Please Bring Balloons
Festival of Fall Fun


by Birgitta Sif

Do you know an Oliver? Are you an Oliver? What exactly is an Oliver? Well, Oliver is a little boy who embraces his individuality and is perfectly content with his days full of play. His rich imagination and his faithful toy companions keep his days full of fun and adventures, until one day his tennis ball bounces away... Read the story and find out where his tennis ball leads him. 

'Being yourself' is a lesson we try hard to teach kids, but is one we  often struggle to remember as adults. Oliver shows us that it's okay to just be yourself and presents a wonderful opportunity to chat with your young readers about following their own paths and be happy with who they are. 

In this Issue


Handmade Friends

Homemade Friends - Oliver - Birgitta Sif - Off the Shelf

Oliver and Olivia had great times and imaginative adventures with their stuffed toy-friends before they found each other. While your young readers probably have many stuffed animals of their own, there is something special about one that is straight out of their own imagination. 

Making Handmade Friends is truly a child-directed activity, because after being presented with a sock and a variety of bits and pieces they can decide how to transform them into their own friend. What a sense of accomplishment they feel when something that was once only in their imagination has become something they can actually hold in their hands! Instead of following a set of directions, they have taken the lead and made their own creation. 

Having such a variety of supplies can be a bit overwhelming to some children, but by encouraging them to enjoy the freedom of creativity they will learn to see everyday objects in a new way. And in the end, they will have their own friend with which to share their own imaginative adventures. 

Homemade Friends - Oliver - Birgitta Sif - Off the Shelf

Homemade Friends - Oliver - Birgitta Sif - Off the Shelf

Handmade Friends


  • Socks
  • Fiber fill stuffing
  • Fabric glue
  • Variety of bits and pieces: yarn, ribbon, buttons, felt, etc. 
  1. Fill the selected sock with fiber fill and tie closed with yarn or ribbon. More pieces of yarn or ribbon can be tied to form a head, body, etc. 
  2. Decorate as desired. 


Cardboard Box Puppet Theater

Cardboard Box Puppet Theater - Oliver - Birgitta Sif - Off the Shelf

Usually our second activity is a recipe for you and your young reader to make together, but Oliver lends itself more to the creation of a puppet theater like the one that Oliver and Olivia play with at the end of the story.

Although there are many ways to create a puppet theater, we are featuring the cardboard box version so that your young reader can be very involved in making it their own. An adult will need to cut out the window, but then stand back and let your young reader take over from there! The box can be decorated with paint, crayons, stickers, colored paper, and more. 

Cardboard Box Puppet Theater - Oliver - Birgitta Sif - Off the Shelf

Puppets to Make for Your Puppet Theater

Cardboard Box Puppet Theater


  • Cardboard box
  • Marker
  • X-acto knife or scissors
  • Supplies to decorate the theater
  1. Draw a large rectangle on one large side of a box. This will be the window for the puppets. Cut out the rectangle with an X-acto knife or scissors (parents only). 
  2. Either cut the opposite side off or, as ours is, leave the box open for your young reader to climb inside. 
  3. Decorate! 


You might also like It's a Big Red Barn Raising, a brown paper bag barn and play mat inspired by Big Red Barn

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