School Projects

Fun Projects

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Exciting News! (And It's Not a Baby)

When we bought our house, we knew the basement needed "some work."  We pulled out some nasty old carpet, removed the bird skeleton from the floor, and began attacking the decades-old curtains of spiderwebs that dangled everywhere.  As time passed, useless storage contraptions were removed and the "extra toilet" (picture a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat placed neatly in a corner) was evicted.  We even installed a new furnace and duct work.  Sadly, the better the basement got, the worse we discovered it was.  The "bone dry" basement turned out to be dry only because of all the debris that soaked up the water that managed to invade.  In 2010, Aaron made the decision that it was time to take drastic measures and fix the foundation.  You can go back and read about that project here.

With the outside repaired, Aaron began to turn his attention to the inside.  The basement is divided into three rooms, which we have named by their paint colors.  The first room WAS the green room.  The middle room is the pink room, and the room farthest from the stairs is the yellow room.  Imagine the worst versions of those colors and you begin to get the idea.  Last winter, Aaron worked on getting the green room into shape.  After hours of crack repair, plumbing, cleaning and other nasty activites, the now White Room looks quite nice and houses his home office, my laundry and pantry, and his workbench.  You can see some of what he did here and here.

This winter, Aaron was ready to take on the next room in the basement.  He hasn't gotten to it until now because he has been insanely busy at work, but he declared that March was the month to get moving.  In his logical Engineer's brain, it only made sense for the next room to be the middle room - following a sequence of first, middle, last.  His wife, using fair means as well as foul, took advantage of his good nature and convinced him to give up his logical progression in favor of the last (yellow) room.  His wife (me) wanted the yellow room moved up on the docket because it is the school room, and I have big plans for it!  Plus, why should a storage room take priority, right?  Of course right.

So, what's my part in this whole thing?  I have to get all my school stuff, toys, and collected project stashes OUT OF THE WAY.  The room was pretty neat a few days ago, but organizing all the stuff in order to pack it into boxes has turned it into a disaster zone:
However, it is a disaster I am glad to tackle, as it means that soon the "Yellow Room" will look like a different place, and will certainly get a new name.

Here's a list of things that will be happening, which I am sure will grow as the project does:
Aaron's List:
Demo 2 nasty, moldy, useless closets
Demo a brick barbeque and close up hole
Remove purposeless wiring dangling between rafters
Repair cracks in foundation
Change light fixtures
Change/Remove/Add electrical outlets
Trim out the window
Paint Walls

Dana's (Dream) List:
Paint some kind of cute mural on the wall in the "play area"
Make curtains for the windows
Buy lots and lots and lots of bookshelves to hold all the books we already have and future schoolbooks
Buy 3 more school desks
Bring in extra futon to create a Guest Area
Organize Craft/Project/Sewing/School Administration Area
Display an Alphabet Gallery I have been working on
Install several bulletin boards

And that's why I'm excited!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Project Day: Abstract Art

Each morning, my kids ask me some version of this question: "What are we going to do today?"  If I say "nothing" or "school today" there are moans and groans and occasionally tears.  Even grocery shopping is a better option then staying home aallllll dddaaayyyy......Miserable, I know.  There are some answers, however, that lead to the eruption of cheers and bouncing about the room in ecstasy.  One of those answers is "Today is Project Day."
Since my sister was still on "House Arrest", we headed in to her house yesterday for a lesson in abstract art.  It was a bit of a challenge for some of the kids,
but eventually they all seemed to get it.  They made designs and then filled in the shapes with different patterns and colors.
After completing one totally abstract drawing, the more cooperative (or possibly those with cleaner ears), made a second drawing of a person, and then applied the abstract concept to decorating that person's clothes.  Queens with beautiful robes were a favorite with the female members of the class.
We also got to welcome the newest member of our family to class - cousin Jocelyn.  She got so excited when she heard it was Project Day that she insisted it be her first outing after coming home from the hospital.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Food Project

Around this time of year I usually get stuck in a pretty boring cooking rut, and this particular year has been no exception.  Add to that my high fiber-low carb diet, and frankly food has gotten just a bit boring lately.  So when my husband mentioned egg rolls the other day - with just a touch of longing in his voice - I decided I should try something new.  My dear young son informed me that this filling looked like "disgusting stew", to which I replied, "Well, I guess you'll be spending supper time in bed tonight."  He amended his vocabulary, but in the end he did not amend his opinion.
Anyway, I tried to make the recipe a little bit better for me by increasing the veggie content, and by baking instead of frying (although I did attempt to fry a few as well).  They tasted really good, and were a huge hit with Aaron.
Sadly, even with my changes, they were not good enough for my current baby diet.  BUT, as soon as this baby arrives, I'll be baking up another batch of these things, all for myself!
Maybe someday I will be a cook!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will You Be My Valentine?

Well, Valentine's Day has come and gone, so I better share what we did - which was basically eat way too much junk food and candy.  Since we don't really celebrate Halloween, I figure this is a good way to compensate.  I did not take pictures of this gorge-fest, but I'm pretty sure you can imagine it for yourself.
I did initially package said treats in cute envelopes that I made, but of course those weren't needed for very long.....
I used a piece of felt, with the top third cut into a point.
Then, using scraps of felt and fabric glue, I made little "stamps."
Next, I hand-sewed the sides together, and around the top, to make the envelope.  I stuck Valentine-themed pencils and a few other things inside as well, just to sort of balance out the candy (but who am I kidding, really?).
Blair LOVED Valentine's Day.
I also received quite a haul of kid-decorated Valentines myself.  They may not fit the traditional mold, but it proves that my kids really do love me.  Oh, and I shouldn't forget the 13 red roses my husband delivered.  Nope, that's not a typo - he always gets 13, since everybody else only gets a dozen.  He knows how to make me feel special.
I hope your Valentine's Day was as sweet and special as ours was.  Now I just can't wait until next year!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentiny Weekend

This weekend finally brought a return to health in the Kolste household.  There are still a few lingering sniffs and coughs, but everyone seemed to finally feel well and there was a general return of energy.  With the return of their energy, the kids started to really get into the spirit of Valentine's Day, and wanted to do a few projects.  Since my energy has also (mostly) returned, I was able to accommodate them.  Here they are stringing hearts into a garland for the kitchen window.
I had found garland just like this at Hobby Lobby, premade, for like $5.  No way!  So, I went over to the felt section, bought three of the big, stiff sheets for sixty cents each, and then used a cookie cutter as a pattern to make the shapes.  The kids hooked them together (think baby-toy ring style) and we had a cheap-o garland for our front window.
The rest of the weekend the kids spent at the kitchen table, making Valentines.  I think they have completely lost track of who they made cards for and who they didn't, but the stack on the counter is threatening to topple over onto the floor it is getting so tall.  Given paper, markers (especially markers), scissors and stickers, and I don't hear from them for hours! 
They even gave me time to modify an idea I saw on Pinterest, and make a Valentine's Day wreath for the front door.  If you are interested, to make the hearts I cut 2" wide strips of cardstock from 12x12" sheets.  Then I folded each strip in half, used the fold as the "v" at the bottom of the heart and curved the open ends around to make the top of the heart.  I didn't have the patience to deal with glue, so I just stapled them and that seems to be holding quite well.
After I made a bunch of hearts, I just started arranging them until I ended up with this shape.  Then I stapled it all together:
I think I should have used more white, since our door is already pretty red.  Oh well, I guess I need to save some projects for next year.  It seems we are finally ready for the big day tomorrow!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day Party Project

Earlier this week was Project Day.  Since all the people who attend Project Day have been percolating in the same stew of germs, we decided to press on and collect all of the walking wounded together in one place.  We also decided to up the ante a little bit by turning the morning into a Pre-Valentine's Day Party.
First, the kids got down to business and had their art lesson.  As always, the lesson ended with Picture Talks, where the young artists share about their work. 
Then, we moved on to fun party events, like making these "Spider-Web Hearts" that I found posted all over blogland and Pinterest (I haven't the foggiest idea who to credit, since I came across them probably 100 different places).
It was one of those projects I should have tested out first, because the kids had a hard time getting their yarn to stay in place on the floral wire hearts.

With a little help they ended up with some pretty cute creations.
Finally, there were Valentine Day snacks.  Probably the best part of the whole morning!
Giant heart frosting cookies and awesome layered jello treats (made by Grammie).
We LOVE Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Day or Bust

Last year at this time, I was posting a project a day, as part of a countdown to Valentine's Day. I had fully intended to do the same this year (since it's a good way to clean out my craft stash) but the "Great Germ Barrage of 2012" struck instead.  For the first time in my life, I think I might be able to sympathize with how the German soldiers felt during the invasion of Normandy.  No matter what they did, they just couldn't hold off those invading germs, I mean Allied Troops.  Anyway, after the first day's surprise sat in the Valentine's Mailboxes for three days before the kids even noticed them, I decided to tone down my goals for the holiday countdown. 
There have been good days during this epic germ saga, however, and on one of them we made some new garland to hang up.
My kids think putting up "dec-ur-a-SHUNS" is the most fun in the world, so even stringing scrapbook paper hearts onto yarn was an exciting event.....before they collapsed back into bed with whatever new superbug symptom they got that day.
But, at least we can look at cheerful garland while we rest and recover on our sick-bed couches.  Maybe we'll all be well by Valentine's Day.
If we are not, I don't want a dozen red roses from my husband.  Instead, I want him to bring home a dozen cans of Lysol, wrapped with a nice red bow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Day of the Dragon

Last week Thursday, sickness hit the Kolste house. In the realm of disease, it probably isn't the worst illness ever, but being stuck at home with sorta sick kids who are cranky and fussy but don't want to act sick is draining.  By Saturday morning, we were all sick of each other and the kids were sick of all their own stuff.
Then, somehow, I discovered that it was the Chinese New Year (or close to it), and that this year is the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar.  My kids LOVE dragons - especially since they learned that Daddy doesn't allow the bad ones in the house, and has been known to throw them out the front door - so this seemed like an opportunity not to be missed.
I pulled out my own "special, never touched by the kids" markers, and let them design dragons.  I don't think they heard a word of the Social Studies lecture I gave them on Chinese calendars and dragons and symbols and such, but they spent a solid hour not whining or fighting, so who cares if their dragons don't look one bit Chinese.  Those dragons have been a bright spot on the wall all this week as we continue to try and recover from whatever nasty germ is plaguing us.
Happy Chinese Year of the Dragon!