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Romp With Unicorns – GRANDma, Joyce Gillis, Does It Again!

Romp With Unicorns

Joyce Gillis, founder of What Happens At Grandmas is a grandma extraordinaire. When you read her article below you’ll see how she so deserves that honor. Yes, Joyce is a former art teacher, so she does have lots of experience pulling off these extraordinary art projects, but it’s her heart and love for her grandkids that give wings to her amazing talents.

Unicorn Romp!

By Joyce Gillis


Visions staged on fairy tale fields in the long-ago past recall maidens a-glide on steeds of bright white. A twirl of horn accents each noble head, as a cascade of mane shivers and shakes, rustles, and quakes, through hoof-beaten travel on forested paths that hide treasure galore…..

Lovers of unicorns, they are…..my six-year-old trio of little lady cousins! What other invitation need presents itself to challenge the pursuit of the magical majesty of a Unicorn Romp at Grandma Camp this year?

The Cousin Crew – Ava, Kaylee & Angeline

But allow me to lift my head from a fluff of glittered clouds for one moment. Angeline (at right) cautions me that “unicorns are not real.” She is not, to be clear, disqualifying herself from a mounted trounce through grandma’s backyard woods to snatch the treasure from a hidden trove, but merely stating a fact…..This is a family of solid truth-tellers, I might add. Two years ago, twin sissy, Ava (at left) pointed out that the “fairies” we sought among the same foliage were also “not real,” instead, ones handcrafted by…..well, I think you know by whom! 🙂 Kaylee keeps peace in the middle, probably admonishing her cousins to just let grandma have her fun – “If she wants to believe her woods are enchanted with fairies and unicorns and gnomes and flying squirrels and talking butterflies, well let’s just make her happy and play along for today!”  

Thank you, ladies, for indulging me!….


Sensing imminent arrival, a stable of free spirits snorts and paws the ground in excitement!

Hark! Princesses are near! 

Meet “Flower” at left, “Diamond” at the center, and “Star” at right.

Each fair maiden is delighted with her steed, names her quickly, then mounts, awaiting the signal to embark…..

Meet “Flower” at left, “Diamond” at the center, and “Star” at right.

Grandma hands out gift bags, pretty and pastel. Little ladies trust their mounts to guide them through their mission – draw a path through dappled woods, gathering treasure wrapped only in the designated color of your own!

Away we go!

Ava finds hers first – one of six for each – necklaces, bracelets, and rings, a card game, sticker book, candy, and one or two other wonderful things!
Sissy is close behind. Her bag fills up, too……
Kaylee announces: “Mission accomplished! We’re headed back to the ranch!”
But Angeline arrives first! She finds a picnic spread, box lunches, and a cool spot for both “man and beast” to rest and recover in the shade!

Fair maidens gather at mission’s end to open treasures, munch on lunch, and chatter away in the language of little lady cousins. And while there might be an acknowledgment that unicorns are not “really real,” a romp through the woods in the companion of a “grandma made” one is considered a very fine adventure indeed!

Yes, I did make three unicorns in my own original design! Pinterest has lots of inspiration because animal “costumes” built from cardboard boxes are nothing new. Here are general instructions for making one like mine:

  • Begin with a box that’s suitable in size for your child. Mine is about 18″ x 22″ and 14″ tall. Cut the bottom off. Cut a rectangular opening into the top, about 6″ back from the side where the head will be attached. (A serrated kitchen knife works well.)
  • Sketch a horse profile on a large sheet of paper (piece together if needed). Mine is 24″ at its highest point and 18″ at its widest. Trace profile on cardboard and cut two. See photos for the way to cut profiles so they will nestle, centered, into the front of the box. Situate them 4″ apart and tape firmly.
  • Cut a few 4″ strips of flexible cardboard in long lengths, at least 24″ each to start. Beginning at center back, tape this “gusset” to each side of the profile, closing the 4″ gap between them. Continue around to the front of the head, cutting additional gussets as needed until the entire head is closed.
  • Cut tissue paper into 4″ squares. (Dollar Tree has large packs of good quality paper.)
  • Cover an area on unicorn body with craft glue (like Elmer’s) and bunch up tissue squares to attach to the surface until the entire box is covered.
  • Use colorful craft paper for strips of mane, bridle, ears, eyes, and tail.
  • Use tissue paper to make flowers for the head, and shiny card stock for horns. Horn is 11″ right triangle cut and wrapped around a pencil for a few hours. (Secure with a rubber band while waiting.)
  • Shoulder straps are wide ribbon threaded through slits at the front and back edges of the box top and knotted inside to hold. I threaded 18″ thin wooden dowels through each head so girls could hang on and pull the head up as they travel.


UNICORNSGrandma and blogger, Joyce Gillis believes in making her home an irresistible magnet, a welcoming haven of comfort, safety, love, affirmation, spontaneous originality, and infectious joy for the entire extended family. Join Joyce in fostering creativity on whathappensatGrandmas.com.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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