Love Is In The Air

cupidA cupid on a ladder, some strewn hearts, a sweet little keepsake box…

valentines box

 Some love letters…

love letters

You don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to make someone feel special. “I love you” is all year round!

We read Love, Ruby Valentine written by Laurie B. Friedman and illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath (Carolrhoda Books, 2006). Ruby Valentine and her pet bird, Lovebird, absolutely LOVE Valentine’s Day. As the holiday draws near, Ruby goes into a frenzy – baking, wrapping gifts, making cards, curling ribbon, and choosing the perfect outfit. Unfortunately, she’s so exhausted by her preparations that when she stops to rest she accidentally sleeps through Valentine’s! When she awakes, she’s horrified and saddened to realize she missed it. Fortunately, Lovebird convinces her to carry on. Ruby makes her deliveries a day late and…no one seems to mind! Ruby learns that you don’t have to wait until Valentine’s to tell someone you love them. Go ahead and tell them all year round!

Kids were a little surprised when I told them that it was Valentine’s in July, but once they heard the story and understood its message, they eagerly joined in the fun.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”)
  • A love letters template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of white card stock
  • Red, pink, purple, and yellow construction paper
  • A selection of patterned paper
  • Paper doilies
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • Paper baking cups
  • Heart stickers
  • A selection of curling ribbon
  • A selection of fabric ribbon
  • A selection of craft tie
  • A selection of pipe cleaners
  • A selection of sparkle stems
  • A selection of small feathers
  • The Bling Bin
  • A ladder (ours was 8′ high)
  • Scissors, tape, glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

We started by decorating the boxes. This was a free-form art supply “buffet” that kids could pick and choose from. In designing my box, I went for a classic red and white number.

valentines boxIn addition to the art supplies in the list above, I told kids that if there was something else they wanted, to please come and ask. Only one kid took me up on this offer. A little girl who, for some reason, wanted wiggle eyes on her box. To say “Eye love you” perhaps?

wiggle eyesAs the final touches were put on the boxes, I handed out the love letter templates, instructing everyone to decorate them, cut them out, and put them in their boxes to take home. Later, they could use them to infuse their homes with some L-O-V-E.

And now for the main event – the strewing of the hearts. I prepared for it by cutting a slew of construction paper hearts (about 2″ high) from red, pink, purple, and yellow construction paper.

hearts ready to goIMPORTANT! After you finish cutting a heart, make sure you soft fold it down the middle. Unlike a hard fold, where you push the paper down so the sides meet (and run your finger along the fold to create a sharp crease), a soft fold consists of gently folding the paper, but not letting the sides touch.

heart foldThis step might seem superfluous, but after some testing I determined that a soft folded heart will flutter and fall better than a non-folded (or hard folded) heart, making it easier for kids to see and catch.

We gave Mr. Ian a pair of cupid wings and sent him up a ladder, where he cheerfully strewed hearts to kids, who caught them in their boxes and hands.

spreading the loveThen, in a serenade of violins, cupid departed, taking his 8′ aluminum ladder with him…

cupid departs

 

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!

It Begins!

bookcart horseHello, and welcome to Pop Goes the Page! Here, you will find all the delightful art projects and activities we do at the Cotsen Children’s Library’s story time programs!

I believe that reading (and being read to) is a magical thing. I build on that magic by designing projects and activities that inspire the imagination, strengthen connections to the story, and lead to further creative play at home.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be artsy – you can do these projects.  Even if you don’t have all the supplies – you can do these projects. Feel free to tweak, substitute, and modify them as you see fit. But most importantly…ENJOY!