Fabulous Family Portrait

fabulous carrot family portraitThis handsomely framed three-dimensional portrait is a must for any home. And if you want to portray your sweet little family as carrots, well why not?

We read All Kinds of Families! written by Mary Ann Hoberman, and illustrated by Marc Boutavant (Little, Brown, 2009). This beautifully illustrated picture book describes, through charming rhymes, the various kinds of families in the world. Not just mothers, fathers, brother and sisters either – forks, spoons, numbers, animals, plants, clouds…all kinds of families!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cardboard box
  • Paper towel tubes and/or toilet paper tubes
  • Brown poster board
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue (optional)

There are 2 parts to this project – the family, and the frame. The family is basically toilet paper tubes and/or paper towel tubes decorated with construction paper and markers.  The important thing is to measure the tubes inside the frame box before you start decorating them. Otherwise, your family might not fit inside the final frame!

carrot familyThe frame is a box cut down to 2″ deep. We decorated the back of our frame with patterned paper (but you can also have kids draw the background on with markers). Next, we offered different brown poster board shapes to glue around the edges of the box:

finished portrait frameTo hang the frame, twist a pipe cleaner into a loop, then attach it to the top of the box with tape. Want to make it extra secure? Cut a slit in the top of the box, thread the pipe cleaner ends through the slit, then tape them to the interior top of the frame. Here’s a shot of our frame from the back, hanging loop in place:

back of finished portrait frameHang your frame in your favorite room of the house, place your little family inside it, and  feel the love!

Ghostly Guppy

ghostly guppieAfter spotting the fabulous upside down goldfish ghost Marissa designed for her literary exhibit, I vowed I would find a way to replicate it as a story time project. And behold! A floating paper plate goldfish ghost marionette!

We read Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2017). Goldfish Ghost, who comes into being floating on top of his fishbowl, floats out the window to seek company. But the world is vast, loud, and bustling. Goldfish Ghost is disheartened to find no company. Until he meets the ghost of the lighthouse keeper. Now the two are the best of friends, settled in quietly together, by the lighthouse light.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • White construction paper
  • String or clear elastic beading cord
  • 1 drinking straw
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Black markers for decorating

goldfish ghost marionetteTo make the marionette, trim the outside perimeters off 2 paper plates. Use marker to draw eyes, a mouth, and scales on the plates.Next, tape a white construction paper tail and fins to the inside of 1 plate.

In the book, Goldfish Ghost floats upside down, so tape a length of string or elastic beading cord to the belly of the fish. Then tape the 2 plates together. Knot the string around a drinking straw, and your fabulous marionette is complete!

Magic Magnetic Castle

magic magentic castle

Use your magic wand to reveal the secrets of this enchanted castle – raise the drawbridge, hoist the flag, open windows, discover buried treasure, and more! All it takes is a magnet and a few well-placed paper clips!

We read I Wished for a Unicorn, written by Robert Heidbreder, and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Kids Can Press, 2000). A little girl wishes for a unicorn, and wow… one appears! Granted, it looks and acts suspiciously like her pet dog, but that doesn’t stop the two from having amazing adventures in a magic woods and enchanted castle.

You’ll need:

  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (we used a 10″ diameter cake circle)
  • 1 small box (ours was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works too)
  • 2 paper towel tubes
  • 2 paper cone water cups
  • Construction paper
  • 1 magnet castle template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 brass fastener
  • 1 pair of unused, intact chopsticks
  • 1 button magnet
  • 6-7 small paper clips
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue

magnet castle finished

As far as construction, this castle is very basic. We used a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ craft box with the lid cut off, and hot glued it to a corrugated cardboard base. Add 2 shortened paper towel tube towers, 2 cone drinking cup roofs, and some (optional) green tissue paper shrubs . The drawbridge is a hinged piece of cardboard (we used the scrap from our box lid). The moat is construction paper. Wrap the castle with construction paper if you like, then decorate with metallic markers and perhaps a jewel or two. You’re done!

Infusing your castle with magical powers is also easy, thanks to this “magic wand.” It’s a pair of intact chopsticks decorated with markers or patterned tape. Hot glue a button magnet to the wider end:

castle magnet wandNext, tape paperclips to various castle elements. Here’s what we did, using our castle template. The drawbridge lowers to reveal a wizard:

magnet drawbridgeThe moat rises to reveal a water dragon:

magnet water dragonThe castle towers each have a window that hinges upward to reveal something inside. Below you see a cat…the other window has a friendly flower in a pot:

magnet castle tower windowAbove the drawbridge, you can also raise a flag! Use a hole punch to create a hole in the pole of the template flag, and in the wall of the castle. Thread a brass tack through the holes, tape a paperclip to the back of the flag, and fly it high!

magnet castle flagAround the back of the castle is an (optional) fountain. We wrapped a packing tape core with tin foil, then taped a 3″ x 6.5″ rectangle of blue cellophane inside. Use a paper clip and the wand to make the fountain water rise!

magnet castle fountainIn the garden next to the fountain was a buried treasure trap door:

magnet buried treaure And on the other side of the fountain is an apple tree with flying bird. We tethered the bird to the tree with clear elastic beading cord, but any string will do:

magnet bird flying over treeAt this point, you might be wondering…where is the UNICORN? The book is all about an adventure with a unicorn! Well fear not. We scored these awesome unicorn Valentines by Peaceable Kingdom (a set of 28 cards cost $13-15). Each card comes with a little rainbow charm:

unicorn valentines by peaceable kingdomWhen kids were finished with their castles, DR. MAGICAL PURPLE UNICORN bestowed cards and rainbow charms!

dr dana is a magical unicornAnd yes, that unicorn onesie does feel just as comfortable as it looks.