posted in: David Lucas | 6

papapishu_Blue_whaleFor as long as I can remember M has been captivated with whales. We visited a wonderful playground when she was about 2 with a whale you could climb inside, and a local museum on the island of Ameland where she saw a video of an exploding whale (…! Be warned: if you’re squeamish it’s perhaps not a good idea to click through ;-)), and then when she was a little older she was naturally bowled over by the model of the truly enormous Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum in London.

This week whales have been in the news here with one found swimming in the River Clyde in central Glasgow, a place very dear to me, and another’s dead body being washed up in Dorset. Thus it was inevitable that a whale activity was requested and this is what we came up with – our own family pod of spouting (blowing) whales!

What you’ll need:

  • Paper bags, preferably with flat bottoms i.e. that can stand up on their own (if you have no paper bags you could make your own – here’s a tutorial)
  • Paint – our whales were blue, grey, black and white, these colours having been chosen by M after having looked at quite a few photos here and here
  • Eyes – I’d have like to use some large googly eyes but we’re out of them at the moment so I just cut out some white ovals and smaller black circles
  • Sellotape
  • Glue
  • Paper or film to make the spouting water – we used iridescent film like this stuff
  • White card cut out in mouth-like shapes
  • Thick pen to draw baleen (instead of card we thought about using combs as they look a little like baleen but I didn’t have any spare)
  • 1. Paint your bags in the colours you’ve chosen. We found it easiest to do this by placing a bag over a box or jar so that it stood upright by itself whilst we painted all over.


    2. Once your bags are all dry, stuff them with scrunched up newspaper or other recycled filling. You want each bag to be about three-quarters full.


    3. Scrunch the open end of the bag together and use a little sellotape to seal. You’ve now made the whale’s tail and body.


    4. Add eyes and mouth by gluing on the googly/card eyes and mouth.


    5. Use something sharp eg scissors or a knife to punch a hole in the middle of the top side of the whale’s body. Don’t make this hole too wide.


    6. Take a length of film or paper and roll it up (we used a piece the entire width of the roll of film by about 60 cm and once it was rolled up we cut this into 3). You may wish to use a little sellotape to stop the film unravelling. Using scissors, cut slits down the sides of the rolled up paper, pull up from the centre a little and separate out the fronds.


    7. Insert your frondy film/paper into the hole on the top of the whale’s head and ta-da! you have your own spouting whale. Please provide the whale with a nice deep pond to swim in 🙂


    As fan’s of Julia Donaldson’s The Snail and the Whale we spent ages looking for a snail shell to glue onto a whale’s tail but to my disbelief we couldn’t find one anywhere! Maybe you’ll have better luck.

    With our whale making activities we have of course been re-reading the said Snail and the Whale, but actually our current favourite whale book is Whale by David Lucas.

    One stormy morning Joe is woken by a huge crash. The tempestuous wind and waves have washed a giant blue whale right into the seaside town where Joe lives, causing much damage and destruction. Joe, the mayor and all the townsfolk climb on top of the whale and discuss what is to be done. Joe does not think the idea of turning the whale into fish pie is a good one, but cannot immediately come up with an alternative solution to the situation. Fortunately the Owl who lived in the town’s clock tower buys the whale some time by going to ask the wind what he thinks should be done. The whale gets a further stay of execution when:

    At last the Owl returned.
    “I have spoken to the Wind,” he said.
    “The Wind has gone to speak to the Sun.
    The Sun will want to speak to the Moon.
    The moon will want to speak to the Innumerable Stars.
    The Innumerable Stars will, no doubt, want to talk it over amongst themselves.”
    “Then we must wait,” said Joe.

    And so they waited.

    After waiting through the day and night, an answer finally comes back from the Innumerable Stars: the townsfolk must sing. This proposal is met with some incredulity, but when Joe starts singing The Rain Song, the inhabitants of the town join in one by one, eventually being joined in chorus by the whale himself.

    And for once, The Rain Song works and the heavens open. In the flood waters the whale is able to float away from the town, but now the problem is that all the townsfolk are stuck on top of the whale floating out in the bay. In an attempt to solve this newly created problem the Whale “began to drink. He drank and drank until the land appeared“. But when the townsfolk go ashore they find their homes ruined. What now? The people hear the Whale singing, and as is oh-so true, the whale song is quite magical, and before long the town is being repaired by every kind of sea creature, all of whom have come ashore with shells and bright pebbles and pearls to make “the town more beautiful than ever before.” The townsfolk, and Joe, are delighted – out of disaster something far more wonderful than what went before has been born.


    M and I love the fairytale character of this story – the magical abilities of the whale, the wise old owl, the Innumerable Stars, and the illustrations are just gorgeous; full of beautiful detail yet unfussy, with lots of colour and (metaphorical) sparkle.

    whale_frontcoverWhale: 3star And yes, you could win this wonderful book in the giveaway!

    Whilst we were making our whales we listened to some great music:
    The Greenland Whale Fishery, a traditional song here sung by the Watersons although many different versions exist, The Whale Song by Hoagy Carmichael, Blue Whale, Blue Whale by Twin Sisters Production, and Standing On A Whale by Paul Borgese And The Strawberry Traffic Jam.

    We’ve also got our eye on a few more whale activities:

  • A clever tissue box cover…. from Crayola
  • Another spouting whale from The Ramblings of a Crazy Woman. There are lots of great crafty ideas on this blog 🙂
  • A water whale scoop from Disney’s Family Fun website
  • I also love these whale lolly molds from Bake It Pretty, which I’m pleased to say does ship worldwide, these cuddly whales from etsy seller Woolywotnots, this amigurumi whale from PlanetJune, and this whale pincushion from Confessions of a blueberry bandit.

    Whales seem to inspire a lot of creativity! Do you have a favourite whale craft, book or song? If so, please do let us know about it.

    6 Responses

    1. Ashley

      What lucky children you have, their days are jam packed full of crafty activities and story reading. So many good ideas on this blog.

    2. Zoe

      Hi Vanessa,

      our garden looks very different at the mo – all bare earth waiting for the growing season to get properly growing. We’ve lots of sunflower seedlings in the greenhouse though!

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