Hey U!

hey uThere’s trouble at the ranch…the letters are getting mixed up and causing a word ruckus! Grab your lariat, jump up on that cow pony (with your stuffed kitty, Kiki), and let’s wrangle the alphabet ya’ll!

We read Lexie the Word Wrangler, written by Rebecca Van Slyke, and illustrated by Jessie Hartland (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017). Lexi is a word wrangler, taking little words and roping them together into bigger words. But lately, some pretty strange things have been happening at the ranch. Someone is stealing words, putting them in different places, and switching things around. The final straw comes when Lexie goes to sleep under the S-T-A-R-S and finds herself under the R-A-T-S. Looks like she’s got a word rustler to catch, but maybe, just maybe…they can be friends?

You’ll need:

  • A stick horse (more on this below)
  • A paper mâché or card stock letter (more on this below too!)
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • A long strip of poster board
  • Yarn
  • Hole punch, stapler, scissors, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

cowboy stick horse

We made our standard story time stick horse for this project…you will find the instructions for it here, in our Show Jumping post. Our only modification was to add some construction paper spots. Our cow letters were also recycled from another project…

front of cow uYou might recognize the paper mâché letters from the activity we did at our grand gallery reopening. We added paper horns, hair fringes, wiggle eyes, and a sparkle stem nose ring to our cow letters, but you can just go with markers if you like!

The 8″ letter you see above was purchased online from Consumer Crafts. At $2 each they can be a little pricey, so our alternative is to print the card stock vowel template from our Fishing for Vowels post. In order to stand the letters upright, hot glue pieces of toilet paper tube to the back.

back of cow uThe final piece of the project is the lariat, and this is very easy. Staple a 1.5″ x 28″ strip of poster board in a circle. Make the circle as wide as possible and definitely using staples, as it gives the lariat some heft when you’re tossing it. Punch a hole in the circle, then knot some yarn through it. Done!

lariatTo wrangle, place your cow letter on the floor, swing up on your stick horse, circle the lariat, then drop it over the letter! Yelling “YEEHAW!” optional.

Saddle Up, Partner!

saddle up partner

Ya’ll ready to mosey? Deck yourself out in a big ‘ol hat and boots, then ride into the sunset with your faithful horse backpack!

We read Are you a Horse? by Andy Rash (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009). It’s Roy’s birthday and his buds give him an awesome present…a saddle! Now Roy just needs to find a horse. Thus begins his epic journey of asking every single living (and even not living) thing if it’s a horse. From cacti to sloths, Roy strikes out until…he meets a creature who fits the description exactly. Roy finally gets to enjoy that horseback ride, but as the hilarious final page reveals, it’s not quite what the reader expects!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • Poster board
  • A selection of construction paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

We’ll start with the hat! Trace a cowboy hat on poster board, making sure to leave the brim extra wide, as you’ll need to cut a slit in it later. Our hats were 9.75″ tall and 16.75″ long. The kids decorated them with markers, construction paper, and self-adhesive foam. To wear the hat, cut a slit in the brim that’s wide enough to slide onto your head:

cowboy hatNow for the boots! Trace the cowboy boot template on poster board, then decorate. Again, we offered markers and self-adhesive foam, but the champion of this rodeo was rickrack ribbon. It looked awesome.

cowboy bootTo wear the boot, attach a strip of poster board to the back of the boot, then loop it around your ankle and secure with tape.

cowboy boot ankle loopFinally, the horse backpack! It’s the same as the robot backpack we made here. Cut four, 1.5″ slits in a box, then use scissors to slightly enlarge the slits (it makes it easier to slide the straps through in the next step):

backpack box slits

Thread two, 1″ x 28″ poster board straps through the slits like so:

backpack straps

Curl the straps over your shoulders, adjust them, and secure with staples. Put pieces of masking tape over the staples (thus avoiding staple scratches or clothing snags). You can tie an (optional) piece of string, ribbon, or yarn around both straps to keep them from sliding off your shoulders if you like.

strap steps

Finally, decorate your box like a horse! Katie crafted the head and legs with with poster board, then used markers, self-adhesive foam, and construction paper to make this prancing pinto…

horse backpackWhen your project is done, suit up, saddle up, and riiiiiide partner!

Show Jumping!

show jumpingSaddle up! Today, we’re jumping stick horses over fences at the ultimate story time horse show! When a slew of horse show ribbons were donated to my library, I knew exactly what we had to do. Design a 6-fence course and jump our little hearts out. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see this pair on course, completing a clear round!

We read Scamper and the Horse Show, written by Jessie Haas and illustrated by Margot Apple (Greenwillow Books, 2004). Sisters Anna and Molly are excited about tomorrow’s horse show. But Scamper the pony isn’t too thrilled about being caught and bathed. He arrives at the show with a few brown and green stains, but there’s no time to worry about that – the classes are starting! Unfortunately, during Costume Class, a sudden rainstorm soaks the show grounds. Scamper’s costume (an American flag) leaks all over his grey coat. He’s now a multi-colored mess. But when the judge arrives, she sees a handsome rainbow pony displaying all the colors of horse show ribbons – purple, green, pink, white, yellow, red, and…finally…a blue ribbon for first place!

We made stick horses, affixed good luck charms to our “riding helmets,” and then jumped a course. Waiting at the finish line was a real horse show ribbon to take home!

blue ribbonYou’ll need:

  • A 10″ x 22″ piece of poster board for horse head (we offered brown, white, or black)
  • 1 horse head template, printed on 11″ x 17″ paper
  • A 9″ x 12″ piece of construction paper for mane (we offered brown, white, or black)
  • 2 long strips of poster board (approximately 0.5″ x 6.75″)
  • 2 short strips of poster board (approximately 0.5″ x 4″)
  • A 32.5″ length of PVC pipe
  • Packing tape
  • 2 large wiggle eyes
  • Hole punch
  • A 29.5″ piece of ribbon
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 1 good luck token template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 horse show ribbon
  • 1 set of stadium jumps (more on these later!)
  • Scissors, stapler, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

horse headWe’ll start with your steed! Fold a large, 10″ x 22″ piece of poster board in half. Next, print and cut the horse head template. Lay the template on top of the folded poster board – the horse’s nose should be flush against the fold in the poster board. Cut the head along the template.

horse head step 1Does this horse head looks familiar to you? That’s because it’s very similar to the stick ponies from this post. These horse heads are smaller (and the sticks shorter) because I wanted to avoid trip hazards while kids were jumping fences. The construction, however, is exactly the same. So I’m going to reuse the instructional photos from the past post here.

Use scrap pieces from the folded poster board to cut a pair of ears. Color the insides with marker, then staple them at the bottom.

earsStaple or hot glue the ears on each side of the horse’s head (you can attach them to the outside of the head, as seen below, or the inside the head):

forelock 1To create the mane, cut a 9″ X 12″ piece of construction paper in half lengthwise, and fringe the 2 pieces. Cut two, 3″ pieces of fringe off the ends and set those aside (you’ll use them for the horse’s forelock later). Now use hot glue, glue, or tape to secure 1 mane piece to the right side of the horse’s head. Repeat this same step on the left side.

maneTo create a forelock, make a 1.5″ cut down the fold of the head, directly between the ears.

forelock 2Slide a 3″ piece of fridge into the cut and secure it to the interior of the horse’s head with hot glue, glue, or tape. Repeat the same step on the other side. Trim (or curl) the forelock and mane if needed.

forelock 3Punch a hole on each side of the horse’s mouth. This is where the reins will thread through later.

reinsTime to decorate! Hot glue 2 wiggle eyes to the head and draw the nostrils and mouth with markers. To make a bridle, decorate 4 poster board strips with markers. The longest strips go down the sides of the horse’s head. The short strips fold across the horse’s forehead and nose. You can attach them with tape or hot glue. Here’s what a finished head looks like:

bridle detailsNext, unfold the head. Lay a piece of PVC pipe on one side of the head, making sure that the end of the pipe is approximately 1.5″ away from the fold. Use packing tape (not regular tape) to attach the pipe to the neck. Use at least 4 pieces of packing tape to make it really secure.

attaching stickRefold the head and put a few staples into the base of the head, around the pipe.

close up of stick staplesThread a piece of ribbon through the punched holes, and tie it behind the horse’s head! You’re done!

horse headWe needed to keep the kids busy while we set up the show jumping course, so we handed out black baseball cap “riding helmets” (which I purchased from Oriental Trading Company) and good luck token templates to color. To attach the token, simply fold it along the dotted line, slide it through the back strap of the cap, and staple both sides together.

token on hatGood luck tokens securely attached. Hard hats on tightly, horses and riders gathered outside the library, where their show jumping course awaited!

stadium jumpsKatie and I constructed these out of various boxes, wrapping paper tubes, tissue paper, poster board, and colored masking tape. I’ll admit, we went a little crazy. Yup, this one definitely ranks up there with the haunted dollhouse in terms of effort and mess. But just look at that topiary water jump folks! Beautiful! At the end of the program, we had a drawing and 6 lucky kids got to take home a jump.

A few practical matters. We kept the height of the jumps very low. The tallest jump (the brick wall) was only 10″ high. The jumps were made out of light material so they would fall over easily if hit (and not stub any toes). Happily, we had no falls and everyone (even the most timid 3-year-old) made it over the jumps with no problem. I had grand plans for an intricate jumping course. But in the end, good sense (i.e. Katie) prevailed and I set the jumps up in an easy-to-follow horseshoe.

On the show grounds, the riders lined up in single file at the starting cones. At the sound of a bell, each rider took a turn jumping the course. When he/she passed the finish cones, he/she got to choose a ribbon. The kids were THRILLED.

horse show ribbons While there were plenty of ribbons to chose from, we made sure to hold one super fancy ribbon back for the last kid riding the course. And now, how about seeing a rider in action?

The black jacket the little girl is wearing is a ring-bearer’s tux. Katie’s son wore it when he was 4 and a half. The lacy stock tie is from a “Colonial Gentleman” costume I wore for a history program. Who knew these items would later become the perfect riding ensemble?