Latitude and Longitude with a Giant Sized Grid

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For geography it’s most important to teach a child their way around maps and globes. My goal for the week was to introduce the concept of latitude and longitude. I brainstormed for a time trying to invent a way to make this otherwise tedious subject more fun. Soon I came up with an idea that combined mason jars, clothes pins, string, and candy to accomplish just that.

Layout

I envisioned a giant sized outdoor grid for my girls to interact with. I decided that mason jars filled with water would be my anchoring points and yarn would act as my latitude and longitude lines. Good thing I was abundant in both! Before long I realized that it would be wise to sketch everything out before I wasted time and back strength laying everything out over and again. This was most helpful and made the actual arranging of the mason jars a breeze. Once I had all the jars lined up in their proper places and had filled them 3/4’s of the way full with water, I weaved my string carefully and strategically around to create my latitude and longitude lines.

Labels

Of course each line had to be labeled. I chose to hot glue the coordinates to simple wooden clothes pins and clipped them onto the jars. I also had to make clothes pins for my girls to use for the activity. I labeled these with their initials and numbers 1-4 to mark each of the points I would direct them to.

Candy

With the grid set up and everything labeled the only step left was to pull out some incentive  .  .  .  CANDY! My idea was to give my girls four sets of latitude and longitude coordinates that would mark out a square on the giant grid. They would clip each point with their handy labeled clothespins, and whatever candy lay inside the square was theirs to gobble up in victory. What little girl isn’t motivated by candy?

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I will admit that the preparation for this activity was very time consuming. But isn’t the sacrifice worth it to make learning fun and hopefully memorable? To make my efforts go farther we did this activity for two nights in a row, which was just as well because clipping four points for one piece of candy turned out to take time as well. My second grader did beautifully and by the end was able to call out her own latitude and longitude coordinates for the candy she had her eye on. My kindergartener struggled a bit with the high numbers, but understood grasped the concept immediately. With a little numerical help she able to obtain just as much sugar as her sister. I’m happy to say that this activity was a success and I would recommend it to any mom or teacher!

Pyramid Building

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How does one make a seven and a five year old sit still for a world history lesson? By promising a craft to follow! That’s what I had to do when I gave a lesson on the correlation between religion and history this week. I tried my best to repeatedly explain that if it were not for the ancient Egyptian’s beliefs the great pyramids still standing today would not even exist, but the eyes moving around the room and the involuntary wiggles were telling me that the craft was much more important than my words. My girls may not remember that people’s choices are driven by their personal beliefs and religion, thus effecting our world history, but they will remember what a pyramid is and how to build one!

Cut out Pyramid

Good thing I had something prepared in advance. Yes the day before I had printed out a template for a paper pyramid I had found online and used it to cut out a sturdy piece of recycled cardboard. I then took painful care to cut that out and proceeded to use a ruler to guide my bends in all the needed places.

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All that was left then was to secure my pyramid in place with duct tape and clean up my giant mess. This preassembled beauty would have to wait overnight for eager hands to decorate it.

Critically Think Pyramid

The following day after my semi – successful verbal history lesson I gave each of my girls their own paper templates. I also placed my own pre assembled paper pyramid out on the table for them to study. At this point I hadn’t even pulled out the preassembled cardboard pyramid because I first I wanted to give them an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills. My husband and I are firm believers in molding these skills. Rather than tell them how to do it, I simply said, “There is a way to cut, fold, and tape this together into a pyramid like Mommy’s. Try and put yours together by yourself.” My seven year old figured it out single handedly in minutes. My five year old got very far by herself as well, but needed a little guidance in understanding the flaps along the sides of each triangular wall.

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They finished and we put all three paper pyramids side by side and relished in our success!

Glue and go Crazy Pyramid

Now came the fun part. I whipped out the preassembled cardboard pyramid and explained to the girls that if it were a real pyramid it would be out in the desert and covered in sand. They knew what to do and were already getting their hands dirty before I had finished speaking. By the way this is and OUTDOOR project for those of you who may want to try it. I gave each of the girls, even my two year old who quite enjoyed herself, a sponge brush and a cup of glue and instructed them to cover the pyramid all over. They did so in a blink. The next step needed no instruction, they got good and dirty dousing the now sticky pyramid all over with sand. Far more sand than needed at that. I was so glad that we just happened to go to the beach over the weekend so that I could collect some. Of course I could have just as easily taken it out of their sandbox as well.

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That was that. The pyramid was very realistic looking just small. I made a point to ask the girls how big we would be standing next to our sandy pyramid and they agreed that we would be as tiny as ants. Great! They get it. In fact my five year old insists that we go to Egypt and see the real ones. What could I say? Maybe someday . . .

Shoe Lacing Project

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My girls wear Crocs, flip flops, boots, and random slip on shoes year round. Truth be told they do not own a pair of traditional sneakers. This dawned on me the other day and I then realized that I had skipped over one childhood right of passage in the conquering of shoe lace tying! My eldest daughter Keeley is 7yrs old and she still doesn’t know how to tie a shoe. Shame on me. I’ll bet my shame is not solely mine though which is exactly why I want to share this fun craft with everyone. The following are rough directions for paper shoe’s with ribbon laces.

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To start this project I studied a diagram of a shoe online and hand drew my own version. I made a fold down the center of my paper and cut half of my drawing around to ensure that the shoe would be even on both sides. I then traced my detailed sections like the toe cover and the side stripe to cut out separately and use as templates.

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Once the templates were all cut and ready, I rounded out small pieces of scotch tape and attached them to the back of each template. Then came the most fun part, I chose combinations of scrapbook paper to cut out for each section of the shoes. This probably took way more time than it needed to, but for those of you out there who scrapbook, you will understand when I say this activity can be very cathartic! Once I had made my choices, I got to cutting and grouping my shoe pieces together. I also chose to cut out an extra shoe base with heavy card stock to strengthen each of my shoes. Cardboard would be an even sturdier choice for this if you prefer.

My next step was to assemble my shoes. This step was incredibly fun too, because it’s the first time I saw my creations come together. Since I intended to decoupage the entire shoe, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time tacking down each piece with a glue runner. There were inconsistencies and imperfections once the shoes were assembled. Some of my pieces were hanging over the shoe. To fix this problem I simply cut around the perimeter to even everything out again.

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Once I was satisfied with my shoes, it was time to decoupage. I did have some modpage on hand, but it’s a fairly expensive product and I didn’t want to waste it. Modpage is better than homemade recipes for those projects that include photos because elmers glue will yellow over time. For this particular project however I wasn’t overly concerned with that.  So I choice to follow a recipe that combines one part elmers glue with one part water. I combined each of these in a mason jar and shook vigorously. That’s all there was to it. I placed each of my shoes on a piece of wax paper and applied the glue all over with a sponge brush. I noticed right away that some of the thinner scrap pages I chose for my shoes started to bubble up. For that reason I would suggest using heavier card stock-weighted pages for your shoes. Live and learn I suppose. After each shoe was glued I allowed it to dry on a baker’s rack overnight.

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After the shoes were dried completely, my final step was to lace them! But of course this requires holes. I measured out where I wanted the holes on my template first and used a hole punch on my marks. Then I placed my template out over each finished shoe and traced these holes with a pencil. Afterward I carefully punched those out and followed up with a careful eye and an eraser to make sure none of my pencil marks were left behind. Last but not least I made my ribbon choices and measured out how much I would need for each shoe (I would suggest being very generous with your cuts because you can always trim a longer piece down, but you cannot add more to a short piece). I laced the ribbon through each shoe and stood back to sigh happily at my work. I could hardly wait to show my girls!

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My first born Keeley is 7 and quite the little artist. I thought she would take to her tying right away, but instead she became frustrated when she could not get her bow perfect the first time and a crying fest took over. I should have known she would be hard on herself.

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My second born Bree is 5 and I expected her to struggle and even be disinterested because of her young age, but surprisingly she had a great attitude and wanted to tie her bow over and again. Of course I had to help her each time and she never was able to tie one solo, but that’s the beauty of these shoes, I will always have them for her to practice and improve with!

All in all this was a load of fun and I think time well spent. Now my girls can proudly complete the shoe lacing right of passage 🙂

Lace Sweater Sleeve Applique

Lace Sweater Posed

I am expecting my fourth child in February 2014 and am in desperate on some cute as well as cheap maternity clothes. To solve this problem I went shopping at a local goodwill store and found an oversized sweater that would accommodate my soon to be enlarged belly very nicely. However the sweater was very “blah” to the eye, a never ending sea of green. It needed work. I decided to add a lace applique along each sleeve line to jazz it up. The lace partnered with a string of pearls around the neck and a bow in the hair made this $7 recycled sweater a feminine maternity wonder! Here’s how I did it  .  .  .

Lace Sweater Step 1

You need five things for this project. The first of course is the sweater or sweatshirt that you would like to recreate. The second is lace from a local fabric store. I literally walked my sweater into the store to measure how many yards I would need to purchase. The last thing you will want is to be an inch short of your cuff! The third thing you will need is a set of sewing pins to hold your lace in place  ( “lol hey I just rhymed!”). The fourth thing is thread that matches your lace and a sewing needle. The fifth and last thing you will need is a pair of scissors.

To begin, lay out your sleeve and guesstimate how long to cut your lace. Leave yourself a little extra on the edge of the cuff to play it safe. Then determine how you will want your lace to lay. I placed mine directly center over the fold line of my sleeve ( a straight line from mid shoulder to mid wrist). I also took notice that my lace was straight on one side and scalloped on the other. I decided to face my straight edge towards the back of the sweater and the scalloped edge towards the front. Once you are pleased with your placement, start pinning. There really is no rhyme or reason to how you should pin, just make sure that your lace cannot move. You will however want to pay close attention to the shoulder. This is where I chose to tuck my lace under about 1/8″ – 1/4″ and give it a neat and professional look. Pins were very necessary here to hold in that tuck!

Lace Sweater Step 2

Once you have the lace secured with pins, you are ready to start stiching. I chose to use a hem stitch for attaching the lace to the sweater. If you are unfamiliar with that particular stitch, you can study the diagram below. Begin at the top left side of the shoulder (shown on the picture with a red star) and work your way over and downward. Once you hit the cuff, carefully trim the lace leaving yourself 1/8″- 1/4″ to tuck under. You may tuck under and pin the cuff edge in place at this point or simply tuck as you stitch along. Once the cuff is complete, continue your stitching all the way back up to the beginning point. Then VOOLA one sleeve is done and you have only one more to go!

This is such a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to jazz up a bland piece in your wardrobe. A girl can never have too much lace right?

Hem Stitch

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