You Can Never Have Too Many Shoes

you can never have too many shoesSneakers, boots, bunny slippers, and galoshes. When you have 100 legs, you’re going to need a LOT of shoes. Good thing we have just the shoe store for you and your centipede marionette!

We read Centipede’s 100 Shoes by Tony Ross (Henry Holt, 2002). When little centipede stubs his toes, his mom tries to kiss it better…but exactly which toe is it? To avoid future stubbed toe incidents, little centipede and his mom head off to the shoe store. However, 100 shoes means 100 socks, 100 laces, 100 times putting shoes on, and 100 times taking shoes off. It’s just too much. So clever little centipede decides to forgo foot gear all together, distributing his shoes to friends with fewer leg hassles.

You’ll need:

  • 3 toilet paper tubes
  • Construction paper
  • 4 pipe cleaners
  • 1 centipede shoe template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • A length of curling ribbon (approximately 13″)
  • A length of string (ours was approximately 4 ft)
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • Masking tape
  • 1 jumbo pom-pom
  • 1 set of eye stickers
  • 1 snippet of twisteez wire or pipe cleaner
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

finished centipede

First, wrap 3 toilet paper tubes with construction paper. Use markers to add rings to the centipede’s body or bits of self-adhesive foam. Cut 4 pipe cleaners into 3rds, bend each piece into a U shape. At this point, you can add the shoes from the template to the ends of the legs, or your can do what we did and visit the centipede shoe store (which appears a little later in this post). Use tape to attach the legs to the undersides of the tubes.

Next, thread a 4″ piece of curling ribbon through the three tubes. Use tape to anchor the ribbon to the ends of the 1st and 3rd tube. This curling ribbon “spine” keeps the 3 tube segments of the marionette together, but also allows the centipede to be wiggly. You can see the green curling ribbon spine in the photo below:

curling ribbon on centipedeKatie came up with fantastic, easy method for stringing the marionette. Tie a 4 ft string to the end of a wooden dowel. Thread the string through the first tube, then loop it up and around the wooden dowel. Repeat this threading and looping through the second and third tubes, then tie the end of the string around the back end of the wooden dowel. Wrap the ends of the dowel in masking tape so the string doesn’t slide off. You can see the string loops in the photo below:

centipede string loopsLast but not least, your centipede’s face. You don’t want to put the face on BEFORE you thread the marionette string, because the pom-pom will be blocking the end of the tube! the face is a jumbo pom-pom (which we hot glued in place), eye stickers, a self-adhesive foam smile, and twisteez wire antennae.

Earlier, I mentioned that you can put the centipede’s shoes on when first create the pipe cleaner legs. But we delayed that step so the kids could take their marionettes shopping at the Lots and Lots of Shoes store, which I created using a box lid!

lots and lots of shoe storeThe kids walked over with their centipedes, and I slid the shoe templates through the front door of the shop.

shoe shoppingThe shoes were then colored, cut, and taped the centipede’s legs. Admittedly, this marionette can be a little floppy while it’s getting its shoes attached. Which brings me to this clever technique a parent came up with:

shoe attachment techniqueTape the dowel to the table, and you are free to attach the shoes on a dangling marionette with minimal flopping. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

Giraffe’s Gotta Dance

giraffe's gotta dance

Great gamboling giraffes! With just a few simple supplies – cardboard tubes, drinking straws, foam beads, and string – you’ve got yourself one fantastic dance partner!

We read Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, 1999). It’s time for the annual Jungle Dance in Africa, and the all animals are strutting their stuff. Except Gerald the giraffe. His awkward long legs and neck make him the target of much derision. However, with the help of a friendly cricket, Gerald learns to tune into the music of nature. To his great surprise and joy, Gerald finds himself dancing to wind in the grass, swaying trees, and the full moon. His moves are admired by the Jungle Dance attendees. In fact, they want to learn to do it too!

You’ll need:

  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Hole punch
  • 6 drinking straws (the longer, the better – ours were 10″)
  • 4 foam beads
  • String
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

We found plenty of giraffe marionette projects on the internet, but they all had accordian-folded paper legs. While those are great for bobbing the puppet up and down, we wanted our giraffe’s legs to bend, twist, and swing to and fro. This meant the giraffe needed knees and weighted feet. Turns out drinking straws and foam beads were the perfect solution.

finished giraffe marionetteThe giraffe has a toilet paper tube body, and a 2″ long toilet paper tube head. Both of the tubes are wrapped with yellow construction paper. We used extra yellow construction paper to create the ears, antlers, and tail. Then we used markers to add the giraffe’s spots, mouth, and nostrils. We used eye stickers, but marker eyes work too!

That’s the art part of the project. Now for the marionette part! Punch 2 holes in one end of the head tube. The first hole is on the top:

top of head tubeThe second hole is positioned underneath the first, on the opposite side of the tube.

bottom of head tubeIf my description seems a little confusing, this next image should clear things up. Here’s the finished marionette head with the string running through the 2 holes you punched in the head tube.

string through head holesNext, punch a hole at each end of the top of the body tube:

top of body tubeThen turn the tube over and punch 4 holes in the bottom. As you have probably guessed, these 4 holes are where the marionette’s legs attach in the next step.

bottom of body tubeTo make the giraffe’s legs, thread a piece of string through a foam bead. Secure the string to the bottom of the foam bead with tape. Cut a drinking straw in half, then slide the 2 pieces down the string towards the foam bead. Thread the loose end of the string into the leg hole you punched in the body tube. Secure the string inside the tube with tape. Repeat these steps with the 3 remaining legs.

giraffe straw legsThe lower part of the your puppet is done, now for the upper part! The puppet is attached to its drinking straw control stick by two strings. The first string runs from the control stick to the giraffe’s rear end, where it is secured inside the tube with tape. The second string runs through the head, the neck, and then attaches to the body tube with tape. The neck is a drinking straw cut into 3 pieces.  We used black masking tape to secure the string to the control stick too.

giraffe neck and headYour marionette is done! We put on some tunes and invited kids to dance their giraffe friends. This resulted in some bouncy, twisty, bendy, jumpy dance moves, as well as a few bars of an original song we’re calling “Dancing, Dancing, Dance-a-lee-Dance!”


Flight of the Dragon

flight of the dragonThis colorful dragon marionette twists, turns, dives, and flies with you! It was a project at To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for kids ages 6-8.

We read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, written and illustrated by Grace Lin (Little, Brown, 2009). Minli lives in a poor village overshadowed by Fruitless Mountain. When she impulsively spends her money on a goldfish, her outraged mother demands that she release the fish into the river. Minli obeys, but is shocked when the fish speaks to her of Never-Ending Mountain, where the Old Man of the Moon can answer any question Minli asks – including how she can improve her family’s fortunes. This sends Minli on an epic quest to reach Never-Ending Mountain. Along the way, she is joined by a flightless dragon, who wants to ask the Old Man of the Moon how he can fly again. The two travelers encounter many obstacles, but eventually reach the top of Never-Ending Mountain, where Minli must choose between her own wish, and the wish of her faithful dragon friend.

Minli, of course, makes the right choice and the dragon flies again. We had some HUGE dragon fans at the program, so I thought it would be fantastic for them to make their own dragons to fly.

finished flying dragonYou’ll need:

  • 1 small box (mine was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works)
  • 1 large box (mine was 4.5″ X 4.5” x 6” – a large tissue box works)
  • A box cutter
  • 2 pieces of elastic beading cord or string (mine were 22″ long)
  • 2 small craft sticks (mine were 3″ long)
  • Construction paper
  • A small rectangle of poster board (approximately 1.25″ x 2.75″)
  • 1 flying dragon template, printed on four, 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of white card stock
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • Scissors, tape, and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating

The important thing about marionettes is making sure that the strings stay securely attached! This marionette has two strings – one for each box. Begin by knotting each piece of elastic beading cord (or string) around a craft stick. Since elastic beading cord knots tend to come undone, it helps to wrap the knots with masking tape.

Use a box cutter to cut small slits in the tops of each box, then thread the free end of the cord through the slit. My boxes had lids, so here’s a shot of the open lids with the craft stick anchors in place. If you’re using tissue boxes, simply flip the tissue boxes over so the holes are facing downwards.

marionette stringsConnect the two boxes together with a 1.25″ x 2.75″ rectangle of poster board that is tabbed at both ends (my tabs were approximately 0.75″ each). Tape the connector’s tabs to each box.

poster board connectorNext, wrap the boxes with construction paper (we went with layered strips of construction paper, cut to resemble dragon scales). Cut and color the dragon pieces from the template and attach them to the boxes. If you don’t have time to color in all the template pieces, here is a full color version. We added some craft tie spines and curls along the top of the dragon as well!

You’ll notice that there are two tail pieces on the template. Match them up, staple them together, tab along the dotted lines, and then tape the tabs to the back of the large box.

taped dragon tailWhen your dragon is finished, tie the elastic cords to a wooden dowel (and secure the knots with tape if needed). Your dragon is ready to fly!

finished flying dragon