Super Stoic Skunk Squad

skunk squad

Become a dynamic crime-busting duo that thwarts theft and keeps the peace! JUST DON”T STARTLE OFFICER SKUNK.

We read Please Don’t Upset P.U. Zorilla by Lynn Rowe Reed (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006). When Mayor Tootlebee receives a letter from a well-mannered skunk named P.U. Zorilla, he immediately offers him a job. Unfortunately, the town quickly learns that no matter what the job – school bus driver, pet store clerk, ball park popcorn seller – something always happens that upsets P.U. Zorilla. And…well you can guess what happens next! However, when crime strikes at a local jewelry store, P.U. Zorilla manages to save the day, earning him a new job as Chief of Police!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • Black and white construction paper
  • 1 paper cup
  • Dark blue poster board
  • Crime fighting game (more on this below!)
  • Scissors, tape and/or glue for construction
  • Hot glue

The skunk is basically a large tissue box decorated with black and white paper. The nose is a paper cup, cut down to 2.5″ and attached with hot glue. We also added a jumbo pom-pom nose and wiggle eyes, but you can simply draw these on with markers.

front of skunkThe books hilariously builds up to P.U. Zorilla inevitably doing what skunks do. We wanted to capture some of that fun, so our skunk box actually “sprays” when startled, courtesy of a rectangle cut in its rear and a white plastic grocery bag…

back of skunkAlso part of the story time project? A police hat for you, and a police collar for your skunk. The hat is from our You’ve Got Mail post – we just swapped the red headband for a black one. Your skunk gets a blue construction paper collar as well. Notice the gold foil seals on the hat and collar? Kids earned those in the “Crime Fighting” portion of our story time:

hat and skunkKatie printed 6 images on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock. Half of the images were calm (flowers, puppies, ice cream truck) and the other half were alarming (robber, loud noise, ghost). Katie walked the kids through the training, asking them to react to the different scenes. If it was alarming, the kids pulled the plastic bag out of their skunks and sprayed!

Castle, Cats

castle cats

It’s a castle, it’s a tossing game, but mostly this project is about an awesome abundance of…CATS!

We read A Castle Full of Cats by Ruth Sanderson (Random House, 2015). The Queen looooves cats, and they are everywhere in the castle. The king, despite all the cats’ winning efforts (scratching art into the wall, leaving dead mice in his shoe) feels more then a little left out. So he gets a dog. Is the dog there to chase away the cats? NO! The dog’s job is to play with the cats. With the felines otherwise occupied, the king can now spend a little time wooing his beloved wife.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too!)
  • An assortment of toilet paper and paper towel tubes
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished cat castle

First, the castle! Cut the top off a box of your choice, then decorate it with construction paper and/or markers. Our castle towers are shortened paper towel tubes with cone water cup turrets. The flags are mounted on wooden coffee stirrers. We used self-adhesive foam to add some texture as well. Like THIS castle. Just look at that texture!

awesome castleWe also decided to add a carrying handle to our castle, so our towers are hot glued slightly to the front of the box. The handle is a 1.75″ x 16″ poster board strip that pivots on 2 brass fasteners.

finished cat castle handleFinally, the CATS. These are variously-sized toilet paper and paper towel tubes decorated with construction paper. We used self-adhesive foam bits and eye stickers to create the faces, but plain old markers work too!

all the castle catsTo play the game, place your castle on the floor, and then try to toss all the cats into the box. The more cats that land in the box, the more likely the last few will bounce out, so warning…a major case of the giggles may occur!

Sip n’ Spell

sip n spellWe’ve all eaten our words from time to time, but how taking a cool sip of your favorite beverage through them? Katie and her son tested this intriguing concept with Spell & Sip customizable straws by Spelly (Amazon, $15).

spell and sip straws by spellyThese BPA free straws are advertised for ages 4-99. The set contains 44 pieces. This includes an assortments of alphabet letters, 4 straw ends, and 2 sets of symbols.

spell and sip straws box contents

Our package had four A’s, no V’s and four emojis (2 hash tags and 2 hearts). We thought the letter selection to be bit strange, particularly when many names have multiple vowels or consonants. A child named Violet or Victor would be way disappointed receiving Spell & Sip as a gift.

As you can see, each letter and symbol is skewered with a hollow plastic tube connector. To make a custom straw, snap together your letters, add 2 straw ends, and you’re ready to go!

katie and dana straws

Katie’s son took the lead with testing. Water was first, followed by milk. Both were easy to drink, although there were some bubbles at mouth end of the straw at first. Turns out her son hadn’t attached that end of the straw tightly enough. Once fixed, the bubbles disappeared and there was absolutely no leaking (despite the fact that the connection was still somewhat semi-loose).

Next up, a chocolate milkshake from Mooyah, his favorite burger joint. Unfortunately, the thicker consistency of the liquid caused difficulties. With some effort, but he was eventually able to get the shake into his mouth. But the test straw was soon abandoned for the restaurant-provided wider straw (and faster consumption of the shake).

milkshake testNow the real test…cleaning! Katie put the used letters and pieces into the silverware basket of her dishwasher, closing the basket lid secretly praying the hot water wouldn’t melt anything. This was doubly risky because there was absolutely nothing on the product’s box that mentioned cleaning or being dishwasher-safe (only a statement that the company is “Not responsible for any damage caused by improper use or care”).

letters in dishwasher

However, success! The straw pieces emerged cleaned and not melted. They were still pretty wet, and required extra drying time on a paper towel.

Ultimately, the testing team felt Spelly’s Spell & Sip customizable straws were a fun and super clever way to reinforce letters and spelling (though younger kids may need help with taking the pieces apart). Given the difficulties with milkshake, they don’t suggest drinking thick liquids with this product. Another major issue: the missing letter V in the set. Finally, clean the used straws as soon as possible to avoid any residue drying inside the letter pieces – they tend to stay wet for awhile.

Recommended, with thin liquids like water and juice!