Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Snuggle Bunny Pillows

I think I still have every hand made gift and seasonal decoration my daughters created when they were young. My most memorable is the curious little potholder that my own mother helped three year old Mary Jo weave for me. This charming, unevenly matched riot of color still hangs from a kitchen cupboard knob - one of the first treasures I'd grab if I ever had to flee my burning house.

And the tradition continues. Now it's my turn to plot with the grandkids on secret gifts for mommies and daddies. It's the most fun when those are seasonal decorations, destined to reappear annually, turning homes into personal history growth charts and showcases of warm childhood memories.

This year we made Easter pillows. The kids learned that anything can be successfully drawn if it is broken down into basic shapes. Bunnies? Nothing more than round and oval forms in varying sizes!

Our pillows began on 16" squares of muslin. Acrylic paints were used.

Once the artists were satisfied with the painted bodies, we gave our bunnies nice beds of grass to nestle in - hand printed ones for a personal touch! 

Then the kids made fluffy yarn pom pom tails before turning everything over to grandma for completion.

I backed each square with batting and backing and hand quilted an all over pattern on each body, outlining facial features as well. The bodies were cut out, placed right sides together with a backing piece, sewn together, turned, stuffed, and hand closed along bottom edge. I attached the tails and popped a coordinating bow around each neck. All that's left is for the kids to sign and date their work and wait patiently for Easter Sunday's presentation ceremony! 

I think their mommies are going to be very "hoppy" with their Snuggle Bunny Pillows!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Numbers Game

Would I be a mega ego-maniac if I said I wanted my grandchildren to think of me every day at school? Yeah, probably. But that doesn't mean it might not happen. Or that it hasn't already happened!

My grandchildren have wonderful parents who offer them many early educational experiences. But mom and dad also value and encourage contributions from invested grandparents. In this area I am more than happy to comply. And sometimes the results do bring good old grandma right into the classroom!

Like when teacher bounced in with a stack of newspaper, bag of flour and a chirpy, "Guess what we're doing today?" My pre-school granddaughter "just knew" it was going to be "a paper mache project - like at grandma's!"

The boys' teachers also didn't need to tell them how to locate the North Star because night hikes with grandma have been the perfect venue to observe and identify it. It's already known, too, that dinosaurs are reptiles who lay eggs because - well, duh! - a bunch of those were dug up right in grandma's backyard last summer! Words ending in "oo?" This one brought laughter at the memory of super-goofy grandma at the zoo - just flappin' her wings and makin' a fool outta herself by pointing at the word everywhere, wondering who could sound out and read it - and then repeat it with a new first letter. Sound effects and theatrical gestures? All included! Zoo. Boo. Moo. Been there, done that! - with grandma! (It's okay. We were out of town. I'll never see those gawkers again - I hope!)

Brielle has been counting to twenty in proper sequence since she was two, but not yet identifying corresponding figures. So, between the two of us, we checked that little item off our list in the space of one week with a "Numbers Game" we both had a part in inventing!

Awhile back I purchased, and squirreled away, a set of dot to dot books for the kids. It was time to bring them out! I love this series because number samples run along the top of the page, making it easy for Bree to match and connect dots to draw cute animal pictures. I was delighted when she asked to bring extra sheets home so she could teach mommy and daddy what she'd learned. They say, you know, the best way to learn anything well is to teach it yourself - and teach it she did! - sitting them down to take turns and search carefully for the correct figures!

The next step was making sugar cookies using the set of plastic number cutters I found at Hobby Lobby for two dollars. This made the game even more fun! Once each number was connected, the corresponding cookie could be gobbled up!

Today I sit here and watch Little Miss Smartie zip through the pages of her 1-10 book, knowing it will soon be time to bring out the 1-20 copy. Bree is full of confidence now, ready for teacher to ask if anyone knows what a "3" looks like. I just hope she doesn't raise her hand and say, "I'll tell you only if you give me a cookie shaped like one!"