Make: Origami Flyer

Once kids get a hang of folding these Origami Flyers, they won't be able to stop! The good news is flinging these flyers won't damage your walls or furniture and they pair perfectly with my upcoming nonfiction picture book, FLIP! How the Frisbee Took Flight. 

Materials: 
The list couldn't be simpler! Origami paper. To make one origami flyer, you will need 8 pieces--4 in one color, 4 in another. I recommend a happy medium--about 15 cm x 15 cm. That's big enough for kids new to origami, but not so large as to be too floppy to fly. 

Instructions:
Watch these 2 short videos, and follow the folds!

Check out www.margaretmuirhead.com for more information about Flip! You can pre-order your copy at Indiebound, Target, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or at your favorite neighborhood book shop. 

Be A Tree! BOOK GIVEAWAY & Craft

The Book Giveaway is closed. Our winner is Josie Clark-Trippodo! Congratulations, Josie! Enjoy this beautiful book.

“Be a tree. Stand tall. Stretch your branches to the sun.” Maria Gianferrari’s beautiful picture book begins with a simple metaphor that extends and expands, connecting the ecology of trees to a message about interconnectedness and our human responsibility to care for, build and sustain our communities. The illustrations by Felicita Salas are delightful. On a page with text that reads: “Your skin is bark; dead on the outside, protecting what’s within,” Salas adds a detail of matching tattoos–a heart inked on a grandfather’s forearm with a twin heart carved into the trunk of a tree.

To mark the publication of BE A TREE, I wanted to create a variation of that perennial school project, the Family Tree–but one that would celebrate the circles of community that kids experience in their lives instead of ancestry. Not all children know or live with biological relatives–but all of them have important people who matter to them. So, introducing . . . the TREE RINGS PROJECT!

Block printing with organic materials (because: trees) is a perfect pair for this project, filled with texture and messiness. Who doesn’t love a puddle of glue, paint, and the surprise of lifting up a print you made to see the result? If it’s too glue-y for you, you can also create a Tree Rings Project using markers and crayons with concentric circle shapes to trace.

Tree Rings Project

MATERIALS

  • Flat piece of cardboard (you can cut out a side of a cardboard box)
  • Yarn
  • White glue
  • Tempera or acrylic paint
  • Scissors
  • Brayer (printmaking roller) or paintbrush
  • Paper (I used 50% recycled construction paper)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Trace or draw concentric circles on cardboard. We had fun running around the house gathering cups, bowls and other round objects to trace. Your circles can be lopsided–the rings of a tree certainly are!
  2. Cut pieces of yarn that fit your circles.
  3. Now for the gluey, messy bit: squeeze a line of glue along your traced circles. Or, for smaller hands, pour a puddle of glue and use a popsicle stick to spread it on thick!
  4. Lay the yarn on your circles and let dry.
  5. Painting time! Once your block is dry, use a paintbrush or brayer to spread paint over the yarn.
  6. Turn it upside down on paper; press evenly.
  7. Lift carefully: you printed your tree rings!

Now for Step 8, the most important part . . . start at the middle of your tree ring and think about the place where you feel the most comfortable. It might be home or maybe school. In this central place, jot down the people there that help you grow strong. People you can count on and who can count on you. Move out to your next tree ring. This ring can represent another comfortable place–a grandparent’s house, a neighbor’s house, your after-school group. Who are your “people” there? Add them to your tree ring. Move your way out, considering other places and groups that help you or that you would like to help–the local animal rescue group or a community garden, for example. And voila! You’ve made your circles of community–your personal Tree Rings!

* Teens and grown-ups who don’t want to be left out of the fun but want more of a challenge: try creating a block print of wood grain. My attempt is pictured above and below. I free-handed the design, starting with interspersed spirals (knots of wood) and then adding lines of yarn (wood grain) around them.

To learn more about author Maria Gianferrari (pictured below “being a tree”), go to mariagianferrari.com. You can find illustrator Felicita Sala at felicitasala.com.

Read & Make: Terrific Tongues! Giveaway

*Publisher giveaway* for U.S. residents–The giveaway offer has now ended. Congratulations to Erin Ellis! 

You can clean your eyeballs with your tongue (if you happen to be a gecko). Or you can use your tongue as a lance (if you’re a woodpecker impaling a larva). And if you’re a snake, you can smell with your tongue.

Frog party blower by homemadecity.comI learned about these fun tongues in Maria Gianferrari’s playful, informative picture book, Terrific Tongues! (with spirited, bright illustrations by Jia Liu). An inviting read-aloud, the simple text keeps the audience guessing at each turn of the page: Which tongue (with which function) belongs to which animal? Sidebars and back matter offer more detailed information about the unusual abilities of tongues.

 

If you (or a young someone you know) would like to take a turn unraveling your tongue just like a North American bullfrog, here’s a project to try.

What You Need:

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party blowers (in red or pink)

1 sheet of card stock green paper

color paper (construction, origami, whatever you have)

Frog Party Blower template

optional: googly eyes

Instructions:

Using the template above, trace the frog shape onto your green card stock. Cut along the outline. Use a hole punch to cut out the circle/mouth hole. Trace and cut out the cheeks, eyes and pupils onto color paper of your choice. Glue the eyes and cheeks to the frog. Insert the blower into the mouth & voila. You are a bullfrog! Perfect for a birthday party or a book celebration of Terrific Tongues!

To learn more about author Maria Gianferrari, go to http://mariagianferrari.com/ or visit her on Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Make: DIY Bitty Bistro Chairs

Mini Cafe Chairs by homemadecity.com

I’ve been saving champagne corks for a while meaning to twist together some tiny cafe chairs, but I had forgotten about the project until . . . I tripped onto This Is My Dollhouse, a recent picture book by Giselle Potter (published by Schwartz & Wade Books). As a maker and admirer of all things itty bitty as well as a fan of Potter’s doll-like, oval-faced illustrations, I couldn’t resist getting my hands on the book.

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The story is about a girl who creates a dollhouse out of a cardboard box, furnishing it from snippets and household bits.

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Inside the dust jacket is a hidden treat: hints and ideas for making and outfitting your own cardboard box dollhouse.

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Clothespins and a matchbox become a bed. Bottle caps make perfect plates. Pieces of yellow string equal noodles. Fried eggs? Pencil a yellow circle on a white scrap! The story honors a child’s ability to transform the ordinary into a miniature world.

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So, I found my champagne corks where I had squirreled them away.  If you have a supply ready, here’s how to make them:

You need: a wire cutter and a champagne (or craft beer!) cork

Step 1: Cut the wire that connects the bottom of the cork cage. Try to straighten out the twists as best you can.

Step 2: Twist the wire into the shape you’d like and hook and secure the loose ends to the back legs of your chair.

The tricky part (other than all that twisting that ended up lopsided in my attempts) is to secure the back and keep the seat on the chair. If the legs splay out too much, the seat falls off. You need to straighten the legs a bit to keep the seat attached.

Mini Cafe Chair by homemadecity.com

 

 

 

Creative Kid: Spring Crayon Craft

Smashing old crayon bits and melting them into multi-colored jumbo crayons is a great way to spend one of those rainy April afternoons with (or without) the kids. That’s how 2 ten-year-old boys and I recently wiled away a gray day.

  1. Gather old crayons. I had a big bag of sad, old crayons from school. We began by sorting out springtime colors–light greens, pinks, yellows, periwinkles.
  2. Peel off the paper from the crayons. This is the most onerous part, but it’s better to consider it meditative. Think Zen.
  3. Smash. We broke the crayons as much as possible with our hands. Then we put the pieces in a brown paper bag, brought it outside, and bashed it with a hammer. Needless to say, the boys really dug this part.
  4. Prepare the muffin pan. I heated the oven to 275 F and sprayed a mini-muffin pan with canola oil. We sprinkled the crayon bits into the muffin pan. At first we were strategic about which colors went into which mold, but then we threw caution to the wind and just dumped in the rest.
  5. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Your house will smell like a delightfully waxy Crayola factory. Let the pan cool fully. (Because the boys were eager to see the results, I placed the muffin pan in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.)
  6. Ta da! Once the muffin pan is completely cool, the crayons will slide out easily.