Team Cupcake

team cupcakeMmmm…is there anything more enticing than a cupcake? How about four cupcakes artistically decorated with delightful toppings? Oh cupcakes, you complete me.

finished cupcakesWe read Cupcake by Charise Maricale Harper (Disney-Hyperion, 2010). One day, a cupcake is born. Topped with a plain creamy frosting top, Vanilla Cupcake is eager to meet his brothers and sisters. There’s Happy-Face Cupcake, Chocolaty Chocolate Cupcake, Pink Princess Cupcake, Rainbow-Sprinkles Cupcake, Stripy Cupcake, Polka-Dot Cupcake, and Fancy Flower-Top Cupcake. At the end of the day, however, only Vanilla Cupcake is left on the platter, completely overlooked. A plain little candle hears Cupcake weeping and can definitely empathize – what with his large and colorful family (there’s Number Candle, Stripy Candle, Letter Candle, Super-Long Candle…). Candle decides that Cupcake just needs something special on top. It’s not pickles, pancakes, peas, or a squirrel. Hmmm…I wonder what it could be?

You’ll need:

  • 1 white paper plate
  • 1 6″ white paper doily (optional)
  • 1 white paper cup
  • A selection of patterned tape
  • A 21″ piece of shimmer ribbon
  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • 4 rectangles of construction paper (approximately 1.5″ x 6″)
  • 4 coffee filters (the standard size, 7.5″)
  • A small handful of polyester fill
  • A selection of dot stickers
  • A selection of iridescent fabric shapes
  • A selection of mini pom-poms (mine were 0.5″)
  • A selection of self-adhesive foam shapes
  • A selection of fabric flowers
  • A selection of eye stickers
  • Scissors, tape, white glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin with your cupcake stand! It’s very simple. Cut a scalloped edge into your paper plate like so:

plateThen, flip a white paper cup upside down and wrap pattered tape around it.

cupHot glue the paper plate to the top of the flipped cup, and tie a piece of shimmer ribbon around where the cup and plate meet. For extra fanciness, glue a white paper doily to the top of the paper plate.

standThe stand is done, now for the cupcakes!  Decorate 4 construction paper rectangles with markers and patterned tape. We gave kids 4 choices of “cupcake colors.” Namely, yellow, brown, white, and pink. Cut the toilet paper tubes into four, 1.5″ pieces. Wrap the decorated construction paper rectangles around the tubes.

To make frosting, use the markers to decorate 4 coffee filters. You only need to decorate the center of the filter, not the entire thing.

frosting 1Flip the filter over and drop a bit of polyester fill in the center.

frosting 2Bunch the filter together around the polyester fill like a little bag. Then trim about 1″ of filter off the top.

frosting 3Push the gathered end of the bag into a tube and secure it to the interior of the tube with tape.

frosting tapeYou now have a cupcake with frosting…

frosting 4Which you are free to decorate with markers, dot stickers, iridescent fabric shapes, mini pom-poms, self-adhesive foam shapes, and fabric flowers. The final step is to add some eye stickers.

frosting doneThe thing I loved best about this story time was  how much personality the cupcake creations had. Here are a few I managed to capture with my camera!

Let Us Ride

let us rideDon your finery and trot the countryside on a beautiful, ornate steed! And if you happen to see a sturdy little pony named Fritz, don’t forget to stop and say hello!

We read Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1987). Once upon a time, there was a walled city that was famous for it’s beautiful horses. But outside the city lived a plain little pony named Fritz. Fritz wanted to be like the beautiful horses, but no one was interested in a pony with a shaggy mane, fuzzy ears, and a whiskery muzzle. That is until one day, when the bridge is threatening to collapse and the children of the city are stranded on one side. The beautiful horses are too flighty, skittish, and snobbish to cross the river and take the children to safety. But Fritz, being both gentle and kind, is more than willing to help. Now, the walled city is proud of it’s beautiful horses…and it’s hero pony.

You’ll need:

  • A 2.5″ x 22″ strip of poster board
  • 1 sheet of tissue paper (mine was 19.5″ x 11.5″)
  • 1 goose quill
  • 1 large embossed foil seal
  • 1 pony head template, printed on 11″ x 17″ paper
  • A 11″ x 27″ piece of white poster board for head
  • 2 rectangles of white construction paper for ears (approximately 2″ x 3.5″)
  • Construction paper for mane and forelock
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • 2 black dot stickers for nose
  • 2 strips cut from a manilla file folder (approximately 0.75″ x 9″)
  • 2 small embossed foil seals
  • A 41.5″ piece of PVC pipe for stick
  • A 35″ piece of ribbon for the reins
  • Hole punch
  • Packing tape
  • Stapler, scissors, tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

If you’d like to make a jingling tassel for your bridle, you’ll need:

  • 1 book (mine was 6″ long)
  • 12′ of yarn, plus a separate 3″ piece
  • A 9″ piece of curling ribbon
  • 1 jingle bell

 We’ll start with your noble hat, and then proceed to the pony with optional jingle tassel!

hatFirst, use the markers to decorate a strip of poster board. Circle the poster board strip around your head, then remove and staple. To create the poofy top to your hat, lay a sheet of tissue paper flat on a table.

hat step 1Gently lift and pull each corner of the sheet to towards the middle, gathering the corners together like this:

hat step 2As you can see in the above picture, the tissue paper sheet now has 4 “points” sticking out of it. Fold those points towards the center of the sheet as well.

hat step 3Your tissue sheet is now fully bunched. Carefully drop your hat band on top of the bunched tissue paper, and reopen the bunched edges until they meet the inside of the hat band. Staple the tissue paper around the interior perimeter of the hat band.

hat step 4Flip the hat over and tape a jaunty feather to the outside. Stick an embossed foil seal over the shaft of the feather to compete the look.

hatUp next…the perfect pony!

ponyFold the large rectangle of white poster board in half to form a smaller, 11″ x 13.5″ rectangle. Then, place the pony head template (shown below in red for better contrast) onto the folded poster board. Make sure that the nose of pony is lined up with the fold in the poster board. Cut along the template, leaving the “nose fold” intact.

pony template

Next, shape two ears out of the white construction paper rectangles, color the insides with markers, and staple each ear at the bottom.

earsThen staple or hot glue an ear to each side of the pony’s head.

forelock 1To create a forelock, make a 1.5″ cut down the fold of the head, directly between the ears.

forelock 2Fringe a small piece of white construction paper. Slide the fridge into the cut and secure it to the interior of the pony’s head with hot glue. Repeat on the left side.

forelock 3To create the mane, fringe a piece of white construction paper (use a 9″ x 12″ piece for a long mane, or a 4.5″ x 12″ piece for a short mane). Secure the mane inside the pony’s head, along the neck with hot glue. Repeat on the other side of the pony’ head.

manePunch a hole on each side of the pony’ mouth. This is where the reins and tassel will loop through.

reinsTime to decorate! Hot glue two wiggle eyes onto the head, and create nostrils using black dot stickers (you can also skip these materials and simple use markers to draw the eyes and nostrils). If you’d like a curly mane, wrap the construction paper fringes around a marker or pencil.

To make a bridle, decorate 2 manilla file fold strips with markers, and attach them on both sides of the head with tape or hot glue. Add a pair of small embossed foils seals at the bottom. If you have time, bring out the Bling Bin to add some extra flourishes, wind some curling ribbon through the mane.

ponyYou can see reins and a tassel in the above photo, but don’t put them on just yet! It’s time to attach the pony’s head to the stick. Open your pony’s head. Lay the stick on one side of the head, making sure that the end of the stick is 1.5″ away from the fold. Use packing tape (not regular tape) to attach the stick to the neck. Use at least 4 pieces of packing tape to make it really secure.

attaching stickThen, close the head and put a few staples into the base of the head, around the stick.

close up of stick staplesThread a ribbon through the holes in the pony’s head and knot it behind the stick. The jingle bell tassel dangling from the pony’s bridle is purely optional, but I have to say the kids LOVED them. I prepped the tassels in advance. To make a tassel, wrap yarn around a book (my book was about 6″ long).

tassel step 1 Cut the yarn off both ends of the book. You now have a little pile of yarn like this:

tassel step 2Knot a piece of curling ribbon around the middle (curling ribbon is easier to thread through the opening of the jingle bell)

tassel step 3Fold both sections of the yarn downwards and knot another piece of yarn around it like so

tassel step 4Trim overlong pieces of yarn off the sides and bottom of the tassel and you’re done!

finished tasselThread a jingle bell onto the curling ribbon, then thread the curling ribbon through the holes your punched in your pony’s head. Knot securely. Your pony is finished, climb on and ride!

If you’re still not feeling the decadence, may we suggest a cape? Attach a large piece of tissue paper to your shoulders using two embossed foil seals like so:

cape Then RIDE LIKE THE WIND!

flying rider

Copying…It’s Not Just for Cats

copy crocsCopy cats? How about copy crocodiles? What happens when everyone has to copy at least ONE element from a highly artistic crocodile? Ravishing repetitious reptiles of course!

We read The Copy Crocs, written by David Bedford and illustrated by Emily Bolam (Peachtree Pub Ltd, 2004). Crocodile is sick and tired of being bashed about in the croc pool by all of his friends. So he slips away to be alone. But everywhere he goes – slippery mud, a sun-filled river bank, a floating log in the river, even the top of a mountain – the copy crocs follow and do exactly what he’s doing. Finally, Crocodile manages to shake his friends and enjoy the splendor of his pool, all alone. But is he really enjoying it? It turns out that having some friends around is actually pretty wonderful. But so is being alone – every once in a while.

Each kid built a crocodile and decorated it, but while decorating, he/she also had to copy at least one thing from my model crocodile. We’ll begin, as we did at story time, with building the crocodile body first.

plain crocYou’ll need:

  • A rectangular box (mine was 4 ½” X 4 ½” x 9”)
  • 4 small rectangles of poster board for the legs (approximately 2″ x 3.5″)
  • 1 medium rectangle of poster board for the tail (approximately 3.5″ x 11.5″)
  • 1 large rectangle of poster board for the mouth (approximately 4″ x 15″)
  • 4 small strips of white construction paper for the teeth (approximately 1.5″ x 4″)
  • 2 small rectangles of poster board for the eyes (approximately 1.5″ x 2″)
  • Materials for decorating (more on that later!)
  • Scissors, tape for construction
  • Hot glue

First, cut crocodile toes in one end of 4 small rectangles of poster board. Bend the bottom of the poster board to make a foot, then bend the top to create a tab

legs 1Squeeze some hot glue on the top of the tabs, and attach each leg to the bottom of the box. For the tail, cut a medium rectangle of poster board into a pointed tail, tab the non-pointy end, and then hot glue (or tape) the tab to one end of the box. For the mouth, fold a large rectangle of poster board like so:

mouth step 1But before you attach it to the box, round the upper and lower edges to make it look more like a crocodile snout.

mouth step 2Hot glue the mouth to the box. If you’d like to add teeth, cut pointy tooth shapes into strips of white construction paper (definitely use construction paper, poster board is too heavy). Tab the tops of the tooth strips, the hot glue or tape inside the mouth. Last step – the eyes! We found that a tall and slightly rounded eye shape looked best.

croc eye shapeCut the eye shapes out of the small poster board rectangles, tab the bottoms, and hot glue (or tape) them to the top of the box. Done!

plain crocAt this point, everyone had the same croc. So we turned the kids loose with plenty of art supplies and let them decorate. Again, the only rule was to copy at least one thing from my example croc. And we made sure there was no lack of options…

decorated crocDecorating supplies included:

The resulting crocs were magnificent. I would guess that the pom-pom eyes, sparkle stem eyelashes, and the self-adhesive foam fruit shapes inside the crocodiles’ mouths were the most copied elements.

gang of crocsWhen everyone was finished, we celebrated by taking our crocs for a swim in our cozy crocodile pool (i.e. a blue sheet sheet stretched on the floor)!

swimming crocs