Apr 29, 2009

Nails and screws and cardboard boxes

For this activity we used old cardboard boxes (sturdyish ones like wine boxes or diaper boxes), some largish nails that we had left over from making batteries out of lemons and potatos (I'll get around to posting about that one day), some old wood screws (the nails and screws were put in the yoghurt pots, so every kid had his or her own stash). screwdrivers (phillips) and instead of hammers, because a)we only had one and b)it was bloody heavy, we used rocks from the garden for hammering. By the way, yes, everything is covered in dried sidewalk chalk from earlier play(the rocks, the floor and even the outside walls in a later picture, not to worry though, it hoses off) I marked a load of dots in the tops of the boxes and the kids used the rocks to hammer the nails in on the dots, then they pulled the nails out and used the holes as a guide to start screwing the wood screws in. Both my girls have used screwdrivers a lot recently with different projects and the lads loved this activity too. They all got the clockwise to screw in and anticlockwise to screw out thing by the end.

They stuck at this with minimal interference from me for what must have been approaching two hours. My job seemed to be merely fetching more nails and screws. They were so into it that we ran out of screws and I had to resort to giving them a box of white plastic coated hooks that had screw ends to keep going with.

As usual, the combination of being allowed to play with two things that they usually aren't (rocks and nails) meant that this was a very popular activity. I think they inadvertently got a lot of skills from this though and it was free because we had all the stuff lurking in the garage. Yay free! I'm just going to pile the boxes in the garage and if they ask to do it again tomorrow or next week then I'll turn the boxes upside down and give them some smaller screws and nails and see how they do with something a little more fiddly. Mwah ha ha!

Apr 23, 2009

Recycled baby tights

One of my friend's little girls has had to undergo some pretty darn serious talipes treatment right from birth. She's already had several casts and surgery and is now fitted with some hardcore boots and mini snowboard contraption that bolts to the boots to continue the treatment. Cutey little lass is only a couple of months old. The snowboard (I have no idea what it is called medically, a brace maybe?) has to be worn with the boots 23 hours a day at the moment, so diaper changing is understandably not as easy as it should be. My mate has cut the feet off sleepsuits so far in order to be able to use the snaps openings.
I mentioned Babylegs to her and we've got her a few pairs to go in the mail this weekend. There are loads of tutorials out there on the web showing how to make home made babylegs from pairs of adult knee high socks by the way.

I had some pairs of 18 month tights around that had hardly been worn, so I thought I'd try and make some babylegs with those. I cut up the tights into the legs, pants, heels and feet.
I intend to make scratch mits from the wee feet bits to go with a hat and the leg warmers. These are probably all going to be a bit too small for my freind's baby, or will only fit her for a few weeks at most (although she is on the dinky side), but my friend also has a little girl who is almost three and adores baby dolls, so they will make a nice matching ensemble for her baby to wear next to her little sister wearing the genuine Babylegs. Got lots more tights to make other little matching outfits and some of the tights are 24 months, so they might work out larger. I need to get some elastic to finish the scratch mits for the dollies though.

Apr 21, 2009

Make believe

It seems like my kids have an ever increasing capacity for living in lalaland. They feed off each other and the make believe fun is so awesome to behold. Truth be told, I kinda like joining in when I'm not going to cramp their style.

It's pretty fun to help them start off with a few props that are sitting around the house and watch as they quickly get carried away and lost in the make believe. All the pirate-superhero-mermaid swords and hats we made for my four year old's birthday party were still in use months later and the rocket ship is still going strong after nearly three months of constant preschooler abuse. It's well worth the effort to be a facilitator for make believe I have found.

An easy one for my youngest daughter, who is newly potty trained and loving her superiority over the diaper wearers, was to give her the empty Kandoo butt wipe box (we used one box and a refil as a bit of a trial before I figured they weren't really needed) to use as a potty for her doll. Now that she is wise in the ways of the bowels, she can have fun imparting her knowledge to her dollies and high fiving them when they c**p in the can.
Last week we the peddle barbie corvette that we got for $5 in a yard sale last spring was pronounced dead, following a collision that rendered it's stearing unfixable without welding gear. On the weekend the kids got to play at being mechanics in the sun while the grown ups were taking apart other scavenged electronics for parts for future projects. They spent a good two to three hours unscrewing all the screws on it, some whilst lying on a skate board under the car like the real mechanics do. Later that evening my four year old daughter says to us "after dinner, can we go outside and screw again?" You try not laughing. FAIL.Monday heralded an experiment in home dentistry. Both the kids are interested in the dentist after a trip a couple of months ago, the younger one was quite nervous about the genuine dentist's trip though, so I thought maybe some playing at being dentists with her sister would make it less scary. Turns out a four year old's booster seat makes a great make believe dentist's chair, and an old blue dress shirt of mine that had already been used to be a nurse worked out as the costume. They decided they needed goggles too. We got a cup of water and a bowl to spit the rinse in and they brushed each other's teeth and counted each other's teeth and my older daughter took great pleasure in telling my younger daughter all about how to look after her teeth. The best ones are when you get to just sit back and watch the crazy unfold. This month the kids have been obsessed with volcanos (we did the classic volcano science experiment a while back). They have on several ocassions lately, declared there to be "a volcano in twenty minutes!" and then crammed all the stuff from their bedroom into the home made space rocket to escape/evacuate. The most recent volcano wasn't nearly so troublesome because aparently "the aliens say that we can stay with them for a while". One of the previous volcano evacuations was hampered by someone being stuck in a tree full of mice (I swear this is the stuff I deal with daily and I am going to be so sad when it inevitably starts to subside with age). In the mean time, we need volcano insurance.

What make believe fun do your kids go for?

Chalk and water painting

This happens a lot at our house. The kids never seem top get bored with it. We just keep running out of chalk. I had a delve through my photos and found pics from a few different occasions that we'd done this to post.
All you need to do is wet the floor outside (we have a concrete yard, which is great for this) and then give the kids some sidewalk chalk and some brushes. The colours are so vibrant when the chalk is wet that the kids just love it and it washes off with a quick hose down so easily.
It's a good way to teach colour mixing too. Letting them create blobs of colour next to each other and then using the brush to mix them on the floor.
We are super classy here and my kids love to splash about and paint each other with watercolour blocks in an under the bed storage box. I did briefly entertain the idea of getting an inflatable paddling pool until I realised that it would last approximately five minutes after the two hours that I would spend inflating it, and they are more than happy with the storage boxes anyway (we actually had eight kids playing in and around two of these boxes full of water today with the chalk).MaryAnne of Thrifty craft mama posted about using these storage boxes with the lid as a dinky and thrifty sand pit, so we got ourselves set up for the summer with one of those this weekend too. It's great! I chucked in a load of treasure (beads) and a couple of seives and the kids are happy as Larry. Hopefully the lid will prevent the local cats from leaving us their little bum trinkets. I just have to remember to put the lid on it now. This I suspect is the weak link in the plan.

Apr 10, 2009

Underpants pockets

Well, here it is. This is the post that will determine whether you think I am resourceful or nuttier than squirrel poo.

So, my youngest, who turned three about a month ago has some very cute 2 year old underpants that we can no longer crobar her butt into. Nice, not very worn out Dora the Explorer ones, so obviously no one is going to want used underwear, so I thought it might be kinda fun to cut the character panels off the fronts of them and sew them onto dresses as little pockets.
I've said before that my kids just love to have pockets on their clothes. There are just too many things, small things of great importance that must be stashed about oneself you see. There has to be a place to keep the polly pocket hat while you are rollerskating and a place to hide the last candy corn from your sister and a way to make sure your mum is always accidentally laundering crayons and tissues and small rocks and beads and rubber butterflies and real snails. Urgh, anyway...

Here's the wee one in a dress we got for free because it was ripped (easy to fix though) with a little pants-pocket and pants-applique. She likes them. I like them too.
House rule, number four thousand and eighty two: The pants pocket can only be worn by the original owner of the pants.

House rule, number four thousand and eighty three: It is not cool to shout out at people in the supermarket "Look at my pants!", even if you are ridiculously excited about their new pantspocketness.

Apr 9, 2009

Tea towel shorts

Dollar Store Crafts posted a link to the tea towel skirts from a few days ago along with a tutorial on making baby shorts from a tea towel. I mentioned at the bottom of the skirt post that I'd like to try making some bloomer/shorts, but I've always been a little afraid of sewing patterns. I adapted the dollar store craft pattern to allow the back to be a bit more roomy than the front of the shorts (bigger section cut from part of the tea towel that's going to be the butt seam). Below you can see the tea towel cut and ready to sew.
I sewed each of the two pieces up along where the inside leg seam was and then pinned and sewed the two pieces together along the one seam that runs from the front, under the crotch and up the back of the shorts. All this was hand sewed, because I love being able to listen to music or watch tv late at night at the same time, without the noise of the machine, and I like being able to finish it all by hand in a way that leaves no raw edges on the inside of the pants (I don't own a surger). The last thing to do was sew the hem of the waist over and thread the elastic through for the boingy waist band.
Here's the little lady looking rather pleased with her shorts. She's a tall 4T and I reckon these shorts would be fine up to about 6T if you made the waist band a bit looser. The author at Dollar Store crafts mentioned that her shorts turned out a little too small for her two year old and were more suited to a one year old or infant, but I think these tea towels were bigger. They measured 20 inches wide by 26 inches long.Now I have to get the wee lass (3 years old) to choose the colour she wants her shorts to be out of the other three matching dollar store tea towels I picked up. I think I'll also sew some cutey applique designs on one of the legs of each pair when I'm done making them too. I love how cheap it's turning out to be to get a nice stash of summer cotton skirts and shorts ready!

Apr 6, 2009

Plasticine monsters

I've still got a load of those boggly eyes that we've been playing with and the kids have not grown tired of sticking them on absolutely everything yet, so today we made some plasticine monsters and stuck varying numbers of eyes all over them.
I think it was somewhat an ode to the 1980s TV show Trap Door, that I secretly still love.
My three year old made lots of cyclops worm beasts and skewered them like coctail sausages and my four year old made a hunormous splatty two dimensional dude with lots of eyes and what looks like a rare skin complaint.

I helped them make other monsters that they took apart and reassembled in various weird and wonderful ways. All in all it was rather fun and I could shove it all in a tupperware container for us to play with again another time. Maybe when they are older we can have some fun doing real claymation!


The kids asked to do this again the next day when their friends were over, so we did and they made lots more funny little dudes.