Fantasta-licious Factory

happy ownerMove over Charlie Bucket! How would YOU like to own your very own candy factory that produces amazing candies, sweets, and chocolates?

candy line upIn addition to its fanciful decor and delectable goodies, this candy factory has a working conveyor belt. Ingredients go in, delicious candy comes out!

conveyor belt candy

We read If I Owned a Candy Factory, written by James Walker Stevenson and illustrated by James Stevenson (Greenwillow, 1989). A little boy imagines what he would do if he had a candy factory. First, he would write a letter to all his friends and ask “What kind of candy do you like best?” and “What day is your birthday?” On their birthdays, kids are invited to the factory to get their favorite kind of candy…gumdrops, red lollipops, licorace, etc. Eventually, the candy factory would open its doors so all the kids around the world could come and enjoy a treat! It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”)
  • box cutter
  • 6 toilet paper tubes
  • A selection of colored masking tape
  • 1 strip of tagboard (mine was 3.75″ x 14″)
  • 1 jumbo craft stick (mine was 1.75″)
  • factory template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • A selection of patterned paper
  • Cotton balls (I offered white, blue, yellow, and pink)
  • An assortment of pipe cleaners
  • A selection of embossed foil paper or plain foil paper
  • A selection of drinking straws
  • A selection of craft ties
  • A selection of metallic (and/or regular) ribbon
  • 1 medium square of brown stiffened felt
  • 2 small pieces of tin foil
  • wooden coffee stirrer
  • 3 small squares of self-adhesive foam - all the same color
  • 2 tiny squares of kitchen sponge
  • 1 mini pom-pom (mine was 0.5″)
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by using a box cutter to create openings in the short sides of the box (my openings were approximately 3″ x 4″).

sides of factoryNow use colored masking tape to secure toilet paper tubes to the outside of each opening. Wrap the tape all the way around the bottom of the box to make the tubes extra secure.

belt 1Next, hot glue additional toilet paper tubes on the inside of the box. These are the “internal rollers” for the conveyor belt, and will help keep the belt steady and on track.

belt 2We will now pause this project to say a few words about the moveable conveyor belt. The belt is actually a strip of tagboard with a craft stick attached to it. The craft stick acts as the “lever” that moves the tagboard strip back and forth.


Here’s what the conveyor belt looks like inside the factory (minus the candies of course – we’ll get to that step later).

belt in factoryThe size and length of your conveyor belt will vary according to the size of your box (my box was 9″ long and my conveyor belt was 14″). Your conveyor belt must be long enough to make the ingredients “disappear” into the factory and reappear as finished candies on the other side. It also needs to stay on the rollers and not fall into the box.

So we played around with a few conveyor belt prototypes and here’s what we finally came up with.

First, place the belt into the factory, letting it rest on top of the toilet paper tube rollers. Now slide the belt all the way to the left until the right side of the belt reaches the beginning of the right-hand “internal roller.” Make a mark on the left side of the belt.

It was hard to get a good shot of this step, so I marked the end of the belt with purple masking tape to give it more visibility. In the photo, it sort of looks like the end of the belt and the mark are inside the box. They’re not. They’re definitely outside the box.

belt position 1Repeat on the other side. The result will look like this. A belt with two marks on it.

belt position 2Now use the box cutter to make a slit right between the two marks. The slit needs to be wide enough for your jumbo craft stick to slide into snugly.

belt position 3Make 3 “x” marks on each end of the belt. This shows kids exactly where they need to place their candy in order to get the factory illusion to work.

belt position 4Insert the jumbo craft stick into the slit. You might want to add a little hot glue at the base to make it extra secure.

craft stick in beltPlace the belt back inside the factory. The craft stick should be poking out of the place where the box’s lid tucks into the box.

belt in factoryWe noticed that the belt was still in danger of coming off the rollers (especially if you get over-enthusiastic and whip it back and forth). So we added one more security measure.

Move the craft stick all the way to the left, until you see the last “x” on the belt. Put a piece of tape to the left of the craft stick to keep it from going any further.

x mark 1Repeat on the right side.

x mark 2The belt is secure, time to decorate the factory! Color the sign and windows on the template and tape or glue them to the factory. Wrap 2 toilet paper tubes with patterned paper and hot glue them to the roof of your factory as smoke stacks.

If you’d like smoke to come out of your stacks, pull a cotton ball apart, then push a pipe cleaner through it. Tape one end of the pipe cleaner inside the smoke stack.

smokeOne artistic mother and daughter team made delicious swirl smoke using two cotton balls twined together. Is this not completely awesome?

twirly smoke

Other decorative touches included foil paper “solar panels,” drinking straw pipes going in random directions, pipe cleaners for “icing” and/or candy cane flourishes, and some craft ties and ribbon. I also offered some glittery plastic cocktail stirrers (located in the paper goods section at Target).


The factory is all set. It’s finally time to manufacture some candy! We prepped all the little bits needed for this part of the project in advance, then put them in plastic cups so each kid would have everything at his/her fingertips.

Here are the cups, sitting on my trusty story time project book cart (which you might remember seeing in an oh-so-unusual format in my very first post).

prepped cups

Remember, you’re making 6 candy items for your conveyor belt. The “raw ingredient” set (pictured below on the left) and the “finished product” set (pictured on the right).

candiesCHOCOLATE BAR: For the “raw ingredients,” hot glue three tiny squares of stiffened brown felt to a small piece of tin foil. For the “finished” chocolate bar, wrap a small rectangle of stiffened brown felt with tin foil (leave a little chocolate peeking out the top). Then use patterned paper to create a label for your chocolate bar.

chocolate barLOLLIPOP: The “raw ingredients” are a square of self-adhesive foam and a small piece of a coffee stirrer. For the “finished” lollipop, cut 2 matching circles from self-adhesive foam. Peel the back off 1 circle and stick a piece of a coffee stirrer to it. Peel and stick the other circle and press it on top of the first circle. Add lollipop swirls with a Sharpie marker.

lollipopCAKE: For the “raw ingredients,” use a small square of sponge and a bit of cotton ball. For the “finished” cake, hot glue a bit of cotton ball on top of a small square of sponge, then hot glue a mini pom-pom cherry on top.

cakeAll that remains is hot gluing the candy to the conveyor belt (even though some kids decided to leave their candy loose). Remember to put the ingredients and the finished candy on the belt in the right order. We had some chocolate squares emerge as lollipops at first, but after a little trial and error, the kids worked it out.

And there you have it. You are now the proud owner of a candy factory! Just don’t eat too many sweets, or this might have to be the subject of your next story time!

Monkey Business

monkey businessWith a turn of the wrist, this gymnastic little money swings around (and around and around) his colorful rainforest branch!

monkey swingsWe read BIG Little Monkey, written by Carole Lexa Schaefer and illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Candlewick, 2008). A little monkey wakes up one morning, ready to play, and finds that his family still wants to sleep. He decides he’s ready to be a Big Little Monkey and leave the tree to find some new friends to play with. He encounters a sloth, a parrot, and finally…Sly Boa. The game “curl my tail around in tricky ways” doesn’t sound too good to Big Little Monkey, so he quickly scoots back to his family, happy to be their Little Monkey once again.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Dark brown construction paper for body, hair, and ears.
  • Light brown construction paper for mouth (approximately 2.25″ x 3.5″)
  • 1 oval of self-adhesive foam (approximately 1″ x 1.5″)
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • 1 strip of brown poster board for the tail (approximately 2″ x 10.5″)
  • 1 monkey business template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • An 8.5″ x 8.5″ square of tagboard for arm & leg templates and tree branches
  • box cutter
  • 1 brass tack
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • A pencil for tracing
  • 6 – 8 green construction paper leaves
  • 2 small feathers
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by wrapping the oatmeal container with dark brown construction paper. Fringe more dark brown construction paper and tape it to the top of the lid for hair. IMPORTANT: Make sure you don’t tape the lid to the oatmeal container closed! You’ll open the container later to secure your monkey’s swinging arm.

Cut the light brown construction paper rectangle into an oval, and glue to the front of the head. Attach the wiggle eyes (using hot glue), the self-adhesive foam oval, and two dark brown construction paper ears. I used the markers to drawl little swirls in the ears and put a smile on my monkey’s face.

monkey faceYou’ll notice that the ears very close to the eyes and mouth. This is so the ears don’t hamper the movement of the monkey’s swinging arm.

The face is done, now for the body! Curl one end of the brown construction paper tail around a marker, then tape or hot glue it to the back of the oatmeal container. Cut the arms and legs out of the template and tape (or hot glue) the two legs and the short arm to the container. I curled the short arm up in the classic monkey “hand in the armpit pose.”

classic monkey armFinally, the monkey’s swinging arm. Cut a tagboard arm from the template, then place the paper towel tube on the round part of the swinging arm. Use the pencil to trace the diameter of the tube onto the template. Then cut the circle out.

swinging arm stepsUse the box cutter to make a small slit at the bottom of the swinging arm (you can see it in Step 3 of the image above). Make another slit in the side of the oatmeal container. Push the brass tack through the slit in the swinging arm:

swinging arm 1 Then remove the oatmeal container’s lid and push the brass tack through the slit in the oatmeal container.

swinging arm 2Reach inside the container to unfold the prongs, then replace the oatmeal container lid.

swinging arm 3The monkey is done, now for the rainforest swinging branch! Cut two tagboard branches (mine were about 8.5″ long):

branchesHot glue or tape the tagboard branches to the very end of the paper towel tube. Use markers to color the bird and the butterflies. The butterflies and green construction paper leaves can be glued of taped onto the tagboard branches. The bird requires just a few extra steps. First, fold the template like so:

bird step 1Using the dotted lines as guides, fold the two tabs outwards.

bird step 2Use tape to attach 2 small feathers to the bird template as a tail. However, when you finally tape or hot glue your bird’s tabs to the branch, make sure the bird is at the very end and the tail faces away from the monkey’s swinging area.

end of tubeAgain, attach the branches and bird on the very end of the tube! Otherwise, those items will be smacked repeatedly (or completely taken out) by the swinging monkey. We had a few tangled monkeys and squashed birds at story time, and had to do some quick repairs.

To operate the monkey, slide the swinging arm over the paper towel tube, hold it at arm’s length, and begin swaying the tube back and forth. As you build more momentum, the monkey will circle around and around on it’s branch. It’s virtually impossible to not make monkey noises while you’re doing this. Go on. We dare you to not make monkey noises!

Pyramid Party

pyramid partyDeep inside this golden pyramid is a lavish tomb complete with jeweled table, companion cat, mysterious hieroglyphics, decadent sarcophagus, and of course, a mummy!

mummyWe read Ten Little Mummies: An Egyptian Counting Book, written by Philip Yates and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Viking Juvenile, 2003). Ten little mummies, dead bored, decide to emerge from the tomb for a day of play and mischief. As the countdown progresses, each adventurous mummy encounters  something different – heat stoke, adoption by baboons, a chariot race, being unwound on a pyramid slide, vanishing into the night on a hippo, etc. Finally, one sad, lonely little mummy returns to the tomb to discover that – surprise! – the other nine waiting for her, all safe and sound.

You’ll need:

  • 1 corrugated cardboard pyramid base (approximately 7.25″ x 11″)
  • A selection of embossed foil paper
  • 1 rectangle of golden metallic poster board (approximately 9.5″ x 21″)
  • 1 heiroglyphics sheet printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white paper
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 1 rectangle of black construction paper (approximately 2″ x 6″)
  • A selection of eye stickers
  • 3 – 4 strips of white construction paper (approximately 0.75″ x 18″ per strip)
  • 7 – 8 mini pom-poms (mine were 0.5″ in diameter)
  • 1 paper cup (I used a metallic-colored one)
  • 1 small beverage cap
  • A selection of large gemstones (and small ones as well)
  • 1 cat and lid template printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 small wooden spool (mine was 1″ tall)
  • Extra scraps of gold poster board and embossed foil paper
  • Tape, scissors, and glue stick for construction
  • Metallic markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We begin with a corrugated cardboard pyramid base (I cut mine out of a copy paper box). Glue or tape a sheet of embossed foil paper on one side, right on the middle. This is the floor of your tomb. The foil paper won’t go to all of the edges of the base, but we’ll fix that later!

Next comes the pyramid. I used gold metallic poster board (ordered online from Blick Art Supplies. It’s gold on one side, white on the other). It looked fantastic, but yellow poster board would look good too. Unfortunately, my pyramid template didn’t fit on an 11″ x 17″ piece of paper, so I wasn’t able to make a printable template for you. Here are the dimensions:

pyramid baseOne important thing to note is that the pointy top of the pyramid is NOT part of the 10.75″ and 10″ sides. I left some extra room during the original cut and then cut the pointy top out of the excess. This template is not perfect, but the kids didn’t seem to care if their pyramids were a bit lopsided.

If you don’t want to tackle this pyramid, here is an alternative. Simply cut a triangle out of poster board, then hot glue it to a box “tomb.”  See? This mummy is just as happy in this type of pyramid as the other one…

alternative pyramidWith the pyramid cut, use the hieroglyphics sheet to write messages on the interior walls. The talented Miss Joani did these with metallic markers (the bottom one says “Tiger Tales Rocks”). She also did the drawings for the templates! Awesome.

writingWhen you’re done with your hieroglyphics, fold the pyramid template along the blue lines and tape it the top of the cardboard base. You might have to do a little shaping with the scissors to get it just right.

pyramid foldsReady for the mummy? First, wrap the black construction paper rectangle around the top of the toilet paper tube and affix eye stickers. Run a glue stick down one side of a white construction paper strip and, starting at the bottom of the tube, wrap it around your mummy. When the strip runs out, start another until the mummy is complexly wrapped (but make sure to leave its eyes peeking out).

mummy stepsNow for the sarcophagus. Cut a toilet paper tube in half, lengthwise. Glue a small piece of embossed foil paper on the interior of one of the tube halves (like a metallic mattress for your mummy to rest on). Then flip it over and hot glue 4 mini pom-poms on the bottom for legs.

bottomNext, use metallic markers to color the sarcophagus lid template and hot glue (or tape) it to the top of the remaining tube half. I added some small plastic gems as well. Lay your mummy on the bottom half of the sarcophagus, then gently place the lid on top.

sarcophagusJust a few more touches remain! Cut the paper cup down to 1.5″ then hot glue large gemstones on it. This is your table, to which you can add a beverage lid filled with mini pom-pom fruits.

Color the cat template, then flip it over and hot glue a wooden spool to the back.

cat backAll that’s left now is general decorating fun. Use extra pieces of gold poster board and embossed foil paper to fill the gaps in the floor and add flourishes to the walls. I also had some some gold embossed foil seals handy (purchased from Nashville Wraps).

pyramid partyOne clever story time artist added an eye sticker to the center of the seal and I just had to do the same on mine. Behold the Eye of Horus!