Friday, March 11, 2011

Building a Leprechaun Trap

We get a lot of Leprechauns sneaking around our house about this time every year so it's become tradition to begin Leprechaun trap construction the first week of March. 

Hendrix knew exactly what he wanted his trap to look like. He drew out a sketch for me so I could help him put his plan into action.  

As you can see from the sketch, the Leprechaun climbs the ladder and makes his way toward the pot of fake gold but falls into a hole before ever reaching it, landing on a cushion of feathers in the trap compartment.

We used two boxes for the body of our trap (one of them being a cereal box) which we cut circular holes into before adhering them together. We painted the whole thing green and then decorated it with items from our craft box and shamrock stickers we bought at the craft store.

We made a ladder from craft sticks and added a couple signs that said things opposite of what we wanted the leprechauns to do—reverse psychology works great on leprechauns you know. Lastly we layered a pile of feathers to the bottom of the box so the leprechaun could land on something soft. It took about 3 days to finish our trap working on it about 20 minutes a day, we are very devoted trap makers!

The final product came out working and looking quite similar to the blueprint sketch with one exception; we ended up not needed a third box for stability because our bottom box was large enough to carry the weight of the box on top.

In all our trap making we have never caught a leprechaun but we are hoping this is our lucky year. If not, we know we'll probably at least end up with some chocolate gold coins like years past. In fact, we have already collected a few coins near the tiny green footprints we have found.
Is Leprechaun trap making one of your traditions or on your crafting agenda this month? Please, do share.

P.S. Sewfixated wins a bag of pom-poms and googley eyes for answering the question to my question on the Warm Fuzzy post. Please email me your address and I will get it in the mail right away!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

Despite the fact that February has been declared the month of love, last month’s sibling rivalry record was at all time high in these parts. Tearing two children apart from one another as they are in a battle to determine who has been given the most granola in their yogurt cup can be a little tiring.

In an effort to recognize the good deeds that take place in the home (because surely my children express their love for each other on occasion) and perhaps as a subtle attempt to instigate sibling bonding as opposed to sibling demolishing, I decided to start documenting daily acts of kindness in a way that my children would be known participants.  So, we started a warm fuzzy jar.

Each warm fuzzy in the jar represents an thoughtful act performed by a member in the family. For instance, say Hendrix offers to share his skittles with Avi without being asked; warm fuzzy. Or say Avi brings Hendrix a blanket after Drix expresses he is cold; warm fuzzy. Make sense? OK, good.

Warm fuzzies are reserved specifically for those from-the goodness-of-your-heart moments. I don’t add a warm fuzzy to the jar for any expected good behavior like taking dishes to the sink after a meal or brushing teeth. I also don’t remove warm fuzzies from the jar for any reason, once a fuzzy is granted, in the jar it stays. Although warm fuzzies are “earned” it’s less a reward system and more an attempt to acknowledge our efforts in loving more. That being said, I thought it might be a good idea to do something fun together as a family when the jar is full because I do want to show my appreciation for simple acts of kindness.

Before introducing the warm fuzzy jar to my kids, I had them help me glue googly eyes to colored pop-poms and afterwards I told them the warm fuzzy story I was so fond of in my grade school days. The version of the story I have (to paraphrase) chronicles the lives a of happy and loving townspeople who express their love to one another in the form of warm fuzzies. The fuzzies are given and received freely until a false rumor is spread about a shortage of warm fuzzies. The rumor causes the townspeople to become greedy and self-seeking as they begin to hoard and lock up their warm fuzzies. The tale ends in good moral, when a young child offers a warm fuzzy to a friend in despair which reminds the townspeople of the strength and love that was once a part of their village and the fuzzies are given freely once again. (This is my favorite adaptation of the fable but I was unable to find it online so if you email me, I’d be happy to send you a digital copy.)

What about you, what kind of things do you do to decrease sibling rivalry in your home? I’m seriously asking here—please don't tell me I am the only mother who has children that fight. Thanks in advance for your great advice!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thumb-Body Likes You

Well, last weeks posting didn't exactly go as planned considering there weren't any. Shorty following my commitment to share our valentine-y projects, we all became incredible ill—like stuck-in-the-hospital-for-a-good-part-of-last-week ill. Since we are finally on the mend I thought I would share a few simple activities for you to try out this month that aren't necessarily specific to Valentines Day.

The first thing I wanted to share with you is an activity book that Hendrix received for Christmas; a fingerprint drawing book by Ed Emberly. Did you have any Ed Emberly drawing books when you were little? They've been around for quite some time. These thumb print books are adorable and have gobs of how-to's for creating little characters using your fingerprints and markers or pens.

You can use any washable stamp pad for fingerprint making but we found a great little finger pad and sponge kit at Lakeshore that works quite well. Hendrix has been creating thumb and fingerprint creatures on a weekly basis since Christmas.

If you don't already have this book, I highly recommend it for your little ones. (We have an Ed Emberly drawing book too that is equally adored).  

Because this activity has become a household favorite as of late we decided to incorporate this craft in Drix's Valentines by making thumb print hearts with the slogan: "Thumb-body likes you."

Hendrix wanted to give out home made heart crayons again this year so we wrapped up a small bundles of crayons in tissue paper and then attached two tags with bakers twine.

One tag said Happy Valentines Day and the other tag had Hendrix's thumb (or finger) stamped message. These Valentines were simple enough for Hendrix to help me through the entire process and it was cute that each tag came out a little different.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shadow Puppet Theater

Well friends, the famous Phil did NOT see his shadow this week and although I would typically say hooray to an early spring, that sort of thing is frowned upon when you live in a resort town in the mountains so this year we are chanting, "long live winter!" (This is solely due to peer pressure on my part and I actually cross my fingers while shouting this despicable phrase—because besides being a symbol for good luck, finger crossing is also the internationl action sign which allows one to lie with impunity.)

 Because we say BAH to no shadows (*crosses fingers*) the boys and I assembled a few movable shadow puppets and put on a show or two...or three or four or five.

The puppets we used were designed by Meredith Wolff and downloaded from Martha's website. We thought these particular animals were perfect for the winter season but obviously the possibilities are endless when it comes to shadow puppet construction.

We have a rectangular cut-out in one of our walls that the kids use as a window to their playhouse (which is little nook under the stairs). As it turns out, the window makes for a lovely little puppet show stage as well.

To make a screen for shadow viewing, I cut a long strip of paper from a roll of tracing paper and taped the corners to the window from the backside. Next I hung a shop lamp overhead to backlight the screen. Then it was on with the show.

The kids spent a the better part of our Groundhog's Day participating in this activity which was great since it was way to cold to go outside. A must-do, indoor play activity.  

Okay, I’m off to start prepping supplies for the valentine making we will be doing this weekend (which might involve homemade heart shaped-crayons again). We might even whip up a batch pf last year's conversation hearts or some heart shaped soft-pretzels. I’ll be back next week to share a few projects we have been up to in tribute to this month of love. See you then!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writers Kit and Topic Generator

One of my nieces has an interest in writing and making her own funny zines so for Christmas last year we decided to gift her a homemade writing/zine making kit. This gift idea gave me the opportunity to browse through my favorite isle in every store; office supplies! After gathering up the essentials, (pencils, erasers, scissors, glue stick etc.) I put together a couple notebooks using sketching paper, scrapbook paper for the covers and embroidery thread for the binding. My favorite part of kit however is the topic generator game I created for her that she can use for brainstorming in those moments of writers block OR just as a story starter in a little creative writing sesh.

The topic generator includes instructions for playing and three flip books labeled 1, 2 and 3. Each book has 24 pages with one idea of something to write about per page. Book 1 has 24 nouns or subjects (a turtle, a toaster, the Easter Bunny, etc). Book 2 has 24 actions to write about (doing somersaults, planning a party, playing chess, etc). Book 3 had 24 places or locations to write about (the moon, a shoe store, a candy factory). In total, the three books provide 72 different topics of things to write about in various categories. That being said, the books can also be used together to make an entire topic sentence. Using the books this way will enable the user to create hundreds of story starters.

Making a silly topic sentence requires three simple steps. 
Step 1: Flip open to any page of book 1 and write down the subject
Step 2: Flip open to any page of book 2 and write down the action next to the subject
Step 3: Flip open to any page of book 3 and write down the location next to the action

That's it! The user now has a topic sentence. The instructions also suggests adding prepositions in order to make a complete or proper sentence. So in the example shown here the sentence would read: The Easter Bunny playing chess inside a candy factory (the word "inside" being the preposition). Obviously the user can throw in a few adjectives here and there to give the sentence a little more pizazz. Maybe the sentence could read: The elderly Easter Bunny played chess with his imaginary pet squirrel in an abandoned candy factory. Make sense? Okay good!

After completing the game I packaged it up into a zip lock bag and added it to the rest of the kit. I wrapped a tag around the case as a giveaway to what was inside. I sort of wanted to keep this gift for my own writing sessions (I'm pretty nerdy about this stuff) but I kept the Christmas spirit and sent it off in the post.

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