Friday, November 30, 2007


My 6 year old has to do monthly projects called “literature extensions”. They’re expected to read every day, and once a month, they choose a book and do a project (Why is it simply not called a book project? I do not know). Last month, we read a robot book and made a robot. This time, my son told me:
Some of the kids had these boxes, with things and pictures in them, and it was very interesting.
You mean a diorama? I asked.
YES! That’s it! I want to make a diorama!

(3yo) I wanna make a dramarama too!

Our book this month was the Frog and Toad treasury. We’re big fans. How to make a Frog and Toad diorama with very limited skills? I don’t sew, I don’t draw, I’m not craft-oriented at all. I looked at the book and we came up with our first idea. Buttons, inspired by “A Lost Button” (Toad loses the button on his jacket, drives Frog to distraction looking for it, only to find it on his own floor. Toad makes a jacket for Frog decorated with the many buttons they’ve found in the hunt for Toad’s button). We get a collection of buttons to glue to the backdrop, and 6yo writes the caption.

(3yo) I want to do buttons too!

(Back to the sewing box for some more buttons.)

Second panel, inspired by “A List” (Toad makes a list of things to do, and carefully checks off each item on his list. Toad takes walk with Frog (this is on the list) and the list blows away. Toad cannot look for his list, because looking for his list is not ON his list). I cut out a piece of lined paper. We make a list, glue it to the bottom panel, and 6yo writes the caption.

(3yo) I need a list too!

(Make another tiny list.)

Third panel, inspired by “Christmas Eve”. Frog is late arriving to Toad’s house for Christmas Eve. Toad imagines all sorts of gruesome things that might have happened to Frog, and he’s ready to go and search for him, when Frog arrives, with a beautifully-wrapped Christmas present.) My husband has a collection of matchboxes, so I wrap one with wrapping paper, glue it to the right side panel, and 6yo writes the caption.

(3yo) I need a present too!

(Wrap another matchbox.)

(6yo, looking enviously at very cool little wrapped matchbox) Well, actually, I need one too. Cause mine’s glued into the diorama.

(3yo) I wanna make a dramarama, too!

(Wrap another matchbox.)

Fourth and final panel, inspired by “The Surprise” (A Gift of the Magi tale…Frog decides to surprise Toad by raking all of his leaves, on the same day on which Toad has decided to rake Frog’s leaves. They take roundabout routes home, so as to each avoid the other, and as they’re walking home, a gale-force wind arises. Each of them arrives home to find his own yard covered with leaves, blown by the gale, but neither of them realizes that the other’s leaves have been blown, too, so they each happily imagine the other’s surprise at finding their leaves raked). Easy! We're runnin' a leaf farm! I run outside and get some leaves (I got some extras…because 3yo needs leaves, too!). We glue down the leaves, and 6yo writes the caption.

The piece de resistance…the dust jacket of the book is tattered, so I cut out the Frog and Toad figures, mount them on poster board, and suspend them on ribbon from the top panel of the box.
I tried to take a picture of the finished product, but have encountered technical difficulties with the camera. Perhaps the illustration of our amphibious heroes (from "Cookies", in which Toad bakes cookies so delicious that he and Frog cannot stop eating them. They try hiding the cookies , but they know where to find them! They try tying the cookies in a box, but they can untie the box! They try putting the cookies on a high shelf, but they can climb up and reach them! They try willpower, but we know how well that worked. Finally, Frog throws all of the cookies to the birds, who carry them away) will help you to picture the dramarama in its buttoned, leafy, well-organized, gift-wrapped splendor.


Wyldth1ng said...

Sounds like you are craft oriented to me.

Thank you for linking to me.

CDP said...

I've been lurking for a while, courtesy of Ms. Fran...I read you almost every day.

Anonymous said...

I feel old. When I was six they were just glad that we managed not to eat glue. They didn't expect us to be able to read.

Whiskeymarie said...

Like DaVinci you are- a real renaissance woman!

Let's ahng out sometime- we'll drink wine and make dioramas.

CDP said...

Suze--You have no Kindergarten, he had homework almost every night.

WM--deal. Let me know if you're going to be in DC or environs and I'll let you know if I'm going to be in MSP. Which trust me, will NOT happen during the winter months.

Anonymous said...

Ah the things a mother would do for their kids! And that is everything! My 11-year old has to make a pyramid for social studies class, and thankfully, that should be the last parent-assisted project we'll undertake until we start paying college tuition.

Wonderful story CDP. I can hear my own kids' voices when they were the 3YO's age and it brings back painfully wonderful memories.

CDP said...

Thanks Spartacus...I'll miss this stage like crazy when they're older. They actually still think I'm a rock star...I know that comes to a screeching halt when they hit middle school, but I'll enjoy this while I can.

Anonymous said...

Who says you stop being a rock star once they hit middle school? As if! They just get better and more sophisticated at schmoozing you for the things they want.

I actually use this desire to schmooze to great advantage because it means that me and E. have to tackle fewer chores. Raking leaves is a perfect example of this. Snow shoveling and garbage disposal work in this paradigm as well.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

That's such a sweet tale. Thanks for sharing.

FranIAm said...

This is too funny and my 11yo stepdaughter wants to know why I am laughing so hard. It is clearly annoying her!!!

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

I'm with Suze though. I could read, but didn't have homework or home projects assigned when I was in first grade. It seems fun but from a practical standpoint seems more like a homework project for parents.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy it. It flies by. The Baby (8yo) who's wildly independent (maybe because she's #3 of 3) made a clay volcano with almost zero parental assistance.

The only thing she let us do was drive to Hobby Lobby for supplies.

Oh, and she let MathMan cut the water bottle that was the base-neck of the volcano.

"I'm letting Daddy cut it,"she explained,"because you guys think I can't handle sharp instruments."

Like I said, enjoy before they're too big for their own good.

It sounds like for a non-crafter you had some great, creative ideas.

CDP said...

Thanks everyone! Spartacus, you have the pioneer spirit, and we will emulate you in that regard...the 6yo already makes himself useful. Lady, you're exactly's a good thing now, since it gets me involved in school, but there's really almost no homework that he's capable of doing unsupervised. The things that he CAN do on his own, he just won't unless I'm sitting with him. Dcup, that cracked me up..."you guys don't think I'm capable of handling sharp instruments" she was just throwing you a bone.

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