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!

Ghostly Guppy

ghostly guppieAfter spotting the fabulous upside down goldfish ghost Marissa designed for her literary exhibit, I vowed I would find a way to replicate it as a story time project. And behold! A floating paper plate goldfish ghost marionette!

We read Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2017). Goldfish Ghost, who comes into being floating on top of his fishbowl, floats out the window to seek company. But the world is vast, loud, and bustling. Goldfish Ghost is disheartened to find no company. Until he meets the ghost of the lighthouse keeper. Now the two are the best of friends, settled in quietly together, by the lighthouse light.

You’ll need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • White construction paper
  • String or clear elastic beading cord
  • 1 drinking straw
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Black markers for decorating

goldfish ghost marionetteTo make the marionette, trim the outside perimeters off 2 paper plates. Use marker to draw eyes, a mouth, and scales on the plates.Next, tape a white construction paper tail and fins to the inside of 1 plate.

In the book, Goldfish Ghost floats upside down, so tape a length of string or elastic beading cord to the belly of the fish. Then tape the 2 plates together. Knot the string around a drinking straw, and your fabulous marionette is complete!

Oh, Snap!

oh snap

These snap-tastic alligator puppets are adorable…and hungry! But what do you feed a story time alligator? Literally, anything!

We read Suddenly Alligator, written by Rick Walton, and illustrated by Jim Bradshaw (Gibbs Smith, 2004). When a young man’s socks hit the 3 month “no wash” limit, he heads to town to purchase a new pair. Along the way, an alligator gives chase. Nothing in the boy’s pockets seem to thwart this ferocious beast, until the alligator gets a whiff of the boy’s socks. Much to his relief, it knocks the alligator right out! In addition to hilarious illustrations of the ferocious, relentless alligator, the book ends each section with an adverb – anxiously, cautiously, hungrily, boldly, desperately, fondly – making it a fantastically funny read aloud.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large large tissue box
  • Green construction paper
  • Green poster board
  • White card stock
  • 1 alligator puppet mouth template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 2 jumbo pom-poms
  • Scissors, tape, and a stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating

In the book, the alligator devours a pair of pliers the boy throws at him. We thought it would be funny to make a puppet that eats things too. In this case, a plastic ball:

First, cut one end off a tissue box. This is where your alligator’s mouth will attach. Next, cut extra space around the tissue-dispensing slit. This allows the puppeteer’s hand to move more freely, and makes it easier to remove objects the alligator has “eaten.”

underside of alligator puppet The alligator’s mouth consists of 2 “mouth pockets.” Print the template, and then cut 2 top mouth pockets out of green poster board. Staple the 2 pieces together to form a pocket:

mouth pocket Now tape the mouth pocket to the top of the tissue box. Important! Just tape the TOP piece of the mouth pocket to the box. You’ll need to leave the bottom piece free so you can slip your fingers into the pocket and operate the puppet. Here’s a photo of the taped mouth pocket. I used red masking tape so you can see what I’m describing more clearly:

taping puppet mouth Repeat the above steps with the bottom mouth pocket, then add card stock teeth to the mouth. To operate the puppet, slide your fingers in the top mouth pocket, and your thumb in the lower mouth pocket.

hand in alligator puppet mouthHere’s the finished alligator…we used green construction paper for the body, and green poster board for the legs and tail. Notice that the legs dangle off the bottom of the box with tape hinges – the puppet sits better in your arms that way. The eyes are jumbo pom-poms with dot sticker pupils (paper circles work too). We also offered green self-adhesive foam shapes for additional texture (or just use markers).

finished alligator puppet Each kid got to take home a plastic ball for the alligator to consume, but as the kids milled around the gallery, the alligators started eating EVERYTHING. Scarves, pens, socks, hats…if it fit in the box, the gator consumed it!