Shop Local

shop localStock up your stand and get ready for some customers! We let grown-ups and siblings browse at a farmer’s market full bursting with fresh veggies, flowers, and artisanal cheeses (which, coincidentally, look a lot like foam beads).

farmers with their stands

We read Farmers’ Market Day, written by Shanda Trent and illustrated by Jane Dippold (Tiger Tales, 2013). It’s Saturday! It’s Market Day! A little girl eagerly searches for the perfect thing to buy with her piggy bank money. Cherries, flowers, pie, herbs, spices, hats, jars of honey, canvas bags – everything is so tempting! Finally, she spots exactly what she wants. A pink watering can, just her size.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • Some pieces of brown poster board or tagboard for your farm stand’s counters
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (we used a 9.75″ x 13.75″ cake pad)
  • 2 jumbo craft sticks (our were 8″ long)
  • A 4.5″ x 10.5″ card stock awning
  • 2 small clear plastic cups (ours were 1oz)
  • 2 foam beads (orange and yellow)
  • 2 mini pom-poms
  • 2 green pipe cleaners
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We’ll start with the farm stand’s slanted counter. First, I’ll  show you how we did it with brown craft boxes, then I’ll show you how to replicate it with a large tissue box. With the lid of the box raised, cut slants in both sides of the box. The slants are cut downward, towards the lid.

farm stand step 1Now make 2 folds. Fold the lid over the lower edge of the counter. Then fold the lid upwards (a.k.a. a valley fold) so it rests on the higher end of the counter. Your counter will now look like this:

farm stand step 2See the part of the lid that extends past the counter? Push that back down towards the lower end of the counter, then tuck it inside the higher end of the counter. You now have slanted bins that are sunken in the counter.

farm stand step 3Make a pair of folded tagboard bin dividers, but don’t attach them just yet!

farm stand step 4

To make a tissue box version of the counter, flip a large tissue box over and use scissors to cut the bottom of the box into a lid. Then, follow the same steps above. Cut slanted sides in the box…

tissue box stand step 1Fold the lid over the lower edge, then upwards to the higher edge. But instead of tucking the end of the lid into the box, just tape it to the higher edge.

tissue box stand step 2Finish with a pair of tagboard bin dividers.

tissue box stand step 3Use markers and patterned tape to decorate the counter, then hot glue it to the cardboard base. Now for the awning! Hot glue (or tape) 2 jumbo craft sticks to both ends of the counter. Fold a 4.5″ x 10.5″ piece of card stock in half and decorate it with markers. Put generous globs of hot glue on the ends of the jumbo sticks, then gently press the card stock awning in place.

farmers market stand awningColor and cut the produce bin backdrops from the farmers market stand template and slide them into the bins. Once you’re sure everything fits, hot glue (or tape) your tagboard bin divider in place.

veggie bin backdropsYou’ll notice that there are 2 sets of produce bins on the template. One set is for the background. The other set is for you to individually cut, drop in the bins, and sell at market!

more veggies in binsTo create the cheese table, cut a toilet paper tube in half and hot glue the halves to a piece of poster board or tagboard. Place a pair of foam bead “cheeses” on the table, then cover them with a clear plastic cup. Hot glue a mini pom-pom handle to the top of each cup, and finish with a cheese sign attached to a craft stick or wooden coffee stirrer.

cheese tableTo make the flowers, cut 2 pipe cleaners into thirds, then color and cut 6 flowers from the farmers market flowers template. Tape the flowers to the pipe cleaners, and tuck the stems into half a toilet paper tube (we made a green tissue paper shrub for the other half of the toilet paper tube, but that’s optional!). I’d recommend hot gluing the cheese table and flower vases to the base – they can get a little tippy.

farm stand flowersA few more touches. Behind the flowers you’ll see a “Today’s Specials” sandwich board (it’s on the farm stand template). On the front of the stand are “Shop Local” and “Jersey Fresh” signs, courtesy of Google images. Add some cute little flower stickers, and you’re done!

shop localThe kids lined up their fantastic stands, and the Farmer’s Market was officially open!

the farmers market is openWe gave grown-ups and little siblings magic bucks and paper sandwich bags. They browsed the stands, checking out the wares. We made a rule that you had to visit at least three stands and chat with three vendors.

customer 1Customers seemed particularly enamored with the foam cheeses. And really, who wouldn’t be? Just keep an eye out to make sure the littlest shoppers don’t enthusiastically sample the wares!

customer 2

Bestseller

bestseller

The objective? To arrange the books so that the top shelf is perfectly level. But you can only use certain books, in certain orientations, with a minimum of 2 books touching the top shelf at any time. Oh, and leave some room for a little black cat!

Today, I’m reviewing By The Book, a stacking puzzle for ages 8+ (Brainwright, $18). The game consists of 40 challenge cards, 12 wooden books, 2 wooden shelves, 1 plastic cat, and 1 balance level made to look like an adorable red flower pot.

by the book gameTo play, select a challenge card (which are graded as beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert). The face of the card tells you which books you can use, if they need to be placed horizontally or vertically, or if they can’t touch at all. Sometimes, the card will require the cat to be included on the shelf as well. The back side of the card has the solution. Here are a couple examples of card faces and solutions:

challenge cardsOnce you’ve gathered all the relevant pieces, lay the bottom shelf on a level surface, then try configuring the books to the card’s specifications. Put the top shelf in place when you think you’re done, then place the balance level on top to see if your solution measures up. And remember – a minimum of 2 books much be touching the top shelf at any time.

If your solution passes the level test, flip the card over to see if matches the official solution (and the rules do mention there may be other ways to solve the challenge). Some of the solutions, however, are not what you expect! Look at this creative configuration!

stacked solution

When playing this game, it’s important to work on a level surface. If your work table is tilted, you’ll never reach a solution. So use the level to make doubly sure you’re nice and even before you start playing.

So, what did our kid testers (ages 6, 8, and 10) think of By The Book? They loved it! The game requires analysis, trial & error, testing, and re-testing, but it’s very calm, non-competitive, and you can take as long as you like to reach the solution. By The Book is labeled as a 1 player game, but our kid testers found ways to collaborate. The cat adds a nice touch, and the kid tester found it very satisfying to put the level on the top shelf to see if their clever arranging worked!

testing a solution

By The Book is the best (a “bestseller,” if you will). It’s fun, intelligent, works with a large age range of kids, and the pieces are really nice quality. This would be a terrific classroom chill-out activity, the perfect addition to library game nights, or an awesome gift from that super cool librarian aunt or uncle. Plus, it comes with a CAT! Five out of five stars.

The Game is Afoot

the game is afoot“Check this out!” Katie said to me one morning, holding up her phone. “My friend just posted this to her Instagram!” It was a board game, based on the book Hatchet, designed by Quinn Densmore, a 5th grader in New Mexico.

First of all, wow. Hatchet is a fantastic book. Second of all, WOW! Quinn’s game board was 3-dimensional! Thirdly, what amazing muse inspired him to create a game version of the book? The answer was Kandice Tomanek, his teacher. Clever Ms. Tomanek invited her class to design board games based on their favorite books. I asked if she would be willing to share a few more creations. The whole class voted for their Top 5, which I am delighted to present to you today, in no particular order.


PETER PAN
Designed by Terra Donahue

peter pan designed by terra donahue

Dice rolls move 4 players around the board. Some squares contains a symbol, others a number. If you land on a marked square, you must pick a card with the matching symbol or number and follow its instructions (be they good or bad). The game ends when a player reaches the “Finish Zone,” but the winner is the person who has collected the most gold balls.

I love the way the game board opens into Mermaid Lagoon and Pirate’s Bay. I love that all the famous Neverland landmarks are there. I love the ring of clouds around the top of the tallest mountain. I love the gorgeous compass. And I especially love the upended mermaid tails in the lagoon!


UPSIDE-DOWN MAGIC: STICKS AND STONES
Designed by Ailey Cassidy-Jones

upside down magic stick and stones designed by ailey cassidy-jonesThe goal of this game is to get rid of as many gems as you can before reaching the finish line (i.e. the “Pennies for Potions” square).  No small feat considering that each player starts with 50 gems! As you travel the board, you can either gain or lose gems depending on the space you land on and the cards you draw.

I’m not familiar with the Upside-Down Magic books, but I can absolutely appreciate that the game players are characters from the books (such cool little wooden boxes for each of them!). I also appreciate the math involved as you navigate the board and acquire and lose gems. That and Kitten Ball in the Gymnasium. I need to know what Kitten Ball is!


THE LANDS BEYOND
Designed by Greta Smith

the lands beyond designed by greta smithBased on The Phantom Tollbooth, players begin at the tollbooth but soon encounter the Doldrums. If you roll a 1,3, or 5, you get stuck on the Doldrums. If you roll a 2,4, or 6 you take another path. The game continues to move forward in this quirky fashion, and also includes directional cards that make you stop or allow you to roll again. Waiting at the finish line, of course, are Princesses Rhyme and Reason.

So, how much do you love that beautiful purple tollbooth? And the innovative take on dice roll navigation? As you get close to the Mountains of Ignorance, you’ll notice that the cards change from “Pick a Card” to “Demon Card” as well. So clever. And did you notice the Mathamagician’s pencil?

I can’t resist sneaking a couple Phantom Tollbooth connections in here. Click here to meet the author, and click here to visit Digitopolis, the city of math.


HATCHET
Designed by Quinn Densmore

hatchet designed by quinn densmoreThe object of this game is to get rescued from the wilderness. As you move around the board, you acquire different cards. If you get a fire card you are immune to 1 hypothermia card.  If you get hit by a disaster, you must do what the card instructs (move back, lose a turn, etc.). If you get a rescue card, you are safe from the next attack card. Collect 5 rescue cards, and you win!

Not only is this board a total work of 3-dimesional art, I think Quinn really captured the uncertainty of Brian’s plight in the game play. Because sometimes Brian was just plain unlucky (plane crash, gut cherries, extremely territorial moose). Also, there’s no finish line. You wind your way back and forth through the wilderness until (hopefully) you are rescued. Very cool.


THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY
Designed by Rebekah Bagwell

hoboken chicken emergency designed by rebekah bagwellI’ve been a Daniel Pinkwater fan since I was 9, so I was thrilled to see this classic book turned into a game. Players race each other to Hokoben City Hall. Along the way, they must follow the directions on each space (if they land on a blank space, they just wait until their turn comes up again). The winner gets to take home a little Henrietta as a pet!

The details on this game are awesome. The players are characters from the book. Rebekah’s labeled the streets, the stores, and locations. There are nods to Bozo, potatoes, the Hoboken Inquirer, and Dr. Hsu Ting Feng. I tip my hat to you, Miss Bagwell.


Many thanks to Ailey, Greta, Quinn, Rebekah, and Terra for sharing their games, and to Kandice Tomanek for organizing the vote and sending the pictures (and just for being an awesome teacher)!