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.

Bananas Faster

bananas fasterThis banana’s going mobile, thanks to its CD wheels and rubber band engine! And why did we rig this fruit to roll? Four words: fusion, bananas, trolls, and technology. This feat of engineering was was constructed at To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for kids ages 6-8!

We read The Train to Impossible Places: A Cursed Delivery written by P.G. Bell, and illustrated by Matt Sharack (Feiwel and Friends, 2018). When strange noises wake Suzy Smith, she discovers an enormous, unusual-looking train in her kitchen. Suzy quickly (and voluntarily) gets caught in a fast-paced adventure in The Union of Impossible Places, a collection of unusual and fantastical worlds that can be traversed by the Impossible Postal Express train. Unfortunately, Suzy’s first package delivery goes horribly wrong when the package speaks, begging not to be delivered. This doesn’t make the package’s recipient, a powerful sorceress named Lady Crepuscula, very happy. Soon more then a few people are chasing Suzy and her friends as the true nature of the package, and what it means for future of the Impossible Places, is revealed.

In the book, the steam train is built, and primarily staffed by, trolls. And “troll technology” is the awesomely hodge podge way trolls build things. The train is also fueled by fusion bananas, which crackle with blue electricity and are a mite explosive (they also, incidentally, turn your hair blonde). We wanted the kids to experience of troll technology while also putting a banana in motion!

You’ll need:

This project was inspired by a banana car designed by YouTuber GrandadIsAnOldMan. However, we modified ours to fit the materials we had on hand. Begin by hot gluing 2 mini craft sticks across 2 jumbo craft sticks like so:

banana car step 1Next, cut a toilet paper tube in half, then hot glue it on top of the mini craft sticks:

banana car step 2This creates your “banana saddle,” which keeps the bottom of your banana from interfering with the rubber band motor. Here’s a side view of the finished saddle:

banana car saddleTo create the rubber band motor, tightly wrap a brass fastener around the center of a 5.75″ piece of bamboo skewer. You want to prongs to be nice and tight, but make sure there’s still a little room under the head of the brass fastener for the rubber band.

banana car brass fastenerCut a drinking straw into 3 pieces (two 1.5″ pieces, and one 3.75″ piece). Thread the 2 smaller pieces on either side of the bamboo skewer with the brass fastener. Then thread the larger straw piece onto the other bamboo skewer. Hot glue the straws directly to the jumbo craft sticks, then loop a rubber band onto the center of the longer straw. The underside of your car should now look like this:

banana car step 3Later, you will wrap the rubber band around the head of the brass fastener, then wind the wheel and the axle to tighten the rubber band and prime the banana car’s “motor”:

banana car step 4The car’s wheels are surplus CDs we obtained via donation from various University departments. We pushed a foam bead through the holes of each CDs, then hot glued them for extra security. Slide the wheels onto the ends of the bamboo skewers, then hot glue another foam bead to the outside of each wheel.

finished banana carThe car is ready to go…all you need is a banana! We actually went with FAKE bananas for this project (Amazon: 6 cost $11). Firstly, fake bananas don’t ripen inconveniently. Secondly, fake bananas are lighter, which meant that the cars would roll a little further.

And roll that banana car did! Wind the rubber band up and let it go…


We also tested this car with a real banana, which was much heavier. As predicted, the car didn’t roll as far. But you might be able to remedy that with a thicker rubber band. Or visit the original source of the project on YouTube: GrandadIsAnOldMan for some helpful hints. And hey! It’s engineering! Trial and error are part of the fun!


Many thanks to Princeton University’s Rockefeller College and Office of the Registrar for recycling their surplus CDs for this project! 

HAPPY NATIONAL DONUT DAY!

lets do donutsWe couldn’t let this holiday pass without mention! Donuts are the life blood in our office (as is espresso, cupcakes, and whatever chocolate Katie brings back from her travels to Europe). So we would like to wish you a very happy National Donut Day, readers!

If you’re interested in story time projects related to donuts, we recommend the donut shop we designed for The Donut Chef by Bob Staake (Golden Books, 2008). The shop doubles as a matching game, as you pair customer’s coupons with your shop’s stock!

donut couponsIf you’re looking for something a little simpler, we highly recommend Marissa’s felted donut project for the book Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (Scholastic, 2014).

donuts 2

Even simpler? A cup, a pom-pom, and some paper put together to create an adorable donut display case for this delightful diner.

purple diner kitchen OF COURSE we had to conclude this post by traipsing down to House of Cupcakes (winner of Cupcake Wars!) to enjoy a couple of their fresh, house-made donuts.

And if today’s sugary adventures leave you in need of a good dentist, you’ll find one here!