Beautiful Butterfly Surprise

beautiful butterfliesJust a quick, clever little flip…and your giant leaf reveals a gorgeous butterfly mobile!

We read Wild Baby by Cori Doerrfeld (Harper, 2019). Mama is slowly waking, but wild baby orangutan is ready for an adventure – with or without her! As mama tries to keep up, wild baby doesn’t quite realize the trouble he’s causing…or the danger he’s in! When mama finally does catch up, baby gets a big scolding. But then he reveals a beautiful present for her, resulting a heartfelt hug.

You’ll need:

At the end of the book, it’s revealed that wild baby has been collecting butterflies to give as a present to Mama. She opens a big leaf and they fly into the sky. We definitely wanted to capture that surprise with our project!

Begin by cutting a leaf from green poster board. Then fold it in half, lengthwise. Note: the leaf has to be fairly large to hold and shelter all the butterflies. Our finished leaf was 16″ long, and 11″ wide.

big green leafNext, knot 4 pieces of clear elastic beading cord around a wooden dowel. The strings need to be fairly long (15″ or so) to allow the butterflies to dangle well below the edges of the leaf. Once all the strings are attached, hot glue the dowel along the spine of the leaf.

leaf with attached dowel Now your leaf needs a finger loop. Fold the leaf in half, then use a box cutter to make a small hole in its middle. Thread an 8″ piece of twisteez wire or pipe cleaner through the slit, then circle the wire to make the loop (you can also use markers to draw veins on the outside of the leaf like we did!).

finger loop on leafNow for the butterflies! Color and cut the butterflies from the template. The way I positioned the butterflies on the template allows you to fold them double sided. But you can also go single sided if you like! Arrange the butterflies on the elastic beading cord, then secure with tape.

attached butterfliesTo operate the mobile, tuck the butterflies into the leaf. Slide your finger in the loop, and, keeping the butterflies tucked, hold the leaf upwards. Find the person you’d like to surprise, then quickly flip the leaf upside down, releasing the surprise butterflies!


You can also simply hang the mobile from the finger loop, and enjoy the butterflies dancing in the breeze.

Red Letter Day

red letter day

Hosting a community event table and need something creative, literary, and simple? We highly recommend this wooden letter key chain project, which clips oh-so-conveniently to your bag or backpack!

The project just requires wooden letters, markers, rubber bands, and carabiners. We bought our carabiners from Oriental Trading Company – a bag of 50 costs $12. Our 2″ wooden letters are from Amazon. A set of 120 pieces (which also included symbols # & @ $) cost $22. And they come in this handy-dandy tray too!

letter keychain table layoutAt the event, we simply laid everything out and invited kids to decorate! I think we made around 350 keychains that day. Also, since we were representing Princeton University, Katie and I wore tiger onesies (like we needed an excuse, right?).

dr dana and katie tigersThe project was quick, easy to explain, inspired a lot of creativity, involved alphabet letters, and kids of various ages (plus a few college students!) really enjoyed it. You can’t get much better then that!

Fabulous Family Portrait

fabulous carrot family portraitThis handsomely framed three-dimensional portrait is a must for any home. And if you want to portray your sweet little family as carrots, well why not?

We read All Kinds of Families! written by Mary Ann Hoberman, and illustrated by Marc Boutavant (Little, Brown, 2009). This beautifully illustrated picture book describes, through charming rhymes, the various kinds of families in the world. Not just mothers, fathers, brother and sisters either – forks, spoons, numbers, animals, plants, clouds…all kinds of families!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cardboard box
  • Paper towel tubes and/or toilet paper tubes
  • Brown poster board
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue (optional)

There are 2 parts to this project – the family, and the frame. The family is basically toilet paper tubes and/or paper towel tubes decorated with construction paper and markers.  The important thing is to measure the tubes inside the frame box before you start decorating them. Otherwise, your family might not fit inside the final frame!

carrot familyThe frame is a box cut down to 2″ deep. We decorated the back of our frame with patterned paper (but you can also have kids draw the background on with markers). Next, we offered different brown poster board shapes to glue around the edges of the box:

finished portrait frameTo hang the frame, twist a pipe cleaner into a loop, then attach it to the top of the box with tape. Want to make it extra secure? Cut a slit in the top of the box, thread the pipe cleaner ends through the slit, then tape them to the interior top of the frame. Here’s a shot of our frame from the back, hanging loop in place:

back of finished portrait frameHang your frame in your favorite room of the house, place your little family inside it, and  feel the love!