Since I saw the idea of an advent ACTIVITY calendar on several blogs last year, I've wanted to do one for my boys. In fact, I had a whole list of activities ready last year but didn't get around to pulling it off. Oh well, always another year, I say. Last Monday afternoon I saw this idea on the Skip To My Lou blog and decided to jump in with both feet and tackle it. I happened to be going to the craft store that day so I bought some green and red glittered felt and pretty ribbon. By LATE Monday night (almost Tuesday AM) I had sewn almost all 25 stockings. Yes, I stayed up late, but they really stitch up very easily. However, you could easily and very quickly replicate this whole idea using ready-made little stockings. See some close-up views of my stockings below.
The next photo shows the first four stockings hung up on a long piece of extra-wide rick-rack. I used little clothespins to hang them up. I used round metal tags (found in most office supply stores) and number stickers to number each stocking. I removed the wire ring on each tag and used some silver thread to tie the tags onto the stockings.
Inside each stocking is a little piece of paper that tells what our special activity will be that day. I typed these up in a word document on the computer, but you could easily just handwrite them. My boys will take turns pulling out the paper each day, but the activity will be for all of us to do together. The photo below shows a few of our papers close-up. Following that you will find a list of our activities with links provided.
Our activities list is as follows. (NOTE: There are not actually 25 activities on the list because on several of the days our special activity will be going to one of the boys' various programs that are in December.)
*Make a red and green paper chain of 25 links to count down to Christmas. One link will be removed each day.
*Make and play with peppermint/glitter homemade playdough using our Christmas cookie cutters.
*Make glitter-covered pinecones to hang on the tree.
*Work on our Christmas lapbooks. (I'll do a post next week on what we're using for these.)
*Make snow globes.
*Make merry marshmallows.
*Drink hot cocoa under the tree with merry marshmallows, sprinkles and whipped cream.
*Make paper snowflakes and hang them in the windows.
*Hand-stamp wrapping paper. (I'm ordering these stamps from Let's Explore along with some of her giant stamp pads.)
*Hand-stamp gift tags. I have LOTS of Christmas rubber stamps in my stash that we'll use.
*Wrap gifts in hand-stamped paper. These will be our grandparent and teacher gifts.
*Make holiday pretzel treats. I make these every year. They are so easy, so good, and are a great gift for bus drivers, secretaries, etc.
*Make sugar cone Christmas trees. Just take a sugar cone (for ice cream) and frost it with green frosting then decorate with mini m&ms, sprinkles, etc.
*Make Handprint Santa cards.
*Make a cut paper garland. I just googled to find a link to explain what this means and can't find one. I will try to do a post on it to show you. I got the idea from a great book I purchased this fall. I need to blog about that as well.
*Bake and frost Christmas cookies. Deliver cookies to neighbors.
*String popcorn and cranberries for a garland for our outdoor trees and outdoor animal friends.
*Make beaded candy canes and beaded Christmas wreath ornaments. These are both such easy and classic Christmas crafts. However, I've never done either with the boys and I know they will love making them.
*Make up a batch of snowy trail mix and munch it under the tree while we read every Christmas book in the house. This will be a real treat because I NEVER make sweet snacks like this for the boys. They will be in heaven!
*Bake and frost cupcakes for Jesus' birthday. We will do this on Christmas Eve and decorate the cupcakes like ornaments. I bought a cupcake holder a few months back that will be perfect for displaying these on Christmas Day. (We host everyone at our house on Christmas.)
WOW! I think that looks like an ambitious list! But I may just be tired from looking up and typing all the links. Actually, I have a VERY short shopping list for things to get to do the above activities. Pretty much everything we can do with things we have around the house. My goal is just to focus on doing something fun together each day. I am excited to start this new tradition.
Here is a little something I've whipped up over the past two nights. I started sewing him while watching history in the making on Tuesday night. And I finished his tail feathers Wednesday night (about 10 minutes ago as I type this at 11:05 p.m.). However, he was hatched in my imagination sometime within the last month. (Like I said a few posts back, I think about the classroom 24/7, I swear!)
In case you can't figure it out, he's a turkey. With removable feathers. That can be attached to his body with buttons. (BTW......if you couldn't tell he was a turkey, please don't tell me :0) OK?) Now that I'm looking at him I am really wishing I had used a different shade of brown felt for his head. It is actually a different piece of felt whip-stitched onto the body piece. Oh well, not too bad for something I totally made up out of my own brain without a pattern. He will make his appearance in the classroom soon. I will have him on a tray with the feathers in a little basket. The purpose of this activity for the children is to practice buttoning. The turkey himself as well as the feathers are made from a double-layer of wool blend felt. So they should hold up to lots of wear and tear. You should be able to click on either photo for a close-up view. I REALLY love working with wool blend felt. It is very nice for hand-sewing. OK.........I'm tired now and am off to bed. I'll post this in the morning (Thursday AM). Nite...........
...........in my classroom this week. We are beginning our study of the animal kingdom this week. The first vertebrates we will study in depth are: FISH! For the past several weeks I've been busy at night stitching up little felt fishes to go on the science shelf. I debated about putting these on the math shelf since they are technically counting fish, but I decided to put them on the science shelf where all the other fish work will be. In upcoming posts, I'll be showing more of the fish work and explaining how I am introducing this to the children. Today, I am just showing my little felt fish project.
Here is how the work is set up on a tray. There is a little blue bowl with clear glass pebbles. These will represent the "bubbles". The white metal bucket holds the fish.
To do this work, the child takes the tray to a rug. He/she places the fish in order from 1-10 as shown. Then, he/she places the correct number of "bubbles" above the fish to correspond with the number on the fish's body. The hardest part for them is remembering to place the bubbles above the fish since we usually do this type of activity by placing the counters below the number.
To make the little fish, I just found a fish pattern at Preschool Express and cut out my fish. I used wool blend felt and whipstitched around the outside leaving an opening. I filled them with polyfil and stitched them closed. Then, I used fabric paint to paint the numbers on (the children thought I had used white glue) and hot-glue to attach the wiggle eyes. Very tactile and fun!!
On a side note...........check out the post I did last week on our watercolor leaves. If you scroll down in that post you can see the Giving Tree covered with the leaves the children have painted.
I am excited to announce that an idea I submitted was accepted and featured on The Crafty Crow blog. I love to read all the great ideas on this blog and was honored to have one of my creations displayed there. If you haven't already done so, check out this blog. It has TONS of fantastic ideas for things to make for and with children of all ages.
I decided to write up a tutorial for the Itty Bitty Capri Sun bags I made a while back. If you haven't yet tried sewing with juice pouches, this is an easy project to start with. You will only need 5 pouches in all. To prepare the pouches for sewing, use a knife (or I use nail scissors) to make a slit all the way across the bottom of the juice pouch (the part that allows the pouch to stand up when it's full of juice). Pour out any remaining juice and rinse the pouch out with water thoroughly. You can use soapy water if you want, but I usually just rinse with plain old water. Stand the pouches upright on a towel to dry. Make sure they are completely dry inside before sewing. Even after standing up they still may have some drops left, so you can dry these with a towel.
You will need 5 pouches. Four are for the sides and one for the bottom of your bag. In this photo, the four on top are for the sides. I planned to have the purple ones on opposite sides with the silver ones between. The Wild Cherry pouch is for the bottom.
Line up one of your side pouches and the pouch for the bottom as shown in the photo. Using your scissors, you will trim off the extra part sticking out so the bottom is exactly the same width as one juice pouch.
When trimmed, the bottom should look like this.
Next you will line up one of your full-size pouches with the bottom piece, backs together (logos facing out) and sew them together using a wide zig-zag stitch. I use regular cotton thread and a heavy-duty needle. Go from one end all the way to the other, backstitching at both ends.
Repeat the above step with the pouch you want on the opposite side of the bag. When finished, your piece should look like the photo. Be sure to pay attention to how you align the pouches so your finished bag doesn't have an upside-down side.
Next you will take one of your remaining two pouches and line it up back to back with one of your "side" pouches. In my example, I am aligning the pouch you can see facing out in the photo back to back with one of the purple pouches, silver sides together. You can see at the bottom of the photo that the bottom of the bag (the little piece I cut) is opened up just below the side piece. Sew from the top down using a zig-zag stitch. Stop about 1/4 inch from the bottom. Backstitch at both ends.
Here is a photo where I am trying to show that you stop stitching about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the pouch.
Now your piece should look like the photo above when you open it all up.
Repeat the steps above to attach your last side pouch. Now your piece should look like the photo above.
Next, you will fold your bag together so it looks more like a bag. You have 2 side seams to sew. In the photo above, I have aligned the unsewn side of the purple pouch (on the right) with the edge of the adjacent side. Sew from top to bottom using the zig-zag stitch and stopping a little before the bottom edge. Backstitch at the top and bottom. Repeat this to sew the remaining side seam.
Now you just have your 2 bottom seams to sew and you're done. To accomplish this, it is easiest if you kind of flatten your bag (think of how a paper bag folds up flat; your bag will fold up just like that) and align the edges of the bag bottom (shown in photo) with the bottom of the side pouch. Sew end to end with a zig-zag stitch, backstitching at both ends. Repeat for opposite bottom seam.
Now you should be able to open up your finished bag and stand it up on its own. You can use it to hold pencils, markers, etc. OR, you could place a jar inside filled with water and use it for a vase. OR use it as a container for holding pretty much anything.
Hello! We're back from our little trip. Had fun, but good to be home again. It was weird to not be thinking about the classroom or the blog for 2 whole days.
Before we left, I had read about an idea on Amy's Let's Explore blog that I wanted to do for our trip. I liked her idea about making up little blank books. So...........I decided to stitch up some little books to take along in the van. Since I had just finished whipping up the Capri Sun pencil bags (see previous post), I thought, "Why not make booklets using Capri Sun bags as the covers?" So I did. I also made a few using scrapbook paper so the boys would have a choice.
Here is my little set of books. To make them, I just took 8 1/2 by 11 inch white printer paper and cut it in half (so I had 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch pieces). I stacked about 4 pieces together, folded them in half and inserted them in the covers. I made the printed paper covers the same way as the inside pages. The Capri Sun covers were just 2 empty Capri Sun pouches placed back to back (so the logo could be seen on both the front and the back.) For the Capri Sun booklets, I had to trim the pages a little so they didn't stick out since the pouches were narrower than 4 1/2 inches wide. To finish the books, I simply sewed a straight stitch from the top to the bottom about 1/8 inch from the fold, backstitching at both ends.
Here you can see the front cover and inside of the booklets. I wouldn't want to always use the juice pouches for the covers of the books, but they would be nice for special books, such as writing and drawing about a summer trip.
I was struck with what I like to call "bloggy-inspiration" on Wednesday. Maybe I could coin a new phrase for this phenomenon............"blogspiration." Anyway, I was reading Skip to My Lou's blog and found a super little tutorial to make Capri Sun pencil bags. Since I love to make things with Capri Sun juice pouches (see this post, this post, and this post), I knew right away I wanted to try these. We are leaving today on a little trip, and I thought it would be great to make one for each boy so they would have a place to hold their crayons on the trip. (See this post for some of the things I did to make our last road trip go smoothly.)
I stitched these two pouches up on Wednesday night. They went together pretty well. However, I tried using my zipper foot for the zipper, but switched back to my regular presser foot and it worked MUCH BETTER!
Here are the two little bags. I showed them to the boys when they woke up on Thursday morning. I told them they were for taking on our trip. My oldest son said, "Oh, do you remember on our last trip how the crayons were falling all over the floor? Well, now they will stay in these little pouches." My thoughts exactly!! My little boy liked opening and closing the zipper. In fact, I had to remove a nutcracker from his before taking this photo!
Here you can see the inside of one of the pouches. I also turned the yellow one over so you could see that I used red pouches on the other side.
Next time I want to use a longer zipper so I don't have to overlap the ends as much and more of the logos will show. I really love this project because it really supports "green" living, something we should all be thinking about and incorporating more into our daily lives.
We are leaving this morning for a short trip, so there won't be a post tomorrow. I should be back on the blog Sunday night. Have a great weekend!
If you've been reading the blog for a while, you may remember the other two Pleated Beauty handbags I made this summer (if not, see them here and here.) The pattern is from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book. I LOVE this pattern. And for a very long time (all summer, in fact) I have planned to make one just for me. And "sew"..............here it is.....FINALLY!!
We are going on a little trip this weekend, and I really wanted a roomier bag which would carry my wallet, sunglasses, Kleenex, camera, box of wipes, etc. This will be a perfect size. It is really roomy and has a large divided pocket on the inside.
Here is a squishy looking photo of the inside. The lining is an Alexander Henry print. The outside and pocket are green linen. I really love this pattern so much and I LOVE that Amy suggests using flannel instead of interfacing. It really gives nice body without the stiffness.
I have been really busy at school in the evenings. However, most of the things I'm working on are still "in-progress" and I am waiting to finish up some of those projects before writing about and showing them on the blog. So........be patient if you are waiting for more Montessori posts. I promise that there are MANY MANY MANY more on the way.
That said, the last few evenings (after working at school and putting the boys to bed) I have been working on a little friend that will make her debut in this post. Allow me to present ..................Madame Butterly.
I stitched up this little gal using a pattern from Hilary at Wee Wonderfuls. I had been thinking about making one ever since I saw Meg's a while back. Looking at hers again, I think I may make a little chyrsalis for it as well. That is so cute the way she modified the pattern. I sewed this with the wool blend felt, and I have to say that after making several things with the wool blend felt I really do like it better than the cheaper craft felt. And I think the items I make will wear better. The ice cream cone I made with the craft felt is already starting to become fuzzy from use. However, my banana with the wool blend felt is wearing really well. I used a cotton batik print for the inside of the wings and little brown pom-poms for the eyes. As I've said before, I really like hand-sewing. And this was a fun little project to do while relaxing in the evening. Here are a few more photos.