When Life Gives You Lemons…

lemonade standIs there anything better than a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot day? Served from your very own lemonade stand? Besides being a retail operation, this lemonade stand also involves counting, sorting, and sequential thinking exercises for the young shopkeeper. Yes, it’s a perfect blend of math and…wait a minute! Is that a RED lemon I see on the tree?!?

We read The Red Lemon by Bob Staake (Random House, 2006). Farmer McPhee is enthusiastic about his beautiful lemons and the delightful things they can produce (sherbet! pie! cookies! cakes!). However, while gallivanting through his grove, he discovers a RED lemon. Needless to say, he is outraged and huffily hurls the offending lemon far away, where it lands on a little island. Two hundred years pass, and the McPhee lemon grove is gone. But on that faraway island, a bustling metropolis has risen. Their world famous product? Red lemons, of course.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”) – a tissue box works too!
  • craft sticks (mine were 4.5″ long)
  • 3 rectangles of tagboard (mine were approximately 2″ x 4.5″)
  • 1 circle of green poster board (approximately 7″ in diameter)
  • 1 paper towel tube
  • 1-2 rectangles of green poster board (approximately 2.25″ x 4″) for bushes
  • 1 corrugated cardboard base (approximately 9.75″ x 13.75″)
  • 3 paper cups
  • 1 wooden dowel
  • A selection of colored masking tape
  • 3 small plastic cups (mine were 1.25 ounce clear cups, purchased at Party City)
  • 3 yellow cotton balls
  • 1 drinking straw
  • 1 lemonade stand template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • Flower stickers (optional)
  • Scissors, tape, and white glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

First, use white glue (or hot glue or tape) to attach 4 craft sticks and 3 rectangles of tagboard to the front of the box. I used this part of the activity to introduce (or revisit) the concept of a pattern.

stand base Color the small lemons on the template (be sure to make a red one!) and glue them onto a 7″  circle of green poster board. Then hot glue the circle to a paper towel tube. As you can see in the image below, I left about 3″ of space between the top of the circle and the top of the tube.

back of treeTo make a bush for your stand, cut a bush shape out of a rectangle of green poster board, and then tab it at the bottom.

bushNow to put the set together! First, hot glue the box to a corrugated cardboard base (I used a cake pad, but you can also make one out of a copy paper box lid). Then glue 3 paper cups behind the box (i.e. the side that isn’t decorated with craft sticks & tagboard). Glue the bush to the right of the stand, and the tree to the left. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the stand with everything glued in place.

bird's-eye viewA word about the tree. As you can see, it’s hot glued to the base AND to the side of the box. The double attachment makes the tree extra sturdy (which is especially important if the project has to survive a car trip home).

attaching treeNow for your lemonade stand’s sign! Wrap 2 pieces of colored masking tape around the top of a wooden dowel, then trim the ends into triangles to create 2 flags. Tape the dowel on the right side of the box.

flagsDecorate the rest of the items on the template and add them to the stand. The large lemon sign gets taped to the wooden dowel and the “Fresh” garland gets taped on the front of the stand. We added some flower stickers too (you could also opt to draw flowers on using markers). We had some extra bushes., so I offered kids a second bush to double the landscaping fun.

lemonade stand All that remains is the cash register and your merchandise! You can see the register in the above photo. It does require a little assembly. I’ll demonstrate the steps below with an undecorated register, straight from the template.

First, fold the bottom tab of your register inwards like so:

cash register step 1Then, fold both sides downwards from the base like this

cash register step 2Curl the tab around to meet the opposite side of the register

cash register step 3Then secure the tab with tape. Hot glue (or tape) the register to the top of the stand!

cash register step 4Finally, the lemonade. You might recall that the lemonade stand has 3 paper cups glued behind it. These paper cups are to help kids practice sorting their small plastic lemonade glasses, yellow cotton balls, and mini straws.

cup setupFirst, I showed the kids the sequence in which you need to make a glass of lemonade. Cup first, lemonade second, and straw third (to make the mini straws, simple cut a drinking straw into thirds – my mini straws ended up being about 2.5″ long).

glass of lemonadeWhen your customer is finished, you take apart your lemonade in reverse order, making sure to sort everything back into its proper paper cup. I used yellow cotton balls for lemonade (purchased from Discount School Supply), but you could also use crumpled yellow construction paper. Or red paper – I hear those red lemons are all the rage!

As we stocked the lemonade stand with supplies, we had the kids count out loud with us: 1-2-3 cups, 1-2-3 cotton balls, and 1-2-3 straws. I suggested to parents that they use the stand and some fake (or real) money to give kids a taste of monetary math at home. But for now, let’s simply raise a glass to our lemonade-loving friends!

cheersInterested in other retail opportunities? Check out our ice cream truck and produce stand. Or get historical with our covered wagon & trading post story time! If you’re looking for ways to add a little math to your literacy programs, there are some hints on our Sneaky Math post.

Tree of Love

finished treeIt’s a tree…that when rotated, reveals a gallery of the things you dearly love!

tree picture galleryWe read We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake (Golden Books, 2010). In this poetic book, families in various parts of the world plant a tree and watch as the tree changes with the seasons, helps the earth, and grows with the families. I wanted to capture some of that love, growing, and giving with this project!

You’ll need:

  • 1 piece of tagboard for tree base
  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • 1 canned good
  • Hot glue
  • A large piece of craft paper (mine was 21.5″ x 64″) (paper grocery bags work too)
  • Green tissue paper
  • Strips of green construction paper
  • 1 oval of black self-adhesive foam (optional)
  • Red, yellow, or orange dot stickers (optional)
  • 1 tree frames template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Tape, stapler, scissors for construction
  • Markers for decoration

Begin by cutting a tagboard base for your tree. I made mine semi-circular with irregular curves, but a plain old circle will do. The most important thing is making sure that kids don’t cut their bases SMALLER than the oatmeal container (it happens!). Hot glue the oatmeal container to the base.

oatmeal container baseSince the branches and foliage can make the tree unsteady, I dropped a canned good “anchor” inside the oatmeal container and then taped the lid shut. Now for the tree! For weeks, I had been hording brown packing paper I snagged from my department’s recycling bin:

paperThree cheers for reducing, reusing and recycling, eh? But if you don’t have packing paper handy, you can also use craft paper or paper grocery bags.

Tape one end of the piece of paper to the oatmeal container, and then wrap the paper multiple times around the container. The more paper you wrap around the container, the better (and more plentiful) the branches will be. When you’re finished wrapping, hot glue the end of the paper securely to the trunk. You’ll also want to push the paper “trunk tube” down onto the tagboard base and secure it with hot glue. Otherwise, your trunk tube might slide off later!

tree trunk step 1Cut fringes in the trunk tube, starting at the top of the paper and ending a little above the oatmeal container lid:

tree trunk step 2Then bunch and twist the paper fringes together to create branches.

tree trunk step 3I used this branch twisting technique on a larger scale for this project. With the branches complete, it’s time to add the foliage! I provided three different sizes of green tissue paper for the “foliage frenzy.”

tissue paper sizesCrumble up the tissue paper and then staple it to the various branches. One hint: for the foliage at the top of the tree, staple a single piece of tissue paper to several different branches. It keeps the top of the tree looking full and fluffy, and the floppy branches secure.

foliageYour tree is now complete! Time to decorate!

tree trunk step 4We adorned the base with fringes of green construction paper “grass,” and I used hot glue to attach small plastic snakes and lizards I found lurking in the art supply cabinet. We added flower stickers as well, but you can draw critters and flowers on with markers.

The hole in the tree was created with a black oval of self-adhesive foam, and I hot glued a small toy butterfly to the edge of it. Yellow, orange, or red dot stickers can be used to add lemons, oranges, or apples to the tree foliage.

finished tree The tree is happy and growing…now for the gallery of things you love! Use markers to color and fill in the frames of the template. Then cut them out and tape (or hot glue) each frame to the back of the tree.

tree picture galleryMy favorite thing about this project was using a canned good as the anchor. At story time, I suggested to parents that when their kids were done playing with their trees, the canned good could be removed and donated to a local food bank. They really liked that! A true giving tree!