Big Frog ♥ Little Frog

big frog hearts little frogThe world is full of delightful things for a little frog to jump over, but the absolute best place to eventually land? The loving arms of Mama (or Dada!) frog. Our story time kids jumped box frogs over several obstacles, but waiting at the finish line – with a BIG hug – was their respective grown-up, bedecked in a frog headband!

We read Leap Back Home to Me, written by Lauren Thompson, and illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011). In this incredibly sweet rhyming book, a little leaping frog has a great time jumping over bugs, plants, trees, creeks, and hilltops, but he always returns to loving embrace of Mama frog.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (ours was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works too)
  • Green construction paper
  • 1 piece of (ours was 22″ long)
  • 1 mini craft stick (ours was 3″ long)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

To make a frog, cover a small box with green construction paper. Add big accordion-fold legs, arms, and eye bumps (we added eye stickers as well). Use markers to draw the mouth and nostrils.

simple frog boxTo make the bouncy jump cord, tape a 22″ piece of clear elastic beading cord to the top of the box, then knot the other end around a craft stick handle. We wrapped tape around the knot on the craft stick as well, just to make it extra secure.

jump string for frog Below is the big frog headband for grown-ups. This is also made of green construction paper. We added jumbo eye stickers as well, but you can also draw on the eyes with markers.

grown up frog headbandYour 2 frogs are done, now for the obstacle course! It can really be as simple as “jumping” over chairs, tables, and books. But we had a couple big boxes come in through our recycling program, so we got a little creative. We recruited a young man to act as both the line leader and start flag for the course…

starting flagWhen he shouted go, a kid / frog duo headed onto the course. First they leaped over the meadow, then jumped past an owl nest (which had an owl in it – another audience recruit).

meadow and owl nestNext was a log tunnel, and just beyond it, a blue twin sheet “river” to jump over.

log tunnel and river

Then the duo bounded over a “mountain” (two wooden step stools pushed together).

mountainAnd stopped to say hello to a rainbow cloud (i.e. Michelle, a Princeton University student assistant). Did you notice her little puff hat? Soooo cute.

michelle the rainbow cloudNext it was on to Miss Melinda, who had a lily pad for each frog to rest on. We made these out of green poster board and a paper muffin cup.

lily pad finish line The final step was to jump into the arms of your mom/dad frog, who was waiting at the finish line in a fine frog head band! Ready to see the course in action?

When Monsters Go Mobile

when monsters go mobileWe’ve made a lot of monster projects on the blog, but this is our first monster…on a bicycle! Where is he going? To find YOU, of course. And make a very special delivery.

We read Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere (Henry Holt, 2011). There are monsters out there. In fact, there’s one thinking about you at this very moment…and now he’s heading your way! But as he’s cycling, climbing mountains, and crossing swamps, is his thinking of how delicious you’ll be on toast? Or how tasty you would be slathered in ketchup? No silly! He just wants to give you a big goodnight kiss!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • 1 small box
  • 1 piece of yarn (ours was 30″)
  • 1 set of wheels (more on this below)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

In one section of the book, the monster rides a bicycle. We loved the idea of a pull string bike and a pursuing monster. But it turns out, crafting working 2 wheel bikes is really hard! So you’ll have to pardon us if our bike ultimately had 4 wheels.

monster bikeThe bike is a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ craft box cut down to 2″ tall (a small tissue box works too!). We also cut the lid off the box and used it to create the T shape handlebars for the bike. Use color masking tape or markers to decorate the bike and handlebars.

The yarn pull string gets taped to the bottom of the box, and we also added a jingle bell secured with twisteez wire. To get things rolling, we recommend our “classic wheel assembly” (instructions here), but wooden wheels or spools work too. And did you notice the basket on the back of the bike?

basket on monster bikeUse a small box or extra cardboard to create a small bike basket, then tape or hot glue to the back of the bike box. Not only does the basket keep the bike from tipping too far back when you’re pulling it, the basket holds something VERY special a little later. Finally, we have our monster…

monster bike riderWrap a small oatmeal container with construction paper, then add arms, legs, eyes, ears, and horns. We added a little paper crinkle to the top of his head as well. Note: if your bike box was small like ours, you might consider folding the monster’s legs upwards so they don’t get crushed. A crushed monster is an unhappy monster.

When the bikes and monsters were finished, kids pulled their creations around the gallery to where I was sitting with some construction paper hearts.

monster bike kissesThese were “kisses” the monster was carrying with him in his bike basket for you! Awww!

monster delivers kisses

The Plowman Cometh

the plowman cometh

A huge snow storm demands the toughest snowplow around. But not necessarily the BIGGEST. Sometimes, small gets the job done!

We read Small Walt, written by Elizabeth Verdick, and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (Simon & Schuster, 2017). Walt is the smallest snowplow in the fleet, and he’s always last in the pack to get picked by a driver. But when a huge storm hits, Walt and a good-natured driver named Gus get to work, plowing mile after mile. Even the biggest hill in town can’t stop this terrific team!

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes, or 1 large tissue box
  • 1 snowplow cab template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Black poster board
  • 1 craft stick
  • 2 medium yellow pom-poms
  • A piece of yarn (ours was 24″ long)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

snowplow

Shout out to Katie for designing such an awesome snowplow! We hot glued two, 4″ x 4″ x 4″ craft boxes together. One of the boxes is cut down to 2″ of course, to create a snowplow with a pickup truck bed. But you can also cut a large tissue box down like so:

tissue box snow plow Color and cut the side doors and windshields from the template, then tape them to the box. I would, however, like to bring your attention to this very clever variation on the template. The kid bent the doors outwards, and drew a snowplow driver inside!

driver inside snowplowWe provided color masking tape for stripes and other details. And added a craft stick bumper to the back as well…

back of snowplowThe wheels and blade of the snowplow are black poster board. Add 2 yellow pom-pom “flasher lights,” a yarn pull string, and you’re done! We decided to add an extra challenge to our story time project in the form of these fabric snowballs. I scored a dozen packages of these on deep, deep discount this summer.

snowtime snowballsKids were challenged to navigate our gallery, rolling the snowballs in front of the plow without losing them. Then they got to take some snowballs home!

snowballs and snowplowDid you notice the little blue bow on the snowplow’s windshield? In the story, Gus ties his blue scarf on Walt to celebrate the little plow being “Number One!” We definitely wanted to capture that sweetness here as well.

And in case you’re wondering if we played with the piles of fabric snowballs, the answer is YES. Here’s our friend and former office-mate Ian, being ambushed at his desk this summer. This was only one of many such incidents.