September 16, 2014

Sweater Vest Love

As our due date quickly approaches- how is October 2nd just a few weeks away??- my knitting needles have been busy. This is the last project that I've cast on for friends, everything else to come is for the little bean in my belly. Whose convincing me everyday through their kicks & movements that he/she is not so little anymore! As I've shared before, we've never found out the gender before and this one is no exception. So this child is going to be a surprise, all the way around (smile). Getting back to the vest, this is one of my all-time favorite patterns. It knits up quickly & always look so charming on sweet little bodies. 

Sweater Vest Love
Here are the Ravelry notes to the last vest I made. The only modification here was to cast on size 9 needles. It's intended for a quickly-growing little guy, and I wanted to give him room to grow into it before this fall/winter. The grey is a wool blend that's washable, which makes it perfect for spitting-up babies and non-knitting mamas. And the buttons were a combination of what I had, and a quick errand to the fabric store. I really wanted teal buttons- his mama loves teal- but I couldn't find the right shade. So grey & white it is!

Sweater Vest Love
Sweater Vest Love
I'm currently finishing up the top and straps for the little creature in my belly's vest, so I'll be sharing that next. Which means we'll have a vest for Isia and a vest for baby. Billy David might need to be next!

September 8, 2014

Toothpick & Rubber Band Patterns

We've been in baby mode around here (less than four weeks to go, and counting), so I'm posting some activities on here to remind myself of in a couple weeks in my soon-to-be sleep-deprived state. I'm a bit foggy on those newborn days, since Billy just turned three, but I do remember very little sleep. Even though he slept quite a bit, especially for a newborn, having one (and now two) kid running around makes the "sleep when baby sleeps" mantra a bit harder to attain. Especially when the running around kiddo inevitably wakes baby up! So I'm filling my arsenal with lots of Easy activities that I can pull out to entertain & teach my kids without expending the last bit of my mental energy. These toothpick patterns are perfect for that! And I'll share some ways below that we use them with both my kindergartner and my beginning preschooler.

Toothpick Learning
All you need for this quick activity are toothpicks & rubber-bands. The first thing I do is start a pattern for Isia, in this case it was Triangle-Circle (rubber band)- Square, then let her add on to it. Picking up the toothpicks to form the shapes is great for fine motor skills, and problem-solving skills too! And as we've added different shapes into her learning- pentagons, rhombuses, etc.- it's been great review to include them in our patterns too. After I've made her a couple patterns, then she gets to do her favorite part: create patterns for Mama to complete!


Toothpick Learning
She doesn't make it easy for me either, sometimes adding four or five different shapes for me to replicate! This might take a little bit more brain power after all (wink). 

Some preschool ideas:
For Billy, who's still learning his basic shapes, we've been concentrating on him copying my forms. For example, I'll make a triangle, then we'll have him make a triangle. Then we'll take his triangle apart, counting the toothpicks one a time so he can begin to understand that three toothpicks make up a triangle (which reinforces that a triangle is made up of three sides). Good shapes to start with for him have been triangles, squares, rectangles, diamonds, and circles (the rubber band). He likes to watch Isia & I make patterns too, which is an excellent way to start learning how to create them himself!


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August 26, 2014

Salt Dough Alphabet

And our Kindergarten homeschooling continues! I'm hitting our curriculum hard right now because I know this baby is coming sometime in the next six weeks & I want to be comfortable taking a break. Although Isia knows all of her letters, she still sometimes forgets how to write them or writes them backwards. In order to find a tactile- inexpensive!- way for her to get a better feel for them, we've begun creating this salt dough alphabet together. 

Salt Dough Alphabet
Salt dough is so easy to make! Here's a great salt dough recipe from Imagination Tree, all you need is salt, flour and water. Knead it until it's smooth then start creating your letters. Ours are about an inch high, but you can make them as big as you want. After we finished them, we baked them in a 200 degree oven for a couple hours- turning them over halfway though the baking time. I then let them cool in the oven for good measure. 

Salt Dough Alphabet
When they were cooled off we could begin our learning! So far we've been tracing each letter, spelling out simple words, and putting them in alphabetic order. For our alphabet practice we put all the letters in a pile, then have her pick them out and place them in order facing the right way. A great way to work on letter inversion!

*Find more Creative Learning Ideas on our Facebook page & Pinterest boards.
Thanks for visiting!

Salt Dough Alphabet


August 16, 2014

Easy Relief Printmaking

This is a bit of a flashback. These pictures have been hiding on my computer for about a year now. These simple prints graced the covers of Isia's thank you's for her fourth birthday- and she just turned five. So sometimes it takes awhile for our final projects to get posted on here, but that doesn't make this project any less fun (smile). It was a favorite with my middle school kids, and Isia- who was still a preschooler- loved it too!

Easy Relief Printmaking
Start with cutting the edges of a styrofoam tray, like this one that held broccoli. 

Easy Relief Printmaking
Trace a similar-sized drawing onto your styrofoam using a ball-point pen. Once it's traced, go over your lines one more time to make sure they're nice and deep. The deeper they are, the easier your picture will be to see!
Easy Relief Printmaking
Roll a smidge of printing ink onto a printing plate. We use small piece of plexiglass (left over from one of my art projects), but any non-porous surface would do like a linoleum tile, a non-food tray, etc. 

Easy Relief Printmaking
Then roll your ink onto your plate, making sure it's covered in a even, thin layer. 

Easy Relief Printmaking
Then make your prints! First, place your printing plate (the fancy art term for your styrofoam tray) ink-side down on your paper. Carefully turn it over and rub the backside of your paper with the back of a wooden spoon (or something else hard). Turn it back over, lift up your plate and voila! Now get ready to print again, sometimes you can get a few prints before it needs a re-inking. These prints were made on computer paper, but we've also printed on folded cardstock (for quick cards), rice papers, and other art papers too. You can even print on newspaper! It won't be archival, but it'll be just as fun.  


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Mono-printing