Ok, let me start by saying that this is totally over the top. BUT SO WORTH IT!
It started when I was at a bookstore and I found the fabulous over-sized board book version of Ellen Stoll Walsh's "Mouse Count." I already loved "Mouse Paint" but "Mouse Count" immediately inspired me. I wanted to create props that we could use to act out the story.
I made the snake using one of my father-in-law's old ties. I used stuffing and a wire coat hanger to fill it out and make it 3D. I stitched it closed, added a flannel tongue and glued on some eyes to create a great big snake that kids are just fascinated by. I stuffed it pretty firm, so he extends out when I hold him--it definitely makes him more animated.
The whole set
I made the rock 'mouse' using a chunk of homemade clay--flour, salt, oil and food coloring. I made it vaguely mouse-shaped and let it dry solid.
Making the pattern
For the little mousies, I made a paper pattern by folding a piece of cardstock and cutting out a cone shape. Then I whipstitched the long edges to make a felt cone, and then stitched a circle on to close it--mostly remembering to add the tails and fill them with rice before totally closing the opening.
I added pinched circles for the ears, googly eyes, and little bells for noses. I found a jar at Goodwill and that was all!
Sometimes I hand the mice out if I have a small enough crowd, otherwise I just hide the mice around the front of the room--including the rock 'mouse'--before we start storytime. I show the book, but usually I just tell the story and move around with the snake and the jar collecting all the mice.
It's a labor-intensive one, for sure, but as I said in the beginning, it is completely worth it. I'd really like to make another set that's sturdier and put it together as a kit for kids to check out. It's amazing watching them act out the story on their own terms!