Nov 26, 2008

Kid artwork soft toy/cushions.

I've been meaning to do this project for a while because we still have a load of spare bed sheet left over from the kiddy glue batik project. It was a disastrously rainy day today and we had 8 kids over, so this seemed like the perfect time. They all got pretty into this project, boys and girls equally. Age ranges were 2 to 6 years old, but I bet kids up to 8 or 9 would enjoy it too. Lots of pictures for this post, so be patient.
I taped some ripped up bed sheet onto cut up cardboard (that we have a never ending stash of courtesy of Costco raids) to make kind of easy to draw on canvases that wouldn't let the pens bleed through onto other stuff. The kids then drew whatever they felt like onto the sheets with permanent markers (coloured sharpies). The four and six year olds did a great job drawing dinosaurs, trains, robots and all sorts, and the two year olds just had at it with scribbly patterns and a couple of smiley faces.

In the photos you can only see five of the kids that were over, because by the time we had all 8, I no longer had a spare hand to take a photo, especially with magic markers in the equation. Surprisingly no one drew on anything or anyone they weren't supposed to, so that's a good day right there!
Once they had finished their drawing, they tore off the tape and fabric and I pinned the pictures to a yellow bed sheet and cut them out and hemmed them with the sewing machine, leaving a small gap to turn them inside out. The kids then filled the toys/cushions with stuffing (this took quite some time, because it was also very fun just to play with the mountains of fluffy stuffing).

Finally I hand sewed up the hole for them and they took their little creations home. My four year old daughter still has hers left to finish, because she wanted to cover the whole canvas in intricate robot flower type things. All in all we managed 9 of these little toys and the kids were quite proud of them. They should wash without fading too I would have thought. I think a few might be going to grandparents this Christmas. I just wish I had got a photo of the dinosaur one, because it rocked so hard!

If I can get some cheap white pillow cases from Goodwill then I'll let my girls do one of those each too at some point. Maybe I can get them to make their own Christmas stockings this way.

Nov 22, 2008

Preschooler sewing kit

You've probably noticed from the previous post that I enjoy sewing. Well, the kids always want to "help" or join in, so usually any sewing I do has to wait until they are in bed. I just figured out putting together a little kit for them to sew along with me. They are only just four, and two and a half, so I'm not at all prepared to give them needles, even the larger plastic ones I have for my knitting, because they have an extraordinary ability to do illogical things with the wrong tools that would test even the most robust health insurance.

With that in mind I cobbled together a load of stuff that they could sew/weave, without maiming themselves or each other. Lots of this stuff was found in Goodwill and Savers, but a lot was also random stuff from around the house. The lovely wooden teddy/fish/dog threading panels were a present from one of our friends back in the UK. The plastic punnets that you get berries in work well too for weaving and a random odd jelly shoe (no idea where the other one got to). Bits of rags, shoe laces, ribbons, pipe cleaners. It all fits nicely in the plastic tote, that can also be woven (50c from Goodwill! I love Goodwill).
It's been a big hit and a really really cheap present for them that they can play with together. I was going to save it for Christmas, but we've had 2 weeks of illness in our house and quiet time play things were badly needed.

Nov 20, 2008

Hawaiian shirt dress

I guess this isn't really a kid craft, but it is a gift for my girls and it's a craft and it's recycling, so to some extent it belongs here.

I saw a lovely little tutorial showing the cutest toddler dress made from a man's button up shirt. My husband had an old hawaiian shirt lurking in the closet that hadn't got any time in the sun for quite a while, so I decided to masacre that.

The dress I ended up with wasn't quite the same as the one in the tutorial, but my youngest daughter thinks it's great and you can see a few pics of her busting a groove to Harry Belafonte in it below. Click to see it bigger.
I just took off the sleeves and collar, used the yolk of the shirt as the chest panel like in the original tutorial and the button front as the back of the dress, then cut down and reatached the sleeves and added a couple of cute little straps made from the bottom part of the shirt. Oh, and I repositioned the pocket, so it was on the front of the dress. My kids love pockets on things!

I think I'll be making a few more of these, possibly for Christmas presents, because the local goodwill has an abundance of really cool patterned Hawaiian shirts. Next project is to make a couple of Thomas the tank engine skirts out of a bedsheet, because I'm fed up of all the clothes with the characters my girls like being only for boys!

Nov 15, 2008

Pirate-superhero-mermaid colouring pages

As part of the lead up to the party for my now 4 year old I drew some pictures for her and her little friends to colour in. The first one was a picture of what a pirate-superhero-mermaid looks like, because, let's face it, it's an unusual birthday party theme and I thought the other kids might get thier heads around my daughter's notion a little more whole heartedly with some visual aid. I posted the digitally coloured version in one of my previous posts (yep, she's got pink hair like I used to have back in uni)

The second image was a map of pirate-mermaid-superhero island, which was a fantasy representation of the play park that we were holding the party at. We hid the treasure in the hollow part of the tree at the park and the kids followed the map from the play structure that we made into a pirate ship with cardboard, to the batcave (tent full of dressing up clothes), to the captain's table (picnic table with snack food), to the picnic villages (blankets for eating picnic food on), to the mermaid rocks (benches at the top end of the park), to the tree at the very top of the park. The whirlpool at the bottom of the map is actually a really big storm drain that the kids always want to go and peer into and poke at with sticks.

So click on the little images of the colouring pages to view the full size versions and feel free to print them out for your kids to colour too. The sidekick flying pirate starfish is called Aaaarrrg by the way.

This is what the batcave looked like...

and this is what the pirate ship play structure looked like...

By the way, if you are after some really awesome free colouring pages then have a look at the ones on Louise Elliot's site. She sells printed cloth kits of her own elaborately patterned designs for soft toys and rag dolls. She offers free downloads of colouring pages featuring her animal designs, which are beautiful and my 4 year old has had a lot of fun with them already. Here is the last one she coloured from Louise's site...

Soda bottle fish

Or fizzy pop bottle fish if you're from where I'm from. We made about 12 of these over the month leading up to my older daughter's pirate-superhero-mermaid party. I had to cut the fish out of the bottles with a pair of large scissors and an exacto knife, but the kids all got to paint and decorate them together to make a mermaid tropical lagoon under the play structure bridge at the park.
Here's a photo showing how I cut up the big 2 litre soda bottles (I raided friends recycling bins again for this project, so thank you to anyone that helped source all the pop bottles for me). I tried making a couple of fish out of smaller bottles, but they just didn't work quite as well and it was nice for the preschoolers to have a big bottle fish as a canvas, rather than something smaller and more fiddly anyway.
Simply cut the neck of the bottle out to make the fish mouth. I then glued one of those little paper condiment cups into the hole to make cute little fish lips. Cut the bottom off the bottle and then squash the sides flat onto each other to cut out the tail and fins. Use a couple of bits of tape to hold the tail together.

I cut out a load of construction paper into scale shapes and the kids glued them on, some very tidily and some willy nilly, but when they were all done they made a very cute reef full.

Here's the lagoon under the play structure with the spent piniata.
My kids loved the fact that they looked like the fish out of the book "Rainbow Fish", which is one of thier favourites.