Oh My Stars, Completed Crowns!

They look so great! I used a satin casing for the elastic in the back, and wow, it really makes things pop! Check them out!

 

Felt Crown Pink and Red Queen of Hearts available at Woo Who on Etsy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s another one with the front and side views:

Felt Crown Purple Flower with Lime Green Butterfly Spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And oh my stars, look at these!

Felt Crown Purple and Lime Green Stars Available at Woo Who on Etsy

 

Felt Crown Gold and Red Stars available at Woo Who on Etsy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The red one has sequins in the smaller hearts to add a bit of bling, the purple crown’s small stars have french knots in the center.

These were a lot of fun to make and I have ideas for about twenty more! I love custom orders, so if you’re in the market for a crown and see something that is ALMOST perfect, message me and lets chat!

Felt Circles Christmas Tree

Oh Blogosphere, thank you for the constant influx of inspiration!!! Julia Crossland posted the cutest Christmas tree how-to ever! And as usual I thought to myself, “now why didn’t I think of that???” I have felt in abundance. I have bored kids. I have needles and thread. So we got busy.

My kids don’t have the fortitude to sit and do something beginning to end, especially if it takes longer than two five minutes. This project is easy to break up into sections, and sometimes this makes it even easier to do with multiple kids. For example, my daughter wakes up early while my older son sleeps later. She cut the circles over several days before the sun came up. Once the circles were finished, I cut a length of brownish felt, ran a line of glue down the center and rolled it up. Later on I sat with my four year old son and the circles my daughter had cut and talked about the size of the circles and how to stack them to be tree-like, largest to smallest. I then, when the glue was dry, threaded the trunk onto the embroidery thread and handed the small, pointy needle to my four year old and he started threading the felt circles.

I didn’t do dots or any guiding marks, I just explained we wanted the thread to go through the middle if possible. It pleases me that our tree leans off center in places. My son is a little off center himself. Then I cut a star and stitched the edges – my daughter helped initially but its hard for little hands to stitch something so small. She asked for help and I took it over.

Voila! Our masterpiece is complete and hanging on the mantle next to the stockings. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kids and Cardboard

It may be September, but its still summer in Texas. Its so hot that after eleven in the morning the kids refuse to go outside, not even to play in the hose! So I tend to force them out the back door as soon as they’ve finished breakfast. Surprisingly this morning there was actually a coolness to the breeze and they went out happily. BUT they kept sneaking back in! I’d hear one door open, go to investigate, and while busy with that child I’d hear the other door open and shut. I’d tell the first child to stay while going to investigate the new situation, then the child I was originally questioning would scramble around and dash out the other door. Hmmm… In time all was revealed. They were on a covert supply gathering mission! While I would have handed over the scissors, paint, brushes, and tape had they asked they preferred to “be sneaky.” Every time a door opened and closed it meant my little squirrels were stashing paint brushes down the back of pants, paints in their pockets, and tucking scissors into the tops of socks. WHAT FOR? you may be wondering. Well, a couple of weeks ago we received a large delivery and I’d given them the box and packing materials to play with outside. The box has been a hide-away and a trap for dinosaurs, the strips of packing cardboard have been swords and walking sticks and roads for race cars. This morning the kids took it to the next level and turned the cardboard into walkie talkies. ๐Ÿ™‚

They used rocks and shells and fake pearls as buttons:

Sticks stood at attention as “commuters” (aka antennae):

They were beaming ear to ear. So was I.

Get Yer Stitch On!

Had a wonderful time stitchin’ up a Pink Plushie with my leetle blue haired friend:

These dolls are totally create your own. I have body shapes to choose from, then ear shape, arm and leg shape and length. We tape together the pattern and voila:

The dolls can be time consuming, so we try to get the details of the face and body front finished, then if there’s perimeter stitchin’ left to be done when the time is up, the kids can take needle, thread and stuffing home with them. We talk about different stitching options. These dolls can also be machine stitched if hand sewing isn’t your thing.

There are lots of felt colors to choose from and a variety of crafty flotsam and jetsam floating about my table for design (decorating) options, and you are welcome to bring your own materials!

We have a good time!

Art Museum Influenced Kid Watercolor Paintings

Last weekend we visited the Austin Museum of Art on “Family Day.” On Family Day they have reduced rates for families to enter the museum, as well as art activities and puppet shows put on by Austin Literature Live. Of course we were early and had some time to kill, so we kicked around the museum for about an hour. Have you ever talked about fine art with four and six year olds? Or tried to keep four and six year olds from touching fine art? JEEZ. My kids are so touchy feely we don’t make it to the museum much. This time we were lucky. The exhibit was about design and featured a lot of art deco furniture. We were able to really talk about the funny shaped furniture, and there were several early telephones. One phone was built directly into a desk. I pulled out my cell phone and we had a lively conversation about phones then and now! They only touched one painting and during our rounds we found these:

These are ink line and watercolor paintings. The kids thought they were “really cool,” that’s a direct quote.ย  We also noted that these were something the kids might be able to do. So we took a picture to remind us, and after we finished making our watercolor paints from scratch we got to work.

First the kids got their crayons and “scribbled” a line design onto their paper. Then we got the paints. In the art we observed at the museum the artist outlined the “scribble” lines and used pale colors to fill in certain sections. My kids were so excited to be using the paint they had made they couldn’t be restricted by rules or guidelines, they just went where the art took them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our paint had gorgeous color! And while it was thicker than traditional watercolors, it certainly layered very well. Interestingly, when you use crayons and watercolors, the crayon acts as a resist. The watercolor paint pulls away from the crayon and won’t paint OVER the crayon. I knew the kids wouldn’t want to exactly do what we saw at the museum, which is why I chose crayons for them to use in their line and water color art. I didn’t want the line part of their art to be lost. Our homemade watercolors, however, painted right over the crayon. Hmmm… Veddy, veddy intaresting…

We like to have some fresh flowers around while we paint. Hazel chose these sunflowers, talk about vivid color! The fact that the flowers had been dyed didn’t escape notice, and the kids are eager to try coloring their own flowers. Can you guess what we’ll be posting about next?

How to Make Watercolor Paint

Water colors are the best kind of paint for little kids because they are intended to be left to dry! There’s no worrying about losing lids or replacing the caps like with other paints, and they’re pretty easy on the stomach should your kids eat one or ten. As cool and convenient as store bought water colors are, I have been trying to help my kids understand that everything comes from somewhere, and by somewhere I do not mean the store! Making simple craft materials from scratch has been a great way of doing just that. Water colors are easy and cheap to make (in fact I didn’t have to leave my house, all of the materials were in my pantry), and with water colors you don’t have to worry about sealable containers. I used party cups justย  because I happened to have some party cups left over from a party. Otherwise empty ice trays, applesauce, yogurt or those plastic baby food containers would have been perfect.

Googling water color recipes will give you a variety of slightly different methods to try. I went with Martha’s (Stewart, that is) because I wanted to try a recipe with the best chance of success the first time around. But there are other recipes I am interested in trying, one in particular that calls for gelatin in place of corn syrup. We’ll make a new batch and compare at some point, but for now here are your materials:

Vinegar

Baking SodaIngredients for making watercolor paint!

Cornstarch

Light Corn Syrup

Food Coloring

Small mixing bowl

Forks (for mixing)

Scoop four tablespoons into the mixing bowl, then add two tablespoons of vinegar – get ready for the fizz! Kids love fizz. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once the bubbles have calmed down add a half teaspoon of corn syrup and two tablespoons of corn starch. The cornstarch can be difficult to blend and is the reason I recommend using forks for mixing.

When you are finished mixing your solution it will be thick and stark white. Pour it carefully in equal amounts into small containers. Our next step is to add the color. Not all of you are brave enough to put a vial of food coloring into the hands of a three year old, and that’s ok. My food coloring bottles were almost empty which is the only reason I let my kids do the squeezing. You need between five and ten drops of each color for vivid, eye popping saturation. We mixed blue and red to make purple, but only did five containers. The more containers you divide your mixture between the more fun you can have mixing colors.

And voila! That’s it! You’re done! Well, almost. Now comes the hard part – waiting for it to dry. It literally takes twelveย  hours or more to dry completely, and you will have some separation as the lighter liquids will rise and settle on top, but they’ll dry eventually. We haven’t painted with ours yet, that’ll come in the next post. In the mean time, make some of your own and give it a try! I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on other ways to do this.

Bleach Resist T-Shirts and Original Kid Art

My kids are SO CREATIVE, its crazy, really. I’m constantly blown away by their resourcefulness and ingenuity. They find ways to use materials that are not only surprising, but delightful. So I decided to surprise and delight them for a change!

First I pulled from their closets two plain, solid colored t-shirts. I dug around and found some plexi glass, and a small piece of chalkboard chalk that I broke into two, because, well, four and six year olds aren’t famous for their ability to share. ๐Ÿ™‚

DD sketching design on t-shirt with chalk.DS chalking his desing onto t-shirt

We’ve all had bleach mishaps. How many shirts and pants have been relegated to the “weekend wear” because a surprise bloom of bleach spots appeared mysteriously? We’re going to be using bleach in this project, don’t want any surprises!! The plexi glass is the perfect size to slip into the shirts to keep the bleach from bleeding through. Its also a very sturdy surface and was easy for the kids to work on.

Laying Bleach Over Chalk Design

The kids literally sketched with the chalk a design onto the t-shirt. Once the kids were finished with their designs it was time for mom to take over. Beware, bleach pens smell like bleach, and while the fumes were not nearly so noxious as regular bleach, I’d still have a fan blowing or a window open if I were you. The bleach “pen” is actually a tube of gelatinous bleach and so it stays where you put it. I carefully laid a line of bleach gel on all of the chalked lines of the kids’ designs. You don’t have to lay it down super thick, but you definitely want coverage. After I was done going over the outlines on both shirts, we set them aside and went off to do “something else.” About twenty minutes later we returned and the kids were SURPRISED and DELIGHTED to see the shirt was changing colors everywhere there was bleach!!!

See the color changes happening at the edges of the bleach lines... Little harder to see, but the bleach is changing the color of the shirt...

When they realized their designs were becoming a permanent part of their shirts their eyes really started to shine. Like I mentioned, we let it sit for about twenty minutes, but you can let it stand for more or less time depending on the color you want the design to be. For example, with the green shirt, if we’d rinsed it ten minutes earlier my daughter’s fairy would have been yellow instead of white. Darker colors take longer go bleach than lighter colors, so if you want white lines on a black shirt you may have to let it sit for a l-o-n-g time.

We took the shirts to the sink to rinse. Be careful. The gel starts to set and actually flakes off. You don’t want to submerge the shirt and work the bleach out that way, you want to hold the design under running water and slowly flake the gel off.

Our freshly rinsed t-shirts:

We hung them to dry, but you could have just as easily popped them in the dryer.

Hazel proudly showing off "FAIRY" designby Walter, age four

 

 

 

 

 

They are so proud of themselves! And my son has worn his shirt three days in a row… ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Crafting!

Materials for this project:

*Bleach Pen

*Solid Color T-Shirts

*Chalkboard Chalk

*Cardboard, chip board, or some other firm surface to put in the shirt as a work surface and to keep the bleach from bleeding through.

*Imagination, creativity, and a smile.

“The World of Germs”

We’re constantly telling our kids to wash our hands, and to be aware of germs. And we tell them that germs are “bugs” that can get inside our bodies where they grow and make us sick. Its hard for kids to wrap their minds around such abstract comments, and its hard for them to respect what they can’t even see. So just what do germs look like? We decided to answer that question once and for all.

Enter stage left: the petri dish.

First we mixed our germ food, a mixture of AGAR and CHICKEN BOULLION that we boiled in water.

My young’ns are too young to be mixing the chemicals and boiling water, so even with something as benign as agar and chicken boullion, mom did the heavy lifting during this stage. The kids did watch, tho, and we discussed the changes the powder made and the changes in the water color, consistency, and smell. Once we had our petri dishes mixed they had to cool. And they have to cool covered, or else random germs floating in the air might contaminate our microbe biosphere, so it takes a while. At least 24 hours before you can return with your test subjects and decide what to test.

None of us had been feeling well, so coughing was one of the first ideas.
As we were hacking and coughing the dog became concerned about our strange behavior and decided to investigate. And so we tested the dog. He wasn’t interested in touching the petri dish himself, so after letting him sniff it we patted the top of his head to the gelatin in the dish. After that, he decided he’d had enough of the nonsense and headed back to his spot on the couch. There were three of our five petri dishes already used up. We wanted to see how well soap worked, so on the bottom of one petri dish we drew a line down the center and wrote “dirty hands” on one side of the line, and “clean hands” on the other side of the line. We flipped the dish over, took off the lid, and on the side labeled “dirty hands” we touched and tapped with our dirty fingers. Then we dashed to wash hands and returned, refreshed after our race to the sink, to tap and poke the side of the dish labeled “clean hands.” The clean/dirty hand experiment is great, too, because

young scientists are rabid to touch things. They can’t touch random petri dishes, tho, because it will contaminate the sample. This way they not only get to see whats on their hands, but they get to satisfy their tactile sensory needs as well.

And finally, for our remaining dish, the kids chose an object from the house, whatever they wanted, to test for germs. My daughter returned with a book, an excellent choice. “Do you think there will be any germs on this book?” I asked her. “Ummm… no,” was the reply.

Three days later: Germ check. We’re starting to get somewhere! Although we were fairly unimpressed with the amount of growth in three days. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but I thought we’d have something more impressive at this point. Little did I know, Impressive was on its way… Anyhoo, the clean hands/dirty hands dish showed a drastic difference in the amount of germ colonies. The kids were impressed with this. “Le Dog” was also proving to be good and dirty, nothing unexpected there. The red of the growth in his dish was alarming. It brought to my mind thoughts of poisonous plants and tree frogs… In nature the really dangerous stuff is frequently the most beautiful, and I wondered what we had growing in our dish…

The petri dish with the book swab was boring, as were the dishes we’d coughed in.

Now that we had some germ colonies rolling we pulled out the antibiotic ointment.

We swabbed some on each dish to see if it retarded or killed the germ growth.
We recapped the dishes and returned them to their spot in the pantry… Two days later I was walking by and happened to glance up and startled in surprise. Our germs had been busy!

Apparently the antibiotic ointment wasn’t particularly effective in retarding the growth of our germ colonies.

This photograph is of the clean hands/dirty hands. I’m showing a pic of the underside of the petri dish as well as its easier to see the difference in amount of germ growth on either side of the line.

Following are pictured the dish of “le dog,” its the one with the most aggressive growth, the book with moderate growth, and a dish of my daughter’s cough. We had very little from her cough, something else that surprised us.



Now we know what germs look like. They can grow to look like fuzz, hair, pulp, liquid, and they can be a myriad of colors. We learned that germs are everywhere, from books to beasts, and we have concrete evidence that our coughs contain germs as well. Most importantly we learned that washing hands with soap can help keep us healthy by removing germs from our hands.

In retrospect, we should have had a control dish of just antibotic ointment, a dish touched by dirty hands only, a dish where we’d touched the agar w/ dirty hands and then immediately applied antibiotic ointment, and then a dish where we’d applied the antibiotic ointment after the germs had built up colonies. But I’m not that organized, however its a great idea for future experimenting! This idea could be taken even further to compare the effectiveness of different types of antibiotic ointments… Hmmm…

Salt Crystal Experiment


What to do on a cold, rainy day? Science experiments!

My little lady LOVES crystals, and anything to do with magic and fairies. So when I asked her if she’d like to grow some crystals she became very excited and went to get her brother for support!

Materials:

Two small cups
String (we used embroidery floss – about six inches)
Salt
Water
Screws (or nails – something to weigh down the ends of the string in the water)
Something to mix with
TOWELS, for life’s unexpected happenings.
One or two willing scientists!

This experiment is great for the younger crowd because accurate measurements aren’t necessary.

Before you get started it might be fun to taste the water and the salt and talk about how the water tastes before the salt is mixed in (well it doesn’t taste salty!), what it looks like (i.e. clear, you can see through it), and maybe do a practice stir in the plain water and talk about how easy it is to move the spoon or whisk through the water at this point. You can also take a close look at the string – is it soft or hard? Does it taste like anything? Etc.

It is time to begin the experiment. First pour the salt into the cups:

You don’t need TOO much salt – I tried to reign in my eager scientists when the salt reached about a half inch in depth.

Next, pour the water:

Again, try to stop the water from filling the cup. About half full is good.

Mix the salt and water to make a SOLUTION.

Query: What is a SOLUTION? A solution is
a.
the process by which a gas, liquid, or solid is dispersed homogeneously in a gas, liquid, or solid without chemical change.
b.
such a substance, as dissolved sugar or salt in solution.
c.
a homogeneous, molecular mixture of two or more substances.

Its easier for kids to understand that the salt disappears in the water but doesn’t go away. This is a good time to revisit the earlier observations of the water and salt before they were combined and discuss what’s changed. (Ex: the water is no longer clear, but cloudy, it tastes salty, its possibly more difficult to stir, it might smell bad, etc.)

NEXT: tie each end of the string (oh, and you only need about six inches of string – I had way too much) around your chosen weight (in my case it was screws) and drop one end into each cup so they’re connected.

Now that you have two cups of salt water connected by a string bridge it’s interesting to ponder what might happen. Also known as forming the hypothesis.

Young scientists might have trouble forming a hypothesis at the beginning of an experiment, or understanding what hypothesis means. Sometimes the picture becomes more clear once everything is set up and the concept of hypothesis is easier to explain after its happened.
Some possibilities to guide your scientists to consider are, do they think the string will absorb the water? What about the salt? What does evaporation mean? Will salt evaporate or just the water? And so on. Also take a minute to sit and watch the string. Is anything happening? No? Hmmm… Maybe tomorrow, then. Find an out of the way spot to put your experiment and check back 12-24hrs later.

And here’s what you can expect to happen after about 24 hours – salt crystals are beginning to form along the string where it laps over the edge of the cup. Given enough time and water and salt, there might begin to form in the center of the string salt stalagmites and stalactites. We did not pursue those formations in this experiment. Instead we were satisfied to see the salt was carried up the string by the water and then left behind when the water evaporated. Other things to notice at this point, the string is now stiff and crunchy, not soft and bendy as in the beginning. If kids are curious as to what the crystals are, suggest they give them a little lick. It will become obvious quickly that it is indeed salt!