Thursday, December 29, 2016

Home is Where the Heart Is: A Little Bit of Texas Love

To those of you who don't live in Texas or who may not know anyone who calls Texas home, I'm just letting you know that Texans tend to be very devoted to the Lone Star State. (Please forgive us if it ever gets just a teensy bit annoying.) That said, this particular post is pretty much all about, well, lovin' Texas.

I saw something similar to this and thought, "I should make one of those!" So I did, and this is how:

Orignally, I planned to paint my Texas on burlap and then frame it, but one day while I was in Michaels with Delys, she pointed out this pre-stretched burlap panel which also happened to be on clearance. (I just saw some at Walmart as well.) Perfect!

I googled Texas shapes until I found one the right size, carefully cut it out, and then used the outside as my stencil holding it in place with masking tape. Notice that the Texas shape is not centered up and down; I left extra space at the bottom so that there would be room for the caption. Using charcoal colored acrylic paint and a lightly loaded stencil brush, I gently tapped the shape onto the burlap:

I like the smokey, uneven pattern it created:

If you are a decent artist, which I am not, you can simply freehand a heart over your favorite Texas location. Because I have absolutely no confidence in my artistic abilities, I created a small heart stencil and painted it the same way I did Texas except that I loaded more paint onto the brush so that the heart stands out a bit:

Again, if you are a skilled penman, you can freehand the caption onto the burlap. I am not, so I chose a simple font that I liked and printed the phrase onto paper from the computer. I had hoped that I could transfer the words onto the burlap using tracing paper and then go over them with a fine tip Sharpie, but the transfer paper didn't work on the burlap. At all. So, taking a very deep breath, I taped the computer paper strip above where I wanted the words to be and simply used it as a reference as I wrote in the words:

Thankfully, no major flubs:

So, wherever you live, welcome home . . . to Texas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Preschool Lesson: The Letter "F"

It's illuminating to me how bad I am at predicting which letters are easy and which are hard when it comes to preschool. It's a good thing that the first four letters, A through D, are all fairly easy and versatile. Then, I hit "E" and realized that there are only so many "E" animals, words, and activities to appeal to preschoolers. Naturally, with fewer options, I was also less likely to have said objects and activities at hand.

Not so, however, with Letter "F." What a great letter! So many fun things to do. As per usual, I like to have a little powerpoint presentation pulled up on the television so I can introduce the letter with a picture of capital and lowercase "F." We talked about what sound "F" makes while making the letter with our popsicle sticks.

We then went fishing! It's a little tricky with only one adult, I admit, but still very doable. I set up a blue blanket screen for them to cast the fishing rod over, and when they felt a tug on the line, they reeled in their fish. Kids love this game, right? I remember loving this game... not sure why, but it's magical. SourPatch's foam bath fish made great catches.

Once we caught all our fish, it was time for some real water to play "Float or sink?" I had several objects in a bag, and they took turns pulling them out and guessing if they would float or sink in the glass bowl full of water. Basic, splashy science.

The last item we tried out was a mini football. It signaled time to go outside and get our wiggles out learning to throw footballs together. They did great!

For our fine motor skills inside, we did "Do-a-dot" painting of numbers 4 and 5.

This segued nicely into singing time, since there are so many songs with five creatures, such as:
  • Five Little Speckled Frogs
  • Five Little Pumpkins
  • Five Little Ducks
  • Five Little Monkeys
With so many songs, I split up singing time into two segments. We had our "five" session, and later we sang "finger songs" such as "Where is Thumbkin?" and "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Once I caught a fish alive.)" We also sang "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" using finger puppets. We then watched Ernie sing "One Fine Face" and sang along as he repeats the song a second time.

Whew. We put back on our science hats and talked about our different senses, especially how we can feel things. The kids then took turns reaching into my mystery bag and trying to feel what fruit I had in there. I was using SourPatch's plastic fruit set, which naturally made it trickier than real fruit, so I had a giant picture of fruit pulled up on the television to help give them ideas.

After a snack of fruit (not plastic this time) and fish crackers, we had story time. We read The Foot Book and The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night. Well, really I sang the second book, and after it was finished, I played the Nickle Creek version while we played a freeze game. They danced ran around and around the room to the music but had to freeze whenever I hit pause.

I pulled out some farm puzzles for them to do while I set up the fox and flower craft...

...which I think turned out super cute, don't you? I needed some redemption after the less-than-adorable "E" craft.

There you have it. I hope the children have as much fun at preschool as I do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Glitter Stenciling on Fabric

This is just a simple idea for embellishing fabric--napkins, table coths, runners, etc.--for the holidays. I found some natural, linen-type table runners at Target on clearance, and I thought they could be fun under Christmas decorations:

The runners are edged with twill tape that has a fine thread of gold running through it, but I wanted to give them a little more glitz. I searched both in stores and online for appliques but didn't find what just the right thing for the right price. So I began looking for another alternative. Browsing through Michaels, I found a display of Christmas stencils. This freeform ornament trio caught my eye:

And right next to it was a variety of glitter pens:

Making sure that it would work on fabric, I grabbed one in gold and headed home to try it out. The stencil is reusable and has adhesive on the back so that it adheres well to the surface you are working on. I centered it in the middle of each end of the runner and used the pen to fill in the stencil:

The pen sounds easy, but it was a bit of a struggle to keep the glitter flowing evenly. Still, I was generally pleased with the result:

It looks festive with Elin's candle ring:

This would be a fun holiday craft to do with children and would make lovely gifts. Think how cute a small snowflake stenciled with white glitter would be in a corner of a red or green napkin, or gold stars sprinkled on a placemat, or silver bells on a winter blue stocking, or . . . . So many possibilities.

Get your sparkle on!