Creative Play

The Children's Festival

Another year of magic!

The Children's Festival is a community celebration of childhood and adventure. We dress up as unicorns and kitty-fairies and (this year) Superman :)

Magic can be so simple in childhood! The highlights of the festival include facepainting using watercolors (always check paint for whether it's safe and appropiate (not permanent :)).

Clay and painting a giant cardboard castle and hammering scrap wood to make daggers and swords and little houses.


Children create their own magic! They become vivid characters with a few simple ideas. We are surely lucky to have dedicated volunteers who make these dreams possible.

Oh, and the favorite treat! I almost forgot!

A lemon with a stick of peppermint. You suck the lemon up through the peppermint. The candy becomes a sweet straw. The kids love this treat! We had to go back for second lemons. When life gives you lemons, make easy peppermint lemonade :)

Simple things that make magic for children. I may use a few ideas at our next party :)

The Festival, however, takes magic to another level with the many volunteers who go above and beyond to make an unforgettable adventure!

The bride is guarded by a Troll who demands a stick or rock for toll. The children search for the best items to give him. He has red eyes and a spider on his nose!

And a real fire-breathing dragon!

The entire day is an experience! We can't wait for another journey to the enchanted forest next year!

The entire gallery with lots of photos is here:

Go to The Children's Festival on Facebook for updates about next year's event. Inspiring children (and adults) every year :)

Off to Neverland! Or the Enchanted Forest! Or ... ?

:)

Playing with Craft

Children love inspiration. Don't we all?

Making toys inspires children. They delight in the power of their hands and ideas. I recently sewed these lovely baby leprechauns with six year old students. Children sewed all their own sequins, around the fairy baby, and added stuffing. They were delighted with the little toys they made.What a treat, to see that magic through their eyes. Look what we can create!

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Sorry this one is a little blurry- classrooms have tricky lighting for my camera :)

Then the children reminded me the real fun of sewing and crafting. Crafting is inspiration. And the craft is just the beginning. Crafts inspire play. And play inspires storytelling. And learning.

Now that they had little friends, they needed houses. What could build a house?

Blocks of course!

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And some homes need a diving board into a lovely cool pool.

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With a luxury view from the bedroom.

Legos also make awesome homes. With an open door :)

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I encourage students to leave blank faces so they can imagine any expression, but a few insist on adding features. I let go when they have strong feelings towards needing eyes or mouths. After all, if I wanted it to look 'my way', I would make my own :)

I loved her idea to put a ring over the ruffled hat for an even fancier crown.

And finally, dollhouses are wonderful homes. Especially when they come with a pet tiger :)

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Enjoy what you create!

Happy day :)

Many of our crafts are "Keepsake Crafts", meaning they look nice for years and become a treasured memory alongside the sweet sewing. Every now and again, I sew "Process Crafts" with children. These are the crafts to shove in pockets and forget outside after playing in the trees. They are the crafts that are meant for playing. They are a chance to let go. Don't worry overmuch about colors or forever. Let them become a memory. Become part of a story. Have fun crafting and playing :)

P.S.- if you would like detailed directions for making little fairy/gnome friends, check out our Forest Fairy Craft Book. Please note- is an affiliate link. Thank you from the forest should you decide to purchase one! Directions for the little hats are online here. Enjoy!

Winter Fair Sweethearts

This week we are going to a Winter Faire which was rescheduled due to snow last month. At the time, missing the holiday season was disappointing.

But winter days are long (even with the strange early spring we have this year). I look forward to a fun day for us and our children.

The fair inspired me to sew these little gnomes to bring along. 

Sweetheart Gnomes by Lenka

Each new season is new inspiration :)

And I had to make a fairy, too.

Sweetheart Fairy by Lenka

Children (and adults) ask sometimes why the fairies or gnomes don't have faces. We like to create them both ways. Many of my fairies have faces. I love the little smiles and impish personalities.

At the same time, I find the wood-bead charming. The idea is that our imaginations create the face. We can 'see' the happy or worried or surprised fairy in our mind. We create the expression and the details. This sounds novel in an age when everything can be made to be more real and toys come with soundtracks so we don't need to make a train whistle or a firetruck siren-song.

I adore simplicity. And I appreciate getting to make these types of toys. Just waiting for a little magic. To come alive :)

You can find us at the Winter Fair at the Yuba River Charter School tomorrow. I can't wait to see all of the toys and crafts and games. I am sure to find more inspiration :) More information is here if you are in the Nevada County area.  

We hope to see you!

Game Token Gnomes

We are delighted to team up with the lovely people at SewMamaSew. The free tutorial for Gnome Game Tokens is posted here.

I love to share a little behind-the-scenes :)

The entire project inspired us! I used to make these games and tokens with my second grade students. We drew a game-board and sewed gnomes to travel through the game. I adore the creativity that children bring to game-making.

Even younger children love making gnomes. We decided to use paint this time around. It worked really well. We used regular watercolor paints. Ian chose the wee size gnomes. Of course he chose orange, orange, orange.

Anika is a unicorn-and-rainbow-girl these days, so her game featured a forest and garden where the unicorns could play. We drew the boards, then decided paint would be great, too. This project kept us busy for awhile :)

Our neighbor-friend came over and made a couple of gnomes, too. Here is the finished family! Our paint had a tinge of sparkle in the watercolor which gives them a shine. You could add a little glue and glitter after the paint dries for a similar effect.

We had to talk Ian into one red hat. He wanted orange, orange, orange, until we explained that we needed to tell the gnomes apart. 

The gnomes ended up traveling on a few trips with us. I didn't worry about losing them since the process was so fun and we can easily make more. Every once in awhile, a craft becomes a treasure and I don't want it to be lost at the park or on a far-flung adventure. These were perfect pocket-pals.

Afterwards, Anika decided that her game needed cards with specific instructions. Their games kept growing as they thought of new fun additions. We used dice from another game box. The finished activitiy was just as fun as creating the games. We are all inspired to create new ones :)

We hope that everyone enjoys the tutorial! Thanks again to SewMamaSew for the opportunity! What fun :)

Sweet Simple Reading Nook

We woke to cloudy skies. Cozy sounded perfect. So we pulled out a few goodies and created a lovely reading space. 

We used our old crib mattress and lots of pillows. The big ah-ha moment happened when I pulled out a sheer curtain. What a perfect roof! It is light and airy and easy to tuck behind cusions. The light filters though with just a little magic.

The kids were in love.

 

For less than ten minutes of construction, I enjoyed ages of shared reading. They laughed and read to one another.

To be truthful, after the reading, the tent became a horse-home and that game lasted quite awhile. Until the tired horses discovered books again.

Amazing what magic a curtain panel can inspire :)

I hope you get to make a nook of your own :)

P.S. I was inspired by these fancy book nooks- maybe one day :)

Fairy Beach Houses

Fairies live along the seashore befriending mermaids. And they love help with home-building, too! I see whimsical fairy homes in the woods, but not as many beach homes. My girl and her cousins found the idea enchanting. They collected treasures. And built courtyards and a moat. And told stories of the fairies who lived among feathers and sand.

We explored and found another giant creation with driftwood and kelp. What sort of fairies lived in this castle?

Creative play inspires grand storytelling. And long after we had rinsed the the sea salt from our hands, my girl mused about the fairy ball going on beside the moonlit sparkling sea. Hurrah for imagination. Hurrah for the sea. Hurrah for fairy houses everywhere.

Where do your children build in the summertime? I would love to hear their stories!