June found a blank book I'd made a few years ago, and was very excited when I told her that it was blank so that she could fill it up with her own story. She worked diligently, narrating her story to me, and then copying the words into the book. I like the surprise ending. 

"Yay, we're going to have a new baby."

"Yay, the baby came out." and "Yay, the new baby is having a birthday."

There are no more words, but the baby continues to grow and have birthdays. 

We must stack tables on top of tables to make the cake high enough for the baby to reach.

Finally, the baby has grown taller than the chimney,
which says puff, puff, puff, and the Mommy stands nearby.


Printable Cards to Color and Share for Thanksgiving, Winter, and other Greetings

I made these printable-coloring Thanksgiving cards a few years ago, and the girls and I just came across them again. Our plans this year are up in the air, and so I thought writing cards to all the family we won't see would be fun (although a challenge for little ones who don't like writing!)

These are an easy, low-ink printable, that fold in half to make cards. While I'm getting organized here's a list of all my printable coloring cards:

Bon Hiver (Good Winter)

I think I made the last two, but never shared them, so they are brand new. Check out the new Bon Hiver cards below. 


Old Testament Timeline Printable

Okay, I'll admit it: I started playing Christmas music yesterday. 

I'm getting ready for one of my favorite family traditions. During Advent we do a Jesse Tree, with readings and ornaments from the Old Testament that lead to the birth of Christ. I've noticed my children don't always have a good sense of how the different events relate to one another. For years, I've wanted a Bible Timeline to provide a context for the stories we tell. There are several commercial ones: most have a lot of text and dates and are more involved than I need. I really like this one with all the pictures, but its 10' long! That just won't work for our home. 

So I obsessed over it for 48 hours, and made my own. I drew a simple cartoon history of the Old Testament. It doesn't include every prophet and king and favorite story (because otherwise it would be 10' long!), but it provides a big picture, so when you're reading your favorite story you can point and say, "this happened here." I'm hoping it will help my kids develop a sense of the continuity of the story.

I drew the timeline over 5 sheets of paper, but through the magic of Adobe, I've squished it onto a single printable page. Yes, ONE page. The pictures are tiny, but they are simple and readable, so I think it works. 

And its for you, too! Wishing you a good Advent and blessed Nativity! Grab the printable PDF here - it includes a black and white page, and one with a little color. 

If you don't want the teeny-tiny version, you can order it in poster form from Zazzle in various sizes and paper qualities. I haven't actually done this yet, but I might. Let me know if you do! Click the embedded poster image below to head over to zazzle. 


Activities for Siblings during Homeschool

This is one of the most common questions for new homeschooling parents (like me): What do I do with the younger kids while I teach the older ones? I've been collecting some great resources that are making our school time richer and more fun (with special thanks to my big sister Christa). I give the sibling activities in the same subject as the other student (its not always the older one!). The activities are so much fun, that the other child often joins in when their lesson is finished!

I have tried really hard to find free activities or printables that stand alone, or complement some of the manipulatives and materials I already own - so if you don't own some of these, you may have to invest in a few good materials. Also, the activities need to be fun for many many sessions, not just once or twice, and something the child can do without a lot of supervision. Print and laminate (if you can) printables ahead of time so you can pull activities out as need. Below is my list of ideas and activities for siblings during homeschool.

We already own lots of manipulatives from Right Start Math and goodwill, so finding good printables and ideas is a great way to use that investment, and prepare them for formal lessons later.
Pattern Blocks and free printable activities from learning resource
Cuisenaire rod and free printable games
Geo-boards and printable shape patterns

Keeping fun, special use books and games on hand makes learning to read feel really special - and Bob books are definitely a favorite around here!
Bob Books and free printable activities from by Bob Books and more from Royal Baloo
Independent Reading for older kids with my reading chart
Sight Words flash cards games (make up sentences with cards, or read through and make piles of "words I know" and "words I don't know")
Explode the Code books

After we read something together, older children sometimes have to do a writing activity following the reading. Younger children can muse on the story by recreating scenes with special materials reserved for this time. The special materials and story prompt  keep children focused.
Modeling Clay like plastillina - encourage them to mold shapes on their own with out extra colors
Drawing with special materials like Beeswax crayons

Coloring and Puzzle Printables
There are tons of free printables online, but finding really great quality coloring pages and worksheets from thoughtful designers is always a bonus. I print lots of these and keep them in a folder, only giving one at a time so each page is valued.
Made by Joel printable Coloring Sheets and Worksheets
Mr. Printables Puzzles and Coloring
Fancy coloring pages from D. Palmer

Do you have more resources to add?


Mermaid Tails

We have a bit of a mermaid obsession lately, and so we decided to make mermaid tails to turn all of our favorite toys into mermaids... and merpoodles.

I just cut out two tail shapes and sewed them together with elastic in the waist. I definitely would have benefitted from working out a template first - since I made a few a bit too small, and the tails get really skinny at the end. I'm thinking of taking another shot at it, so if anyone wants a template and instructions let me know!

5 Homeschool-y Printables

I'm thinking ahead for school this fall, and wanted to share some of the printables I made for myself for last year. You can download each free printable pdf by clicking on the links below and then selecting download when you see the preview.

1. My Weekly Lesson Records are sorta boring, but a practical resource. One of the biggest things I learned last year is that I rarely ever stick to my lesson plans, and that's okay. I map out what we need to accomplish for the year and divide it by weeks in a word document. When we get off track, I scribble and draw arrows all over that paper. When the week is finished, I record what we actually did here on these templates that I save in my folder. That way, I don't have to feel bad about scribbling, and my record at the end of the year is nice and tidy. I preferred printing 2 weeks/page on 9 pages front and back for 36 weeks. Grab the planners here:  2 weeks/page and 1 week/page

2. The girls wanted to earn money, so we developed this Chore and Allowance Chart. I tried to keep all of the earnings in 10's as a way to further reinforce the math the kindergartener is learning. She helps tally it up at the end of the week. We slip these in a plastic sleeve and use dry erase markers so we can reuse them each week. There are two per page: grab it here.

3. This was a fun idea I got from another homeschooling mom. When the kids clean up their space, I leave these House Fairy Reward Cards for them to find later. I try not to warn them ahead of time - its just a fun reward for cleaning up their mess. They trade it in for a chocolate from Daddy's office. The pdf is just black and white, and I printed mine on pink construction paper (which is my favorite new trick for printing with color and not using up my ink!) Download it.

4. Isn't it awesome when the reading skills suddenly click and your little one takes off! I made these Book and Chapter Reading Charts for my new reader earlier this year. Whenever she read a book on her own, she x'ed a circle. When she got to 50 books, we went out for ice cream. I really thought the 50 books would take longer, so when she finished in a week I started her on chapter books. These charts really motivated her, and now she's read all of my old American Girl books! Get them: "I read 50 Books" chart and "I read 50 chapters!" chart.

5. Finally, I printed these Talk Nicely Cards. If I spend a lot of time correcting the kids ("Can you say that again nicely?", "What do you say?", etc.) I start to get a bit discouraged. So to lighten it up a bit, I made these cars, and when they are having trouble saying what they need to say nicely, I ask them to go look for the right card for the situation.  I'll admit, this only worked well for the older child who can read, and it is really the younger toddler who needs to work on talking nicely. I added some symbols to help her out, but we don't use them very much. Print 4 per page and cut them out

I'm finding home schooling to be very fun, but also very consuming, and it seems I spend more of my efforts there now than at other creative pursuits. You can find more of my homeschool and church school printables here also. I kind of don't know what direction I'll be going in my own work this year, but that's kind of exciting, too. We'll see!



Congratulations to Victoria who won the book giveaway! I had so much fun connecting with all of you - thank you for participating and linking up and sharing.


Book Give Away!

Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the book give-away and link up. Thanks so much for your participation so far! I'll announce the winner on Monday.


Flip Doll Pattern Hop Round Up

Today is the last day of the Pattern Hop - but not to worry! If you haven't made the rounds yet, you can hit all five today for five chances to win a copy of Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go. The link up and most of the Book Give-aways last through next week. Here's a quick run down:


Spoonflower Easter Basket cover

A quick break from the blog hop to show a bit of sewing I've been up to this week. Although, my projects seem to involve less sewing and more drawing these days. :)

In our church, we bring baskets of food to church to bless for Easter (or Pascha). I didn't finish my basket cover in time - in fact, my spoonflower package arrived on Bright Monday! But, I took red eggs to a gathering on Wednesday, so I decided to hem up the cloth and take it then.

I printed it on a fat quarter of cotton voile, although tea towels are usually printed on their linen-cotton canvas. I thought the cotton voile felt more like a handkerchief, and being a bit fancier, I'd be less likely to use it for dish washing and save it for Pascha. I'm very pleased with how it turned out! The print is available now on Spoonflower.



The Flip Doll hop continues. Don't miss Erin's super cute Batman yesterday and Mollie's butterfly today!

And don't forget to sign up for the Book Give-away on my chameleon post below!


Flip Dolls Pattern Hop: Melos the Chameleon, A Flip Doll Story and Book Give-away!

The Flip Doll Pattern Hop is hopping! You can WIN A COPY OF MY BOOK below (scroll all the way down, and use the rafflecopter thingy), but first:

A Flip Doll story

Melos is a stuffed chameleon, and he is a sad fellow. 
He sits by the window looking at all the new leaves and bulbs sprouting in the Spring, 
and he longs to lose himself among the shades of green as real chameleons do.

But he is stuffed with wool, and not fit for the outdoors.
Alas and alack.

"What shall I do?" he asks his friend the crocodile. 
"Don't let it get you down," she smiles, "Look around. It's lovely. Make yourself at home here."

Melos looks around. 
"She's right," he thinks to himself. "It's a lovely home.
I may not be fit for climbing trees and crawling through dewy grass.
But my fuzzy wool is perfect fit for snuggling into this folky ogee upholstery." 

And so that's what he did. 

And he was right at home.

"You look lovely, dear. I'm glad you're here," Crocodile tells him.

Melos is glad, too. 

 The end.

It's easy to modify the basic shape of the flip doll so that you can create whatever character tickles your fancy. The book includes a section explaining how that works. I had a brainstorming session, with a table full of kids, trying to think of new something that changes into something else - and someone thought of the chameleon! What a great idea! Then I remembered my leftover upholstery fabric and Melos was born.

I based his body shape on the dragon from George and the Dragon, with a few modifications. I gave him skinny little arms and legs, and made the tail the shared body part instead of the legs. These were pretty simple changes. You can download my template for the chameleon here, and instructions for assembling the flip dolls and modify the pattern to create your own characters is included in the book. Give it a shot!

Leave a comment (and be sure to provide your email address through rafflecopter) for a chance to win a copy of my book Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go from my awesome publisher. You can earn extra entries for sharing on facebook, pinterest, or twitter. And be sure to check out all the other Flip Doll Pattern Hop stops to see more cute dolls, and more chances to win!

Did you make a flip doll, too? Add yours to the link-up below or keep scrolling down to enter the giveaway through Rafflecopter.

Flip Dolls Pattern Hop and Link Up!

Happy Bright Week!

The Flip Dolls Pattern Hop starts today! Join us each day this week as we see a new flip doll made from the patterns in my book Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go. Each blog will be offering a free book to one lucky reader, so be sure to check out all five. I can't wait for you to see the lovely dolls made by each of these bloggers. You can see my new chameleon right here (or maybe you won't see him, eh?) as I kick off the pattern hop, and be sure to sign up for the giveaway! The rest of the schedule is as follows:

Chameleon Flip Doll at WeWilsons


Batman Flip Doll at Our Family Four

Butterfly Flip Doll with hexagon wings at Wild Olive  

Super cute Super Hero at Pink Cheeks Studios

A smiling Butterfly Flip Doll at Happy Brown House


If you're sewing from the book, be sure to grab the full size printable templates from Lark's website, and if you haven't gotten a book yet, check out each of these blogs for a chance to win a copy!

Want to show off your flip doll, too? We'd love to see! Add your link below by clicking on the blue "Add your link" button below before May 4th.


Flip Dolls Pattern Hop

Psst! Join us in April for the Flip Dolls Pattern Hop. Four lovely bloggers and I will be making Flip Dolls using the patterns in my book, which includes tips for making your own characters with my pattern. I'll be making a new variation of the flip doll, and I can't wait to see what else (or who else!) turns up. 

Want to participate? I'll add a linky widget on April 21, so you can link to your own flip dolls. So get sewing! Take some pictures of your doll, post them on your blog/Flickr/wherever, then add the link after April 21. Can't wait to see what you're doing, too!

If you haven't got your copy yet, my publisher is offering a book giveaway on each blog, too. So come sew with us, win a book, and enjoy some clever flip dolls with me!


Make a Weeble Toy

I made these weeble eggs recently. I'd been thinking about trying it for awhile, but I was just sure it would turn out to be harder than I thought - that I would realize you'd need some sort of special shaped metal bearing or something.

But nope. It turns out these are super easy. :)

Give it a try! Here goes:

Find some easter eggs. [The kind with the little bit of plastic keeping the top and bottom together are nice because they will help you keep your drawing lined up neatly after opening. But any kind will do.]

Use a hot glue gun or crazy glue to secure a marble to the bottom inside of the egg. [Be sure the marble is centered on the bottom. If its off center your weeble will lean, like my lion below...]

Use a sharpie to draw on your weeble. [You could probably do something more complicated like paint or glitter-y pens - but the bright color of the eggs contrasted with the black sharpie looks pretty sweet to me, so you might as well keep it simple.]

Aaaaaaaand... WOBBLE!