Monday, May 30, 2011

{Clubhouse Makeover}

I've been MIA lately, but have several projects I'm working on! The weather has FINALLY been beautiful and it FINALLY stopped raining, so we spent the holiday weekend getting multiple yard projects out of the way.  Do you love to work in the yard? I absolutely love it... the satisfaction of checking something off our to-do list and admiring the end result.

Our first project was to makeover this "clubhouse". We moved into our 3rd home a little less than a year ago, and inherited the clubhouse from owners several years ago. It had great bones and great structure, but needed a few repairs and some cuteness for my nearly 7-yr old daughter.
It's located at the back of our 1.5 acre property, near the woods.
I had a vision of making general repairs, adding some playset accessories, and a few cuties to make it work for us. We have a wooden playset, but it's smaller. In hindsight, we would have purchased a larger one, simply for a larger "clubhouse" feature. But...with only one child, nearly 7, it doesn't seem cost effective to purchase a new $1K set when we had this clubhouse we could re-work. :)

Here's the finished product. We're happy with it, and best of all, she loves it!

Whatcha think?
For a hair over $100, we made a few repairs,  replaced the flooring, relocated the ladder entrance, and added the safety handles, steering wheel, mulch, and telescope.

 I covered the bottom with a weed mat and filled it in with mulch that matches the rest of our landscaping. She wants to add a few pinwheels at the bottom as well. :)

 We've had these outgrown rainboots on hold for a donation for at least 2 months! I saw an idea recently to use them as planters and I fell in love with it. I have no idea where I saw it, but it's a great idea so we kept the boots just for this purpose.

Now it's a safe clubhouse to play in, which is currently acting as one of the following:
1. a lookout for poachers in Africa
2. an animal rescue truck on the African savannah
3. an animal science lab.  :)
Can you tell she wants to be a biologist?

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope your weekend was as productive as ours!

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

{Our 'Pick A Spot' Jar: Summer Reading Fun}

I don't know about you, but we're looking forward to summer freedom from school! We're counting down the days, although we continue learning throughout the summer. We have lots of activities planned, and a few fun learning units, but I'll save those for another day. This week we put together a little activity that puts a fun twist on summer reading. My daughter happens to be in loooooove with books, and always has her nose in one, but it's still fun to mix it up a little. If you have a reluctant reader, this might be a wacky way to motivate them just a little more!  Just shake, reach in, and pick an interesting and wacky place to read!
craft sticks
plastic container from your recycling bin (ours is a Crystal Light container)
decor - paper, stickers, etc.
your imagination

First we brainstormed several unique places that would be fun to read in, as well as a few old standards.
Then my kiddo wrote them out on craft sticks, and we added them to our Crystal Light container.

 She decorated the container and voila! Now when she grabs a book, she can grab the "Pick a Spot" jar, too. It just adds an extra element of fun and imagination. And...if you think of new spots, it's easy to add a new craft stick.
Wouldn't this be a great little thing to have at Grandma's house? :)
Enjoy snuggling up with your kiddo and a good book!
Take care,

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

{Little Red Riding Hood Cloak}

My sweet girl and I were at Joann's this week when we came across this lovely (and sparkly - very important when you're almost 7) fabric to make a Little Red Riding Hood cloak. We recently saw the "Little Red Riding Hood" children's opera in our city, and being the little thespian and musician she is, she fell in love with it. She's been begging me to make her a cloak since then, and I was able to whip this up pretty quickly lastnight. 
I'm proud of how it turned out! 
I used the Musketeer Cape as a guide, and essentially altered it buy eliminating the velcro tabs at the top and making it longer. Then I free-handed a hood pattern and cut out 2 of them. She was in bed at the time, so I was pleased that my guess turned out just right! I made the ties and just sewed them inside. This was really an easy project and took maybe an hour and a half or so to complete. I love how it turned out! She's wanting to put on the show this weekend at home, so now she's all set. Daddy will be the wolf, and I get to play dual roles...the Grandma and the Mom!

Enjoy your weekend!
Take care,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

{Disney Countdown Calendar}

I soooooo wish I had more (and better!) pics of this, but this will have to do. We were in the middle of the chaos otherwise known as Christmas-is-coming-and-we're-going-on-vacation, so I didn't get a ton of pics. You get the idea. I've been wanting to post this for a while and keep forgetting about it. Now WE always go to Disney in either November or December, but I know everyone else goes year 'round, so maybe this will be a fun activity for you and your family as you look forward to your own trip to Disney!
This was for my daughter's second trip about 6 months ago(6.5yrs old at the time), and since she's a big reader, I wanted something that was fun and educational, too. (My teacher brain NEVER stops working. It's in the blood.) I saw a few countdown ideas online, but they were very fact-based, with Disney trivia, etc. All very well, but just not what WE were interested in, or something that I thought would be fun for my kiddo. So here's what I came up with, at the above mentioned time otherwise known as Christmas-is-coming-and-we're-running-around-like-crazy-people....meaning it was put together FAST. You could make yours much, much cuter if you were not in the middle of the aforementioned time!

I used:
small package of smaller posterboard
Mickey paper punch
miscellaneous Disney stickers from our stash (not my fancy scrapbook stickers mind you!)

On one side I punched several Mickeys with my paper punch, then printed numbers to 28 (about a month in advance) and circle punched those to fit inside the Mickey face.
On the right side, I typed up 28 little tidbits about our trip or Disney World, then printed and cut them out. I personalized these in a way, because they are really geared toward things we had talked about doing, rides we have/have not ridden, characters we wanted to meet, etc. I will list them for you here, so if there are any questions, please email me! :) I did try to make them in tune with us, so I hope they make sense to others. Then my daughter helped me embellish with our el-cheapo Disney stickers. I actually had to continue the 28 'tidbits' to the backside as well, but it was no big deal to flip it over when needed. Each day she crossed off a Mickey ear until the big day.
Here's my countdown : Disney Countdown Printable . It will give you some ideas to personalize your own countdown!

It was a big hit, and fun for all of us Disney nuts. :) I will definitely do this for our next trip as well. Have fun with it and make yours really geared toward your family, ages, interests, etc!
Take care,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

{Place Value Mats}

Howdy all! Hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Mother's Day doing something that makes you happy. Mine was delightful as always, thanks to my 2 faves and all the ways they make me feel special!

We've been working on place value 'round here, so I made up these reusable wipe-off mats for practice. My sweet girl has a ton of fun with them and grabs them whenever she has a free minute these days. I just call out a number, and she tries to write it correctly. We throw them in our "Out to Eat Bag" , too. I always have the WASHABLE(!) wipe-off markers around because I learned the hard way in my own classroom that the regular dry erase markers DO.NOT.COME.OFF. (eek.)

I made 2 of them...this one to 'thousands' place and another just to 'hundreds' place. Super simple and free.
I used 8.5x11 cardstock for the base, and free hand cut little houses out of scrap patterned paper. I added the words, lines, and doorknobs with a permanent marker, and the 'sun' was made with a paper punch. Then I laminated them with clear contact paper. We use a scrap of fleece for an eraser, and again, the washable dry-erase markers.
(This photo is awful, but you get the idea!)

It's GREAT practice, fun, reusable, portable, and most importantly really gets those place values lined up in the noggin. :) Prior to all of this, of course we've been using manipulatives for a very long time. We started number building a loooong time ago using our Base 10 Bean Sticks to build the number I called out:
Easily made with craft sticks, beans of choice, and Elmer's.  Our 'hundreds' aren't really beans, but a copy of 10 bean sticks.
Now our place value mats are helping a lot as we get more and more advanced. She thinks the houses are cute and anytime we can throw in some imagination to the game, it just makes it that much more beneficial to little brains. 
Hope you try one of these!
Have a great day,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

{Hairbands Unite!}

Those pesky things!!  Any of you with daughters know that life is about hair clips, headbands, elastics, least one or all of those! For us, it's elastic ponytail bands. I've seen some really cute ways of displaying clips, bows, & headbands, but really we rarely use those. Our big pain is with elastics for the tune of this:
Now you would think all of those would be enough, but we actually are missing colors, so we picked up 2 new packs yesterday. That's when I knew that something had to be done! :)
So I picked up some shower rings at the Dollar Tree for a great solution!

So easy, and kid friendly, too! I color coordinated rings, too. Now we can easily find the color we need, slide around to it, snap open, and pull them off. I love that they are easy for all of us to find, and keep that way. They are in a cute little horse box that she keeps on her dresser.
These are the all bands we DUMPED! Too skinny and don't fit her thick hair anymore, but we just hadn't cleaned them out in a while.
So now who has a great idea for leftover elastics? :)
Hope someone else can use this idea!
Take care,


Thursday, May 5, 2011

{Quick Teacher Appreciation}

Sooooo many cute teacher appreciation gift ideas out there in blogland! How to choose? Time and materials is sometimes the only way to do it, :)! I haven't been as involved with teacher appreciation as I have in the past. :( School issues this year, and quite honestly, my heart hasn't been in it with our experiences in our first year at this school. I'm a teacher, so I really can't imagine why anyone would be teaching if they didn't love it, can you?? But we won't go there.  My daughter asked to make a little something for her teachers, and I was delighted that she thought of it. So...I whipped up these little "wallets". I have one myself that I keep in my purse strictly for my craft store coupons! I was never able to find them and this is the perfect solution. Very quick, and I used fabric I've had for FOREVAH! I'm trying to use stash and not buy new every 3 days, which I have a habit of. I'm sure I'm the ONLY one like that of course

This little pouch started out as 11.5 x 6.5, including seam allowance. I also added a piece of fusible interface. Basically, put right sides together, so 3 sides, and top stitch the rest. I didn't add a snap to these, because mine doesn't have one and I actually prefer it that way.

We added a travel lotion, a couple of chocolate bars, and a handwritten card from my kiddo.
I made one for the teacher as well as the assistant, to be delivered tomorrow. I hope they can put them to good use!
On another note...hubby and I were married 13 years in March..YAY! But the weather and other weekend plans kept us from actually celebrating until this past weekend. We had a BALL!! We saw "Spamalot" Thursday evening (best show I've seen and I've seen a lot!!), and then spent the weekend hiking together at a nearby state park. (Our fave thing to do.) We enjoyed every minute of it, and were thrilled that somehow we managed to work in our hikes in the ONLY 2 days in what seems like forever that it didn't rain!
I'm such a lucky girl! It's an amazing thing to be married to your best friend on Earth and the love of your life.
Happy Anniversary to us!

Catch ya later!
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