Summer Art 2013~ Playdate #2

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We had our second art playdate last week.  It was a really low-key day of crafts, except for at the end when there was a little tire swing accident involving smashed fingers.  But everyone ended up okay in the end.

We had three projects and play dough out for the kids to do as well as the new tire swing, the playhouse, our newly pruned climbing hedge, and a little castle with books in it for some chilling out time.

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Wrapped Washer Necklaces

Our most popular project this week was wrapped washer necklaces.  It was popular with the big kids who actually sat down and worked on this for quite a while.  Almost all of them made one.  It was too hard for the little kids, but the mommies dutifully made them for them, reminiscing about embroidery floss friendship bracelets while getting to make their own.

This idea  came from this blog, but we only did the “small” idea. You will need some large-ish washers (I got mine at home depot in three packs, a bunch of embroidery floss, and some ball chain (you know, the type that dog tags hang on). You simply tie an arm’s length on embroidery floss onto a washer, then wrap it around and around through the hole, adding more floss as needed (you can use more than one color, too) until the entire washer is wrapped. We then tied it off and added a dab of tacky glue to smooth down any loose ends and put it onto the chain. Clara made three washers by the end, so has since taken her necklace back down to her one favorite which is blue and purple together.
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Walnut Boats

This project required quite a bit of finesse and experimenting and most of the big kids used all of their patience up on washer necklaces and ended up skipping this project after the first few tries.  I searched a few different ideas for walnut boats and finally ended up using this one because clay sounded a lot safer than pouring in hot candle wax.  I cut out small squares of scrapbook paper, and put them out with clay, toothpicks, walnuts to crack and eat, and a small “pond” to test their floating in.  The testing was a mandatory part at all stages.  They needed to put in the clay, test.  Add the toothpick, test.  Add the sail, and test.  But look how cute they come out!  And now we understand floating and balance better, right?

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Zappy Zoomer Airplanes

These “airplanes” fly really well and do all sorts of spirals, which made them a hit even though they are a little finicky in the assembly.  The idea came from this blog, which you should check out for the dimensions to cut the paper and a very thorough explanation of how to put them together.  I’ll just say that they require four straws, two lengths of card stock, and  a whole lot of tape for each flyer.  Come to think of it, maybe the tape was the kids’ favorite part of this project.  You lay out the two sizes of card stock and then tape of the four straws so that you have one cardstock strip attached to each end.  Then you tape the carstock into a circle.  I know I’m not giving good directions here.  Just check out the link.  But, here are some fun pictures.

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Summer Art 2013~ Play date #1

Last week we had our first art play date of the summer!  This is our third summer hosting art play dates in our backyard and I am still very much enjoying them despite the crazy busy summer we’ve been having.  If you want to look back at other summer art play dates, you can go here.    This time we made walnut babies, painted on wax paper, made cuff bracelets, and played with oobleck.

Walnut Babies
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Our neighbor has a huge walnut tree which we partook of liberally last fall, but have not yet gone through all of them, so walnuts will be featured in the next art playdate as well. ;-) We split our walnuts in half and ate the meat. Then we wrapped a cotton ball in bright fabric and put it in the walnut half with a dab of tacky glue. Then we drew faces on a wooden bead and glued that on. Voila! Adorable walnut babies!
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Waxed Paper Painting
This one was just like what it sounds like. We painted with tempera paint on waxed paper. Its kind of a fun project because once they dry they are somewhat see through and stained glass-like.
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Toilet Paper Tube Cuff Bracelets
So, this project started off as a different project all together. I wanted to make popsicle stick bracelets like these from pinterest. Long story short, I tried for three days in all different ways to get those popsicle sticks to bend and stay bent, but all I ended up with was a lot of broken or straight popsicle sticks. Enter the brilliant idea from Happy Hooligans to use cut toilet paper rolls. Fabulous and so much easier!!! We used glitter paint, glue, and acryllic gems on our toilet paper rolls.
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Oobleck
Oobleck was our sensory experience this time. I tried to make rainbow oobleck, but it all ended up blue and the kids all sported blue hands by the end, but it was a huge hit, not only with the little kids (who I concider to be the real reason I put out the sensory bins), but also with the six year olds. They spent a huge amount of time in it (we’re talking over a half hour with all of these other things to do). Oobleck is simply corn starch and water with just enough water mixed in so it will feel solid if you press on it, but will flow when left to itself. I also added some food coloring.
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Oh! And don’t forget the tree climbing! At least they weren’t turning over my stepping stones looking for bugs.
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This year’s summer schedule…

Well, that was quite the hiatus.  I have no reason to give for it except that I just wasn’t feeling like blogging.  Oh well.  But now its summer, and I am planning all sorts of things for my young ladies and for my garden and yard and I feel like sharing, including new summer art playdates starting next week.  First off, I am committing myself to a summer schedule of sorts by sharing it with you.  I know you’ll all keep me on track. ;-)

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Here is our schedule for summer mornings.  The times are really just for this first few weeks when we have swimming lessons and things to get to, but they have actually not been a problem as my children are very early risers.  The first two things are pretty self-explanatory, although I should point out that we do watch Curious George while eating breakfast and I get my shower in then.  The homework list is for Clara’s benefit only, although Nancy does do some “homework” in for form of alphabet, math, and tracing worksheets.  Clara has been working out of the Evan-Moor Skill Sharpener workbooks in spelling and writing, math, and reading.  This is her favorite part of her homework and I highly recommend these.  Then she writes in her journal (we have the classic primary composition book from Lakeshore Learning so she can draw a picture with her writing).  We’re working on two sentences per journal entry right now (and what constitutes a sentence).  Finally, she has to read three books to me aloud through shared reading.  She really like the Bob Books and Biscuit Books.  When all that is done, they both earn a piece of candy. Woo hoo!  We also are keeping a long-term chart that will last most of the summer and when that is full, they get to do something super exciting, like go to an amusement park (or whatever they pick).

Then, after all of that, they get to do a chore!  But this has actually been really painless.  The girls helped me build a fun chart in the shape of a house using “craft board” (wood that you can buy at the craft store when they don’t have exactly what you were looking for in the first place), acrylic paint, and clothespins.
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Here is the finished product. I give each girl a chore each day to complete. We’ve been spending this week “learning” how to do them correctly, but I am hopeful that things will be more independent soon. When they have done each one correctly, they earn a quarter for their piggy bank. I figure that if I make them use their own money for treats, ice cream, and toys they want at the store, I’m not actually spending any MORE than usual and I’m getting help around the house from them!
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So, we’re working on this schedule every morning. Its been four days, and while I am exhausted by it, it is happening and I feel good that by the time it is 9:00 in the morning, we have learned something, read something, cleaned up the house, and are ready for the day. Then we can go do something fun, like swimming and playing at the playground and being kids. Because I is summer after all.

A new path…

Remember last year, when I fixed up the path in our back yard and it looked super pretty and I was so proud of it?  I posted about it here.  Well, the kids loved it, too, but for very different reasons.  They loved it because they could pick up all of the stones, turn them over and find BUGS.  But, unfortunately, turning all the stones in a stone path over is a really good way to ruin a path.  Boo!

So, I started over this spring.  At some point over the winter I stumbled upon this blog post about a paver hopscotch pad and fell in love with it.  But I wanted mine to be longer and a bit more hardy.  Finding the paint for the hopscoth path turned out to be the hardest part of the whole thing.  The big box stores were no help, so I finally ventured out to paint stores and Benjamin Moore sold me a quart of cement/patio paint and seperately, the tints for all of the rainbow colors I wanted, so that I could mix them myself.  Then I painted nine 16″ pavers in rainbow colors in the garage.  My little helpers were only too happy about this.

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We let those dry for a good week with the truck parked over them, then I set about excavating, graveling, tamping, sanding, tamping, placing the pavers, and mulching. Oye! This was one of those projects that seemed like it would be super fast and easy, but then took on a life of its own when we decided that we should do it “right” and took much longer and was bigger than expected. But, we LOVE it.
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You can see that we ended up putting the hopscotch in the middle and the ends and sides are all a “normal” pattern of pavers. I hope that the paint stands up over time, but I do have a bit of extra paint in each color for touch-ups after the winter if necessary.

The kids love hopping down the path, too. Here’s some proof:
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Collages, the second born edition

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Remember way back, about three years ago, when Clara was obsessed with collages and I put together a collage box for her so she could collage anytime she wanted?  Here’s a link in case you have forgotten.  Well, it turns out that this is a two and a half, going on three year old phenomenon and when I remembered how much fun it was and realized that Nancy also loves glue, I put together one for her, too.  This had all sorts of bit and pieces that I collected (and Kristen helped collect) from my art boxes.  Just add art schmutz, glue sticks, and paper.  Super fun times!!

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Sensory Bin of the Month: Easter

Happy spring break!  Things here are absolutely gorgeous, sunny, and warm (well, 65).

We have having a fabulous week of swimming with friends, sisterly sleepovers,
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bike riding, front porch tea parties,
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and we’re going to end the week with taking our new tent trailer camping.  The Easter Bunny will probably be able to find us no matter where we are, don’t you think?

Another thing we’ve done this week is to break out an Easter sensory bin.  This has been great during quiet time and when I need to take a shower in the morning with both girls home and pushing each others’ buttons.
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This one has yellow peas from Winco’s bulk section, plastic easter eggs, a few dollar tree spring fake flowers (pulled off their stems), and some glittery egg ornaments (also from Dollar Tree).

We have been doing lots of sorting with this one.  Frequently, matching the glitter eggs with the same color plastic egg and hiding them inside is the favorite game.  Super fun!
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St. Patrick’s Day!

Now, I know that it has been a while since St. Patrick’s Day, but we had a fabulous potluck with tons of friends, good food, and shamrock crowns that I have yet to share.  Enjoy the green in these pictures!  Easter stuff coming up tomorrow!

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