The Best Tip for Entertaining Kids

April 24, 2012

When I first graduated with my teaching degree, I had a job working at a daycare with toddlers.  It was not my ideal job.  I was making just over minimum wage, knew nothing about toddlers, and was dying to work in the public school system.  Looking back, however, it was good for me.  One of the best things about working at the daycare was that I got to work with an amazing lady.  Margaret was incredible.  She was upbeat, organized, efficient, and knew so much about what to do with kids. 

Margaret employed what I'll call the "Dump and Play" strategy.  She wouldn't just midly suggest that kids go and play with bubbles or dinosaurs or babies.  Instead, she would take the toys out, dump them on the table and start playing.  This trick works all of the time.

If you ever need to entertain kids: Dump toys out, then start playing with them.

Once kids see how fun and cool those toys are, they'll be there playing too.  (And then if you're like me with my kids at home, you'll try and sneak away to get some work done while your kids do their "work.")  This trick works especially well for toddler/preschooler set, but I think it would even work on adults. 

This afternoon, when I needed to get some work done for Mr. Emily's business, I laid out a bunch of junk on the kitchen table.  After sitting down and playing for a minute, I left Kid 1 alone, and had 30 solid minutes of productive time.

She was building towers and houses, and was very engaged.  After playing at the table, she moved onto building a cardboard box house from a salvaged recycling bin item.

If I would have just said, "I need to get some work done, find something to do," chances are good that her mind would have been blank, and that finding something to do would have been impossible.  Usually, when I set out toys or an activity, engaged playing is the result.

So, what about you?  Do you already use the "Dump and Play" method?  What's your best tip for entertaining kids?

Stripey Knit Shirts

April 17, 2012

Last Saturday, my church had a clothing and household goods swap.  By the time I got there, it was a bit picked over, but I managed to find a few things that I am pretty exited about.  (It's amazing how exciting free stuff is!)

I went in to the clothing swap looking for items to add to our dress-up collection.  I found an awesome curly wig, some gold high-heels, and some cool silky shirts.

I was also searching for large knit t-shirts that could be turned into dresses and skirts for my girls.  I found three great stripey shirts, and am pretty excited.  I will use the arms to make leggings, and the body for skirts. 

I'm pretty excited, but also a bit nervous.  My sewing skills aren't the greatest.  I have decided that old free t-shirts are the best kind of material to practice with, and my little kids are the best kind of models for a beginner sewer. 

I plan to use this tutorial from Make it and Love it for the leggings, and either this tutorial from Made, or this tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew! for the skirts. 
Wish me luck!

Cherry Blossom Season

April 5, 2012

Remember how the first week of spring was not my favourite week?  Well, this week has been pretty lovely.  The weather is back to being beautiful, and yesterday we had the most lovely picnic lunch with friends after preschool.  I think I've mentioned before that we are doing another year of a home preschool co-op.  The theme for this week was "Peter and the Wolf", and the kids put on a very adorable puppet version.

But back to the cherry blossoms.  The neighbourhood has tons of gorgeous cherry trees.  This was our crew (the most adorable preschool bike gang) on our way from the park back to my friend's house.  I'm loving all the trees in bloom right now.  Spring is looking lovely this year!

Do you have any big plans for Easter?  I'm jealous that Emily will be spending hers with our family in our hometown.  Good thing I have the cherry trees to console me!  We have plans for an Easter Egg Hunt with friends at the beach, dinner, church (where Mr. Carlee and I are both singing in the choir and hoping that our children will all behave somehow) and family pictures surrounded by these beautiful pink blossoms.

Bunny Buns

In just a few hours, my family is headed out of town for the long weekend.  (Yay for long weekends!  And yay for actually living within driving distance of family for the first time in ten years!)

I wanted to write a quick post to wish you all a happy Easter, and to share a bit more of what we've been up to this week.  I had grand plans of making matching Easter dresses for my girls.  Since Carlee finally has her own girl to sew for this Easter, I thought I should take on the project for my own kids myself.  I cut out the fabric for one of the dresses, and that's about as far as I got.  Oh well, they'll be finished someday, or not. 

One thing that I did actually get around to completing this week was to make a batch of Bunny Buns.  Bunny Buns are simply dinner rolls or buns, shaped like bunnies.  My four year old had so much fun rolling out the dough, making shapes and adding eyes and other features.

I used my favourite dinner roll recipe, and when it came time to shape them, we made bunny shapes instead.  We added raisins and cloves for eyes, nose, ears, etc, and then baked them as normal.

They are best straight out of the oven with a bit of honey butter.  Yum! 

The Easter Bunny already visited our house this morning, bringing a few small candies and some dollar store trinkets.  We plan to do more egg dying this weekend, and visit some baby chicks and bunnies as well.

Easter Bonnet

April 3, 2012


This is my first Easter with a little girl of my own to sew for.  Last year I sewed dresses for Emily's girls, and I'm afraid to say it, but I didn't make a thing for them this year.  Sorry girls!  And sorry to my boys too for that matter.  Last year I made them adorable matching bow ties.

I am not sure that I'm going to find the time to make my own little girl a dress this year.  But, I did make her at least one adorable thing to wear to church on Easter Sunday. 

I'm a sucker for the traditional look for babies, and I love bonnets.  I picked up a small embroidered and hand appliqued linen at the Goodwill a few months back with the idea of making an Easter bonnet for my baby girl.  It sat in my pile until yesterday, when I finally decided to give it a try.  I started off with this pattern, but had to change quite a few things to make it work.  I was a little limited with the shape of my brim because I wanted to use the pretty bottom edges from the linen.  And then I had my usual problem with commercial patterns never fitting the way they should.  After the first time I sewed it up, the bonnet was roomy on my two year old, and it was supposed to be for an infant.  Eventually I took it in enough times to make it fit.  Honestly, it's not completely perfect, but I'm working really hard at not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The linen was sort of small, so I had to cut it in half and sew the pieces together the other way to make the embroidered edge wide enough to form a brim.  I used a french seam to keep it tidy, and hand tacked the seam down in the front.   This means that the pretty hand appliqued pattern is only on one side, but I think it looks kind of sweet that way.

I had just enough fabric to cut two pieces for the back so that I could hide all the seams.  I used the finished sides of the linen for the bottom edge, so that I didn't have to hem that later.  To construct the bonnet, I gathered the brim piece to fit the back and sewed it to one of my two pieces.  When I got the sizes worked out, I sewed the second piece on so that the brim was sandwiched in the middle.  After that I flipped the bonnet right side out and hand stitched the opening (along the back bottom edge) shut.   

The last thing to do was to add ribbon ties to each side.  

Oh, and put a cute baby inside.  That's really the last step.  The bonnet really is pretty adorable on, and who would ever notice the imperfections when you have a sweet baby to admire?

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