Lion-Hearted Hero

lion hearted heroWhen a sneaky burglar strikes, it’s up to you and your lion companion to save the day! We made these simple oatmeal container lions, and then caught a story time crook.

We read How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens (Henry Holt, 2012). When a lion strolls into town to purchase a hat, the townspeople are less then pleased. Fortunately, a little girl named Iris isn’t afraid of the lion, and correctly recognizes him as a well-mannered friend. Hiding the lion, however, is a little difficult. And mom is VERY upset to discover him in the house. Hiding in town once more, the lion discovers and thwarts a robbery in progress. This act wins over everyone…except Iris, who already knew how fantastic her lion friend is!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • 1 cone party hat
  • Scissors and tape/glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

lion

We used construction paper and a large oatmeal container to create your lion. It’s easiest to use hot glue to attach the bottom legs, mane, tail, and eyes to the container. Tape and/or glue works for everything else! You can use black construction paper for the nose, or a bit of self-adhesive foam like we did. Draw the eyes with markers, or use wiggle eyes.

I set my phone to sound an alarm close to when the kids were finishing their lions. Then I announced that the library had just sent out an alert – a burglar was on the premises! The kids and their lions headed out to the library’s lobby, where Miss Melinda was hiding, dressed in black pants, jacket, and ski mask. She also had a big pillow case with a “$” on it. As Miss Melinda made a break for it across the lobby, the kids gave chase…

chasing miss melinda Eventually, she was cornered and tagged repeatedly by oatmeal container lions. Which, admittedly, was a first for her!

miss melinda and the lionsAfter the triumphant capture of the burglar, the kids returned to the program area to make hats for their lions (which is the reward he asks for in the book). These were cone party hats, cut down to 5″. The kids decorated them with stickers and a duck quill. Very snazzy.

lion hat

Rangers at the Ready

rangers at the ready

Bust out your compass and conjure up some snaplights! The Blue Ranger Patrol is prepared for all eventualities…including the supernatural ones. Those handsome Squirrel badges and neckerchiefs were earned at To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for 6-8 year-olds.

We read Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August (Roaring Brook Press, 2018). After moving from place to place, Arlo Finch, his big sister Jaycee, and their mom have landed in Pine Mountain, Colorado. Pine Mountain is remote, the cabin is creepy, and Arlo’s Uncle Wade is even creepier. Also, something is wrong with the surrounding woods, beginning with the ghost dog that prowls the property. Arlo joins the Rangers, which is not unlike Boy/Girl Scouts until you factor in the seemingly supernatural abilities of his fellow patrol members. As time passes, Arlo and his friends learn not only the secrets of the Long Woods – they also learn its many dangers.

Arlo and his fellow Rangers have some memorable camp outs, so we decided to replicate that by setting up a tent (which you might recognize from this story time) in our gallery…

patrol in tentAfter “night fell” (i.e. I turned off all the overhead lights), individual campers journeyed to our gallery tree for a survival quiz. I queried them about 3 scenarios involving creatures from the book. You definitely have to read the books to know the answers (which are in bold below):

1) You’re camping with your patrol and see some dancing lights in the woods. Do you: a) Follow them; b) Take a photo; c) Tell your patrol leader you see something unusual?

2) A nightmare had just emerged from the woods in front of you! Do you: a) Run – they aren’t very fast; b) Throw salt at it; c) Conjure a snaplight.

3) A hag is chasing you through the Long Woods! Do you: a) Throw salt at her; b) Climb a tree; c) Throw Faerie beetles at her.

After correctly answering the quiz, campers were asked to demonstrate a “snaplight,” which is a short-lasting light Rangers can produce by snapping their fingers in the Long Woods. In our case, the snaplights were glow sticks, which do produce a very satisfying snap! before beginning to glow.

snaplightThe final activity was making a water compass using a sewing needle, a button magnet, and a bowl of water. I demonstrated how to do it, and then gave each kid a little kit to try at home (here are the instructions if you’re interested).

demo of water compassIn the book, Rangers earn patches for each level of accomplishment, and Squirrel is the first level. So, after completing the creature quiz, snaplight trial, and learning about compasses, campers were awarded a blue neckerchief (purchased for $2 each in the t-shirt decorating section of Michaels Craft store) and a a Squirrel patch (you can print your own set here):

squirrel patchArlo Finch in the Valley of Fire was massively popular with the kids in our program – it’s scary, suspenseful, and also very funny. I was delighted to learn that the sequel, Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon will be released February 2019. YES!

Merry Mixer

mix it up

Even with practically zero prep and minimal supplies, this story time will get kids sharing and giggling at different crazy creature combinations. The silliness is endless!

We recommend reading I Saw a Bullfrog by Ellen Stern (Random House, 2003). Playful from the very start, this book takes kids through the twisted linguistics and hilarious illustrations of a bullfrog (bull head and frog body), rat snake (rat head and snake body), tiger shark (tiger head and shark body), and so on. At the very end, however, the author provides the actual illustrations and interesting information about the real mammals, reptiles, plants, insects, and birds depicted in the book.

You’ll need:

  • Paper plates (the sturdier the better)
  • Pencil, ruler, and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The key to getting this project to work? Making sure your creatures’ body sections ultimately mix and match with the other paper plates. In order to do this, use a ruler and a pencil to divide the bottom of each paper plates into 3 sections. Then make 2 little “notches” along each dividing line. I made my notches at 2″ and 4″ like so:

marked paper plateThat’s ALL the prep you need! Now draw your creatures on the plates (we went fantastical instead of realistic). Make sure the necks, bodies, and tails start and stop along the notches:

paper plate creaturesCut the paper plate along the pencil lines, resulting in 3 separate pieces. Have the kids walk around the room with their pieces, mixing and matching with others. The results are very funny…

mixed up creatureYou might wonder why we used paper plates instead of index cards or pieces of paper. We found the elevation of the paper plates nice to draw on, and the workspace just tall and wide enough for many forms of creatures. Also, the raised edges of the paper plates make it easy for little hands to pick up, manipulate, and match the pieces.