It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

it was a dark and stormy nightStorms can be very scary, but this story time project lets YOU be in charge of the clouds, rain, and lightning!

We read Stormy Night by Salina Yoon (Bloomsbury, 2015). A storm is booming, and Bear can’t sleep – and neither can his stuffed bunny Floppy, his Mama, or his Papa! But a sweet song, kiss on the nose, a tickle on the ear, and good book can do wonders, and the family rides the storm out together.

You’ll need:

  • 2 corrugated cardboard rectangles
  • A box cutter
  • 2 strips of poster board
  • 2 paper towel tubes
  • Construction paper
  • 1 small box
  • 4 jumbo craft sticks
  • Scissors, tape and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This theater is divided into two pieces: the back and the front, which are later hot glued together to create a free-standing theater. Here’s the back piece…

back of storm theaterFirst, glue a piece of blue construction paper to a corrugated cardboard rectangle (we used 9.75″ x 13.75″ cake pads). Next, cut a silhouettes from black construction paper and glue it down as well. Definitely make sure to glue these down tight, so the edges don’t snag on your puppets later. Here’s the front piece…

front of storm theater step 1Use a box cutter to cake a window in the second corrugated cardboard rectangle. Then glue or tape 2 strips of poster board to the front of the window (definitely use poster board, construction paper is a little too saggy). Add a pair of optional window curtains. Then flip the front piece over…

front of storm theater step 2Shorten 2 paper towel tubes so they fit inside the sides of the window, then hot glue them firmly in place (we reinforced the connection with tape as well). Hot glue the tubes to the back piece of the theater. Now there is a gap between the front and back of the theater.  This is where you drop your stick puppets! We also hot glued a small box to the very back of the theater to keep it more steady (our box was white, sorry, it’s a little hard to see in the photo!).

top of storm theaterTo make the stick puppets, cut a lightning bolt, fringe of rain, crescent moon, and storm cloud from construction paper, then glue or tape them to the bottom of a jumbo craft stick (ours were 8″ long).

storm theater puppetsTo operate the theater, simply drop the puppets into the gap and narrate the story as storm clouds move in, rain comes, lightning strikes, and the skies finally clear to reveal the moon!

finished storm theater

We also gave kids the option of creating cozy rugs with markers and ovals of white construction paper. Love the rainbow and storm cloud in the one above!

Over the Rainbow

storm and rainbowThis dangling storm cloud has a surprise inside. Just tug the secret loop…and release a rainbow!

We read Thunder Bunny by Barbara Helen Berger (Philomel, 2007). Thunder Bunny is a surprise to her rabbit family. She’s the littlest and last, but she’s also…blue! Curious about the sky, Thunder Bunny sails up into the clouds. A scary storm brews, but Thunder Bunny soon realizes that even thunder and lightning are part of who she is. When she returns home, her family recognize what a truly special bunny she is.

You’ll need:

The funny thing about this project is that the box’s lid, which technically is always on top is going to be the trap door at the bottom. So begin by flipping the box over so the lid is on the bottom. Then, up at the “top,” cut two small slits on each side.

prepping boxUse your scissor blades to enlarge the slits into holes (large enough to thread the elastic beading cord through). Slide the ends of the cord through the right and left holes. The ends should now be poking into the interior of the box.

ends of cordNext, use this wrapping technique to wrap and secure the cords around the craft sticks. Tape the craft sticks to the interior walls of the box.

craft sticksNext is the secret loop that will release the rainbow from the trapdoor.

secret loopFold 1/2 of a pipe cleaner into a loop and twist the ends together to secure.

twisted loopTape the loop to the inside edge of the lid.

loop on trapdoorTime to decorate the cloud! I showed the kids how to pull apart a cotton ball so it will cover more space on the box’s surface. Then I made a diagram to show kids approximately how many cotton balls they would need for each side. Otherwise, one zillion cotton balls will be glued on there. Trust me.

sneaky mathTo attach the cotton balls, squirt some white glue on the box, and then press the cotton ball on top. Repeat on all sides of the cloud EXCEPT the trap door on the bottom! That needs to remain cotton ball free so you can attach the “rain” and thunderbolts to it.

Next, use tape to attach the blue cellophane, blue shimmer ribbon, and blue curling ribbon rain to the bottom of the trapdoor. We prepped the thunderbolts in advance by using the template to trace the bolts onto mirror board (or you could skip the mirror board and just have white card stock bolts). Tape the 3″ – 5″ pieces of elastic beading cord to the back of the bolts, then tape the cords to the box.

storm cloudThe storm cloud is done, now for the rainbow! Red goes first. Attach a piece of tape to the end of the red streamer. Press the tape to the ceiling of the box, all the way to the left. Repeat with each color until you have a row of rainbow streamers from left to right.

rainbow streamersGently tuck the streamers into the box and shut the trapdoor. Suspend the cloud from its cord, then tug the pipe cleaner loop. Your rainbow will appear! Try to refrain from bursting into song.