Monday, June 27, 2016

Shark Playdate

Shark Playdate
               Make your own aquarium
               Shark face collage
               Shark anatomy lesson
               Shark and Fish ABCs
               Snack: Shark Fin Jello Cups
Make Your Own Aquarium:
Clear or blue tinted mason jars
Water + blue food coloring (food coloring not needed if you get the blue tinted mason jars)
Aquarium plastic animals (I found sharks at Michael’s)
Aquarium plastic rocks and plant life
Glycerin (optional)
Give your toddler a mason jar with the water and blue food coloring already in it OR give them just the empty mason jar. Have them assemble their mini aquarium with the supplies above. The best thing about this aquarium is there is no right way to do it! Hope they enjoy it!

Shark Face Collage:
Two shades of blue construction paper
Gray, black and white construction paper (I used gray craft foam for the shark body to make it feel real)
Googly eyes
Glue and scissors
Start by prepping your cut outs ahead of time; my kids always go crazy when they see me with scissors. I started by precutting shark heads with the gray construction paper/craft foam, teeth with the white construction paper, a wide open mouth with the black construction paper and waves with the darker shade of blue construction paper. Have your toddler assemble the various pieces of the collage and top with two googly eyes!
Shark Anatomy Lesson:
I gave each toddler a picture of a shark and we practiced identifying the different parts of the shark: tail, snout, eye, gills, teeth, dorsal fin, and caudal fin. You can print out the shark anatomy names and have your toddler glue the words next to each shark feature as you go over them too! I prepped each sheet for each kid to make it easier by putting each shark picture in a gallon size ziplock bag and precutting the words out.
Here is an attachment you can print for your own use.
Once completed, this is what it would look like.
Shark and Fish ABCs:
Large piece of cardboard (I got a large foam board from Walmart, but you can use cardboard from old boxes too)
Gray paint
Black sharpie
White foam sheets
Gorilla glue or a similar strong glue
Paint brushes
Scissors or exacto knife
Colorful foam sheets or plastic fish (I found some great ones at Walmart)
Optional empty cardboard box for the base of the back of shark
I started the night before by prepping the shark. I cut out a huge shark head with an open cut out mouth using my large foam board. I cut out the mouth without teeth (it was too intricate to cut the teeth out one by one). Using the colorful plastic fish I got from Walmart, I wrote a letter from the alphabet onto the bottom of each individual fish using a sharpie. You could label the fish with numbers or shapes too!

This part is optional, but my kids love to paint, so I involved them in the painting process. We painted the shark gray. Once the shark was dry, I cut out large triangle teeth using my white foam sheet. I used Gorilla glue to glue each tooth in place. I would advise laying the shark head down on a counter with newspaper under it so that the teeth can lean on something while they dry in place.
Finally, you can glue an empty cardboard box to the bottom back of the shark if you would like an easy way to catch your fish.
Once the shark dried, we practiced our ABCs by “feeding” the shark each letter of the alphabet in order. You could also practice spelling if your kids are at that level. You could even write numbers on the fishes to practice counting.
Snack: Shark Fin Jello Cups
Blue jello cups
Whip cream
Gray foam sheets (for shark fin)
Small clear plastic cups
Plastic spoons
Follow the directions on the blue jello packaging to make your jello.
Cut two matching shark fins out using your gray foam sheets. Glue them back to back with the end of your plastic spoon sandwiched between the two pieces.
Assemble your cups by putting your blue jello in the plastic cup first (ocean). Then add a layer of whip cream (waves). Finally stick your shark fin spoon into the cup and serve!
If I could do it again, I would have waited to put the whip cream on right before serving. It was a really humid and hot day and it melted a little faster than I had liked.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sundress from book "Feminine Wardrobe"

Not a very summery picture I know, but I am giving myself massive props for this photo shoot. This was my first time using a tripod, and more excitingly my first time taking a picture of myself all by myself. My camera does this cool thing that I still don’t fully understand. My husband had downloaded the camera’s app onto my phone and I discovered that I can remotely take pictures with it. I can even see what is visible through the viewfinder on my phone. Hence why I am holding my phone in all the pictures so my next task is to learn how to use the self timer!

There were actually a lot of firsts for me with this project. It’s the first time my legs have seen sun in many months :) It was also my first time having to rip open a dress I had sewn because it didn’t fit. And I don’t mean the side seams had to be taken in - but I had to rip open the bust panel and add 3 inches of width to it, I’ll get to that in a bit.
This month for my Japanese project for Sew Japan With Mie, I wanted to make a garment for myself. I used pattern F1 from “Feminine Wardrobe” by Jinko Matsumoto. Tassadit from Rue des Renards made the same dress and looks adorable in it.

To begin my journey I first made a muslin which you can read more about here. Per the size chart I was a perfect fit for a medium, however it was extremely too large for me. I altered the dress and transferred my changes to the pattern with total confidence. Everything was smooth sailing during the sewing, the instructions were easy to follow and the illustrations are really helpful. I added a few things during construction such as understitching and topstitching. I thought the dress came out perfect, until I tried it on. Somehow during all the pattern rework I had made the bust piece way to small, about 3 inches too small. I decided to rescue the dress by adding an insert to the middle of the bust piece. This took a lot of thinking, and more importantly courage. I’ve never opened up a piece like this before. All my seams were serged, all my edges had understitching and topstitching. In the end I figured everything out and my final result came out so much better than my original!


I appliqued two pieces onto the 3 inch fabric square insert, the appliques blend in really well so it’s kind of hard to see. I also added some trim to the seams where I attached the insert into the bust panel. The insert came together pretty easy once I got the courage to start. Being able to tackle this problem was huge confidence booster for me!

I also added some pockets to the dress, because every mom needs pockets.

I know this isn’t the most flattering dress, but I wanted something simple and cool to wear around the backyard or in the neighborhood. And this dress will work great as a beach cover-up too.

Written by: Shawna

Friday, June 24, 2016

Why Make A Toile?

I have been having fun joining Mie from Petit a Petit and Family in her link party, Sew Japan With Mie. This month I wanted to make a garment using a Japanese pattern for myself. I chose pattern F1 from Feminine Wardrobe by Jinko Matsumoto. I almost considered making the dress I had chosen without doing a toile first. It looked very basic, something easy to alter as I was sewing (even though I have never done that before). Luckily I decided I didn’t want to chance wasting the beautiful fabric I had purchased from Miss Matatabi. Oh I’m so glad I decided to make a muslin first. Based on my measurements I fit perfectly in the medium size.

Oh isn’t this dress a thing of beauty! My husband gave me the strangest look when I came out of my sewing room wearing that. Needless to say, there is a lot of excess fabric. I decided to see if I could figure out how to alter it to fit better, so I could see if the dress would be something I’d wear.

Up first I pinched the excess fabric out of the middle and took my serger from top to bottom - my thinking is I could measure the cut strip to see how much I would need to remove from the pattern, if I end up making the dress I’ll let you know how that turns out! After that I took in the side seams in the same way.

Yeah I know it is hard to get past the fabric choice, but I figured I wouldn’t miss it so it was the perfect choice to make a toile :) At least the dress looks less like I raided my maternity bin.

Lastly I cut the bottom and then serged the ends.

So what do you think of the dress? I am still undecided. If I do end up making it I will be adding patch pockets to the front, a mom needs a place to store, well everything. I hope my wonderfully hilarious journey encourages you to test drive a pattern first, before cutting into any special fabric.

Written by: Shawna

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Writing A Fractured Fairy Tale With A Preschooler

Our book this month is “I Thought This Was A Bear Book” by Tara Lazar. The colliding of the different fairy tales were funny and I really enjoyed reading the book to my daughter till we had to return it to the library. The book is considered a fractured fairy tale which is when a fairy tale is used but the character(s), viewpoint, or plot are changed.

I decided to try and write a fractured fairy tale with Little E. She can’t write yet, but she has an incredible imagination. To help us, we used our story stones that I had made about two years ago. I had taken some rocks and painted a picture on each one and they are now in a well loved, paint chiping condition. The story stones are great for my daughter because she can physically manipulate them while telling a story (A warning if you are going to make your own story stones, the paint chips off even though I had thought Mod Podge would seal it, so be sure your little one won’t put these in their mouth. Or better yet if you find a way to seal the paint better on the rocks, let us know!). The story stones are easily substituted with numerous things, such as drawings or maybe even using pictures from other books.  We also loosely used a guide from Ms. Lazar’s website to help us get started on how to write our own fractured fairy

Here’s how we did it!

  1. Pick out a fairy tale. There are numerous resources where these tales can be found for free. Just pre-read the story first, I came across some odd or not kid friendly variations of Little Red Riding Hood in my search.
  2. Next I had Little E summarize the fairy tale back to me. I wanted to make sure she understood what I had read her. We also discussed any questions that she had.
  3. Lastly we grabbed our story stones and laid them out. I started the story by saying “Little Red Riding Hood” and then Little E picked up a stone and just ran with the story. I wrote the story down as she was telling it.

This is Little E’s first “published” story!

Little Red Riding Hood saw a rainbow. She wanted to play with it because it was so colorful, but Little Red’s mother said no. Little Red begged and begged to play with the rainbow and her mother changed her mind and said yes. But the Big Bad Wolf had stolen the rainbow. Little Red asked her friend Lady Bug to help find the rainbow. The two girls jumped into their space rocket and went high into the sky and looked for the rainbow. They finally found it at Crocodile Lagoon. They very quietly grabbed the rainbow and flew away. They put the rainbow back into the sky, and the rainbow was so thankful to the girls for rescuing it, it gave them a pot of cookies. The End

My daughter had a blast with this activity. She is so proud of her story and wants to turn it into a book and make pictures for it. I loved watching her excitement during the process and also how her mind worked, Little Red begged and begged to play with the rainbow until her mother changed her mind!

Let us know how this activity went for you and share your child’s story with us!

Written by: Shawna

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dino Playdate

Dino Playdate
By Angela
My two year old is out of school for the summer and I really didn’t want us to zone out in front of the TV every day to pass the time. I decided to create some fun playdates for him and his friends that involved learning. Here is one I did this past week!
Agenda (about 2 hours):
Homemade Dino Dig Kit
Dinosaur sticker scene (Melissa and Doug)
Stegosaurus art collage
Homemade fossils
Dinosaur story time

Homemade Dino Dig:
This was so fun and so easy! In fact, I plan on making them for Christmas gifts as well. Here are the supplies you will need:
Plaster (found at Michael’s or any craft store)
Kinetic sand (found at Michael’s or any craft store…or outside)
Plastic dinosaurs (I got mine at the Dollar Store)
Plastic Tupperware containers (found at the Dollar Store)
Digging tools (plastic knife, magnifying glass, rakes, shovels, paint brush, etc…)
Label (optional, but adds a cut touch)
I started the night before the playdate by making the dino digs. Make sure you use a disposable container to mix, I found out the hard way! Mix half plaster and half sand in the disposable container followed by a little water. Start to stir it together until you get a thick consistency but not so thick that it doesn’t stir anymore.
Make a smooth layer at the bottom of your plastic Tupperware containers and place a few plastic dinosaurs in the mixture. Layer on some more of the mixture to cover the dinosaurs up. Just a tip, but I found that if you leave part of the dinosaur’s body sticking out of the dig, the toddlers are more willing to dig and see what is inside. Let the mixture dry overnight, leaving the tops off the containers.
You can assemble a cute little digging kit to go along with the dig. I put together a magnifying glass (from Dollar Store), paint brushes (from Dollar Store), a rake and shovel kit (from Dollar Store) and a plastic knife (not sharp). I also added a cute little label to go on top.
The kids loved digging for their dinosaurs and pretending to be real paleontologists!

Dinosaur Sticker Scene:
Next we took a break from digging and tapped into their imaginations. At Michael’s I found some Melissa and Doug Habitat reusable sticker pads for 40% off, coming out to about $4. They have multiple habitats in them, but I used the dinosaur habitat for this playdate. The kids were able to assemble their own dinosaur scene using the reusable stickers. We made dinosaur noises, and went over what each dinosaur was in the process!
Stegosaurus Art Collage:
Colorful Foam sheets (found at Michael’s)
Glue and scissors
Googly eyes
This was a cute way to teach the kids about dinosaur anatomy, at least for the stegosaurus. The night before, I precut tails, spikes, torsos, heads, and legs of a stegosaurus out of foam sheets (found at Michael’s or any craft store). I used various colors so the kids could practice saying their colors as they put together their dinosaurs. I used the foam sheets because they add a 3D effect to the art work and are easier for their little fingers to pick up as opposed to using paper, but really you can use any type of material. I also premade one to show them what they were trying to make.
When they were finished with their stegosaurus bodies, I gave them each a googly eye to put on its head. They turned out a bit abstract, but cute nonetheless!
Homemade Fossils:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
Plastic dinosaurs
Parchment paper and cookie sheet pan
These were so fun to make and remake! I started by pre-making the dough by mixing the flour, salt and water. I brought the dough out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and rolled it out. The kids used the dinosaurs from their dino dig to make fossils. You can use their feet to stamp out footprints, you can press their bodies down for a full fossil, or even use plants if they came in your plastic dinosaur packs.
Once the kids were done, we preheated the oven to 200 degrees, and baked the dough. The kids can paint their fossils or keep them as is!

Dinosaur Story Time:
To wrap up the playdate, we had a story time with dinosaur books. I had a touch and feel dinosaur book and a Mickey Mouse dinosaur book, but there are really so many dinosaur books out there; just Google it! The kids really enjoyed this activity and I hope yours do too!