Friday, December 30, 2011

Finally Finished!

I have been working on this cross stitch on and off since 1995. I finally finished it yesterday! A great end to the year, wishing you all a joyous and playful new year!

(This is my first ever mobile post, I hope it works!!!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Holidays in Denmark

We're in Denmark.
Taking a break, eating, relaxing, visiting with family.
Building with Legos!
 (You almost have to do that in Denmark... Legos come from here!)

I don't know how much posting I will be doing until we return home.
Just in case I don't get back here until then....

Don't forget to hop on over to the PreK and K Sharing Blog on the 30th,
 I'll be sharing more about Legos!

If you are celebrating this holiday season, enjoy....
and we will see you again in the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

String Ball Ornaments

We are having a great time in Denmark, although Dane has a bit of a cold. We have been relaxing and visiting! Of course, our time has been filled with eating, visiting, playing games... and a little bit of crafting!
To help decorate our tree this year, we have been making some string ornaments.
The process is quite simple. You need some string. (We used odds and ends of some yarn and embroidery floss). You will also need some balloons (we used small water balloons inflated with air) and some glue. (We diluted ours with some water).

Cut the string into various lengths. We didn't measure ours, but you want them long enough to fit around your balloons a few times, but not so long that they will knot up on you when you wrap them. You will want to prepare all of your supplies before you get started, as your hands will get quite sticky in the process. So, cut a pile of string and blow up a bunch of balloons.
Then, when you are ready to get started, dip your string into the glue. (We used a mixture of about 1/2 glue and 1/2 water. The glue here is different from the glue at home, so we opted to water it down.)
Wrap the string around a balloon. Add many different pieces of string in a variety of directions.
When you are satisfied with the number of strings and colors, place your ornament in a safe place to dry completely. It may take drying overnight if you used a thicker yarn, if you use a thin thread, it will dry quicker.

Repeat the process as many times as you would like, placing them in a safe place to dry. When you are certain that the string/glue has dried completely, pop the balloon and remove it.

Add a string or ornament hanger and voila! Lovely string ornaments to hang on your tree!
You can also decorate these up with some glitter if you so desire.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Top 11 of 2011

It is hard to believe that this year is coming to a close! With all of the holiday celebrations starting soon, I thought I would share the top 11, as chosen by all of you for 2011!!! (Based upon site visits!). Most of these posts were from 2011, although a couple of them are from 2010 and still going strong with page views!

Counting down....

AND (Insert Drumroll here......) The top post of 2011

And there they are.... the top 11 pages by view of 2011!

Do you have a favorite post that wasn't listed?

I'd LOVE to hear what post you have enjoyed most!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recycled Gem Candle Holders/Luminaries

I'm pulling from the archives again today.... We made these wonderful luminaries last year. They are a great craft that gives the children an opportunity to work with "real tools" and to have the freedom to choose colors and patterns.  (We are in Denmark right now, the childcare is closed until the first week of January, so I will be randomly pulling from the archives AND updating on some of the fun we are having here!)

We have been continuing our Holiday Craft Kick.... and today, we worked on some great recycled luminaries/candle holders.

These are quite simple to make. First you need to collect a bunch of gems! (The ones that look like flat marbles) I would imagine that smooth sea glass would work as well.... and maybe marbles IF you used a lot of glue. Any gems will work, but the more translucent they are, the more they will sparkle when lit. Each person will also need a glass jar. Our jars are not all the same, as we are upcycling a variety of jars that some sort of food was sold in (jam, mayo, pickles, etc).

After selecting your jar and an assortment of gems, use the hot glue gun to attach each gem to the jar. You can see in this photo that we started at the bottom of the jar. (It is flipped upside down.) Please make sure that your gems do not extend past the bottom edge or it will not sit quite right.
Continue to add gems with hot glue. Don't worry about using too much glue, the excess fills in the gaps between gems, and strings of glue over gems makes them look a little cracked. It adds an aesthetic effect.
Cover the jar completely with gems.

Here is one that is now complete. This one has a random pattern, but you could also make a design with the gems. I once saw a jar created in a similar fashion that had been made to look like a snowman. I thought I would put a tree on mine:

See how cool the strings of glue look on the gems!!! You can place a candle in the jar, or you can do what we did and use the top of a solar light as your new lid. (When you run a daycare out of your home, you have some restrictions when it comes to burning candles.) I thought this idea was great, until my 8-year old son came up with a better idea: Drop the top of the solar light into the jar upside down. The light will immediately turn on as the surface under the candle will provide the "dark" needed to trigger the light to "ignite"! (You will have to flip it back over to recharge it at some point, but it really makes it look like there is a real candle burning!) I love when the young people come up with brilliant ideas!

**I also tried this with a liquid nails adhesive prior to allowing the children to craft. I found that although the adhesive was not hot, the gems were too heavy! You had to continually shift them back into place.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


We're going on vacation....

The daycare will be closed for two weeks... and for the rest of the time,

Ms. Amber and Ms. Erica will be busy taking care of our little friends.

I'm sure I will be posting about our adventures from Denmark.

I can't wait to tell you all about them!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Clay Dough Ornaments

I have so many different recipes for home made art supplies. This is one of my favorite for an air drying clay. I like it better than salt dough, and we have used it to make all kinds of sculptures, beads, and ornaments in the past.  This year, we have been making ornaments for the 4C of the UP, Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center's Christmas Tree.
The clay is a lot of fun to play with. most of the children were more interested in playing with the clay rather than sculpting with it.... So we played..... we rolled it, and we squished it.... and then when the children didn't want to play any more... I molded the dough into round shapes.
roll the clay into a ball
squish the ball with a cup
You will have an almost perfect circle....
to make it perfect, I used the other side of the cup like a cookie cutter.
Then you will get a circle that has a small ridge
I used a straw to make a round hole in each circle ornament
This clay will air dry quite nicely. I wanted to speed up the process, so I put them in the food dehydrator. 
When the circles were dry, the children decorated them by painting them. We used liquid water colors, tempera, and acrylic paints. We also added some glitter for glimmer!

Here is the recipe:
You will need:
1 c cornstarch
2 c baking soda
1 ½ c water
Food Coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when the  mixture starts to look like mashed potatoes.  The clay will thicken more as it cools. Knead and form into shapes! This clay will air dry or can be placed in a food dehydrator or low temp oven to dry.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Painting Seed Pods

We have been crafting! The Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center has requested some ornaments to help decorate their tree, so we have been busy creating ornaments for them.

One of our favorites this year has been our milkweed pods!
I am often asked how I manage to allow children the opportunity to participate in various activities when I work with so many mixed ages. This little painting tote set up works well when I have some infants and toddlers. We have a GREAT art and tinkering station set up in our kitchen, but when I have little ones in the main classroom, it is hard to help and monitor in two different rooms. I do bring the infants and toddlers into the kitchen, but often their explorations tend to be much shorter than the preschool and school aged children, so I came up with this great painting tote!
 All I do is give the children a clear plastic tote (sweater box sized). I line it with paper towel, place a pallet of paint (I always let the children choose what colors and kind), and a small water dish for rinsing brushes.  When we are painting something smaller, two children can share a tote. If it is a larger project, each child has their own.
As you can see, these children are painting in our main play room. Having these totes keeps the paint from spilling on our carpet (most of the time...). When we do have an occasional spill, we do have a handy dandy steam cleaner! This does allow the preschool children to paint until their hearts are content, while at the same time, allowing us to be in the carpeted play room where the infants and toddlers are exploring other activities. (I recently wrote more about working with mixed ages over at the Pre-k and K Sharing blog.)
Back to our seed pods, we covered them with paint and then spattered them with glitter glue! Then, to finish them off, we strung them with a piece of string.
(The little round ornaments were made with clay dough... I'll post about those soon!)

I linked this up over at:
PreK + K Sharing

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Caring Planet

I joined another collaborative effort,  Caring Planet. This new adventure will feature posts from folks in the field of early childhood education from around the globe.

Hop on over and check it out, and be patient with us as it starts to grow!

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...