Have Pie, Will Travel

have pie will travelBaking an apple pie that requires ingredients from exotic locales? This cute plastic bottle airplane will get you there! The plane is equipped with a “pie hook” to carry home the perfect pie to share with your friends. Apple pie not your favorite? No problem. We have two other flavors ready for take off!

We read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994). Apple pie is a simple enough to make. Just grab some basic ingredients from the market…uh oh…the market is closed. No problem! Dash to Italy for semolina wheat, France for eggs, Sri Lanka for cinnamon, England for milk, Jamaica for sugar cane, and Vermont for apples. After milling, grinding, boiling, cracking, churning, mixing, and cooking, the pie is finally ready to eat. Invite some friends over, and dig in. But wait! Wouldn’t the pie be extra tasty with some ice cream? Just nip out and pick some up at the market. Uh oh. The market is closed….might be best to eat it plain!

You’ll need:

  • A 1 liter plastic soda or water bottle, with cap
  • An 8.5″ x 11″ piece of white card stock
  • A selection of colored masking tape
  • 2 drinking straws
  • 1 airplane parts template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • A selection of dot stickers, round labels, or construction paper circles
  • 1 pie template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 3 twisteez wires, each approximately 4.5″ long (pipe cleaner pieces work too)
  • 3 small paperclips (mine were 1.25″ long)
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • 1 world map for a “Pie Fly” activity (more on this later!)
  • Tape and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

My plane project is a modified version of an airplane bank Katie spotted online (if you’d like to see the original inspiration, it’s pinned on my “Ideas & Inspirations” Pinterest board). My version isn’t a bank, doesn’t have jet engines, and I created a template of airplane parts that would be easy for 3-5 year-old to cut and attach to the plane. I also added a windshield, and of course, a pie hook.

Ready to get started? Empty a plastic bottle and allow the inside to dry out. Wrap colored masking tape around the top portion of the bottle. Make sure you don’t tape the cap to the bottle! You’ll need to remove it later when you attach your propeller. Wrap a piece of white card stock around the bottle. You’ll most likely need to trim off a portion of the card stock so it doesn’t extend past the bottom of the bottle.

bottle steps 1-3Turn the bottle around so the paper seam is facing you. Tape 2 drinking straws on either side of the seam (again, trim the straws if they extend past the bottom of the bottle). The 2 straws should be about 1.5″ apart. The straws will keep the plane steady when it’s sitting on a table.

straws on bottomRest the bottle on top of the taped straws. Cut and decorate the plane’s tail, horizontal tail fins, and wings from the template. You can use markers or colored tape to decorate. If you use colored masking tape on the wings, don’t use more than 2 pieces per wing. Otherwise, the tape makes the wings heavy and they start to droop. Feel free to decorate the body of the plane as well!

The tail, horizontal fin, and wing pieces all have dotted lines to indicate where to fold them to create tabs. Later, you’ll use the tabs to attach the pieces to the plane’s body.

The tail piece, however, requires one extra fold. First, fold it downward on the center dotted line, then fold the little side tabs upwards. Hot glue (or tape) to attach it to the plane. The horizontal fins attach on the sides of the tail, the wings attach to the sides of the plane’s body:

tail and wing attachmentThe windshield is on the airplane part template too. Draw yourself in the pilot’s seat, and attach to the plane with hot glue. For the round windows of the plane, I used these 1.25″ color coding labels from Avery. They worked great!

avery color coding labelsIf you can’t find the Avery stickers (I purchased mine at Office Max), use dot stickers or simple construction paper circles.

windows and windshieldCut and color the propeller from the template, then use scissors to cut out the gray circle in its center. Remove the cap from the bottle, and slide the propeller onto the bottle’s neck. Screw the cap back into place. If you want your propeller to spin, play with the tightness of the cap a little.

propeller stepsThe final step for the plane is the pie hook. Bend a pipe cleaner in half, forming a tight “V.” Make a small hook at the bottom, then bend the top of the pipe cleaner forward, so it forms a right angle.

pie hookSlide the angled part of the pipe cleaner into the back of the plane, right between the bottle and the paper. You could also tape the hook to the bottom of the plane.

attached pie hookThe airplane’s done, now for your pies! The pies in the template have built-in triangular bases. Like the airplane parts, there are dotted lines to show you how to fold the pie bases. First, cut and color a pie from the template. Then, fold its tab backwards, right where it attaches to the bottom of the pie like so:

pie step 1Bend the ends of a piece of twisteez wire downward, then twist the ends together. This creates a “pie loop.” Attach the loop to the back of the pie with tape. Now fold the pie tab upwards along the dotted line, and tape the bottom of the tab to the back of the pie.

pie step 2 and 3Slide a paperclip onto the base of the triangle to keep the pie from tipping over. Done!

finished pieRepeat the above steps with the remaining 2 pies on the template. If you don’t have twisteez wire handy, you can use pipe cleaner pieces to make your pie loops. However, if you go with pipe cleaners, consider using larger paperclips on the base of your pies (pipe cleaners are heavier than twisteez wire).

On to the Pie Fly activity! Katie borrowed a HUGE map from her husband’s office (and by huge I mean 3′ x 6′). We spread it on a couple of tables and weighed the corners down with tape dispensors. Kids lined up at one end of the map. One by one, we placed their pies on various locations on the map. Then they “flew” their planes over the different countries, hooking the pies with their planes!

flying over the worldWe had a lot of fun with this story time. However, if I was to do it again, I might change two things:

  1. Use a paperclip pie hook instead of a pipe cleaner. Because of the age of my story time kids (3-5 years-old), I went with the soft pipe cleaner option. But for some kids, the floppiness of the pipe cleaner made it hard to hook their pies. Something sharper, like an unfolded jumbo paper clip, might work better.
  2. Raw ingredients. Instead of picking up pies, have the plane pick up the different ingredients for the pie, just like the book instructs (wheat, sugar cane, eggs, apples, etc.). You could even match the ingredients to the different countries they come from!

The Famous Bucket

famous bucketPrior to 2007, if you had asked a young reader to name a famous bucket, I’ll wager most would have replied “Charlie.” But that was before a new bucket arrived on the scene. A fire-engine red bucket, wielded by an acrobatic young lady with a blonde ponytail. I speak, of course, of Kate Wetherall. Katie is one of the fantastic characters in The Mysterious Benedict Society, written by Trenton Lee Stuart (Little, Brown, 2007).

Intrigued by a curiously-worded advertisement in a local paper, orphan Reynie Muldoon spends a most unusual afternoon taking a series of strange tests. Later, he joins three other children (Sticky Washington, Constance Contraire and Kate Wetherall) who also passed the tests in unique ways. The children are invited to join a secret mission to stop Ledroptha Curtain, a criminal mastermind. The book is filled with puzzles, riddles, and action, but what I love the best is the friendship that forms between the children as their strengths (and weaknesses) are put to the test.

In the books (there are 3 in the series, plus a prequel), Kate always carries a red bucket stocked with a number of useful supplies. So when To Be Continued, our story time program for 6-8 year-olds finished the book, I just knew we had to something with Kate’s bucket! So I designed this game.

bucket gameAll you’ll need is 1 red bucket, a bucket game template printed on white card stock, and a copy of the bucket game scenarios. You’ll need markers to color in the template (or you can just go with the full color version), and scissors. I also gave kids a list of the bucket’s contents.

A quick word about the bucket. The 6.5″ bucket in the above photo can be purchased from Lowe’s for $2.35. However, since I required close to 20 buckets for my program, I needed something cheaper. I found a 4.5″ treat pail at Party City for 99¢. Nice! I also spotted 8.5″ paper bags at Party City for 79¢. Yes, a bag is technically not a bucket, but it’s a budget-friendly option nonetheless.

buckets and bagTo play the game, read a scenario aloud. Ask the kids to select the bucket items they would use to solve the scenario. Once everyone’s selections are made, go around the room and ask them to display which tools they selected, and how they would use them to solve the scenario. As you can imagine, there were some pretty innovative answers!

I’m a big fan of the Mysterious Benedict Society books, and in 2010 I was delighted to interview the author. If you’d like to listen to (or read) my interview with Trenton Lee Stewart, just click here.

Also, I don’t know if you noticed the amazing footwear on the two models at the top of the post (who also happen to be huge fans of the books). If not, scroll back up and prepare for some serious cuteness!

Here Be Burgers

say cheeseYes, those are two very excited chefs sitting atop two very large cheeseburgers. After crafting some neat-o chef hats and aprons, we held our library’s first “build-a-giant-burger” relay race!

We read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ronald Barrett (Atheneum Books, 1978). A pancake mishap in the kitchen leads Grandpa to tell the story of a town called Chewandswallow, where meals fall from the sky. It rains juice, snows mashed potatoes, and drizzles soda pop. Life is quite peaceful…until the weather takes a turn for the worse. Unpredictable combinations of food, grown to monstrous proportions, begin to plague the town. Giant pancakes, pepper winds, tomato tornadoes, and humongous donuts threaten the very lives of Chewandswallow’s citizens. In the end, they evacuate the town, setting off in peanut butter bread boats to find a new land. A tall tale to be sure. But wouldn’t it be amazing if it were true?

You’ll need:

  • 1 strip of white poster board (approximately 4.5″ x 22″)
  • 1 piece of white tissue paper (approximately 24″ x 35.5″)
  • 1 rectangle of white plastic table cloth (approximately 16″ x 40″)
  • A selection of self-adhesive foam shapes
  • A pair of giant cheeseburgers (more on this later!)
  • Scissors and stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating

finished hatBegin with the hat! Use markers to decorate a strip of white poster board. Then circle it around your head and staple it together. To make the poofy top, spread a piece of white tissue paper on a table:

hat step 2Gather the upper left and lower right corners together at the top

hat step 3Then gather the upper right and lower left corners together. You now have a hat poof.

hat step 4Pull your poof through the top of your hat brim like so:

hat step 5Once the bottom of the poof is well inside the hat band, open it up and push the tissue paper against the interior perimeter of the band. Staple the tissue to the hat band. Done!

hat step 6To make an apron, spread a rectangle of white plastic table cloth on a table.

plastic rectangle

Leaving 1-2″ inches of plastic at the top of the rectangle, cut two, 7.75″ wide pieces out of both sides. Your apron now has “strings.”

apron step 1Use self-adhesive foam shapes to decorate your apron.

apron step 2Put on your hat, tie your apron, and get ready…it’s time to race with giant cheeseburgers!

So, where exactly did I get the cheeseburgers? Funny story. Katie and I were setting up for this event when a mini truck stopped by our table. The driver had a question for the event coordinator. I looked up, and saw them.

burgers on truck“Are those giant CHEESEBURGERS?” I asked, quite excited.

As it turns out, the University’s Department of Athletics has a sponsorship from Cheeburger Cheeburger. During home halftime shows, they run relay races with the burgers. When not in use, the cheeseburgers are stored in a stadium supply closet.

“Can my library BORROW them?” I asked, getting even more excited. They said yes and about a week later, we fetched the burgers.

In the event that you don’t have a University athletics department with giant cheeseburgers, you can make some out of large pieces of felt. An even cheaper option is to use construction paper to make some slightly-larger-than-normal cheeseburgers.

And now…the relay race!

Our race consisted of 2 teams with 6 players per team. Each player had to locate a different piece of the burger in the library, race it back to the “burger building area,” and add it to the top of the burger. When the burger was complete, the race was over.

Knowing that things could get a little crazy, I designed some game cards to keep the race organized and (somewhat) calm.

Each of our cheeseburgers divided into 6 different pieces (bottom bun, cheese, burger, tomato, lettuce, and top bun). So we made 6 cards that showed an image of each burger piece (along with the word for the piece – because it’s never too early for picture / word association!). There were 2 sets of color-coded game cards. One for the Red Team, and one for the Blue Team.

game cards front

The backs of each card were numbered so each player knew when his/her turn was coming up. Only 2 kids (one from each team) raced at a time. Number 1 went first, found his/her piece, dragged it back to the burger-building area, and added it to the burger. Then Number 2 departed for his/her piece. This continued until the cheeseburger was finished.

game cards back

As I explained the game, I stressed that Red Team and Blue Team weren’t competing against one another. We were all having fun together, challenging ourselves to build giant cheeseburgers. Then Katie and I scattered the burger pieces around the library, lined up our teams, and shouted “Go!”

Alas, we didn’t get a chance to snap photos of the races. But let me assure you, there was lots of screaming, cheering, and laughter as our little chefs built giant cheeseburgers. And then pounced on them. Because who can resist pouncing on a big soft burger?

burger flipStill hankering for burgers? Check out this awesome story time burger stand, complete with milkshake faucet, fry basket, and grill!


Many thanks to Yariv Amir in Princeton University’s Department of Athletics for the cheeseburger opportunity. You are awesome.