School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Birthday Tepee

Tomorrow if Ian's fifth birthday. For some reason, having a child who is five years old seems like a major milestone. It's a feeling I haven't had with his other birthdays. So, all the more reason to celebrate. Several weeks ago, I came across a note I had written myself, with an idea for a "tepee" for Ian. I'd gotten the idea from a blog (which I can no longer remember, sorry), but as usual, I couldn't be bothered with their way of doing it. I'd figure it out myself. As a cheap fabric option, I visited a local thrift store and bought 4 queen-sized flat sheets, for $2.99 each. I don't have a clue what that breaks down to per yard, but I know it's a good deal. They don't match perfectly, but I don't think that will matter. Here's the pile of goods:

Step 1: I sewed the long edges of the sheets together, until I had a huge loop of cloth. It was easy to get lost in the mound, and my poor sewing machine got a real workout.

Step 2: I turned down the "heads" of the sheets, to create a casing, and then fed a piece of rope through the casing. I left two openings in it, so that the rope could be used to hang the tepee from a hook:

Step 3: I stole the hula hoop from the garage (I'll be buying a replacement next spring), and measured down about 14 inches from the bottom of the casing. I put the hula hoop inside the tepee and then hand sewed another casing around the hoop. That part took several evenings! I'm sure there is a better way I could have done this, but the light bulb above my head never came on. Thankfully PBS had a couple of good shows on those night!

Step 4: I found an obliging nail in the basement, and hung the tepee up so that I could arrange all the fabric evenly. I think 4 queen-sized sheets might have been a bit much....
Later I found a big orange hook and screwed it into a rafter in a better location, so that the kids have a place to hang it and play.

Oh yeah, I did sew one hem only half-way, so that there would be an opening. Hopefully this tepee will save my poor old couch cushions from a little fort building wear and tear.

Happy Birthday Ian!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ian's Pinata

Last week was all about "Championship" preparations. We had to make ribbons (see previous post), collect supplies, make snacks, and most importantly make a pinata. In a small boy's world, pinatas are awesome because they are filled with candy and you can smash them apart with baseball bats.

I decided that since Ian was going to be making his own pinata, we would not go the paper mache construction route. Instead, we took a paper grocery bag and covered the outside with strips of fringed tissue paper.

It turned out perfectly!

My sister kindly took pictures of the kids smashing this beautiful creation, but I was having trouble with the files, so you'll just have to imagine a batch of toddlers and older kids bashing away at it until it broke open and the screaming hoard descended on the tasty loot. A fitting end to a Sports Championship.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Remembering For Spring

How's that first picture for inspiration? It shows tulip fields in Holland (sorry, I forgot where I got this picture, so I can't credit the photographer - I did not take it!). My yard will NEVER look like that, but with the help if this bag: I can get a little bit closer to that kind of color next spring. Where did I get such a treasure-trove? My Grandpa Elmer. He is a proud Dutchman and an avid gardener; combine the two and you get a man who loves tulips. He is getting on in years, and can't garden as much as he used to, but he is still a wealth of knowledge. As a gift, he gave each of his grandkids, who has a place to plant them, 100 tulip bulbs as a "Way to Remember Him." It is rather a bittersweet gift, especially touching from a man who doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve.

Although the Farmer's Almanac suggests the optimum time to plant tulip bulbs this year is Nov. 1 at midnight (or so I have been told), I decided to choose a slightly less ideal - and less DARK - time to plant. Right before the wind storm we are experiencing today arrived, I ran out into the backyard during nap time and dug some holes. In went some mulch, some bulbs,
some potting soil and compost, and some hope for the spring. Thanks Grandpa. I love you and I will remember you whenever my backyard looks like this:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Felt Ribbons

Saturday is the great DAY! The day of the ever-evolving, constantly changing "Football-Baseball-Soccer-Running Race Championship." This event is the brainchild of a 4-year-old boy who has been planning it all summer. He has even gone so far as to start to build a stadium to house the event in our backyard. With the much-anticipated day less then a week away, it was time to do some actual work. The first project was to make ribbons. Ian wanted to award them to the winners, but since the kids will range from 0-8 or 9, I thought choosing winners might be problematic. I convinced the stubborn child that using winners to designate teams would be a better choice. He got right to work cutting some felt.

We glued the pieces together and then used stickers to designate the teams. In true martial style the teams will be the "Swords and Shields" and the "Castles." Sorry girls, no princesses.

I sewed some safety pins on the back of the ribbons to attach them to jackets and the project was done.

Next up: a pinata.

Don't ask me, as the event planner. I just get the job done.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We Got Us Some Catchin' Up Ta Do

Yikes, what a week! And not one I'd like to repeat again, ever. Let's see, where to begin.....a week ago Saturday seems like a good place. It was a beautiful and warm fall day. We decided to take a little ride to the pumpkin patch and pick out some pumpkins to carve.
Then it was time to head back home and do a traditional fall project: make caramel apples. Yes, I cheated and bought the kit with the caramel all ready to wrap around the apples. So sue me.Yummy!
The day after this lovely fall adventure, the hand of doom (think germs) began to descend on our family. First, on Sunday, the girls had cold symptoms. Colds are no fun, but no real disaster, either. However, on Monday, Ian turned up with a case of "Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease". Not only did he get it, he got the extreme version. For the next three-and-a-half days he wouldn't open his mouth to talk or eat, because of the blisters on his tongue and gums. For a child not known for being quiet, this was quite a change. He was a trooper though, surviving on Popsicles and PBSKids.

Oddly enough, Ian's sickness meant I had an unusual amount of free time. I got my sewing/mending basket almost completely emptied! My favorite project was this "Little Red Riding Hood" that I made for Brynn's birthday.
After two days of watching TV, on Wednesday Ian emerged from the TV room bored. He still wasn't well by any means (and still wouldn't talk), but he was desperate to carve his pumpkin, so through sign-language and pointing, we managed to complete the project.
Sadly, although the pumpkin looked great on the outside, inside it was moldy, so I didn't get to roast any pumpkin seeds this year.
The next day we were still home-bound, but on the mend. Ian even began eating and talking again! I never though hearing so many questions would make me so happy! It called for a celebration, so I broke out the paint and birdhouses. These will look so cute in my garden next spring! As of this typing, nobody else has shown any symptoms of the disease, so I think we are safe to return to our normal lives. Yikes, do we have a lot of catching up to do!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just a Girl and a General Contractor

Yesterday, a little girl named Brynn went outside to play. She had been given some new tea party equipment, and wanted to try it out. Her mother thought it would be fun for her to have a little "kitchen" under the slide platform of the swingset, so her mother found a board that would work to make a "counter." The tea party fun began!

Then, into the life of the little girl walked a general contractor, named Ian. He looked over her basic kitchen and decided that this poor girl was in desperate need of a kitchen makeover. After all, how can you possibly cook with 6 tea party kitchen items on one small counter? Brynn was a girl open to improvement, and she let the contractor begin the renovations.

Like all remodeling projects, this one was soon behind schedule and over budget. Brynn expressed her frustration, but the GC was a smooth talker and convinced her that the wait was worth it. While they negotiated, a visitor named Blair checked out the facilities. When the project finally ended, Brynn ended up with a completely made-over kitchen, an attic dining room, a living room with room for two chairs, and a chicken coop (the contractor felt that live chickens in the living room might be against code). Brynn's attitude toward the GC was much improved, and as a thank you gesture he was invited to a tea party lunch in the dining room. If only all home repair projects could end in such a happy fashion!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Camping IS a Project

Anything that takes the amount of preparation that camping takes is certainly a project. Last weekend we headed of on a project to Trempealeau County in western Wisconsin. We camped at Perrot State Park (along with all the duck hunters who got some good shooting around 6:30am. Why did I used to think that was so much fun?)

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at a Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze. It was my first time ever in a corn maze, and it was a lot of fun. Ian enjoyed leading the way:

As well as punching holes in his scorecard at stations along the way:

Brynn needed a little help with the hole-punch. We also went on a hay ride which, despite Brynn's face, we all enjoyed. There were plenty of other fun things to explore, too:

In the evening, we huddled around our campfire, as the temperature dipped a bit lower then we expected:
In the morning, we had fun around camp - setting coyote traps was a real highlight!
Blair was not pleased with being stuck in her walker. She wanted to crawl in the fire pit! There is no reasoning with a baby who wants to MOVE!
At the end of the weekend we finished the hard work of the project by taking down camp - a job that always takes longer then it should. However, we had a great time and can't wait for next summer to take another project....I mean camping trip.