Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keeping a Preschooler on Task

In my house, clothes time (getting dressed for the day) and jammie time (pre-bedtime routine) have become major sources of stress.  My four year old is such a dawdler (we call it "dinkin' around") - which is fine on the rare occasions when there's no schedule to keep.  It seems that no matter how much extra time I allow for these tasks there's never quite enough time to accomodate her desire to do a bunch of dance moves before sitting down to get her pants on ("Mom, watch this!") or roll along the wall instead of walking straight over to the drawer...If you have kids I'm sure you know just what I'm talking about.  

Jammie time and clothes time were turning into a giant nag-fest with me doing all the nagging (I tried to call it "reminding" but really it's nagging) and my daughter getting frustrated because she wants to do everything herself and feels that she doesn't need to be reminded.


So, I came up with a chore chart of sorts that helps Susannah to stay focused on the task at hand.  Here's how it works:  I have a basket that holds photos of each step (put your shirt on, put your pants on, put 2 books on your pillow for story time, etc.), and there's a magnet on the back of each one.  I use fabric-covered metal jar lids to display each step that she needs to accomplish and then I leave the room.  After a task is completed, she takes it down and puts it back into the basket and then moves on to the next "job picture." 


She feels totally independent because the job pictures subtly remind her of what she needs to be doing - much less damaging to the ego than a nagging mother!  She's motivated to complete the tasks in a timely manner because she likes beging able to "check them off" and feels so proud when the chart is empty.  It's much less frustrating for me because, even if there is some dinkin' going on between steps, I'm not there to witness it.  I'm somewhere nearby busy with a task of my own.

SweetCharli



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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Octopus and Starfish Valentine Tutorial




A Tutorial for Octopus and Starfish Valentine Toppers
these work swimmingly as sucker-toppers, tootsie pop-toppers, or pencil-toppers

Here's the final tutorial for making the valentines from my Supercute Sea Creatures...Simplified and Valentine-ized post.  Follow these simple steps to create either starfish or octopus toppers for your valentines. 

Here's what you'll need:
.pdf file for futuregirl's Supercute Sea Creatures
cardstock paper
felt (I used ecofelt, but wool felt would also work)
pen that'll write on felt (I used a fabric marker, but a Sharpie would also work)
straight pins
scissors
craft glue
glitter glue
googly eyes
heart hole punch

1.  Get Your Template Ready
Download futuregirl's .pdf file and print it out. If you're making sucker or tootsie pop-toppers, enlarge the shape you want by 25% (I had the good people at the copy shop help me with this part).  I also found that the octopi look better atop a sucker instead of a tootsie pop.  If you have your heart set on octopi-topped tootsie pops, I'd recommend enlarging the pattern even more to accomodate the bulbous-ness.

If you're making pencil-toppers you can keep the original size and skip the enlarging step.

Cut out your shape and trace it onto cardstock.  You don't need any of the details, just the main body shape.  This will be your template.

2.  Cut the Felt Body Pieces 
Lay your template on the less-fuzzy side of the felt (if there is one) and trace around it.  You need 2 body pieces for each valentine and it's easy to cut through two thicknesses of felt.  So, place the felt with the tracing on top of another piece of felt and pin them together.  If you're making an octopus, be sure to pin each tentacle so nothing shifts while you're cutting.

Cut around your traced lines.  If you used a dark-colored marker that won't wash off, be sure to cut inside the traced lines so the marker won't be visible on the finished product.



3.  Embellish Those Guys!
Lay one of the body pieces right side up on a flat surface and decorate it to your liking.

I affixed some googly eyes with craft glue and used glitter glue to make the smile and some starfish-like markings that were based on futuregirl's pattern. A note about glitter glue: it takes a couple of hours to dry completely.



To make "suckers" on the octopus tentacles, lay both octopus pieces so they are facing the same way, with the googly eyes and any other markings face down on the table (see the photo below if I'm not making sense).  Make glitter glue dots on the ends of each tentacle. 

 

4.  Assemble the Sea Creatures
After the embellishments are completely dry, apply a line of glue on the wrong side of one body piece.  Use the dots below as a guide.

For the starfish: follow the blue dots if it will be adorning a pencil and follow the black dots if it will be adorning a sucker or tootsie pop.


For the octopus:  follow the purple dots if it will be adorning a pencil and follow the blue dots if it will be adorning a sucker.

 

After the glue has been applied, affix the second body piece so that the wrong sides of both pieces are glued together.  For the octopus, the suckers will actually be "sandwiched" together so that the tentacles are going in opposite directions and some suckers are visible from the front and some suckers are visible from the back.


5.  Let's Make a "Hug Me" Heart
Print out "hug me" onto cardstock of your color choice.  I used pink cardstock and a darker pink for the letters.  I also used Arial size 14 for the font.

Be sure to leave ample space between "hug me's" if you're making more than one heart.  Use a heart paper punch to cut them out. 

Tuck a heart under a portion of the curliest tentacle and glue it into place.


6.  Make a Note
Put your thinking cap on and come up with a cute, lovey-dovey note for the starfish (preferably utilizing a pun).  I went with "Happy Valentine's Day to the only star I sea."

Print it out on a piece of paper, leaving an inch or so of blank space before the sentence begins.  Cut it out in a strip and use craft glue to attach it near the end of the stick, whether it be a sucker stick or a pencil.


7.  Adorn a Goody
When you're absolutely sure that everything is dry and secure, slip your felt sea creature over the valentine goody of your choice.


I wish I'd known this before I purchased my valentine candy:
There are 16 Tootsie Pops in a 9.6 oz. bag.
There are 21 flat suckers in an 11.5 oz. bag.

8. You're Not Done Yet, Mister!
Take some photos of your sea creature creations and send them my way.  I love seeing what other people have made using my rambling tutorials and I'll feature them on my blog if you give me permission.  Also, add them to futuregirl's Supercute Sea Creatures Flickr group.    Share the cuteness!


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Jellyfish Valentine Tutorial



Jellyfish Valentine Topper Tutorial
works swimmingly as a pencil-topper, tootsie pop-topper, or sucker-topper

As promised in my Super Cute Sea Creatures...Simplified and Valentine-ized post, I've put together a couple of tutorials so you can join in the fun!  The first is a tutorial for the jellyfish topper.  Tomorrow I'll post a tutorial for the starfish and the octopus toppers.  Both tutorials are short and sweet and there's lots of room for personalization and embellishments.

Here's what you'll need:
.pdf file for futuregirl's Supercute Sea Creatures
cardstock paper
felt (I used ecofelt, but wool felt would also work)
pen that'll write on felt (I used a fabric marker, but a Sharpie would also work)
straight pin
scissors
yarn
craft glue
glitter glue
googly eyes
heart stickers

1.  Get Your Template Ready
Download futuregirl's .pdf file and print it out.  If you're making sucker or tootsie pop-toppers, enlarge the jellyfish shape by 25%(I had the good people at the copy shop help me with this part).  If you're making pencil-toppers you can keep the original size and skip the enlarging step.

Cut out the jellyfish shape and trace it onto cardstock.  You don't need the tentacles or any of the details, just the main jellyfish body shape. 

Add 1 inch to the length of the shape and cut it out.  This is your template.


2.  Make Some Felt Jellyfish Bodies
Lay your template on the less-fuzzy side of the felt (if there is one) and trace around it.  You need 2 body pieces for each valentine and it's easy to cut through two thicknesses of felt.  So, place the felt with the tracing on top of another piece of felt and pin them together.


Cut around your traced lines.  If you used a dark-colored marker that won't wash off, be sure to cut inside the traced lines so the marker won't be on the finished product.

3.  Tentacles! Tentacles! Tentacles!
Cut 10 pieces of yarn, each about 5 inches each in length.  Tentacle length is a personal choice, really.  I started with 5 inches and then trimmed the tentacles as necessary.  The pencil-toppers looked nice with 5 inches, the sucker and tootsie pop-toppers looked better with shorter, 2 inch tentacles. 

Lay both body pieces wrong side up (if there is a difference in sides, you can choose which you prefer to be the right side).  Use craft glue to secure 5 strands of yarn, evenly spaced, along the bottom edge of each piece.


4.  Assemble the Body
After the tentacles are completely dry, apply a line of glue on the wrong side of one body piece.  Use the dots below as a guide.  Follow the orange dots if this will be adorning a pencil and follow the blue dots if this will be adorning a sucker or tootsie pop. 


After the glue has been applied, affix the second body piece so that the wrong sides of both pieces are glued together.


5.  Jellyfish Embellyfish (Embellish Your Jellyfish)
I affixed some googly eyes with craft glue and used glitter glue to make the smile and some jellyfish-like markings that were loosely based on futuregirl's pattern.  A note about glitter glue:  it takes a couple of hours to dry completely.



I also used heart stickers to valentine-ize the tentacles.  Simply sandwich the yarn between two same-sized stickers.


As I mentioned earlier, keep the tentacles long for pencil-toppers.  For suckers or tootsie pops, you might want to perform a little tentacle trim.


6.  Add a Note
Put your thinking cap on and come up with a cute, lovey-dovey note (preferably utilizing a pun).  I went with "I turn to jelly whenever you're near, Valentine."  Print it out on a piece of paper, leaving an inch or so of blank space before the sentence begins.  Cut it out in a strip and use craft glue to attach it near the end of the stick, whether it be a sucker stick or a pencil.

(The only photo I have of this step features a starfish.)



7.  Adorn A Valentine Goody
When you're absolutely sure that everything is dry and secure, slip your felt jellyfish over the valentine goody of your choice.  

 

I wish I'd known this before I purchased my valentine candy:
There are 16 Tootsie Pops in a 9.6 oz. bag.
There are 21 flat suckers in an 11.5 oz. bag.

8.  You're Not Done Yet, Mister!
Take some photos of your sea creature creations and send them my way.  I love seeing what other people have made using my rambling tutorials and I'll feature them on my blog if you give me permission.  Also, add them to futuregirl's Supercute Sea Creatures Flickr group.  Share the cuteness!


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Monday, February 8, 2010

Supercute Sea Creatures...Simplified and Valentine-ized!

If you've seen any of the posts about my daughter's somewhat recent sea creature-themed birthday party, you probably recognize these as futuregirl's Supercute Sea Creatures.  They were so cute on the birthday party invitations that I decided to use them again - but this time they've been reincarnated as valentines! 



These guys have been simplified (we used craft glue and glitter glue instead of stitching) and valentine-ized (we added some hearts, candy, and lovey-dovey notes). 

The trickiest to cut out was the octopus...but well worth it because he's so darn cute!  Susannah used a heart hole punch to make the "hug me" hearts that the octopi are holding in their tentacles.

 

The jellyfish were by far the easiest to make because of their simple shape.  Susannah enjoyed snipping the yarn for the tentacles.  It's not pictured, but we put a little note on them that read, "I turn to jelly whenever you're near, Valentine."


The starfish were simple to make as well.  I had the opportunity to employ some great puns making their notes that read, "Happy Valentine's Day to the only star I sea."  Susannah didn't really get it, but she humored me.



If you haven't figured it out already, each felt sea creature is a topper for a valentine treat.  We used Tootsie Pops, flat valentine suckers, and pencils.  We had to enlarge futuregirl's pattern to get the suckers and Tootsie Pops to fit.  Tasty and cute!  The perfect valentine.

These are fairly simple to figure out but I'm going to be posting a tutorial for them in the very near future, anyhow.  I heartily recommend you give them a try. 

If you're not interested in making valentines, you can still pop over to future girl's craft blog or the Supercute Sea Creatures Flickr group and check out what other people have created with her sea creature patterns.

I leave you now with one last supercute, valentine-ized, sea creature photo:

 

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

All A-Flutter For Valentine's Day




The dining room table at our house has been converted into Valentine Central.  We're making a handful of different Valentines this year because the internet is so full of wonderful ideas and we couldn't decide on just one.  First on our list is this Butterfly Valentine from Skip to My Lou.  It's super simple.  All you have to do is print, cut, decorate (4 year olds are particularly good at decorating butterflies), and insert a sucker.


I cut some scrapbook paper down to size and used that to print the butterflies onto.  We used the scraps from the scrapbook paper and a heart paper punch to make the decorations for their wings.  The directions say to cut slits for the sucker insertion portion of the project, but I don't have an exacto knife so I used a small hole punch instead.  The last step was to glue on the googly eyes, which was Susannah's favorite part. 


We made about a dozen of these to share with the girls in Susannah's preschool class.  The boys will be getting something a little less pink - but that's another post for another day.  In the meantime, our herd of butterflies is ready to go!  What do you call a group of butterflies, anyway?  Not a herd.  A flock?  A gaggle?...No, that's geese.  A swarm?  Hmmm. 




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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Halfway Point!

My new year's resolution for 2010 was to make more aprons than I made in 2009.  Not a lofty goal, by any means, because I made just one apron last year!  I like to keep my goals small and attainable.  In this case, very, very attainable. 

I finished this apron for my cousin's daughter whose birthday was in January.  That means I'm halfway to accomplishing my new year's resolution already!  Look at me go! 


This is my second favorite apron I've ever made because the fabric is so darn cute!  Little birds and little trees and then some orange with white polka dots for the details.



Perhaps in my efforts to not "bite off more than I can chew" I have been too easy on myself.  I mean, it's barely February and I've got one down and only one more to go.  Eleven months to sew just one more apron seems do-able.  Maybe I'll challenge myself just a tad and use a new pattern instead of this same one I've been using for the past 3 or 4 years.

 



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