School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, June 30, 2014

Painting Flower Pots

Earlier this spring, I volunteered to lead a project for the Cloverbuds (K-2nd grade kids) in Ian's 4H group.  I decided to have the kids paint little terracotta flower pots and then let the pots dry and carry over the project to the next month when they could plant marigolds in the pots.  It was me vs. 6 high-energy boys and 2 cheerful girls, so I didn't have a chance to take a single photo, BUT, I had some leftover pots that I let my own kids paint on as well.  My kids know the rules and routines of painting, so you do get to see pictures of them.
It should not surprise any of you to learn that since the kids were having such fun painting flower pots, I was motivated to give it a try as well.  When it comes to colorful flower pots, I am of the opinion that there are never enough!
Never one to measure or plan very far ahead, I just free-handed these, which was fun but not very precise.  If you are of a more perfectionist bent, you'll have to figure out the measurements and angles on your own.  Sorry, I'm just not a very helpful blogger today.
The best part, of course, is filling the pots with dirt and flowers and arranging them on the patio to enjoy all summer long (if your children don't drown them with swimming pool water, which is the more likely of the two outcomes).
Happy flower pot painting and planting everyone!

Linked up at: Be Awesome Link Party

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Watercolors and Stamps

To say that it has been extremely soggy and damp around here is not really an understatement at all, so my kids have been stuck inside a bit more then is usual for the summertime.  Over the weekend, I asked the kids if they wanted to do a project, and I heard hoots of joy (except from Ian who had his own "things to do") and I got faces like this one:
The inspiration for this project came from a pile of craft supplies that had been sitting on my bedroom floor for too long.  I know I originally brought them upstairs from their proper storage area for a specific purpose, but I have since forgotten what that purpose was, so it only seemed right to let the kids use the watercolor paints and rubber stamps to decorate the leftover blank greetings cards I had so carefully saved before returning them to the basement.
The girls decided that they wanted to both paint AND stamp their cards, so the project ended up being both a morning AND and afternoon event, which I think was masterful management of time AND energy.  The girls were entertained almost all day, but I only had to clean up one mess!
After the all the paint dried, out came the rubber stamps.  Blair picked her favorite letter "B" and and monogrammed all her cards using the high-speed, high-power, low-accuracy "Wham" method of stamping.  My ears are still ringing!
Brynn's method was much more careful, using multiple stamps and ink pads, and often asking for spelling confirmation.
I only managed to get a picture of a single finished card, because the girls whisked their completed treasures away as soon as all the ink had dried.  I think they were hoping that doing so qualified as enough help cleaning up.  It did not.
I did take a few pictures of the cards I ended up making.  I hadn't intended to get involved in the project, but as I watched the girls work during the morning, I was inspired to mess around with my own set of watercolors, and although I really have no idea what I am doing technically speaking I tried different things like getting the paper wet first, dropping globs of paint and then adding water, and also mixing varying amounts of water into the paint.  Most were utter flops, but a few turned out to be aesthetically pleasing, so I joined the stamping party as well.  By the way, my stamping method falls somewhere between Brynn and Blair's: less painstaking then Brynn's and less violent then Blair's.
Happy painting, stamping and card-making everyone!

Linked up at: Be Awesome Link Party

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Moving Forward on the Master Bathroom

It's late on a Thursday evening and everyone is sleeping but me.  I just finished writing my grocery list for tomorrow's expedition (it's an expedition because I take 4 kids into several stores to collect food and supplies for the next two weeks) and don't really feel ready for bed yet, so I thought I'd do a picture post of progress on our master bathroom.  These photos date back through the past few months because the chief carpenter has been pretty busy with other parts of his life.  Still, there has been lots of progress and you won't get any complaints from me about progress!
Drywall and cement-board being installed (pardon me if I don't use the correct terms - I am a mom/blogger, not Bob the Builder).
Daddy's Helpers - happy to be helping hinder the mudding.
Here the really fun part starts - tiling the shower!  (I helped, but didn't touch the power tool.)
It is grey, which is new ground for me since I usually lean towards yellow and brown and earth-tones in general, but I am VERY happy with it.
And finally, the tile floor, which is also grey (although darker).  Since I took this picture the tiles have all been installed and the grout put in.  It looks great.
 Stick around for my next insomniac, grocery-list writing evening for another bathroom update.  The toilet gets installed next, and for a family of 6, that is a much anticipated event!

Happy remodeling everyone!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Campfire Cooking a la Pinterest

A week ago our family went camping for a weekend with my sister and her family.  This particular event was our tenth trip together, and it is been a wild and crazy adventure as kids were added year by year and they had to be taught the camping ropes.  Now that the youngest ones are two years old, and experienced veterans, the nights are a little more restful and the days a little less stressful - except for the nearly constant trips to the potty.  But this too shall pass, and future camping trips will be stress-free weekends of camping bliss......or maybe they will be mosquito-torture days and thunderstorm nights, only time will tell.
This year, for some of our meals, I decided to actually try some of those fantastic camping food recipes that I have been collecting on Pinterest.  What could go wrong with that, right?  Pinterest is foolproof, right?  People have actually tried to make those recipes before they post them, right?  Well.....maybe.  

The recipe I was most excited to try was "Cheesy Delicious French Fries on the Grill."  This pin only linked to an image, but the pictures were pretty self-explanatory, I thought.
Of course, it rained during the meal I was supposed to make these, so my poor brother-in-law tried to cook them between downpours.  It sorta worked......the ones he set straight on the grill tasted much better and were less soggy.
My other choices for that meal fell prey to the rain and we substituted quick-cooking hot dogs for the Pesto Chicken and Brown-Sugar Carrots.   Despite that set-back, I still really, really, REALLY wanted to try the "Cupcakes Made in an Orange Peel" that I had heard several people talk about.  Since I never actually pinned a recipe this probably doesn't technically count as a Pinterest experiment, but that's okay - I'll pin my own pictures later!  Here's how I did it a few days later, using the grill back home:

Step 1: Cut oranges in half and clean out the edible portion.  Also, prepare a box of cake mix according to the recipe on the package (I did substitute fresh mushed orange juice for the water in the recipe - that turned out to be a pretty good idea!).
Step 2: Fill the emptied orange peels about half full - I wasn't as careful as I should have been and one or two of my oranges overflowed on to the coals below, so don't overfill.  Then, tent aluminum foil over the oranges.  I found that wrapping the foil around my closed fist created a good shape that stayed on the orange without keeping the batter from rising.
Step 3: Arrange the oranges on the grill.  I closed the top, so that I'd get a more even cooking temperature, but I suppose you wouldn't have too.  Cook for about ten minutes, but check occasionally, as my fire didn't heat evenly and some were done more quickly then others.
Just like the oven, I used a toothpick to check for doneness.
The kids gave this one a big thumbs up.  Except for Cam, who instead ate crumbs off his thumb and waved his other hand around.  Were they any better tasting then regular old cupcakes?  Probably not, but the idea of making cupcakes while camping is really awesome!
Happy campfire cooking, everyone, and happy pinning too!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Annual Project - Bird Houses

Every spring, when the weather starts to get nice, the kids enjoy using acrylic paints to decorate little wooden birdhouse for me.  I'm not much of a bird-watcher, and the birdhouses are far from functional (only the most brilliantly be-feathered birds would be able to tolerate the design sense of my paint-happy children), but I like to hang them on flower stakes in my back garden.  That garden is in the shade and although I have plenty of color in the spring and early summer, I haven't had much success with bright blooms in the later half of the summer.  The flashy paint adds some visual interest to all the greenery (I realize I am passing up a fantastic opportunity to use the phrase "pop of color" in this paragraph, but I refuse as a matter of honor and principle.) and the wild color schemes make me smile.
This year, Ian's buddy Titus joined in on the fun!
And here are the finished birdhouses (notice that this year the artists refrained from painting the interiors of the birdhouses!).
Oh, and Blair was sleeping during the first round of house painting, so she got her own special painting session a few days later.
In case you are interested some of the birdhouses from other springs can be seen here, here, and here

Happy birdhouse painting, everyone!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

April and May at the Pond

Are we really several days into June already?  It seems that summer break just started, but we are already packing in all sorts of fun.  So, before spring is but a distant memory, here is an update in pictures (mostly) of the past few weeks at our pond.
 Week 16 (End of April)
 Week 17
 Week 18 - actual green!
This is the week that I fell in the pond.  We wanted to explore on the far side, so I piggy-backed the kids across the water that was deeper then their boots.  On the return trip, my boots tangled in the weeds at the same time as Ian flung himself sideways to rescue a stick.  I landed on hands and knees in the water, with my nose only inches from the chilly muddiness.  I can proudly report that I did not fling Ian over my head into the water nor did I get my cell phone or camera wet, but my boots filled up with several gallons of cold water.
The kids were impressed at the amount of water I poured out of my boots, but rather smugly pointed out that their boots were dry inside.  That was the end of our pond study for that day.
 Week 19
 Week 20 - Pond Scum appears - we didn't have enough clues to figure out which animal swam through the gunk and made the trail through the slime.  We will keep our eyes peeled in future.
Happy pond watching everyone!