Mission: Hugs for All

hugs for allIt’s a big world out there. A world with lots of things in it. And those things need HUGS. The question is…are you up to the task? Are you a Hug Machine?

We recommend Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Atheneum, 2014). Prepare yourself world. The Hug Machine (a little boy in a striped shirt and red rain boots) is on a mission to cheer people up, calm people down, and make things right. Tree? Hug! Park bench? Hug! Crying baby? Hug! Even a spiky porcupine gets a special padded hug. It’s impossible to read this book without smiling. Highly recommended!

Today’s simple project was designed by Jennifer Hyde, an ingenious teacher in Logan, Utah. Jennifer’s “Paper Hug” was featured in Family Fun magazine many years ago. I modified it only slightly for today’s post.

You’ll need:

  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Trace your left and right hands at each end of a 5.5″ x 27″ strip of poster board. Keep the hands connected as you cut them out of the poster board.The result is a long “hug.” Decorate the hug with markers (or use color masking tape like we did).

poster board hugOK, you’re ready to start hugging – and by hugging we mean go forth and find things to wrap your poster board hug around! You can just use the paper hug, or get right in there and use your arms too. Always dedicated to seeing a project through, Katie and I hit the streets on a rainy afternoon to share the love with Princeton.

Hugging John Witherspoon, Founding Father and past President of Princeton University…

witherspoon statue hug

The classic tree hug. It was a little damp, but who cares?

tree hugA mailbox clearly in need of a hug.

mailbox hugHugging a roaster and barista pal at our awesome local coffee shop, Small World.

small world coffee hugA hug for House of Cupcakes, who sell me donuts and cupcakes. Like, everyday.

house of cupcakes hugHugging a rainbow narwhal at JaZams, our stupendous local toy store.

jazams hugNo park bench escapes me…

bench hugNor jungle-like foliage…

leaf hug

A super-sweet hug from the folks at the Bent Spoon, best bakery in the world.

bent spoon hugAn attempted hug of one of Princeton’s famous black squirrels…yeah, no go.

attempted squirrel hugFinally, a hug from a random person who totally rocked the love. Awwwww!

random person hug


Sending hugs to those experiencing devastation and loss in Florida following Hurricane Michael. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

The Squirrels Have It

the squirrels have it

The race for the perfect acorn is on…but will these squirrels in snazzy running shoes be able to catch the elusive offering of the Quercus borealis maxima? We made oatmeal container squirrels and designed the perfect acorn. Then, kids chased down their grown ups to “catch” said acorn. Chaotic? Yup. Did we get photos? Oh yeah!

We read Aw, Nuts! by Rob McClurkan (Harper, 2014). Acorn-loving Squirrel has been stashing nuts all season, but when the most perfect nut of them all drops from a tree, he HAS to have it. But fitting the nut into his already overcrowded home? Problem. In fact, Squirrel’s house pretty much implodes with the new addition, sending him on a cross-country chase after the runaway acorn. He finally succeeds, but wait…is that a NEW delicious acorn Squirrel sees out the window?

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • Poster board
  • 1 packing tape core
  • 1 paper bowl
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

squirrel with sneakers

The squirrel is very simple. Wrap a small oatmeal container with brown construction paper. Add arms and ears. Use markers to draw on eyes, a nose, and a mouth (or use wiggle eyes and a bit of self-adhesive foam like we did). Hot glue a dark brown poster board (or construction paper) tail to the back. The squirrel’s sneakers are white poster board, which are decorated and hot glued to the bottom of the oatmeal container. Check out these killer sneaks:

awesome squirrel sneakersNext, the acorn! This is a packing tape core. Our cores were 3.5″ tall, which is slightly taller then your average core (we get them through our recycling program). But a regular core works too. Or a small box, really. The cap of the acorn is a paper bowl that has been cut down, flattened around the tape core edges, and hot glued in place. And don’t forget the pipe cleaner stem!

enticing acornYou might have noticed the acorn looks a little…unusual. That’s because kids were instructed to make the acorn as enticing as possible. Which means going crazy with , patterned tape, and markers!

When everyone was finished, we headed outdoors to the library’s plaza to chase down some acorns. Katie was behind everyone with her camera to capture the race, I was in front snapping the blog photo, and the story time grown ups brought out their cameras to create what Katie calls “the ultimate story time paparazzi shot.”

story time paparazziWe asked the kids to line up. The grown ups, acorns in hand, got a little head start. Then on the shout of “Go!” the kids chased after their respective acorns!

acorn race 1 acorn race 2 acorn race 3

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