Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tricks of the Trade: Holiday Photos

This next trick is one I've been doing for years, and wanted to post today - so you still have three days to act on it, if you'd like to do it as well.  :)  This trick is based on the fact that holidays are generally over-sugared, over-excited, overwhelming experiences for children. 

This Sunday morning, most of us will be heading to church to celebrate Easter. And even if you go to a church this is as lax as ours (jeans are perfectly acceptable attire to services), most of us get dolled up on this special day. Girls in bonnets and bows, boys in ties and button-down shirts...they looks so adorable, you just MUST get their photos!!   Only here's the're running late, everyone has to shower and eat and get their hair done. Someone needs to take the dog out, and tie shoes, and keep the littles ones out of the jelly beans.  Kids are jumping because grandma and grandpas have come for a visit and because they know that somewhere lurking in their homes are baskets filled with bunnies and eggs and toys.   It's at this moment that you decide to pull out your camera.  When you have about three minutes left before going to service.  Now, if your house is like mine - those three minutes involve frustrated mommy, less-than-compliant children, and a husband giving me eyes of "do we really have to do this"?

Because my answer is "yes", I have found a solution.  Simply get your babies all dolled up a few days BEFORE Easter (or whatever holiday it might be)!!  Make it a low stress time when you have no place to be.  Put on some fun music and let them chose every (other) pose you take.  You'd be amazed at the beautiful photos you can take when you aren't in a rush.   And now that you have them, that's one less thing to do on Sunday morning!  (Of course I'll still have my camera out on Easter - but we won't have to sit for "formal" shots - it will be candid all the way!)  Here are a few of my favorite shots from this year's Easter photos.

Send me photos of your Easter babies, and as always, feel free to copy!  Stacy

Tricks of the Trade: The Time Filler

In the past three years of homeschooling my kiddos - I've learned a few tricks of the trade.  I'm going to share a few here and there that I think other moms and dads might find helpful.  This first one, "the time filler" is the one I find I use every day, and is most important to me.  As all homeschooling parents know, one of your goals is to keep everyone on task, all the time.  Things fall apart quickly if you have an "escapee" while you are doing math with another child.   I had to remedy this in my own classroom, so I quickly became a fan of time fillers.  For all those times during the day that your child has spare time... while waiting for you to correct their work, or if they've finished their current assignment and are waiting for their next, etc. 

Each week or so, I find a craft project that my children can do on their own, that is tedious.  It either has a million parts to cut out and glue, or lots of tiny spaces to color.  They know they have a certain time frame to finish it in (usually a week for us), so they work on it daily, but aren't expected to finish it all at once. I leave the materials they need to do it by their work area, and whenever they have a "down" moment, they are to pull it out and work quietly on it until I am ready for them.  This works, I promise. 

Here is a good example of a time filler, the one I choose for this week.  When I choose a time filler, it is always something that I don't have to put too much preparation into. For example, with this craft, I was able to print off the sheets necessary, and give them minimal directions. I believe I drew a green line on the tree page to show where the grass and sky should meet, and told them that was the only part to use crayon. The rest was to be done in marker.   I reminded them of I what I considered to be appropriate times to work on it, and left them to it.  Today, they are finally finished. Here is how they came out:

I will start posting links to our time fillers, in case you want to try them too.  Let me know how they work out for you, and if they make a difference in your homeschooling day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stained Glass Cross

When I saw this craft, I knew it was one I wanted to do this year.  Then I read these directions: and decided that maybe I wouldn't. The directions on this page are horrible.  But the craft was one I really wanted to do.  So, we made our own step by step instructions if you'd like to do it as well. Enjoy!

Step one:  Using a tracer (to ensure they are the same) have the kids cut out two identical cross shapes.
They should look like this when they are finished:

Then, mom or dad (or whoever is in charge at the moment!!) should cut out the center of the crosses.  Now, don't get too crazy about this. They should be similar, but don't have to be exact for the project to look nice.  When you are done, they should look like this:

Next, cut a length of clear contact paper that is big enough to go over the cross twice, and place one of the crosses down like this:

You'll notice that I left the other side covered still. This is to protect it until you are ready.   I had precut tiny pieces of tissue paper and had them ready for the kids.  Next, they put the tissue paper all over the empty area in the middle of the cross.

When that is done, carefully place the other cross on top of the one with the tissue paper over it.  I found the top cross didn't want to stay put, so I added a bit of tape to each edge of it.

Next, uncover the remaining side of contact paper (this is a big kid or grown up job only) and press it down over the cross.

Then have your children cut out the cross shape. 

That's all!  Hang in your window and enjoy!

This project takes a little effort, but is well worth it. I think they look so nice in the window. What do you think? Enjoy a week of crafts (I hope) up to Easter, and let me know which ones your family liked to do the best! Stacy

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Little Cone Head - an around the head headband

I think when I tried this:  I was more wanting to learn the technique than really in love with the style. This is by no means a slam to the blogger who posted it - I get most of my best styles from her site!!   Bee did get lots of compliments on this do, but I just think she looked like a cone head from that early 90's movie... What do you think?

I just love how the end of her hair curled under in the next photo.
That pesky little hair on the bottom did NOT want to stay in!

If I do this again, I think I would do it with pigtails instead of a pony, and use a much thinner elastic to hold the piggies in - thereby (I hope) making the cone shape much smaller or non-existant.  It turned out cute - but isn't my favorite, and it was a one day 'do.  I should have taken a photo of her hair this morning when she woke up. It was hysterical!
Have a great afternoon, and as always, feel free to copy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


 Every so often, I run across a website that is just too good not to share!  This is a homeschooling must!  There are worksheets here for book reports for children in grades K-5.   All free, printable, simple...all things I love!  I haven't tried them yet, but I plan on it - as soon as Bee and Lex finish the books they are currently reading (Bee - Little House, School Days, and Lex - Akimbo and the Lions)...they will!  I'll let you know how they come out, and if there are certain worksheets we like better than others.

Here you go:

Have a great night and as always, feel free to copy!

Spring/Easter Chicks

This craft is so adorable.  You can find the instructions here: We decided to make it a wall hanging, instead of a card, so we didn't write on it.  Also, I didn't have big enough google eyes to make it look "normal", so we added a little fluff of hair.   If you don't have brads - you can always glue the wings on the back of the bird, just like the legs.  Here's our take on it:

And here they are displayed with the craft from a few days ago.

We have a sliding glass door that we use as our bulletin board space - where do you hang your kids' artwork??  Have a fantastic day, get out the craft box, and as always, feel free to copy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My first try at hair weaving!

I love this princess blog: She has so many cute ideas!!  Today we tried the hair weaving.   I am happy to say that we did this Monday evening before dance, and as I type this (Wednesday morning) it is still in and beautiful.  I had to change out the elastics and bows a few times - but otherwise - this is a three day 'do!  My favorite kind.  If she didn't need to be thrown in the shower tonight, it could have lasted even longer!

Here's our take on it:

There you have it!! This one looks far more complicated that it really is.  The weaving part is a little tricky.  I ended up using my baby tospy tail to help pull them through.   Today is ice cream shop opening day!  I have children all around me getting their schoolwork done at break-neck speed because I told them as soon as they got it accomplished we'd go to the icecream shop.  Find something fun to do with your babies today, and as always, feel free to copy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Easter Project!!

Can you believe that we are only a few weeks away from Easter?  I'm hoping to get a few projects in before then.  Here is our first one.  I'm sure that it is somewhere out on the web, but I thought this one up on my own.  First, I gave each child a thick cardboard egg cut out, a white crayon, and a white piece of construction paper.  Watercolor paper would work as well - but do not try this with regular white computer paper - it won't come out as nicely.
Anyhow, I had each of them trace their eggs all over the paper, however they saw fit, and had them decorate each egg with different designs, pictures, etc.

This is how a certain unnamed child felt about not being done with her math when we started this craft - it's amazing how quickly she finished it after we had started!  (Oh, and a sneak peak of my new kitchen counter and window to the living room!)

Anyhow - once they are done, they should look something like this:

Then, give them some water colors and let them go to town!  The watercolors magically go around and in between where they colored with crayon - it's really beautiful!

Now, the art teacher in me must remind you (and the anal retentive part of myself) not to tell them how to do this step.  I know I would have painted the entire page one color - or maybe done the colors in a certain order, etc.  But when you get too controlling about art, it kinda takes the joy out of the experience for the kids.  Just trust me on this.   Nod your head and repeat after me.  "I will let my child paint the way they want to."  Kay.  Now that we've established the rules - here is how ours turned out!
Mister Alex's Masterpiece

Jake's Original!!

And the Amazing Art of the Girl who finally finished her Math!!!!

Send me photos of how your easter egg crayon projects turned out. I'd love to see them, and maybe I'll start showcasing the photos people have sent on the blog!!   
It was a rainy, crabby kinda day around here.   I hope it was better at your house!  Hug your babies, and as always, feel free to copy!