Perfect Parakeets

perfect parakeetsThese wrist parakeets are super simple to make, require very few art supplies, and…are amazingly adorable, yes? They’re also tough. Thanks to their sturdy pipe cleaner tethers, these parakeets really stay attached, even on the most active ornithologist!

You’ll need:

  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Construction paper
  • dot sticker for eyes
  • 3 small feathers
  • 3 goose quills
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Scissors, tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hole punch

If you want to get a little fancier, you’ll need:

We’ll make the parakeet’s body first, and then proceed to perching it on your wrist. Here’s what a completed bird body looks like:

parakeet bodyWrap construction paper around the entire toilet paper tube. Then wrap a smaller strip of construction paper around the top – this will become your bird’s head. Yet another piece of construction paper becomes your bird’s colorful chest (it looks best if you round the top of the chest).

Draw eyes and eyebrows on the dot stickers, then stick them on the bird’s head. Tape (or glue) a small triangle of construction paper to the head for a beak. You can also use a triangle of self-adhesive foam for the beak (it gives the beak some really nice texture). Tape (or hot glue) 2 small feathers on the side for wing, and 1 small feather on top for the crest. The body is done!

To make the tail, gather 3 duck quills together, fan them out slightly, and wrap scotch tape around the points of the quills (if you don’t want to purchase duck quills for the tail, just use more small feathers). Tape the tail to the back of the bird.

easy tail stepsIf you want to get a little fancier, you can wrap scotch tape around the points of the quills, then cover the scotch tape with colored masking tape and hot glue it to the bird’s body.

fancier tail stepsThe final step is to tether the bird to your wrist! Punch holes in both sides of the toilet paper tube. Don’t punch the holes in the center of the tube. Punch them slightly more toward the front of the bird. The reason is this – with the tail in place, the bird actually sits slightly askew on your wrist. It needs to be tethered slightly towards the front in order to sit correctly on your wrist. When in doubt, just plunk the tube on your wrist and you’ll see where the holes need to go.

punched holeThread a pipe cleaner through the holes, sit the bird on your wrist, and twist the pipe cleaner under your wrist to secure the bird in place! Finito!

finished parakeetHeaded to Hogwarts? This project also works well as an owl!

owl

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!

One Brave Birdy

pepito fliesEven the littlest bird can have a big adventure, especially if it braves our avian obstacle course and finishes by landing in a cozy treetop nest!

obstacle courseWe read Pepito the Brave by Scott Beck (Dutton Juvenile, 2001). Unlike his brothers and sisters, Pepito doesn’t want to leave the nest. He’s afraid of heights! But leave he must. So Pepito climbs down the tree and embarks on a most unbirdlike adventure that involves running, jumping a fence, swimming a river, and burrowing under a busy road. But all roads lead back to the nest, and Pepito discovers that maybe, just maybe, he’s brave after all.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (I used a 2” x 4” x 4” box)
  • 1 small craft stick (mine was 2.5″)
  • A 25″ piece of elastic beading cord
  • Masking tape
  • 1 piece of construction paper for body (approximately 4.5″ x 12″)
  • 2 rectangles of construction paper for wings (approximately 2″ x 3.25″)
  • 1 cone water cup
  • 1 pipe cleaner for bird feet
  • 2 large wiggle eyes
  • A few pieces of paper crinkle
  • balloon stick but you can also use PVC pipe)
  • Masking tape
  • Obstacle course (more details later!)
  • Crayons for decorating
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hot glue

First, you’ll need to prep and rig the string on your bird box. Begin by wrapping the elastic beading cord around the craft stick, then secure it with masking tape.

bird cord stepsNext, cut a slit in the box from an outside edge to the center.

box step 1Slide the craft stick with the elastic cord into the slit, and pull until the craft stick is up against the “roof” of the box and the cord is sticking out of the top.

box step 2With the cord in place, tape the slit firmly shut (the tape is little hard to see in this image).

box step 3The cord is finished, now for the bird! Wrap the box with construction paper. Make sure there is about 2″ sticking above the top of the box. Fringe it to create your bird’s crest. Just be careful not to cut the cord!

fringed crestRound one edge of your construction paper rectangles, and then fringe to create wings. Hot glue to the sides of the box.

wing instructionsFor the beak, use crayons to color just the tip (i.e. less than 1″) of the cone water cup, and then snip off the tip and hot glue it to the box, along with the wiggle eyes. To make a tail, you can use the construction paper scraps on the table, or you can twist the pieces of paper crinkle together and tape it to the back of the box.

tailNow for the feet! Cut the pipe cleaner in half and bend to create feet. You can go for the “single foot look,” or make individual birdy toes. Up to you! Attach the pipe cleaners to the bottom of the box with tape.

bird feetThe final step is to attach the bird’s cord to the rod. Wrap the free end of the cord around the end of the rod, and secure with masking tape.

fly cordYour bird is now complete! Three cheers for Pepito the Brave!

finished birdYou can fly the little birds around your story time space and end things there, you can make a paper bag nest (see instructions below), or you can tackle the full-fledged obstacle course!

obstacle courseThe simplest part of the obstacle course is the river. You’ll just need a blue bed sheet. The trees, fence, and tunnel, however, need to be constructed. So here we go…

To create a tree, you’ll need:

  • 1 sturdy tube. We used the roll off some heavy-duty butcher paper. If you don’t have a tube, you can place the nest on a chair, a shelf, or a table.
  • 1 bag of rocks, coins, or sand to weigh the tree down
  • 1 oatmeal container, lid removed
  • Extra paper to stuff in tree base
  • Green and brown construction paper
  • Green poster board
  • 1 brown paper lunch bag
  • Hot glue

Fit the bag of rocks, coins, or sand into the bottom of the tube. Then, holding the bag in place, lower the tube into the oatmeal container. Pack wads of paper in the gaps between the tube and the oatmeal container to keep the tree from wiggling. If you’d like, you can wrap the oatmeal container with brown construction paper, and add some green construction paper “grass” fringes.

Now for the tree top. We neglected to snap images of this during our story time prep, so I’m recreating it here with a paper towel tube. To make a tree top, cut a foliage shape from green poster board, then cut two slits in the center.

tree steps 1 and 2Slide the slits into the tube…

tree step 3…and hot glue the poster board to the interior of the tube.

tree step 4To make the nest, roll the mouth of the paper bag outward and downward until you have a small nest.

nest stepsThen hot glue it to the top of the tube. We added little red apples (made out of self-adhesive foam, bits of brown pipe cleaner, and fabric leaves, but this is optional).

glued nestSince we had two tubes, we made two trees (one for shorter kids, and one for taller kids). We didn’t want anyone over-stretching, falling, and completely felling a tube tree.

finished treesFor the tunnel & fence, you’ll need:

  • 1 copy paper box with lid
  • A box cutter
  • 1 piece of green poster board
  • 2 pieces of black, 12″ x 18″ construction paper
  • Yellow masking tape
  • 1 piece of green, 12″ x 18″ construction paper
  • 1 piece of white poster board
  • Extra green construction paper
  • Packing tape
  • Hot glue

Use the box cutter to make tunnel entrances in the short ends of the copy paper box.

cutting tunnel Then cover the long side of the tunnel with green poster board “grass” (alas, I was out of green, so I used pink). Secure with packing tape. Then cut a black construction paper “road” and hot glue it on top of the “grass.” We also used yellow masking tape to make lines on the road, and hot glued some green construction paper grass fringe on the bottom.

finished tunnelTo make the fence, cover the outside of the copy paper box lid with a 12″ x 18″ piece of green construction paper. Then cut pickets out of the white poster board and hot glue to the box lid. I also used a black Sharpie marker to outline the fence pieces. Add some grass at the bottom if you like.

finished fenceSet everything up and you’re ready to run the course! Birdy can run up, jump the fence, swim the river, burrow through the tunnel, and land in the nest. I recommend demonstrating the course before you turn kids loose on it (especially the tunnel – some kids kept trying to shove their birds through first instead of leading with the rod).

I wanted kids to earn a reward sticker after completing the course. So I wrote encouraging things on name tag stickers and asked the kids to decorate them. My idea was to collect the decorated stickers and randomly hand them out (so you’re providing encouragement for someone else? Get it?).

Well, it didn’t work. Some kids put the stickers on right away. Some wanted to keep theirs. Some didn’t get around to decorating their stickers. So I had to quickly bring out some different stickers as rewards. If I was to do it all over again, I would just make the stickers myself and hand them out!

reward stickersIf you like bird projects, you might also want to check out this one and this one!