Hands on Stories

Eli Whitney Museum

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For School Groups


Listen, look, and build. We offer a whole library of projects to help our students get in touch with wonderful stories by honoring them with a design that allows even the youngest child to make his own vision of that story character. Great for literacy and dexterity. See descriptions below. (Click on the thumbnails to go to an inner page. Then click on the image there to see it larger.)

A perfect program for Distance Learning using Screen Sharing techniques that allow the child to see the pictures and the words of the story on the full screen – not just a book waving around in front of the camera as the story is being read. And the projects are designed for Pre-K and up to build independently.

Past programs include Six Crows or Frederick by Leo Leonni; From Head to Toe by Eric Carle; My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me by Maya Angelou, and more.

Meets Connecticut Science Standards

  • Pre-K.1:  
  • K.1: Objects have properties that can be observed and used to describe similarities and differences.
  • K.2: Many different kinds of living things inhabit the Earth.

Meets Common Core Standards

For Families

An homage to Jacqueline K. Rayner's HATS Are NOT for CATS!

Hats and Cats??

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According to the big dog in the top hat, cats don't wear hats.

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Homage to Ed Vere's How to Be a Lion

Leonard and Marianne

New 2019
How to Be a Lion <em>story</em>

How to be a Lion, a book written and illustrated by Ed Vere.

A story about the importance of being true to yourself, mindfulness, and standing by your friends.

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Homage to Lisa Mantchev's "Strictly No Elephants"

No Elephants Welcome?

Strictly No Elephants <em>story</em>

Strictly No Elephants, a book by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. A story of true friendship and one that demonstrates that friends, like pets, come in all shapes and sizes.

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An homage to Leo Lionni's classic story Six Crows

The Farmer, the Crows, and the Owl (2021)

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A story about compromise and conflict resolution. Something that everyone needs to learn.

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Homage to Robert Krause's Leo the Late Bloomer

Has Leo Bloomed Yet? (2021 redesign)

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Robert Kraus' Leo the Late Bloomer is the story of how a little tiger named Leo bloomed in his own good time is another one of our favorites.

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An homage to Leo Lionni's classic story Frederick

The Mouse who Painted with Words. (2021 redesign)

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With winter coming, all the mice were gathering food except for one...who saw things like none of the others.

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Homage to Tomie dePaola's 'The Knight & the Dragon'

The Clumsy Dragon

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Inspired by Tomie dePaola's The Knight and the Dragon. A sweet story of a sheepish knight and a clumsy dragon who discover there's more to life than fighting.

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Homage to Josh Funk's Dear Dragon

My Pen Pal is a Dragon!

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A story of friendship and looking past perceived differences. Josh Holt's Dear Dragon: a Pen Pal Tale is a friendship story in rhyme to help all of us appreciate the person underneath physical differences.

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Homage to Dan Santat's 'After the Fall'

Humpty Dumpty Returns

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Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.

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Homage to Jon Agee's 'Life on Mars'

The Little Astronaut and the Martian

Life on Mars <em>story</em>

A young astronaut lands on Mars to search for signs of life but is comically unaware of the Martian following him on his explorations. An introduction to the kind of book where the reader knows more information than the main character does. Jon Agee's Life on Mars is a treasure.

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Homage to Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat

My Four Groovy Buttons

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Another favorite makes homage to Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons. A great counting story, and you'll find the song truly infectious.

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Homage to Rosenthal & Corace's 'Little Hoot'

Can I Please Go To Bed Now?

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'Sleepy' the owl is our design to accompany the charming book 'Little Hoot' by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace about a little owl who can't wait to grow up and let his kids go to bed as early as they want. Sweet and funny. Little Hoot

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Frog Sings Songs

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New in 2015 and inspired by a Vietnamese folk toy and a book by Yvonne Winer and Tony Oliver, Frog Sings Songs, we celebrate the joy of frog sounds and colors in the hope that they will live on undisturbed in their natural habitats.

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Build a classic wooden toy train produced by apprentices

Apprentice Trains

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Build a classic toy train, modeled after the toys of children from earlier years. These trains last a life-time, and make for the perfect toy to be played with for years! With unending decorating possibilities, this toy train introduces a child to the fundamentals of building and crafting with wood.

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