Monday, August 8, 2016

SUMMERTIME TRAVELS: WHAT COULD BE BETTER?



Ah, summer vacation! What could be better? 
It has been said that August is the national vacation month for the United States. From the increased traffic on the highway, I truly believe that statement is correct. August and vacation travels are definitely a perfect combination: a great way to wind down summer fun before heading back to school.

Today's blog post combines the awesomeness of summer vacation with the excitement of the soon-to-begin school year. By combining the travel destination with math and geography activities, your little ones will be eager to share their summer travel experiences with their classmates.

I have collaborated with a very talented artist, Jaime Buckley, to create a sent of printables and activity suggestions to plot, graph, compare, and discuss summer travels. Did your kiddos have a STAY-cation? No problem. Plot the local destinations that the kiddos visited:the pool, the park, the theater, museums, etc. Combine the distances for each. Your STAY-cation might end up having the highest mileage total of all the kids in your neighborhood.

Travel the World Activities


1. Use the outline of your state, region, country, or continent to plot the distance each child traveled for their vacation. Use online resources to compute the distance traveled.



2. Use the distance traveled to compare with other children in the group. This is a great opportunity to review math concepts such a ordering numbers from least to greatest, greatest to least, calculating the average, calculating the range, etc.

3. Create a bar graph representing the number of children that traveled to a particular spot.

4. Create a pictograph representing the method of travel used by each child.



5. Create a picture with the travel methods. Students can add their own picture or drawing to represent themselves.



The images and printables presented in this activity may be used for no more than one classroom or group. Credit for the artwork must be given to Jaime Buckley, artist of Pickled Pumpkin Pie by Deb Troehler.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kickstarter, Children's Literature, & a Rainbow of Products

My new favorite web site does not instantly offer educational activities. Nor does this site offer crafting instructions. However, this site does offer the fruits of those efforts and the inspiration to do more.
The site to which I am referring is Kickstarter—and I’m hooked!

By now, anyone connected to the internet, social media, or a television has heard of the concept of crowdfunding. Kickstarter is an artist and creation-based crowdfunding web site that helps folks bring their projects to life. The site is a direct connection to the artists, authors, engineers (yes, engineers!), coders, and creators of all-things-wonderful. As each campaign begins, backers have the opportunity to experience the story behind-the-product, the inspiration, and sometimes even the frustrations faced in completing the project. I think of Kickstarter as an art fair with a twist—the venue reaching worldwide, not just a small community.

As one of my passions is children’s literature and the important message tucked inside the pages of any children's book, I have naturally spent hours exploring the many MANY children’s publishing campaigns on Kickstarter. On any given day, I have discovered book projects that focus on education—teaching youngsters anything from the alphabet to computer coding, the environment, the beauty of art—from mosaics to needle felting, and acceptance—of ourselves as well as the differences in others.

And, needless to say, my postman will be busy over the next few months delivering the final results of all of this exploration. Yes—the backers receive these products some time after the campaign ends (if the goal has been met).

So, to avoid losing the message in the words, I will simply provide the links to some of my favorite projects thus far that are still ongoing. I hope you consider checking them out.






 While these campaigns may have ended, the books may be available online.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Baxter's PAW-lor Trick with Uncle Pete

Artwork by Jaime D. Buckley
Children’s books are so much more than just books. Books provide time for togetherness with a read-aloud. Books are a strong avenue for language development. 
Books are also a springboard for educational activities.

The key is to make the activities fun and to make the activities memorable.
The characters, storyline, and theme of Pickled Pumpkin Pie by deb troehler (link) and 
Jaime D. Buckley (link) definitely provide all of the above-listed opportunities.

When I was creating the follow-up activities for the story, I kept going back to the idea of a whole pie. Soon, that morphed into a HOLE in the pie—which lead to an activity that I used to do with my students. The activity below teaches children not only the difference between circumference and area. But it also helps children expand their minds and think outside the box
—Or, more appropriately, to think INSIDE the pie crust.

At first, Baxter kept thinking about the edge of the pie—or the circumference.
However, he soon figured it out.

The images below are useful for teaching children to cut a hole large enough in a circle to climb through it.

This post was shared on Create-with-Joy. Please check them out.

This post was shared on The Squishable Baby. Please check them out.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kickstarter Kickoff with a New Book Project


Nearly two years have passed. Where, oh where did the time go? I am sorry that this blog has not received any new posts from me for a while. I realize there are no excuses for such a long delay. However, my dear husband has been battling the Big ‘C’ and my time has been spent with him and working extra hours to help him with his much-needed time off from work. He hasn’t beaten it yet, but I’m confident he will. He’s a fighter and my bestest best friend!

I wanted to take this opportunity to share my newest project—a story and activity book for the kiddos with a Thanksgiving theme. I know that we haven’t even reached Valentine’s Day yet. However, this project was put on hold in 2014 and is begging to be released. The project will hopefully be launched by late spring.

So, without further delay, I’d like to introduce Pickled Pumpkin Pie—a story told in rhyme about a quirky uncle and the family that loves him. This story is a tribute to my dear Aunt Kitty. While she was not a lot like Uncle Pete in respect to his peculiar ways, Aunt Kitty always brought laughter and sunshine into our home with every visit. Families are what it’s all about, after all, and I wanted to find a way to thank Aunt Kitty for making my childhood fun.

For this latest book project, I teamed up with a very talented artist—Jaime D. Buckley. His comic book style was perfect for the characters of this story and I am thrilled and honored that he created the illustrations for this book. He is definitely a “Hero” to me~and to this project.

To help defray some of the costs for this book project, I have also ventured into the world of crowdfunding with a Kickstarter campaign. I discovered this great avenue for supporting projects when I backed a campaign in Baltimore, Maryland—the former home town of my father and grandfather.

Below are some sample activity pages from the print version of the book:
Artwork by Jaime D. Buckley
A Needle-felted Pumpkin Available for One of the Pledge Tiers


Below you will find the link to the project. I hope you consider making a pledge. Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FIND SOME TIME TO CROCHET & A POM POM-A-DAY


Welcome to the month of manys!

Many events and parties to attend
Many additional household chores(Can you say d-e-c-o-r-a-t-i-n-g?)
Many people to connect with
Many fun activities to conduct with the kiddos
Many stores to visit (online or otherwise)
Many additional treats to bake
The next few weeks are definitely going to be filled with obligations that only pop up this time of year. My post today, while in its first appearance seems as if it is yet another “to do” to add to your already overburdened “to do” list, actually provides an opportunity to relax, reduce your heart rate, and create something special for the little ones in your life—a crochet hat for one of your child’s dolls.

If you don’t already know the positive affects that crochet (and knitting) have on your health, you have missed out on a natural tension reducer. By counting stitches, focusing on the stitch types, using one’s mind to connect with repetitive motions, and reaching the ultimate satisfaction when a project is complete, a person that crochets quickly learns that crochet can make a day flow much more smoothly.

Below you will find the directions for a simple style crochet hat for a small doll with a head circumference of approximately 8”. For those handy with the hook, it can be whipped up in a bit more than an hour—great to do while the kiddos are watching a holiday special on TV.

I have not added the directions to each stitch as there is no way that I could duplicate all the wonderful tutorials and videos available on the web. Instead, I am offering the pattern with a quick cheat-sheet at the end.

The hat is topped off with a pom pom. For older children, I’m sure that they will love to create the pompom on their own to top off their hat for dolly.

So….grab your crochet hook, a ball of crochet thread, a cup of cocoa, a blanket, and find some time to relax.

*This pattern may be shared with anyone, as long as it is linked back to this page and credit is given for the pattern.

Winter Cap with Pom Pom
 

 
This pattern is for a snowcap to fit a doll with a head circumference of appproximately 8”. Modify your first ring accordingly.

Skills Level: 2 (easy plus—some knowledge of basic stitches required)

Size 10 hook, size 20 crochet thread
Gauge: 13 stitches per inch
Abbreviations:
Round (rnd), chain (Ch), single crochet (sc), double crochet (dc), Front post (fp), Back Post (bp), slipstitch (ss)
13 rounds of DC, 1 rnd of sc, 3 rnds front post/back post ribbing
Ch 4 (first color-red in sample)

Rnd 1: 10 dc in 4th chain from hook (the ch3 counts as the first dc) (total of 11 dc) Join ring with ss

Rnd 2: ch3 (counts as first dc for this rnd and for every rnd hereafter) 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd *2 dc in the next dc from the rnd*, repeat between *'s(total of 22 dc), join with ss

Rnd 3: ch3, 2dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 33 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2,2 (meaning that I put two dc in every SECOND stitch) join with ss

Rnd 4: ch3, 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 44 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2,3,3 (meaning that I put two dc in every THIRD stitch) join with ss

Rnd 5: ch3, 1.dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in each of the next TWO dcs, 2 dc in the next DC from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 55 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2, 3, 4, 4 (meaning that I put two dc in every FOURTH stitch) join with a ss

Rnd 6: ch3, 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in each of the next FOUR dcs, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 66 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 5 (meaning that I put two dc in every fifth stitch) join with a ss

Rnd 7: ch3, 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in each of the next FIVE DCs, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 77 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6,6 (meaning that I put two dc in every SIXTH stitch) join with ss

Rnd 8: ch3, 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in each of the next SIX DCs, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 88 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 7 (meaning that I put two dc in every SEVENTH stitch) join with ss

Rnd 9: ch3, 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd,1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd, *1 dc in each of the next SEVEN DCs, 2 dc in the next dc from the last rnd*, repeat between *'s to the end. (total 99 dc) This rnd has a pattern that I repeat to myself of 1,2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8, 8 (meaning that I put two dc in every EIGHTH stitch) join with ss

INCREASE COMPLETE

Rnds 10-13: ch3, 1 dc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the each remaining dc from the last rnd (total 99 dc) join with ss

CHANGE COLORS
Rnd 14: attach new color (white in sample) with a ss, ch 1, 1 sc in the first dc from the last rnd, 1 sc in the each remaining dc from the last rnd (total 99 sc) join with ss

RIBBING
Rnd 15: ch 3, 1 dc in the first sc from the last rnd, 1 dc in the each remaining dc from the last rnd (total 99 dc) join with ss

Rnd 16: ch 1, *1 dc in the FRONT POST of first dc from the last rnd, 1 dc in BACK POST of next dc from last rnd,* repeat pattern the each remaining dc from the last rnd (total 99 fp/bp) join with ss to top of first dc

Rnd 17-18: Repeat rnd 16, tie off, and weave in threads
Add pompom to top of hat.


CREATE A HANDCRAFTED POMPOM
 
http://rainbows2snowflakes.blogspot.com/2013/11/too-early-for-snow-not-this-type.html
Link to post with pompom tutorial
 

Hints and suggestions:

*I used DMC Cecelia cotton for the hat and merino for the pompom. Depending upon the age of your little one, they can help with creating the pompom for the hat by using the tutorial from an earlier post.
*When creating the ribbing, remember that each front post stitch belongs with another fp stitch; each back post stitch belongs with a bp stitch.
*For those of you (like me) that find endless steps tedious and somewhat confusing during the increasing rounds, I am adding a visual to assist with each round.

Rnd 1    Ià TOTAL 11
Rnd 2    Và TOTAL 22
Rnd 3    I Và TOTAL 33
Rnd 4    II Và TOTAL 44
Rnd 5    III Và TOTAL 55
Rnd 6    IIII Và TOTAL 66
Rnd 7    IIIII Và TOTAL 77
Rnd 8    IIIIII Và TOTAL 88
Rnd 9    IIIIIII Và TOTAL 99

Key: I equals 1 stitch in each stitch from previous round; V equals 2 stitches in each stitch from previous round
 
* Dolls by Berdine Creedy and Robert Tonner


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! It's Going to be a Boo-tiful Day!


Happy Halloweenie!

An example of how I spent October during my break from posting
Dolls by Robert Tonner and Berdine Creedy
Crochet creation, needle felted pumpkin, and pull toy by me
Wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween

Monday, September 22, 2014

AUTUMN, CHANGES, & BUTTERFLY BATIK

Change—New Paths—New Directions

While most of us realize that in order to grow we must step out of our comfort zone and explore new paths in life. However, recognizing the need to change directions and actually taking that first step are often at opposite ends of the spectrum. Many times we need a nudge to help us take that first step. For me, the nudge came in the form of a major health setback. I was forced to make choices that I preferred not to make. Yet, now that I can look back at the footprints I have left on that new path, I realize that my change in direction was a good choice to make.

Since the beginning of 2014 my blog posts have become less frequent. In fact, for several months I did not even add a new post. I apologize for the lack of new educational ideas and activities during this time. I have come to the conclusion that for the remainder of 2014, I must devote my time to my family, my health, and personal commitments. Trying to juggle all of those needs with maintaining this blog was not in the best interest of my family, my readers, and my health. I intend to return to this blog in 2015, hopefully renewed and revitalized. In that time, please remember that monthly activities and ideas that I posted in 2013 and early 2014 will still provide creative suggestions for making learning fun and memorable.

My final blog post for 2014 fits in perfectly with my decision to journey down a different path for a while. Mother Nature is on her own path to change with the turning of the seasons. While pictures, books, classroom decorations, and the like lead us to believe otherwise, the transition from one season to the next is anything but sudden. For weeks in our area summer has been fighting to maintain its hold on our region. In fact, during the first week of September we had record breaking temperatures. Our usually wet month of September has been dry. Yet, each morning, there is a glimmer of hope that the cooler autumn weather is winning the battle of the seasons. Spiders are capturing the dew each morning and now spinning the spectacular webs that are synonymous with fall. Moths and butterflies are hastily slurping the last of the nectar from the fading blossoms of summer. Caterpillars are beginning to stake their claim to their sleeping grounds to ride out their transition to new creations—moths and butterflies that will emerge in the spring.

Summer to autumn
Autumn to winter
Winter to Spring
Spring to Summer

The endless change of directions that nature takes is a reminder to all of us that to grow we must change, even if the change may not be as easy as we’d like.

As my final educational activity for 2014, I have chosen a craftivity centered on what I believe are the ultimate examples of change—butterflies. From the moment they hatch into a tiny caterpillar until the time comes to settle into a deep metamorphic slumber, butterflies are nature’s example of how trust in change can result in beautiful creations. When a butterfly lays her eggs, not knowing if her efforts will succeed, she trusts that the leaf, the branch, or the seedpod will provide for her young offspring. The caterpillars emerge and forage for weeks, trusting that food will be readily available. They grow and shed one casing after another, trusting nature to protect them during each transition. Then, the caterpillars trust nature once again to protect them as they spin their protective chrysalis and finally emerge a magnificent winged creature.

The activity below provides children with an opportunity to demonstrate how change (addition of paint to a crayon resist background) can yield beautiful results.
Beautiful Butterfly Batik*
Objective: Children will learn the traditional method of batik (hot wax resist), but use that information to create a variation of the method—crayon batik.

Materials:
Crayons with fine points
Sturdy paper or cardstock
Diluted tempera or acrylic paint
Large bowl
Optional: butterfly template (provided)
Plain newsprint or screen mat for drying


Procedure:
Preparation: Prior to conducting the activity, pour a small amount of paint into a large bowl. Dilute the paint with water so that there is ample pigment in the water, but the paint is now the consistency of water. This will be used as the paint bath to dye the crayon artwork.



1. Show your children pictures of traditional batik (Hint: an internet search will provide some excellent examples).
2. Discuss the process for creating traditional batik.
A. Paint melted wax on fabric.
B. Dye the fabric a light color and allow to dry. The dye will resist the fabric that is coated in wax.
C. Add more melted wax. Repeat the dying process.
D. When the last dye has been added and dries, the wax is melted from the fabric, usually with a hot iron.
The result is a design with bold colors and lines that crisscross the colors where the wax cracked during the dying process.
3. Ask the children to use the crayons draw a block style picture of a butterfly or moth, encouraging the children to use large shapes with small spaces in between. It is important that the crayons completely cover each shape with a thick layer of wax.
 
 
4. Fold and crinkle the paper into a ball.
 
5. Unfold the paper and briefly dip it into the bowl of diluted paint. (Hint: younger children may need to be reminded that if their artwork is allowed to remain in the paint too long, the paper fibers may become weak and tear.)
 
 
6. Place the artwork on a flat surface to dry.
 


The faux batik butterfly artwork is a combination of different mediums that can represent the change of the seasons. When the children look at their completed artwork, ask them to find the small lines of paint that worked their way into the blocks of crayon wax. Explain that these lines can represent the days where our seasons are a mixture of two seasons—for example, very hot days in September that begin chilly with a heavy dew coating the windows and plants.

*I originally created this activity for a wonderful web site that focuses on teaching children the wonders of nature and how butterflies are wonderful ambassadors for nature’s ability to grow and change. Please check out their site for more activities and information about butterflies.

Kids Butterfly dot Org