Creative Chore Chart

7 11 2008

november-2008-008I tried to think of a fun way for my son to remember his chores as we begin to give him responsibilities around the house, and designed this fun chore chart.

You will need:

  • Assorted Colored Felt
  • One 12”x18” Sheet of Stiffened Felt
  • Glue Gun (or Sewing Machine)
  • Popsicle Sticks (Colored Sticks Work Well)
  • Scissors (Strait-edge and/or Decorative-edge)

Good to have:

  • Magnets
  • Ruler
  • Sticker Labels
  • Writing Utensil

The Project:

Cut assorted pieces of felt into squares or rectangles to represent each day of the week and each chore.  Glue, or sew, the squares on the large piece of stiffened felt, leaving the top of the square open so you can slide the popsicles into each felt pocket.  Label the pockets according to its use.  Place the popsicle sticks into the appropriate slots at the beginning of the week, and you are ready to keep track of your child’s chores.  Every day, after a chore is completed, encourage your child to move one popsicle stick from the appropriate chore’s slot and place it in the pocket for current day of the week.

Tips:

  • Think about what you would like to include on your chart, and use this as a guide when designing your own chart.  I suggest color coding, one color per chore, making the pocket for that particular chore’s popsicle sticks the same color as the sticks.   You could also write the chore or glue fun cut-outs that represent the chore (such as a tooth, for brushing your teeth) on one end of the popsicle stick.  The nice thing about marking them like this is that you will be able to look back later in the week and see what your child did and didn’t accomplish on certain days, as opposed to just seeing that three out of four tasks were completed.
  • The size of the pockets depends on your design and how many sticks you are planning on keeping in each slot.  More popsicle sticks require a larger pocket with more room.  Fewer popsicle sticks allow you to make smaller pockets.  The entire project should be based on your personal design and the use you have for the chart.
  • I spent a little time cutting out letters for the days of the week at the bottom of our chart, but you could use a marker, sticker label, felt/foam letter stickers, or anything else you can come up with.
  • Put magnets on the back so you can hang it on your fridge.  Simple, available, and pretty.
  • I doubled up on felt for aesthetic purposes, but you certainly don’t need to.  I think the felt will do just fine for the basic purposes of this chart and should last you quite a while whether you use one layer of felt or two.
  • If your child is old enough, let them design the chart on their own.  Perhaps you could come up with a few designs of your own to get their ideas flowing, but this would be a great way to get them interested in their chart.
  • You could easily design a reading chart (one stick per section finished or per time spent reading), homework chart (when they finish, you give them a stick to put in the day’s pocket), discipline tracker (one color for time-outs or offenses, another for good behavior), or other chart for whatever tasks you might be working on with your children. 
  • The background felt comes in different colors.  You can make each child their own color of chart(s), or make each subject (discipline, homework, chores) a different color if you needed to.  If you want to use one chart for multiple children, assign each child certain colors of popsicle sticks or write their names on their popsicle sticks.  
  • Customize it any way you can so that you will be more likely to use it!




Seasonal Calendar

6 11 2008

november-2008-005We just signed my son up for Pre-School.  To help him keep track of the days he has school, we sat down and made a fun calendar for him to mark off the days.

You will need:

  • Paper (Construction paper worked well)
  • Scissors
  • Pen, Pencil, Markers, Crayons, Colored Pencils, etc.
  • Glue or a Glue Stick

Good to have:

  • Ruler
  • Cookie Cutters (to trace shapes)
  • Stickers
  • Decorations

The Project:

We cut small strips of colorful paper to make the grid of the calendar, and glued them in place.  Next we filled in and decorated his calendar.  Done!

Tips:

  • I traced some seasonal shapes (leaves and an acorn) for him to glue along the border for fun.  I tried to keep the paper colors appropriate for the season, as well.
  • Microsoft Word had a template for blank calendars in the New Project section.  I just picked one of those, adjusted the font and added any special days directly on the computer and printed it on the background paper we were planning on using (brown construction paper in this case).  It worked out really well!  If I had any color ink right now, I’m sure it would have printed the gridlines, too, which would have made it easier as we were gluing on our fun strips of paper.
  • When we were finished, we added some scraps of paper to mark his school days.  Stickers would be ideal for this!
  • It’s such an easy project, and will certainly be useful for tracking all kinds of things.  Chores, homework, school, allowance day, etc.




Play Lite-Brite Online!

2 11 2008

I was just looking online for something, and accidentally found a neat site!  It’s not a craft, but it’s art of sorts, so I felt justified creating a new project category called Computer Arts & Crafts and sharing the link to Lite-Brite Online!  If your kids are anything like mine, the computer is a very mysterious, fun device that they just can’t resist!  Why not let them work on hand-eye coordination while playing something fun and artsy without all the small pegs that children can so easily choke on? 

Lite-Brite Online is a digital version of the old fashioned toy.  Rather than messing with all those tiny little pegs, you just use the mouse to click on the color peg you’d like to use and place it on the digital Lite-Brite.  They even have an option to print your design so you can create it on your actual Lite-Brite!

Let me know if you like their site!  And please feel free to share any websites you let your kids explore!

Thanks!





Halloween Popsicle Puppets

28 10 2008

This is a fun project that can be assembled on the go or at home, and can be as complex or simple as you want to make it.

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Good to have:

  • Markers
  • Cookie cutters (to trace the shapes)
  • Cut-outs for the facial features
  • Embellishments (glitter, buttons, etc)

The Project:

Cut out the basic shape of a pumpkin, ghost, or other Halloween fiend.  Decorate your puppet however you would like, then simply glue it to the end of a popsicle stick.  Ta-da!  Instant fun on a stick!

Tips:

  • You can use a variety of papers for this project (whatever you have on hand, really), but I prefer the foam paper if my kids are going to play with them afterward.  The foam paper is more rigid and lasts a lot longer.  If you just want something cute that can be tossed afterward, construction paper is great.  White computer paper is fine, too.  Let the kids color their own pumpkins orange.  Honestly, little kids aren’t usually all that picky, so it’s up to you.  They just like playing with them when you’re done!
  • If you have time, you could always cut out some features for the kids to glue on their puppet’s face.  Simple shapes like circles and triangles work well and are easy to cut out.  (Use a hole punch for some perfect circle eyes.)  Think of cute pumpkin mouth shapes and cut them out ahead of time, too.  (Make a half circle, then go back and notch out some teeth; it’s a lot easier than you’d think!)  Variety is key, if you’re doing this, so make more than you need!  And be creative!  Don’t just do the faces if you’re making monsters or other ghouls.  Consider hands, witch brooms, pumpkin leaves, and pointy hats.  There is no limit to how cute you can make these!
  • If you are using foam paper, I find that a hot glue gun will permanently bond it to itself.  When you are planning to give the puppet to a chewy little one, like my one year old, consider using foam paper and a glue gun.  It actually holds up pretty well.  Just remember to watch them, since kids seem to get a kick out of scaring moms by choking on things!
  • Take this project on the go by putting the supplies in a zip bag and tossing it in your purse or diaper bag.  It’s great to have a quick project like this on hand for little ones to do while you run errands, and they have something to occupy their imaginations when they are done with the project!




Halloween Bean Bags

28 10 2008

Bean bags are great for all ages, and there are a million and one games to play with them.  They are easy to make and can be customized for different holidays, like these Halloween Bean Bags.

You will need:

  • Felt
  • Glue (I prefer a glue gun)
  • Dry Beans or Peas (split peas work great)
  • Scissors

Good to have:

  • Cookie cutters to trace
  • Pen or Marker
  • Funnel
  • Googly eyes
  • Embellishments to decorate your bean bag

The Project:

Simply draw or trace any basic Halloween shape on a piece of felt twice, then cut it out.  Glue three quarters of the shape shut, leaving a large enough opening to stuff the bean bag with the peas or beans.  Fill the bean bag and glue it shut.  You can decorate your beanbags any way you desire!

Tips:

  • The more simple the shape, the better.  Of the four pictured, the best for playing with is the pumpkin.  The other shapes are really stiff and rigid, but cute enough that the kids will still happily play with them.
  • The larger, the better.  Small shapes don’t fill as comfortably, and they feel really stiff and hard longer.  The glue makes the edges really rigid on small shapes, but isn’t as noticeable on larger shapes.  If you can make it larger than a child’s hand, preferable about the size of an adult’s hand, they really turn out much better.  Sadly, I ALWAYS forget this and trace my cookie cutters as they are, rather than enlarging the shape, so my shaped bean bags are always hard feeling.  Argh!  ;)
  • I like to glue the bean bags most of the way on my own before involving my kids.  My son’s favorite part is pouring the beans through a funnel into the bag!  We make a few at once so that he can move on to stuffing the next one while I close the one he’s just finished stuffing.  His portion of this project moves quickly, so be ready for the kids to be done first!
  • See Basic Bean Bags for more tips on making bean bags.




Basic Bean Bags

28 10 2008

Bean bags are great for all ages, and there are a million and one things to do with them.  They are easy to make, and keep kids busy for hours if you are willing to teach them a few fun games.

You will need:

  • Felt
  • Glue (I prefer a glue gun)
  • Dry Beans or Peas
  • Scissors (straight or pinking shears)

Good to have:

  • Funnel
  • Sewing Machine

The Project:

Simply cut out a simple square shape.  Glue (or sew) three sides of the square shut, leaving one side open to stuff the bean bag with the peas or beans.  Fill the bean bag (with or without a funnel) and glue (or sew) it shut.  Done!

Tips:

  • The glue makes the edges really rigid on small shapes, but isn’t as noticeable on larger shapes.  If you can make it roughly about four inches on each side and not over-glue, the bean bags really turn out much better.  I don’t measure anything, though.  I just guess… They don’t have to be perfect squares even!
  • I like to close the first few sides of the bean bags on my own before involving my kids.  My son’s favorite part is pouring the beans through a funnel into the bag!  We make a few at once so that he can move on to stuffing the next one while I close the one he’s just finished stuffing.  His portion of this project moves quickly, so be ready for the kids to be done first!
  • This would be a WONDERFUL first sewing project for kids!  All straight lines and simple construction…  Even a few pivots to learn from!  If you’re sewing them, do not start on a corner.  Start just before the first corner and sew all four sides, leaving only one or two inches open right in the middle of the first/fourth side to stuff it.  After stuffing, just sew that side from corner to corner, overlapping the original starting and ending points for reinforcement.  (If you need more info on sewing them, email me; I’m happy to help!)
  • Our bean bags are always different designs and/or colors on each side.  It just makes them fun, and lends them to more game possibilities that way.  Plus, they are just the right size to be made out of scrap felt, so it’s easy to make each one unique!
  • I like to either clip the corners or cut the square with pinking shears afterward for a fun finish.  That might just be me, but I think they look better that way.
  • Our bean bags have been used quite a lot, as I’m sure you can tell from the photo, but they hold up pretty well for how inexpensive the project is, and can easily be replaced.  Just remember to cut them open and re-use the beans!




Bean Bag Games

28 10 2008

Since I’m posting some Bean Bag Projects, I thought it might be a good idea to include some of the games we use ours for.  Here are just a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing!

  • Bean bag games can be as simple as tossing it into a bucket from different tiles in the kitchen.
  • Think skee ball, and award points for different containers set at varying distances from the toss line.
  • You could set up multiple targets for them to hit or knock over.  Try empty soda bottles or stuffed animals and action figures.
  • I like to use them to help our son practice throwing back and forth like a ball; the shape and material seem to be easier for him to catch and aim. 
  • Don’t forget the classics, like Hot Potato! 
  • Take them out and about with you to play in the car using the radio; when a song begins, have the kids pass it back and forth.  Whoever doesn’t have it at the end of the song wins! 
  • Try putting one bean bag at different spots through the living room (such as the couch, entryway, and coffee table), then call out a color of beanbag for the child to find and collect.  See how fast they can remember where each color was placed, or how quickly they can find it without being told where each one is before beginning.  This could also be a good competitive game.  Whoever gets there first earns that beanbag.  The most bean bags at the end wins.
  • Be creative…Make it up as you go!
  •  

     

     

     








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.