Camping? Nom Nom Nom

camping nom nom nom

Pack your tents and hit the great outdoors with your friends Monster and Mouse. But keep an eye on Monster…he tends to eat the equipment!

We read Monster and Mouse Go Camping, written by Deborah Underwood, and illustrated by Jared Chapman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Mouse is very excited to camp, but Monster is reluctant…camping seems a little scary. However, with the promise of food, Monster is happy to try. Except that he eats the lantern, sleeping bags, and tent. Another problem? Mouse forgets to pack the ACTUAL food. Now the two friends are quite cold and hungry. Then they spot another campsite. Polite inquiries are made…only to get a unexpected reaction that makes this one of the FUNNIEST read-alouds, ever. Highly recommended!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 box cutter
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 manila file folder
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 monster camping equipment template on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

front of camping monster

First, the monster! Use a box cutter to create a mouth in a large tissue box. Then decorate the box with construction paper (we also offered large eye stickers). While you are decorating, make sure to leave the tissue box hole hole open in the back. This will allow you to retrieve your camping food later.

back of camping monster

As you can see in the above photo, our monster is also sporting a backpack. Ours was fashioned from an old manila file folder using this template. Curl the wings of the template around the circle, then secure everything in place with tape to create a “cup” backpack (we used color masking tape to decorate the backpacks too).

Attach the cup to an extra strip of manila paper, then tape or glue it to your monster box. Add a toilet paper tube mouse if you’d like:

side view of monster backpack

Now for the equipment! Color and cut the items from the template, then feed each item into the monster’s mouth. Retrieve the items using the hole in the back of your monster box. And yes, we did make sure to include all the fixings for s’mores in the set:

monster edible camping equipment

One things I love about the simple and open-ended decoration projects is the styles and color combinations kids come up with. Here are just a few from story time!

Cooking with Mousie

cooking with mousieLet this Sous Chef Souris help you make delicious pies! Your miniature kitchen has everything you need for creative baking – mixing bowls, wooden spoons, cutting board, rolling pin, pie pans, fresh felt ingredients, and, of course, matching chef hats!

We read Tiny Pie, written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman. Illustrated by Edward Hemingway (Running Press Kids, 2013). It’s past her bedtime, but little Ellie the elephant is hungry. She’s too short to reach the kitchen counters or open the fridge, but she can peep through that interesting mouse hole in the wall. There, she discovers a mouse cooking show in progress inside, complete with cameras and studio audience. It’s tiny pies, big flavor, for Ellie and her new mouse friends!

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes (more on box specifics below)
  • 1 cooking show sign template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 4-5 clear plastic sample cups
  • A piece of tagboard or brown poster board
  • Small pieces of brown and red felt
  • 4-5 blue mini pom-poms
  • 1 drinking straw
  • 1 snippet of bubble tea straw (approximately 2″)
  • 2 miniature aluminum pie tins
  • 2 paper muffin cups
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Grey and white construction paper
  • 1 pink mini pom-pom
  • White poster board
  • 1 white facial tissue
  • 1 piece of white tissue paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

cooking counter

The cooking counter consists of 2 parts. Part 1 is a 6″ craft box work counter (that’s where the sign template goes – don’t forget to add your name to the sign!). Part 2 is the oven. We used a 4.5″ “White Cupcake Box” from Oriental Trading Company ($5 a dozen) as our oven. Why? That cute little window in the top! It makes a perfect oven door. Add a 2″ bit of drinking straw as an oven handle, and you’re ready to bake!

Inside the oven, we fashioned a little shelf out of tagboard (poster board works too), and and added some red mirror board heating elements:

inside ovenOn top of the cooking counter is some patterned paper, as well as 4 clear plastic sample cups. 3 of the cups were stocked with pie fillings: red felt apple slices, brown felt chocolate, and mini pom-poms blueberries. The 4th cup is the mixing bowl.

To give the mouse chef a little boost, we had to add a tagboard “stool” to the back of the cooking counter. You can see it in the photo below, along with some twisteez wire hooks we added to the sides to hang your utensils (you can also use paper clips).

back of cooking counter

Here are more kitchen goodies:

kitchen utensilsThe cutting board and wooden spoons are tagboard. The knife is a little piece of silver mirror board with a black masking tape handle. Those two white circles are polyester batting “pie dough” for the mixing bowl, and the rolling pin is a 2.25″ snippet of bubble tea straw with a 3″ piece of drinking straw threaded into it.

The pies are mini aluminum pie pans with a circle of fabric batting dough tucked in the bottom. Top if off with some felt or pom-pom ingredients. The crust is a trimmed-down muffin baking cup top.

the pieThe toilet paper tube mouse is sporting a chef hat made from construction paper and a bunched up facial tissue.

mouse chefYour chef hat is made out of cardboard and white tissue paper. Instructions for making it can be found in this post. It only occurs to me now, looking at the photo. This chef hat TOTALLY needs a pair of grey construction paper mouse ears.

chef hat for mouse chef story time When the kitchens were finished and the chefs were ready, we brought out our camera equipment (learn how to construct it here) and filmed a number of pie-themed cooking shows. Chocolate appeared to be the pie flavor of the day. And with good reason, amiright? Nom nom.

cooking show

Of Mice And Movies

of mice and movies

Enjoy a fabulous film with your furry friends! First, stop by our mouse-sized concession stand for popcorn, candy, and drinks. Then head to the “story time theater” for a special screening of a Mickey Mouse animation short!

katie at the movies

We read Martha the Movie Mouse by Arnold Lobel (Harper & Row, 1966). Martha is a mouse with no home. One night, however, she wanders into a movie theater. The beautiful chandelier, the candy counter, the soft-drink machine – it’s a wonderland! Martha soon meets Dan, the projectionist, and they become friends. But one day, entranced by a musical number, Martha dances her way on stage and there’s a huge fuss. Once again, Martha is out in the cold. But when the projector slips a gear the audience is demanding a diversion or their money back, Martha comes to the rescue. She takes the stage and sings and dances her heart out. Wow! Overnight, Martha the Movie Mouse becomes a star! Martha is happy with her new life, but most of all, she loves quiet evenings watching movies with her good friend, Dan.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too)
  • 1 small box (ours was 2” x 4” x 4” – a small tissue box works too)
  • 1 clear plastic favor box (more on this below)
  • 1 concession stand template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1-2 sheets of white computer printer paper
  • Poster board
  • 2 white paper sample cups
  • 2 clear plastic sample cups
  • 2 cotton balls
  • 2 snippets of drinking straw
  • Grey construction paper
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 2 mini pom-poms
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

concession standFirst the concession stand, starting with that awesome popcorn machine! Our popcorn machine is a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ plastic favor box from Oriental Trading Company (item #13705345, 24 boxes for $9.50). Cut the clear lid off the top of the favor box and set it aside. Later, the this lid will be the “glass” front of the candy display case. You can leave the top of the popcorn machine open, or use a piece of poster board to create a new lid.

popcorn lidCut and color the popcorn sign from the template and tape it to the top of the favor box. Then hot glue the popcorn machine to the top of a large box. To make the popcorn, scribble on 1-2 pieces of white printer paper with yellow marker. Cut the paper into tiny squares and crinkle them tightly. Serve your popcorn in 2 small paper sample cups. Use a marker or crayon to draw red stripes on the cup if you’d like!

popcorn buckets

Next up…the candy display case! As you can see in the photo below, both the display box, and the shelf inside it, are tilted backwards. You can also see how the cardboard lid of the box has been replaced with the clear plastic favor box lid. We hinged our lid at the bottom of the display case, but some kids opted for a top hinge.

candy display

To make the display case, tri-fold a piece of poster board and: 1) Hot glue (or tape) the top fold to the top of the box; then 2) Hot glue (or tape) the display box to the middle fold. As you can see below, the lower fold tilts the display case backwards very nicely.

candy display box tilt steps

The shelves inside the display box are very similar. Tri-fold a piece of poster board, then tuck it into the box.

candy display shelves

We wanted 2 shelves of candy, so we taped a folded snippet of poster board in the center of shelves. Then we stocked the shelves with candy labels printed on white card stock (thank you, Google image search!).

candy on display

Finally, beverages. Stick some cotton balls in plastic 1oz. cups, add a couple snippets of drinking straw and you’re done! In the below photo, you can also see how we constructed our toilet paper tube mice. Each kids made 2 mice to go with the 2 drinks and 2 popcorn buckets at the concession stand.

mice and soda

For a little extra flash, cut and color the art deco panel from the template and add a couple foil star stickers to the stand.

concession stand

When the concession stands were complete, mice lined up for goodies and then headed to the movie theater to watch the film. Our “movie screen” was Katie holding up a Microsoft tablet (we didn’t want to prop it up and risk having it take a tumble).

katie IS the moviesWhat was playing that day? A mouse movie of course! It was Mickey’s Garden, a charming 9 minute Disney cartoon from 1935.