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 Plant” 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

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It’s a garden…

garden flat 3…that grows before your very eyes!

garden up 1Pssst…the secret is the little cardboard tabs on the side.

We read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Little, Brown, 2009). While taking a walk in a dreary city without any trees or greenery, little Liam discovers a neglected patch of wildflowers and plants. He decides to help. As the garden flourishes, it gets curious and begins to spread over the entire city, slowly changing the dull landscape into a fantastic, colorful masterpiece (and the citizens of the city into eager, joyful gardeners).

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 9” x 4 ½” X 4 ½” but a large tissue box works too!)
  • 1 piece of tagboard
  • 4 large large plastic buttons, or anything that has a little weight to it (pennies, bottle caps, etc.)
  • Hot glue
  • Construction paper, pipe cleaners, tissue paper & markers for decorating
  • Tape and scissors for construction
  • 1 white paper cup
  • 1 strip of poster board (approximately 1″ x 5″)
  • 1/2 of a bubble tea straw (approximately 4″ segment)
  • Blue cellophane
  • 1/2 sheet of dot stickers (optional)
  • A “Be Curious” banner template printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper

Cut the top (or lid) off the box. Save for later. Next, hot glue the four buttons to the (outside) bottom of the box, like little feet:

buttons on bottom of boxThese buttons will keep the box grounded when you’re pulling on the tabs to make the garden “grow.”

Now it’s time to construct the fake floor of the box. Since I used a box with a lid, I simply re-used the lid. You can also use tagboard. Cut the floor to fit the (inside) bottom of your box. Make sure the floor is smaller than the inside of the box, so it slides up and down smoothly.

Now cut 2 strips of tagboard to make the tabs that will raise and lower the floor. The size of the strips depends on your box, but make sure they are at least 2″ taller than the top of your box so kids can grab them easily. Staple the tabs on the short ends of the floor, then bend upward.

fake floor with tabsAfter some trial and error, we determined that cutting the corners off the floor allows it to slide up and down more easily.

Now it’s time to decorate! We provided green construction paper in various shapes and sizes, a rainbow assortment of tissue paper, three different types of green pipe cleaners…and let everyone go wild. But remind the kids that they can only decorate the fake floor of the box. If they tape stuff around the top or inside of the box, the floor won’t slide!

Since some kids (and parents) are somewhat daunted by tissue paper flowers, I created a really easy muffin cup flower.

Punch a pipe cleaner through a muffin cup. To keep the muffin cup in place, put kinks in the pipe cleaner on both sides:

Muffin cup flower steps

Variation: Punch the pipe cleaner through TWO muffin cups, and fringe one!

Variation of muffin cup flowerOn to the watering can! Use markers to decorate the white poster board handle of the watering can and tape it to the white paper cup.

For the spout, cut four tabs on one end of your bubble tea straw segment. Spread the tabs out, and tape to the cup. When taping, you’ll need to adjust the tabs to get the straw to point upwards like a spout.

watering can spout instructionsFinish the watering can by peppering it with dot stickers! For extra fun, I put squares of blue cellophane in a plastic tub “pond” and kids strolled over to “fill up” their watering cans. The final touch on the project was a “Be Curious” banner taped to the front of the box!

To “grow” your garden, drop the fake floor in the box with the tabs sticking upwards, sprinkle everything with “water” from your watering can, and then pull slooowly on the tabs to make your garden emerge!