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Easy Snowman Art Project

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So it’s that time of year again: snowman building time!!

I don’t know how it is where you live, but here winter just kind of came on all at once! Even though it’s only been snowing for the last week or so, I’m already experiencing some winter blues. It didn’t get above ten this morning! Blah.

BUT, never fear! There’s always fun things to do in the winter! When it’s too cold to build a snowman outside, there are lots of ways to make them inside!

I confess this is my THIRD snowman project I have done so far this year with my elementary art students and I have a few more up my sleeve. There’s just something so cheery about snowmen, don’t you think?

This was one of the easiest projects thus far. This was one of those ones where I threw open my closet (completely unprepared for class) and started pulling things off of shelves. Those always end up being the best projects!

Here are the supplies, folks:

-white finger/tempera paint

-blue or gray cardstock

-scrapbook/construction paper

-buttons, jewels, sequins, etc (anything to give your snowman a little bling)

I started out by cutting out mittens, scarves and hats with different patterns for each child to make their project unique. I also punched holes from black construction paper for the eyes and mouths. I cut little triangles for carrot noses and strips of brown paper for arms.  If time allows, you can have your students do this themselves but my classes aren’t very long and I’ve found that having little details like this prepped before class helps a lot. I gave them a piece of paper and told them to create a snowman on it with the white paint using their fingers. For the younger kids I demonstrated how to do this creating three circles on top of each other, but for most of them little guidance was needed. They went to town. Some anchored them to the paper by making a snow-covered ground, others made falling flakes.  After they had the body created, I let them choose the items they wanted to use to decorate their snowman and some glue and that was it! It was simple and they loved it! Any time you can incorporate finger painting, my students are happy!

 

Here are some more examples:

Happy crafting and stay warm!

xo

 

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DIY Felt Envelopes

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“Come on. Let’s practice,” I said to Ev one night as I was tucking her into bed.  Every night I go in to check on the girls before I turn in for the night and whisper that I loved them in their ears.  Evie always complains that she wishes she would wake up for this nighttime ritual. “Yell in my ear, Okay, Mom? Yell ‘Wake up!! I love you!!’ so I know that you are there.” So I told her we would practice as I pretended to sneak up on her while she pretended to sleep. I leaned over and whispered a “yell” in her ear that I loved her.  She giggled and then grabbed me around the neck before imploring, “Mom, when you come in can you leave me a note under my pillow?”

This was just a couple of weeks ago and since I have slipped notes under pillows while sugar plums danced in their heads.  But then I remembered this idea. I will admit it isn’t original to me. I have seen the idea of making children’s mailboxes or large envelopes for tucking sweet notes such as these to children eager to receive them.  It’s a small way I can connect with the girls and give them reminders when needed that they are loved. I have found these notes tucked away in their book bags they have taken with them to school.

Anyway, I didn’t follow a pattern because I figured the concept was pretty simple (at least the one in my head) and hopefully you can make sense of it, too! It only took ten minutes to make both of them and to make two only cost one dollar. Cha-ching!

First, I started with two sheets of felt (about 25cents each at Walmart) and I liked the idea of contrasting colors, so I chose two shades of pink.

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First, I started with a sheet and folded it about 3/4 of the way up against itself and sewed along the side edges as indicated here. I also sewed along the bottom just to have a neater bottom edge but it isn’t necessary:

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I then folded my other sheet of felt in half long ways and cut a curvy triangle (with two short flat sides as well, so I guess not entirely a triangle) for the enclosure. I then sewed that along the top of my envelope.I also chose to sew a little lace edging on for some girly detail, but again, not necessary at all.

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I also cut hearts out of the scrap for a “seal”. I told the girls if the seal was on their envelope, then they would know they had mail. Otherwise, I would keep it tucked into their envelope.

I completed this little project by gluing Velcro on the back of the hearts with tacky glue. I used the rougher edged Velcro because it sticks right to the felt without needing to sew it’s counterpart on.

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That’s pretty much it! Pretty simple, meaningful and definitely cheap! My kind of project!

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I just stuck them to the girls’ door with thumb tacks just under the flap.

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And who doesn’t love mail, right?

 

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Diy Thanksgiving Plate

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I’m so excited to share this super simple, festive plate for Thanksgiving. I teach art at our small, Christian school and my oldest class only has four girls in it, so I can do fun projects like this with them. So tho do these plates all you need are the following:

*white dinner plates (I got mine for fifty cents each at a secondhand store)

*sharpies

*clear contact paper

*turkey silhouette

I started off by googling a turkey silhouette then drew it freehand on the back of the clear contact paper and cut it out. I then peeled the paper off the back and centered it in the middle of each plate. Then I encouraged the girls to make a pattern around the turkeyturkey with sharpies ( I suggested the dots, but one of my students opted to do stripes instead), then they each wrote a message on the outside border of the plate. Once their patterns were done, we pulled the contact paper off, leaving the turkey silhouette in the middle.IMG_20141117_133910986 IMG_20141117_133954268

Pretty simple, right?  It only took them fifteen-twenty minutes each to finish this project. Then, today, I plan to bake them in the oven at 350f for a half hour. With these sharpie plates, I recommend only using them for decorative purposes because the sharpie will fade and wipe off over time.

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Display on a plate holder or put some wrapped candies in it and enjoy!

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3 Hour Teacher’s Rag Quilt

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Schooooooooooooool’s out for summer!!

How did THAT happen??!!!

Where did the time go???

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was taking these first day of school pictures of our girls and in what seemed like a matter of moments we went…..

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In the meantime, I chopped off about a foot of my hair and the girls grew nearly three inches! I’m also pretty sure in the last nine months these two little angels also gave their teacher an innumerable amount of gray hairs. I am so super duper thankful for their A-MA-ZING teacher! I was often answering texts from her, having chats in the classroom, and often commiserating with her about what a handful our girls are. A blessing, mind you, but a handful none-the-less. So, I wanted to do something special for her. The last few months have been a whirlwind and the end of the year really snuck up on me, so by the time this idea occurred to me, I knew I didn’t have much time to pull it together (two days to be exact). I mention this so you know how easy peasy this was!

I wanted to have each of the kids trace their hands on fabric and write their names on it, then applique them on a quilt square and machine embroider over the names so they were more permanent ,which is exactly what I ended up doing. Sooooooo, without further ado, here is the pattern. It took me only 3 hours to make, beginning to end! I made this according to the class size which only had fourteen students in it. You may have to adjust the pattern according to the size of your classroom.

Supplies:

*1/4 yard each of six fabrics of your choosing (I got all of mine at  Walmart!)

*1.5 yards of flannel for backing

*fabric pen

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Choose fabrics that you want to use for handprints and using a fabric marker trace each student’s hand and have them print their name in their hand. I also cut out a heart for the bottom right hand corner of the quilt to put the teacher’s name in. Choose three fabrics for your smaller squares and cut them into 60  4.5 inch squares. Cut the remaining three fabrics into 15 8 inch squares. With the flannel, cut the same amount of squares (60 4.5″ and 15 8″).

Since this is a rag quilt, it is important to just fringe the edges of all of your squares with a small pair of scissors so just the outer 1/4 inch is snipped. To start appliqueing hands on the squares, I put the flannel piece on the back first and machine appliqued them, then used a free motion foot to embroider the names on. Pretty simple! Once that was all done, I sewed my little squares together in blocks of four, making sure (again, because it is a rag quilt) that I put a flannel piece on the back first (I DID NOT use any sort of batting because the flannel is a little heavier but still kept it pretty lightweight and good for cool summer evening snuggling). So, take two of your pieces (one front and the flannel backing) and put them together, wrong sides and then sew them to another sandwich like this so that your seams are on the outer, front side. I, again, preferring the haphazard look, just sewed fabrics together at random, just making sure the same two weren’t side by side. Once I had all my blocks together (15 total) I then sewed them to my hand blocks, starting in rows horizontally first, then attaching the rows together.

It was pretty simple and sooooooo worth the effort! I snuck in when the kids were having lunch so their teacher didn’t know what I was doing so it was a total surprise to her. She cried and grabbed me in a big bear hug which made it all worth it!

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Here she is with the quilt and kids!

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 We have had so many talks this year we have become good friends!

I am truly going to miss her not being the girls’ teacher (though I’m not so sure she can say the same thing) 🙂

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Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

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It happens every single year.  After the chaos of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and everything in between, we usually hit a nice little lull in January and February and sometimes, if we’re lucky, the beginning of March. But by St. Patrick’s Day our calender is marked up with appointments, parties, school programs, Doctor’s appointments and the like. Every single year from March until New Year’s it begins.  It always amazes me how the less we are home the greater the mess we seem to create. How is that possible? It is one of the great mysteries of life like the Bermuda triangle and missing socks.

And every day my poor husband gets to hear my redundant lamenting over how messy the house is. I try to keep some kind of order in my house, but let’s be real for a moment, shall we? There are times when three days worth of dishes are piled on the counter, the laundry is so backed up that we are turning our underwear inside out, and the carpets are so piled with pet dander that they look like shag. Who’s with me?

Just sitting here writing about it is exhausting me. Sometimes, especially when we are busy, it feels insurmountable. But I am here my friends to tell you there is hope! As someone who is easily overwhelmed, here are a few tricks I do to try to keep my brain from exploding in attempting to not only get the house clean but to keep it clean (well, or at least in some kind of order).

1. Keep your cleaning clutter to a minimum by using fewer cleaners (and do some good for the environment while you’re at it). I don’t know about you, but under my sinks can collect some serious clutter, too. I have read so many articles about how household cleaners are not only harmful to the environment but harmful more importantly to you and your kids. So, I keep it simple with three basic cleaners that do the job quite well:

*  bleach water. I use this for the really nasty stuff like the bathroom. You can use vinegar water for those jobs as well because it disinfects well, I just prefer the smell of a bleached clean bathroom.

*  white vinegar water: White vinegar is my cleaning BFF. It can clean windows and mirrors, your hardwood floors, and great to clean walls and baseboard and to dust with among other things. I use it to spray mattresses  and furniture to give it a fresh smell and eliminate odor. I even spray it in the air as an air freshner. It is a disinfectant without being harmful to breath in. It does the job without being harmful to you or your stuff. Some people say that they hate the way it smells, but honestly, I feel like the smell doesn’t linger long.

 *  baking soda. I love baking soda. It is a great abrasive for stubborn things stuck on your counter on tub, and it is a great deodorizer. I sprinkle it on carpets before I vacuum and in toilets before I scrub the bowl. When our pup has a little accident on the carpet, the first thing I do is sprinkle the spot with soda and it will absorb it before it can permeate your carpet. It’s great to put in a load of laundry to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

2. Make a (realistic) chart. When I look at my house as a whole and see what every room needs (i.e. my kitchen needs cupboards scrubbed, fridge cleaned off in and out, decluttered, cleaned in general, etc.) it can be a bit overwhelming. Cleaning (especially Spring cleaning) is sort of like going on a diet. If you try to do too much at once, you get overwhelmed and end up giving up altogether. Make a list of what is realistic for your week/day.  For instance, take Monday to tackle the kitchen, but leave the living room till the next day. When it’s broken up, it’s much less intimidating.

3. Make it fun.  I don’t know if anyone is like me, but cleaning is NOT fun to me. My maternal grandmother loves to clean and could make it an Olympic sport. I, sadly, did not inherit those genes. But something that helps me is to give myself little “rewards”. For example, when I need to sort things out like that pile of paperwork that has gathered on the dining room hutch or fold laundry, I take the opportunity to make myself a cup of tea and sit down to watch that new BBC program that just came out on Netflix and do my work then while I watch. In fact, I will look forward to three loads of laundry that need folded just so I have an excuse to get caught up on Downton Abbey. It inspires me to put in those three loads of laundry throughout my morning so that when the girls are down for rest time I can do just that. Also, I have been known to have a chocolate bar on hand and once one thing is checked off my list it is time for me to have a piece of my candy bar. Chocolate is always inspiring!

4.) Set a timer. Okay. Now I know this one sounds cheesey because we aren’t all six. BUT, it really does help me! Just this morning I looked at the kitchen with crumbs everywhere, dishes in the sink, and garbage strewn about from breakfast and wanted to walk away. But, in my head I tried to ask myself how long it would realistically take me if I did everything that needed done. I set a timer for that amount of time (which was only ten minutes, by the way) and it made me work more swiftly because I wanted to be done by the time it went off. In the end, I actually had time to spare.

5). Make lists. Again, with someone who is easily overwhelmed, this helps a ton!! When I look at the house as a whole, I give up before I begin. But, if I sit down and make a list of what needs done in each room it helps me to see what my priorities need to be (the fridge can be cleaned out another day) and I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I can check one off. Am I the only one who likes to put something on the list after I have already accomplished it just so I can check it off?

6). Fill a laundry basket as you go from room to room.  This is another trick that has helped me immensely. We often get clutter at our house because there are things that I have no idea what to do with. So, I have started putting things in a laundry basket and just go from room to room filling it with things that are out of place and when I enter rooms, some things get put in the basket and some things get put back where they belong. If it is my goal to empty the basket, then I find that I really can find a place for everything and sometimes that place is the trash can or box to give away, which brings me to……

7). Keep a giveaway box. Just recently I put a box in the basement for things to give away. We are planning to have a yard sale this summer to raise money to go to our missions trip to Romania. Knowing the box is there and knowing what is going in it is for a good cause helps me to part with things a little easier than I normally would (being the pack rat that I am by nature). Keep a box to donate clothes to your local city mission or items to go to the Salvation Army or outgrown toys to go to needy kids. Having a good cause to donate to is great incentive for decluttering.

8). Involve the kids. Last summer when the kids were home all day, I nearly panicked. I didn’t know what to do with them all day without tearing my hair out! I would plan fun days (girl days or days at the park or days with friends) but I honestly found our very best days were spent…..cleaning!!! I don’t know what it was, but when we started cleaning together it was this bonding time for us. My girls are still young, but I think it was a sense of accomplishment for them. We would make a list, then I would ask who wanted to do what and they have always been eager to volunteer. Then we would put on music while we cleaned and had spontaneous dance parties or make a game of seeing if we could check something simple off our list (like putting away all the books or cleaning off a dresser) by the time a song had ended. It gives them responsibility and if you make it fun and make sure they know how appreciative you are for their efforts, it really is a great time to connect with your kids.

9). Every day, pick up as you go about your day. There is nothing more aggravating than feeling the huge sense of accomplishment of cleaning your house top to bottom only to have it messed up again in a half hour. Again, with busy schedules and little kids, it’s hard to stay on top of things, but I have found it’s easy to do a little every day, even if it’s a crazy day. Some days I find myself taking a potty break and taking 30 seconds to spray and wipe down the sink after I have washed my hands to remove toothpaste and foundation stains and stray hairs. When I am going to fetch my coat from upstairs, I pick things up that need to go upstairs and put them away as I go. I honestly feel like if I didn’t do things like that every day I would end up on one of those shows about people with the disgustingly horrible houses. If I do a little as I am going about my normal routine, it helps to keep the clutter and mess to a minimum.

 

And to help keep things in perspective, I try to remember this

 

thank heaven

 

So, those are some things I do. What tricks do you have for keeping things tidy?

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Christmas Crafts Day 3: DIY Band T-shirt

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So I know this is an odd choice for a Christmas craft, but if you are anything like me, I like to make a lot of my gifts. It makes them more personal and I can often make them cheaper than buying them. Hence, this project.

This is the cover to my brother’s band CD. As of yet, though they have a rockin’ CD, they don’t have any accessories.  So for Christmas, I decided to make my brother a t-shirt to wear to his gigs. Thankfully, though his cover looks complicated, because of it’s haphazard nature I figured if I didn’t get the design exactly duplicated it would still resemble the CD cover moderately.

I confess I am not entirely done with the shirt yet. I wanted to be able to keep up with my “24 day” commitment, but I figured you would get the idea anyway!

So to start, here’s what I used:

*Fabric paints as well as silkscreen paint picked up from any craft store

*Plain t-shirt (I got this one for $3 at Hobby Lobby)

*hair dryer

*Alphabet stencils

*Contact Paper

To start, I cut little strips of contact paper in jagged strips to mimic the pattern on the cover. Like most of my projects, it wasn’t too scientific. I just taped the strips down and painted in between the lines.ImageImage

After I had painted in the lines, I used a hairdryer to dry the paint to make the process go a lot quicker. It took an average of ten minutes to dry between each application when using the dryer.

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Aaaand, that’s about it! I know, I know….super complicated! I just kept doing layer after layer until I got a pattern that looked like the one on the CD cover. I still have yet to stencil the letters on, but this project pretty much took me an hour or two to do. Not too bad! I hope he likes it!

Merry (almost) Christmas!

***DISCLAIMER: If my instructions on anything don’t make sense sometimes, it’s usually because I am being bombarded with a barrage of questions at any given moment; anything from: “what time is dinner” to “MOOOOOM, why doesn’t this Barbie have underwear”

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Making a List of Thankfulness

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If you have followed this blog at all, you know I have been trying desperately to teach my kids an attitude of gratitude in a very entitled world. In the car, I point out all of the beautiful things that God has created. During the day, I try to use the moments when they are complaining to make a list, quick, of at least five things they have to be thankful for.  And, most frequently, I nag them, as all great mothers do, with guilt trips and say things like, “I’m sorry. Did you just say, ‘Wow, Mom! Thank you so much for making this nutritious meal for us because you love us so much,” when they have really said something like, “Ugh. I HATE broccoli.” It feels like an uphill battle most days, but at the end of them, I look back and realize how many times I complained about trivial things that were not going my way.

So I’m always wracking my brain for new ideas of things to do to teach not only my kids, but more importantly myself (because an attitude of gratitude is caught more than taught) how to be thankful for those people and blessings in my life. With Thanksgiving just a week away, I wanted to do a week of thankfulness with my kids, hoping it will become a new tradition in our house.

Now, if your kids are anything like mine, I have found it is much more successful when I “suggest” something, rather than demand it.  So, I was cool. I was sly. I said to the girls, “Hey. Just wanted to let you know about this new thing I was going to try for people I am most thankful for. Do you want to hear about it? You can even do it with me, but, you know…only if you really want to.” I showed them my little jar that I had filled with flutters of paper, all with names of people I am thankful for.  I told them that I was going to pull one out every day between now and Thanksgiving and do something special for that person and include a note that listed the things I loved about them.

Much to my surprise and pleasure, they loved the idea and went about making lists of their own with little prodding from me.  Evie pulled down her class picture off the fridge so she could copy  names of classmates she would like to add to her list, and they sat there for an hour and painstakingly made a list of people they are thankful for. You have to understand, they just started Kindergarten this year, so they can’t spell yet and are just learning their letters. But, they both insisted they write the lists themselves.  PicMonkey Collage

Now, I do need to make a note here, lest you think this was an afternoon of sunshine and roses. I am one of those people who reads other people’s Facebook posts or blogs about the special project they did with their children baking cookies, building snowmen, or crafting turkeys out of Popsicle sticks and picture something akin to a Hallmark commercial and sigh, wondering why my motherly attempts ended in tears rather than hugs.  They did have fun (I….um…it was….hmm…well…). They got distracted by the cat, they fought about who had the class picture, they said things like, “Um..no, Mom. I already wrote Grandma Lynn. I want to write Grandma B,” with as much sass and condescension as any six-year-old can produce. They shoved. They rewrote the letter “G” six times because it looked too much like a “D” and I had to wait “patiently” for ten minutes while they wrote down one name. I just felt the need to clarify that, because I understand that any endeavor like this, especially with children, is never easy and I never want to make something sound easier than it is.

So, having said all of that, we each drew names from our jars. The girls each picked the name of my brother and his wife, which was perfect because we were able to do something for them as a couple. I asked them what they would like to do. Their answers were: “make soup” and “bake cookies”. In the end, we decided on the cookies. So we made them snickerdoodles and a card. In the card the girls listed (with my help this time) all the things they liked about each of them. This was my favorite part of this whole experiment because some of the things they said were too cute such as: you are wild, you run really fast, you are really good at juggling (news to me ;). After the cookies were packaged up, we put them in a box and we are going to send them in the mail today.

I picked my Dad’s name out of the jar, so I am planning to surprise him at work. Despite the frustrations of last night, I am super excited to see whose names we pick today. I will let you know how it goes.