Posts Tagged ‘crafts’

Teaching Generosity

The crazy season is upon us. That is what I call it anyways. That season of time when people are becoming almost neurotic over holiday preparations, gift shopping, and attending every holiday event possible. The stress can be high for even the most calm souls. In that time of controlled chaos, what message are we sending to our children? Knowing that they learn from example, are they seeing only the hectic and harried side of the holiday? Or are they being shown the side that promotes charity and compassion?

In our home, we make as many of the gifts by hand as possible. We want the children to learn the value of giving of their time and talents. We have done it this way for the past couple of years since we began keeping the Christmas holiday. In the middle of this, a wonderful thing has happened. Little Miss is learning generosity.
It is too soon to know how much Pookie is learning. But, being that he has no real emotional attachment to most things, he does give to others easily. It is only a matter of knowing how aware he is of what he is doing when he gives things he makes to those around him.

One of the benefits of teaching the children to make their gifts is that they have to use their own time and talents. This has several benefits. Using Little Miss as an example, let me share some of the benefits. First, she has to hone her skills to do her best work on a gift. She always wants her gift to be the best that she can make. So, she spends a lot of time practicing how to do new crafts and use new to her art techniques. Once she chooses a gift to make, she plans it out and works on it to the best of her ability. She takes great care in it. One day, this same trait will serve her well in her chosen career path. Secondly, by putting so much work into her gift, she has developed an appreciation for the gifts that she receives from others. Especially anything handmade. She knows from experience just how much time and work goes into making gifts. That experience has taught her to value the fact that others’ have done the same for what they give her. This carries over to store bought as well. She understands that the person has taken time to plan out what they bought and has matched the gift to what they think she will enjoy the most. This is very true of gifts made or given by someone that she knows has little themselves. Some families that we know are really struggling to make ends meet each month. Little Miss highly values time spent with them and is deeply appreciative of anything they do for her. Another benefit is that the kids are learning to value the time and talents of others more than the price tag of the gift they receive. If it takes Little Miss a few days to make a set of potholders for a gift to a neighbor, then she can appreciate the gift’s value that doesn’t come from a store tag. She knows how much hard work and time went into making a gift. She knows first hand that to spend time and talent making something has a value that you cannot put a price tag on.

Our way of celebrating may not be what everyone would choose. We chose this way as our way of honoring the meaning behind the season. Christ gave of Himself to all mankind. By making our gifts, we are giving of ourselves to others. We are sharing in our time and talents. If we have opportunity to serve with a charity, then that too becomes a way to be the hands and feet of the Lord in the holiday season. My husband was against the celebrating of Christmas when we first got together. He disagreed with the commercialism of the holiday which took away focus to why we celebrate Christmas. Once he learned of what the church taught on this topic, we came to a compromise. We celebrate the birth of our Lord at Christmas. We make sure the children know that this is the reason behind the celebration. We also don’t go into debt with credit cards or small loans to buy gifts. Instead, we give of ourselves through the making of as many of the gifts as possible.

The results have been a blessing to our family. We see a maturity in Little Miss where generosity is concerned. She has things which she values, but is always willing to give it to someone else if they need it more than she does. That has become a blessing of the season that was a precious gift to see as a parent. I love how the Lord has shown us how to use the celebration of Christ’s birth as an opportunity to teach our children selflessness towards others.

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It has been a little while since my last post. It seems that life gets in the way and time slips by faster than I realize sometimes.

The kids have embarked on a new project that will last for the entire school year. They are sending out flat travelers as a geography project. I went to the Making Friends website and printed out their free paper dolls and an assortment of outfits for the kids to use. After cutting out the dolls and clothes, they were assembled with a glue stick to hold things together. The kids’ names were written on the back of their dolls along with a return address label. Last step, we used the 4×6 inch size self-sealing laminating pouches to laminate the dolls. I trimmed the excess laminate from around the dolls, leaving at least a 1/4” border.

The kids are sending the dolls out with a letter. When the dolls are returned, they will have pictures and a letter talking about the adventures their dolls went on.

For each of the kids, I designed a flat traveler log sheet. On this form we are recording the date the doll is mailed, address it was sent to, what was included with the doll, date it was returned, and notes. For Little Miss, I also printed out the free printable State Notebook Pages from Harrington Harmonies website.

Little Miss will be making a scrapbook style notebook for her traveler. While the doll is on her adventure, Little Miss will be filling out the State Notebook Pages for the state her traveler is going to. When the traveler returns, she will add the letter, pictures, and anything else she receives into the notebook as well.

Pookie’s notebook will be a scrapbook of his traveler’s adventures. At this point, he is still too young developmentally to do the notebooking pages. He loves to look through pictures however, so a scrapbook of the traveler’s trips will be fun for him.

It will be exciting to see all the places that the kids’ travelers go to visit. We have a list of friends wanting to host a traveler as well as other places to send them to. Pookie’s traveler is making a trip down under to the Australia Zoo this week. Little Miss has one traveler going to a friend in Texas and another will be going to the historic Jamestown settlement. She is currently studying about Jamestown, so the traveler’s visit will work well into her lessons.

Think of places that your kids are studying about. Why not mail a flat traveler to those locations? While you may not be able to go there personally, your child can experience them through their flat traveler. Check online to see if the various attractions or historical places have an education department. If so, that department may be more than happy to host your child’s traveler. Why not send the traveler to a Renaissance festival? Or on a trip to see the Smithsonian museum? What about the NASA Space Center in Florida? There are so many ways that you can expand your child’s horizons through flat travelers. Where will your child’s traveler go?

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DIY Art Supplies

It is that time of year again when families are getting sticker shock at the prices of Back to School supplies for their kids.  Just like those in public or private schools, children who are homeschooled go through a LOT of supplies each school term.  One thing that I notice in homeschooling Little Miss and Pookie is that we go through more supplies than when my older kids were in public school.  Items like paper and pencils are about the same as when the older children went to school, but art supplies is a whole different matter.

It is amazing how much paint and other basic art supplies we go through.  I like to encourage the kids to be creative in their play as well as art.  In order to do this, I sometimes have to be a bit creative myself when it comes to obtaining supplies.  The best thing I ever did was search for recipes to make homemade supplies.

Now, I know that children who are not homeschooled wouldn’t be able to take the homemade art supplies to school.  They can use them at home for their fun projects.  For families who homeschool, the homemade versions of art supplies can be a huge blessing to the budget.  We also see it as a great way to teach our children to be more frugal.  By making the supplies at home, we are able to get the supplies much cheaper.  In winter months, it is especially helpful to have the recipes so that I am not having to travel to the city to buy supplies we have run out of.  If we run out of a specific color of watercolor paint on a pallet, then I can make more of that one color instead of having to buy a whole new set of paints.

There are two resources that are my “go-to” places to find recipes.  I strongly suggest that you test a few out.  One recipe may work better than another, depending on the type of project you are doing.  I finally began recording the recipes which gave me the best results in a small notebook for quick reference offline.  Some recipes seem to work better than others.  It all comes down to your own preferences.

The first site that I recommend is Make, Create, and Do.  This page has some very good recipes for the basics that a young child or preschooler would use.  I have used several of them with good results.

The second site, Artists Helping Children, has a larger number of recipes to choose from, included some that are better suited for older children.  Overall, they have a wide range of supplies that you can make which would benefit children of any age.

I know that there are many more websites with recipes for art supplies.  Of all that I have looked at and tested recipes from, the two listed above have been the best.  If you know of another website that has recipes that you have tried and had good results with, I would love to know about them.


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Little Miss is in paper doll heaven. While looking for printable dolls to use for flat travelers, we had found the Making Friends website. Ever since, she has had fun putting together dolls to play with. With the amount of clothing, hair, and theme variations I doubt she will be bored anytime soon.

We took a few of her dolls with us to the Mardel’s Christian book store in OKC.  There, we were able to laminate the finished dolls. She loved it!  A surprise that I have planned for her is to print out the nativity dolls set. I know she will have a lot of fun putting that together and playing with it.

It is so fun to watch my daughter find joy in the same things I enjoyed as a kid. I clearly remember the paper dolls I had. I kept them in a shoe box and could spend hours playing with them. Many were taped to repair them from all the use they got.

What started the paper doll interest for Little Miss was reading about the Ingalls’ girls playing with ones their Ma helped them make from paper during the winter.

We are so blessed to have a daughter who finds the simple things to be so entertaining. She would be happy if we gave her an envelope full of printed out dolls with all the clothes and such for Christmas. 

Next doll to find for her is biblical characters. She has been asking for some. So, now the hunt for ones we can use to go along with Bible stories.

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I am so proud of Little Miss.  In her history readers, there were stories about life in the Colonial Days.  They spent a lot of time focusing on stories from the perspective of children.  Perfect for a young child just beginning to learn history.  It has drawn her interest as she hears what life was like for children in those days.  Learning that very young girls were taught early to knit stockings for the family surprised her the most.  She had never thought of that.  She wondered why they didn’t go to the store and buy socks like we do.  This led to a long discussion about the lack of stores and the need for all girls in the home to help clothe the family as well as make their own bedding.

Ever since learning how much knitting the young Colonial girls did, Little Miss asked me to teach her to crochet last autumn.  For the Christmas holiday, she crocheted a long chain to decorate our tree.  It made a fun first project and gave her plenty of practice in that first stitch.  On Saturday, I surprised Little Miss with a new small project that will teach her the single crochet stitch.  We have a 1 year old female cat named Flower.  Little Miss loves this cat and enjoys playing with her.  So, I combined this with a crochet project.  She is making cat toys!

The toy is a very simple one.  Using a single crochet stitch, she is making a 2 inch x 4 inch swatch.  Once she gets the swatch large enough, it will be folded in half to make a 2 inch square.  We will stuff a cotton ball inside as we sew up the sides.  This will make a nice little toy for Flower to bat around the floor.  You can add a bell inside if you want, but we are making them without.  If you tie a long length of yarn to the toy and attach it to a stick, you have a toy you can use to play with the cat also.

Little Miss is doing great making the toy.  She is excited that as she makes this, she is learning a stitch that she can use to make other things.  I have already thought of a next project that she will like.  If she makes about 6 single crochet 3-inch squares, I can show her how to sew them together with yarn to make a mini blanket for her Barbie dolls.  For her, the projects are just fun.  She loves to sit beside me and crochet on her project as I am working on my own.  As she makes these little projects, she is learning a skill that she can use throughout her life.  The small Barbie blanket project will be within her abilities, yet will teach the technique for making a patchwork afghan.  The only difference being the size of the projects.

I am still trying to learn to knit.  Once I do, Little Miss is already saying that she wants me to teach her.  She wants to make a pair of socks like the little girls in her history book.  Oh my!  Guess I better get busy learning to make them myself.  Thankfully I know how to crochet a very simple sock pattern that I can teach her once she masters the single crochet stitch!

We are going to include her learning to crochet in her Keepers of the Faith projects.  She loves that program.  It has been teaching her so much.  Not just in skills but academically.  I am so glad that we chose to get the Keepers’ book for her.

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