Flowers for Ferdinand

It’s warm, it’s raining, it’s spring, and that means FLOWERS! If there’s one character close to Katie’s heart, it’s the peaceful, flower-loving Ferdinand the Bull. Pair this simple project up with a nifty wildflower identification activity, and you have yourself a nature walk!

We recommend The Story of Ferdinand, written by Munro Leaf, and illustrated by Robert Lawson (Viking, 1936). Read aloud here by Brighly Storytime. This tale of a peaceful bull who would rather enjoy flowers then battle in a bull ring is a children’s classic. And if you’d like to read Alexis Antracoli’s excellent essay during banned Book Week 2019, click over to the curatorial blog!

You’ll need:

  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Brown and white construction paper
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Use the materials above to craft a bull, then head outside with your camera! Keep an eye out for plants and flowers, then take a photo of Ferdinand enjoying them.

Now to identify your botanical finds! Katie discovered this awesome website for flower identification, Wildflower Search. You can set your locations with the assistance of Google Maps and the site will generate an illustrated list of the wildflowers in your area. It’s an awesome resource!

Using the site, Katie was able to identify a bunch of flowers, as evidenced in this lovely spring photo montage. I think the Bull Thistle is my favorite:

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If you live in a more urban area, not to worry! Enter your location and see what happens…you might be surprised to find that there are more flowers then you expected. The screen shot of results I took for this post? That’s not New Jersey! I selected a location in New York City, Financial District, Manhatten. The site of famous Charging Bull statue to be exact.

Oh, The Places You’ll Snow!

We’ve had PLENTY of snow this winter, and the last storm to blow through resulted in an unexpectedly zany backyard colorscape! The blue and yellow snow mound you see above is a nod to the striped tower on the cover of Dr. Seuss’ book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (I couldn’t resist adding a smiley face too). And today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so it’s timely as well!

You’ll need:

  • Snow
  • A box of liquid food coloring
  • Spray bottles filled with water

dye bottles 4

I used McCormick brand food coloring and spray bottles I found in the housecleaning section of my local grocery store (I’ve also seen them at Dollar Stores and in the beauty/travel size section of Target). I filled the bottles with warm water, then dribbled in dye until the desired color was achieved. Then we headed out to the backyard!

backyard 4

This photo was taken at the very beginning of our adventures…I’m afraid I don’t have a crazy “after” photo! But the kids painted a multi-color path around the yard (and constructed a micro sledding hill as well). I decorated a little higher, spraying the snow along the top of our fence:

snow hedge 3

We also made some hearts on the opposite side, for the neighbors to enjoy…

heart in snow 4

A couple hints:

  1. Fill the water bottles to the top, so you don’t have to keep going inside to refill.
  2. Make sure the tops are screwed on tightly. Hah!
  3. Wear gloves (fleece or knit). Bulky mittens make it difficult to operate the spray lever.

Did this project make a huge mess? Actually no! I thought it was going to be much worse. Our clothes didn’t get stained, and I didn’t even need to wash our gloves afterwards. The melting snow has NOT left dye on anything, including foliage or the wood fence.

If you’re looking for another Seuss-inspired activity, but need to keep it indoors, check out our Seuss mini golf post! Here, you’ll find instructions for making inexpensive putters and holes.

You’ll also find suggestions for putting together a custom course! You can build it with recycled boxes, plastic cups, paper tubes, old pool noodles…and just about anything else you can haul out of your closet!

oh the places you'll go 2


As part of our library’s mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we would like to share a link to a statement from Dr. Seuss Enterprises addressing their commitment to action regarding the content of six particular Seuss titles

Seeds of Love

It’s a simple project bursting with love…a mama tree hugging her baby seed!

We read The Little Tree, written by Muon Van, and illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi.The smallest tree in the forest watches time pass, the land change, and wonders what will happen to her little seed. Finally, with the help of a world-traveling brown bird, she releases her little seed to the skies. Then she waits and worries about her little seed. Then one day, a gift arrives…a leaf that belongs to the tallest, strongest, and brightest tree the brown bird has ever seen. Yes, it’s the Little Tree’s precious seed, grown up strong and beautiful!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • Brown poster board
  • Green poster board
  • Tree decorating supplies (more on this below!)
  • Scissors and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, cut 2″ off a paper towel tube, then hot glue it to the top of a small box. Glue 2 circles of green poster board to 2 sets of brown poster board branches (our branch template is here), then hot glue everything to the top of the paper towel tube. Add a pair of brown construction paper arms to your tree, and tuck a green poster board “seed” into them. Finally, decorate your tree with markers, or use green construction paper, embossed foil paper, fabric flowers, gold mirror board, and shimmer ribbon like we did. Done!

The Little Tree is a very touching book. In fact, Katie and I had a bet that I wouldn’t be able  read it aloud without crying (it was a draw – I did choke up at one point!). Even more touching, however, is the author’s note at the end…

The book is a tribute to Muon Van’s mother, who fled the post Vietnamese-American war regime with her two children. In America, she gave birth to five more children. Even though she only had a third grade education, she put them all through college, and in some cases, grad school. Van lovingly praises her mother who, like the Little Tree, was brave enough to override her fears, doubts, and limitations and provide her children with a life she could not imagine for herself.