Pickin’ Peas, Or, A Problem with Rabbits

pickin peasIt’s garden season and the peas are plumb and ripe for pickin’. Unfortunately, Mr. Rabbit is on a mission to score a succulant snack! We made bunnies, baskets, and pea plants and then headed to our story time garden to catch that naughty nibbler in the act!

rabbit basket pea plantWe read Pickin’ Peas, a classic Southern folktale retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, and illustrated by Pat Cummings (HarperCollins, 1998). A little girl plants and carefully tends a pea garden. When the peas are nice and plumb she starts to pick them, singing as she goes (“Pickin’ peas. Put ’em in my pail.”). Mr. Rabbit, hiding in the row behind her, starts to eat the peas, singing as well (“Pickin’ peas. Land on my knees!”). Eventually, the little girl catches on to rabbit’s tricks and nabs him. But with some quick thinking, a song, and a dance, the rabbit manages to escape for further culinary daring-dos.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small box (mine was 4” x 4” x 4”) – a small tissue box works too!
  • 1 strip of tagboard for the basket handle (mine was 2″ x 14.5″)
  • Brown masking tape
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • Brown construction paper
  • 2 eye stickers
  • 1 pink dot sticker
  • 1 small white pom-pom (mine was 0.75″)
  • 1 green pipe cleaner
  • 1 rectangle of green construction paper (approximately 3″ x 3.5″)
  • 3-4 mini pom-poms (mine were 0.25″)
  • 1 small plastic cup (mine was 3oz.)
  • 1 pea garden game (more on that later!)
  • Stapler, scissors, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

There are three parts to this project: the basket, the rabbit, and the pea plant. We’ll start with the basket! Cut the tabs and lid off the top of a small box. If you’re using a tissue box, simply cut the top off. Attach a tagboard (or poster board) handle. Use brown masking tape and/or patterned tape to decorate the basket (or, just use markers!).

basket stepsNext is the rabbit! Wrap a toilet paper tube with brown construction paper, then add eye stickers and a dot sticker for the nose (or just use markers to create eyes and a nose). Tape a pair of brown construction paper ears to the inside of the tube. Hot glue on a white pom-pom tail, And don’t forget to draw a smile! The final step: write your name on the back of your rabbit so you can identify it later, during the garden game.

rabbitLastly, the pea plant. First, cut a pea pod and a leaf from a 3″ x 3.5″ rectangle of green construction paper. Here’s what mine look like:

pea pod and leafUse markers to draw some veins on the leaf. Write your name on the back of the leaf as well (so you identify it later, during the garden game).

Cut a pipe cleaner in half. Bunch the two halves together and tape the bottoms together tightly with masking tape (I used green tape, but any color will do). Curve the right pipe cleaner downward and tape the pea pod to it. Corkscrew the left pipe cleaner and tape a leaf to it. Finish by hot gluing 3-4 mini pom-poms to the pea pod (I used green pom-poms for my plant, but during story time, we let kids choose any colors they liked).

pea plant stepsYour pea plant also gets a “pot.” This is a 3oz plastic cup. I had some old office labels in the art supply cabinet, so I made “Peas” labels for the kids to color in. You can tape your pea plant inside the pot like this:

potted pea plantOr…you can wait, leave the pea plant detached from the pot, and play our garden game!

Our garden started as a low, flat box. We added 4 shrubs, tall grass, rocks, daisies, a smattering of flower stickers, pipe cleaner pea vines, a tagboard picket fence, and 3 oatmeal container rabbit holes. Here’s an image of the garden from the front:

garden from frontAnd here’s a birds-eye view so you can see how the shrubs are staggered and where the 3 rabbit holes are located:

garden from topWe knew the shrubs and rocks were going to get bumped pretty hard, so Katie attached them to jumbo craft sticks and slid them into slits she cut in the box.

shrub on sticksYou’ll notice that the shrubs have little pockets on them. This is so you can slide your pea plant into the pocket, and lo! It is now “growing” in the garden.

pea pocketTo play the game, we had every kid “plant” their pea plant in a pocket. Next, I collected all the rabbits. One by one, I hid a rabbit somewhere in the garden – in holes, behind rocks, in the tall grass, etc. – then I called out the name written on the back of the rabbit. The rabbit’s owner jumped up, ran over to the garden, and tried to find the rabbit before it “ate” any peas!

garden gameAfter everyone had caught their rabbit, the kids returned to the garden to “pick” their pea plants and tape them inside their pots. Since the kids’ names were written on the backs of the pea plant leaves, every plant was returned to its rightful owner.

Rabbits ruled this story time, but what happens when vegetables strike back? Click here to find out!

Come On Get Snappy

get snappySnapdragon anyone? I’ve offered this simple project at a number of programs in the past, and it’s always well-received. “Snappy” has decorated the edges of a swamp at a Halloween party, hid in an Alice in Wonderland garden, and grown out of pots at a “Primordial Plants” event table!

event tableYou’ll need:

  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 small rectangle of green construction paper for head (approximately 1.5″ x 3″)
  • A sliver of red construction paper for tongue
  • 1 green pipe cleaner
  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • Extra green construction paper for leaves

First, fold the green construction paper rectangle in half to form Snappy’s mouth. Tab the ends of the mouth, then cut out teeth.

mouth stepsMake sure to leave a gap in the lower teeth (this is where the tongue will rest later).

gapNext, punch a hole in the back of Snappy’s head…

punched holeThen thread a green pipe cleaner through the hole. Twist the pipe cleaner around and thread it through the hole once again. Pull gently to tighten, then curl the end.

stem steps

 Cut the sliver of red construction paper to look like a forked tongue and tape (or glue) it into the mouth.

tongueUse markers to draw eyes. I added my eyes at the very end, but younger kids might have an easier time drawing the eyes earlier, such as before they attach the head to the pipe cleaner stem.

close up of faceTape the pipe cleaner stem inside the paper cup. Use extra green construction paper to add foliage. Done! Perhaps you can test out your new Snappy skills with this garden story time?

Think Spring

three flowersWhat could be better than this lovely bluebell, orchid, and dandelion? How about an entire garden full of this fantastical flowery headgear?

gardenWe read My Garden by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2010). While a little girl is helping her mother in the garden, she daydreams about her own garden. In her garden, the flowers change color according to your thoughts, chocolate bunnies pose no threat to your lettuce, colorful jelly bean bushes bloom, the air is full of birds and butterflies, and the strawberries glow like little lanterns at night. Beautiful!

You’ll need:

  • A circle of white poster board (approximately 10″ in diameter)
  • A pencil
  • 1 long strip of poster board (approximately 2″ x 20″)
  • 1 shorter strip of poster board (approximately 2″ x 15″)
  • Pieces of poster board, assorted colors
  • Pieces of construction paper, assorted colors
  • Pieces of tissue paper, assorted colors
  • A selection of pipe cleaners, assorted colors
  • A selection of pom-poms, assorted colors
  • 2 rectangles of green poster board (approximately 5.25″ x 10″)
  • 2 pieces of green britelace
  • Green masking tape
  • Scissors, stapler, tape, white glue and/or glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decoration
  • Hot glue

Press the circle of poster board up to your face and use a pencil to trace an opening for your face in the center. The top of the face opening should be under your eyebrows, and the bottom should be just below your lips. For this particular project, it’s best if the face circle is on the small side (my face circle, for example, was 5.5″ in diameter). Once the circle is traced, cut it out.

circleNow for the straps. Tab one end of the long construction paper strip and staple it to one side of the circle. Then hold the circle up to your face and wrap the strap around the back of your head. Make sure the strap is fairly snug, then tab it and staple to the other side of the circle.

strap 1Next, lay the shorter poster board strip over top of your head. Measure for snugness and staple the short strip to the longer strip. You now have two straps – one that fits around the back of your head, and one that rests on the top of your head.

strap 2 Now it’s time to decorate! Use markers, poster board, construction paper, tissue paper, pipe cleaners and pom-poms to create your flower. I made 3 example flowers – a bluebell, a pink orchid, and a yellow dandelion.

flower examples I figured I wouldn’t have to sell girls on this project, but I thought boys might be a little hesitant to become flowers. So the dandelion was designed to be appealing to boys, as was the color / name choice for the bluebell. We had 9 boys and 3 girls at this story time. I’m delighted to report that not a single boy balked at being a flower.

With your headdress complete, it’s time for leafy wristbands! Cut fringes, leaf, or petal shapes out of your green construction paper rectangle.

wristbandsThen wrap it around your wrist and staple. Make sure you staple the wristband a little loose so you can slip it on and off easily. Next add construction paper fringes, green masking tape highlights, twisted green pipe cleaners, green britelace “vines”…whatever strikes your fancy!

finished wristbandYour project is complete, but we’re not done with this post just yet. This weekend kicked off the world-famous Philidelphia Flower Show and my assistant Joani celebrated by wearing her orchid headdress to the event! Just look at this image and tell me it isn’t the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.

joani with butterflies