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.