Nevada City School of the Arts

Fairies for Good Causes

amotbasketfairies-1.jpg

An invitation. Over the years, we have made fairies for donations. We hear stories about generous people who make fairies and treasure keepers for childrens' hospitals and school auctions. I forgot how much fun I have creating to give. Crafts help children in many ways. Crafts carry love. I made these for my son's class basket. It went to an auction benefiting his school (and arts in schools, including handwork, yay).

amotbasketfairies-2.jpg

Along the way, I found myself enchanted. Giving gives to the giver :)

amotbasketfairies-3.jpg
amotbasketfairies-4.jpg

Don't they look cute on the basket?

amotbasket-1.jpg

Fairies given away have a certain special magic :)

amotbasketfairies-5.jpg

Have you given fairies to a good cause? Where did you give? 

I am sure inspired to keep a supply of sweet little fairies just for donating. They are magical :)

Hope you get to enjoy giving :)

"Leaf" Gratitude

A student named this project. I wanted a way to treasure all the amazing things in our world. We were inspired by the many leaves turning colors and falling this time of year. What if we could sew a leaf where students could collect gratitude inside on slips of paper?

The leaf can become a decoration with a surprise. Students decided they might add gratitudes before Thanksgiving to share on the day. Or they might go around on Thanksgiving and ask everyone to add a gratitude on a little piece of paper to keep inside the leaf. Either way, they discovered these are the perfect way to 'Leaf' a gratitude!

Supplies:

  • Two colors of felt
  • Scissors, needle, and thread
  • Decorations (beads and sequins)

I cut paper with this second/third grade class a lot. I hoped we could make the leap into felt (saving me a ton of prep time). So I brought in rectangles of brown felt. We talked about shapes of leaves and "cutting out" triangles or curves to create a leaf. Students often want to "cut around", twisting the felt and cutting things in half accidentally. We had mixed success. A few needed a second piece of felt, or the leaf was super-small, or not what they expected. We worked through the hiccups.

We talked about decorating one side of the felt. I did show them how to stitch so they could to embroider the veins of the leaves if they wanted. They all looked beautiful in their own way. Students chose the color for the back of the leaf.



At home, I cut the chosen felt bigger than the leaf. I made it roughly similar, but did not meticulously cut the felt to match. This way, if it wiggled, they had room to keep sewing.

For the next class, we talked about sewing up and down (running stitch) and traveling around the edge of the brown leaf like a little caterpillar. "Leave a gap," I said, "So your leaf has a secret compartment for gratitudes." They could add beads and sequins as they travelled around. Each leaf became lovely. We tied loose ends and children promptly planned how they would surprise their family with gratutides in the pocket. A few plan to add it to the Thanksgiving table. A few want to add a loop to hang their leaf. Lots of ideas.

Which is my favorite kind of project. A craft that inspires!

You can see the little gap on this leaf- a space without stiching so you can get inside the leaf.

Hurrah! Wishing you and yours a very thankful season :)

Batty in the Forest

We adore bats!

The bats on We Bloom Here inspired us! We had to bring them to Handwork class. But how? Each week I am challenged to bring an adorable and sweet idea to forty students in first or second grade. Margaret Bloom, the lovely author of Making Peg Dolls and Making Peg Dolls and More (new! yay!) helped me adapt her tutorial for lots and lots of bats.

I thought of using sharpies instead of paint. Which meant a layer of sealant so the sharpie wouldn't 'bleed' into the wood.

"Why not use colored pencils?" she said.

Why not?

So we used colored pencils and black paper instead of felt. I played with the shapes until I made a template that I liked. I traced that shape forty times onto black paper. The kids cut their own wings and ears. They decorated their pegs with rainbows or fangs or both. These are magical bats after all :)

Each student had an envelope where I collected the decorated peg, wings, and head to glue at home. I used tacky glue because I added wire feet. Every bat needs to hang out!

Here was a little mistake, though, for me. I had white floral wire and thought, "this won't be so difficult to color black." Ack! I should have gone to the store and bought black wire to save myself a lot of time. If you are making one or two, coloring the wire was fun. For forty bats, not so much.

At home, I layered out the wings, head, and wire. I added glue and the peg. I let them all dry on the envelopes to return the next day.  

Back of the Bat

Thank you so much for the wonderful idea and tutorial, Margaret! Children loved their bats :)

Even a grumpy tree needs a little bat friend hanging about :)


Enjoy :)

*please note: this post contains affiliate links. Should you decide to purchase a book using these links, a small amount returns to the Forest. Your price remains the same. Thank you!

 

Sew a Book

Once upon a time, books were treasures. They were kept in castles. They were guarded. And only a few very chosen people were allowed to read them. They were valued like gold and jewels. Because each and every book was made by hand. People worked hard to create paper. They lettered each word with ink and a feather. And then they had all these pages. How did they hold the pages together?

They sewed them.

Children found this idea fascinating. We looked in books to see the bindings. Most have modern glues. We did find a few with stitching. 

I shared a few ideas for stitching their own books. They loved becoming authors and illustrators after sewing. I invited them to write about anything they wanted. What freedom! It could be fiction or non-fiction. A field guide to flowers in your yard or to dragons. We saw books about kittens. Books about the seasons. Books about unicorns. And books about flowers. I plan to revisit the idea and make more complex designs throughout the year. A wonderful first sewing project for all ages.

Ages

  • All ages (these were with 5-8 year olds). Older children got into the history of bookmaking. They also dove into the writing and illustrating of their own stories. Younger children enjoyed threading beads and sequins.

Supplies

  • Paper
  • Construction Paper (or watercolor, anything for a cover)
  • Needle and Thread
  • Hole Punch
  • Binder clip
  • Sequins and beads

Preparation

  • I cut the paper (any size works). I cut the construction paper so it could fold around the white paper (double the length of the white paper)
  • I folded the construction paper around the white paper and secured with a binder clip
  • I punched four holes along the folded binding edge. All the papers were now held together with the binderclip, keeping the holes aligned. Aha! moment :)
  • I doubled and knotted thread on the needles (tips about our needle and thread choices are in our book)
  • I tied the thead around the first hole- actually went through and then back up through the loop in the thread. Any knotting will do. The books were ready for sewing!

With Children

  • We talked about history and sewing. We talked about taking our time. I showed how the needle can go back through a hole more than once to create a decorative binding.
  • We talked a lot about not taking the binderclip off until after you sew through the holes. Pages will slip!
  • Children threaded beads and sewed beads and sequins along the way.
  • They discussed what they would write and draw. We talked about books with no pictures and books with no words. They really got to thinking about the process of creating a book.

I tied off threads and they drew and wrote. As long as the threads didn't wrap around the open side of the book, it was all good. They loved their books for many reasons. And wanted to make more! Which is always good. Love inspiration :)

Wishing you happy sewing today!

Please note: This post contains an affiliate link. Should you decide to purchase our book, a small percentage returns to the forest. Your price remains the same. Thank you!

Wishing Heart

Let's begin with a wish. A hope. A dream. Let's made crafts to celebrate our wishes. Because the best wishes are from the heart.

This was my first sewing project of the year with second and third grade students (7-9 years old). Most had used needle and thread before. I wanted a project that would let them explore. A project that let everyone be successful. Whether they wanted one decoration. Or a hundred and one :)


Supplies:

  • Felt (two colors for each heart)
  • Needle and thread (chenille needles and crochet thread)
  • Safety pin 
  • Beads and sequins
  • Slip of pretty paper for name and wish
  • Optional: a third, smaller felt heart to decorate

Age: 6+

Prep: Cut hearts. Secure them together with a safety pin. Double and knot thread on the needle. Sew one stitch at the top hiding the knot between the two hearts. The stitch and the safety pin keep the felt together while children sew.

Children: These hearts are a lovely first sewing activity because almost everything is beautiful (expect for tangles). Children add a bead or sequin to one side of the heart. They push the needle through felt anywhere they like. Big stitches work just fine.

Now the needle and thread is on the other side. Add another sequin, bead, or both.

You can also add the little felt heart. Be careful when going through three layers of felt. It may take a little practice.

Add all of the sequins and beads that make your heart happy.

Helper: Just encourage. Sort out any tangles. Take off the safety pin once the two pieces of felt are secure.

Most design choices will be fine. Long strings of beads. Loops around the outside of the heart. Crisscross stitching. It's all okay. This allows children to experiment with sewing. And have fun! They can stitch around the outside if they like, but it's not needed.

Tie a knot. Move the string to the center for hanging if there is enough string left. If not, add a string. Many children strung beads on their hanging thread to catch the light. If beads go on the hanging thread, be sure to tie a knot around the last bead so they don't slip off.

Children: Write your name and a wish on a pretty slip of paper.

Each class hung their hearts in a special area of the room.

One is lovely. A collection is gorgeous. 

Have fun sewing this week!

For more insights about sewing with children and teaching children how to sew, consider our Forest Fairy Crafts book. It shares our favorite needles and threads along with stitches, troubleshooting, and more. The link is an affiliate link. Should you decide to purchase, a small amount returns to the Forest. Enjoy :)


Wishing Stars

We start a journey with expectations. And children are often told "don't do this," or "don't do that," as they start an adventure (like a new school year). Think of all the rules, the rules, the rules :)

So I like to think of the things we do want for our adventure. What do we want to create? How do we want to feel? What should we bring to this journey?

Children often wish for things. Things like ponies or candy. I want to wish for things we cannot touch. Kindness. Friends. Creativity. Beauty. Hope. Love.

And, every once in awhile, a child cracks my heart wide open with a wish. Like this one.

Something about crafting allows us to feel deeply. To share deeply. Creating a space where we can express ideas that are big and mighty. They connect us. As we sew or bead or knit, we create together. We create  community. 

The stars can be very simple or made fancier.

Optional: Children can watercolor or decorate their own paper. We have painted squares on both sides, then we cut into stars. For time's sake, I watercolored and cut these stars.

Supplies:

  • Stiff paper
  • Needle and thread (I used friendly blunt needles and crochet thread)
  • Beads and sequins
  • Hole punch

Prep:

Watercolor paper on both sides and punched a hole. Double the thread and tie a knot. Go through the hole, then back through the loop in the thread. The thread is now attached to the star and ready for decorating.

Ages: 5-7

For children:

Write name on one side of the star and a wish on the other side. If a wish is hard to choose, add a few beads while thinking. Wishes can take time. Decorating the star is also lovely. Thread sequins and beads. Hang in a sunny place to see the sun shine on your wishing star.

Helper: When tying off, be sure to tie around the last bead, or else they can all slide right off the thread. I loop the needle through the last bead a couple of times to secure all the other beads on the thread.

Enjoy! One class hung them on a branch. Another hung them from the ceiling over their gathering space. All those wishes watching over the children. Beautiful! These inspire a lot of discussion and create a lovely space where children celebrate wishes coming true :)

This wish? To read. May all your wishes come true :)

Spring Treasure Keepers

Spring means longer days, sunshine, and outdoor adventures. Every adventurer needs a place to keep stones, shells, and little treasure. Asia designed the perfect project for spring. First grade students (6 years old) at the Nevada City School of the Arts sewed these wonderful Treasure Keepers.

Aren't these adorable? 

The class was studying insects. Each student chose an insect to feature on their treasure keeper bag.

Butterflies were popular for decorating the little bags.

Asia and I both love the Ladybug too :)

And this little one is so original. He's a little tricky to photograph with the black on dark blue felt, but he's an awesome beetle.

So cool!

Asia made the bags using the pattern on page 123 of our Forest Fairy Crafts book. The handles were created with fingerknitting, shown on pages 124-125 and castle-knitting. Castle knitting isn't in the book (sorry!). We are working on a tutorial for making your own. Or you could use one like this

The children have lots of ideas for going on nature walks to fill their bags with found treasures. Welcome spring!

*Please note, this is an affiliate link. Should you decide to purchase, a small amount returns to the Forest while your price remains the same. Win-win. Thank you!

 

Happy Spring!

Child-Made Fairies for Christmas

One of my favorite things about the holidays is making fairies with children. Every student in my class (20 in all) makes a fairy. The boys (and a few girls) are not inspired by fairies, so they make elves. Or angels. Whatever the fairies are called, they bring joy to the season.

Our book was inspired by projects like these fairies. Because families sometimes wonder how their five, six, or seven year old made such treasures. Every little fairy/elf/angel is unique. Reflecting the unique voice of the child.

How does it work?

The directions, with many photographs, are all in our book. What the child makes and what I make depends on time and the child. Some children show great independence and want a lot of creative freedom. Other children enjoy having my attention for each little step. I do have a plan for creating twenty child-made fairies. I am working on a post for sewing fairies with groups of children. For now, though, I want to share my secrets for working with one child at a time. Because I get to make these with family, too.

What the child does:

  • chooses felt and pipe cleaner colors, yarn, sequins, wings
  • sews the decorating felt band on the hat, adds sequins and decorations galore
  • sews up the back of the hat
  • adds beads and bells to the top of the hat
  • winds thread (pants or tunic)
  • chooses petal skirts
  • tries hat on to see how it all looks together

What the adult does:

  • makes the body
  • draws the face
  • cuts the felt
  • threads the needle and ties knots
  • demonstates (models) the first couple of stitches and how to add sequins
  • lets go of expectations :)
  • folds hat in half when decorating is done, sews an anchor stitch at the bottom
  • models sewing up to the top of the hat (one stitch)
  • knots thread for clothing
  • models first steps for winding thread (pants or over-shoulder, under arm)
  • holds wings until they are attached with winding thread
  • clips tiny amount so petal skirts can scoot up the legs
  • glues hair and hat on fairy/elf/angel

Of course, this all changes depending on the age and personality of the child. And it doesn't have to be done on the same day. Take breaks. See the little bits of felt and thread come together to create a magical keepsake. 

One of our favorite things at the recent craft fair was hearing from families whose students left us five or even ten years ago. "We still have our fairies," they said. On the tree or the table or the mantle. 

We still love our fairies :)

Thankful for Nature

Our world is amazing. Whether we live in a forest, or a meadow, or a city, magic is right outside our doors. This time of year, we love talking about gratitude with family, friendships, food. One of my personal favorite actitivies is bringing children outside and asking them, "What do you appreciate here?"

Having things to touch and explore and collect helps children notice the world that can easily be taken for granted. We can walk past trees or building. It's easy to focus on the destination: going to school, to the park, to the store...

This time I just go outside. I invite children to collect one treasure (maybe two). I wander. On purpose.

We look up. 

We look down.

We notice the passing beauty all around. And we ask questions. We become curious. "What are the spiky things on that tree?" "Why do these leaves change colors?"

This appreciation is simple. And lasting. Children share their treasures.

I love photos because I can take a picture, then they can leave nature in the forest (or side of the parking lot, which is where he found this tiny pine cone). 

They are so excited by their discoveries.

We slow down and notice how the air feels. How does the sun feel on our face? The breeze in our hair?

We are so fortunate, to have these gifts around us every day. No small things.

When we finish the walk, we write poems to remember those feelings. Those discoveries.

To remind us. The world is an amazing place. We have so much to be thankful for :)

She found a leaf shaped like a heart.

We also place our treasures in a display. Since we are a class, one or two things from each child create a diverse collection of leaves, acorns, and tiny pine cones (these are returned to nature within a few days). With my family, each child collects a little more.

I have ideas to look for colors as we wander. Appreciate red in our world. Appreciate green :)

Appreciate now :)

Golden
Star thistles
Calm
Awesome and pretty
Birds singing
Crunch crunch
Happy
Everything is beautiful
Tweet tweet
Goodness
Is in autumn

 

I write the poem with them by asking for feelings, not stories. Their individual contributions create a lovely poem :). I usually write the closing sentiment to tie it all together.

So, ideas :)
  • Take a walk
  • Wander
  • Slow down and share the moment (say how it feels)
  • Collect treasures (gently, no living things)
  • Create a display
  • Draw or paint an image of a favorite treasure or scene
  • Write a sentence about the walk or what was discovered
  • Write poems (or a group poem)
  • Put photos, drawing, and/or poems togegther for a fall book

P.S. If you would like to bring a fairy along on your walk, that would be lovely! Give your fairy a tour of our magical world :)

Enjoy autumn :) 

Happy Halloween!

We send lovely Halloween wishes to your part of the forest (even if you have lots of building around you)! 

Asia made these witches with second grade students at the Nevada City School of the Arts (about 7 years old). They were inspired by the felted beads, which became perfect fairy-heads! Students brought them home today and I am sure they will inspire lots of spooky-wonderful-magic!

I fall in love with the little things. For these witches, Asia gave them a little tulle cape. She found darling tiny bats and they hang from each hat. 

I wonder if I could sneak into the second grade class just to make my own :)

We hope that everyone is enjoying a safe and magical Halloween! Enjoy!

The First Fairy Mobile

Last month, I wanted to create a gift with our class of kindergarten and first grade students. Our beloved teacher was going to have a baby! What a perfect chance for me to try a long-time idea. How could I make the fairies into a mobile?

 

This was the perfect gift. Each student helped with one of the six fairies. We didn't know if the baby would be a boy or a girl, so we kept neutral colors. I chose the felt and cut the pieces before we sat down to sew- orange, blue, yellow, and green. The children helped sew hats and sequins so we had three girls and three boys.

I also kept the thread choices blue or green. This way, the fairies looked similar with their unique personalities. Children also chose the beads for the hat that would end up matching the beads I used to connect the wires (I didn't plan that ahead of time, but it worked out perfect).

Once I had the six fairies, I used floral wire and the heaviest beading wire that I could find in our local craft shop. The beading wire was pretty, shiny, and soft. The floral wire was thin, but strong.  I ended up using both wires. I liked the 'character' of the softer wire. The uneven bends here and there just added to the charm. I used beading pliers to make simple loops at the ends and the center. Each wire balanced with a girl and a boy. I attached these together with short pieces of wire. I felt like the middle sections needed a little something, and the beads were a perfect solution!

I could make a tutorial if people are interested in all the details of putting the mobile together. My magic was seeing how each child contributed to a collaborative gift. I have wanted to make a fairy mobile for ages! I am glad that I got the perfect opportunity. I have also seen lovely mobiles using a hoop. I would love to try sticks, too, for the natural elements.  

I loved creating this fairy mobile with the children. We hope the baby loves our hanging Fairyland!

Upcycled Owls and Kitties

Asia created these lovlies with second and third grade students at NCSA (7-8 years old). She saved fabrics (ripped clothing, shrunken sweaters) and found supplies. Repurposing the clothing showed children that changing old fabric to a toy can be magical. 

By this time of year, students have learned three ways to sew: the Running Stitch, the Whip Stitch, and the Blanket Stitch. We call them the Dolphin Stitch (up and down), the Polar Bear Stitch (around and around), and the Rabbit Stitch (up or down and through the hole). I can see children using all three to make their crafts unique.

I am fascinated how some children use patterns and even spacing for their sewing. While other children use mismatched, unexpected decorations. Each style delights us. Each style shares a child's personality. With sewing, there is no 'right way'. Only your own way :)

Upcylced sewing with found fabrics instead of felt meant the fabric was softer. Asia made the animals bigger so students wouldn't be frustrated. These owls and kitties were oversized when compared to our felt critters. This gave the children more to hold as they sewed. Asia is so good at modifying a project so students are successful :)

Here are a few for inspiration :)

I couldn't photograph all of them- Asia made about forty! These are just a few :)

Patterns and directions for the Owl and the Pussycat are in Forest Fairy Crafts. Creating your own critter just needs imagination and old clothing. Have fun upcycling :)

Christmas Sketches

We draw a lot in our classroom. And, every year, students ask me for help. 

"How do I draw an elf? How do I draw a reindeer?"

As often as possible, I encourage their own ideas. "What shapes do you see? Where can you start?"

My students are 5 and 6 years old. Especially around the holidays, overwhelm may rise up at any moment. So this year I decided that a little inspiration could go a long way. I made simple sketches for them in an easy, one page format. 

Clicking on the image will bring you to a larger size you can print for personal or classroom use. I also have a PDF you can download with both pages.

At first, I planned to fill the back-page with more drawings. Except I ran short on quick, easy ideas.

Then I had my own inspiration. Words!

Of course! Children love to make cards and decorations. They could use a word-bank for holiday ideas.

As often as possible, I used a visual cue to help show the written word. This helps our early readers.

We realized that I forgot an angel and train along the way, so they are on the back too. I print these out double sided and keep them available throughout the season. Children love to color them and use them for project ideas. Children usually take my basic shapes and create with a lot more detail in their finished projects.

So fun!

Please be aware, I drew these with student-help after school in pencil :). They are a little rough through my eyes. When I scanned them, the pencil transferred light so they may not print perfectly. If I wait to make them perfect, though, they will never be posted for you :). Also, the light writing gives children a nice chance to trace letters! 

I hope these sketches inspire us to create more winter scenes. Let's draw together :)

Enjoy!

Christmas Sketches and Words PDF Dowload 

All resources are property of Forest Fairy Crafts.  Please contact us for commercial use permissions.  Thank you!

Gratitude to Day 5

We wrote sweet ideas to catch up over the weekend. They were thankful for their pets, their school, and their imaginations. And their friends. Once the ideas start flowing, they cascade into a beautiful collection. I look forward to seeing the new page tomorrow. I hope you are keeping your books writing a little each day. We will get there together :)

Best wishes!

Gratitude Day 2

Students love this project! We wrote a few pages today since we won't see each other over the weekend. We also had gratitude circle today. They veered into silly-land for a little while with "I am grateful for my hair, and I am grateful for this candle." Then one boy had that wonderful moment where he said, "I am grateful for my hair and for my eyes and for myself."

Our page for the day!

Gratitude for ourselves. After all, we are, all of us, miracles :)

Wishing you a joyful day!

A Month of Gratitude

 The mind is everything. What you think, you become. ~Buddha

With this in mind, I hope to catch a month of gratitude, a little one each day.

We are trying this experiment in the Dragonfly class. I asked them what they appreciate in the world and I chose a theme to write as a sentence on a large piece of paper. I drew a border with a block crayon and a student helped me illustrate.

As with everything, sustaining the effort is the hard part. So I hope I can keep the momentum going!

Today they were grateful for birthdays!

I want to honor their childhood vision. Even though I wanted to steer them towards lovely, poetic appreciation, I also want to catch their world today. I love the beautiful, the quirky, and the silliness of the world through their eyes.

I built a foundation for this activity with our weekly Gratitude Circles. Every Friday we turn off the lights and turn on a battery-operated candle. We sit in a circle. We pass the candle around. Each student shares at least one thing in the week that she or he appreciates. At first, the circle is a stretch for some children. These days, the ideas are easier. Mom, Dad, my school, my friends. We have so much to be grateful for! I cannot wait to see what the month discovers!

I will try for a short daily post, but we may have summaries depending how the week goes :). Happy season of thanks! For me, I am thankful for my children's school (where I teach). Spending time with my boy yesterday, watching the littles with their Big Buddy Class (seventh grade) was a huge inspiration. So much sweetness!


 

My boy is Batman playing tag. The big kids were so fun and happy with the littles. Makes a Mama's heart happy and a teacher's heart proud :)

Also as a side note, I had to share this project from Ian's class. His teacher is amazing. She made these laterns with the students. The day before, they taped the jars with masking tape and painted them orange. On Halloween, the children drew Jack-O-Lantern faces. The teachers used an exacto knife to cut the shapes. So pretty! I am going to keep ours out for another few weeks :)

I suppose you could use the same technique with leaf shapes. A pretty celebration of light.
Wishing you many things deserving of gratitude! :)

 

Pirate Week Adventures

This year I focus on a mini-theme each week in the Dragonfly Class. We are a kindergarten/first grade class. Our activities become a rotation during Groups or a whole class writing adventure. Activities need to be very flexible for many different skills. And my goal is high interest opportunities for learning. I want them to take these activities home and add to their ideas.

My hope is to have photos to share, but that didn't happen for Pirate Week. Too busy :) ... Wait, I have their ship drawings to assemble the Pirate Fleet Book. I took two photos to add, hurrah.

I still want to write our activities to capture them for the future, because I know I will sit down next year and think, "Now, what did I do last year?"

Pirate Maps: I cut brown paper bigger than usual so they could roll their maps. These turned into spyglasses very quickly. We marked the treasure and drew a path to find the treasure along with landmarks. Children loved these outside at recess.

Pirate Fleet: I drew a pencil sketch of a pirate boat very simply and made a copy for each child. We discussed how pirates lived on boats and had to bring everything along with them. Each child then got to design their own fantasy ship. I drew with a cut-away design so they could show me the Captain's Quarters and add a hot tub if they liked. Some chose to color the outside of the ship, which was fine too. We had Kitten Ships and Ninja Ships and Mermaid Ships. Children became very creative and excited about the adventures these ships would find. Which led to....

Pirate Fleet Stories: I met with each child so they could tell me the story of their pirate boat. We had danger, beauty, and adventure on the high seas! 

Pirate Flash Fiction: This was an idea that I had for groups for a shared writing project. What is each student wrote (or dictated) one sentence to their parent helper at group-time. At the end, we would read the sentences for a story about the Dragonfly Pirates. We had a lot of treasure-hiding and treasure-seeking and battles with Kraken. The children loved hearing their separate pieces come together to make a whole story.

Bonus topics during our two days (yes we did this is two days since I teach part time) included discovering the world, monsters of the deep (giant squid), and pirate discipline. Pirate captains gave time-outs too! Except they tied someone to the mast for awhile. We didn't go into great detail about pirate discipline, but the children found boat-life fascinating.  I became the pirate captain and they all called, "Aye, aye, captain!" when I gave a direction like, "Wash hands for lunch."

Oh, and we talked about pirate flags and communicating on the high seas. Cell phones didn't exist in pirate-times so they needed to announce their arrival in a scary way. Children were fascinated by the idea of using images to communicate. They enjoyed designing their own flag on their pirate ship for the pirate fleet. I could make this a separate activity and even use fabric to create flags.... Another year :)

I also had the idea to develop a pirate persona with a chosen name, outfit, and companion (pet). This could connect to the pirate boats. So many ideas! And the children loved it because the idea of sailing the high seas searching for gold is always an adventure! Not to mention, sprinkling a few arghs! and avasts! into everyday sentences is great fun!

A pirates' life for us :).  I am glad I remembered to write everything down.So this was a lot longer than I expected. We packed a lot of pirate fun into our days! I hope you get to enjoy life's treasures today!

Moon Pocket

These Moon Pockets brought sunshine into my day. Students in our first grade class sewed these beauties. I am in constant awe how we can provide students with the exact same supplies and directions, yet every project reflects the crafter in colors and stitching.

Before sewing, we discussed treasures. The moon on the front is a pocket where children can keep teeth for the tooth fairy or little notes or any little keepsake. Our last step is stringing a little ribbon to hang them.

Children are careful, conscious crafters. This moon has a pattern of flower, moon, flower, moon. This meant choosing them from the bowl of mixed-up sequins. What a lot of work!

A big challenge for grown-ups helping sew is how much to help, and how much to let go. Hopefully these images might inspire Letting Go as a help-strategy. Even wild stitiching is lovely! 

At first I thought I would photograph a few to share the idea, but I couldn't choose a favorite! They are all charming.  

This next one always inspires a smile.

And simplicity is amazing, too. I like how this student used a whipstich around the moon and a running stitch to finish the pillow. I wouldn't have taught it that way, but it works. And the one simple line of sequins is beautiful.

I love when sequins break out of the felt 'boundary'. This little leaf sequin seems to be floating down to land in just that spot. Very sweet. And these tight tiny whipstitches are so careful!

Another simple line of sequins frames the moon. I can see where the crafter started to get tired and stitches got farther apart. Sewing is hard work!

Here the sequins found many lines. This crafter was careful with colors as well. I notice patterns again, flower, moon, flower, moon. What dedication.

Another line of overlapping sequins. Again, those tiny little whipstitches amaze me.  

We teach a K/1 class and our first graders stay in the afternoon. We have a much easier time sewing with the smaller group. These children are 6-7 years old. They had experience sewing with us last year so they know the basics of controlling the needles and adding decorations. This year will be fun for crafting!

Asia and I are working on directions for these Moon Pockets that will be available soon. If you would like hints about sewing with children, visit our Tips and Tricks. For now, I hope these inspire you like they inspired me! Best wishes!

Sensory Discovery: Numbers

We love creative learning. Today, our numbers in math were 0, 6, 9, and 8. These numbers all begin with a curving line.

We connect art and writing often in the classroom. Curving lines, straight lines. And we love multi-sensory learning.

So I found dishes with a small lip around the edge, then filled them with a layer of birdseed. Before the birdseed, we drew the numbers big, using our entire bodies. We stretched up to the ceiling, then swept our arms all the way to the ground. Depending on the number, we reached up or around to make huge numbers in the air.

We also drew the numbers with a finger on our palms. The goal is to engage our muscles, fire-up our senses so that the numbers change from abstract concepts to concrete understanding. Sometimes we sit with a partner so we can use our finger to trace the letter on a friend's back (maybe we will do this tomorrow).

Their favorite part of the day was birdseed writing. We traced the numbers into the birdseed plates. They formed the circles over and over just to feel the seeds with their fingers.

And when I handed out the written practice, they happily wrote the numbers without questions or concerns. Only excitement. "Look at my numbers! And can I do the birdseed during Creative Choice? Please?"

Yes. Keep playing and learning!

PS: This activity is also fun with sand, salt, or anything with grains. They love small pebbles, too. Lots of ways to engage the body and inspire the brain :). Enjoy!

Hearts for Sweet Beginnings

A rainbow of hearts to start the school year. The hearts were pleasantly quick and fun to sew. I used multicolor rainbow crochet thread so the colors wove through the hearts one after another.


My boy adores orange, so I made him one in his favorite color. He had his first day of transitional kindergarten today. So I tucked a little note inside the heart and placed it in his lunchbox. I couldn't be with him because I taught my own class of students. But I felt closer to him, knowing that he had a little craft to discover in his lunchbox.

For my students, I am creating a story. Our class mascot is a small dragon. I imagine that our dragon doesn't collect gold and jewels like most dragons. No, our dragon, Sparky, collects the most valuable treasures of all. Sparky collects the treasures that cannot be bought with all of the gold in the world. Sparky collects love. And kindness. And joy. And friendship. He saves these emotions in magical glass pebbles that protect the feelings inside.

We also call these pebbles Dragon-Tears, but I don't think that will make sense within the happy story. The pebbles are not Dragon-Tears, they are dragon treasures. The pebbles fit inside the little hearts perfectly. Each student can hold one through the day. For now, we plan to keep them in a basket and put the students' names inside on a watercolored slip of paper. I am sure that students will get attached to their heart and memorize whether they have red, orange, green, blue, or purple.

Perhaps Sparky knows that our students can trusted to care for Love and Friendship and Peace. And by caring for these hearts, the emotions will be nurtured in our class community as well.

A sweet way to bring those gifts into our school year. I am excited to share them with my students. Begin well, travel in joy, learn along the way. Sounds lovely. Rainbow heart lovely.

Sending inspiration your way. I wish you many precious treasures today. :)