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Thursday, September 27, 2012

* Fall Apple Theme Sensory Box. * Again.

Fall is in the air and I couldn't be happier, it IS my favorite season!
I love wearing jeans and layers, cheering for football, sewing and crafting,
sipping warm coffee at the bus stop, and having the windows open in the house again.
Goodbye humidity and mosquitos, I will not miss you.


Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite sensory boxes from last year.
Remember this one? I made this cute little apple sensory box
for C's preschool classroom for their apple unit.
Think we might need to set it up again in the playroom, I asked the girls a few weeks
ago if they were done with sensory boxes (hoping to clear out my storage shelves in the garage)
and they both said, "No!" they still love them (they're 9 and 5 by the way...)
So, it looks like we'll still be making and playing with our boxes
for a while longer -- that's fine by me.


Made apple trees out of toilet paper tubes and felt.
The "apples" were mini red pom-poms that stuck 
nicely to the felt leaves for apple picking.


The tiny wooden buckets/ apple barrels were a craft store find.
The stick broom was from a zen sand kit from Dollar tree but you can 
make your own tiny brooms/rakes with sticks and a glue gun.

The cinnamon sticks add a lovely scent to the box and the 
play apples are a fun addition for counting and sorting.


Happy Apple Picking! 


Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama

NOTE: I frequently get asked questions about how we manage our sensory box
materials. I keep most of my "stuff" in ziplock bags
in a few storage bins out in our garage on some shelves.
For more information read my Sensory Box 101 Tips and Techniques post.




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

* How to Make a Tree Out of a Toilet Paper Tube



Trees are very popular in our sensory boxes and imaginary play lands.
The girls need forests full of them for many of their games.


We have a few small evergreen trees I've picked up over the years
at Christmas time sales for those tiny villages at the craft store or Walmart.
We also have some wooden trees cut out on a jig saw and hand painted with watercolor
but our favorite sensory box trees are our felt and toilet paper tube trees.



Making them is very simple. 
You will need some empty cardboard tubes 
(toilet paper, paper towel or gift wrap tubes cut down)
felt, glue, and scissors.

Cut rectangles of brown felt to wrap around your trunk and glue with school glue 
or if you're in a hurry use a glue gun.


Then, just cut leaf shapes with green felt (or orange/red/yellow for a fall tree) 
and glue them into one end. 



We've even used faux fall leaves on some of our trees.
Make as many as you wish. This is an easy craft for the kids to make too. 
If they're little you can pre-cut the felt and let them do the glue work.
Once they're dry, you're all set for some sensory box or imaginative play land fun!




Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

* Check Out the Newest Issue Kids Crafts 1-2-3 Magazine

Have you been to Walmart lately?
I'm there every week, say, "Hi!" if you see me there.
If you visit the magazine section you can find this little goodie 
right now...


The first issue of Kids Crafts 1-2-3 magazine 
is being sold exclusively at Walmart and is
edited by my very talented crafty mama friend, Jennifer Perkins. 
Jen is best known for her blog Naughty Secretary Club
and hostess of HGTV's Craft Lab show.

See that little word, "CREATE" on the front cover?


That was made by me! 
You can find it and another halloween craft
made by yours truly in this first issue. (BOO!)


It was pretty cool to see my work in a magazine 
and the girls loved it too since they helped me make the prototypes!
Go pick up a copy today, it's chock full of fun kid's crafts! 

Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

* Re-Cycled Colored Pencils Trivet


The September school supply sales bring all kinds of new goodies to our house. 
New markers, full glue bottles, colored pencils, and pretty pink erasers. 
Sometimes, those sales also bring less-desirable school supplies.
You know what I'm talking about, those colored pencils that were so cheap
it turns out they were cheap for a reason....they don't work!

I know I'm not the only mom and teacher to end up with the wrong school supplies.
Can't take them back to the store, 
especially when they are given to you by well-meaning people.
I'm also not going to give my kids art supplies that don't work.
There is nothing more frustrating than glue sticks that don't stick,
colored pencils that don't color or blend well, 
and paper that is so thin it tears while you're drawing on it. 

(Shameful colored pencils from the brand that must not be named,
I call them Voldemort pencils.)

I recently found myself on the receiving end of a few 
packages of some colored pencils from a brand I will not publicly shame here.
But, I will say that I NEVER buy their products for my own kids
and I NEVER bought them for my classroom because they don't work.
A good teacher friend of mine ended up with some surplus
containers of this brand-I-will-not-name of colored pencils so they were gifted to me 
to make something useful and beautiful with.
She knew I wasn't going to just throw them in a landfill. 

That's how today's project came about. 
I decided to make them into a trivet for my dinner table.
I started by lining up the pencils and taping them together with some masking tape.
Then, I trimmed a piece of felt with pinking shears 
and glue-gunned it to the "pencil mat"
I used a generous amount of glue to really secure the pencils to the felt. 


That's how I made my super easy, super colorful 
fun new trivet. I looks adorable on my kitchen table
with my vintage pyrex and makes me happy every night at dinner!


Happy Re-Cycle Crafting!
I still have some colored pencils leftover, 
I see a rainbow picture frame in my future! 

Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama MaryLea


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

* Klutz Sticker Design Studio Fun!


I have some more exciting news -- one of our family's favorite companies, Klutz,
asked me to be one of their Klutz Crew Ambassadors!
This year Klutz is celebrating their 35th anniversary. 
They are launching a fun new campaign to "Wrap It Up with Klutz!" 
This fall, they are repackaging their awesome craft books
with easier to store packaging for their art materials. 
This means, no more lost markers or squished embroidery floss 
shoved into the depths of your book shelves. 
Now, all of the Klutz books will have cute little pouches and clever ways to store
their art materials right along with the book so you can keep it all together in one place. 


When the girls and I opened our Klutz Crew box it was like Christmas!
We even got t-shirts for our whole family.
(Note: Geoff wore his this weekend while he was doing some home improvement projects
 and asked me if I was comfortable with him operating a saw and painting baseboard
while wearing a "100% Klutz Certified" t-shirt!)


The first book the girls wanted to dive into was the 
We LOVE stickers around here. 
Personalized, color-it-yourself stickers = even. cooler. 

With this super cute kit, you get to make your own truly personal mark with 
unique custom designed stickers! The almost blank stickers are lightly printed 
with pale grey designs that are barely there- allowing your own creative genius
to show when you ink over their stickers. 


Both girls loved the bright markers that came with the set
and even "C" was able to get right to work with her own sheet of stickers.
Some of them are embellished with glitter = extra fancy!


The kit has an adorable book filled with tips, inspiration, and super cute ideas!


We decided to use some of our fun new stickers to bling out 
and embellish some boring school supplies.


Mommy had to jump in and color some stickers too.


"E" added stickers to her composition notebooks and spiral notebooks for school.
Her classmates complimented her on them the first week of school!


I channeled my inner 70s-80s child with a retro notebook
embellished with unicorns, rainbows, and ice cream cones. 
There is even a roller skate sticker I think I'm going to have to add to my notebook!


We all had so much fun with this set, I know what our new 
go-to birthday present (under $20!) gift for friends will be this year!


Happy Sticker Making!
we will share more Klutz fun soon...

Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama,
MaryLea

Ethical Disclosure: All opinions expressed are my own. 
 I received free Klutz products and compensation in exchange for my honest opinion. 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

* Giveaway and Review of the Draw Write Now Series

My friends at Barker Creek recently contacted me about their
award-winning drawing and handwriting book series,
 "Draw Write Now" 


As a former teacher, and current mama, I was excited to give 
these books a try with my own daughters. 

"C" is 5 years old and just started kindergarten.
She is still working on learning how to write and will begin reading this school year.
She will is the perfect age to start with these books and they will grow along with her
over the next couple of years.

"E" is 9 years old and just entered 4th grade.
She LOVES the books, not the handwriting practice part but the 
drawing lessons and tricks. She has been stealing the books and keeping
them up in her bedroom to draw with them in her sketch book at night.
The other morning, while putting away laundry, I found this drawing in her room. 


The book series is made up of 8 books with 168 different drawing and writing
lessons designed to integrate art and language arts with
geography, history, social studies, and science. 

This Giveaway is Now Closed.
Want to expose your own children or students to this series?
My generous friends at Barker Creek would like to give away one
box set of 8 Draw Write Now Books to one of my readers! 
Follow the Rafflecopter Directions Below for your entries. 
Giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older.
Winner will be notified via email. Good luck!

Pink and Green Mama
All opinions expressed are my own. 
My family received a complimentary set of the "Draw Write Now" Series books.
We did not receive any additional financial compensation.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

* What Kind of Volunteer Are You At School?


As September and the new school year get into full swing, it's that time of year again.
Time to decide what to sign up for and what kind of volunteer
commitments to make at one's school. For me, life gets a bit easier this year
because now that both of my girls are attending the same school, I can 
co-ordinate my volunteer efforts in one building instead of trying to be 
in two places at one time that run on different bell schedules! 

I recently read an article by Lynne Ticknor over at Mom's Homeroom
about getting involved at your children's school called "Know Thyself" 
she talked about identifying ways to balance your already packed schedule 
by weighing your skill sets, 
how much time do you have available,
does location matter (volunteering from home vs. at school),
and does your child even want you to volunteer?
This balance is something I've struggled with every year
 that my own daughters have been in school.


I've always helped out in one way or another at my daughter's schools.
Some years, I've been able to do more than others.
It has varied with our schedules and other commitments. 
When "E" was still an only child and "C" was still a bun in the oven,
I was able to volunteer at her preschool more often.
Then when "C" was a baby, I did more stuff for E's teachers from home.
Once "C" started preschool I was able to go into both classrooms again.
I try to play to my strengths so for me that's art.

 Behind the scenes volunteer work was easier for me 
when "C" as a baby could be toted along in a car seat,
or as a toddler could sit down with some snacks and a toy while I helped out. 
That was when I did things like put up hallway displays,
make visual aides, and classroom manipulatives
like sensory boxes and felt boards for various teachers. 


When "C" was at her little morning program preschool,
I was able to go into "E" elementary school and volunteer with their 
Art in the Schools program.
Once a month, I taught her class an art history lesson and 
we did a fine art lesson in connection with that month's artist. 
It was a fun way for me to "teach" art again and spend time with "E and her classmates.

What if you're not artsy? That's okay too. 
Just show up. Figure out your strengths and play to them 
(there's a list at the end of this post that can help you figure out what you're best suited for.)
Show up.
Do what you can to show your kids that they matter to you.
If they see that their school and their education is important to you, 
it will be important to them too.
Teachers and administrators notice this too. 
If you work full time, you can still find ways to help out.


My husband and I have enjoyed chaperoning field trips 
(he just has to plan ahead and take a half day off of work.)
We take turns so "E" gets one on one time with us
and we each get to know her friends a classmates a bit better.


We don't go on all of their trips, but we do try 
to go along on at least one each year.


I also have been known to help out with class parties,
prepping food or running a craft station (big surprise, I know) 
I've also enjoyed helping out with fundraising by making class projects
for silent auctions and various fundraisers. 

Evaluate your own personality. Are you more comfortable interacting
with kids and adults as an extrovert or are you more of an introvert (like me) 
who is more comfortable hiding behind the scenes? 

The Mom's Homeroom article identified 4 types of volunteers:

The Active Aide - likes to be in on the action. 
Think: Field Day, the dunk booth at the school carnival, relay races.
Moving bleachers and tables for concerts/activities.
Shelve books in the library.

Do you enjoy shopping? Collect money and organize the class gifts
for your teacher. Or, put together silent auction baskets for a fundraiser.

The Social Servant - extroverted and a social butterfly.
Think: leadership positions with the PTA, overseeing volunteers and 
co-ordinating major school events.

Cafeteria Host or hostess - doesn't mind being in the middle of the chaos
and thrives on helping others (I actually shut down in this situation!)
These volunteers get physically recharged by helping out this way

(BTW, it makes me want to run and hide)
I've noticed these folks are also super-organized list makers.

The Creative Cohort - the artsy fartsy one. (e.g. ME - shocker!)
This person is drawn to the arts. 
Think: art lessons, art gallery field trips,
painting projects and helping with silent auction group art projects. 
Hanging art in hallways, arranging display cases. 

Do you enjoy photography? 
Why not take class photos and put together an album for the teacher
with a photo site like Shutterfly or volunteer with the school yearbook?

The Technical Temp - technology assistance.
Think: computer lab, set up class websites, find on-line resources for staff,
and tutor children one-on-one.

These aren't the only types of volunteers but they do seem to be 
the ones I run into the most often over the years.
Figure out what you're comfortable with and see how you can 
contribute and give back to your child's school. 
If you find something that fits your own personality and temperament
you'll be much happier giving back. 

Which one will you be?

Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama
This blog is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom's Homeroom.
Mom's Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

* Leave A "Space" Writing Sticks For Kindergarten


I shared with you the fun I had helping my friend set up her 
kindergarten classroom this year. 
Now, I'm going to share another little project I made for her classroom. 
The kids in her kindergarten classroom use popsicle sticks to 
learn how to leave a "space" between words while they are writing 
on big sentence paper. Last year, she had sticks with a simple astronaut glued
on them - the concept was good but they weren't very cute (no offense, Mrs. P).

We're going for cute this year 
so, I asked if I could give them a makeover. 

I started with a batch of popsicle sticks 
that I painted with black acrylic craft paint 
(paint both sides - take turns and let it dry).
I did not take a photo of this step = boring.

After both sides had good coverage and were completely dry, 
I used a white out pen to add stars - you could also flick the sticks
with an old toothbrush dipped in white paint
like we did for our 


Then, I printed out Space Shuttle pictures found and reduced from 
Google Images - cut them out carefully and glued them to the sticks
with a few layers of Mod Podge.


Oh Mod Podge, how I love thee. 


While the Mod Podge was still wet, I added a sprinkle of silver glitter
for bling and a spacey star effect! 


The finished sticks look great and Mrs. P was thrilled
with her new leave a "SPACE" sticks! 


Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama


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Friday, September 7, 2012

* Setting Up The Kindergarten Classroom: Reading Pillows, Bulletin Boards, Curtains, and More!


I told you that one of my best friends is "C"s kindergarten teacher this year.
She was also "E"s kindergarten teacher. 
She is wonderful with the kids and her teaching gets better every year.
It is so fun to watch her work and her assistant teacher is like a mommy away from home,
"C" is madly in love with both of them and I call them her school mommies.

I offered to help set up and makeover their classroom for the new school year.
It's my way of helping out and it's fun for me since I miss setting up my own classroom.
We started by rearranging the whole room and getting rid of her big desk to maximize space.
It made a huge difference!


Then I made pillows for the reading corner. 
I've had this cute little cloud pillow floating around in my brain for the past 2 years
and this was the perfect opportunity to make one!


The cloud is made from blue flannel from my stash and 
the face is embroidered felt. The ribbons are from my stash. 
I found pillows on sale for $2.50 (!) at Walmart and used them as the stuffing.


I made some other fun pillows and convinced Mrs. P to pick up this fun 
Rainbow dot pillow at Ikea -- it's perfect right? 
I need to go back there and get one for my house too! 
She also needed some new curtains so the girls and I made them together.


Here they are in progress on my art studio floor. 
Yes, I have a giant table in the middle of the room but I always end up 
pinning my fabric projects on the floor!
I let "C" help me run the sewing machine and "E" was my ironing girl.


It was her first time ironing.
The only time I iron is for art and craft projects and for sewing - 
yes, we wear wrinkled clothing. 
She did a great job and loved it!


See this box? Not the most beautiful thing but I should have taken a "before" 
photo -- just a plain yogurt box from a discount store. 
It needed a facelift - it holds sentence strips in her supply closet and they needed to 
be sorted by season so I made these cute paint chip labels. 
So I wrapped the whole thing in cute, colorful duct tape from Walmart's craft department.


I just used scrapbook sticker letters and taped on the labels with clear packing tape.



These cabinet doors were boring so I taped up paint chip samples.


Pink! 


and Green! 


Yes, I'm friends with the guys in the paint department at my hardware store.
Don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed by that -- I do spend a lot of time there.


Here's "C" skipping around the rug, you can see the reading pillows 
and the curtains hanging up in the window -- so fun and colorful.


Here's my other favorite project. 
I made over her bulletin boards with fabric and paint sample chips.
I made a second boarder with the paint samples and her regular bulletin board 
borders -- I'll be doing this again if I ever go back to teaching. 


I also made a little paper pennant for her magnetic white board...
"E" made the rainbow tissue pouff. 


Here is her classroom library with my bulletin boards
and the new rugs we got at Ikea. Cute, right?
It sure was fun getting ready for 
a new colorful school year!


We love these great ladies! 
Thank you, Mrs. P and Mrs. A.

Fondly,
Pink and Green Mama, MaryLea

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