Far Out Friend

far out friend

Meet your new companion from a galaxy far, far away…and all it takes is two cups!

We read Your Alien, written by Tammi Sauer, and illustrated by Goro Fujita (Sterling, 2015). When an alien crash lands on earth, a boy adopts him. They have a total blast until bedtime, when the alien starts to cry for his parents. So the boy brings out ALL the holidays lights and decks out the house. It works! The relieved parents spot the signal in space, and the family is soon reunited.

You’ll need:

  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 plastic cocktail cup
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

First, wrap a paper cup with construction paper, then flip the cup upside down. Use markers to draw a face (or use an eye sticker, like we did). Drop a plastic cocktail cup helmet in place, and add an (optional) snippet of sparkle stem.

You and your new friend are ready to hang out!

Message in a Bottle

message in a bottle

Messages of love, thoughtful notes, warm invitations…they’re all heading your way to be captured and stashed in your fishing creel AND your heart!

We read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, written by Michelle Cuevas, and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Penguin, 2016). The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles’ job is to spot message bottles and deliver them to their proper recipients. But secretly, he yearns for someone to write a message to him. One day, a bottle arrives with a party invitation, but no name. So the Uncorker asks a number of people if the message belongs to them. Finding no success, he decides to take the bottle to the party and report his failure. However, when he arrives, he finds everyone he talked to earlier, waiting and ready to have a party with him!

You’ll need:

  • 1 tissue box
  • 1 strip of poster board strip for a box handle
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • 1 piece of string
  • 1 wine cork
  • 1 button magnet
  • 1 message bottle template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 3 rectangles of clear plastic (more on this below!)
  • 3 paperclips
  • Scissors, tape, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, your equipment! The fishing creel is a box with a poster board handle stapled to the lid. We decorated ours with color masking tape, but markers work too! The fishing pole is a wooden dowel, and the “hook” is a button magnet hot glued to a wine cork.

bottle catching creel and poleColor and cut the 3 bottles from the template, then tape a little pocket of archival mylar to one side. You can find mylar sheets on Amazon, or you can use clear gift wrapping cellophane. Tape a paper clip to the top of the bottle. Finally, use extra paper from the template to write messages and tuck them into the pockets of the bottles.

message bottle constructionReady to fish? My son and I crafted this awesome row boat we dubbed the “Cape May III.”

the cape may III

At story time, I scattered the kids’ bottles in the “ocean” while they sat in the boat. Then they “fished” off the side, connecting the magnet hook to the paper clipped bottles, which were then hoisted and deposited into the creel!

catching message bottlesThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles was actually a special request from Lydia, a little girl who was aging out of our Tiger Tales story time program. So Katie and I made a very special bottle message for her, and snuck it in with her other bottles. A little story time magic, straight from the heart :)

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!