An Ape About Town

ape about town

New York City is the place to be, especially if you are an ape who has escape the Central Park Zoo and are determined to take in all the sights! He’s wearing a disguise and the master of hiding – can you find Marvin the Ape?

We read The Escape of Marvin the Ape by Caralyn and Mark Buehner (Dial Books, 1992). It’s feeding time, and Marvin makes his move. Leaving a baffled zookeeper behind, Marvin enthusiastically explores the subways, museums, restaurants, shops, and parks of New York City. He’s definitely not going back to his former life, and what’s more, Helvetica the Hippo is hot on the heels of his success!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • 1 paper bowl
  • Scissors, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This is a simple project and a hide-and-seek game to boot! You can construct your oatmeal container ape entirely using construction paper, or you can add a few things like dot sticker eyes and a self-adhesive foam nose with dot sticker nostrils.

finished apeThe baseball cap is a trimmed paper bowl with a card stock (or construction paper) brim. We recommend using hot glue to attach the hat and the feet to the oatmeal container.

ape baseball hatThe baseball hat is just one optional for headgear of course. We basically gave the kids a bowl, a strip of white construction paper “shirt” and the Bling Bin and let them put together whatever ape disguise they wanted.Check out this feathery tiara and killer eye shadow!

fancy apeWhen everyone was done decorating, we played a game of Hot/Cold Hide-and-Seek. Kids hid their apes around our gallery and invited their grown-ups to find them. The kids gave hints if the grown-ups were getting “hot” or “cold.” Hiding games are always popular at our story times. One enthusiastic group played for over 15 minutes!

hiding apes

The Hummingbird of Happiness

the hummingbird of happiness

Help your oatmeal container bear reunite with his friend hummingbird in this gentle (and super silent) game of hide and seek!

We read Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith (Arthur Levine Books, 2015). Hector is a bear who lives in Peru, and Hummingbird is his best friend. The problem is, Hummingbird likes to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk and doesn’t realize Bear is becoming increasingly annoyed with his chattiness. Finally, Hector blows his top and yells at Hummingbird that he wants to be left alone. But silence and solitude aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and Hector soon wishes for his friend to return. Zip! Hummingbird returns in a flash (he’s been hiding close by on every page) and all is well. These days, the two friends still talk, but they also spend time enjoying a little companionable silence…sometimes.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • Brown and black construction paper
  • 1 pair of large wiggle eyes
  • 1 pair of small wiggle eyes
  • 1 jumbo pom-pom
  • 1 medium pom-pom
  • A selection of small feathers
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

just the bear

The bear is very simple to construct. Wrap an oatmeal container with brown paper, then use the extra bits to make the feet, tail, and ears. Attach a pair of wiggle eyes and a self-adhesive foam nose (or just use markers to draw these on). Draw a smile on with a marker. Last come the construction paper arms, which are extra long and attach at the hands. This is so the bear can carry its hummingbird friend.

bear with hummingbirdThe hummingbirds were created by Katie. Aren’t they cute? She made a green version modeled after the ruby-throated hummingbird, and a purple version modeled after the violet sabrewing hummingbird.

a pair of hummingbirdsTo make a hummingbird, glue a thin black construction paper beak onto a large (1.5″ diameter) pom-pom. Glue a smaller (.75″) pom-pom underneath the beak. Add a pair of small wiggle eyes and 2 feathery wings and you’re set!

We loved how the book’s creator hid the hummingbird on various pages, so Katie made 2 hummingbirds for each story time kid and placed them in different locations in the gallery.

hide and seek hummingbirdsThen, slowly, and oh-so-quietly, kids and their bears went in search of their hummingbirds.

searching for hummingbirdsLooking for more feathered friends? Check out this reading canary, this chick magnet, this photo-ready penguin, and this avian obstacle course. Need something simpler? Give this craft stick bird a try, or this wrist parakeet. We have featured one celebrity bird on the blog…you’ll find him here, along with his famous literary connections.

See-Worthy Sub

see-worthy sub

Undersea adventure abounds as you cruise the sea in your sub! The sub also doubles as a spyglass, so you can spot all sorts of aquatic wildlife. See the happy jumping fish?

fish in spyglassWe recommend Rub-a-Dub Sub, written by Linda Ashman, and illustrated by Jeff Mack (Harcourt, 2003). Zooming around in an orange submarine, a little boy encounters numerous ocean creatures – a seal, a manta ray, a horseshoe crab, and an eel to name a few! But an encounter with an enormous shark forces him to quickly retrace his steps to the surface, where he finds himself safe and sound – in his very own bathtub.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper cups
  • A box cutter
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating


  • 1 paper towel tube
  • Hot glue

I’ll show you the simplest version of the sub project first, then follow it with the paper towel tube variation. Use a box cutter to cut the circles in the bottoms of 2 paper cups. Make sure to leave a little ledge around the bottom of the cup.

leave a ledge in cupNext, turn the cups end-to-end and connect them together with hot glue. If you can’t do hot glue, simply connect the cups with tape. We used black masking tape for the photo below, but regular tape works just as well.

taped sub cupsFor the paper towel tube version of the project, cut the holes in the bottoms of the cups. Then place a piece of paper towel tube inside the bottom cup (our tube piece was 6.75″ long but you might have to adjust yours a little). Place the second cup over top of the first…

pt tube variationThen hot glue (or tape) the two cups together. So…is the extra effort for the paper towel version worth it? You decide! Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the 2 projects. One could argue that the paper towel tube version looks more like a spyglass, but the cups-only version is cute too.

comparing spyglass viewsNext, cut a periscope shape out of construction paper, tab the bottom, and attach the periscope to the top of the sub. Finally, use markers to give your sub portholes, plates, rivets, and bolts. Any markers will do, but we really liked how silver metallic marker looked on the black paper cups.

finished see-worthy subMiss Marissa designed this awesome project, and she made a fantastic I-Spy game to go with it! To play, print up the characters in this template (click here for small on a single page, click here for large on multiple pages). Tape the characters in different locations and have the kids find them with their sub spyglasses. However, if you spot the shark you have to immediately head back to “home base.” This is especially funny if the shark is taped to the back of an adult who is wandering among the submarine searchers!

marissa's shark