The Bear Necessities

the bear necessities

Settle in for some serious sleep in this cozy bear cave complete with all the creature comforts…sofa, table, rug, artwork, and a flickering fire!

We read Sleep Tight, Little Bear, written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Barbara Firth (Candlewick press, 2005). When Little Bear finds a little cave close to the Big Cave, he moves right in. Soon, there’s a bed, a table, a chair, and a stuffed doll! Supper is served in the little cave and Little Bear is having a grand time…until bedtime. Will Big Bear miss him? He’d better check. Sure enough, back at the Big Cave, there’s a story and a snuggle waiting.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cardboard box lid or tray
  • Brown packing/wrapping paper
  • 1 small box
  • Felt, any color
  • A selection of patterned paper
  • 1 bear cave frames template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 1 LED votive
  • Yellow and red cellophane
  • 1 half of a toilet paper tube
  • Brown construction paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The bear cave’s base is a box lid or cardboard tray. We used these 9.5″ x 11″ cardboard trays (you might recognize them from this butterfly garden post!).

bear cave baseFirst, crinkle up brown packing or wrapping paper. Then arch it over the top of the base and secure to the sides and back of with tape. We taped a strip of crinkled paper to the front of the base as well.

bear cave constructionNow, for the inside! We made a half a toilet paper tube bear (with a dot sticker nose), a sofa made out of a little box with a bit of felt glued to it, a patterned paper rug, and a table made out of a wood circle and spool.

bear cave furnitureReady for some artwork? Cut the frames from the template, draw some pictures, and attach your artwork to the walls of the cave with tape loops. We also added some s in fall colors to make things extra cozy (we get our leaves from Discount School Supply, 200 leaves are $6).

The final touch? A flickering fire! Tape red and yellow cellophane to the front of an LED votive. Then add a few construction paper “sticks” over top.

led cave fireTo make things extra fun, we turned off the lights during the fire construction portion of the program. It was so cute to see these little illuminated caves on all the tables. But here’s the cave that completely captured my heart…this bear is roasting a marshmallow!

bear roasting marshmallows

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

i-aint-afraid-of-no-ghostBoldly enter a haunted house armed with your wits and your handy Haunted House Preparedness Kit! Trap a spider, catch a mouse with some cheese, deter a ghost with ghost spray, and use your skeleton key to exit through a secret door. There’s nothing you can’t handle!

We read I’m Not Afraid of this Haunted House, written by Laurie Friedman, and illustrated by Teresa Murfin (Carolrhoda Books, 2005). Simon Lester Henry Strauss is not afraid of a haunted house, no matter what it throws at him. Witches, ghosts, vampires, ghouls, werewolves, goblins, graveyards, Frankenstein (and bride), one-eyed monsters…nothing can phase our hero. Except, perhaps, a little mouse!

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • 1 set of haunted house kit labels template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 strip of white poster board (approximately 1.75″ x 16″)
  • 1 haunted house kit contents template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 clear plastic cup
  • 1 circle of tagboard or poster board to fit the mouth of the cup
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 jumbo pom-pom
  • 1 small square of self-adhesive foam (approximately 0.5″ x 0.5″)
  • 1 button magnet
  • 1 wooden bead
  • 1 wiggle eye
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • 3 facial tissues
  • 1 long piece of string or yarn (approximately 24″ long)
  • 1 jumbo paper clip
  • 1 haunted house (more on this later!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Below are the contents of the Haunted House Preparedness Kit. From left to right is a spider collection jar, a skeleton key, a piece of cheese, and a can of ghost spray.

haunted-house-kit

First, the box! Color, cut, and attach the 2 front and back labels from the template. Next, use markers to decorate a strip of white poster board. Tab both ends of the strip inwards about 1″, then tape the tabs to the underside of the box lid. If you’re using a tissue box, just cut the top off the box and attach the poster board handle to the sides of the box.

The spider collection jar is a clear plastic cup flipped upside down. We used a 9oz “cocktail” cup because it has a nice wide mouth. Using a single piece of tape like a hinge, attach a circle of tagboard to the mouth of the cup. Make sure you don’t entirely attach the circle – you’ll need to open the jar later to stick your spider inside it.

The skeleton key and the ghost spray label are on kit contents template. Color the ghost spray label, and then wrap it around a toilet paper tube. To make the aerosol top of the can, hot glue a jumbo pom-pom to the inside of the tube, then peel and stick a square of self-adhesive foam on top.

ghost-sprayThe final item in the kit is a piece of cheese, which we made out of yellow card stock.  Draw holes on the cheese with black marker and hot glue a button magnet to its tip.

magnet-cheeseThe next round of items are the things you’ll be catching inside the haunted house – a spider, a ghost, and a mouse. First, the spider. Color a wooden bead with black marker and hot glue a wiggle eye on the front. Cut 2 pipe cleaners in half, then thread the 4 pieces through the hole in the bead. Bend the pipe cleaners to create wiggly spider legs.

spider-steps-1-and-2To make the ghost, wad up a facial tissue and fold 2 facial tissues over the wad. Tie the end of a 24″ string around the wad to create the neck of the ghost. Make sure to leave plenty of string free to dangle your ghost later! Use a maker to add eyes and a mouth.

tissue-ghostFinally, color and cut the mouse from the template. Tape a jumbo paper clip to the underside of its mouth. Later, this paperclip will attach to the magnet on the cheese.

mouse-and-cheeseThat’s everything you need for your adventures in the haunted house…now you just need the house! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Drape some sheets over the shelves in your stacks, or drape a tablecloth over a table and have kids crawl under it. But if you have a giant box,  2 smaller boxes, and a black light handy, go for it! Here’s the front of out house (plus a photobomb by Marissa).

front-of-haunted-houseI love the lanterns by the door. They’re LED candles inside plastic cups, which are attached to the box with black poster board. There’s a little poster board flourish hot glued to the bottom of the cup too.

lantern-detailHere’s a shot of the house’s interior, as seen from the front door. There are LED wall sconces, a mirror, a bookcase, old-fashioned portraits, a clock, and a fireplace that leads to the black light room. And there were also 4 activities for the kids…coaxing a mouse out of the mouse hole, catching a spider, spraying a ghost with “Bye-Bye Boo” spray, and using a skeleton key to exit through a secret door.

interior-of-haunted-house

The haunted house also had a black light room – a delightful masterpiece created by  Marissa. She used glow-in-the-dark squeeze glue and black light Sharpie markers to highlight everything. We cut a little door in the side of the room so we could quickly slip the kids’ spiders inside.

black-light-spider-roomAt the very back of the house was a secret door, which was covered with tagboard strips made to look like wooden planks. The interior of the secret door box with lined with gray felt. To give it an underground kind of feel, I used a thick black marker to draw outlines of stones on the felt.

secret-doorHere’s a shot of the haunted house from the right side. Everything was was held together with lots of hot glue and packing tape.

right-side-of-haunted-houseThe left side of the house had the mouse hole, which we covered with black felt to keep light from leaking in. My kids did all the exterior decoration. Like the dead flower garden on the lower right?

left-side-of-haunted-houseSo! Here’s how it went! Kids lined up outside the house. When it was their turn, they handed us their spiders, mice, and ghosts. Then they entered the house with their kits.

waiting-to-get-inOnce inside, they listened for the mouse squeaking in the mouse hole (this was literally Marissa saying “Squeak squeak!” and wiggling the nose of the mouse outside the hole). Kids stuck the magnet end of the cheese into hole and “caught” the mouse. Into the kit it went!

catching-a-mouseNext, kids reached into the black light room, grabbed their spider, and put it in their collection jar. By this time, I had opened the trap door in the roof and dangled their wailing ghost in (I followed Marissa’s lead, enthusiastically saying “Wooo wooo!”). The kids doused the ghost with a ghost spray, causing it to drop to the floor of the house. Into the kit the ghost went.

dangling-ghostThe final task was for kids to shimmy into the secret room and use the skeleton key to unlock the door. We wouldn’t lift the door until we saw a key in the key hole!

skeleton-key-unlocksKids could go through the house as many times as they wanted, and we kept story time going 20 minutes past our end time to accommodate repeat explorations. It was…wait for it…a total scream! Awwww.

Did you notice the old-fashioned portraits in the kid catching mouse image? I have to give Marissa a shout out for her mad drawing skills here. She drew us! In Victorian clothing! I love my hat.

portraits-of-dana-and-marissaThe portraits are a nod to the day we spent sipping Victorian tea at this program. Fun!

Bird, House, Hat

bird house hatEvery bird needs a home, and this deluxe house has everything one needs – doors, windows, a chimney, flowers, and a white picket fence. Best of all, it’s a HAT!

We read Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Brimsby the hatmaker lives in a quiet cottage. His life is full of making hats and chatting with his best friend over tea. But one morning, his friend announces that he’s off to pursue adventures on the high seas, and Brimsby becomes very lonely. Trudging through the snow on a solitary walk, he finds some birds who might make good friends. Unfortunately, they’re too busy shoveling snow out of their nests to chat. That gives Brimsby a tremendous idea. He eagerly sets to work, making hat houses for all the birds. Once the hat houses are in place, there’s no more snow shoveling, no more freezing nights, and the birds are free to visit their new friend!

You’ll need:

This is an incredibly easy project that only involves a few steps:

  1. Circle the crown of the hat with construction paper and/or patterned paper
  2. Create a hatband using the white picket fences from the template
  3. Cut, color, and attach the windows, door, and welcome mat from the template
  4. Add tissue paper shrubs (hot glue is best when attaching these to the hat)
  5. Attach flowers from the template to pipe cleaner stems, then tape them to the hat

If you’d like a chimney, roll a piece of construction paper into a 4″ tube, cut three, 1″ tabs in the bottom, spread the tabs, and attach them to the top of hat using tape or hot glue.

finished house hatNow for the bird! Wrap a toilet paper tube in white construction paper. Then, wrap another color of construction paper three-quarters of the way around the bird, thus creating a white tummy. Add wings, eyes, and a beak (our beak was a snippet of self-adhesive foam). Tape a small feather to the top of the tube.

bird for houseIntroduce the bird to its new home (if the hats are a little big, stuff them with tissue paper)!

bird meets house