Saturday, January 26, 2013

handmade valentine ideas for classmates

For our classmate Valentine exchange each year at Naiya's Waldorf school, we try to come up with a few ideas, try them out and then pick our favorite to mass produce.  I made all of these at night while Naiya was sleeping so we could decide in the days following which we'd like to choose to do together.  Sometimes our pick is based on love of the end result.  More often we make decisions because of time available or interest or skill of the participants.  (Naiya is often excited to make one or two of something but not so keen on fashioning 12 or 15.)
In year's past we've stuck mostly with two dimensional versions of the classic little Valentine card.  (You can see inspirations from previous seasons here, here and here.)  This year we're trying a few non-traditional trinket options as well.  Perhaps a little something for friends to hold onto even when the day has long passed.  A number of these are beyond the skills of my six year old.  Some she can help with only to varying degrees.  Maybe we'll save a few of these ideas for the future...

This cute little charm was made with copper wire and beads.  Pretty simple but perhaps not the most appealing for a few of the boys in class.  Kindergarten boys seemed to be a mixed bag when it comes to this kind of thing.   There are a few who would love it and some who would just be confused.  Naiya nixed this option for this reason but still thinks it's super cute.

The single piece of molded wire starts and ends at the bottom with a twist.  The bead there at the bottom covers that twist and is secured with a bit of glue.

Here's an alternate treatment of the classic painted ladybug.  The underside contains her simple Valentine note: "love, Naiya".

This is fiddly paint work not so suited to small children but a fun one if you're an adult preparing something on your own for your child to give away.

Also a great addition for seasonal play on the Valentine Nature Table.

We do wet-on-wet watercolor all the time.  This is a little variation made by placing stickers on the page prior to painting.  When the watercolor dries, we remove the sticker to reveal the pure heart.  We mounted it on burgundy card stock using a glue stick.

Another fun use for all those watercolor paintings is this little greeting which Naiya will be able to make almost entirely on her own.  She paints and does the sewing while I cut out the heart and pre-punch the holes (with a large needle) for her threading work.

(I think this is the one we've actually chosen to make by the dozen for the classmates this time around.)

Our last idea is this festive felted bracelet.  It's got a bit of elastic in back so the kiddos can get them over their hands. 

Decorative options are endless.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

felt finger puppet valentine

   With Valentine's Day coming up, Naiya and I have been trying out a few ideas for little classmate gifts to share.  Since we're planning ahead this year, we decided to tackle some things that might be a bit more challenging.  This took rather a lot of time and my dear six year old wasn't able to help much so, I'm guessing, in the end, this won't be what we'll create twelve of to pass out on that special day.  We did like it a lot though and Naiya said I should "totally put that on the blog."  But of course.
   I did this all in the midst of playing and so all the sewing was done by hand.  To reduce project time (and if we did decide to make more) I would instead use a machine for most of the stitching next time around.

I based this pattern on a tri-fold concept.  The face/body will reside in the center piece, the ears slightly behind and the tail will line up with the center of the back when its folded and sewn together.

I traced the pattern and cut it out from wool felt.

Onto the center third (which will ultimately be the front of the raccoon) and around both sides of the tail, I sewed various felt pieces.  The raccoon required these extra color flairs but if one is making a cat, mouse or some simpler-faced critter, this step would be skipped.

Onto the back side of the felt (which will face forward once folded), I sewed some ear highlights.

I then embroidered on nose, mouth, eyes and some little paws to hold the heart.  (I think my eyes are a little wonky and somewhat hostile looking.  Embroidery is obviously not my forte.)

I folded it into thirds and sewed it up with the tail sticking out in back.

I figure there are lots of animals that can be made in basically this same fashion:  bear, mouse, bunny, cat... whatever suits your fancy.

With a little effort, my second go will likely look much sweeter and more polished than this one but, chances are, I won't get any pictures next time around.

Turns out Naiya isn't letting go of this one.
She said she would like a piggy next.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


We hadn't made it up to the snow before Christmas or even during our holiday break so, since the fluffy stuff seems to be holding back from falling in our fair city this winter, we took a trip up to the mountain last weekend.  Lots of shade (bad light, terrible photographs) and a surprisingly warm day.  Naiya wasn't so much interested in the sledding we had planned but she did enjoy digging a number of holes and sitting in them.  Ah, the pleasures of childhood. 
We told her as we walked down, down, down hill on the trail to Trillium Lake (which we didn't reach) that we weren't going to carry her back up.  That was fine with her, she replied, as she raced ahead of us pulling our little sled loaded with jackets we had shed in the warmth of the afternoon.  Of course, we did end up hauling her back up hill in the sled.  (Read bad parenting.)  Both Ryan and I agreed, however, that this was, by far, the easiest way we have ever had to transport her on a hike she didn't wish to finish. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

three kings day

Our three kings have wandered about the house since Christmas day... following a star to the manger where the Christ child lays.
Naiya said, "No wonder the kings show up so late... they really got lost."  She would giggle each day that their morning location only found them further from the nativity on our Nature Table.
At last, they have arrived.

Three Kings came riding from far away,
    Melchoir and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
    For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

The star was so beautiful, large, and clear,
    That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
    Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddlebows,
    Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
    Their turbans like blossoming almond trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
    Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
    With the people they met at some wayside well.

"Of the child that is born," said Baltasar,
    "Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
    To find and worship the King of the Jews."

And the people answered, "You ask in vain;
    We know of no king but Herod the Great!"
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain,
    Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait.

And when they came to Jerusalem,
    Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, "Go down unto Bethlehem,
    And bring me tidings of this new king."

So they rode away; and the star stood still,
    The only one in the gray of morn;
Yes, it stopped, it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
    The city of David where Christ as born

And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
    Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered and great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
    And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay,
    In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
    Of a kingdom not human but divine.

His mother Mary of Nazareth
    Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
    Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet;
    The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
    The myrrh for the body’s burying.

And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
    And sat as still as a statue of stone;
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
    Of an endless reign and of David’s throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
    With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
    And returned to their homes by another way.

                                                  -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thursday, January 3, 2013

transparency silhouettes

   Back when I had just finished up with our school's Advent crafting festival, I mentioned that I would do a little how-to post on the transparency silhouettes that were such a hit there.

   I've since discovered that directions for these can be found in the popular Waldorf calendar of celebrations book All Year Round and it's likely that instructions appear elsewhere online as well.  I'll go ahead and offer up how I put them together anyhow (because, you know, I already started).  Also, if you're looking for some images for inspiration, you can check out a collection I've gathered from crafty folks the world over on my Pinterest page.

   To make these sweet seasonal and story-telling pieces of window art you'll need card stock, a pencil, tissue in various colors, small scissors or a craft knife, a glue stick, a steady hand and a lot of patience.  The product is lovely and the principles are simple but the cutting of the image can be quite fiddly and time consuming.  (Let it not be said I gave no warning.)

   Drawing the desired scene directly onto the wrong side of the card stock is the easiest way to begin.

One can harvest images from favorite picture books or, of course, simply forge them directly from one's own imagination.

I have a hard time free-handing drawings, so I borrow those I like by pasting them onto a Pages document on my computer and then tracing the image onto a piece of paper.

Unfortunately, the heavier card stock desired for the finished product is thicker than can be easily seen through in this way so I've traced like this, cut out a pattern and then re-traced the pattern onto heavy card stock.  (This is extremely time consuming and I only did it because I needed patterns for others to use at the crafting gathering anyway.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing all that cutting twice!)  

So...  Working on the back side of the heavy paper, draw the chosen silhouette remembering to leave at least a 1" margin around the perimeter and to attach all figures to some edge.

(Note that silhouette figures not attached to an edge could be directly glued onto the tissue backing in later steps as seen in some of the collected inspiring examples.)

With a craft or exacto knife or small scissors (I prefer the latter), cut the design from the paper and trim the outside edges as desired.

(Remember to leave that 1" exterior frame to have something to attach your tissue to!)

(If you'd prefer to create a free standing display that can be placed in front of a candle or other light source, leave 3-4" of the card stock on each side of the image.  This excess can to be folded (on the dotted line) to a 70° - 90° angle to help the piece stand on its own instead of being taped or propped against a window.)

When the cutting is complete, prepare a piece of the lightest color tissue (in this case the lightest blue) to be placed over the entire back side of the image.  Cover the back side of the frame (and perhaps some of the larger figures) with glue stick or craft glue and gently press on that first layer of tissue.

Continue adding progressively darker tissue colors and variously shaped highlights and layers as desired to make the color effects you choose.  (Layering from lightest to darkest seems to work best.)
The subsequent layers can be kept to the edges or be carefully glued directly onto the first layer of tissue.

Even one color of tissue layered many times can create an interesting effect.  Combining colors as seen through light is an art of its own I think.

Once complete, turn the silhouette right side up and display it in a brightly lit window or in front of a protected candle.

   If the tissue outline can be seen because of strong back light (as shown above) or if your finished product is too floppy, the whole project can be "cleaned-up" and reinforced by adding an additional card stock frame piece on top of the tissue on the back side.

   I can see us producing a library of these to have for each season or even creating scenes to gift to our friends with images from their favorite stories.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

jokes for five year olds - V

We've been collecting our ridiculous jokes for five year olds for over a year now.  These are (and always have been) my favorite kind.  I'll keep posting them as we come across them even though Naiya is now six.

The other day I was talking to the seventh grade teacher at our school and she was saying that most jokes folks tell nowadays are actually riddles.  This is true of all of those I've posted thus far.  But she was looking for jokes that were instead in story form; not question and answers but tales with a funny punch line at the end.  I sent her this one that is adapted from one of my recent favorite fantasy novel reads (Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss).  It had Ryan and I rolling on the floor when we first came across it and Naiya likes me to re-tell it for all her friends.  (Specific references to places and characters in the story have been removed.)  Enjoy...

    Once upon a time there was a little boy born in a little town.  He was perfect, or so his mother thought.  But one thing was different about him. He had a gold screw in his belly button.  Just the head of it peeping out. 

    Now his mother was simply glad he had all his fingers and toes to count with.  But as the boy grew up he realized not everyone had screws in their belly buttons, let alone gold ones.  He asked his mother what it was for, but she didn't know.  Next he asked his father, but his father didn't know.  He asked his grandparents, but they didn't know either.

    That settled it for a while, but it kept nagging him.  Finally, when he was old enough, he packed a bag and set out, hoping he could find someone who knew the truth of it.

    He went from place to place, asking everyone who claimed to know something about anything.  He asked midwives and physickers, but they couldn't make heads or tails of it.  The boy asked tinkers and old hermits living in the woods, but no one had ever seen anything like it.

    He went to ask the merchants, thinking if anyone would know about gold, it would be them.  But the merchants didn't know.  He went to the engineers at the university, thinking if anyone would know about screws and their workings, they would.  But the engineers didn't know.  The boy followed the road farther to ask the wise women in the hills, but none of them could give him an answer.

    Eventually, he went to the richest king in the world.  But the king didn't know.  He went to the Emperor, but even with all his power, the emperor didn't know.  He went to each of the small kingdoms, one by one, but no one could tell him anything.

    Finally, the boy went to the High King, the wisest of all the kings in the world.  The high king looked closely at the head of the golden screw peeping from the boy's belly button.  Then the high king made a gesture, and his seneschal brought out a pillow of golden silk.  On that pillow was a golden box.  The high king took a golden key from his neck, opened the box, and inside was a golden screwdriver.

    The high king took the screwdriver and motioned the boy to come closer.  Trembling with excitement, the boy did.  Then the high king took the golden screwdriver and put it in the boy's belly button.
   Then the high king carefully turned the golden screw.  
Once: Nothing.  
Twice: Nothing.  
Then he turned it the third time, and the boy's butt fell off.
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