Joel and Jenna's Elephant Box Scenes
May, 2003

I found these sturdy little boxes, about six to eight inches square, at Big Lots for 99 cents each.

The ME box I am saving for an ME scene, but when my daughter's two youngest spent the weekend, we made scenes in the elephant boxes.

This elephant appears on the lid top, as well as on the inside bottom of the box, so it seemed a good use for a jungle setting.

We decided to turn the box on its side. We looked through my collection of Grandchildren Project Stuff to see what they wanted to use. When Jenna chose a dog with its dog house, I asked her, "Do you think a dog would be living in a jungle?" She answered, "Well, maybe this is a saber-toothed dog!" She then picked up a little lion and turned it to look at the dog. "Here's lunch," she said.

Joel chose some micro-mini military items that I had picked up on sale. "They're on maneuvers in the jungle," he informed me. Jenna also found a little red bird that she wanted to use, too. It was in pretty good scale. She also wanted a flower.

They decided they didn't want to cover up the elephant picture or the leopard print on the box's sides, so all we did was the base. After I cut the cardboard pieces to fit the bottom of the box, I told them to set their selections in front of them on the base and experiment to see how they wanted things to fit in. Jenna decided she wanted the lion to be on a large rock looking at the dog. At first, she was thinking that the lion wanted to eat the dog, then she said, "Maybe they want to be friends."

Both children were already familiar with how I make bases for landscaping, so they used sponge brushes to paint a glue and brown paint mixture to coat it. Next we used the sponge brush to draw Joel's curving road through it for his military vehicles, and to make the path leading to the doghouse. Then we sprinkled sifted sand to follow their contours. They carefully patted the sand in place, then tapped the card so that the excess fell back into their paper plate, and poured it back into its container.

Next they decided which areas they wanted to have grass or greenery, then used the same procedure to put on another coat of glue and sprinkled the finest mixed green model railroad turf. Then they glued their rocks and hills in place (brown florist foam), coated them with the glue-paint mixture, and sprinkled sand and/or green to cover.

Jenna chose three palm-type leaves for her jungle plant, which were made by cutting slashes in an artificial flower leaf cluster. Joel chose some sprigs to suggest trees and some heavier railroad foam for bushes.

This is Jenna's scene. She put the lid on top of the box to serve as a kind of awning while she was looking at it. "I want mine to be like a picture, Nana," she told me, "Like you make yours." So, she glued everything down.

For Mother's Day my daughter had given me a crystal Blue Bird of Happiness. Jenna noticed it on my living room table, then looked at her red bird and said, "He's a Friendship Bird. He's telling them they should be friends. Now the lion won't have the dog for lunch."

This is Joel's jungle scene. He had chosen a white bird that to my eye was way too big. I am trying to teach them about scale, but sometimes it's not wise to press. When I asked him if he thought it might look strange because the bird was so much bigger than the man, he looked at me, one eyebrow cocked, and said levelly, "I like this white bird, Nana!" So, white bird in the tree top it was!

Here is a rather blurry closeup of the man lying in hiding under the tree, watching the truck on the road. The man in the foreground is signalling a nearby helicopter.

I suggested Joel might want to remove the man from his stand, but he said no. "I want to play with mine," he said. So, he didn't glue anything in place. Jenna said, "His is a play scene, but mine is like a picture."

Although they look fairly large here, these are actually very tiny pieces; micro-minies.

The strange looking vehicle in the background is a hover craft, he tells me. It can haul all kinds of stuff, including the truck or the helicopter. Originally, he wanted to suspend the helicopter so it would look like it was flying, but we couldn't get it to hang right. "I couldn't play with it, anyway," he said philosophically. "This way I can still pick it up."

They carefully carried their latest projects home, lids in place to protect them from dust until they were ready to show them to Mom and Dad and their big brothers.

NEXT: >>


Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.