It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Once Upon a Time

We’ve been singing this story for a while at Mary’s. (One day I’ll post an audio clip of my version!) The children, especially Gwynn, love it. The rhythm! The rhyme! The chanted bits! The sung bits! The overblown hammy-ness of Mary’s presentation!! So much fun!!

However, it had become increasingly clear to me that while she loved all that good stuff, and can even chime in for short bits, little Gwynn had not one single speck of a clue as to the story line. I’m not even sure she knows it’s supposed to be a story.

Right
Over
Her
Head.

So! Visual aids were clearly called for. I thought about it for a while. Finger puppets? Stick puppets? And then, while reorganizing the craft shelf, I found a giant box of felt squares that I’d forgotten I’d ever owned.  Oooo, felt! And I already have a felt board!

Ta-dah! All the elements of the story:

“Once upon a time in a nursery rhyme there were three bears, one, two, three!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“And one was the papa bear, and one was the mama bear, and one was the wee bear — one, two, three!”

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“One day they went a-walkin’ and a-talkin’ in the wild woods. Along came a little girl, and her name was Goldilocks.”
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Fun, huh?

Yeah, I know. You can see the lines of the pen where I sketched the outline. I did it on the back, but it bled right through. Lessons learned. but you know? The tots, they don’t care!

Gwynn hasn’t seen this yet, but I tried it on the wee ones while they were having their lunch. They were rivetted… though I’ll admit that it could have been the biscuits which really held their attention. I doubt, though, that it was the biscuits that had Daisy laughing so hard she spewed them out all over the table! That was entirely my doing.

I am so proud.

October 29, 2014 Posted by | crafts | , , | 3 Comments

Easter crafts for Nail-Polish Excess

I own far more nail polish than I can reasonably use. I own nail polish colours I have worn once then forgotten about. I own nail polish that’s gone goopy in the jar (and yes, I know how to remedy that, but for now? goopy).

There does come a point when even the most acquisitive nail-polish lover realizes she really does need to let some go. So when I stumbled across an Easter craft involving eggs and nail polish, I was ready. We’d been blowing eggs for three weeks or so — every time I needed an egg or two for a recipe, it was blown rather than cracked, so we had a goodly stash of eggs. And goodness knows I have a goodly stash of nail polish.

I asked the children their favourite colours. Pink, purple, and blue, it turns out. I brought down an array in various hues.

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This is not a tutorial post, so I didn’t take pictures as we went, but the method is simple: put a centimetre or two of water in the bottom of a small dish. Drop, drip, or spatter the nail polish onto the surface of the water. (Some beaded into balls and sank. I lifted them to the surface with a pin.) The polish spreads over the surface, forming a skin. Roll your eggs, one at a time, on the surface of the water. Ours, being blown, floated. I would think that if you’re using hard-boiled, you’d need to hold them at the ends and roll it on the surface, but who knows? Maybe if they sank, the polish would still adhere all over. I dunno.

Then let them dry.

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Aren’t they pretty?

These are 100% fresh: you can see the beads of water still on them. After they’d had a few minutes for the polish to dry a bit, I patted them carefully to remove the water. No rubbing! The polish was not set, and would have smeared.

In an hour or so, when everything is well dried, we’re going to hot-glue ribbons to them, and then tie them to the pretty branches we painted yesterday.

Easter trees!

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April 16, 2014 Posted by | crafts, holidays | , , , | 2 Comments

Sticky Tree

Another fine idea from Pinterest! I saw a few variations. This is mine:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA large triangle of clear Con-tact paper, sticky side out, taped to the wall with green painter’s tape. (To get the width I wanted, I overlapped three panels of the plastic. Easy to do. If you only have one child, a tree cut from a single panel may well be enough.)

A container of likely ornaments to stick on the tree:

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Daniel found some plastic candy canes to stick onto the tree. I thought they’d be too heavy, but let him try. It’s all in the interest of education, right? Turns out they did stick to the tree. For a while…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the end of the first day, our tree looked like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAModest, tasteful, a bit random, but the best Christmas trees are never too orderly and picture-perfect!

We had several days of play with it. Foamy shapes — stockings, ornaments, elves, and snowflakes — went on an off. Ribbons. Sequins.

And then, one glorious day, after a trip to the dollar store, tinsel! Green tinsel. Lots and lots of green tinsel!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt may not be tasteful. It’s certainly not tidy. But, oh, we had fun!!

The tree lasted about a week before all the sticky had been worn off by constant rearranging of ornaments by four pairs of sticky hands. It was a great week! We have a different tree planned for next week, but this one’s a quick and easy set-up, if you want to try.

December 12, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, crafts | , | 5 Comments

I confess: I am a toilet-roll hoarder

Because it pays off! Just watch:

Busy, busy hands.
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Lots and lots and lots of toilet rolls. 72, to be exact. Which I just happened to have in a giant bag in the back porch.
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Lots of paint.
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Add a judicious amount of clear packing tape, spatter-painted paper, card stock, and ribbon…
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and you get advent calendars!!
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Ta-dah!

Simple. Assembling them, which I did after hours, was a little time-consuming, but was done while I visited with my children — specifically, my eldest, visiting from Missouri with her lovely boyfriend — so that was fun. Each tube is stuffed with a chocolate or two scrunched up in a poof of tissue (just to keep it in the tube).

Pretty, effective, simple — and cheap! My kind of craft.

This used perhaps half my stash. Perhaps. Whatever shall we do next?

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, daycare | , , | 2 Comments

What have I been doing, again

Witness one chair. In fact, we own two, and they’re equally unappealing. Disreputable, even. Stained, boring beige. NOT FOR LONG!!
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Taking the cushion off was simple. Then I used the cushion as a template on the ‘oilcloth’ — really a vinyl fabric — I’d purchased for a different project. There was just enough left over to cover these two chairs. I fiddled a bit with the placement to get the pattern arranged nicely, and made the outline a few inches larger to allow for wrapping the fabric around the sides to the underside of the chair.
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Once it was cut, I just stapled the heck out of it and, ta-dah! A pretty, wipe-clean new chair!
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So much better!

November 5, 2013 Posted by | crafts | 4 Comments

What have I been doing lately?

You might well wonder.

For starters, I’m fine. My life outside the computer has been occupying me, and not in a bad way. No crises, no worries. Just life. It may be because I’m in a bit of a creative surge at the moment, creativity which is being expressed outside the computer.

But it’s only fair to let you have a peek, I figure. So here’s the first project, which was completed a while ago, actually. My dining room table, location of much crafting, spillage and general mucky-ness, was a mess. So I stripped it down — first time in my life I’ve attempted such a thing, stencilled it, and varnished it.
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The stencils are Martha Stewart. The paint is leftover from the front door.
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Pretty, huh?
table 006It’s my first attempt. There are imperfections. The bevelling around the edge got sanded more profoundly than the rest of the surface, so it’s a bit paler. There are some bubbles in the Varathane which I didn’t spot at the time, proving the imperfection of my sanding technique.

table 008But it’s 1000% better than it was before, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

November 4, 2013 Posted by | crafts | , , , | 3 Comments

Fabulous Fake Tie-Dye for Tots

I found this craft online — the Internet Knows All — and knew I had to try it with the kids. Witness the creation of one of Jazz’s going-away gifts! The children all helped make this (including Jazz, who had no idea it was to be hers). I’m so devious…

Materials required:
a clean, pale t-shirt, washed and dried
permanent markers (doesn’t have to be Sharpies; I used Tul and they worked just fine)
rubbing alcohol (mine was 99%)
elastic
cup or cookie cutters
eye-dropper
small bowl or cup for the alcohol

The original blogger slipped a cup under the t-shirt and held it in place with an elastic as she made the dots. The tots didn’t really have the coordination to dot on something so flexible, so I used cookie cutters to delineate the space. The firmness of the table under the fabric made it much easier for them. If you wanted, you could put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back. We didn’t, and the effect was actually rather pretty!

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To ensure pretty circles instead of Circle of Mud, I had the children choose one colour, and then I chose one or two more that would work with that colour.

Then I slipped the cookie cutter underneath the dots, aligning it as best I could with its original position, and secured it with the elastic.

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Then the magic starts! Fill the eye-dropped with rubbing alcohol, and drop into the centre of the circle. Watch it spread!

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The more alcohol you add, the further and more quickly it spreads. It also gets fainter, but you’d have to pour a lot of alcohol on to erase the colour altogether. Certainly, we never managed that!

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(How much input did the kids have at this point? Mostly just watching and “ooo-ing”, but I did go hand-over-hand with the older children a couple of times.)

A finished circle!
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A shirt of circles!
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And then, because Mary is a curious and experimental sort, she began to wonder what would happen if you didn’t use the circle templates. What if you just went free-form?

I made vertical lines in several shades of green, yellow, and blue in a very haphazard way along the bottom of the shirt. Some long, some short, just to give the overall impression of grass, I guess. Then I dropped alcohol on it.

I love the effect!
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Isn’t it adorable?
And so eeeeeasy!

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Apparently, you heat-set the colours by tossing it in a dryer for 30 minutes. Now, I’ve done that to this shirt, but then I gave it away and have yet to hear how effective that was. My own tendency would be to wash it with dark colours, on cold, at least once, to see how secure the colours are.

But CUTE! I love this craft!

August 8, 2013 Posted by | crafts, daycare | , , , | 3 Comments

Sunshine Girls

Some yellow and red tempera paint, a couple of potatoes cut into odd shapes, circles of cream construction paper and a heap of triangles of orange, yellow, and red card stock. Et voila!

Sunshine!

Sunshine Jazz:
Sunshine Girl
Sunshine Poppy:
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Sunshine Grace:
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Wall of sunshine!
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August 7, 2013 Posted by | crafts | , , , | 1 Comment

Sidewalk Paint!

Brilliant and easy! Equal parts cornstarch and water, and enough food colouring to get the colour you want. It dries to a chalky finish, but we found the colour to be very bright, possibly because I was using Neon colours.
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The kids loooved it!
Tip: Get the cheapest paint brushes you can find in the hardware store: the sidewalk is rough and chews them up.
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The sidewalk outside my home was a brilliant mess of happy colours … until the next rain, when it washed right away! Perfect!

July 31, 2013 Posted by | crafts, daycare | , , | 4 Comments

We call them Tulips

1. Paint a child’s palm with tempera paint.
2. Press palm into glass several times, until all paint is gone.
3. Wash hand.
4. I you feel particularly creative, you can add grass.

Voila! Instant spring flower garden!

(These pictures are a few weeks old. The snow you see there is entirely gone now.)

(These pictures are a few weeks old. The snow you see there is entirely gone now.)

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May 1, 2013 Posted by | crafts | , , , , | 6 Comments

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