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!

Witchy Kitchy

witchy kitchy

From the well-stocked shelves, to the bubbling cauldron, to the secret storage space…this kitchen is ready to concoct some scintillating brews. It also folds down into a snappy little travel case, complete with your shopping list clipped to the outside!

witchy kitchy travel modeWe read One Witch, written by Laura Leuck, and illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Walker & Company, 2003). A witch visits her ten sets of (unusual) friends to gather ingredients for the ultimate brew. She cooks it up, sends out invitations via bat, and a massive party ensues – including a special bowl for you! This is a fantastic counting book, plus a real family favorite. My kids asked me to read this book to them year round!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 small tissue box
  • Poster board
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 wooden coffee stirrer
  • 1 mini cauldron (or paper cup)
  • 1 ingredient bottles template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 2 plastic sample cups
  • 2 snippets of drinking straw
  • 2 buttons
  • 1 small rubber band
  • 1 spooky shopping list template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We used our standard craft boxes for this project, but I’m also going to show you how to build it with large and small tissue boxes. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the project:

witchy kitchy birds eye viewAs you can see, it’s a box within a box. The left side of the kitchen is the unfolding countertop/secret storage area, the the right side is the fireplace for the cauldron (which we stoked with brown poster board logs and red paper crinkle, but construction paper works too). The front of the fireplace is a V-shaped door that folds down. Use markers to create the stones for your hearth.

If you want to make the project with tissue boxes, the key is to flip the tissue boxes upside down and cut the bottoms into lids. Here’s the large box:

witch kitchy tissue box alt step 1The issue, of course, is you have a big hole in the floor of your kitchen. No problem! Just glue or tape a piece of poster board over the hole (shown here in yellow):

witch kitchy tissue box alt step 2To make the unfolding countertop/secret storage space, flip a small tissue box, cut the bottom to make a hinged lid, cut the box down to the proper height, then attach it inside the large box. Cut the V-shaped hearth door and you’re set!

witch kitchy tissue box alt step 3The shelves along the back of the kitchen are basic poster board pockets. Cut and color the various bottles in your template to stock your kitchen:

witchy kitchy shelvesIn the secret storage are little plastic sample cups for mixing, snippets of drinking straws, plus (optional) ingredient bottles repurposed from old-school film canisters. We filled ours with fabric flowers, foam beads, and green paper crinkle. I also added little cleavers I cut from silver mirror board.

witchy kitchyBut my FAVORITE item in the kitchen is the cauldron. We used plastic mini cauldrons, but you can also fashion a cauldron from a paper cup. To hang the cauldron, cut little notches in the sides of the boxes, then slide a wooden coffee stirrer into the notches.

The outside of the box gets a poster board carrying handle, as well as a shopping list you can either tape or clip to the front:

witchy kitchy travel modeThe box does get a little heavy. In fact, our lid kept popping open. So we added extra support in the form of two buttons, which we hot glued to the lid and body of the large box. Wrap a rubber band around the buttons, and you’re set!

A week after this project, we ran into one of our story time kids. She wants you to know that “THIS IS MY FAVORITE TOY AND I PLAY WITH IT ALL THE TIME I MAKE SOUPS THAT I FEED MY BROTHER!”

Crunchy, Colorful Leaves

crunchy colorful leavesSchool has started, fall is around the corner, and the leaves are starting to change. So it’s the perfect time to post a simple sound and color story time featuring fall leaves!

We recommend reading Ska-tat! by Kimberly Knutson (Macmillan, 1993). Leaves are falling off the trees with a “Sh-kah sh-kah” sound, and there is so much to do! Scoop them up with a “Krish-krash! Ka-rak!” or jump into piles with a “Sha-shoo! Ska-tat!” This highly poetic book beautifully creates sound words for various fall leaf activities. It’s a fantastic and fun read aloud.

You’ll need:

  • Green, orange, yellow, and red cellophane
  • Scissors

First, a word about cellophane. While rolls of green, yellow, and red cellophane can be founds in most dollar stores (and this is a good, cheap option for tight budgets), the color orange can be a little elusive. Also, when you use rolls of cellophane, the shapes you cut out tend to curl back into their original roll positions. It’s rather annoying. So I was very happy when I discovered cello sheets:

cello sheetsI bought these 8.5″ x 11″ cello sheets at Discount School Supply ($7 for a pack of 48). The sheets are flat, so no problem cutting out shapes and having them curl up on you. The trade off, of course, is volume. In the above pack of 48 sheets, there are only 6 of each color. However! I did spot a 104 pack on Amazon with 13 of each color for $9. If you ultimately decide go with rolls of cellophane instead of sheets, try flattening the shapes under a stack of books overnight to see if that helps uncurl them.

four leavesFor the story time project, cut various leaf shapes out of cellophane. Then have the kids crumble and crunch them, crinkle them madly, stomp on them, toss them in air, slide with them under their shoes, put them over their eyes to see the world in red, yellow, orange, and green…in short, PLAY. When you’re done, tape the leaves to a window to brighten things up!