Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Botanical Arrangements

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ice Cream Shop Pretend Play

Last weekend we had to "safe-tify" our play kitchen because Little Brother is now playing there, too.  So buh-bye to the pizza set with the choking-hazard pepperonis, the knives and forks, and many other items not safe for exploring babies.  That left the kitchen a little bare...and boring.  So while Matt was at the movies with a friend last Saturday night and I was home sick with minimal energy, I decided to turn the kitchen into an ice cream shop--of course using only stuff I had around the house.

The chalkboard is one I had....just wrote on it to make the sign.  

Used construction paper to make the flavor signs.  Sidenote--I could have printed these on the computer, but the first grade teacher in me knows the importance of exposing children to written print as much as possible so they learn the different variations of letters--ie: my written letters look much different from typed letters printed off a computer.  Also written signs help reinforce the concept that writing is used to communicate.  And it just looks friendlier, in my opinion.  :)

The red and white "awning" is just some felt I sewed together.  And the measurements are off because I was being lazy and also a bit foggy from being sick.  Boo.  I'll re-cut it someday soon and hem it again, but for now, oh well.

I like to provide very obvious organization in our play areas to help children clean up in a way that will facilitate quality play the next time.  If I just leave organization to children they simply throw everything into the little kitchen.  The next time they come to play they're greeted with an unorganized area, and they have to spend some time organizing the items before they can start playing--or, even worse, the clutteryness inhibits them from getting right to higher-level pretend play.  So I always provide either clearly-labeled storage containers (ie: a basket for vegetables, a basket for silverware, etc.) just like one would have in our own kitchens, or another organization system that is obvious to the children.

In this case I set up a "display" for the ice cream by using a piece of cardboard folded and covered with some scrapbook paper.  I cut holes for the cones to fit in, and I glued on a little piece of cardboard to make a ledge to hold the ice cream scoops.  

I also set out a little tray to hold spoons and dishes--which are simply cardboard egg cups I cut from a carton.  Fits perfectly with the scoops!

The ice cream scoops were made by tracing the bottom of a little bucket I had in the studio on felt, cutting, stitching around the edge of the circle, drawing tight, stuffing with batting from an old pillow I cut open, and then tying the heavy duty thread into a knot.  I glued a smaller circle of felt over the place where I tied the knot so it wouldn't be seen.  The cones I made out of felt and my sewing machine--I read about 5 different tutorials online for making ridges and then just kinda concocted my own system using the needle and thread I already had on my machine and the felt scraps I had on hand.  Told you--I was feeling lazy last weekend!  Oma wanted to know why only the vanilla had sprinkles.....(little beads I stitched on)....again, the laziness.  :)

Of course I was tempted to do so many more things and add all sorts of other elements, but I had to keep telling myself over and over to keep it simple--simplicity allows the child room to imagine and pretend any additional dimensions they want to add to the play.  If I do all the work in setting up the area and providing for every little detail, I rob my child of the experience.  All in all this took about 2 hours to make and set up, and Q has already had SO MUCH fun playing there!!

Oh yeah, I also photocopied some one dollar bills for the area.  I only did one side and figured that disqualify me from forgery.  Matt says not.  So don't turn me in, okay?  ;)
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Who Loves Baby book.....

I decided last week it was time for a new Mama-made book for the little guy.  So I ordered some photos and raided my craft supplies!  I have been working on it in little spurts here and there and finally resolved to get it finished today!

I used a blank chipboard book--actually 2 of them so I'd have enough pages.  One was square and the other circle.  Not ideal--I'd have loved them to match, but I was determined to use what I had.  I just used scraps of scrapbook paper (ha) I had around and some rubber stamps. 

I copied this page out of a children's Bible we have.  It's the first page. 

Then on subsequent pages I glued scrapbook paper, attached the photo and stamped on the names. 

I used wide clear tape to "laminate" the book, since the thicker chipboard doesn't fare well with traditional laminating. 

I used a binder ring to attach it all together. 

Nothing fancy or amazing, but a fun book to read with our little guy and very high-interest since he knows all the people in the photos AND he is in them all, as well!  I also love that it serves as a little memory book.  :)  Quinn had similar books as a baby and they were her favorite books!  She still loves going back and looking at them. 
I only used the chipboard books cause I had them laying around and wanted to find a way to use them for something.  You could totally use cardstock, cereal box cardboard, or even just plain paper.  I would not recommend corrugated cardboard as it starts "shedding" little scraps of cardboard when you try to tape it. 
As Beck gets older we'll begin to talk about each family member's "Letter" (first letter of their name) and this book will be a useful tool for that!!

Older kids and preschoolers could work on making a book like this on their own!  They could write the names themselves and even record information about each person--birthday, where they live, etc. 
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