It’s Tubing Time

it's tubing timeSwoosh down the plastic table slopes in your magnificent snow tube, then grab a delicious cup of hot chocolate (enhanced with chocolate scratch-and-sniff stickers) at the sweetest little snow station in the universe – the Cocoa Chalet!

cocoa chalet customer

We read Snow Day! written by Lester L. Laminack, and illustrated by Adam Gustavson (Peachtree, 2007). Did the weatherman just predict snow? Woo hoo! No school! A dad and his two kids run through the list of marvelous things they’re going to do on their snow day…hot chocolate, warm blankets, snow forts, sledding. Up the stairs to bed they go, anticipating all the fun. Except it doesn’t snow. Dang. Dad’s especially upset…because he’s the teacher!

You’ll need:

  • 2 small tissue boxes
  • 2 pieces of tagboard
  • 4 mini craft sticks (ours were 3″ long)
  • 2 large plastic buttons
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 snow tubing slope (more on this below)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

finished snow tubesSnow tubes first! Cut the bottom off a tissue box, leaving 1″ sides on the box. Cut a circular tube shape out of tagboard or poster board. Decorate it, then hot glue (or tape) it to the top of the box. Next, flip the snow tube box over and glue two mini craft stick runners to the bottom – this will allow the tube to slide most effectively. Finally, hot glue (or tape) a large plastic button to the inside bottom of the box. This provides the weight that will send your tube zipping down the hill rather than slow-poking to a halt.

snow tube steps The tube rider is a toilet paper tube decorated with construction paper and markers. We added a felt scarf and a pair of mini pom-pom earmuffs as well. Did you recognize the red-cloaked rider on the right? That’s Little Red Skating Hood from this magnetic ice rink story time! We had kids make 2 snow tubes and 2 riders so they can race them down the hill.

tp tubersYour snow tubes are done, now for the slope! These were two, 6′ plastic tables we secured on stools. We’ve done exactly the same thing for this sled run and this country-to-city truck run. For snow tubing purposes, however, we made 4 racing lanes:

testing the snow tubesWe took four, 60″ pieces of PVC pipe, and speared wads of polyester fill on them. Then, we used packing tape to secure the PVC pipes to the tables. We left 11″ of space at the bottom of the racing lanes to encourage exciting tube crashes. Important! Test the tube riders on your slope a couple times. If the poly fill is bulging out too much, the riders will get stuck and won’t slide down the slope.

The mini-craft stick runners, the plastic button weight, testing the poly fill snow bulges…it might seem like a lot of extra steps, but the project won’t work as well without these things. We believe snow tubes need to zip, slide, and careen off things. Check out the results!


After everyone had played in the slopes, we headed over to “The Cocoa Chalet” for a delicious drink. This blog has amply demonstrated how much we love crafting retail opportunities (exhibits a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, and i). So bring on the hot chocolate stands I say! I made the Cocoa Chalet with a box lid and a poster board roof. The snow is fabric batting someone donated:

the cocoa chaletHere’s the back of the chalet. As you can see, the whole thing is attached to a cake pad base. Oh, and the chimney is a bubble tea straw.

back of cocoa chaletThe hot chocolate was a little piece of brown construction paper curled into a 1oz plastic sample cup. I topped it off with some poly fill whipped cream, then added a chocolate scratch-and-sniff sticker so the cup would exude a chocolatey bouquet.

hot cocoaHey! Do you want to see the most amazing hot chocolate in the world that I consume far too much of? Right here, my friend. Right here.

Let it Go

let it go 1Does your Snow Queen need some silvery magic? Try these super simple, super inexpensive, but super fun metallic dance streamers! We took them out on our gallery floor to see how they’d go over. Three little girls immediately asked for a set. I’ll admit, I played with them too. It’s impossible not to twirl them and feel just a little bit magical.

You’ll need:

  • 2 wooden dowels
  • 1 silver metallic tablecloth
  • Scissors
  • Silver tape

The best tablecloth to use is a super-shiny crinkly one (I bought mine at Oriental Trading Company for $3.25). Spread out the tablecloth and cut 8 ribbons from it. Here are my ribbon measurements (you can adjust yours according to the height of your child):

  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 41″
  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 49″
  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 60″
  • 2 ribbons measuring 2.25″ x 66″

Bunch 4 ribbons (one of each size) together, twist tightly, and tape securely to one end of a wooden dowel. Continue wrapping the tape downward and around the dowel until it’s covered. I used silver prismatic tape from Party City (a roll costs $4.99).

prismatic tapeThe Party City tape is the same width as duct tape, which can be awkward to wrap around a thin dowel. So I cut the original tape pieces in half, creating narrower strips (since the tape has peel-off backing, cutting long strips in half is easy). Repeat the above steps with the remaining 4 ribbons and wooden dowel, and you’re done!

metallic dance streamersCue the music and…LET IT GO!

let it go 2If you’re a fan of Hans Christian Andersen’s original Snow Queen, you might want to check out this fabulous adaptation by the Princeton Youth Ballet!

The Slopes are Open

slopes are openWho doesn’t enjoy a good sled run? Especially when you get to ride in a comfy customized sled with a charming canine companion!

companionsAnd behold a white plastic folding table transformed into a delightful sled run, complete with wintry obstacles!

sled run with obstaclesWe read Snow on Snow on Snow by Cheryl Chapman, illustrations by Synthia Saint James (Dial Books for Young Reader, 1994). One snowy, wintery day, a boy and his dog go sledding. But when Clancy the dog gets lost, everyone joins in the the search. Luckily, Clancy is found, and all is well. The story is simple, but the repetitive sentences read like poetry and make it a fantastic read-aloud for kids.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 2” x 4” x 4”)
  • 2 jumbo craft sticks (mine was 7.75″)
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • 2 small jingle bells
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • A selection of multicultural construction paper
  • A selection of construction paper for hair, dog’s body, ears, and snow pants
  • A selection of patterned paper (optional)
  • 2 pieces of twisteez wire (pipe cleaners work too)
  • 3 mini pom-poms (mine were 1/2″ in diameter)
  • A 1″ x 12″ piece of felt
  • 1 sled run (more on that later!)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by cutting any lids or tabs off the top of your box. You want the top to be nice and open.

box steps 1 and 2Then cut curvy “sled” lines in the top of the box. Make sure the back of the sled is taller that the front. Otherwise, your riders will tumble out!

box step 3Use markers to decorate the outside of the sled, and then hot glue two jumbo craft sticks to the bottom of the box as runners.

sled runnersNext, thread two jingle bells onto a pipe cleaner, and bend and curl the ends like so:

bells Tape the center of the jingle bell pipe cleaner to the front of the sled, and then fold the rest around the edge of the sled and secure with tape.

jingle bell attachmentCut the second pipe cleaner in half, curl both pieces, and tape to the inside back of the sled.

finished sledNow for your riders! To make the human rider, wrap a 2″ x 6″ pieces of multicultural construction paper around the top of a toilet paper tube to create the face. Then wrap a 2.25″ x 6″ piece of construction paper around the bottom of the tube for pants.

Wrap a 2.5″ x 5.5″ piece of patterned paper around the middle of the tube for the jacket. Draw facial features with markers, and then fringe and tape some construction paper on top of the tube for hair. Finish by knotting a 1″ x 12″ piece of felt around the neck as a scarf (I fringed the ends of the scarf too).

If you’d like earmuffs, cut and tape a piece of twisteez wire (or pipe cleaner) on either side of the tube, then hot glue two mini pom-poms on top of the wire.

earmuff stepsTo make the dog, wrap a 5.5″ x 6″ piece of construction paper around a toilet paper tube. Cut and tape ears to the top of the tube. Draw facial features with markers. Attach a pom-pom nose with hot glue. Then twist a piece of twisteez wire (or pipe cleaner) around the neck for the collar. Tape securely.

wire collarYour amazing duo is done! To prepare them for their exciting ride, tilt them back in the sled like so:

tiltTime to hit the slopes! I had two plastic folding tables on hand, so I created two sled runs for kids to master.

sled run 2For the sledding obstacle course, you’ll need:

  • One 6′ plastic folding table. A table with a white plastic top is best
  • Clear packing tape
  • A piece of 10.75″ x 13.5″ white poster board for snow tunnel
  • Several handfuls of polyester fill
  • Several 11″ x 14″ pieces of green poster board for trees
  • Several wood rounds
  • 1 balloon stick or wooden dowel
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue

The snow tunnel is the largest obstacle, so attach it first. Use packing tape to secure both ends (scotch tape isn’t strong enough) then hot glue the polyester fill to the outside of the poster board. Run the sled & riders through the tunnel to make sure the height and width works.

To make trees, curl the green poster board into a cone, secure the cone with packing tape, and then trim the bottom of the cone to make it relatively flat. Attach to the table with packing tape.

treeTo make tree stumps, attach packing tape loops to the back of the wood rounds, then press firmly to the table top.

wood round tape loopsFor snow drifts, grab a hunk of polyester fill, elongate it slightly, and then slap a big piece of packing tape over both ends to attach it to the table. Tape loops just don’t work!

packing tape driftsProp the table up on a chair, bench, or box. We have some short cushioned benches that, in addition to the textured carpet on the floor, kept the table really secure. You’ll have to experiment with this a bit in your story time space.

To assist with steering down the hill, I gave the kids a balloon stick (a wooden dowel would work as well).

steering stickSome kids kept the stick in the back of the sled and walked their sleds down the hill. Others positioned their sleds at the top of the hill, lifted the stick out, and let it fly. One determined lad used the stick to push his sled uphill!

uphillI learned a few lessons about kids and plastic table top sledding hills during this story time. If I was to do this program again, I would:

  1. Not include as many obstacles, or have one table completely free of obstacles for sleds to whiz down.
  2. Have the tunnel be the “starting gate” at the top of the hill instead of making the kids maneuver over to it.
  3. Test different materials for steering the sleds (like wooden dowels, craft sticks, unsharpened pencils, a twig from the backyard) to see which one gives kids the best control.
  4. If you have very young children at story time, lay the sled hill flat on the ground so they can simply push the sled through the obstacle course like this:

flat hill