Wooden animal silhouettes mobile

Danika and I have been working on this project for a while now. I found some really great Etsy Shops who make really sweet mobiles that use wood, beads and felt (like this one and this one from Australia and this one in the UK). Drawing inspiration from these, I decided to try to make one with the help of my little partner, to decorate her room.

Danika painted these animal silhouettes herself using acrylics and finishing them with glitter glue. Then I strung them up using felt balls I had left over from this project and glass beads I already had on hand. All I needed to buy were dowels and fishing line, which I found at my local dollar store.

Animal mobile supplies

What you need:

  1. Dowels – From dollar store
  2. Wooden animal silhouettes – From this great Etsy shop: Arks and Animals
  3. Crafts acrylics and glitter glue – I used colours that were part of my daughter’s bedroom colour scheme
  4. Glass and crimp beads – I had these in my stash already but Michael’s, DeSerres and Walmart have good selections
  5. Felt balls – From this other great Etsy shop: Honey Canada
  6. Fishing line – From the dollar store (I don’t fish ;)
  7. Threading needle (not pictured) – This is specifically for the felt balls. They’re dense so a needle is required to pass the fishing line through them
  8. Mod Podge (not pictured) – If you don’t have any already, Michael’s, DeSerres and Walmart sell some

How to:

  1. Paint or let your child paint the animal silhouettes on both sides. I selected the colours my daughter could use and just let her apply and mix the colours to her heart’s content. We finished them by smearing glitter glue all over them.
  2. Cut sections of fishing line.
  3. On a table, lay out the order in which you want to string the felt balls and beads for each line (it will be easier to sting them up if this is done first). Don’t forget to add a crimp bead between each.Two completed sections of the mobile
  4. Tie some fishing line in the middle of the dowel that will be your first level. This will be to hang your mobile from the ceiling.
  5. Attach two of your completed lines on both ends of the first level dowel.
  6. Join the two dowels with a smaller section of fishing line. I put beads and felt balls on ours, but you can leave it plain.
  7. Attach the last two lines on each end of your second level dowel.
  8. Find a spot you can hang your mobile temporarily so you can “dry” fit it. I used my chandelier in the dining room but a knob on an upper kitchen cabinet would probably work too."Dry" fitting the first level of the animal silhouette mobile"Dry" fitting the first level of the animal silhouette mobile
  9. Once hung, you’ll notice that your mobile is probably a little lop sided. This can be fixed by moving the heavier lines toward the centres and the lighter ones towards the extremities of the dowels. Keep adjusting until the dowels are horizontal.
  10. Hang from the ceiling and trim excess fishing line. You may have to readjust them a little again. To make sure the lines stay put, dip a brush into some Mod Podge and “paint” a thick coat right on top of the dowels where the lines are tied.

Here’s the final version, hanging by the window in Danika’s room. I love how it sparkles when the light catches the beads and how it rotates.

DIY mobile of wooden animal silhouettes for child's room. A collaborative project - Smocks & Shops

I have a second one to make for my youngest. She has woodland animal silhouettes :)

Giving birds a new home

My daughter turned 3 last month and during her party, her friends got to decorate their own birdhouses. Danika’s friends are mostly pairs of siblings so to not burden their parents (our friends) with having to find a place to hang two birdhouses, it was one birdhouse per household, which worked out great.

Pink ruffle cake for Danika's 3rd birthday

Since it was a party and the kids were all 4 years old and younger, I skipped the paint to avoid the mess. Instead, I opted for great quality stickers, felt markers, glitter glue and adhesive “jewels”. Much of which I found at the dollar store*.

What you need:

  1. Wooden birdhouses – I got ours for $3 each at the dollar store. They usually carry different models. I took the biggest ones. You can also get them at craft stores and pay 4 times the price.
  2. Markers – I used these kiddie ones from DeSerres.ca. I like how they “bleed” when they get wet (from the glitter glue). Creates a nice watercolour effect, which is what I was hoping for.
  3. Great quality stickers – I used this set for the girls and this one for the boys – Both by Djeco.
  4. Glitter glue – We finished old tubes I had from Michael’s. You can get them anywhere. I’ve been told though that the best tubes are the ones from Target. My crappy ones from Michael’s would always blow open if we squeezed too hard.
  5. Adhesive jewels – I’ve seen these in craft stores but I am always shocked at how much they sell for, meanwhile you can get them for a $1 or $2 from the dollar store.
  6. Tissue paper – pre-cut into squares. I have also seen these sold for insane $ in craft stores. I found some at the dollar store too.
  7. Mod Podge for outdoors – This was needed to make sure the stickers and jewels stayed glued down permanently but it left a sticky finish (even after 3 days), which I hated, so I sprayed them with a clear finish.
  8. Krylon Clear Finish Spray for indoor or outdoor use – If you just paint the birdhouses, this spray alone would be fine, but if you have anything glued on them, you really need to apply some Podge to seal it all in.

Birdhouses decorated by pre-schoolers - Birthday party activity

How to:

  • Well, I’d like to say we used a technique but come on… They’re pre-schoolers! They just wanted to colour and put stickers and use glitter glue!! They were, however, very concentrated for a good 15-20 minutes. It was awesome. The moms were on hand to help (and to keep the peace among the siblings). All in all, it was a huge success.
  • I kept the birdhouses after the party so that I could finish them with the Mod Podge and Krylon spray and return them hassle-free and “ready-to-hang”.
  • As a side note, now’s a good time to hang birdhouses if you want tenants for the summer. March and April are typically the best times, if you live in colder climates like we do here in Quebec.

Have a closer look at the lovely abodes. Hopefully all the bling and sparkle (that you can’t see very well in these photos) will attract some new winged residents.

Birdhouse decorated by Liam and Alec Birdhouse decorated by Danika and Mommy Birdhouse decorated by Maya and HaleyBirdhouse decorated by Danika and Mila

*This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Thank you for your support!

Are you happy?

That is one of Danika’s favourite things to ask. Especially when she senses she’s in hot water. As in, we’re all sitting at the table and she’s not eating what she’s meant to. We inevitably get frustrated, after our repeated attempts at getting her to even just *try* the broccoli or the carrots fail miserably. Oh and bear in mind that these are all foods she’s actually eaten gobs of ever since she started solids and even declared these to be some of her favourites at one time or another, but now can’t stand the sight of them in her bowl or plate… And no! We must resist! We. must. not. bribe. her. with. chocolate… Again… [sigh] #fail.

So when she senses our frustration, cheeky munchkin that she is, she suddenly starts bombarding us with the same question over and over and over again. “Mommy, are you happy? Daddy are you happy? Mila is happy. Mommy are you happy? Are you happy Daddy? I think Mila is happy. Are you happy Mommy?” and on and on and on she goes, even though we actually do answer her. Cute, eh? So how can we stay upset… It’s impossible. Peter and I crack a smile at each other when she’s not looking.

AreYouHappy 8 x 10 poster

Anyhow, to commemorate her “how-to-avoid-eating-my-food-and-still-get-chocolate” question, I created a little printable poster (8 x 10 inches) and desktop background image (1280 x 720 pixels). Feel free to save and use.

Are you Happy? Desktop background image

27 non-candy Easter egg stuffer ideas for pre-schoolers

Truth be told, I’m always scouting for small toys and accessories that would make great age-appropriate stocking stuffers at Christmas, Easter egg stuffers and road trip supplies. I store them in a box in the basement until the right time comes. I buy these throughout the year to take advantage of sales (especially liquidations) and impromptu visits to our local dollar store that odly enough, yields some pretty cool and unexpected finds.

When scouting for small toys or if you want to give a few different ones, the idea is to think outside the “packaging” so-to-speak: You don’t have to use every piece of the puzzle (unless it’s part of the Easter Egg hunt game), or all the beads, or all the glow-in-the-dark stars… Open the packaging and just put a couple of the pieces in the eggs. Once the hunt is over, bring out the rest of the packages. We keep all tiny toys in a small cardboard suitcases that the girls love carrying around.

Here’s a collection of items my eldest daughter (now 3) received last year (and still plays with) and some new ones she will find in her Easter eggs this year*.

EasterEggStuffers_numbers

  1. Coloured hair elastics – From the dollar store
  2. Peppa Pig characters – From eBay and Amazon (In Canada, Peppa Pig sets aren’t sold at Toys R Us but you can find them in the US)
  3. Easter version of the Barrel of Monkeys game but with bunnies – From the dollar store
  4. Plus-Plus connecting pieces to make 3D & 2D objects  – Modern Karibou (purchased during a sale) but also on Amazon
  5. Holztiger wooden bunny – From Ava’s Appletree in Toronto (I got a few from this shop because they had the best online selection in Canada)
  6. Piggy Paint 3D nail art – purchased on Well.ca on sale after Christmas but I have also seen them on Amazon
  7. Glitter for crafts – Michael’s or dollar store
  8. Lottie Doll outfit – These are a fav in our house. Purchased a couple of outfits in a toy store closeout sale but I have also seen them on Amazon
  9. Fairytale Finger tattoos – purchased during a closeout sale of a local toy store but also saw them on Amazon
  10. Vintage Strawberry Shortcake figurines – From my own collection – my mom had the forethought to stash many of our cool toys – but I have seen many on Etsy
  11. My daughter has a couple of finger puppet sets – We love this Etsy shop Stay Awake and Play I think they make the best and cutest felt finger puppets
  12. Bracelet and necklace set (on an elastic) – purchased during a closeout sale of a local toy store but have seen them in many toys shops near the cash
  13. Zipper charms – From Gap kids (saw them at the cash)
  14. Bubble Guppies Puzzle – From dollar store but any you think your child will like, which has pieces small enough to fit into eggs will be perfect
  15. Play-Doh – dollar store
  16. Little felt doll – handmade by moi
  17. EOS lip balm – From any drug store. My daughter *loves* lip balms but the shape of these ones are, I find, the best for her little hands. She can open and close it herself easily
  18. Kiss Naturals lip balm making kit – I’ve been waiting until my daughter was old enough to give her this set. I know she will love making these and gifting her friends with her creations
  19. Charlie and Lola peg people – My daughter *loves* Chartlie and Lola but finding merchandise on this side of the ocean is futile. I turned to Etsy and found Tiny Clementine who makes these adorable miniatures
  20. Schleich figurines – I’m a huge believer in teaching my girls what animals really look like, instead of the cute cartoon-look other figurines take on. These are a bit of an investment, yes, but I have also found tons of used ones online (Kijiji for us in Canada or eBay). I trust Schleich because they have been around for decades and I’m not worried when my little one puts the figurines in her mouth either.
  21. Djeco wooden patisserie set – purchased during a closeout sale of a local toy store but saw them on Amazon too
  22. Wind-up hopping bunny – Have seen them in many toy stores near the cash area
  23. Wooden beads – from Michael’s – Came in a bucket!
  24. Felt sea creatures for magnet fishing game – handmade by moi
  25. Mini Slinky – From the dollar store
  26. Wind-up flipping lady bug – Have seen them in many toy stores near the cash area
  27. Glow in the dark stars – My eldest already has a “gallaxy” spiralling above her bed. These ones will be for my youngest. Got them at Michael’s. What I love is that during the day they recharge with daylight and as the night progresses, they glow less and less so it’s not a distraction for Zzzzzs

So there you have it. What are some chocolate and candy-less options you are including in your kids’ Easter eggs?

Easter egg stuffer ideas

 

* This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon and Well.ca.

Easy puzzles designed by pre-schoolers

My daughter is slowly getting into puzzles. She’s been enjoying making them, provided I do it with her. I don’t think it’s so much the size of the pieces that are daunting her, but I think she might be intimidated when there are many pieces. So while I was shopping at my local craft supply store, I came across blank puzzles that were surprisingly inexpensive. I got a couple of smaller ones for rainy day crafts.

Let your kids make their own totally unique puzzles with blank sheets of puzzle pieces and markers

When it’s my morning to wake up with the girls on the weekends (Peter and I alternate sleeping in when we don’t have specific plans) I tend to make special crafts with Danika when her sister goes down for her morning nap. I think she really enjoys this time with me (I know I do). I always prepare her ahead of time by asking her if she wants to make a “special craft” with Mommy. She’s always so excited. I love it.

Let your kids make their own totally unique puzzles with blank sheets of puzzle pieces and markers

What you need:

  1. Blank puzzle sheet
  2. Non-toxic markers – or paint, or pencils, or paper bits or glitter and podge – they all work)

How to:

  1. Make sure your child doesn’t take the blank puzzle apart before starting (it’s VERY tempting to do this yourself). Each interconnected piece is perforated to keep it attached together making it easier to draw or paint or collage on it. It then come apart easily, without much effort.
  2. As you child creates her/his masterpiece, make sure that the colours used overlap onto the neighbouring piece so that when the time comes to actually make the puzzle, it will be doable.
  3. Write the child’s name and age or date
  4. Take it apart and put it together again… And again…. And again.

What I like about these puzzles is that they will make great keepsakes too :)