8 year-old-kids bring the best of both worlds…they are still cuddly little people, needy in all the delicious ways, but they can also get themselves dressed and can put their plates in the dishwasher (um, sometimes). Snuggles mixed with a dash of independence—what’s better than that? This age also welcomes the chapter book obsession, but luckily they still enjoy and benefit from the lessons of picture books. We have been Mo Willems fans from the start, and when Disney Book Group sent us the newest in his Unlimited Squirrels early-reader series, I Want to Sleep Under the Stars, we were immediately making up voices in order to give the book the dramatic reading it deserves (with stuffed animals, of course). And since stuffed animals are literally members of our family, Sommer wanted to craft a little tent and campfire under the stars…so we got to work!
The story is one of best intentions—Zoom Squirrel announces that he wants to sleep under the stars, and his squirrel buddies throw all of their encouragement behind him, but to a fault. Their cheers and chants actually prevent him from sleeping, under the stars or anywhere! It’s a simple story about listening to the needs of others and finding a way to bring joy and satisfaction to the people that you love.
As a family that loves to camp, we got so into making this little camping scene under the stars. You can size it to fit stuffies of any size, but this particular one fit our animals that are about 7 inches in length. A day of reading, crafting, and then playing…what could be better?
Starting with a 12-by-10-inch piece of cardboard, with a fold breaking the 12-inch side into two 6-inch halves, draw a rectangle centered on a 10-inch side, about 6 inches wide by 5 inches tall. Cut this out.
Trace this cardboard onto a piece of scrapbook paper, and cut out.
Glue the craft paper to the cardboard, making sure that it easily folds to the inside.
Trace the cardboard onto a piece of felt, adding 4 to 5 inches to the length (making it 17 to 18 inches by 10 inches). Line the window edge up to one end of the felt, and this time don’t cut out the rectangle. Just cut slits up the sides of the rectangle, leaving the top line intact. Glue the felt to the other side of the cardboard.
Now add glue to the “feet” of the cut sides of the tent and glue them down onto the extra felt, giving the tent a bottom or floor.
Trace the side triangles of the tent twice onto felt and cut out. Glue these triangles to the sides of the tent.
Glue two pieces of string to the cardboard under the tent’s flap.
Glue buttons to the back top edge of the tent. When the glue dries, roll up the tent flap and wrap the strings around the buttons to keep them in place.
Make a pillow by cutting a long rectangle of felt, about 2-by-6 inches, placing cotton balls on one side, then folding the felt over and gluing to seal.
Red, orange, and yellow felt
Break twigs and glue them together in a triangle. Cut flames from red, orange, and yellow felt. Make the red pieces the largest, and the yellow pieces the smallest. Stack and glue them together.
Glue the felt flames to the inside of the sticks. Add extra sticks around if needed.
Cut a 10-inch piece of wire and form it into a circle.
Cut a 12-inch piece of wire and twist it onto the circle.
Cut pieces of fishing line, and sandwich each end in between two silver star stickers. Tie the fishing line to the wire circle. Repeat until you have a star mobile.
Wrap the other end around the spool to make it hang above the tent.
Don’t forget to check out Unlimited Squirrels in I Want To Sleep Under the Stars! The series addresses a range of physical, emotional, and social development markers that helps spark conversation between parents and early-readers. You’ll find interesting and educational content in all of the Unlimited Squirrels books, packaged with quizzes, jokes, and entertaining stories from a hilarious cast of Squirrels! We love it!