Sunday, December 7, 2014

Amazing Christmas Gift For a Kid to Make: Clay Bowl

Every year during the holidays I try and find something that my kids can gift to their teachers and Grandparents. I have had them give cookies, drawings, little baskets of snack foods, Christmas tree ornaments, and gift cards.

This year I attended a little craft fair that was aimed toward showing examples of crafts that people could make instead of buying gifts. They wanted to raise awareness about giving in a way that is not as commercialized and then making donations to people that are in a position of greater need than us. The cherish that was holding the craft bazaar was also accepting donations that could go to various charities, they suggested donating to a place that helps create access to clean water for people in Africa and organizations that help stop sex trafficking among others.

One of the crafts, was a Femo marbled bowl, this looked like something I would actually try and the might I thought about it the more I thought the kids could do it. I have also seen this craft following around the internet mostly on Pinterest.

I took my five year old to Michael's craft store and looked at the clay. After picking out a few colors, I was becoming too quiet that this was not something the kids could do because the clay is incredibly hard, and I do not say this lightly, it is like those really old bubble gum balls that just about break your teeth and make your jaw sore after the first ten seconds of chewing.

I was relieved when I found a mixed color package of this stuff called Pluffy by Sculpey. It is so much softer and my kids were totally able to work with. I also bought some of the harder clay for me.

My kids really wanted to make a video about how to make one so the instructions have those as well. :)

1) choose three or four colors usually having a base color of white or black is nice but it is up to you, we mixed in white but had an equal part of white as each other color.
2) cut off a piece of each color about the size of your thumb
3) sqeeze all the colors together into one "log"
4) twist all asking the log, squash it back together, roll it out, twist again
Christmas gifts for kids to make for teachers or grandparents. Clay bowl.
5) when you like how mixed the colors are, but so they are mostly still individual colors roll it out on a non stick surface like a piece off wax paper with a rolling pin, piece of pvc pipe, or a femo rolling pin, into a circle a quarter of an inch thick
This is an easy gift for kids to make for Christmas presents or teacher thank you gifts.
Making a clay bowl with a smiley face.
6) place over an upside down bowl that is oven proof and gently push the edges down, we used silicon cupcake molds.
7) bake according to the package directions each brand is a little different
8) allow to cool and then paint just the edge with gold acrylic paint.

 Here is mine, I made if for my Grandparents that have just moved out of their dream house where they spent years sailing on Seneca lake:

DIY clay bowl with sailboat details.
To make mine I used a lightly different kind of Sculpey, which is much harder and my kids did not find plyable enough for their hands, the Pluffey however was perfect for them. Here is the kind I used:

Here is the gold paint I used to edge the bowl:

Full disclosure: if you use the amazon link I will get a small percentage of the cost of what you buy, this goes for the search link on the side bar as well. However the cost to you is the same either way. My kids loved this project and were so excited to make their friends and teachers a gift. My daughter would not even wait to give it to them. I would love to see results of yours if you do make them. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice Craft: Stained Glass Sun

This last week we talked about the sun and the up coming summer solstice. We made a sunshine to put up in our window and see sun shine come through the colors. All you do is cut a circle in the center of the paper plate and some strips of red, yellow, and orange tissue paper and glue them over the opening. 

We thought about crinkling up more tissue paper and putting on the outside ring, but we ran out of time before we had other plans. :) We liked how the over lapping colors created different shades of oranges. This was a really easy craft.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Parenting Book Club: Review of "Wild Things" and a New Book

Last month I suggested the book Wild Things: the art of nurturing boys as the first in a string of parenting books to read and post comments online so that a discussion could occur book club style about said books. I have found this book to be good at offering practical problem solving techniques in ways that will be easy to apply, they are for the most part really really helpful ideas that I can see applying and actually having them work. I remember some of these things begin used with me as a child, like establishing good table talk during dinners by asking questions or telling stories. Having a game night and a movie night to help the family as a whole connect and help boys (or kids in general) feel loved and valued as a part of the family.

I do think at times the authors are stretching a bit on some of these traits being a "boys" trait, but the book is helpful anyway. I really do feel like most if not all of it could apply to by daughter as well. I sometimes wonder how much of gender is constructed and how much is innate. I think from my psychology classes I feel that there is an good argument for nature via nurture. Nature via nurture basically means that we have were created to have certain genetic make ups that could be molded in a different direction based on the things that happen around us. You have to look no further than epigenetics to see evidence for this. 

In any case the book may just be more broadly applicable to both genders rather than just boys and I do think it is worth the time to read. If no other reason than the "putting it into practice" sections are really helpful and easy to do. Beyond that I think that there are things in the developmental phasis that the authors bring up that can be easy to forget when you have a kid who likes to play aggressively and is beginning to really push limits to try and assert their independence. For example, that at this same stage they are also really craving love and the way kids feel loved is not the same for every stage (time versus trust, etc).

Again please feel free to write in the comment section about your favorite and least favorite parts of the book. What did you get out of it? What did you find difficult to swallow? Bring your comments to the fold and help start a discusion. :)

I have already started reading Last Child in the Woods for this month it is really good. I hope you read along and comment! You can get it through this link to Amazon or look for it at your local library. :)

For next month I am going to look for Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion. Again you can just click the link to get it from Amazon there are paperback and kindle versions available. Or check with your local library. :)

I would be happy to hear your thoughts and opinions!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Club: About Raising a Boy

A couple of months ago I ran into a recommendation for the book Wild Things: the art of nurturing boys by Stephen James and David Thomas. I was immediately intrigued by the title and quickly decided to check my local library for the book. I had to put it on hold, but I have finally received it and plan to start reading it today. 

I am hoping that a few people will also read it over the next month or so and be willing to have a discussion about it with me in the comment section of this post and a new post I will write when I am finished with the book. 

I think this has potential to be a great book for me in particular, because I find myself frequently feeling like I don't understand where my son is coming from or unable to keep my own natural anxiety in check for things that are totally natural for kids to do. For example, climbing trees a little higher than I am comfortable with, climbing up our banister, or jumping in waves at the Oregon coast in 60 degree weather (well I did do this at some point in my life).  
If you want to pick up the book you can buy it from the links below:

I hope you will find the book and read along so I will have some people other than meself to mull over this book with. :) I may make this a permanent book club of sorts, I already have next months book in mind. It is one I have been getting distracted from called Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. So if you want to get ready for May and get this book here are links to that.
                  Paper Back:
I really hope you read along and post comments as you go so we can think about this book together. :) Also if you are interested in following along with future months please follow the blog. :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inch Worm: Ways to Measure

Recently, at the library, a book about an inch worm caught my eye (Inch by Inch, by Leo Lionni). This cute little picture book is about a cleaver little inch worm who convinces a robin, who is about to eat him for lunch, that he is usefull and can measure the robin. The robin wants his tail measured so he does not eat the worm. After his tail is measured, carries the worm off to measure other birds. One bird at the end makes an unusual request, measure my song. Well the worm feels he can't do that so he finds a cleaver way to escape. 

I thought about this and although it is true you might not be able to measure a song the same way you measure a tail or a beak, you can measure it. I think you could measure it by seeing how many times the worm can move during the song, or by how may seconds long the song is, and I am sure in other ways that I am not thinking of. I decided that this might be a fun measuring experience for my daughter and I to experiment with.

So we read the book and discussed different ways the worm might have approached this problem. We then made an inch worm out of playdoh and started measuring things. We then turned on a song and experiemented with measuring the song with how many times we could move the worm during the duration of the song. We also observed how the song was a particular length of time.

My daughter seems to have enjoy and absorbed both of these measurement methods as she had been going back to them both frequently over the last few days. :) I hope you find this useful and have fun with finding ways to measure a song and other things in your house.

Reading Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni.

Using the playdoh worm to measure the robin's tail.

Time is one measure of a song's length.

Other ways to measure.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from our family to yours! I hope that your 2014 is filled with warmth, joy, curiousity, exploration, and love.

These are the photos I took to send our to family as our holiday cards, they are not the traditional formal pictures I take, but I thought the kids would enjoy this sitting more. I set up a secret hot cocoa picnic compete with artisan marshmallows and candy canes.  It is fun to give them a big treat like that every once and a while.

After taking the photos we went on our annual December float on the Willamette River with our kayaks lit up for the Illuminata Regatta. It is always fun, but this year was so amazingly pleasant. I don't know if it was the really cold (14 degree ferenheit) weather we had in the weeks leading up to the Illuminata Regatta or what, but it felt so warm we didn't even need our gloves!

I hope you enjoy the pictures.
:) Emilia