MaiStoryBook Library: Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long + Fall Nature Scarecrow Craft

Introducing the “First Day of Fall” themed children’s book featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“Otis and the Scarecrow” by Loren Long

Book Synopsis and Review

Otis the tractor is overjoyed when the farmer brings a new friend to the farm cornfields: a scarecrow! However, despite Otis and his friends’ attempts to welcome the scarecrow, it remains silent with a stern look on its face. Frustrated by the scarecrow’s lack of reciprocation to their warm greetings, the friends dash off to enjoy in the fall festivities. One day, while Otis and his friends amuse themselves playing the quiet game under the apple tree, a terrible storm blows in. As Otis and his friends huddle safely under the tree, Otis notices the scarecrow out in the cornfield, all alone and stuck in the rain. In the middle of this rainstorm, can Otis and his friends find a way to help scarecrow feel not so lonely?

Like our book last week, Iggy Peck Architect, this book is also part of a beloved series, starring Otis the farm tractor. Otis is the model of what being a kind, loyal, and inclusive friend truly means. Otis books are great for kids to learn foreshadowing and plot. Since each book follows the same formula, children pick up on the similar plot elements and can make predictions about what will happen next. The basic formula for these stories: Otis and his friends use a fun childhood game to help out a new friend in need. In the end, this new friend joins their ever growing group of friends.  Although these books are sequential in their addition of new friends, they can be read in any order and  still make sense. This book, the fifth in the series, with its lush illustrations of plump pumpkins, autumn windy weather, and stern scarecrows, is the perfect story to kick off the FIRST day of Fall!

Vocabulary List

  • Recalled (p. 3)  remembered
  • Musty ( p. 5)  old, moldy, smelly
  • Tattered (p. 6) torn with holes
  • Rambunctious (p. 10) wild with a lot of energy
  • Tuckered out (p. 11) grew tired

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Loneliness and Inclusion: How does it feel being lonely? What does it look like if someone is lonely? What can you do to make someone feel less lonely?
  • Kindness: Kindness can be given without expectation of something in return. Kindness spreads and can have a chain effect, giving more people richer and happier experiences.


YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of “Otis and the Scarecrow” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Fall Nature Scarecrow Craft

With the new autumn season, it’s the perfect time to explore the outside world with your child, and see how nature is changing for the colder fall weather. So shake out your flannels, pull up those jeans, and bundle up in your autumn coats for your first fall nature walk of the season! Take a little baggie with you to collect your fall goodies. Anything you find can be used for your Fall Nature Scarecrow: the falling leaves of gold and rust, the mini brown acorns dropped by the squirrels, the aged bark of the trees shedding their summer layers for their thicker, cool weather shell. Use this walk as an opportunity to talk to your child about the changing seasons and signs of fall. After your autumn stroll, gather your goodies, brew up a kettle of apple cider, and cozy up to an afternoon of fall crafting!

Non- Nature Materials:  

  • toilet paper roll
  • light brown sheet of paper (or whatever color you want for the face)
  • hot glue gun (recommended for gluing on nature materials)
  • orange triangle sticker/orange paper
  • small square of burlap material or textured paper
  • ribbon (try to choose a fall color: gold, red, brown, orange)

Nature Materials Suggestions *specific nature materials will vary depending on your nature walk finds*

  • small handful of fall leaves
  • small handful of dry grass
  • acorns
  • woodchips
  • short stick
  • fall colored flowers
  • tree bark


  • Cut out a rectangle of colored paper for the face that is the same height of the toilet paper roll. Roll the paper around the toilet paper roll and tape or glue into place
  • Prepare the hot glue gun. Choose two objects from the nature walk for your eyes *I chose 2 wood chips*. Glue them on.

  • Cut out an orange paper triangle, or use your triangle sticker and stick on the nose. *option to also use an object from your nature walk*
  • Using the hot glue gun, glue on acorns *or nature objects of your choice* onto the face in a smile shape.

  • Next, choose a variety of dry grasses and leaves for the stuffing at the top of the scarecrow’s head. I started with the dry grass. Use the hot glue gun to glue a small pinch of grasses across the top of the face.
  • Before adding the leaves, create and glue on the hat. The leaves will be glued on behind the hat in order to  ensure they aren’t covered.
  • To make the hat, trace a triangle onto a thin piece of bark, cut it out, and hot glue it on top of the dry grass at the top of the face.

  • Glue on the leaves to the back of the hat so they appear to be poking out from behind.
  • Choose a ribbon color.  Tie it around the bottom edge of the hat, in a bow if your child prefers.
  • Next, hot glue the stick to the inside-bottom of the toilet paper roll. This will be the body of the scarecrow.
  • Option to add clothing: Wrap the burlap cloth/textured paper around the top half of the stick, touching the scarecrow face. Tape or glue into place.
  • Add a tie: Wrap a ribbon around the top of the stick where the cloth and the toilet paper roll meet. Glue into place. Cut a small piece of ribbon for the tie piece and glue it to the center of the ribbon around the neck.

Enjoy Your Fall Nature Scarecrow!

  • Re-read the story with your own scarecrow reading buddy.
  • Take your scarecrow buddy on an autumn nature walk, showing your scarecrow where you found its parts and pointing out the signs of fall.
  •  Prop up your scarecrow in the ground outside your home, or in your room propped up in a pot of dirt.
  • Share your scarecrow buddy with a friend who may be lonely.

*~Overall, have some FALL FUN, strolling with your child on a nature walk, and creating fall nature scarecrows. Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own Nature Walk Goodies and Fall Nature Scarecrows! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*


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