Saturday, July 27, 2019

Pretty Hats, Pretty Purses, Pretty Ladies!

Oh, the fun that lurks inside a paper pack of plates! 

Like most little ladies rockin' the age of six, my trio of Grandma Campers loves crafting and performing. Just moments before their arrival, I quickly added a back-up, time-filler project - one heeding my own advice to "over-plan" the hours ahead. Did I expect it to be the hit it became?

Absolutely not!

Dig out your paper plates and bowls, grandma, I think you're going to enjoy this one, too!

10" plates and 6" (10 oz.) bowls make fine hats and purses to match. Little ladies relish decorating them, and the entire family will pack the stadium to applaud the fashion event you narrate to show them off!

Place a bowl face down on the back surface of a plate, centered. Trace with pencil. Cut center of plate out on a line about 3/4" inside that one. Run a line of craft glue all along cut edge and put bowl in place to dry. Spray paint the hat.

Fold a 10" plate in half, bottom surface out, and staple both sides about 3" up from folded edge. Spray paint the purse.

My campers made their color choices, opting to "match" rather than "mix" purse and hat colors. And then we gathered at the outdoor crafting table, greeting a smorgasbord of decorating choices.....

There were stickers and feathers and yarn skeins galore, 
Crepe paper streamers, buttons and beads, and lots and lots more!

I tutored a quick tissue paper flower making session first - a skill that all little ladies need to own! The results were duly plopped atop, but deemed too time consuming to repeat. The immediate allure of the aforementioned goodies was just too irresistible!

With my occasional assist to staple purse handle choices, cousins chattered away, exchanging ideas, making each hat and purse a couture creation of personal originality.

What surprised me most was the enthusiasm with which the girls anticipated the upcoming fashion show. Our tradition concludes each Grandma Camp week with a showcase of talent.....magic shows, puppet shows, bake sales, art exhibits.....all before an appreciative audience of parents, siblings, and aunties and uncles.

The girls embraced dress rehearsal, insisting I take group shots: models with hats alone, then purses alone, then finally with both hats and purses! (whew!) They giggled uncontrollably when it was decided in unison to end the show with a bang up surprise - a final group deep bow to send all hats flying!

Pretty hats, pretty purses, pretty ladies....I think they did a pretty good job being pretty amazing!

Models wait in the wings to strut the fashion show stage!

And yes! -  that final bow most certainly did have the impact we expected!

Friday, July 19, 2019

KA-BOOM! Situation Averted!

My grandkids are seasoned problem solvers. Since they could toddle, they've nosed out secret stashes of birthday gifts and flushed worried cats from under-the-couch security. Hide something waaaay up high on a shelf, and you'd find them perched on the edge of a chair, pointing upward, asking, "What is that, grandma? Are you hiding stuff from us again?"

It was time to send them on a deliberate adventure - one where inquisitive eyes and noses-for-the-news could be put to the test. It was time to enlist "the big kid trio" at Grandma Camp as secret crime solving agents so I could sit back and encourage a delve into the mysterious nooks and crannies of my house! I'd give them an ultimatum, too. If they were unsuccessful in their mission, they were likely to be blown sky high right along with a candy-thieving perp's home made bomb!

Secret Agent adventures are a popular party topic, and Pinterest boards bulge with ideas. It seems that moms and grandmas share freely with one another, tweaking for the best personal experience. That's what I did, finding sources that I deemed "good" and "better," but settling for only "the best!" I recommend two of the latter. And here they are!....

One Creative Mommy blog - This resource is a treasure trove of detailed ideas - the one I relied on almost exclusively to produce a problem-free experience. Heidi (an elementary teacher and mom of two) owns the organizational skills you'd expect from an educator. She's generous, too. Her printables are top quality and she offers them free of charge. This site is a "must-visit" for invitations, badges, code names, spy agent training, a very clever bomb pinata, and exciting clues galore. I'll reference this source frequently in my post.

Grandma's Little Pearls blog - On this page you'll find Grandma Shelley's list of links to every feature of her Spy Agent Grandma Camp experience. Learn along with her youthful gang to make a spy gear box, security scan, edible bomb snacks, secret messages, and themed crafts!

Shhh! Do you hear the sinister tick-tick-ticking of a time bomb? I do! 
Let's go see what's up!

Ten year old twin brothers joined eight year old cousin, Brielle, for a high voltage spy mission described in an eagerly read intro message.

Here it is! Ooooo sounds dangerous!

I found the free "top secret" clip art online and used OCR extended font on Word for "government generated" official looking print!

Accompanying that letter was Heidi's "stretched word" clue. I appreciated the "print-and-go" convenience of this one. It was quickly deciphered to read "fridge" - something everybody's got at hand!

Inside the fridge, the kids snatched up a "Mirror Clue." I printed Heidi's directive to "reflect on this message" along with my own advisory:

When the doorbell rings,
and the dog starts to bark,
you reach for the handle
and open -- --

the door!

Taped to the front porch was a "Mason Clue." I found this one fascinating! Never heard of it before! The kids dove right in to solving it, taking turns at being lead investigator.

And what did it say? "Look behind the garage!" With a mighty whoosh! and a race to the door, the trio was GONE! - headed out to collect clue number four!

This was also grandpa's signal to set up the next event! He dutifully dumped inflated, clue-filled black balloons (bombs!) on the family room floor.

But meanwhile, back behind the garage......

Junior agents puzzled over a "Scytale Clue." Yes, I know. That one was new to me, too! Let Heidi guide you through it right here.

"Family Room!" After a few moments of team work, Scytale letters spelled out that simple prompt. Once again, with a vigorous shout of enthusiasm, campers scattered in a flash, breaking for back inside the house, triggering a heart-bursting moment of joy for grandma. Campers were really, really, REALLY enjoying themselves, and I was so proud of myself for putting it all together for them.

I hurried along behind to deliver instructions for what was ahead. Junior agents were to break the bombs by any means possible, watching for individual parts of a clue to pop out of select ones. All needed to be broken - and this time grandma sighed in gratitude for the $1.59 Hobby Lobby 24 pack of black 12 inchers!


Excitement spiked when words on paper strips appeared. Bent studiously over the collection, agents shuffled them a bit, consulted in brief, and sprang for the stairs when "Where are the tents?" emerged. That targeted campers' sleeping area, and moved detectives out of the way so the stage could be set for the final confrontation with our bomb-bearing candy thief!

Upstairs, our spy trio clustered about a "Substitution Code Clue." Expert de-coders by now, it didn't take long to decipher "Find Grandpa!" on the grid.

Kids raced back down. "Where is he? What does he have for us?" How could this benevolent soul figure into the mystery we've been charged with solving?

Whoa! What's this? On the floor? A trail way!.....not CANDY WRAPPERS??? Leading straight to someone familiar perched on the couch holding - WHAT? - a bomb in his lap???

Noooooooooo!!!!!!! NOT GRANDPA????!!!!!!

But there he was - with a mouth full of rotten teeth that removed all doubt over his criminal identity!

(If you think the kids look a bit apprehensive over his appearance, you'd be correct! The grandpa they're used to is one who brushes his teeth and doesn't wear a goofy fake set just for fun!)

In fact.......

Here he is on an ordinary day - at the pensive moment he's just learned he'll be the star player in our rotten-toothed candy thief escapade! (He sighs, knowing very well no argument will get him out of this gig!)

So, our junior FBI agents recovered quickly from their initial shock and tore the bomb to pieces just in time. They devoured the "fuses" (Twizzlers) and divided the "sticks of dynamite" (cardboard tubes) stuffed with candy. The cats carted off attached "detonation wires" (sparkly pipe cleaners), and grandpa promised he'd ditch the crazy teeth and revert to his law abiding ways, requiring me to resume shoo-ing the ladies away from handsome-him at the grocery store!

And grandma? Well, she's just content to have this long-wished-for adventure checked off her "to-do-with-grandkids" list - and heartily grateful to Heidi and Grandma Shelley for their creativity, inspiration, and generosity!

Pictured at right are goofy fake teeth, and clues and codes available at One Creative Mommy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Unicorn Romp!

Visions staged on fairy tale fields in the long ago past recall maidens a-glide on steeds of bright white. A twirl of horn accents each noble head, as a cascade of mane shivers and shakes, rustles and quakes, through hoof-beaten travel on forested paths that hide treasure galore.....

Lovers of unicorns they six year old trio of little lady cousins! What other invitation need present itself to challenge pursuit of the magical majesty of a Unicorn Romp at Grandma Camp this year?

But allow me to lift my head from a fluff of glittered clouds for one moment. Angeline (at right) cautions me that "unicorns are not real." She is not, to be clear, disqualifying herself from a mounted trounce through grandma's backyard woods to snatch treasure from a hidden trove, but merely stating a fact.....This is a family of solid truth tellers, I might add. Two years ago, twin sissy, Ava (at left) pointed out that the "fairies" we sought among the same foliage were also "not real," instead, ones handcrafted by.....well, I think you know by whom! :) Kaylee keeps peace in the middle, probably admonishing her cousins to just let grandma have her fun - "If she wants to believe her woods are enchanted with fairies and unicorns and gnomes and flying squirrels and talking butterflies, well let's just make her happy and play along for today!"  

Thank you, ladies, for indulging me!....

Sensing imminent arrival, a stable of free spirits snorts and paws the ground in excitement!

Hark! Princesses are near! 

Each fair maiden is delighted with her steed, names her quickly, then mounts, awaiting the signal to embark.....

Meet "Flower" at left, "Diamond" at center, and "Star" at right.

Grandma hands out gift bags, pretty and pastel. Little ladies trust their mounts to guide them through their mission: draw a path through dappled woods, gathering treasure wrapped only in the designated color of your own!

Away we go!

Ava finds hers first - one of six for each - necklaces, bracelets, and rings, a card game, sticker book, candy, and one or two other wonderful things!

Sissy is close behind. Her bag fills up, too......

Kaylee announces: "Mission accomplished! We're headed back to the ranch!"

But Angeline arrives first! She finds a picnic spread, box lunches, and a cool spot for both "man and beast" to rest and recover in the shade! 

Fair maidens gather at mission's end to open treasures, munch on lunch, and chatter away in the language of little lady cousins. And while there might be acknowledgement that unicorns are not "really real," a romp through the woods in the companion of a "grandma made" one is considered a very fine adventure indeed!

Yes, I did make three unicorns in my own original design! Pinterest has lots of inspiration because animal "costumes" built from cardboard boxes are nothing new. Here's general instructions for making one like mine:

Begin with a box that's suitable in size for your child. Mine are about 18" x 22" and 14" tall. Cut bottom off. Cut a rectangular opening into top, about 6" back from side where head will be attached. (A serrated kitchen knife works well.) Sketch a horse head and neck profile on a large sheet of paper (piece together if needed). Mine is 24" at its highest point, and 18" at its widest. Trace profile on cardboard and cut two. See photos for the way to cut into profile necks so they will nestle, centered, into front of box. Situate them 4" apart and tape firmly. Cut a few 4" strips of flexible cardboard in long lengths, at least 24" each to start. Beginning at bottom back, tape this "gusset" to each side of the profile, closing the 4" gap between them. Continue around to front of head, cutting additional gussets as needed until entire head is closed. 

Cut tissue paper into 4" squares. (Dollar Tree has large packs of good quality paper.) Cover an area on unicorn body with craft glue (like Elmer's) and bunch up tissue squares to attach to surface until entire box is covered. Use colorful craft paper for strips of mane, bridle, ears, eyes, and tail. Use tissue paper to make flowers for head, and shiny card stock for horn. Horn is 11" right triangle cut and wrapped around a pencil for a few hours. (Secure with rubber band while waiting.) Shoulder straps are wide ribbon threaded through slits at front and back edges of box top and knotted inside to hold. I threaded 18" thin wooden dowels through each head so girls could hang on and pull head up as they travel. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

"Mummy? Is That You?"

Oh, the vibrant beauty and rich mystique of ancient Egyptian culture! Here, solemn ritual meets engineering wonder with enough of a dose of creepiness to satisfy a pair of 10 year old boys at Grandma Camp! Their 8 year old cousin doesn't mind either. She's a team player all the way, part of one trio of campers I entertained last week, striving for a satisfying combination of historical learning, crafting, and deliciously gory fun!

Kids of that age still look forward to their turn with grandma, but they're ready for intrigue and  challenge. Fuzzy puppets don't cut it anymore, but "mummy making" checks off every box...(oops! I mean sarcophagus!).

The best intro to this topic arrives via generously illustrated books. I use them to briefly describe the attention given passage to the afterlife by upper class people of this culture: upon arrival, the person would "need things" - a remarkable stash of supplies dutifully buried with the body of the deceased. The centerpiece of all this finery is the burial capsule - a sarcophagus - the first word on a list of terms we're now as comfortable with as a seasoned Egyptologist!

Kids page the books, intrigued by what they see. Nick's been a fan of mummies for a half dozen Halloween seasons, but even he had only vague ideas about what lies beneath layers of linen wrappings! He joins his brother and cousin, completely absorbed, marveling over fascinating discoveries.

I'm surprised and impressed at how this trio immerses themselves in the material. For 20 minutes or so, only the sound of silence accompanies awakening understanding of the mummy-making process!

Supplies for assembling - and filling! - our own sarcophagus chambers appear, and we're on our way! Grandma's research has unearthed an authentically well designed paper replica. Presented as a pencil case, this free printout at Lonely Planet Kids is a worthy learning tool, employing math and crafting skills in the process of construction.

A two page pattern, printed on brown card stock, goes to each junior archaeologist. Kids choose paints or markers for color, consulting books for authenticity. Tiny stick-on "jewels" accent their work. (Find these at major craft stores in the sticker aisle.)

Each of the children carefully chooses colors and paints with pride. I am pleased, attributing our success partially to my purchase of quality materials. Sable size 2 rounds make a fine point, and the young artists comment on how easy it is to stay within the lines as they apply craft acrylic paint.

Once complete, tops and bottoms are carefully cut, dashed lines scored and folded, corners glued, and coffins are ready for occupancy!

But who's going to dream away inside each eternal dwelling? Well, grandma's got that covered, too! In fact, we have a choice! 

The easiest way to wrap and roll is with a simple home made stitched body, sized to fit the 6" coffin interior. I pass them out (eyes inked in for added spooky fun!) with 1/2" strips of muslin.

As we wrap, we secure additional "jewels" (amulets) within our folds because that's the way things were done in the waaaay long ago past! Some 4,600 years ago, to be precise!

A bit more involved is a body (6" height limit!) of collected twigs, glued together and topped with a salt dough head. This one sports tiny rice teeth for a nice authentic touch!

With dinner time approaching, we settle for "wrapping things up" 😉 with soft bodies, but as we "close the lid" on this project, our plans include returning soon to make life size stick mummies for Halloween use!

Hope you enjoyed our trip way back in time! Grandma's tired now. Going to lay down inside my sarcophagus. Wake me up in 4,600 years, please!

This is not a sponsored post.

Wonderful books on this topic abound. Choose one(s) illustrated with the process of mummification and views both out and inside the coffin. We enjoyed these volumes:

The Egyptology Handbook: A course in the Wonders of Egypt - The Templar Company Plc. 2005
an illustrated fictitious diary of "Miss Emily Stone's" ill-fated expedition to find the tomb of Osiris

Mummies - National Geographic Kids - Elizabeth Carney 2009
32 pages of graphically photographed mummies representing several cultures and preservation methods

Pyramids and Mummies - Simon and Schuster - Anne Bolton 2007
large, triangular shaped, and informative - features fold outs and pockets of extra goodies (our favorite of the batch!)

Kids Discover Magazines - Mark Levine, publisher
Pyramids, Ancient Egypt, and Mummies titles - lots of info in a very appealing format for children

Fictional fun reading: 
Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine - Scholastic, Inc. - (grade 3-5 reading level):

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb - 1993
The Return of the Mummy - 1994
The Mummy Walks - 1999

Suggested list of terms to learn: Egyptology, sarcophagus, canopic jar, pyramid, Book of the Dead, pharaoh, mummification, linen, amulet

Lonely Planet Kids (AU) is a terrific source for educational inspiration and project ideas. Look here (on the blog) for excellent free printables on a variety of topics in science, nature, and history.

Salt dough recipe for mummy head: Mix and knead 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup water - air dry, bake at 300F for one hour, or microwave in 10 second bursts before painting - for amount needed for 2 or 3 mummy heads only, mix 1/4 cup flour, 1/8 cup salt, and 1/8 cup water