Food Chain

food chainI must admit, I was incredulous when a local librarian put this book in my hands and said “Have you seen this? Louis gets eaten on the second page…but it’s OK.” I read the story and, inspired, designed this monster food chain. With the pull of a string, the monsters devour each other. But that’s not all…the process can be reversed, allowing the monsters belch everything up again. Mmmm!

We read The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell (21st Century, 2012). During a ride through the woods, little brother Louis gets eaten by a Gulper. Refusing to panic, resourceful sister Sarah sets off in hot pursuit. Unfortunately, the Gulper is eaten by a Grabular, which is then eaten by an Undersnatch…and so on until Sarah finds herself climbing into the stomach of a Saber-toothed Yumper, where Louis is patiently waiting for her. But how will they get back out? The answer is a handy Hiccup Frog which bounces in the Yumper’s belly, setting off a regurgi-tastic chain reaction that ultimately wins the children their freedom. But the adventure’s not over quite yet…

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 toiler paper tube
  • An assortment of construction paper for decorating
  • Four 1.5″ x 4.5″ tagboard rectangles for monster feet (poster board works too)
  • 2 jumbo pom-poms
  • A selection of dot stickers
  • A selection of eye stickers
  • 2 pipe cleaners for monster legs
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • sparkle stem for monster spines
  • 1/3 piece of pipe cleaner (or scrap of construction paper) for monster tongue
  • A box cutter
  • 2 small craft sticks (mine were 3″)
  • A 24″ piece of yarn
  • Markers for decoration
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue

We made the three monsters first. For monster #1 (I’ll call it “Oatmeal Monster”) remove the lid from the oatmeal container. Wrap the outside of the container with a piece of construction paper, then layer zigzag construction paper strips on top to create “scales” (we prepped the zigzag strips in advance):

scalesFor the feet, cut toes in each tagboard rectangle. Use markers to add some delightful monster toenails.

monster toesTab the ends of the legs and hot glue them to the oatmeal container. I added some construction paper fringes to my monster legs, and some kids elected to use markers for further decorating.

While you have the hot glue gun hovering over the legs, glue the two jumbo pom-poms “eyes” above the mouth, and use two dot stickers to create pupils. Oatmeal Monster is complete!

monster 1Next up…monster #2 (I’ll call it “Cup Monster”). Cut two pipe cleaners in half (resulting in four pieces total). Twist and bend into feet, and tape to the sides of the cup. Create wings out of construction paper scraps and attach them with tape or hot glue. Finish by attaching two eye stickers. Cup Monster is done!

monster 2Finally, monster 3 (otherwise known as “Tube Monster”). Wrap a toilet paper tube with construction paper, then use the color masking tape to create stripes (or skip the tape and just use markers).

To create spines, cut the sparkle stem into 3 pieces, curl, and tape along the length of the tube (leave a little room in back for a place to punch a hole).  Use a 1/3 piece of pipe cleaner (or construction paper scraps) for a tongue. Attach eye stickers. Finally, use the hole punch to create a hole in the top back of the monster. Tube Monster finished!

monster 3It’s time to rig up your pull string! Use the box cutter to create slits in the bottom of Oatmeal Monster and Cup Monster. Then use the blades of the scissors to enlarge the slits into holes:

monster 1 holemonster 2 holeThe monsters are ready, now for the anchor! I prepped these in advance. Simply glob hot glue between the intersection of the two small craft sticks.

anchorKnot the yarn around the center of the anchor, then wrap it around a few more times and knot again.

tied anchorThread the free end of the yarn through the hole in the bottom of Oatmeal Monster and pull it out the mouth. Keep tugging until the anchor is pressed against the bottom of Oatmeal Monster.

anchor in placeNext, thread the yarn through the hole in the bottom of Cup Monster and out the mouth. Pull the yarn through, then finish by knotting it in Tube Monster’s hole.

monster 3 knotReady to try it out? Place the three monsters on a tabletop. Put one hand on top of Oatmeal Monster and, with the other hand, slowly pull the anchor away from the bottom of the container. Watch as Tube Monster is devoured by Cup Monster who is then eaten by Oatmeal Monster.

To regurgitate the chain, lift and pull Tube Monster out of Oatmeal Monster. Cup Monster follows! If you want to try a creepy variation of this project, replace Tube Monster with a toilet paper tube replica of yourself. This variation is especially relevant if your name happens to be Louis.


Monster Dance Party

monster feetDancing isn’t just for the petite-footed! Throw a MONSTER dance recital with giant feet and a rosy reward!

We read Giant Dance Party, written by Betsy Bird, illustrated by Brandon Dorman (Greenwillow Books, 2013). After freezing up at a number of recitals, dance-loving Lexy declares that she’s quitting dancing and is going to TEACH dancing instead. Her only customers, however, are five furry blue giants. With some coaching, coaxing, and channeling of their inner talents, Lexy whips the giants into shape. But when the big recital arrives, the giants are frozen with stage fright. It’s up to Lexy to overcome her own fears and show the giants how it’s done.

You’ll need:

  • 2 boxes (mine were 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9” but you can also use two large tissue boxes)
  • 6 rectangles of tagboard (mine were 2.75″ x 5.5″)
  • 6 pieces of self-adhesive foam (mine were 1.75″ x 2.25″)
  • Strips of construction paper (approximately 2.5″ x 12″)
  • A selection of tissue paper squares (mine were 4″)
  • 2 white paper lunch bags
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • Bubble wrap or sheets of tissue paper to stuff in giant feet
  • 1 strip of red crepe paper streamer (approximately 13″)
  • 1 green pipe cleaner
  • A few inches of gold curling ribbon (optional)
  • Dance music
  • Markers for decorating
  • White glue, scissors for construction
  • Hot glue

Feet first! Cut a rounded opening in the lids of both boxes. Make sure the back of your heel touches the back of the box.

cut footNow for toes! Round the short edge of each tagboard rectangle. Then, shape the self-adhesive foam like toenails and stick them on each toe. You can use markers to draw some hair on the toes as well.

toesNext, hot glue the toes to the underside of the box. One kid went with a “toe-on-top-of-the-box” option and I quite liked the results.

toes on topTime to decorate! We offered strips of fringed construction paper (best secured with tape) and tissue paper squares (best secured with white glue). For maximum results with the tissue paper, crumble it up, dab some glue on the box, and then press the crumble onto the glue.

decorating the feetI also unearthed some lizard-patterned paper from the art supply closet. Behold the creative coordination skills demonstrated below!

coordinated skirtWhen the giant feet are finished, set them aside to dry a little and turn your attention to your giant socks. Cut the bottoms off the two white paper lunch bags, then decorate the bags with markers. Socks done!

To get dressed, start by slipping your shoe through the paper bag sock and pushing the sock up your calf. Then slide your shoe into the giant foot and stuff bubble wrap (or sheets of tissue paper) around your shoe to make the giant foot more snug. Tuck the sock into the giant foot and wrap some color masking tape around the sock to secure it. You’re ready to dance!

sample feetRoses after a performance are traditional, so I prepped a bunch of paper roses to give to the dancers. This rose-making technique was developed by Victoria Hoss, one of my student assistants. Grab the crepe paper streamer on one end, then curl the outside edge inward. This forms the inner “core” of the rose.

rose step 1Keeping the bottom of the rose pinched, repeatedly wrap the paper around the inner core.When the paper is all wrapped, release the pinched bottom of the rose slightly and insert a green pipe cleaner in the center.

rose step 2Pinch the base around the pipe cleaner,

rose step 3Then wrap tightly with green masking tape.

rose step 4I had some gold curling ribbon in the art cabinet, so I added a little flair to the finished rose (because a curly sparkly gold bow is ALWAYS a good thing in my book).

finished roseOnto the recital! We danced to Polly Wolly Doodle (from the Dan Zanes album Rocket Ship Beach). As the kids danced, I handed out roses. But apparently, these feet were also made for walking…