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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