Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nature Display

I've been enjoying one of my Christmas gifts from my mom, a book called "The Creative Family" by Amanda Blake Soule. While many of the suggestions in the book are second nature to me, there are many fresh, inspiring ideas.

One of these is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and that is to set up a nature table with treasures we find outdoors. Ever since I can remember, I've collected rocks, pine cones, shells and fossils from my many outdoor adventures. Most of these I've had to discard, though I've held on to a few amazing specimens. And the kids are following suit.

But it's not exactly practical in a small house full of little ones to have our treasures out in the open. I have learned from experience after a beautiful conch I found on the Gulf of Mexico got flushed down the toilet. So a nature table seemed out of the question. Don't have that kind of space that is out of the reach of the littlest ones. And then I thought, why does it have to be that big? We can set up a small space to display a few treasures at time, and change them with others as we cycle through the seasons.

As soon as I told the girls that I had set out a basket for the treasures they find outdoors, they ran out to collect some. Pine needles, rocks, acorns, some dried flower skeletons and thin, papery leaves soon graced the winter display, with a fossil some friends and I found long ago when I lived in rural New Jersey, and a lovely piece of quartz my sister had found when we first moved to this state, over thirteen years ago. I wonder what we'll add next.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Waldorf Gnome Tutorial

I've had a blast this week end making these Waldorf gnomes out of some recycled wool sweater scraps I had stored away and some large wooden beads from a bag of craft odds and ends my mother-in-law gave us. They are super quick and easy. If you're interested, check out this tutorial I wrote on hubpages.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Build a Snowman

Here in South Carolina, we don't get to build snowmen very often. Maybe once or twice a year. But with this easy felt game, we can have lots of fun and stay warm and snug in our cozy kitchen. Ok, so nothing beats the real thing, but this project comes in for a close second and makes a great homemade gift that the kids can help you with.

To make this game you will need 1 sheet of white felt, scraps of black, brown, orange and other desired colors for the scarves. Then you will need four colors of felt for the building surfaces, each made of half a sheet. Also, you will need 1 die.

First, draw your patterns onto paper. I drafted a whole snowman, rather than three separate balls. Virginia designed the hat, scarf, carrot nose and stick arms. Next, on the sheet of white felt, trace four snowmen, cut them out and then cut into three "balls". Trace and cut out the accessories. Make four hats, four scarves, four noses and eight arms.

To play, each player chooses a building surface. Then, they take turns rolling the die and adding each piece that corresponds to the number rolled. Here's how we did it:
1. snowball
2. nose
3. give a piece away (if everyone already has the pieces you have, you don't have to)
4. hat
5. scarf
6. arm

The winner is the first to assemble a completed snowman.

The game has become quite a hit with the kids. Miriam asked for it first thing in the morning. And they can't just play one game at a time. It usually takes 3-5 rounds before they have lost interest, which makes for a great rainy day activity.