Monday, November 30, 2009

* Homemade Christmas: Family Advent Calendar

So many lovely ideas floating around the web right now for advent calendars.
My dear bloggy friend, Teach Mama
has a wonderful post about her family's advent calendar this year!

In the past we've used chocolate open a door-each-day-style calendars.
Last year we opened the Playmobil winter forest animals advent set
(now part of our ever-expanding Fairy village!)

One year, the Frog Princess made an adorable Santa Advent,
we glued a cotton ball to his beard each day to count down to Christmas.

This year, we're trying envelopes.
I have a huge box of small key envelopes
leftover from an altered books workshop I attended last spring.
I was inspired by this envelope advent at Design Sponge,
this one at Blue Cricket Design
this one at Nice Package,
they also have a wonderful list of activities we borrowed part of our list from!
I made a "rope" by braiding fat yarn --Red, White and, Green.

We strung it across the doorway
between our family room and kitchen table.

I brainstormed a list with the kids and hubby,
printed it out and slipped our ideas into the envelopes.

Each day, we'll do a new activity to celebrate the season!
Here's our list: Harris Family Advent 2009
1. Candlelit bath!
2. Make Paper Snowflakes and Decorate the Windows
3. Make a CD of Christmas Music for the playroom.
4. Rootbeer Floats!
5. Bake something yummy with Mama
6. Make Christmas Cards for Friends/Family
7. Have hot chocolate with marshmallows.
8. Make a pipe cleaner candy cane or wreath.
9. Make a Paper Chain.
10. Use puppets to tell a Bedtime Story.
11. Have an indoor picnic.
12. Family Game Night (Wii, board games, puzzles?)
13. Make and Decorate a Gingerbread House.
14. Dance and Sing to Christmas Music.
15. Set up the Mouse Nativity.
16. Make a Christmas Craft.
17. Make a Christmas Ornament.
18. Dress Fancy for Dinner tonight.
19. Fashion Show with Clothes made out of gift wrap!
(Recycled from opening presents with grandparents)
20. Make and Hang Edible Gifts/ornaments for the Birds and Squirrels.
21. Surprise a neighbor with an act of kindness.
22. At Home Pedicures!
23. Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn.
24. Pick your Favorite Christmas book for mom (or dad) to read aloud.
25. Open Presents!
We always drive around our neighborhood
to look at lights and displays,
this year we'll be surprising the girls with an impromptu,
in Pajamas holiday lights tour.
We're taking our cues this year from Shells in My Pocket
blog and her Minivan Express! (so. cool.)
The girls won't know what night it will be until...
Daddy will get them in their PJs
while I pop popcorn and make cocoa downstairs,
then we'll tell them to put on shoes and
go for a ride with our special holiday light viewing glasses--
they change the lights into shapes like stars, words, angels, etc!
(my MIL bought them at a holiday store years ago for us!)
Happy Countdown!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Scrappy Bookmarks

Pssst....if you're a female relative reading this, and you don't want to know what you're
getting for Christmas this year, go read something else!

I like to mix store-bought gifts with more personalized homemade gifts.
This month, I'm on a roll producing simple, but heart-felt gifts for family.
I pretty much leave the boys alone but I do make gifts for the special women in our family.
I am blessed to have grandmas, aunts, my mom, mother-in-law, and a lovely sister-in-law to create for.

Many generations of women that came before me worked as seamstresses for their families, quilting, making clothing, mending, and sewing beautiful home made doll clothes.
Whenever I sit at my sewing machine, I feel a special connection as I think of these talented women creating for their families.

I also like to come up with gifts that are useful.
We are all voracious readers so bookmarks hit the spot this year!

My scrap basket still has bits of baby clothes left over from the memory birthday quilts I made for the girls this year.

I also have a nice stack of paint swatches sitting on my craft table (the perfect bookmark size if you ask me).

I combined the baby clothes scraps with scrapbooking paper scraps and machine stitched them to the paint sample cards to create these easy and whimsical bookmarks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Paint Sample Purse Notebooks

Paint Sample Notebooks are a simple and fun craft to make at home. They're so quick and easy you can whip them out on your own or with your crafy kid assistants.
Artsy + HeARTfelt + Simple + Useful = a perfect homemade Christmas gift.

I folded paint samples like a match book. Trimmed some purple paper from a post-it notepad, stapled the little stack (approx 15-20 sheets) and tucked under the flap.
I just eyeballed it, I'm not a big fan of exact measurements.

Who doesn't need a little notepad in their purse, glove box, backpack?

Happy Crafting!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bubble Wrap Printmaking: Ocean Scene

The Frog Princess got the idea for this project
while we were making our
She asked for some blue and purple paint,
and printed some bubble wrap onto white paper.

Then, she wanted to add fish to her ocean scene,
and asked if we have any fish stamps.
Then I said, "no, but we can make some!"

I folded scraps of cardboard
from our recycling bin
into rectangles and we added
stick-on craft foam fish

I folded the cardboard back
to make handles
and stapled the card board.

I love this picture,
I think she did a great job on it.

Check out the
coral and sea snails
she added with my skinny brushes!

If I was still teaching art,
I would do this as a printmaking lesson
with some Eric Carle books
in a heart beat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

* Make Thanksgiving Corn With Bubble Wrap Printmaking

The girls and I decided to get crafty and make some decorations for the upcoming
Thanksgiving holiday.

We dove into our "invention box" (recycling that can't be recycled)
and snagged some bubble wrap.
and yes, we washed it and will be re-using it for our next craft adventure.

I set out plates of washable paint in red, orange, and yellow.

The girls had fun painting the bubble wrap and printing the bubbly textures 
on fall colored construction paper.

It was a very Eric Carle inspired process!

Note: I keep baby wipes (or damp rag/washcloths)
in arms reach at all times while we are doing
crafts like this with paint or glue for sticky, messy hands.

After the texture papers dried overnight,
(and the girls had a long soak in the bath!)
we practiced "cutting" and cut out some corn shapes.

I also traced Mini-Saurus' feet for some of our corn.
(Little square toes just like her mama, I'm part platypus!)

She helped me tear strips of green and brown paper to add to our corn.

Our finished corn-tastic project... pardon the corny joke.

One more little goodie we made with our "corn feet"
Home-made cards for long-distance relatives to send thankful greetings.
These would be fun place cards if you're hosting thanksgiving dinner!

I cut out the feet but Mini-Saurus was able to tear the paper strips for me.

The Frog Princess had the great idea of printing with some real corn.

I didn't have a fresh ear of corn (which works beautifully by the way)
so we used our pitiful little dried up ear of corn from our garden...

It didn't work very well.
We pretty much just made a huge painted mess but it was fun to try out.

Happy Printmaking!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Texture Plate Fall Leaf Rubbings

Instead of making traditional leaf rubbings
(which we do plenty of this time of year)...

We decided to try an old-school art favorite and did some texture rubbing.
We used my set of texture plates,
place them bumpy-side up under your drawing paper or printed out coloring sheet,
peel a crayon or use a home-made crayon and start rubbing.

You can get texture plates from teacher supply catalogs, art supply catalogs,
and if you scrapbook they sell plenty of these
in the crafting/scrap-booking aisle of your local craft store.

If you don't have texture plates at home,
have no fear you can also go on a texture hunt around the house!

Materials to gather or look for: Mesh (from produce or tangerines) works wonderfully,
bubble wrap, brick (our fireplace hearth and patio),
wood or tile (floors, deck, boards in the shed, shower walls), rough concrete sidewalks,
tree bark (in the backyard) the possibilities are endless!

After you make the rubbing with crayon you can go over it with colored markers
(we used our scented set -- yummy) or watercolors for a resist effect!

This would be a great kid's table activity at Thanksgiving dinner...
so would this great leafy project over at
(you could make leaf turkeys)!

If you don't have leaves to rub you can
always hop over the the Let's Explore blog and shop
and order a set of her wonderful leaf rubbing plates!

Happy Coloring.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Preschool At Home: Marbles and Golf Tee Game

So perfect (and simple!) for our preschool at home Montessori shelves.
Both girls love it.

I gathered up the supplies: (bet you have them in your garage!)

Golf Tees
Foam Block

Set it all up on a tray with two bowls...
Showed the girls how to do it once and they were off!

Great for tiny fingers and fine motor skills.

Have fun!

Pink and Green Mama,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Preschool (First Grade) At Home: Interactive Word Family Game With Paint Chip Samples

Okay, so this is more like "First Grade At Home" than
"Preschool At Home" but both of my girls like to play with it.
The Frog Princess is getting the most benefit (as the newest reader in the house)
but the Mini-Saurus is learning her alphabet
and wants to be included in whatever her big sister is doing!

I saw this idea over at the Snail's Trail blog and it was too perfect for words!
(2013 Update: I've been informed that this post is no longer available)
You can get her great lists of phonograms,
consonants, word blends, diagraphs, and word families.

* Here is an updated resource for lists of Word Families
from the Enchanted Learning Website! Click HERE.

My lovely friends over at SCHOLASTIC also have a great
printable with word families. It's HERE.

An educational game with letters, paint samples and rainbow colors?
I'm in and so are my girls.

I used my square (CM) scrapbooking punch, my trusty sharpie,
and some lovely paint samples from Sears.
Oh...word families, how I love thee.

I may need to make one for her first grade classroom.
Do you think her teacher would like one for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Felt Rainbow Colored Leaves and Rainbow Pom-pom Acorns

I love the felted rainbow colored acorns from the Magic Onions and her Etsy Shop.
Sadly, I seem to be the only crafter in America who can't figure out how to do
successful wet-felting. I've tried and failed miserably.

I was in the back yard last week, surrounded by millions of acorn caps
and wondered if you could add a pom-pom to get the "fuzzy acorn effect".

So, yesterday I sat down in the studio with a craft glue bottle in hand
and started gluing pom-poms into acorn caps.
(bet you could use a glue gun too - but this was more kid friendly)

I even tried trimming a few with scissors to get a more pointy "acorn effect"
I like the round ones. (the little gray ones remind me of pussy willows)

Then I decided they needed some colorful leaves to keep them company
and started cutting leaf shapes out of my felt scrap basket stash. happy!
I think these will find a home in our fairy land after the thanksgiving holidays!

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