How to Make an Autumn Leaf Crown

How to make a leaf crown

leaf crowns autumn nature activity

maple leaf crown

Ahhh autumn. It’s the time of the year when the world is ablaze in rich colors of crimsons, golds, bronze, and brown. The trees in our neck of the wood turned late this year starting in October and continuing well into the end of November. After posting this picture of Lorelei wearing a leaf crown there were a few folks curious who wanted to make some of their own and I had promised to put together a little tutorial. Well, that time has come for ALL THE LEAF CROWNS!

Originally, I learned how to make these in Linnea’s Almanac, a book about seasonal observations. The setting is in England, but a great deal of the references are applicable throughout the northern hemisphere. This activity is a modification of the one outlined in the book. Next time you’re outside on a fall day, grab a basket or fill your pockets with leaves of every shade for this simple activity to transform the season’s bounty into a coronet for autumn royalty.


How to make a leaf crown 1

Step 1: Collect freshly fallen leaves. Dry leaves will crumble, but fresh leaves will be more malleable and will be the easiest to work with for this activity. I find that maple leaf varieties (sweet gum and gingko leaves) work the best. You’ll need 15-20 leaves depending on the size of the crown wearer’s head. You might need a pair of scissors too, so grab a pair if you have some handy.

how to make a leaf crown 2 a

how to make a leaf crown 2 b

Step 2: To start, gently fold the leaf in half along the leaf’s midrib. The with your fingernail or a pair of scissors (optional) make a small slit that goes through both sides of the leaf, above the midrib.

how to make a leaf crown 3

how to make a leaf crown 4

Step 3: Taking another folded leaf, insert the stem into the slit you just mad and pull it through. This leaf should be folded around the leaf with the slit.

how to make a leaf crown 5

how to make a leaf crown 6

Step 4: Continue the above process. Fold a leaf, make a slip, pull another folded leaf’s stem through that slit. At times I did use scissors to make a slit in the leaves because they were too thick for me to puncture with my finger.

how to make a leaf crown 7

This is what the back of the crown should look like. Don’t worry about the stems. If they’re super long, you can trim them once you’ve finished.

how to make a leaf crown 8

Step: 5: Eventually, you’ll have a lovely chain of leaves. Measure your chain around the crown wearer’s head to fit to size.

how to make a leaf crown 9

how to make a leaf crown 10

Step 6: Once you’re at a length you prefer, make two small slits in the first leaf of the chain. Slide the stems of the last few leaves of the crown chain through this slit.

how to make a leaf crown 11

You’re autumnal crown for falltime fae is complete! Trim stems of leaves if needed, but don’t cut them too short. Keep them at least an inch long so that the crown holds together.

autumn crown

how to make a leaf crown 12

autumn leaf crown

autumn sunset leaf crown

Happy Autumn-ing!




Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn + Flower Pressing Craft

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak +Flower Press Nature Activity

It’s the last weekend of summer! With the official first day of autumn next week, it’s time to bask in summer’s last hurrah and send the season a fond farewell by reading the new picture book, Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak (public library) about the transition of the seasons. After this fall-ish read, take some time out of your final summer days to go on a walk and preserve bits of summer by pressing wildflowers (tutorial after the book review!).

Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn

Author and illustrator Kenard Pak first came onto my radar with his stunning illustrations in the picture book The Dinner That Cooked Itself  by J.C. Hysu (read this book if you haven’t yet!). So, when I learned he was publishing his debut book both author and illustrator about the exchange of the seasons from summer to fall, I was eager to read it and it did not disappoint– What an impressive book! Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn begins on a summer morning with a girl greeting the day: “Hello, late summer morning”. The reader follows her along on her walk as she greets animals in the woods, flowers, a passing storm, each reply with the actions of their autumn preparations. As she makes her way into the town, she continues to address nature’s elements in a quiet, back-and-forth conversation observing the sensations of the day.

Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn _

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn is rich in color, softly transforming from vibrant greens of summer to the end of the books’s blazing burnt oranges. The text reads as smoothly as a poem, like a sweet lullaby to summer. What I appreciate the most, what this book does so well, is demonstrate the practice off looking closely and taking the time to notice the world around us wether it’s observing a butterfly or acknowledging a friendly passerby on the street. Afterall, what we observe today might change tomorrow. It’s part of the magic and nature of the seasons and when we notice, we can fully enjoy the show.




Flower pressing nature activity for kids

Hold onto the last bits of summer by pressing the end-of-summer wildflowers and leaves. In Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, the main character picks late blooming flowers and then hands them out do memebers of the town she walks through. I loved this simple act of kindness, so one way to expand from this book is simply mirroring this action of gifting end-of-summer blooms to people you happen to come across on a walk or throughout your day. But you could also create a token of the season to keep regardless of the time of year by pressing flowers. It’s a straight forward activity that makes a wonderful gift or decoration in the home.

Fresh flowers and or leaves
Flower press or heavy books
Watercolor paper, Watercolor postcards, or cardstock
School glue
Facial tissues

The first step of this project is to take a walk outdoors. Notice the colors all around, smell the flowers, and notice the animals Make sure you only pick flowers where it is permitted.

kids flower press

Next, using a flower press or heavy books, press your flowers. Follow the instruction of your flower press, making sure to use the blotting paper on both sides of each flower. If you’re using books, open a book to it’s midsection and line with parchment paper on both open face pages. Place your flower on one side and carefully close the book, sandwiching the flower. Place several heavy books on top of the book with the flower in a place it won’t be disturbed. Whether you used a flower press or books, allow about a week for our flowers to fully press.

flower pressing

children's nature activity flower pressing

This project doesn’t have to be strictly for the end of summer- It can also be enjoyed into the following season! Press colorful leaves you find in the fall their color. This same project can be done with leaves as well. Just make sure you use leaves that aren’t already dried out or you will end up with leaf confetti when pressing, or what my girls call “leaf glitter”.

flower pressing craft

end of summer nature project for children flower pressing

After a week, retrieve your pressed flowers. This part is a bit like opening presents. It’s an exciting surprise to see how they’ve transformed! You can be done after this step or further preserve them by arranging and mounting them to a piece of watercolor paper. On a sheet of watercolor paper, arrange flowers. You can try to glue them down to hold their place on the paper with a glue stick, but it isn’t necessary.

flower craft

flower art for kids

flower craft for kids

Then, separate a piece of facial tissue down to a single ply and mix a concoction of equal parts school glue and water in a small container (We only used about a tablespoon of glue and water each). Lay the single ply facial tissue over your floral arrangement and with a paintbrush, carefully dab and brush the facial tissue with the glue mixture covering it entirely.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn craft

Once finished with the glue process, leave to dry or several hours or overnight. Trim any access tissue around the sides or crop and the whole thing entirely with scissors. Write a message on it, give to a friend, frame, or add as decoration to your home nature table.

For an extensive list of seasonal children’s books, be sure to browse this autumnal booklist. If you’re looking for more nature activities to celebrate the outdoors, browse these all-ages nature activities for more fall time fun.



*A big thanks to the folks at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book for review!



Rain Fish: Rainy Day Play + Repurposed Art

In this rhyming adventure of debris that comes out to play on a rainy day, RAIN FISH by Lois Elhert is a lively story meshing art and nature

On a rainy day, whether it be after a night of heavy thunderstorms or during a lingering drizzle, it’s the perfect time to spot rain fish at play. In this rhyming adventure of debris that can be spotted on rainy days, RAIN FISH by Lois Elhert (public library) is a lively story meshing art and nature. Illustrated in Ehlert’s trademark collage style, Rain Fish prompts readers to take notice of “rain fish” swimming around their neighborhood, catch them, and repurpose them into something of their own imagination.

Rain Fish inside spread

Rain Fish

With each full page spread, discards and debris found by Ehlert transform into aquatic animal shapes swimming through the book and the playful text and bright colors are stimulating to even the littlest of readers. Now I know I highlight Lois Ehlerts books here on SfCT all the time, but I mean come on– Lois Ehlert! Her books are always inviting, creative, and accessible to kids. I didn’t even have to prompt my own children to go outside after reading Rain Fish. After our first time reading the books, they both turned to me and excitedly said, “Let’s go look for RAIN FISH!”


Looking For + Creating Rain Fish Collages

Art and nature collide making Rain Fish out of debris found after a rainstorm- A fun rainy day project for kids of all ages

Inspired by Lois Ehlrt’s new picture book, Rain Fish, debris found in alleyways, sidewalks, or at the park can be transformed into art supplies for fish collages. Help keep your town clean by picking up trash washed away by the rain and give it a new life.

Found “art supplies” (i.e. trash, leaves, feathers, etc. found outside after a rainstorm)
Colorful construction paper or cardstock

After a heavy thunderstorm or even during a light rain shower, take a walk to look for “art supplies”. These art supplies could be discards and debris found in a park, on a beach, or on your neighborhood sidewalk.

Looking for Rain Fish, a rainy day activity that promts kids to use their imagination and repurpose litter

Looking for Rain Fish inspired by the picture by Lois Elhert

trash found floating in the streets after a rainstorm

We found a ton of trash and objects to work with taking merely one loop around our block. Wash found debris in warm, soapy water before using, get out some glue and paper, and get your art on! I put some glue in small containers with paintbrushes for easy use for my 2-year-old. She has a hard time using the squeeze bottles, and paintbrushes offer more control.

Rainy day craft for kids-- Making Rain fish

Creating art out of debris inspired by Lois Ehlert's Rain Fish

Rain Fish kid art

Paper items such as tissue or paper bags can be molded while wet and maintain their shape once dry. Glue items to paper to create colorful, mixed media collages.

Rain Fish project

Rain Fish art

Art and nature collide making Rain Fish out of debris found after a rainstorm- A fun rainy day project for kids

We were inspired to make underwater scenes like in the story, but you can turn your newly found art supplies into anything your heart desires. When rain is forecasted, consider playing outside, exercise creativity, and cleaning up your neighborhood by taking a trip rain fishing.



* Source of inside Rain Fish page images courtesy of Simon & Schuster

**Source of book reviewed was borrowed from our local library



The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read + Reading Buddy

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley and Kate Berube book + craft

Summer is almost here, which means it’s that age-old time when kids flood the library in search of books to read or have read to them. Books for outside picnics, books for vacations, books for summer day dreams, and books for hot starry nights with a side of ice cream. The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Kate Berube (public library), is the perfect celebration of this time when both reading and one’s imagination are unrestricted with the ease of longer days and more free time. For some kids, an interest in reading doesn’t come easily or quickly and that happens to be the case with Nick’s two cats, Verne and Stevenson. In the summer, Nick, Verne, and Stevenson do everything together. Well, they do everything together except one thing– Reading. The cats couldn’t be more indifferent to books, so one summer Nick decides he will teach Verne and Stevenson to read.

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read 1

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to REad 2

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read 3

Nick’s first attempts fail, but slowly Verne becomes more and more intrigued, and with practice and Nick’s encouragement he’s able to read stories on his own. Stevenson on the other hand continues to be grouchy and actively disinterested whenever books or talk of reading enters the picture. That is, until the day Nick finds something of Stevenson’s that he uses to help foster an interest in reading. Everyone (even cats) learn to read in their own way and in their own time. Sometimes it just takes one special book to get a beginning reader hooked on reading for life.



DIY Stuffie

Readers can be just like Nick (who loves reading with his cats) by making this easy DIY cat stuffed animal via a repurposed sock that transforms into a cuddly reading companion in no time!

diy sock stuffie


  • Sock
  • Fabric scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Poly-Fil
  • Rubberbands
  • Buttons, felt, yarn, ribbon (Anything you’d like to use to decorate your kitty)

The sock you use can be any old sock. The one I used had been missing its mate for awhile and may have a tiny hole in the heel. Also, don’t be restricted to the materials I listed for decorating your kitty’s face. Sequins, fabric, beads, and anything you happen to find that might work are also fair game.

diy cat sock stuffie

Start by filling your sock with poly-fil. Stuff it to a huggable size and leave an inch of room at the opening of the sock.

cat stuffie tutorial

Cut off the opening of the sock in a “V” shape. These will be the ears of your cat!

diy cat sock stuffie 1

Flip your sock over so the toe of the sock is facing down and the opening is facing up. Wrap a rubber band around the two points you just cut out of the sock’s opening. Kitty ears! If there is still a little opening between the ears, glue those ends together with fabric glue.

diy cat sock stuffie 2

Using another rubber band, create a head by wrapping it around an inch or two below the ears. It’s starting to look like a cat!

cat stuffie reading buddy

Next, use whatever materials you’d like to make the face of your cat. I used yarn, felt, and buttons and glued them all on with fabric glue.

Summer craft - Make a cat stuffie made from a sock


DIY Cat Stuffie

We decided this cat was quite dapper and added an orange bow tie around his neck for the finishing touch.

Summer Reading Buddy - DIY Cat Stuffie inspired by The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read

Now you’re cuddly stuffed animal kitty is ready for all the reading adventures to be had! Not only will your child have a friend to read with, but the act of reading aloud to animals, stuffed or living, helps build reading skills and beginning readers gain confidence by creating a non-judgmental, nurturing environment (see here and here).



And if you happen to have a lovable furball at home, I’m sure they won’t be opposed to a story or two from time to time as well. Especially, if there’s petting and snuggles involved.




*Source of book reviewed: Review copy provided by the kind folks at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing



Abracadabra, It’s Spring + Magic Wand Craft

Abracadabra, It's Spring and DIY Magic Wand Craft

Spring is a magical season– Every day reveals a new sight to be seen. Abracadabra, It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal (public library) highlights these changes in a playful picture book about the exciting surprises of springtime. With rhyming text, each foldout page is a transition from winter to spring using popular magical phrases. “Sunshine warms a patch of snow. Hocus-pocus! Where did it go?”

Abracadabra It's Spring

Abracadabra it's spring 1

Abracadabra, It's Spring

Abracadabra, It's Spring 1

New blooms, cocoons, the return of birds singing, and the delight of running barefoot outside– This vibrant book is full of the wonders of the season. One thing I would like to note is that if you’re a teacher or librarian and plan on reading this book to a group of kids, you might want to practice saying the magic words. Some expressions like “Alizebu” may or may not be familiar to you. That one was new to me! Nature is a magnificent show if you take time to notice and Abracadabra, It’s Spring! highlights the prelude of spring magnificently.


Magic Wand Craft

Abracadabra, It's Spring + DIY Magic Wand for kids

After enjoying Abracadabra, It’s Spring!, try making some springtime magic of your own and explore the wonders of the season with a magical spring wand! Adding a seasonal twist to this project from Interaction Imagination, making wands from found sticks is a fun way to explore the surprises of springtime by looking closely and observing the differences in the environment. Some of the changes are quick and happen right before your eyes!

DIY magic stick wand 1

This craft takes maybe 10 minutes tops from start to finish not including drying time and uses materials you might already have laying around the house and in your neighborhood.


  • Found sticks from outside
  • Small cups (we used old yogurt containers)
  • White school glue
  • Glitter

DIY magic stick wand 2

DIY magic stick wand 3

Pour some glue into one small container and pour glitter in the other container. The amount you use will depend on how many kids will be doing the project, but for making one wand you’ll only need a small amount of glue and several pinches of glitter.

DIY magic stick wand 4

DIY magic stick wand 5

DIY magic stick wand 6

Take a stick and dip the tip of the stick into the glue and coating the tip. Then dip the coated tip of the stick in the glitter and swoosh it around so that the glue is entirely covered in glitter. Leave to dry for 30 minutes and you now have a magic wand!

DIY Magic Stick wand 7

Once your wand has dried, now it’s time to take it outside for a magical spring scavenger hunt! Take a walk in a natural place that is familiar like a backyard or a park you visit regularly. Ask your child/children to use their wands to point out any new signs of spring with their wands that they didn’t notice before. They can even pretend with their magic wands, saying the incantations used in the book and pointing to signs of spring as if they were spring fairies or nature wizards causing these incredible events to happen.

spring craft for kids

Magic Spring Wand

Spring Wand

Magic Spring Wand Craft

Abracadabra, It’s Spring!

I’m already looking forward to the followup title Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall!which will be released this summer. For more books about spring, checkout this list of favorite springtime kids’s books.



**Review copy of this books was provided by the generous folks at Abrams Appleseed



Shadow Play

Shadow Puppet Play using a bed sheet stage

Shadow Play free-form shadow puppets princess kitty

Shadow Play free-form puppets

Stories + Art + Dramatic Play = Latest Pages to Projects post on Library as Incubator Project!  If you hop on over to Library as Incubator Project, the newest addition to the Pages to Projects series is up featuring shadow play with the book The Black Rabbit by Phillippa Leathers and DIY shadow puppets. Hope you’re able to take a moment to stop on by!



Chinese New Year Good Luck Decorations

Hanging homemade good luck characters and spring couplets in honor of the Chinese Lunar New Year. This art activity for kids is an introduction to the ancient art of Chinese caliagraphy

Chinese New Year Good Luck Character Painting

It is almost the Lunar New Year, which means we have been busy making good luck decorations for our home to welcome the new year. One of the most popular Lunar New Year decorations is hanging good luck characters, nianhua, as well as spring couplets, chun lian, good wishes for the new year on doors and door frames.

The Lunar New Year starts on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice and is a fifteen day celebration ending with the Lantern Festival (this year’s and next year’s dates). When I was a children’s librarian, I learned a great deal from my storytime patrons about Chinese festivals and the Lunar Calendar, especially during the time of the Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year), the most celebrated and sensational of the holidays. We’ve enjoyed learning about these holidays, stories, and traditions over the years so much that we honor and celebrate them in our home. If you’re interested in more books and crafts, take a look at my past Chinese New Year Storytimes HERE and HERE.


Spring character painted on gold flecked paper for the Chinese Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year Good Luck Characters

This craft is a modification of an activity found in the book Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes. Good luck characters written in the finest calligraphy on red diamonds are hung on doors in preparation for the new year.  Often times special red paper with gold flecks is used. We made these last year and this year, so you will see a bit of a difference between the two.

red card stock or red construction paper
gold watercolor paint
black tempera paint or acrylic paint

Making Chinese New Year Characters

Making Chines New Year Characters

Making Chinese New Year Characters on gold flecked paper

First, depending on the size of your paper, with a ruler and pencil you’re going to want to measure an 8″ or 9” square and cut off the excess paper. Once you’ve cut out your red diamonds, splatter gold flecks onto your paper by flicking gold water color paint or gold tempera paint. We made gold flecks by coating the tip of a small paint brush with gold watercolor paint and lightly hitting the brush on a pointer finger close to the paper. You can also make small dots and dabs with your paintbrush. Whatever creative process works for your child.

Chinese Characters Craft for Chinese New Year

Chinse Good Luck Characters Kids Art

Chinese New Year Good Luck Characters Art Project on Gold Flecked Paper

Once the gold paint has dried, it’s time to paint the Chinese characters on. On these types of Lunar New Year decorations, the Chinese characters used symbolize good fortune, spring, good luck, or the the featured animal zodiac character of the new year. Perhaps the most popular character is the  and when hung upside down it means good luck is coming.  This is an excellent template for painting the Fú character, and this site has more character examples, or try painting the animal zodiac symbol of the new year.

Chinese New Year Lunar New Year Character Painting Activity for Kids

CHinese New Year Lunar New Year Spring Festival Good Luck Character Painting Craft

Spring character painted on gold flecked paper for the Chinese Lunar New Year

Can you see the difference between the past couple years we’ve been making these characters? There’s a terrific scene from a Mister Rogers Neighborhood episode (episode 1704) where he visits with a Chinese calligrapher. Mister Rogers does a wonderful job introducing this art to children and watching it is a good foundation for this particular activity. If you’re interested in showing this episode, it can be accessed via Amazon Prime. Another complementary activity to learning about Chinese calligraphy is reading The Dinner That Cooked Itself by J.C. Hsyu, illustrated by Kenard Pak, a beautifully illustrated Chinese fairy tale with notes about Chinese characters at the end of the book.

Hanging goodluck characters and spring couplet artwork over doorframe in celebration of Chinese New Year

Spring Couplets

Spring Couplets are special new year poems that carry good wishes for the new year. They have the same amount of characters on each side and are painted on long banners that hang from each side of a doorway. We also make a “Happy New Year” (新年快樂) greeting that goes on the top of the door between the two couplets.

large piece of red construction paper or red poster board
black tempera paint
gold metallic markers or paint pen (optional)

Making Spring Couplets for Chinese New YEar

Cutting out spring couplets for Chinese New Year

Painting spring couplets for the Lunar New Year

Start by cutting your large piece of red paper or poster board into two long strips that are equal length. Once you’ve cut your strips of paper, it’s to time to paint the characters on the banners. Examples of spring couplets can be found here and here or find one online that suits your wishes for the new year.

Spring Couplet Craft

Finished spring couplets and good luck characters

Hanging homemade good luck characters and spring couplets in honor of the Chinese Lunar New Year. This art activity for kids is an introduction to the ancient art of Chinese caliagraphy

When the paint has dried, your banners are ready to be hung! Or add further decorations by outlining the characters in gold or drawing pictures or details in gold marker on the banner! Happy New Year!


Painted Lanterns 4

Painted Lanterns for the Lantern Festival

On the 15th day of the Lunar New Year the celebration ends with the Lantern Festival. Celebrate by making hand painted lanterns! We made the lanterns pictured last autumn and they’ve recently been revived from storage as decorations for the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival. Here’s how you can to make your own.


Children's Books about the Chinese Lunar New Year

Books to Read for Chinese New Year

Here’s a short list of favorite books about the the Chinese New Year kids will enjoy reading during this festive time of year:

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, illustrated by Meilo So
Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin
Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book (Lift-the-Flap, Puffin) by Joan Holub
Dragon Dancing by Pierr Morgan, illustrated by Carole Lexa Schaefer
Long-Long’s New Year: A Story About the Chinese Spring Festival by Catherine Gower, illustrated by He Zhihong
Hiss! Pop! Boom!: Celebrating Chinese New Year by Tricia Morissey, illustrated by Kong Lee
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year (Reading Rainbow Books) by Kate Waters
Great Race by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson
A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Quiong
Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes: Share and Sing in Two Languages [Audio CD Included] by Faye-Lynn Wu, illustrated by Kieren Dutcher
Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year: With Fireworks, Dragons, and Lanterns by Carolyn Otto






Happy Kansas Day: Kids Booklist + Activities


Happy Kansas Day

Happy Kansas Day!

Kansas became a state on January 29, 1861 and each year its birthday is celebrated throughout the state. Many museums, libraries, and historic sites offer programs and events on this holiday, but there are also simple ways to observe the day with kids regardless of where you are.  Here are a few fun ideas for celebrating Kansas Day:


Books about Prairie - Kansas Day Activities for Kids

Read a book about wildlife in Kansas

Check out a book about Kansas from your library or local bookstore! These books for younger readers featuring the flora and fauna of Kansas prairies are a few favorites to read on Kansas Day:
Out on the Prairie by Donna M. Batemen, illustrated by Susan Swan
Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Mims Hopkins, illustrated by Henry Cole
A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet by Claudia McGehee
Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen

Another idea is to read a book from the Kansas State Library’s Kansas Notable Books list, which includes children’s books by Kansas authors or books that take place in the state of Kansas.


Make a Kansas flag for Kansas Day

Make a Kansas Flag

The Kansas flag has many symbols that represent the history of the state. With whatever materials you have on hand, make your very own Kansas flag to show your Kansas pride. The art project above made by my kiddo was created using tempera paint and watercolor paper, but another option is to use this free template of the Kansas flag symbols and color and paste them to a piece of blue paper.


Sing “Home on the Range”

“Home on the Range” is the state song of Kansas, but before it became a song it was origanlly a poem written by Kansan Dr. Brewster Higley. The official state song lyrics and a bit about the history of this song can be found here.


Listen to a Western Meadowlark 

The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of Kansas and it’s a cheerful, distinct song that is heard throughout the state. Listen to the clip. Perhaps you’ve heard this song before? If you listen while on a walk, perhaps you’ll be able to spot one! To learn about what food attracts this type of bird to your home, listen to more songs clips, view pictures, and learn more about the Western Meadowlark visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Tragic Prelude Coloring Sheet

Enjoy free activities from the Kansas Historical Society

Print out and make one of the many free activities available on the Kansas Historical Society’ website. There is also a free book, Today is Kansas Day!, that can be printed out or read online and a bunch of as well informational Read Kansas! lessons like this one about the symbols of Kansas. Plus, um… How hilarious is this coloring sheet of the famous John Brown portrait, “Tragic Prelude”?


Bake a birthday cake!

One of the main agricultural crops of Kansas agriculture is wheat, which is why Kansas is often called “The Wheat State”. While making the cake, you can share with our child that wheat is ground into the flour and used to bake breads and make cake with. Get fancy and bake something like this or make a simple banana bread. Whatever the flavor, make it a celebration and add a candle or two on top, sing “Happy Birthday” to Kansas, and blow out the candles.


Congratulations Kansas, another trip around the sun!


image source for celebrating meadowlark



Last Stop on Market Street Bus Craft

Last Stop on Market Street 3D Bus Collage Activity

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena, pictures by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market Street 3D Bus Art Project 3

Last Stop on Market Street 3D Bus Art Project - Make a bus like the one CJ and Nana ride using a recycled box and paper scraps

I’m over at Library as Incubator Project celebrating the 2016 Newbery winner and Caldecott and Coretta Scott King honoree, Last Stop on Market Street (public library | local bookstore) by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. Learn how to make this delightful 3-D bus craft just like the one CJ and Nana ride in the book HERE.



The Tea Party in the Woods + Pie Art Project

The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi + Pie Art Project and Pretend Play

There’s something eerie and otherworldly about walking in the woods in the wintertime. It is quiet, yet holds many secrets… Maybe even a bit of magic. The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi (public library | local bookstore) embodies this feeling perfectly. A young girl, Kikko, sets out to deliver a pie her father had forgotten to her grandmother’s house. Trying as quickly as she could to catch up to her father, she trips in the snow, ruining the pie. Kikko gets up and hurries after him nonetheless only to find that she ends up at an unfamiliar house where she learns she wasn’t following her father after all.

The Tea Party in the Woods 1

The Tea Party in the Woods 2

The Tea Party in the Woods Akiko Miyakoshi

There it is. This image. How terrific is the mood in this illustration? That point when things are absolutely not what they seem? Kikko walks into an enchanting tea party welcomed by a guest list of animals of all shapes and sizes. Feeling nervous and excited, she explains to the animals that she was taking a pie to her grandmother’s but the pie was ruined on the way. The animals encouraged her to take an assortment of the pies they had at the party to replace the ruined pie.

The Tea Party in the Woods 3

The Tea Party in the Woods pie

The Tea Party in the Woods 4

Tea Party in the Woods parade

The Tea Party in the Woods  is quiet and striking full of whimsy and wonder. The sequence of full-page spreads and bright yellow and red focal points in this visually appealing for beginning and early readers to draw conclusions about the story without reading the text. Kikko’s story is a delight and prompted a simple paper craft project and many hours of pretend play…



Pie Art Project + Pretend Tea Party Play inspirted by The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

If you’ll scroll up to the illustration of the animals preparing a plate of assorted pies for Kikko, that scene was what inspired this simple pie art project. “Each piece had a different filling of seeds and nuts and fruit and other delicious things gathered from the woods,” is the description of the pies in the story.  I thought about collecting materials found outdoors to be used for this project as a nature-y mixed-media creation, but my daughter wanted the pie pieces to look like the pies she likes to eat. Not like dead grass. Fair enough! Here’s how she made her paper pie collage…

Materials for pie art


  • Pie Plate
  • Variety of Colored Paper or Cardstock
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • [Optional Embellishments (sequins, pom poms, etc.)]

You could also use a paper plate as the crust of your pie, but we chose different colors of cardstock we had on hand.

pie art project

pie art project 1

Place your pie plate in the middle of a piece of paper and trace around the bottom of the plate with a pencil.

pie art project - an introduction to fractions

pie art project is a basic introduction to the concept of fractions

Pie Art Activity for preschool or kindergarten. A complementry craft for the book The Tea Party in the Woods

Using another piece of paper as a makeshift ruler, divide the circle into sections. If you’d like, this is a good opportunity to talk about basic division and fractions with your child. Sneaky math! It’s everywhere! Once you’ve divided the pie up, cut out the pie along using penciled lines as your guide.

Pie Art Collage

Pie Art Project for kids

Pie collage - math meets art when making this paper pie for pretend play

Snip snip snip. After the pie crust was cut out, kids can decorate with paper to their own imagination and/or flavor preference. Perhaps a piece of Peppermint Plum? Or Ginger Pumpkin? Maybe some Pistachio Crunch? Triple Cartwheel Peanut Butter Surprise? Whatever the flavor!   Now, you can stop here OR you can add some optional additional embellishments of your choosing. We had some sequins and pom-poms out already and those were readily applied to the pie.

pie art project 2

Pie Art Mixed Media Collage + Tea Party Pretend Play

Good enough to eat! Am I right? Art baked goodness just in time for a winter tea party of your very own.



The Tea Party in the Woods Winter Story Activity - Pretend play and pie art project inspired by Akiko Miyakoshi's whimsical picture book The Tea Party in the Woods -

As in any situation where pie is involved, you obviously have to throw a party for the pie to be enjoyed among friends. Over the past few weeks there have been a many tea parties indoors where friends from all over the house are invited to enjoy the festivities and freshly baked pie. Awhile back I purchased a few tea cups, mugs, and saucers from Goodwill that have been put to good use ever since we brought them home.

Tea Party Pretend Play

Guests at the winter tea party

Winter Tea Party pretend play for kids

Roar-y the Tiger couldn’t help himself and had to have seconds. The hostess was of the mostess and everyone was very well mannered and had a jolly old time.

Improptu 3-D animal art using recycled materials

And I had to share a picture of this friendly cat and dog guest duo, which were made from leftover pie scraps and other odds and ends from around the house. Glad these last minute guests could make it just in time for tea!

Don’t you love when a book sparks imagination?



**Source of book reviewed: Checked out at the local public library.