Oh, The Places You’ll Go

paris postcardIt’s the ultimate global adventure that ends with custom postcards in your very own mailbox! We made classic blue mailboxes, then visited locations around the globe to create postcards to send home. And don’t forget the stamp!

We read Will Goes the the Post Office by Olof and Lena Landstrom, translated by Elisabeth Dyddegaard (R&S Books, 1994). Will is excited when the post office notifies him of a package that’s arrived from his Uncle Ben. At the post office, he discovers that the package is GIGANTIC! What could it be? With a little help from Karen, Peter, John and Susan, Will and the gang carry the package home and eagerly unwrap it. At first, it seems like the box is just full of paper…but then they discover a fantastic globe packed inside! And the globe lights up! The five children (and Mama) pile in the closet to see Will’s new globe lamp shine.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small tissue box
  • 1 box cutter
  • Blue construction paper
  • Blue poster board
  • 1 mailbox signs template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • A selection of
  • 4 foam beads
  • 1 small piece of drinking straw (ours was 1.5″ long)
  • A blank postcards template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Print-outs of different locations around the globe
  • Small stickers
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This project was created by Katie, and I have to say, the kids absolutely LOVED it. I mean, who wouldn’t love this cute little mailbox? The round top! The feet! The door at the bottom!

completed mailboxTo make a mailbox, cut the top off a small tissue box. Use a box cutter to cut a little door at the bottom of the box. The postcards are 3″ wide, so make sure your door is 3″ or wider.

mailbox step1Wrap the box with blue construction paper, then use the box cutter (or scissors) to re-establish the little door.

mailbox step 2The rounded sides of the mailbox are 2 pieces of blue poster board (ours were approximately 4.25″ wide, and 3.25″ tall). Secure them in place with tape.

mailbox step 3To make the top of the mailbox, cut a 3.5″ mail slot in the center of a 4.5″ x 9″ rectangle of blue poster board. Gently curl the poster board over the rounded sides of the mailbox, then tape in place. The curling and taping is definitely the toughest part of the project. Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be perfect!

mailbox step 4Next, use colored masking tape to reinforce the edges of the mailbox, and to decorate it. Color and cut the mailbox signs from the template and tape (or hot glue) in place.

completed mailboxFinish by hot gluing 4 foam bead “feet” to the bottom of the box, and a small piece of drinking straw to the front of the little door. Your mailbox is done – grab it and get ready to travel!

a postwoman

Katie printed up photos of different places (thank you, Google image search!), and taped them up around the gallery. Katie wrote the names of the locations or landmarks, as well as the country, on the photos as well. Underneath each photo was a basket of color pencils.

taj mahal postcard

We invited kids to grab 6-8 blank postcards and visit different locations, sketching what they saw in the photos on their postcards. Here’s someone visiting London, England:

england postcard

And another traveler enjoying the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt:

egypt postcard

Ready to see some postcards from around the world?

grand canyon postcard

pisa postcardstonehengepostcardmaroon bells postcard

beach postcardWe even got postcards from places we didn’t include! Here’s a postcard from the Amazon, even though it wasn’t one of our photo locations. I think that’s a person on top of a giant tree with a ladder? Cool.

amazon postcardTo make the postcard activity official, Miss Melinda donned a stamp-selling visor and circulated the gallery, “selling” stamps that were actually cute little stickers.

melinda the stamp seller

Melinda joined us this fall – she’s a Cotsen volunteer who works at the Princeton Writing Program. I went easy on her the first couple weeks, but slowly, inevitably, Melinda will be drawn into the vortex of ridiculous story time tasks. Today, a visor-wearing stamp seller. Tomorrow, a giant paper cookie!

Welcome to My World

welcome to my worldCreate your perfect paradise, complete with a picturesque bridge, comfortable hammock, airy hut with a platform room, supply bucket on a pulley, convenient clothesline, and a stupendous sun clock. Do those towering red flowers remind you of anything? If you answered “swist,” you know exactly where we’re going with this!

We read Weslandia, written by Paul Fleischman, and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick Press, 1999). Wesley, an inquisitive dreamer and inventor, is different from the other kids at school. These differences worry his parents and attract bullies. Undaunted, Wesley launches an ambitious summer project – he’s going to grow his own crop and found his own civilization. Magically, his idea is planted in the ground, where an unusual plant begins to grow. The plant (which he names “swist”) shoots skywards and quickly becomes the foundation of “Weslandia.” Wesley eats the fruit from the plants, weaves clothing from its fibers, invents a time-keeping system based on its petals, and records his civilization’s history with ink pressed from its oil. Scornful at first, the other kids quickly become intrigued. Soon, they join Wesley in enjoying and exploring Westlandia. When school resumes in the fall, Wesley no longer has to worry about friends!

You’ll need:

  • 1 courrugated cardboard base
  • 4-6 champagne corks (optional)
  • 5 wine corks
  • A permanent markers
  • At least 4 toilet paper tubes
  • A rectangle of fabric (approximately 3.5″ x 5.5″)
  • Extra fabric (or patterned paper), if desired
  • 2 pieces of string (one is 9″, the other is 30″)
  • 1 small box (mine was 4″ x 4″ x 4″ but a small tissue box works too)
  • At least 1 paper towel tube
  • 1 small wooden spool
  • 1 small wooden bead
  • 4 small paper sample cups
  • Brown, green, and red construction paper
  • A long strip of blue cellophane
  • 1 rectangle of tagboard (approximately 6.5″ x 2.5″)
  • 8 flat glass marbles
  • 1 petals and sepal template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Glue, scissors, tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

At story time, we had each kid make the same 8 elements (cork person, hammock, clothesline, hut, pulley bucket, river, bridge, and sun clock). Then we invited the kids to arrange, design, and decorate their worlds however they liked!

misslandiaThe first step is optional: hot glue legs to the bottom of your corrugated cardboard base. Champagne corks work beautifully for this purpose. Our bases were big (18″ x  24″) so we used 6 champagne corks per base. If you do use champagne corks, make sure you glue the flat part of the cork to the base (not the wider, rounded part):

cork feet

You can, of course, skip this step and keep the base flat. But we really liked the way it looked AND we still have an insane number of corks left over from this floating island project.


CORK PERSON

Use a permanant marker to draw a face on a wine cork. Then wrap the cork with paper and/or fabric. We just made one cork per kid at story time, but feel free to populate your world with as many cork characters as you like!

cork person


HAMMOCK

Hot glue the short ends of a 3.5″ x 5.5″ piece of fabric together, forming a long, shallow pocket.

hammock step 1Next, cut matching 3″ slits down the sides of 2 toilet paper tubes. Slide the ends of the fabric pocket into the slits. Close the slits with tape. Hot glue the tubes to the base.

hung hammock


CLOTHESLINE

Cut matching 0.5″ slits into the tops of 2 toilet paper tubes. Slide a 9″ (or shorter) piece of string into the slits. Tape paper clothes to the clothesline. Hot glue the tubes to the base.

clothesline


HUT

The hut is basically a box that is open on one side with a little window cut in the back. I used a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ craft box, but you could totally do this with a small tissue box. Hot glue four wine cork legs on the bottom of the box…

hut steps 1 and 2Then add some tagboard (or construction paper) stairs! We also added a patterned paper rug and a felt sleeping pad. The hut has a platform roof as well (we added green construction paper grass and a little tagboard writing desk to it). When the hut is finished, hot glue its legs to the base.

finished hut


PULLEY BUCKET

We used little paper sample cups with twisteez wire handles for “buckets.” To make the pulley, hot glue a wooden bead to the top of a paper towel tube, and a small wooden spool to the bottom of the tube. Tie a 30″ (or shorter) piece of string to the bucket handle, thread the string through the wooden bead, and then wrap the free end of the string around the wooden spool. Hot glue the tube to the base.

pulley and bucket


RIVER & BRIDGE

Our “river” was a long strip of blue cellophane taped to the base. To make the bridge, tab the ends of a piece of tagboard, then attach the tabs to the base with tape or hot glue.

finished bridge


SUN CLOCK

Cut a circle of brown paper (ours was 5″ in diameter). Use a permanent markers to draw symbols on 8 flat glass marbles. Hot glue the flat marbles to the circle, then attach the circle to the base with hot glue or tape.

sun clock


When all 8 elements were finished, kids went wild decorating. We had extra tubes, patterned paper, green tissue paper squares, and fringes of green construction paper grass. We also gave each kid a choice of 2 plastic lizards, 2 shells, and 3 paper sample cups loaded with mini pom-pom fruit.

Additionally, we cut a ton of red paper flower petals and green sepals (i.e. those little green thingees you see under flower petals). Here’s the template for both of those items. In the book, the swist plant has 8 petals. To re-create this, take 2 of the petal templates and stagger them on top of one another.

staggered petalsGlue the staggered petals together, then gently fold the petals upwards. Glue the flower on top of a sepal, then tape (or hot glue) the complete flower to the tops of the toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Marissa also used black marker to draw some details in the centers of the flowers and added some tissue paper underneath the sepals, but that’s totally optional! Here’s that overhead view again…

misslandia

And here’s Marissa again! The final piece of this project was to name your civilization and be awarded with a gold poster board crown. Thus, may we present…MISSLANDIA!

welcome to my world