Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Simple Valentines--Made by a Preschooler

Well for the past few days, Hazel has had a low-grade fever. We have spent several days now cooped up inside cancelling all of our plans. On Monday night, I got an email from her teacher with the class Valentine guidelines. I figured it was the perfect thing to do while she was sick. We pulled out some supplies that she could use. The guidelines are simple, no computer generated images, characters, glitter or candy, child-made and since they cannot read and write yet, we were to use their class symbols for names. Hazel is the lady bug. Luckily I had stamps for most of the symbols. I gave her wooden beads, doilies, felt hearts and flowers, paper flowers, yarn and ribbon plus a variety of rubber stamps and paper punches. And of course a box of crayons. Here are a few she came up with above. The pink cards are for the girls and the brown cards are for the boys. She started with the girls and teachers and then realized with the brown cards that she could fold them to have more surfaces to decorate. I think all the boys' ended up with a giant felt flower on the front now.

Then today we started making some for family members. I gave her heart cards this time and gave her the idea of gluing on tissue paper squares. Inside she rubber stamped "Happy Valentine's Day" and an "I love you" stamp.
I know I bought these double heart cards for a dollar at one of the craft stores. I love picking up cards we can use for our crafts to mail people. She also made a few birthday cards. One belated for my goddaughter and then one for her grandmother and her daddy since their birthdays are coming up. She mostly just rubber stamped them.

One last thing we did today was make a paper chain. She brought home the supplies from Sunday School, but they ran out of time to finish them. She had not made a paper chain before, so she was very interested. We worked on sequencing while doing it. And she is modeling her newest Mommy-made pajamas. She loves them since they have a princess on them (and I have to say I love them because it is a nice thick flannel)! She also wanted to be funny by wearing the paper chain on her head. We eventually hung it on her seasonal tree.

How are your Valentines coming?

Monday, January 28, 2013

International Book Giving Day

Designed by Viviane Schwarz
Did you know there is an International Book Giving Day? I didn't, however I love the idea of it. It is simple to participate. All you have to do is give a child a book or donate a book to a charity or leave a book in a waiting room or lobby. (Have you seen these book exchange set-ups locally yet? I have. Several of the local hospitals have children's books in all the waiting rooms with a sign saying any child can take a book home from the collection and anyone can leave a children's book there for the collection/swap.) And the best part is it is on Valentine's Day. So instead of giving your child candy or a toy, how about a book?
international book giving day poster by priya kuriyan
Designed by Priya Kuriyan
Or donate a book to your child's classroom or school library or to your public library? It seems to me like the perfect Valentine's Day gift for your child's teacher or favorite children's librarian. I know several local charities around here give books to children. In fact the charity we collect for at Hazel's birthday parties every year gives each child a book with a week's worth of clothes when a social worker requests aid.
Barney Saltzberg was inspired to write this poem after International Book Giving Day 2012.
Designed by Barney Saltzberg after International Book Giving Day 2012

Now the really neat thing is that you can download for free bookplates at the International Book Giving website. They even have some for books that are just a gift to a child you know.

There are also some great ideas for everyone to help get involved and give back to your community and children worldwide. Check out their Help Organize Page. Ideas from hanging the colorful poster above by Priya Kuriyan, which you can download here, to Beer for Books (get a local bar or restaurant to participate) to organize a storytime or book swap. Finally you can add your name and how you are going to celebrate International Book Giving Day at their website. So will you join me in celebrating this day to encourage children to read?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures-Vasilissa and Baba Yaga

Fairy Tales
Today we will look at a Russian version of Cinderella. I found two picture books with basically the same story and we will look at both today, but first a bit about Russia. Somehow after a week of a deep freeze in New England, Russia seems like the right country to talk about. (I literally heard a radio host mention a town in Russia for having the record for lowest temperatures. She kept checking them because it made our temperatures seem so much better.)

View Larger Map
 Russia or the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world. It borders Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea as well as maritime borders Japan and the United States (Alaska). It covers more than one eighth of the earth's inhabited land. Russia is the ninth most populated country and it passes through nine time zones! It also has the largest mineral and energy reserves as well as produces the largest amount of the world's oil and natural gas and has the most forest reserves and its lakes have one-quarter of the world's fresh water supply.

Russia has a long history of various political leaders from tzars to communism and now an elected president. And due to the size of the country it has various climates--from subarctic to semi-arid climates. The recorded high and low temperatures of Russia are 113.7 degrees Fahrenheit and -96.2 degrees Fahrenheit. That is quite a range! (Source)

Now onto our story. First a fair warning. This story is one of the more scary versions of Cinderella as Baba Yaga is a witch who is known in other Russian stories. My sensitive child often covers the pictures of Baba Yaga when we read it. The books we read are Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave by Marianna Mayer and Vasilissa the Beautiful by Elizabeth Winthrop. Both stories are about the same with a few minor differences. Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave gives a bit more detail about some Russian culture like foods that Baba Yaga eats.
A Bendy Doll I made for Hazel

In this story, Vasilisa's mother gives her a special doll on her deathbed. She tells Vasilisa to give the doll some food and drink any time she needs something or is feeling sad. (In one version the doll is made by her mother.) After her mother's death, Vasilisa feels sad and tries giving the doll some food and drink. The doll comes alive and comforts her. Soon Vasilisa's father remarries a widow with two daughters. The father leaves for a long trip (or dies in one of the versions) and the stepmother sells the house and moves to the edge of the forest. In the forest, it is well known that there lives a witch named Baba Yaga who likes to eat humans. The stepmother's hope is to have Baba Yaga eat Vasilisa since she is so beautiful and kind and there is no chance of marrying her own daughters off with Vasilisa around. She sends her out on errands in the forest hoping she will not come back, however the doll keeps Vasilisa away from Baba Yaga.
Vasilisa Doll
Finally the stepmother comes up with a plan. She puts out all the candles and fire except one and gives each daughter a task. At midnight the eldest daughter puts the candle out as her mother instructed her (and in the other version the mother used her witch magic to make it so no flame could be lit in the house). They tell Vasilisa she must go to Baba Yaga's house and ask for a light. They force her out the door and lock it behind her telling her not to return without a light.
We used white glitter glue since white crayon would not show up.

Scared Vasilisa sets off but also takes time to awaken the doll with some food and drink and ask for help. The doll comforts her and assures her that as long as she is with her, no harm will come to her. So off she sets on the long, dark walk through the forest. After walking for some time, she sees a white knight on a white horse pass her. Then immediately following a red knight on a blood-red horse passes her and the sun comes up.
She reaches Baba Yaga's house which is on chicken feet and surrounded by a fence of human bones with skulls at the top. Then she sees a black horse pass and it becomes dark and all the skulls magically become lit.
Then Baba Yaga comes home. She tells Baba Yaga why she has come and Baba Yaga says she must work for the light. Baba Yaga has Vasilisa serve her dinner and then she goes to sleep. The next morning Baba Yaga leaves Vasilisa a long list of jobs including cooking her a large dinner. Vasilisa wakes the doll after Baba Yaga leaves and the doll gets to work and Vasilisa cooks all day. Baba Yaga is upset that Vasilisa managed to get all the jobs done correctly, so the next day she leaves her even more. The day is repeated and again Baba Yaga cannot believe Vasilisa got all the work done so perfectly. Baba Yaga tells Vasilisa to talk to her so she asks about the knights. Then Baba Yaga asks Vasilisa how she was able to do all the work. Vasilisa almost tells her about her doll, but tells her instead that it is because of her dead mother's blessing. At this Baba Yaga gets upset since no one who is blessed should be in her house and she throws Vasilisa out giving her a lit skull for the light she earned. 
Vasilisa heads home and almost leaves the skull outside since there is no way they could still be without light, but the skull tells her she must take it inside. The stepfamily is happy to see her since they have not been able to get a light. The stepmother grabs the skull and places it on the table. The skull however burns the stepfamily with its eyes and then goes out. Vasilisa leaves and goes to live with an elderly woman. There she spins and weaves some cloth in hopes that the kind woman can sell it to pay for her room and board. The elderly woman sees what fine quality it is and takes it to the tzar as a gift. All the tzar's seamstresses refuse to cut such fine cloth and say the maker is the only one who should cut it. The elderly woman is sent for and she tells them her adopted daughter is the one who made it. When Vasilisa appears before the tzar he instantly falls in love with her beauty and asks her to marry him.
Doll Coloring Page

Here is my version of my Cinderella form for these books. 

The Enchanted Tree has an excellent bendy doll tutorial. It is how I learned to make them. For this one I added wooden beads as hands and cut a larger wooden bead in half for shoes.

The coloring pages can be found at:
White Knight for the white knight we used white glitter glue since the paper was already white.
Red Knight
Black Knight

If you enjoyed this one and have not seen the previous ones, you can see the summary of the series with links to each post here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Face Painting, Pirate Birthday Party and a Dollhouse

Sharing Saturday is open until Wednesday if you would like to stop by to share a child-oriented craft or activity and check out the features!!

Today was the pirate birthday party that Hazel was invited to. We all went and had a good time. They had the most amazing face painter. Check out Hazel's rainbow butterfly.
She loved it! They also made clay sculptures that they decorated with feathers, buttons, beads and beans. Then they served a wonderful lunch and had this gorgeous cake.
Then they had a pinata and a treasure hunt! She had so much fun and did not want to go home.

Front Views
When we did get home Steve and I moved some furniture around so we could bring up the dollhouse I made that I have been saving for her. After I spent some time making some changes to the furniture (so she doesn't break the expensive stuff) and making it easier to play with instead of worrying how it looks, she played with it until dinner.
Interior when I first built it
Here is a view of the interior details before furniture and such were added. I originally was going to light it, but something happened with the wire and they didn't all work so I didn't bother with it.

Then this is how the interior looks now.
I took out the fancy master bed and put a plastic one in that I had when I was a child. I also took out the fancy kitchen and put in the basics so it would be easier to play. Needless to say she is loving it!! We pulled out all of her various dollhouse people from her tree house and elsewhere and she was making up stories and such all afternoon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sharing Saturday 13-4

Thank you to everyone who shared with us last week!! I know we were blown away by the ideas and creativity. Michelle over at Having Fun at Chelle's House has the most clicked and a few of her favorites, so make sure you go and check out hers as well. Here are a few of my favorites from last week!
1) From Happiest Mom on the Blog: I Spy Bags (Class holiday gifts, but could be used as Valentines)
2) From Pinkoddy: Snowman Indoor Activities and Crafts (So many great and different ideas!!)
3) From 4 kids, 2 guinea pigs one happy family: Lessons on London (Wow, some great activities all to review after trip to London to see the Olympics)
4) From Ginx Craft: Sophie the Dutch Doll (What great memories to share with her daughter and hopefully have her daughter create her own with the adorable doll)
5) From KiKi's Korner: Scratch Card Valentines (Such a cute idea and great tutorial!)

Thank you to everyone who shared last week!! I hope you will join us and share again!! If you are featured here or earlier this week, please feel free to grab a featured button to display proudly on your blog. 


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From Your Hostess:
This week we had several multicultural and book posts plus a couple pirate posts. I will share a link to my pirate ship one.
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If you would be so kind to take a minute to vote for me in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Blogs for 2013 I would really appreciate it. You can vote daily (every 24 hours) until January 30th!

Now for This Week's Party 
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A New Pirate Hat

As I mentioned previously, Hazel is going to a pirate themed birthday party this weekend. Since pirates scare her, I wanted to make a friendly pirate hat for her to wear. I used the tutorial on From The Hive. I sewed it on my machine and did the seam inside. Here she is modeling it.
My cute, friendly little pirate! What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Belated Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Snack

So in the book we took out of the library on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it defined celebrate with the word party in it. That is of course what Hazel took as the meaning. So she wanted to have a party. She called Nonni and asked if they could have a party since Nonni usually has her on Mondays. Nonni planned a pizza party for them. I got to wondering about snack/party ideas. I googled and really only found ideas for classes like have everyone bring a different fruit for a fruit salad or doing an entire multicultural meal. I did not have time to plan this and wanted something fun to do with Hazel. I had been saving a sugar cookie mix from Trader Joe's (they only sell them around Christmas, but we love them). So we pulled out our hand cookie cutter (that I bought for our church's Stewardship campaign last year) and made some sugar cookies. Now with more planning I could have been more creative. Next year I am thinking we will do this but the colors will be frosting using the book The Colors of Us as a guideline. You know start with white frosting and make different skin tone shades by adding food color similar to what we did with paint in this post.

Our first task was to bake the cookies. I had pulled out our hand cookie cutter as well as a dove one. Hazel wanted to make more doves, but luckily I was faster than she was so we got more hands.

While the cookies cooled we organized our decorations which was a task in itself since they were all in one bag. I thought of using M&M's since they are one of Hazel's favorites. In fact I bought a bag or regular and a bag of Valentine's Day so we would have pink, white as well as the brown, yellow and red. But I got to thinking about how the red is so red and they no longer do the tan. Then I thought of the candy store at our big furniture store where you can buy M&M's by the color by the pound as well as jelly beans. Since they did not have skin tone shades of M&M's there, I went with jelly beans. (And yes one of the local furniture stores has crazy attractions in it. The one near us is themed as Bean Town and has a candy store, a local ice cream stand, liquid fireworks, Omni theater and more. The one near where I use to live was themed as New Orleans and had a whole multimedia show of Bourban Street and looked like a theme park.)

Then we got to decorating. We did one hand of each color and then we did some of mixed colors to represent mixed races. Then we decorated one dove in white. The rest I told Hazel she could do what she wanted. While she finished them, I arranged the hands and put the white peace dove in the center.
Then to make her happy we put all the birds in the center.
And a close up of her birds:

So next year we will do something similar but take the time to make the different shades of frosting. I am also going to think of some other fun foods/party foods we could make to celebrate the day. Do you have any ideas? I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ahoy, Matey! I made a pirate ship and some peg priates

This weekend we are going to a birthday party for one of Hazel's best friends from school. He is a boy who has just about everything. Since his party is pirate themed, I thought I would make him a pirate ship and some peg pirates. I found some inspiration on Esty and then found some easy to follow cardboard ones on  Molly Moo and Red Ted Art. I used Molly Moo's image as a pattern and cut them from cardboard. Then I cut wool felt a bit larger. I glued the felt to the cardboard and then started sewing the pieces together.
On one of the many sites I looked at homemade pirate ships I saw a neat storage compartment in the back, so I added that.
Then I used a 1/4 inch dowel for the mast and to get it to stand up I bought a package of these wooden wheels.
I covered it with brown felt by gluing it on and then glued it in place on the boat.
Then I cut a white mast from white wool felt and made a black flag with skull and crossbones to complete the look. I also used a paint pen to put the child's name on it as the name of the ship. Next it needs some pirates, so I painted with paint markers some peg dolls.
The captain I gave a felt hat, peg leg and a hook. The first mate has the eye patch and gold earring as well as bandana on his head. Now it is set to be played with. Oh, and did I mention Hazel wants a non-pirate ship done in blue with a pink flag. And I'm going to make a pink pirate hat for her for the party. I pinned lots of pirate ideas here if you are looking for any.
I considered adding a plank to the ship, but Steve didn't think I should. Since he is our model ship expert, I went with his opinion.