Nighttime Ninja Leads to Fun Activities!
Ninjas are not only cool and interesting, but can be used for many different activities and learning experiences. Younger children can be engaged with ninja moves and crafts. For older children, an interest in ninjas can provide a springboard to learning about Japanese history and culture. Add a book like Nighttime Ninja to the mix, and discover how books are made.
Here are some things to try, whether you're at home, school, bookstore, or library:

 • Ninja Day---Being a ninja takes training! Plan activities that get kids to think beyond the ninja/martial arts stereotypes...get them to practice and concentrate by pretending to be different animals, or to be still as a rock or stand tall like a tree. You'll be surprised at how good they can be at this, and how quiet and absorbed they can get in what they're doing.

Ninja Arts & Crafts---Save those t.p. tubes! Paint a ninja mask on them, and then eyes...or paste googly-eyes on the tube. These can also serve as puppets to retell the Nighttime Ninja story or make up your own ninja stories. All you need is black and white paints and brushes.

Ninja Puppets---Create stick puppets for the Nighttime Ninja story.  Cut the figures out on double pieces of flat cardboard, and then color or paint them. Glue the two halves together (this will also serve to strengthen the cardboard). Use a chopstick or ruler inserted between the cardboard layers as a handle. (See Barbara's blog for more cardboard activity inspiration.)

Ninja Theater and Music---Read Nighttime Ninja to the children, and then have them re-enact it, with children playing the different parts. At one event, we even had a boy in a bright white shirt play the kitchen light, and girl in a chocolate-colored dress play the ice cream (the colored polka dots on the dress were sprinkles, the kids decided). At Sewell School, a music class created its own soundtrack for Nighttime Ninja, with wonderfully creative sound effects for the book pages that had no words!

Ninja Stories---Write your own ninja adventure stories and draw pictures to go along with it! Let your imagination run wild!

Ninja Scavenger Hunt---Use ninja-related words to create an alphabet search.

Ninja Parade---Get all dressed up as ninjas, find some traditional Japanese music, and make a parade.

• Ninja Display---Create a bulletin board or table display of real or imagined ninja items and information: facts, books, action figures, and more.

• How is a Book Made?---Ask students to think about the process of creating a picture book: idea, concept, writing, art, revisions, printing, and so on. What kind of work goes into creating a book?

• Nighttime Ninja SECRETS---Can you find: a hidden cover? a hidden message in the endpapers?

• Nighttime Ninja OPINION POLL: 
         > Is it scarier to NOT show the mom's face? Why?
         > What other adventures would the Nighttime Ninja have?
         > Have you ever been a Nighttime Ninja?

Special thanks to children's librarian Hilary Moon Murphy at Washburn Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota for sharing some of her ideas, and to the Sewell School.