.

robot box step 3In the above image, you’ll also notice a small square cut in the back of the box. That’s for the mouthpiece of the bird whistle. Use a box cutter to create the square, making sure your cut goes through both the large and the small box. Next, cut a bubble tea straw down to approximately 5″, and slide it onto the mouth piece of a wooden bird whistle (we got ours on Amazon, $8 for 12). Just make sure the little opening in the whistle isn’t covered, or the whistle won’t tweet!

bird whistle openingThread the straw through the square hole in the back of the box. Now your bird whistle is resting inside the box, and the bubble tea straw is extended out the back.

robot box step 4Time to decorate the robot! We offered extra boxes for heads, poster board strips for the arms and legs, tin foil, mini aluminum cake tins, mirror board, metallic pastry circles, sparkle stems, tape cores, dot stickers, plastic buttons, textured silver paper, holographic tape, silver paper straws, and foil star stickers. To make your robot’s heart sing, hold it in front of you, open the chest door, and blow on the bubble tea straw.

finished singing heart robotSo that’s the project, but there’s ONE thing we did to make this story time extra special. Instead of giving the kids bird whistles while they were making the project, we waited until everyone was finished. Then, a LIFE-SIZED ROBOT came walking into the gallery, carrying a flock of bird whistles for the kids to choose from!

kids robots and whistlesThat’s Ian in there, expertly playing the robot (also on his resume – walking a dog, getting a blog tattoo, strewing hearts, channeling his inner Grover, and testing wizard pudding). We put the costume together with a couple boxes. The arms and legs are 8″ flexible foil duct tubing from the Heating & Cooling section of Lowe’s. It took a couple fittings to get the head, torso, arms, legs, and feet to work together. Ian could juuuuust see out of the mouth of the robot, which we covered with a couple layers of yellow tulle.

All in all, Ian was pretty nimble inside the robot costume, even though I did have to help him get around a few obstacles with his box feet. Our puppet theater proved to be a bit of a challenge, but as you can see, Ian recovered beautifully.


Of course, this post would not be complete without a Pop Goes the Page group robot dance…so…without further ado…

 

Purrfect Pet

purrfect petRecently, it occurred to me that we’ve done story time projects with dogs, monkeys, chicks, ponies, mice, hamsters, butterflies, birds, crocodiles, bugs, rabbits, and chickens in hot air balloons…but no CATS! To correct this egregious oversight, I present you with the purrfect cat story time.

We read Hookwinked by Arthur Howard (Harcourt, 2001). Mitzi (who is a witch) adores creepy things. So when it’s time to find a pet, she heads to the creepiest store in town. She selects a toad. But all the toad wants to do is eat bugs. She returns the toad and gets a pair of bats. But all the bats want to do is hang out with each other. She returns the bats and leaves the store, completely discouraged. The next day, however, there’s a scratch at her door. It’s an adorable little kitten. Naturally, Mitzi is disgusted by the kitten’s cuteness, but she agrees to let it stay one night because it’s raining outside. That night, the kitten stays by Mitzi’s side as she hunts ghosts, purrs on Mitzi’s lap during a scary movie, and licks Mitzi’s chin when she reveals her deepest fears. Mitzi’s heart is won, and she realizes that looks aren’t everything!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • A rectangle of tagboard (approximately 4.25″ x 6″)
  • 3 pieces of twisteez wire (or very thin card stock strips) approximately 4.5″ each
  • A small rectangle of self-adhesive foam (approximately 1.25 ” x 1.5″)
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • A 16″-18″ piece of ribbon
  • A small circle of card stock (approximately 1.5″ in diameter)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue

First, wrap your oatmeal container in construction paper (we offered black, white, orange, and gray). Cut the hind feet out of a tagboard rectangle, then glue the tagboard to your choice of colored construction paper. Trim the construction paper to fit the tagboard feet. Your tag board hind feet are now covered with construction paper on one side.

back feet stepsSet the feet aside for a moment, and cut a tail out of your choice of colored construction paper. Our tails were 2.25″ x 12″ rectangles and they looked great. Round one end of the rectangle, then wrap the tail around a marker to give it an awesome curl.

Hot glue the hind feet to the bottom of the oatmeal container, then hot glue to tail on top of the feet. To keep the tail anchored and less likely to tear off, I suggest hot gluing at least 3″ of it to the feet.

glued feet and tailTo create your cat’s front feet, cut two, 1.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles of construction paper, round one end of each rectangle, and then fold the rounded ends up to create paws. Hot glue (or tape) the legs to the front of the oatmeal container.

front legs attachedTo make the cat’s furry bib, cut a 4″ x 4.25″ rectangle of construction paper into an upside-down bell shape, then cut little ripples on the edges to create “fur.”

bibHot glue (or tape) the bib to the front of the cat. Make sure the bib covers the tops of the front legs, but also leaves room for your cat’s face.

bib attachedUse a marker to draw a smile on your cat and little “toe lines” on it’s feet (metallic Sharpie markers work great on black construction paper). Next, bunch together 3 pieces of twisteez wire (or 3 very thin card stock strips) and tape them over the mouth like so:

whiskersCut a piece of self-adhesive foam into a cat nose and stick it over the whisker tape. Hot glue a pair of wiggle eyes above the nose, and hot glue (or tape) a pair of construction paper ears next to the eyes.

nose, eyes, and ears The final touch is your cat’s name tag. Punch a hole in a circle of white card stock, then decorate the circle with your cat’s name. Thread a piece of ribbon through the hole and tie the ribbon around your cat’s neck. Invite a few friends over for a grand night out.

purrfect gangAnd there you have it…a splendid cat story time! I wonder what animal’s next? We’ve already covered flamingossquirrelslong-haired rainbow yaks

Imagine That

long-haired rainbow yakI’d like to introduce you to my imaginary friend Roy, the long-haired rainbow yak. Perhaps you have an imaginary friend too? No? Well, we can certainly help you find one!

We read The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat (Little, Brown, 2014). On a far away island where imaginary friends are created, a creature with no name is born. He waits, along with the other imaginary friends, for a child to pick him and give him a special name. But it never happens. So our unnamed hero sets off to find a child on his own. He arrives at a big city and is disappointed at what he finds (no kids eating cake, people in a hurry, and everyone appears in need of a nap). Climbing to the top of a tree, he searches for his friend. No one arrives. He is sad. Suddenly there is a shout! A little girl needs help retrieving her drawing from the branches of the tree. A friendship is born. Alice names her new friend…Beekle. I love this sweet, touching, and beautifully drawn book.

Depending on the type of friend you make, you’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container – OR – 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 6”)
  • 1 – 4 toilet paper tubes
  • Construction paper
  • A variety of art supplies (more on this below)
  • Markers for decorating
  • Scissors, tape, glue sticks for construction
  • Hot glue

Katie and I made 4 example friends to demonstrate the various oatmeal container, box, and toilet paper tube leg combinations. We did have one request for paper towel tube legs, which we happily granted. Here are the example friends:

yak sidepurplecrocpinkie birdOnce the kids decided on their friend’s body shape and legs, we steered them towards 2 tables (and 2 windowsills) piled with art supplies, warmed up our two hot glue stations (staffed by Katie and myself) and invited them to let their imaginations soar!

You can use any art supplies you’d like of course. Or even go with the simplicity of white construction paper and markers. But just in case you’re interested, here is the list of all the art supplies we provided, pulled from the depths of our storage closet and drawers…

The resulting friends were imaginative and utterly delightful. We managed to capture the majority of them in our temporary photo studio. You can click on any of the thumbnails below to open a larger image. The toilet paper tube legs were very popular, but check out “Cowmoo” and “Rose” rocking some alternative leg styles!