Cooking with Mousie

cooking with mousieLet this Sous Chef Souris help you make delicious pies! Your miniature kitchen has everything you need for creative baking – mixing bowls, wooden spoons, cutting board, rolling pin, pie pans, fresh felt ingredients, and, of course, matching chef hats!

We read Tiny Pie, written by Mark Bailey and Michael Oatman. Illustrated by Edward Hemingway (Running Press Kids, 2013). It’s past her bedtime, but little Ellie the elephant is hungry. She’s too short to reach the kitchen counters or open the fridge, but she can peep through that interesting mouse hole in the wall. There, she discovers a mouse cooking show in progress inside, complete with cameras and studio audience. It’s tiny pies, big flavor, for Ellie and her new mouse friends!

You’ll need:

  • 2 small boxes (more on box specifics below)
  • 1 cooking show sign template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 4-5 clear plastic sample cups
  • A piece of tagboard or brown poster board
  • Small pieces of brown and red felt
  • 4-5 blue mini pom-poms
  • 1 drinking straw
  • 1 snippet of bubble tea straw (approximately 2″)
  • 2 miniature aluminum pie tins
  • 2 paper muffin cups
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Grey and white construction paper
  • 1 pink mini pom-pom
  • White poster board
  • 1 white facial tissue
  • 1 piece of white tissue paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

cooking counter

The cooking counter consists of 2 parts. Part 1 is a 6″ craft box work counter (that’s where the sign template goes – don’t forget to add your name to the sign!). Part 2 is the oven. We used a 4.5″ “White Cupcake Box” from Oriental Trading Company ($5 a dozen) as our oven. Why? That cute little window in the top! It makes a perfect oven door. Add a 2″ bit of drinking straw as an oven handle, and you’re ready to bake!

Inside the oven, we fashioned a little shelf out of tagboard (poster board works too), and and added some red mirror board heating elements:

inside ovenOn top of the cooking counter is some patterned paper, as well as 4 clear plastic sample cups. 3 of the cups were stocked with pie fillings: red felt apple slices, brown felt chocolate, and mini pom-poms blueberries. The 4th cup is the mixing bowl.

To give the mouse chef a little boost, we had to add a tagboard “stool” to the back of the cooking counter. You can see it in the photo below, along with some twisteez wire hooks we added to the sides to hang your utensils (you can also use paper clips).

back of cooking counter

Here are more kitchen goodies:

kitchen utensilsThe cutting board and wooden spoons are tagboard. The knife is a little piece of silver mirror board with a black masking tape handle. Those two white circles are polyester batting “pie dough” for the mixing bowl, and the rolling pin is a 2.25″ snippet of bubble tea straw with a 3″ piece of drinking straw threaded into it.

The pies are mini aluminum pie pans with a circle of fabric batting dough tucked in the bottom. Top if off with some felt or pom-pom ingredients. The crust is a trimmed-down muffin baking cup top.

the pieThe toilet paper tube mouse is sporting a chef hat made from construction paper and a bunched up facial tissue.

mouse chefYour chef hat is made out of cardboard and white tissue paper. Instructions for making it can be found in this post. It only occurs to me now, looking at the photo. This chef hat TOTALLY needs a pair of grey construction paper mouse ears.

chef hat for mouse chef story time When the kitchens were finished and the chefs were ready, we brought out our camera equipment (learn how to construct it here) and filmed a number of pie-themed cooking shows. Chocolate appeared to be the pie flavor of the day. And with good reason, amiright? Nom nom.

cooking show

The Shadow Shows

the shadow showsTeachers, parents, and librarians, lend me your ears! Today, I present Shadow Puppets Theater by Creativity for Kids, the one stop shop for hours of imaginative narration and story building. Get thee hence and acquire one!

shadow puppets theater by creativity for kidsThe kit retails for around $20, and is intended for ages “6 to 96.” It contains a theater, a detachable chalkboard marquee, 1 piece of yellow chalk, stickers, rhinestones, 10 felt animal puppets, 2 felt people puppets with accessories, 15 metal brads for the jointed puppets, 12 puppet holders, 8 puppet sticks, and 2 LED lights (batteries included!).

shadow puppet theater kit contentsOne of the frustrating things about toy puppet theaters is how flimsy the stage is, and how the slightest nudge will send it tumbling. Not this one! It’s made out of very sturdy cardboard. A few basic folds, and the stage is ready to go, anchored in place with some very helpful velcro fasteners.

back of shadow puppet theaterThere’s also a detachable chalkboard marquee for the top, which is super cute. Also, unlike some of the cheaper cardboard chalkboards, the chalk wipes off cleanly and easily with a dry paper towel.

shadow puppet theater marqueeAlso included are some terrific stickers and clear rhinestones (yes!) to decorate the front of the theater. They are easily removable, so you can change your theater’s look. The stage’s screen is thick, high quality, and securely mounted (because there’s nothing sadder then your screen buckling, tearing or falling off during a performance).

But best of all is the lighting. The sturdy LED lights have flexible necks and are attached to clips. So you can attach them to the top of the theater OR…and I really, really, loved this. They can balance on their clips and act as footlights. Genius.

Their illumination power is fantastic. No matter what configuration we put the lights in, we got great shadows and and a well-lit screen.

illuminated shadow puppet theater screenThe puppets? They totally rock. Look at them! The mouse! The owl! The happy pig!

animal shadow puppets

The kit comes with foam blocks that self-adhere to the back of each puppet. Simply stick the block to the back of the puppet, inset the puppet stick in the pre-drilled hole, and you’re ready to go!

shadow mouse puppet

There were also 2 jointed puppets, which consisted of a main body piece and some interesting accessories to attach (hair, hats, skirts, pants, etc.). Note to grown-ups: the metal brads used to hinge the puppets joints are tiny. Younger kids are definitely going to need help with them.

jointed shadow puppetsI only have one quibble with this puppet theater kit. There are 12 puppets in the kit, but only 8 sticks! The instructions say to swap out the sticks during the show, but that somewhat breaks the flow. I made a couple extra out of a balloon stick. But this is the only problem I have with the awesome puppet kit.

How did our kid testers (ages 6 and 9) like the theater? They LOVED it! They loved how the screen lit up, all the different choices of puppets, and how they could move the lighting around for different effects. The stage stood up to an HOUR LONG continuous narrative with no breaks. Yes, that was 60 minutes of total concentration that only stopped because it was time to leave the office.

For $20, the Creativity for Kids Shadow Puppets Theater is a fabulous gift, activity, or program resource that will be throughly enjoyed. It’s packed with fun things, the puppets are great, it’s definitely tough enough to be use by scores of enthusiastic amatuer puppeteers. Bonus! The LED lights also work as clip-on mini lamps for late night reading. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Five out of five stars!

Dragon = Fireworks

dragon equals fireworks

It’s party time at the castle as two dragons provide some colorful fireworks… just pull the paper dragon to get the firework to “launch” from the top of the castle!

We read Over at the Castle, written by Boni Ashburn, and illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Abrams, 2010). A mother and baby dragon await nightfall outside a bustling castle. Page by page, the numerous castle activities count down until it’s time for the grand finale – a firework show, provided by the dragons!

You’ll need:

top of firework castle

Construction of this castle is very easy. First, use a box cutter to cut a drawbridge in one of the small boxes. Hot glue the drawbridge box to the top of a cake pad. Cut the top off a second box, and hot glue it on top of the drawbridge box. Decorate the castle and its base with metallic markers. We added silver mirror board battlements and some silver metallic dot stickers as well. Next, the dragon fireworks!

dragon firework constructionFold 2 sparkle stems into a V shape, then tape them to the bottom of a bunched 10″ x 10″ square of cellophane, Secure with tape. Knot one end of a 10″ piece of clear beading cord around the bunch, then secure with tape. Repeat these steps to create a second firework. Color and cut the mother and baby dragon from the template, then tape them to the free ends of the firework cords.

To create the firework show, gently tuck the fireworks into the top of the castle, but let the attached dragons dangle down the sides the castle. Grab a dragon and yank it upwards, sending it – and the attached firework – flying into the air!

dragon fireworks


Many thanks to the Hopewell branch of the Mercer County Library System (proud home of Fang the Spider) for allowing us to do pop up story time while our library is under renovation! We really appreciate it!