Teeter Tower

teeter tower

Balance the animals in a teetering, tottering tower…but will your stack stick the landing?

We read Chicken Cheeks, written by Michael Ian Black, and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Simon & Schuster, 2009). When a bear spots a honey-laden hive at the top of a very tall tree, he enlists a number of friends to attempt the reach it. The funny thing about this book, however, is that the narrative is driven by the…ah, alliterative body part each animal must balance on to stack upwards. Hence, “Chicken cheeks.” We’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

You’ll need:

  • An assortment of oatmeal containers, small boxes, and tubes
  • A selection of construction paper
  • A selection of eye stickers (optional)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

This project consists of a set of critters constructed out of tubes, boxes, and construction paper. We used eye stickers, but you can draw eyes on with markers as well. Any combination of animals will do, but here’s our story time stack:


MOOSE

The moose was the biggest and heaviest, and thus at the bottom of the stacking tower. This was a large oatmeal container wrapped in construction paper.

stack moose


DOG

This was a small box wrapped with paper. We went with a grey dog since there was already a lot of red and brown in the stack.

stack dog


TOUCAN

Our toucan was a round packing tape core, though a small box can easily be substituted. We used a cone water cup for the beak, but a cylinder of construction paper works as well. Feather crest optional!

stack toucan


POLAR BEAR

We decided to go easy with this one…the polar bear is a white craft box with a face. Done!

stack polar bear


TURKEY

Everyone’s surprise favorite was the turkey! It has a tape core body, but the tail is kids’ hands repeatedly traced onto construction paper. In other words, the classic kiddie turkey drawing, rendered in 3-D!

stack turkey


GIRAFFE

This is the same paper towel tube giraffe we created at our Don’t Rock the Boat story time. And if you want to add a tiger, turtle, parrot, ladybug, monkey, skunk, or elephant to your stack, you’ll find that post as well!

stack giraffe


BEE

By the time we got to the bee we were almost out of time. So I handed these to the kids almost fully constructed. They just had to add the pre-cut construction paper stripes (or draw them on with marker), choose a twisteez wire antennae, and stick the eyes on.

stack bee


Yes, this project was a lot of critter-building, but it was well worth the work. Especially when the artistic towers started growing taller and taller. Just look at this awesomeness!

Ninjas Needed

Gather, all you ninjas in training, for the ultimate obstacle course. Challenge your balance, hiding, and throwing skills to earn a noble blade of aluminum foil!

We read Ninja Camp, written by Sue Fliess, and illustrated by Jen Taylor (Hachette Books, 2019). A team of young ninjas gather at Ninja Camp to train and defend the Shadow Blade from a rival camp. A total story time win…this fun rhyming book packs plenty of action and adventure!

You’ll need:

  • 1 black t-shirt
  • 4 paper towel tubes
  • 1 piece of ribbon (ours was 13″ long)
  • Aluminum foil
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • A ninja obstacle course (more on this below!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction

Our story time project consisted of a ninja jacket, nunchucks, throwing star, and a sword. To make the jacket, cut a slit up the front of a black t-shirt (we used a kid’s size L). Then, cut a 2.5″ strip off the bottom of the shirt to create a belt. We offered metallic markers to add some designs to the jacket as well.

ninja jacketOur nunchucks are surplus foam book spine protectors recycled from Princeton University’s Department of Special Collections! But you can also use paper towel tubes. Connect the tubes with a 13″ piece of ribbon secured with color masking tape.

nunchucksThe throwing stars are of the classic origami variety (instructions here). The sword is 2 paper towel tubes connected with masking tape, then covered with tin foil. The hilt is masking tape as well. But the REAL stroke of genius? We added a tassel to the sword hilt, compliments of the Office of Student Affairs at Princeton University. Our tassels were surplussed from commencement, but you can also purchase them rather inexpensively on Amazon.

ninja swordOnce our ninja kids were ready, we gathered at the start of the obstacle course. First, ninjas walked the red masking tape tightrope to build balance skills:

obstacle course 1Next, they entered the forest to demonstrate their hiding abilities. Can you spot the ninja in this photo?

obstacle course 2Then the ninja stealthily moved along a dark corridor and crawled through a tunnel…

obstacle course 3Finally emerging at our throwing star range, where they took aim at targets:

obstacle course 4When the obstacle course was complete, the ninja headed over to the Shadow Blade stone, where they drew their swords under the proud eye of Sensei Katie!

sensei katieFun fact: Katie has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Note to self: Don’t mess with Katie.

Castle, Cats

castle cats

It’s a castle, it’s a tossing game, but mostly this project is about an awesome abundance of…CATS!

We read A Castle Full of Cats by Ruth Sanderson (Random House, 2015). The Queen looooves cats, and they are everywhere in the castle. The king, despite all the cats’ winning efforts (scratching art into the wall, leaving dead mice in his shoe) feels more then a little left out. So he gets a dog. Is the dog there to chase away the cats? NO! The dog’s job is to play with the cats. With the felines otherwise occupied, the king can now spend a little time wooing his beloved wife.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large box (ours was 4.5” X 4.5” x 9” – a large tissue box works too!)
  • An assortment of toilet paper and paper towel tubes
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished cat castle

First, the castle! Cut the top off a box of your choice, then decorate it with construction paper and/or markers. Our castle towers are shortened paper towel tubes with cone water cup turrets. The flags are mounted on wooden coffee stirrers. We used self-adhesive foam to add some texture as well. Like THIS castle. Just look at that texture!

awesome castleWe also decided to add a carrying handle to our castle, so our towers are hot glued slightly to the front of the box. The handle is a 1.75″ x 16″ poster board strip that pivots on 2 brass fasteners.

finished cat castle handleFinally, the CATS. These are variously-sized toilet paper and paper towel tubes decorated with construction paper. We used self-adhesive foam bits and eye stickers to create the faces, but plain old markers work too!

all the castle catsTo play the game, place your castle on the floor, and then try to toss all the cats into the box. The more cats that land in the box, the more likely the last few will bounce out, so warning…a major case of the giggles may occur!