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.

Sneak Peek: The Secret Garden

champagne glass butterfly feederTomorrow, our library is kicking off the programming year with a Secret Garden event at Morven Museum & Garden. Today, we have a sneak peek at one of the hands-on projects, a champagne glass butterfly feeder!

This project is based on the one designed by Leslie Garisto Pfaff for FamilyFun magazine. Leslie mounted her feeder on a 4-foot garden stake using a bit of vinyl tubing. We simplified ours down to a “tabletop” version.

You’ll need:

  • 1 plastic champagne glass
  • 1 plastic pot scrubber
  • Craft foam
  • Scissors for construction
  • 1 batch of homemade butterfly nectar (recipe below)

Cut leaf and flower shapes from craft foam. Cut slits in the centers, then slide the foam shapes up the stem of a plastic champagne glass. Pop a plastic pot scrubber in the top, and you’re done:

side view of champagne glass butterfly feederTo make the homemade butterfly nectar, mix 9 teaspoons of water with 1 teaspoon of white sugar. Pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Pour the nectar on top of the pot scrubber…your butterfly buffet is ready!

If you’d like to send kids home with a print out of this recipe, you’ll find that template here.

Take Only Photos, Leave Only Footprints

take only photos leave only footprints

Hike along the majestic Grand Canyon, stopping along the way to enjoy the view, snap photos, and take a much-needed water break!

hiking the canyon

We read In the Canyon, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, and illustrated by Ashley Wolff (Beach Lane Books, 2015). Join a little girl and her family as they hike down the Grand Canyon. The clever rhymes, bold illustrations, and depictions of nature and wildlife make this the perfect read-aloud for story time!

You’ll need:

  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Construction paper
  • 1 small box (ours was 2.5″ x 3″ x 4″)
  • Aluminum foil
  • 1 tape core
  • 1 canyon photos template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 canyon game (more on this later!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

First, the camera! Any small box will do, you’ll just need to cut a slit in the front of the box for your “photos” to slide into. Luckily, we had a whole bunch of recycled OcuSoft lid scrub boxes that made perfect old-school Polaroid cameras. We covered the box with tin foil, add a tape core lens, made a flash out of a large gemstone on a large plastic button, and used a little patterned tape to add some color!

camera boxesNext up, the hiker! We encouraged kids to use construction paper and patterned paper to make mini versions of themselves. Since you should never hike without a hat, we had the kids fashion one out of trimmed 3.5oz plastic cups with construction paper brims.

hikerNotice the little paper clip sticking out the back of the hat? If you’re going to play the canyon game, you’ll need to tape a small paperclip to the back of the hat. And speaking of the canyon game, here it is…

finished canyon gameThis is a huge flat box we wrestled out of the recycling pile. I hot glued crumpled brown packing paper to create a hiking trail back and forth across the box. I also hot glued little “rest stop” boxes along the pathway. This is a rest stop in the middle of the path:

hiking rest stopLater, I covered the rest stops with paper, and added photos from the template to signal that this was a “photo op.” Here’s the photo op at the very end of the trail.

final stop on canyon trailWe fashioned a fishing pole out of PVC pipe, and attached a paper clip to the end of the string. To play the canyon game, hook your tp tube person onto the fishing pole, and walk him/her up the canyon path, taking time to pause at the rest stops and snap a photo with your camera. We also had a “water break” station and gave kids a little sample cup of water.

hiking the canyonEvery time the camera “snapped” a picture, we would give the kids a matching photo from the template to slide into their cameras.

canyon photosWhen you’re done hiking, you can color in your photos! Oh, you’ll notice the template has one blank photo. That’s so you can draw whatever photo you’d like. We recommend a well-deserved canyon selfie!

canyon selfie