Purrfect Pet

purrfect palRecently, it occurred to me that we’ve done story time projects with dogs, monkeys, chicks, ponies, mice, hamsters, butterflies, birds, crocodiles, bugs, rabbits, and chickens in hot air balloons…but no CATS! To correct this egregious oversight, I present you with the purrfect cat story time.

We read Hookwinked by Arthur Howard (Harcourt, 2001). Mitzi (who is a witch) adores creepy things. So when it’s time to find a pet, she heads to the creepiest store in town. She selects a toad. But all the toad wants to do is eat bugs. She returns the toad and gets a pair of bats. But all the bats want to do is hang out with each other. She returns the bats and leaves the store, completely discouraged. The next day, however, there’s a scratch at her door. It’s an adorable little kitten. Naturally, Mitzi is disgusted by the kitten’s cuteness, but she agrees to let it stay one night because it’s raining outside. That night, the kitten stays by Mitzi’s side as she hunts ghosts, purrs on Mitzi’s lap during a scary movie, and licks Mitzi’s chin when she reveals her deepest fears. Mitzi’s heart is won, and she realizes that looks aren’t everything!

You’ll need:

  • 1 small oatmeal container
  • Construction paper
  • A rectangle of tagboard (approximately 4.25″ x 6″)
  • 3 pieces of twistez wire (or very thin card stock strips) approximately 4.5″ each
  • A small rectangle of self-adhesive foam (approximately 1.25 ” x 1.5″)
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • A 16″-18″ piece of ribbon
  • A small circle of card stock (approximately 1.5″ in diameter)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue stick for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hole punch
  • Hot glue

First, wrap your oatmeal container in construction paper (we offered black, white, orange, and gray). Cut the hind feet out of a tagboard rectangle, then glue the tagboard to your choice of colored construction paper. Trim the construction paper to fit the tagboard feet. Your tag board hind feet are now covered with construction paper on one side.

back feet stepsSet the feet aside for a moment, and cut a tail out of your choice of colored construction paper. Our tails were 2.25″ x 12″ rectangles and they looked great. Round one end of the rectangle, then wrap the tail around a marker to give it an awesome curl.

Hot glue the hind feet to the bottom of the oatmeal container, then hot glue to tail on top of the feet. To keep the tail anchored and less likely to tear off, I suggest hot gluing at least 3″ of it to the feet.

glued feet and tailTo create your cat’s front feet, cut two, 1.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles of construction paper, round one end of each rectangle, and then fold the rounded ends up to create paws. Hot glue (or tape) the legs to the front of the oatmeal container.

front legs attachedTo make the cat’s furry bib, cut a 4″ x 4.25″ rectangle of construction paper into an upside-down bell shape, then cut little ripples on the edges to create “fur.”

bibHot glue (or tape) the bib to the front of the cat. Make sure the bib covers the tops of the front legs, but also leaves room for your cat’s face.

bib attachedUse a marker to draw a smile on your cat and little “toe lines” on it’s feet (metallic Sharpie markers work great on black construction paper). Next, bunch together 3 pieces of twistez wire (or 3 very thin card stock strips) and tape them over the mouth like so:

whiskersCut a piece of self-adhesive foam into a cat nose and stick it over the whisker tape. Hot glue a pair of wiggle eyes above the nose, and hot glue (or tape) a pair of construction paper ears next to the eyes.

nose, eyes, and ears The final touch is your cat’s name tag. Punch a hole in a circle of white card stock, then decorate the circle with your cat’s name. Thread a piece of ribbon through the hole and tie the ribbon around your cat’s neck. Invite a few friends over for a grand night out.

purrfect gang

And there you have it…a splendid cat story time! I wonder what animal’s next? We’ve already covered flamingossquirrelslong-haired rainbow yaks

School for Scoundrels

famous literary villainsBehold the vilest collection of literary villains ever to gather in an esteemed place of learning! In other words, here is the cast from School for Scoundrels, a program we hosted at my library. Scroll to the bottom of the post for a complete listing of who’s who!

School for Scoundrels began as a tribute to the various villains who hounded our favorite heroes. Then I thought…what if all the villains belonged to an elite school? What if kids could attend the school and learn all sorts of nefarious, gross, and classically villainous things? A program was born!

In addition to mingling with the school’s famous “alumni,” kids practiced ciphers and codes, started a petri dish bacteria farm, produced a nasty “severed finger” gift box (and received instructions for more gross out activities to try at home), met Aragog the live tarantula (and made a dangling arachnid of their own!), learned how to detect a lie (and fool a polygraph machine with hot and cold packs), built a secret lair (suggestions: classic castle, wooden fort, tank, gingerbread cottage, innocuous bungalow), created an evil nickname (aided with our helpful hint sheet), swashbuckled with pirates, designed a wanted poster (with caricature assistance from Kemy Lin, a very talented student artist), and got into magical mischief with some select Harry Potter spells (the most laugh-inducing was Confundo).

They also practiced cape twirling and evil laughter. The cape twirling was my favorite, especially with names like “The Classic Reveal,” the “Side Arm Sweep,” the “Full-Extension Glide,” and the “Dramatic Egress.” When all the courses were complete, kids earned their very own School for Scoundrels diploma:

diplomaThis program wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous assistance of Princeton University student actors, who were recruited and coached by my student assistant, Sarah Paton. They were SO game to dress up and stay in character the entire time. But they also knew when to take it easy on the younger (or more timid) kids. For a program of this nature, that’s really important.

famous literary villainsTop row, left to right: Professor Moriarty (Matt Trujil), Iago (Gregory Kufera), Wicked Witch of the West (Katie McGunagle), Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella (Kerry Brodie), Eye of Sauron (Gideon Grossman), Evil Queen from Snow White (Julie Chang), Slytherin Students (Kemy Lin, Vivian Qin), IT (Dana Sheridan). Bottom row, left to right: Long John Silver (Ambika Vora), Captain Hook (Sarah Paton). Well, Mrs. Silver and Mrs. Hook, respectively.

p.s. – You might notice the name tags. They said things like “Hello! My name is The Evil Queen.” Parents LOVED them!