Blue Skies for Narwhal

blue skies for narwhal

Just because you live in a fishbowl, doesn’t mean you can’t dream big! We made these adorable narwhal tanks, and then hit the road with a little red wagon so our aquatic friend could take in the sights and sounds of the wide, wonderful world!

We read Someday, Narwhal, written by Lisa Mantchev, and illustrated by Hyewon Yum (Simon & Schuster, 2017). Narwhal lives an unexciting life inside her fishbowl. The view barely changes, even when she gazes at the blue sky outside the window. Narwhal dreams of seeing the world, but her lack of feet, concerns about getting lost, and fear of the cold keep her from venturing out. Happily, her friends (Boy, Bat, Penguin, and Giraffe) work together to take Narwhal on an unforgettable trip in a little red wagon. The world awaits!

You’ll need:

  • 1 clear plastic favor box
  • 1 narwhal template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 small piece of clear elastic beading cord (ours was 2.5″ long)
  • Yellow tissue
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

If you want to make a wagon, you’ll also need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • Red construction paper
  • 2 drinking straws
  • 1 piece of string (ours was 15″ long)
  • 1 wheel assembly (more on this below)

narwhal tank

We used 4″ x 4″ x 4″ clear plastic favor boxes for our narwhal tanks (a 25 pack is currently $18 on Amazon). Place yellow tissue paper on the bottom of the tank, and add some (optional) mini sea shells.

Now for the narwhal! It’s two sided, so color and cut both the right and the left-facing narwhal pieces from the template. Tape a 2.5″ piece of clear elastic beading cord to the back of the left narwhal, then tape the right narwhal on top of it. Measure for height and tape the free end of the clear beading cord to the top of the tank lid. Done!

red wagon and narwhalIf you’d like to make this awesome tissue box wagon for your narwhal to ride in, you’ll find the instructions in this post. Then wheel your narwhal outside for a little walk!

The Bear Went Over the (Book) Mountain

bear book mountainThis intrepid bear marionette marches over all obstacles in our library landscape… searching for new friends and a cozy place to call home!

We read Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson (Disney Hyperion, 2011). Otto the Bear is a character in a book. He possesses the delightful ability to come to life and rove outside his book. Otto explores the house, reads, and journals on the family typewriter. When his book is tragically overlooked when the family moves away, Otto decides to strike out on his own. But it’s a big world for a tiny bear, and he soon grows downhearted. But what’s this? A building full of light, hope, and characters like him? Now, Otto lives in the library with tons of new friends and readers. He is a very happy bear!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (ours was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ – a small tissue box works too)
  • String
  • Brown construction paper
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • 2 large plastic buttons
  • 3 toilet paper tubes
  • Red felt (optional)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue

bear mariontteThis marionette is designed with simplicity in mind! First, cut the bottom off a small box.Then cut the box down to about 2.25″ tall. Punch two holes in the top of the box, and thread a 29″ piece of string up and out of both holes like so:

bear marionette stringTie the free ends of the string to a wooden dowel rod. If the top of your box has a lid like ours did, make sure to tape it down tightly.

Next up, the bear’s face! The snout is half a toilet paper tube with a circle of brown construction paper covering one end. Hot glue the snout in place, then add a plastic button nose, a pair of wiggle eyes, and ears. We made the ears (and the bear’s tail) out of the extra cardboard we cut from the box earlier.

bear marionette faceTo make the bear’s legs, cut 2 toilet paper tubes in half. Punch 2 holes in the top of a half, then thread a 10″ piece of string through the holes like this:

bear marionette legRepeat the above steps with the remaining three legs, then tape all 4 legs to the inside “ceiling” of the box. Here’s a shot of the underside of the box with the leg strings taped in place.

underside of bear marionetteDid you notice the black button in the image above? We hot glued that to the inside rear of the bear to counterbalance the button on the bear’s snout. It helps keep the marionette from leaning forward too much.

In the book, Otto wears a handsome red messenger bag. We crafted our bags out of red felt, using hot glue to seal the sides. A little piece of black masking tape held the bag closed.

bear marionette bag When the bear marionettes were finished, we encouraged kids to pull books off the shelves and use them to create mountains, walls, ramps, bridges, and paths for their bears to travel across. A few kids also made cozy little places for the bear to nap. Awwwww!

hibernating bear

Go With the Floe

go with the floeHeading to the North Pole? South Pole? Or perhaps you’re on an unintentional grand tour of the globe? Hop on this convenient ice floe with some slightly puzzled penguins and polar bear and prepare to see the world!

We read Poles Apart, written by Jeanne Willis, and illustrated by Jarvis (Nosy Crow, 2015). One fateful day, the Pilchard-Brown penguin family depart for a picnic at the South Pole. But a wrong turn takes them to the North Pole and Mr. White the polar bear, instead. Mr. White kindly offers to help the penguins get home. Unfortunately, Mr. White’s sense of direction isn’t much better then the Pilchard-Browns. He leads them through the United States, England, Italy, India, and Australia. Finally, they arrive at the South Pole, where Mr. White must say goodbye and travel back to the North Pole. He’s feeling lonely…and that’s when he discovers a little surprise in his hat.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (ours was 2” x 4” x 4”)
  • White poster board
  • 2 sets of wheels (more on this below)
  • 1 piece of string (ours was 26″)
  • 1 packing tape core
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Black and white construction paper
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

ice floe

First, the ice floe! This is a white poster board “floe” hot glued (or taped) to the top of a small box (and make sure you make the floe large enough to carry the polar bear and all 3 penguins!). We used plastic wheels from Kelvin Educational (our wheel assembly instructions are here). But wooden spools also work. The pull string attaches to the front. Here’s the finished underside of the floe:

underside of ice floeNow for the polar bear and the penguins! For the bear, we wrapped a 3.5″ tall packing tape core with white construction paper. The earmuffs are a sparkle stem and two pom-poms attached with hot glue.

polar bear with earmuffsTo make the penguins, wrap 2 toilet paper tubes with construction paper. Cut one of the tubes in half to create the 2 small penguins. Attach wings, faces, and tummies. We also added ribbon scarves and a world map to our penguins trio (and if you want to be true to the book’s illustrations, attach the map upside down).

penguin family with mapPlace the polar bear and penguins on top of the ice floe and travel the world! Some kids opted to tape their passengers to the ice floe to keep them from falling off…

ice floe and trainI snapped this adorable traveling quartet en route to our gallery, but did you also notice the vehicle in the background? One little boy decided to create a “snow train” using project materials. The penguins are riding inside the engine. Fantastic!