Since we took L&L to see The Lorax movie at the theater recently and since watching this older video of The Lorax repeatedly, they have taken to using the theme often during their pretend play. For weeks now they have been building The Once-ler’s house from Lego Duplo blocks and using dollhouse and Lego people to re-enact scenes and create their own.
|Luke’s Lego Duplo “Once-ler’s house” creation and Lilah acting out a scene|
Luke especially, has also been talking a lot about truffula trees.
|The trees on the cover of the book are called Truffula Trees.|
All this playing and talking about The Lorax gave me an idea…it started as a simple art project idea to make truffula trees and then it blossomed into a whole themed sensory bin! L&L *loved* the whole adventure from start to end, and I think they’ll love it for quite awhile to come.
The Lorax Themed Sensory Bin
Here’s how we made our truffula trees:
We did this project over 2 days time to allow for the cotton balls to dry.
Truffula Tree Tops:
First we made the tops for our truffula trees by dyeing cotton balls. I poured water into several (clean and empty) applesauce cups.
I added a bit of food coloring to each cup (mixing colors as needed to also make purple and orange in addition to the red, green, blue, and yellow that came in my kit).
We stirred the colors with chopsticks until they were well-mixed.
Then we took turns dipping the cotton balls into the food coloring, holding them there for a minute, and then laying them on a flour sack towel.
If you don’t want to mess up your towels, use rags, paper towels, or newspaper. Don’t squeeze the cotton balls out!
For fun, we double and even triple-dipped some of our cotton balls to make some multi-colored ones.
We dyed about 20 cotton balls total.
After the first towel was soaked through, I transferred them to a second towel to help the cotton balls dry faster.
Truffula Tree Trunks:
When our cotton balls were finished and laid out to dry, L&L each got a bucket and we went on a walk to a spot in our neighborhood where there are lots of trees. We gathered lots of little sticks to use as truffula tree trunks. We mostly tried to pick straight sticks that weren’t too long or too big, but seemed sturdy.
The next day we laid newspaper across our art table and laid out all the sticks.
I squirted washable tempera paint into (clean and empty) applesauce cups. We used red, blue, yellow, and white paint to create the colors for our truffula tree trunks. We made red, yellow, pink (red + white), light green (blue + yellow + white), orange (red + yellow), and light blue (blue + white).
I added a paintbrush to each cup and we started painting. L&L painted most of their tree trunks one solid color.
I painted most of mine with stripes. Luke started attempting stripes towards the end as well. We laid our painted sticks on the newspaper to dry. I occasionally turned them and added paint to any bare spots I noticed.
Putting it all together:
Even on Day 2 the cotton balls weren’t completely dry. I used a hair dryer to finish drying them and get them to fluff up a little. I also gently pulled them apart to make them more puffy.
Once the sticks were dry (several hours after painting them), I used a hot glue gun to attach the cotton balls to the tops of the “trees.”
How to make them stand up?
My next dilemma was figuring out how to create a stand for the trees. I thought about play dough or some type of hardening clay or some type of little flower pots. Then I got the best idea of all! I remembered how our little paper princesses and knights were able to stand up in our bean-filled sensory bin just by nestling them down a bit into the beans.
A Lorax-themed bin is born
We went right to work cleaning the castles and knights out of the sensory bin. Several knights tried to be sneaky, but we managed to unearth all of them from the bin. L&L quickly added two Lego Duplo block creations they had made for their Lorax play, along with the Once-ler’s vehicle, and then we added the trees. They were ecstatic!
I have to say I was a little shocked when I came in the room where they were playing a few minutes later and all the trees were laying in a pile. Luke told me that the Once-ler had already chopped down all the truffula trees. It was kind of sad to see our pretty little creations reduced to a pile of firewood. How powerful a feeling to see that kind of destruction acted out in real life!
Then Luke re-planted a few of the trees (by simply sticking the ends down in the beans again) and said they had been planted again because the Once-ler realized he had made a mistake and wanted to fix it.
I hope these truffula trees get chopped down and replanted many, many times as L&L play and retell the story. And more importantly, I hope they learn the valuable lesson that we need to take care of our world instead of destroying it.
Amazingly enough, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is one book we didn’t own…and it is even more amazing that I let them watch the movie without having even read it first…well, unless you count on an Android app. Very unlike me indeed!!!
But I remedied the situation. Since they have come to love it so much, I bought the book for Luke’s Easter basket and he happily shares it with Lilah, too.
Having played with the themed bin for several days now, we’ve only had one tree to break. I figured some would over time though, so that’s why we made 20 to start with!
We just visited A.C. Moore today to pick up a few supplies to make some character figurines. If those turn out well, I’ll write a separate post to explain how we made them!
Update: Here’s the post sharing how we made simple characters from the Lorax for our sensory bin.
Do you have a “The Lorax” fan at your house?
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