Purrfect Pet

purrfect palRecently, it occurred to me that we’ve done story time projects with dogs, monkeys, chicks, ponies, mice, hamsters, butterflies, birds, crocodiles, bugs, rabbits, and chickens in hot air balloons…but no CATS! To correct this egregious oversight, I present you with the purrfect cat story time.

We read Hookwinked by Arthur Howard (Harcourt, 2001). Mitzi (who is a witch) adores creepy things. So when it’s time to find a pet, she heads to the creepiest store in town. She selects a toad. But all the toad wants to do is eat bugs. She returns the toad and gets a pair of bats. But all the bats want to do is hang out with each other. She returns the bats and leaves the store, completely discouraged. The next day, however, there’s a scratch at her door. It’s an adorable little kitten. Naturally, Mitzi is disgusted by the kitten’s cuteness, but she agrees to let it stay one night because it’s raining outside. That night, the kitten stays by Mitzi’s side as she hunts ghosts, purrs on Mitzi’s lap during a scary movie, and licks Mitzi’s chin when she reveals her deepest fears. Mitzi’s heart is won, and she realizes that looks aren’t everything!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • A rectangle of tagboard (approximately 4.25″ x 6″)
  • 3 pieces of twistez wire (or very thin card stock strips) approximately 4.5″ each
  • A small rectangle of self-adhesive foam (approximately 1.25 ” x 1.5″)
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • A 16″-18″ piece of ribbon
  • A small circle of card stock (approximately 1.5″ in diameter)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue

First, wrap your oatmeal container in construction paper (we offered black, white, orange, and gray). Cut the hind feet out of a tagboard rectangle, then glue the tagboard to your choice of colored construction paper. Trim the construction paper to fit the tagboard feet. Your tag board hind feet are now covered with construction paper on one side.

back feet stepsSet the feet aside for a moment, and cut a tail out of your choice of colored construction paper. Our tails were 2.25″ x 12″ rectangles and they looked great. Round one end of the rectangle, then wrap the tail around a marker to give it an awesome curl.

Hot glue the hind feet to the bottom of the oatmeal container, then hot glue to tail on top of the feet. To keep the tail anchored and less likely to tear off, I suggest hot gluing at least 3″ of it to the feet.

glued feet and tailTo create your cat’s front feet, cut two, 1.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles of construction paper, round one end of each rectangle, and then fold the rounded ends up to create paws. Hot glue (or tape) the legs to the front of the oatmeal container.

front legs attachedTo make the cat’s furry bib, cut a 4″ x 4.25″ rectangle of construction paper into an upside-down bell shape, then cut little ripples on the edges to create “fur.”

bibHot glue (or tape) the bib to the front of the cat. Make sure the bib covers the tops of the front legs, but also leaves room for your cat’s face.

bib attachedUse a marker to draw a smile on your cat and little “toe lines” on it’s feet (metallic Sharpie markers work great on black construction paper). Next, bunch together 3 pieces of twistez wire (or 3 very thin card stock strips) and tape them over the mouth like so:

whiskersCut a piece of self-adhesive foam into a cat nose and stick it over the whisker tape. Hot glue a pair of wiggle eyes above the nose, and hot glue (or tape) a pair of construction paper ears next to the eyes.

nose, eyes, and ears The final touch is your cat’s name tag. Punch a hole in a circle of white card stock, then decorate the circle with your cat’s name. Thread a piece of ribbon through the hole and tie the ribbon around your cat’s neck. Invite a few friends over for a grand night out.

purrfect gang

And there you have it…a splendid cat story time! I wonder what animal’s next? We’ve already covered flamingossquirrelslong-haired rainbow yaks

Tail Spin

tailDoesn’t Theresa look stunning? This is an extremely simple project that, with a little prepping beforehand, a staff person can run by his or herself. And the results are fantastic!

We read Edna’s Tail by Lisze Bechtold (Houghton Mills, 2001). Edna is a cat with the biggest, fluffiest tail in the neighborhood. She spends all her time making a show of it and is only lured out of her window with the promise of a feline party in the woods. As she progresses through the woods, she gets the feeling that something is following her. Actually, it’s debris getting stuck in her fluffy tail, resulting in a display so horrifying that Edna is convinced she’s being chased by a monster. She attacks, only to discover it’s her own tail! Luckily, the other cats at the party are good-natured about the mistake, and she make a lovely new friend.

If you’re worried about how this project will go over with boys, have no fear. I gave them the option of creating a “scary monster face” like the one in the book!

You’ll need:

  • 1 strip of white poster board for headband (approximately 22 long x 2.5″ wide)
  • 2 triangular pieces of poster board for cat ears
  • 2 triangular pieces of self-adhesive foam for the ears (I offered a pink or yellow option, but you can also use markers)
  • 1/2 sheets of white poster board (approximately 22″ long x 13.5″ wide)
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue
  • 1 long piece of curling ribbon for belt
  • Stapler, scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Supplies for decorating! In addition to items from the Bling Bin, we offered assorted pipe cleaners, crepe paper streamers, tissue paper sheets, construction paper, pom-poms, poster board strips…

For the headband, wrap the strip of poster board around the kid’s head, then remove and staple. Staple ears in the front of the headband above eyebrows. I offered a choice of pink or yellow self-adhesive foam to create some texture inside the ears, but you can also use markers.

cat headbandI also offered to hot glue a large gemstone on the front of the headband. Oo-la-la!

For the tail template, take 1/2 sheet of poster board, and cut it in this shape:

tail templateYes, it does look like a lopsided, elongated lid of a potty seat. But we won’t go there.

Punch two holes at the top BEFORE decorating begins, and instruct the kids not to cover the holes while they’re decorating (otherwise, you run the risk of the curling ribbon belt not going through). Then, turn them loose on the art supplies!

We found it helpful to staple multicolored poster board and construction paper strips to the top and sides first, and then added lots of little stuff on top. You can add bulk to the tail by crumbling up tissue paper and sticking it under the poster board and construction paper strips. We also had great results with sheets of tissue paper fringed and hung below and off the sides.  I had my hot glue gun ready and waiting in case there was something that needed extra reinforcement.

When the tail is finished, run the curling ribbon through the two holes and then tie it around the waist! Just look at these amazing creations!

fabulous tails on displayAnd I absolutely LOVE this one…

super stylish tailIf you don’t have a plethora of art supplies, don’t worry. The tail can be decorated with plain old crayons, markers, or even paint. Kids will have fun no matter what!