Friends In Colorful Places

Sometimes I’ll admit, I’m a bit more crafty disaster than crafty connoisseur.  But these wooden peg dolls that I made three years ago are still holding up and are still a family favorite!  For a baby girl whose new favorite pastime is sorting, colorful people (even colorful people who have lost half of their hair due to baby slobber) with colorful cups for homes are fantastic friends to have when waiting for dinner.

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She’s getting so big and communicating so well; I can ask Little H a question and she will (usually) shake her head “no” vigorously, because of course she knows what she wants.  Most of the time it’s food, but a lot of the time it’s these guys.

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 I’m proud of the effort it took to make them, proud of the fact that all three of my kids have had a great time playing with these wooden peg dolls, proud of the fact I created something she loves and will keep her quiet for the three and a half minutes it takes to microwave Easy-Mac.

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With vegetables!  I swear!  Okay, I microwave the frozen vegetables, but it still counts.

Thank goodness we have friends in colorful places.

To make your own wooden peg dolls, the step-by-step instructions can be found here.

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Out Our Window Art

Okay I’m going to be honest, we have don’t have a trio of snowmen out our window, but my kids didn’t think painting mountains and mountains of boring old snow was any fun.  The weather is supposed to get up into the 40s this weekend–a heat wave!–and if so, we will try to turn these works of art into reality!

Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

All you have to do is ask your children to look out the window and paint what they see.  We chose blue paper to represent the sky, and the kids and I painted a scene worthy of a winter’s day in Vermont.

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Each kid put their own touches on their scene, giving their snowman hats, earmuffs, scarves, and smiling faces.  Fat snowflakes fell to the ground and even landed on their carrot noses.

Jax’s Snowmen

Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Em’s Snowmen   Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Mommy’s Snowmen

Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

In the end I cut out black paper to make a window frame, and I intended to put black lines across the center of the image like this so it would really look like a window.  However, Em got her hands (and scissors) on my leftover black paper and so I ran out.  I like it better this way, though.  I love these snowmen and wouldn’t want to block them at all!

Let your children express and illustrate the world around them.  What is the view outside your window right now?  You may be surprised at the things they notice, and how the view changes over the course of the year.  I will definitely be doing this again in the spring, and all year long!

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Popsicles & Play Dough

February vacation is here, the snow is falling like crazy, and I have had enough of my kids literally climbing all over me and telling me they’re bored.  It’s only been 2 days!  So I pulled out an old simply busy standby that we did when Em was first learning her numbers, with an added degree of difficulty for Jax: Popsicles & Play Dough!

Popsicles & Play Dough @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Basically have the kids knead and roll some play dough into a long line, then give them a bunch of Popsicle sticks numbered 1-20.  Em got 1-10 and Jax 1-20.  Then ask them to put them in order, standing upright in the play dough.

Number Line @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This is great for numeral recognition but also fine motor skills.  The kids learned that they had to pinch the play dough around the sticks to get them to stand up.  Then we added some extra challenges–numbers 11-20 and putting them in color order (by writing the colors on the back)–and I introduced Jax to the concepts of odds and evens by writing an O or E at the bottom of the sticks.  Differentiated fun for everyone!

Popsicles & Play Dough Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Of course when this was done they continued to play with the play dough, which I don’t usually love, but on a snowy day when they have had little more to say than I’m Bored! I was glad for some simple, quiet fun!  Only 5 more days of vacation to go!

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Raining Hearts Math

This is my favorite Valentines activity yet, and I have had oh-so-many favorites.  Based on one of our favorite books, The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond and a great idea I found here, the kids and I did some snipping (as Em calls cutting), pasting, and a bit of math and writing as well!

Raining Hearts Math @ Rub Some Dirt On It

While I assembled our materials (construction paper, card stock, markers, glue, scissors), Jax read the book to his sisters.  He is such a sweet and smart big brother!

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Then I let the kids pick out which pattern they’d like for their umbrella as well as what color hearts they’d like (Jax chose red, Em chose purple, of course).  I let them cut out their own umbrellas and glue them to the paper while I cut out the handles.  Then I impressed the heck out of them by showing them how to make many little hearts by folding paper; every time I made the final snip and a bunch of hearts fell onto the table, Jax and Em gasped like there were fireworks.

They pasted their hearts above their umbrellas as though it were raining…

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…and then we did a bit of math, just for fun.  Jax says he really loves “hard math, like 11 +12,” so we counted the red and purple hearts and wrote it out.  Just simple addition, but it is a first for Em to see it written out that way.

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They both wrote in their numbers and colors, which is more writing than Jax usually does in one sitting.  It’s all in capturing his interest, I suppose!  Don’t they look wonderful?  I just love that Em chose to make a cheetah umbrella.  She’s a sassy one, that girl.

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 Take cover, everyone!  It’s raining hearts!

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Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I began the serious job of wrapping Christmas presents last night; with several holiday celebrations on different days, I have to make sure I don’t leave any gifts behind.  I also like to keep the gifts for people we won’t be seeing until later on Christmas Day in the back of the tree so that the kids don’t manhandle them or get disappointed when they keep grabbing gifts for family and friends who aren’t there.  As I was knee-deep in wrapping paper, boxes, and tape, I was reminded of a fun craft the kids and I did the other day (that I discovered here), and how I should have waited until after Christmas so I could have upcycled all our cardboard and wrapping paper, ribbons and tags into a kickass holiday collage!  I will do this next year, but you, lovely readers, still have time to plan!  So here’s what you need.

Cardboard cut out (in our case, we cut out the first letters in Jax and Em’s names), glue, scraps of wrapping paper, cardstock, doilies, tags, etc.  Then just let your kids cut, rip, tear, and glue to their hearts content all over the cardboard!

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

If you have a fine motor loving kid like Em, this will be a real delight and may take most of a morning.  Jax was less enthusiastic, but we had success nonetheless.

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then just clean up the paper that hangs over the edge of your cardboard and make sure no brown spots are showing, and you have a sturdy collage of color that you saved from the trash or recycling bin (at least for a few days).  And the kids were really proud of their handiwork!

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Upcycled Holiday Scrap Letters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So don’t toss all your trimmings and wrappings straight into the fire on Christmas Day–put a few aside for when your kids inevitable crash from the holiday hysteria and need a little downtime!  And you need a break!

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An Autumn Tree, 2 Ways

Autumn Trees 2 Ways @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I haven’t mentioned it here, but JDubbs and I decided to pull Em out of her preschool.  It just wasn’t a great fit for her personality, and since she has another year of pre-K next year, we thought that extra time home with Mommy and her baby sister (whom she adores) might help her gain the confidence to tackle pre-K next year with a bit more swagger.  She’s doing a couple different classes at The Purple Crayon in Woodstock and I am making an effort to do at least one significant arts and crafts project a week, since she loves getting her hands dirty with paint and cutting with scissors.  I was inspired by a couple different ideas I found here and here to create non-traditional autumn trees–one with the leaves made from stamping with a cork, and one dabbing with Q-tips.  Em is proud to hang her artwork up next to all the creative projects Jax brings home with him from school.  I think it helps her feel a little more like she is keeping up with what Jax is doing, which we all know is key around here.

So basically, we did these on two separate days, one in the afternoon when Jax was home and one just the two of us when H was napping.  I traced a circle for her to keep in mind for the shape of the Q-tips tree, and I wish I had done the same for the cork tree because it became kind of a stamping free-for-all.

Autumn Trees 2 Ways @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I made the trunk and branches first, under her direction. She also insisted we add some purple birds to her tree, and had some leaves falling to the ground.  This Vermont girl knows what autumn looks like, as you can tell from my post the other day.

Q-Tip Autumn Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For the cork tree, again I made the trunks and the kids stamped to their hearts content. I tried to have a different cork for each color so they didn’t get too messed up (and believe me, after days like the other day, plenty of wine has been consumed to make this possible).  Of course in the end they smeared the colors together, but the different corks definitely helped postpone the inevitable.

Cork Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Cork Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It 2 Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It

What creative ways have you and your loved ones celebrated autumn trees in paint? We still have plenty of time to make more before winter officially arrives!

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Our Gratitude Tree

Gratitude Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It 2

Last year, the kids and I made Gratitude Turkey Treat jars, which were a nice, simple way to introduce the idea of thankfulness to them.  This year they understand the concept more clearly so I decide to take it up a notch and make a Gratitude Tree, where we can write down all the things we are grateful for, once a day for the month of November on leaves.

Remembering a fabulous Cocktails & Crafts held by my friend Heather, I wrote the words “Give” and “Thanks” on pieces of white paper in white crayon.  Then the kids painted over them in watercolors, at which point the words reappeared.  They were totally enthralled to see the word “appear” out of nowhere!  I used my trusty butcher paper to cover the floor and the big kids had a grand time together, painting away.

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2 Then I cut a tree out of more butcher paper and hung the signs above it.  Using some foam leaves I bought at JoAnn Fabrics on clearance, the kids alternate telling me what they are grateful for every other day.  So far, Jax has been grateful for his birthday presents and Em for her princess puzzles.  What’s nice is that there’s 30 days worth of gratitude, so hopefully they kids will have an opportunity to realize there is more to life to be grateful for than toys!

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There’s plenty of time left to make a Gratitude Tree of your own!  It’ll brighten up your home and keep the spirit of the Thanksgiving season in mind.  I’ll put an updated picture up at the end of month to show all our gratitude.

Gratitude Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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