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Winter Reading Fun: Strega Nona!

Strega Nona is a much-loved character in children’s literature. This original story by author/artist Tomie dePaola was chosen for a Caldecott Honor in 1976 and is considered one of the top 100 picture books of all time.

If it feels like a folktale when read, it’s because the plot is loosely based on folktales about a magic pot that provides food – in this case, pasta. Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot can feed the whole village! But disaster strikes when her helper, Big Anthony, uses the pot without permission and forgets the magic to make it stop.

Make your own artistic magic pasta pot – and perhaps serve a more conventional pasta dish for supper some night soon!

What you need:

  • black cardstock (or white paper colored black)
  • yellow paper (or white paper colored yellow)
  • a cup or bowl approx. 4″ in diameter
  • scissors
  • cardboard (e.g., from a cereal box or a cracker box)
  • glue stick
  • pencil

What you do to make the pot:

  1. Trace a circle on the black cardstock using the cup or bowl and a pencil.  TIP: If you don’t have black cardstock, color a piece of white paper black with crayons.
  2. Cut out the black circle.
  3. Place the cup or bowl so that just one edge covers the top of the circle and trace that spot, then cut that piece off. This is the top of the pot.
  4. If you didn’t use cardstock to make the pot, glue the circle to a piece of thin cardboard so it isn’t floppy.
  5. Take the piece that was cut off and snip a slit in the curved side. Snip a slit in the bottom of the pot also, and fit them together to make your pot stand up.

What you do to make the pasta:

  1. Cut the yellow paper into thin strips with scissors. TIP: If you don’t have yellow paper, color a piece of white paper with a yellow crayons. Color BOTH sides – and then cut the strips.
  2. Crumple the strips so that they look like floppy cooked pasta noodles.
  3. Glue the pasta strips to the back of the pot so that there are different lengths showing, with some sticking up and some flopping over.
  4. Say the magic words and shake the pot to pretend that the delicious pasta is streaming out of it!

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