Take the Cake

take the cakeA trio of birds has invaded your kitchen, intent on repeatedly interrupting your bonding with a baked good. Can you get the birds out of the kitchen and still take the cake?

We read Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough (Philomel Books, 2017). On Monday, Marigold the cat ALWAYS bakes. With no distractions, Marigold measures and mixes the ingredients just so. Everything is going well…until birds start unexpectedly visiting his kitchen. This drives uber-organized Marigold more and more crazy until he finally loses it in a total feline frenzy. Can the birds and Marigold reach a cake-appreciating middle ground? Hilariously, as it turns out, they cannot.

This project was designed for a little girl who has been coming to Tiger Tales for 3 years! Marigold Bakes a Cake was the (totally awesome) book she selected for her final visit with us. Diana, this one’s for you!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small tissue box
  • 1 small paper plate
  • 1 paper cup
  • 3 toilet paper tubes
  • Construction paper
  • 1 cardboard box kitchen (more on this later!)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, the cake! This was a small tissue box decorated with construction paper and marker. We also added pom-poms, fabric flowers, and ribbons for more texture. The cake stand is a small paper plate flipped over, and hot glued to a similarly flipped paper cup. We used patterned tape to decorate the cake stand, but markers work great too!

cake on standTo make the birds, wrap 3 toilet paper tubes with construction paper and add paper wings. Optional: self-adhesive foam beaks, eye stickers, and feather crests. Or, just use markers to add features to your birds.

cake birds Once you have your cake, cake stand, and birds, it’s time to play the kitchen game! Katie and I used a bunch of recycled boxes to build a kitchen with a fridge, counter, sink, range, and oven.

front of kitchenCut into the back of the set were little trap doors. The trap doors (and the hole in the sink) allowed me to sneak the toilet paper tube birds into the kitchen.

back of kitchen Ready to play the kitchen game? First, kids handed me their birds and placed their cakes on the counter. Then, they took 10 steps back to the starting line. I would hide 1 bird in the kitchen and shout “The bird’s in the freezer!” The kid would race forward, find the bird, and run back to the starting line. We repeated this, using different kitchen locations, until all 3 birds were captured. The prize was their cake!

grab the birdsIf you don’t have time to construct a kitchen, simply tape images of kitchen elements onto boxes. Then drop the birds into the boxes for the kids to locate.

Hit the Road

hit the road

The open highway beckons, so top off the tank, jump in the truck, crank the tunes, and let the cows do the driving. Wait a minute…COWS?

We read Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive, written by Karma Wilson, and illustrated by Karla Firehammer (Little, Brown, 2005). When two inquisitive cows lift the truck keys from Farmer’s pocket, they quickly learn (as does the rest of the town) that cows can’t drive. But they can inspire a bit of a parade!

We crafted a pull string truck and put two toilet paper tube cows in the front seat. Then the story time kids drove across scenic New Jersey, complete with billboards, pit stops, and of course…tolls.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small tissue box
  • 1 pickup truck template printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 4 circles of black construction paper (approximately 2.5″ in diameter)
  • A piece of string (approximately 24″ long)
  • 1 mini craft stick
  • 3 toilet paper tubes
  • 1 rectangle of poster board (approximately 4.5″ x 5″)
  • 1 open highway (more on this below!)
  • Hot glue

finished pickup truckThe truck for this project is a duplicate from our “Ultimate Road Trip” post (you’ll find the  instructions here) with one exception: we added a front seat for our cows to sit in.

cows in front seatTo make the seat, cut a toilet paper tube in half. Fold a rectangle of poster board in two, then hot glue the toilet paper tube “legs” to the bottom of the poster board seat. Secure the completed seat to the inside of your truck with hot glue. Here’s a shot of the front seat from the back of the truck:

front seat of truckThe cows are simply toilet paper tubes, wrapped in white construction paper, with construction paper ears and hair tufts. Decorate with markers. We used eye stickers, but you can draw the eyes on with markers too.

cows driversOnce the truck and cows are done, it’s time to hit the road! We crafted a New Jersey road adventure, which we will share below. A simplified version of this could be print outs of buildings, billboards, and road signs. Or heck, just draw some directional arrows on Post It notes! Our journey begins at the “Welcome to New Jersey” sign…

welcome to nj See that cute little gas station in the background? Here’s a close up of it. Katie crafted the nozzles out of mesh tubing and kiddie scissors. The pointy end of the scissors are shoved into a bit of PVC pipe.

gas station You might also want to stop at Shake Shack for a little treat. These were cotton ball shakes in little sample cups served with a snippet of paper straw. The stand was run by a volunteer older kid.

shake shackRound the corner, more billboards…

billboardsAnd one more turn takes you to Katie’s amazingly crafted EZ Pass toll booth!

ez passThen it’s just a quick jump onto the NJ Turnpike to begin the loop anew!

nj turnpikeBut keep an eye on your speedometer, because there was a cop on the premises to catch cows over the speed limit! This was another older kid volunteer. We had a police hat ready, some ready-to-fill speeding tickets, and a siren sound effect on my phone.

copThis kid played his part to the hilt, and his speeding tickets were hilarious! There was one speeding ticket for $9,000. And some double tickets. I must admit, I gave out a couple tickets too.

speeding ticketsBy the way…Katie you still owe me $1000 for your story time speeding ticket. Just sayin’.

Pancake Power

pancake power

We’re serving up fast flapjacks in this fun duel-player racing game! But who will take home the golden syrup pitcher trophy? Check out our high-action video at the end of the post!

We read Hey, Pancakes! written by Tamson Weston, and illustrated by Stephen Gammell (Harcourt, 2003). Mom and Dad are sleeping in, so the kids (and the dog) head to the kitchen to cook up some amazing, sticky, super yummy pancakes! Yes, it’s a mess, but a little maple syrup never hurt anyone!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 corrugated cardboard rectangle
  • 4 small paper plates
  • 3 paper cups
  • 2 jumbo craft sticks (ours were 8″ long)
  • Tin foil
  • 1 knives and forks template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 2 corrugated cardboard circles
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

To make your pancake game table, hot glue a large tissue box to the bottom of a corrugated cardboard rectangle (we used a 10″ x 14″ cake pad).

pancake tableSet the tabletop with 2 small paper plates, 2 paper cups cut down to 2.25″, and the knifes and forks from the template. Optional: adding cotton ball “liquids” inside the cups, paper napkins, and decorating everything with construction paper, color masking tape and patterned tape.

top of pancake tableWe recommend NOT attaching anything directly to the tabletop. Later, when you’re playing your race game, it’s much funnier when things go flying off the table!

To make your pancake skillets, hot glue jumbo craft sticks to the backs 2 small paper plates, then cover everything with tin foil. The pancakes are 5″ diameter corrugated cardboard circles. Definitely use cardboard. Poster board and construction paper pancakes don’t fly through the air – they just flutter disappointingly. Add a self-adhesive foam foam pat of butter if you so desire:

pancake skillet Finally, the golden syrup pitcher trophy! This is a paper cup. We added a gold mirror board handle and spout as well. And a gold embossed foil seal for extra bling.

golden syrup pitcher trophyTo play the race game, set the table, then have the two players sit some distance on opposite ends. On “Go!” both players must attempt to toss their pancakes to the plates. Keep tossing until a pancake lands on a plate. First one to the plate wins the trophy!


Many thanks to Franny Zawadzki, our new office jill-of-all-trades, for shooting the video. We are delighted to have your talents at Cotsen, including your previously untapped sports announcer skills!