Butterfly Bowl

Click to view or print the pattern and instruction for this craft.

Make this bowl and fill it with your favorite spring snack!

Or make is as a Mother’s Day gift.  You can also make a bracelet to loop around the flower.

The Butterflies are Back!

One of the best things about spring is watching butterflies.   They are so peaceful and quiet.  But they are also bold and colorful, which makes them very visibly loud.  Most butterflies live for less than a month, but as a species, they’ve been around for over 50 million years.  Butterflies eat nectar from flowers, pollen, tree sap, and rotten fruit.  They sip water from leaves and sometimes human sweat.  Their wings are used to protect themselves from predators.  They can, of course, fly away, but many butterflies have designs on their wings that mimic patterns in nature to help them camouflage themselves.


We printed our bowl on cardstock paper, but you don’t have to.   You can look at  actual butterflies to inspire your students to realistically design each butterfly on their bowl.  Or you can let the kids use their imaginations to decorate each butterfly.  This is a craft you can make with any age group.


You can  apply this project to your curriculum in many different ways:

MATH –  Shapes – The bowl is a pentagon.  The sides are trapezoids.  Symmetry – Butterflies are symmetrical.

SOCIAL STUDIES – Learn about the migration pattern of the monarch butterfly.

ART – Design.  Symmetry.  Pattern.  Color.

SCIENCE – Learn about the life cycle of a butterfly.

READING – Here are some great books that feature butterflies:

Michael Berenstain’s “Butterfly Book” presents the names and appearance of several different butterflies. 

“Monarch Butterflies,” by Ann Hobbie is about the flight pattern and life cycle of the monarch butterfly. 

“The Girl Who Drew Butterflies.”  Is the real life story of Maria Merian, a butterfly artist.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle is perfect for younger students.

“How Spider Saved Valentine’s Day,” by Robert Kraus is a very goofy story about two sleepy caterpillars who keep dozing off in the back of the classroom. 

Garden Pot Craft

Click the image above to view or print the pattern and instructions.

It’s Gardening Time!

Everyone knows Norman Bridwell as the author of “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”  But, Bridwell also wrote other imaginative stories that didn’t become quite as famous.  One story that I particularly like is called “A Tiny Family.”  It’s about a miniature-sized family who lives in the garden of a home that belongs to a “giant” family.  The giants are, of course, just normal-sized people.  The tiny family fear them and try to avoid them at all costs.   But, when the giant dog steps on Grandpa’s favorite umbrella, his grandchildren bravely enter the giant house to retrieve it.  The story is super sweet and has a nice message about getting to know someone before you judge them.  It’s also a fun story to read before starting a unit on plants.

April is a great time to introduce your students to the magic of seeds.  It’s especially fun to choose a variety of seed packets, so the kids can see how different the seeds are…from the tiny tomato seeds to the much larger beans.  Also, with a variety of seed choices, the kids will get to see which seeds grow quickly and which take a lot of time.  The best part of this garden pot project is watching your classroom windowsill become an indoor garden.


We decorated our garden pots to look like the plant we were trying to cultivate.  We used permanent markers to color the cup wrapper and tag, so any water spills wouldn’t ruin the designs. It was fun to look at the garden each day to watch the seedlings poke up out of the soil.  The marigold seeds came up in about 4 days.  The tomato seeds took almost two weeks.  And we think our bean seeds are duds because they usually come up pretty quickly, but have yet to emerge from the soil.

You can  apply this project to your curriculum in many different ways:

MATH – Measurement – Compare seed sizes.  Measure the height of your plant weekly.

SOCIAL STUDIES – Where did the plant originate?  Which country is known for growing the plant?

ART – Design.  Observe colors and shapes of various plants and their leaves. 

SCIENCE – Botany, seeds, germination, parts of a plant, photosynthesis…

READING – Read “The Tiny Family” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” or any other book about plants.

Spring Bird Basket

Click the image to view or print the craft page.


If you’ve ever had birds build a nest near your window, you know how amazing it is to watch a nest of eggs become a nest of fluffy little chicks.

This craft provides a fun way to kick off the spring season.  Have your students look at pictures of their favorite bird before decorating the bird and egg.  We used crayon and markers to color the egg to get the crayon resist look.  Our bird’s eyes are eyeball stickers.  When you are finished making the craft, place a small rock or a coin in the bottom of the basket to keep it from tipping over.


· Scientists have evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

· Birds have hollow bones, making them light enough to fly.

· The Ostrich is the largest living bird.  Ostriches have eyeballs that are almost the size of a tennis ball.  Their eyeballs are larger than their brains.

· The smallest living bird is the hummingbird.  Hummingbirds can fly backward.

· Owls swallow their prey whole.  Then spit out the bones and pelt.

· Penguins can jump 6 feet into the air.

· An albatross can sleep while it flies.

· Most hummingbirds weigh less than a nickel.

· Woodpeckers hoard acorns in the tree holes they “drill” with their beaks.

· The starling, and many other birds, sing notes that are too high for the human ear to hear.

· Have you ever heard the expression, “Canary in a Coalmine?”  Coal miners used to send canaries down into the mines to test carbon monoxide levels.  If the canary passed out, the mine was too dangerous.

· The bald eagle builds the largest nest, measuring about 9 1/2 feet across.

· The cuckoo bird lays its eggs in other birds’ nests.  It relies on the bird that built the nest to hatch and feed its young.

Lucky Box

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One of the greatest springtime activities is searching through clover patches trying to find one with four leaves…a lucky clover.  Another is looking up into the sky after a rain shower and spotting a rainbow.  This craft combines both of the greatest springtime activities.   

If you make this craft on St. Patrick’s Day, you can put a surprise in each box while your students are out of the room.  Something gold would be fun…a Rolo, gold coin, or a gold star sticker. 



· Ireland is an island made up of 32 countries.

· Ireland is located next to the United Kingdom in the British Isles.  Northern Ireland (1/6 of the country) is part of the United Kingdom.

· The capital of Ireland is Dublin.

· The shamrock and the harp are the national symbols of Ireland.

· Ireland Is called the Emerald Isle because it is a land of lush green fields.

· Ireland is a nation of storytellers.  Many famous writers come from Ireland:  Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, James Joyce.

· The Irish love nature and animals.  They were the first country to ban plastic shopping bags and smoking in public places.

· Irish or Gaelic is the official language, but English is more commonly spoken.

· The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the United States.

· Halloween began in Ireland as a Celtic festival called Samhain; a harvest festival that celebrated the end of summer.

· Some Irish families celebrate children’s birthdays by turning the birthday child upside down by their feet and gently tapping their head on the ground for their age plus one.

· Hurling is a sport played in Ireland since ancient times.  The Irish excel in boxing at the Olympics.

Flower Pencil Topper

April showers bring May flowers. 

And if you don’t yet have any May flowers,

these pencil toppers will make a beautiful May bouquet for your classroom.

Pencil flowers are also a great Mother’s Day gift.

Click to view or print the pattern and instructions for this craft.


Craft Materials:  Flower pattern, markers, scissors, glue, tape, and a pencil

Age: 7 and up.

Time:  20 minutes

Skills:  Cutting, folding, paper curling, graphic design

Fan-wing Bird Craft

Even though there is still snow on the ground, the birds are coming back to the frigid Midwest. 

I’m sure they aren’t thrilled to be here, neither am I. 

But just seeing them makes me know that spring will soon be here.

Make these bright and colorful “flying” birds to decorate your classroom.


Craft Materials:  Bird pattern (printed on colored paper), scissors, paper punch,

glue, string, and markers or rubber stamps

Age: 8 and up.  (The narrow fan fold and the paper curling can make

this craft difficult for younger students.)

Time:  20 minutes

Skills:  Cutting, folding, paper curling, graphic design

Rabbit Marionette

It’s March and that means spring is here. 

It’s time for birds and flowers and dancing bunnies.

Click the image to view or print the pattern for this craft.


Craft Materials:  Bunny pattern (printed on cardstock paper), scissors, paper punch, 4 brass brads, string, ruler

Age: 8 and up for the marionette.  Younger children can make the bunny with movable arms and legs, but no strings.

Time:  30 minutes – 15 minutes to assemble & 15 more to decorate.

Skills:  Cutting, Measuring, Creativity, Puppetry

Instructions for Bunny Marionette

Umbrella Straw

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I have always been a fan of umbrellas.  Gene Kelly singing in the rain, Mary Poppins flying, and the umbrella-weapon belonging to the Penguin from Batman were all awesome to me!  My husband must have been inspired by those things, too.  When he was about 4 or 5, he grabbed an umbrella, climbed up onto the roof of his house, opened the umbrella, and jumped.  He still remembers floating for a split second before the umbrella turned inside out and gravity took over.  Luckily, he was alright.

My little sister, Meg, the baby of the family, eleven years younger than me, called her umbrella a “rainbrella.”  We thought it was adorable and never corrected her.  But when she returned home from kindergarten one rainy day, soaking wet and furious, we realized we should have.  Apparently, the mean girls didn’t think “rainbrella” was adorable.  They told Meg she was a “Baby Talker.”   She was so embarrassed, she didn’t want to use her “rainbrella” anymore.

As an adult raising kids in Florida, my umbrella was not just protection from spontaneous monsoon-like downpours, it was a useful shady shelter, too.   I kept one in my car for those just-in-case situations.  But, and this is weird because I have fair skin and freckles, I never thought to buy a beach umbrella until I met Stephanie.

Stephanie is one of those amazingly organized moms who always has the right stuff for any situation.  The first time my son and I went to the beach with Stephanie and her son, felt like the first time I’d ever been.  When we arrived at the beach, Stephanie opened the back hatch of her van and removed a small cart with wheels as I slung my worn out beach bag over my shoulder.  The four of us walked to a nice spot near the shore.  Stephanie began to unpack her cart like it was a clown car at the circus.  She first took a shovel from the cart, dug a hole, and placed an umbrella in it.  She then unfolded a large beach blanket, an adult-sized folding chair, and a child-sized folding chair.  After that, she pulled out a cooler, sand toys, sun screen, and beach towels.  Within minutes, she had assembled a portable living room at the beach.  I was thoroughly impressed!  Jack and I sat next to her and her son on our sand-covered beach towels with our soggy sandwiches, warm juice pouches, and no sunscreen.  (I forgot to bring it, but Stephanie let us borrow some of hers.)

When I write stories for Welcome to Reading, I am often drawing from my real life experiences.  A lot of the characters are based on people I know.  The Beach story, “3 By the Sea” is sort of about that day at the beach.   When I showed the story to Stephanie she said, somewhat alarmed, “Wait, am I that bossy penguin?”  I answered, “It’s kind of a composite character.  The penguin having all the right stuff for the beach is you and, maybe slightly, Mary Poppins.  The bossy part of the penguin is, most likely, the Batman villain with the same name.”


This umbrella craft won’t protect you from the elements, but it will keep your drink shaded on a hot day.  Bring it to the beach to impress your friend who has all the right stuff!  Click UMBRELLA STRAW to get the template and instructions for this craftivity.


Click the image to view or print the template and instructions for the craft.


My goal in fourth grade was to become a veterinarian.  I don’t know why.  I wasn’t even allowed to have a real pet.  I did have a goldfish named Cecil, for awhile, but I was too lazy to clean the fishbowl.  When my mom noticed how disgusting the water looked and how bad it smelled, she demanded I clean it ASAP.  Since I was the head veterinarian in my bedroom, I asked my assistant to take care of that chore.  My younger sister, Heather, was a kind and helpful kid, so she agreed to do my job for me.   I left the house.

When I returned home, I noticed the water in the fishbowl was super clean, but Cecil was MIA.  When I finally saw Cecil, I let out a blood curdling scream.  He was laying on the rug, DOA.  My dad dashed into my room.  I blamed Heather for the gruesome scene.  Dad grabbed Cecil by the tail, ran to the nearest toilet, and flushed him down.  I was furious!  “Heather needs to be punished and I need a new fish!”  My dad lectured, “You told Heather to do your chore for you.  You didn’t tell her not to fill the bowl to the top.  The fish is dead because you were lazy.  No new fish!”

I got over Cecil’s death pretty quickly.  Mostly because my neighbor, Cecil, an actual human I admired and named a fish after, showed me a bird’s nest that had fallen out of a tree and onto his lawn.  The nest had four eggs in it.  Cecil told me we should keep an eye on the eggs to make sure no harm came to them.  He put a temporary fence around the nest.  He also told me not to touch the eggs because the birds’ parents would reject them if they smelled like humans.  (I have since learned that isn’t true.)

Every day after school I ran to Cecil’s backyard to look at the nest.  Finally, one of the eggs had a small crack and within a fairly short time a sticky gooey baby bird wiggled its way out of the egg.  By the next day, all four of the baby birds were peeping in the nest.

While Cecil was at work, I decided to put my imagined veterinary skills to use.  I dug up worms and tried to get the babies to eat, but they wouldn’t.  I filled a plastic lid with water and set it in the nest, but the babies wouldn’t drink.   They just kept peeping louder and louder.  “Quiet down guys, or some harmful predator will find you,” I whispered as I placed more and more “useful” items in their nest…lettuce, leaves, bugs, sticks, a small toy troll.  They weren’t interested in anything I had to offer.

Because the birds were in Cecil’s yard, I hadn’t been able to observe them 24/7.  If I had, I would have known that the babies’ parents were nearby, feeding them and watching over them.  And they were getting very concerned about the fourth grade predator who was constantly tossing debris into their family home.

That evening after dinner, I returned to the nest with some cooked carrots. (They seemed worm-like, but more delicious.) I was getting ready to place them in the nest when I heard a loud squawking sound.  I looked up in the sky and witnessed a giant cloud of feathers speeding toward me, hundreds of angry beady eyes and sharp beaks. Suddenly, I was the Tippi Hedren in a real life Alfred Hitchcock film.  I threw the cooked carrots in the air and ran into Cecil’s house, terrified.  He and his wife were hosting a fancy dinner party.  I can’t imagine what their guests thought of the small lunatic with carrot-stained hands, red-faced, and screaming, “The birds are trying to kill me!”   Cecil thought it was hilarious!  Which is exactly why I named my first pet, Cecil.

Click NESTS to get the template and instructions for this project. Your students can create a little bird out of a plastic egg to place in the nest.

Best Basket

Click the image to view or print the pattern and instructions for this craft.

Alyssa’s Second Easter

The first time I made this basket craft was many years ago with my daughter, Alyssa.  She was almost two years old.  It was getting close to Easter and I had baked cookies for my neighbor and wanted a container for them.  Alyssa scribbled a beautiful design on some paper and I cut it out and folded it to make a basket.  We put the cookies in it and knocked on our neighbor’s door.  She opened immediately.  As usual, she was on her way out the door.  She had a job at our local mall, coordinating seasonal activities.  This was a busy time of year for her. She thanked us for the cookies and told me to come over to her house in the evening.  She said she had a surprise for … and used her eyes to indicate it was for Alyssa.

Later that evening I knocked on Karen’s door.  She was so excited.  “Come on in.  Look at this!”  She had the Easter Bunny costume from the mall.  “I borrowed this from work.  I thought your husband could put it on and hop in to surprise Alyssa.”  She put the costume in a giant paper bag, so I could sneak it into my house.

My husband was not as jazzed about the costume surprise as Karen was.  As Alyssa, now in her twenties, reminds me, “Dad was the master of inventing games that took little to no effort on his part.  They were super fun, but he hardly had to move to make them happen.”  She’s right.  He invented a game called, “Wrap Me.”  We had one of those foam chairs that folded into a floor bed.  Alyssa would lay on it and shout, “Wrap me, Daddy.”  Grant would then slip his hand under the foam cushion and fold it up over Alyssa.  She’d bust out of the chair and yell, “Wrap me again!” Another of his games, “Cave In,” required him to throw a blanket over his legs and collapse it on the kids.  He’d shout, “Cave in,” when the blanket was about to collapse.  His lazy games were creative and the kids loved them!

Grant reluctantly put on the costume.  He snuck outside and knocked on the door.  Alyssa opened the door, saw the Easter Bunny and said.  “Hi Daddy.  Wanna play Wrap Me.”   My husband is a quirky dresser, but not bunny costume quirky.  We have no idea how she knew the big bunny was her dad, but she knew and Grant was glad she knew.  Apparently, that costume was hotter than blazes.  He was happy to take it off and lounge on the family room rug next to the folding bed-chair for a few rounds of “Wrap Me.”



This basket craft is perfect for all age groups.  A toddler can scribble on it, stamp it, or cover it in stickers.  Older kids can make more sophisticated designs and glue crafty embellishments on it.  It is a super simple, super functional basket. 

Click BEST BASKET to get the template and instructions for the basket craft.