Tag Archives: picture book

Craft: Outside My Window


We did this craft to go along with the picture book by Patricia Polacco entitled Mrs. Katz and Tush. In one of the illustrations, the artist included a view of the buildings outside of Mrs. Katz’s window. For our project, then, the children drew pictures of what they might see from a window of their own house.

You’ll need:

  • Rectangular piece of cardboard, cut out like a picture frame
  • Brown watercolors
  • Paint Brush
  • Container with Water
  • Paper towel
  • Heavy piece of paper, such as construction paper, cardstock, or watercolor paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Masking tape
  • Hot glue and a glue gun
  • Two small pieces of fabric, about 3″ wide and as long as the width of your cardboard. We used patterned pieces, as Polacco includes a lot of patterns in her illustrations in this book. I purchased multiple pieces from the fabric store so the children could choose which pattern they liked best. By purchasing only 1/4 of a yard of fabric that was on sale, I spent 25 cents – 30 cents for each piece.
  • Two small pieces of yarn, long enough to tie into a knot

1. To begin, have your child paint the cardboard with some brown watercolors — either darker or lighter or a variety of brown shades. This will be the frame for the window. They can wipe off any excess water that may be on the cardboard with the paper towel.

2. While the cardboard is drying, give your student the sheet of paper. Have them draw something they might see out a window. He might draw a cityscape with buildings and roads, other houses in the neighborhood, trees and flowers in the backyard, or even the moon and stars at night. Give him time to color in his drawing with makers or crayons.

3. Next, tape his drawing to the back of the cardboard so that his drawing can be seen through the opening.

4. To make it look even more like a window, add some curtains. With your hot glue gun, glue a piece of fabric to each side of the window. For our project, we glued the top of the curtain to the top of the back side of the cardboard, then flipped the curtain over to the front of the cardboard.

5. Finally, tie back the curtains with the yarn.

What’s outside your window?

Stuffed Owl Craft

owlThis week, our first grade class read the story Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Beautiful, rhythmic text describes a young girl’s night time adventure as she goes owling with her father. To go along with the story, we made our own owls using a few easy-to-find supplies.

To make this stuffed owl, you’ll need:

  • Poly fiberfill
  • A grey or brown tube sock
  • Yellow felt
  • Black felt
  • Brown or tan felt
  • Scissors
  • Rubber band
  • White glue or hot glue gun

To begin, cut off most of the ribbed portion of the sock, leaving about 1 – 1 1/2 inches.

Next, stuff the sock with the fiberfill. The heel of the sock will be the front of the owl, so make sure you stuff it full enough. Stop stuffing when you reach the remaining ribbed portion of the sock.

Now, tie off the sock by twisting the rubber band around it. The ribbed portion is the owl’s tail.

Next, take the ribbed top portion of the sock that you cut off. Cut it in half so you have two equal pieces. Glue one piece to each side of the owl with the ribbed side facing outward. These are the owl’s wings.

To create the owl’s face, cut a large bean-shaped piece from the brown or tan felt (use a different color than the sock). Glue it onto the stuffed toe of the sock, or the owl’s head.

Next, cut out two small circles from the back felt and two larger circles from the yellow. Glue one black circle onto each yellow circle, forming the eyes. Glue these onto the brown or tan face.

Finally, cut a small triangle from the yellow felt. Center this below the eyes and glue it to the face with one point going downward. This is the owl’s beak.

Give the glue plenty of time to dry — you can do this by telling your young student that it’s daytime, and the owl needs to sleep. 😉

The Christmas Stick

01 christmasWith Thanksgiving almost here and Black Friday following close behind, I’ve (finally) begun thinking about Christmas. If you’re like me and starting a little bit later this year, you might want to put The Christmas Stick on your gift list. It’s a brand new book, and one that the whole family will enjoy.

Written by Jack Marryn, this Christmas story has something for everyone; children will love the pirate adventure and colorful illustrations, while parents will appreciate the lesson it conveys. The main character is a boy who finds only one gift for himself under the Christmas tree: a stick. He’s sure Santa has made a mistake, but he follows his dad’s directions and goes outside to play, taking his stick with him. He soon discovers, though, that the stick can be anything, from a spyglass to a boat to a sword. And he realizes it’s just what he asked for — “the best gift” for him.

The author adds a note at the back regarding the inspiration for the story, and it’s one I’m sure most parents can relate to. While Marryn was waiting for his son who was at a birthday party, he took his daughter to the park and gave her a very “special” stick. She played with that stick for hours, even taking it home with her that night. I love to see my children playing outside, too, with just the objects they find on the ground and their imaginations.

Not only would The Christmas Stick make a nice gift, but it could also be the start of a new holiday tradition. A friend of mine purchases a Christmas book every Christmas season to share with her family, so every year their collection grows by one book. During the holidays, they read them aloud together. By the time the children are adults, the collection will be one they’ll cherish.

Remember, though, if you plan to give The Christmas Stick as a gift this season, be sure to include a couple of sticks with it — one for your child… and one for you! 🙂

Mr. Grumpy’s Motor Car

Mr GumpyToday in the K-5/First Grade co-op class, I read the story Mr. Grumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham. The funny thing was, his name is actually Mr. GUMPY.

I’m not quite sure how I misread it, but from the time I first read the story at home until I read it out loud to the class, I called the main character “Mr. Grumpy.” During the story, I mentioned to the children that I couldn’t figure out why he was called Mr. Grumpy. In most of the illustrations he was smiling — an unusual response to a difficult car ride with a cow, a goat, a chicken, a sheep, a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a boy, and a girl. I would certainly be grumpy after such a ride, but this character wasn’t at all.

I finished the first story and began a second that I had found at the library entitled Mr. Gumpy’s Outing. Of course, I called him Mr. Grumpy, even though he was still smiling as all the other characters piled into his boat. About halfway through that story, I turned the book around to show them something on the cover. It was then one of the children called out (a K-5/First Grader, mind you), “His name is Mr. GUMPY!”

He had read the name on the cover, and he had read it correctly!  Was I ever embarrassed!  All I could do was laugh, and the kids laughed too. At least it made more sense. He was still an incredibly patient man, but now he had a name that suited him better.

I talked with another teacher from the class who covers the last hour. She usually re-reads the story to the children. As she began reading about Mr. Gumpy, though, some of the children asked her to call him Mr. Grumpy instead. 🙂

Snuggle Puppy

Chickens-Cover3cDuring our visit with family this summer, we had a chance to hear one of my nephew’s music CDs. It came with a book entitled Philadelphia Chickens, written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton. The songs in it are so silly and so funny that when we found the book and CD at our library, we just had to check it out. As we were listening to the CD in the car, one of the songs really made an impression on me. The song was “Snuggle Puppy,” and the chorus goes like this: 

Ooo, Snuggle Puppy of mine!

Everything about you is especially fine.

I love what you are.

I love what you do.

Ooo, I love you.

These are sweet words for a children’s song, but they really made me think. My youngest child, Luke, is five years old, and he is extremely snuggly. It’s easy to fit his name into the song and sing it to him, hugging and squeezing him. Yet when I sing the lines “I love what you are, I love what you do,” my three older children come to mind. 

I wonder — do they really know that I love them just because of who they are? That I love the quirky ways they behave sometimes, the funny things they say, their uniqueness, their talents that are just their own? Or do they mostly hear me say what I hear myself say: “Don’t do that.” “Quit that.” “I don’t understand why you act that way.” “What’s the matter with you?”  

Well, to all four of my Snuggle Puppies, I do love what you are, and I do love what you do, and I plan to work harder at letting you know. We all need to hear words like that, and the song “Snuggle Puppy” is a good reminder for me. Now, about the song “Please Can I Keep It”….