Thursday, June 30, 2011

Uncle Sam Decoration

I made this Uncle Sam decoration ages ago (I can't remember where I saw the idea), but recently thought of making a few more to use as decorations for the summer holidays.  He is actually pretty easy to make.  Here is a list of supplies you will need:
  • terra cotta pot and saucer
  • metal coffee can
  • acrylic paint and brushes
  • floral wire
  • wooden stars
  • hot glue gun
  • painters tape (optional)
I started by painting all of my pieces first.  I painted the saucer blue.  I painted the rim of the pot white and the rest a peachy color; once dry I went back and painted on the simple face.  I painted the can in red and white stripes; to make my stripes nice and neat, I used painters tape.  And I painted both sides of my wooden stars yellow.

After everything had been painted and had a full 24 hours to dry, I glued everything together using epoxy (make sure to use the epoxy in a well ventilated area).  I cut a piece of floral wire long enough to fit around the can, curled it around a pencil, twisted the ends together, and slipped it over the can.  Then I hot glued the wooden stars randomly around the wire.

And that was it!  It's a really cute decoration and has held up really well to being outside for the past 5+ years.  I will sometimes use it as is for a decoration, or add some water and cut flowers to the can.  One year we also filled it with sand, stuck in some sparklers and lit them for a fun backyard bbq party.

Sharing at the following blogs:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Camp Week 1 - Camping

This past week we began our first week of at home summer camp.  Our theme was "Camping in our own Backyard" and we fit in lots of fun crafts and activities.  Here is a round up of all the fun!

Summer Reading at the Library
We stopped by our local library branch to pick up our summer reading packets.  We picked out LOTS of good books and started reading right away.  A few of our favorite camping stories we read were Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer, S is for Smores by Helen James, Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parish, Stella and Roy Go Camping by Ashley Wolff and The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp by Stan & Jan Berenstain.  So far, my son has read 11 books and my daughter has read 8!

Summer Memory Box
I found these CD boxes at my local craft store on clearance for only .50 each!  The kids and I went on a nature walk in our yard to find some items to use to decorate their boxes.  The kids can add momentos and keepsakes to their memory boxes to help remember all the fun they had during their summer vacation.

Bead Bookmark
This bead bookmark will help the kids keep track of all the books they've read this summer.  For every book they read, they get to add a bead to the bookmark.

Camp Sign
Using a piece of cardboard for the sign, the kids decorated their signs with nature items and used beans to spell out their initials.  We punched holes in the top and added some twine to hang the signs.

Firefly Jars
Using a small gravy jar, we poked holes in the lid with a screwdriver to make a firefly jar.  The kids painted pictures on their jars to look like the outdoors with fireflies all around.

Friendship Bracelets
We made friendship bracelets with beads as well as braided ones.

Paint Your Own  Pottery
We visited a local paint your own pottery place to have the kids paint a piece.

Summer Activities Journal
To get our writing juices flowing we started off with this simple journal prompt.  The kids wrote about the activities they were hoping to do this summer.  (Borrowed from my own copy of 50 Month by Month Draw & Write Prompts by Scholastic.)

Roasting Marshmallows
We enjoyed roasting marshmallows by our firepit.

Camping Checklist
We used this camping checklist to help us prepare for our first camping adventure in the backyard.  (Borrowed from my own copy of Kindergarten Homework by CTP.)

Great American Backyard Campout
We participated in the Great American Backyard Campout, and camped out in our backyard.  We've never been camping before and this was a good first try for us.  Everyone did well and is looking forward to our next camping adventure.

This first week we were able to fit in almost all of the activities I had planned.  Most importantly the kids had a blast!  I saved my favorite part for the end.  The kids got to sew a homemade patch onto a bandana.  The bandana will serve as another keepsake of all the fun we had and all the neat things we learned over the summer.  We just did this the other day so I still need to take a pic, but will come back soon to share how they look.

Coming up...Week 2 - America the Beautiful!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Love Knot

My husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage this year.  When we got married our pastor surprised us with this love knot, a symbol of our marriage.  He took two pieces of string, tied them together and reminded us that no matter how tough things got, the more we might try to pull away from one another, the stronger the knot became.  It was a really sweet token and we've had it tucked away ever since.

I wanted to display the knot in a shadowbox and found the perfect quote to go along with it - "Chains do not hold a marriage together.  It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years."

I pinned some red burlap on the display board and displayed the knot in the shape of a heart.  I printed the quote on some cardstock and pinned that inside the knot heart.

I think it turned out beautifully, albeit 4 months late!  Yes, our anniversary was in February, but I  had a temporary craft block and just couldn't think of the best way to do this.  Anyway, I love it, he loves it and the knot can now be displayed in our home as a reminder of our love. 

Sharing at the following blogs:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

At Home Summer Camp - Sneak Peek

Only one more day of school before our summer vacation officially begins!  I think I'm just as excited as the kids!  A little break from the rushing to and from school, homework and projects will be nice in exchange for carefree, relaxing days by the pool.

But, I know the kids will get restless probably by noon of the first day, so I've created an at home summer camp schedule of fun stuff for us to do.  This is the second year I've done this and it was a BIG help last year in keeping us busy.  The schedule of crafts, activities and learning opportunities is vast, but very flexible.  If we get to it, great; if not, it's ok and we can either move it to another week or save it for next year.  But, at least I have a resource of activities to choose from so we don't get stuck in the rut of watching tv all summer.

Today, I wanted to share a sneak peek with you of what I have planned.  I hope that at the end of each week, I can share with you all the details of our fun.  I assigned each week a theme and included day trips, crafts, recipes and learning activities that revolve around that theme. 

Here is our schedule of themes:

Week of 6/20 - Camping in our own Backyard
Week of 6/27 - America the Beautiful
Week of 7/4 - Weather Around Us
Week of 7/11 - Archaeology
Week of 7/18 - Moving Science
Week of 7/25 - Nature: In the Garden
Week of 8/1 - Beach: Sea Life
Week of 8/8 - Space Exploration
Week of 8/15 - Pioneer Days
Week of 8/22 - Back to School

Some of our day trips, recipes and crafts may change with our themes, but some activities will be a constant each day or week.  Every week, we'll visit our local library to pick up new books for our theme as well as check in for our summer reading program.  And daily (or almost daily) we will make time for some workbook practice, journal writing and reading.

Want a better idea of what we'll be working on for a theme?  Here's a look at our first week's theme of Camping:

  • visit library for new books and summer reading
  • make a bead bookmark
  • decorate a summer memory box
  • make a personalized name camp sign
  • complete summer activities journal
  • make friendship bracelets and mail them to friends
  • make ice cream in a bag
  • weave a summer sun
  • complete the camping checklist activity
  • make a paper bead necklace

I hope you'll join us for some summertime fun with our at home camp ideas!

This blog post is written in memory of Naida Scaggs.
Rest in sweet peace, dear friend.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Smartie Pants

I think I saw the "Smartie" Pants idea in a Family Fun magazine and thought they were so cute!  I made them last year for my son's kindergarten class and again this year for his first grade class (and even for his kindergarten teacher for her new class). 

I cut a pants shape from cardstock, using brads to hold the corners together and glue to hold the bottom of the legs shut.  I drew details onto the pants and stuck a few smarties candies inside each.  On the little tag it says, "Have a Great Summer 'Smartie' Pants!"

They are pretty easy to put together and a really cute end of the year treat for all the kids' hard work!

End of Year Treat

While browsing all the great ideas over at I Share Printables, I came across this most adorable printable by Beth from Write Click Scrapbook.

The idea to put some goodies in a sand shovel, along with the "Hope You Dig Your Summer" printable was so easy yet so cute!  I already had an end of the year treat for my son and his classmates, but thought this would be the perfect treat for my daughter and all her little friends she has made on the playground (other big kids' little siblings).

I purchased the sand shovels at Michael's for $1.  I used small cellophane treat bags to put the goldfish in and tied the bag together and to the shovel with yarn.

A big thank you to Beth for sharing this printable with everyone and for the fun idea!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Handmade Autograph Books

I remember when I was in elementary school, in the fifth grade, we bought these autograph books to have our friends sign.  We were finishing up elementary school and moving onto middle school, and some of our friends would be going to different schools, so this gave us the opportunity to write a little note and wish them well.

I decided that even first graders can have a little fun with gathering autographs of their friends and made these handmade autograph books for my son's first grade class.

I cut the paper to the size I wanted (mine are approximately 4 1/4" x 5 1/2"), punched holes in one end, and tied the pages and cover together with some yarn.  I used blue and white for our school colors, and added a blue bird picture to the front for our school mascot.

Inside, I included a page for the kids to write some information about themselves.  Not only will this help to prevent lost books, but it provides the kids with a writing opportunity.

They have this entire last week of school to use their books with their friends, and I included 40 pages, which gives them enough space to get autographs from all of their classmates as well as friends from other classes too!

Sharing at the following blogs:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Empowerment Pebbles

I made these empowerment pebbles for my son after seeing the idea HERE.  He's a big rock collector and was so excited about adding these to his collection.  He's also a nature and animal lover and enjoyed reading how each of the animals on the pebbles represented a special gift children have.

We used the animal descriptions from Marghanita's site, but my son wants to add his own animal designs to more pebbles and make up his own new descriptions for the animal's gift.  I love the creativity and writing opportunity this will provide and will come back and share his creations soon.  Here are the animal descriptions for these pebbles:

WOLF: Special Person – Just as the wolf howls its proud song to the moon, you too can recognize that you are a unique and special child. You are a lovable and wonderful child!

RAVEN: Curiosity – The raven is never bored, always curious, always exploring every corner of the world. So too can you awaken your sense of wonder – discover nature and its endless wonder.

SALMON: Sharing – just as the salmon shares its body with the bear, otter, eagle and human, so too can you learn to share your food, your feelings, your fears, your books and toys. Sharing is one of the most important traditions.

SPIDER: Patience – Spider spins her web and waits, and waits, and waits…Spider knows that her patience will be rewarded with a fly in her trap and a meal for her young. You too can learn the lesson of patience; all things will not come to you instantly.

BEAR: Strength – The powerful grizzly bear will bring you to the gift of strength-inner strength to help you through sad moments in your life. Like the mother grizzly bear who overturns logs to feed insects to her cubs, or to protect them from danger, you too can learn to be strong.

HUMMINGBIRD: Happiness – Hummingbird, this joyful little spirit, brings happiness into your life. All the sweetness in the nectar is yours. Remember to take time and smell the flowers and find joy in all you see and do.

DEER: Peacefulness – The gentle deer brings you the gift of a peaceful spirit. Deers are always aware, always alert, but at the same time they are peaceful and gentle. Take time to be quiet. Ask your parents to take you to a beautiful meadow of wildflowers or the hushed silence of the forest and you will know the gift of the deer.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Freezer Paper Stencil Shirts

I got together with two friends the other night to make these freezer paper stencil shirts for our big kids to wear on their last day of school.  Freezer paper stencils are really cool and pretty easy to do.  You can see the details on THIS POST when I made one for my son when he participated in the Race for Education at his school.  The first time I used a Xacto knife to cut out all the letters (that was a lot of work!), but this time around I had a Cricut to help me out!

The front says, "Look out 2nd Grade Here I Come!"  and the back says, "Thanks for a Great Year Mrs. ____!"  The kids are going to wear these on the last day of school and have all their friends sign their shirt.  We did this last year and it was a fun keepsake!

I also made one for my daughter who is excited about starting Kindergarten in the Fall!