Our girls started learning to write their letters just after their third birthday.
Baby A’s first “A”!
Since they really got the hang of it, around age 3 1/2, writing is a huge pastime for them. They love to write notes, lists, and make cards.
I just love seeing the progression of their handwriting. Here’s a list Baby A made before my birthday last month. I didn’t know why she was asking me to spell all these items…turns out she was making a shopping list for Daddy to get me for my birthday. HA! I don’t really need any broccoli, but this mama wouldn’t mind some shoes and jelly beans!
It gave me an idea to do something with the girls’ writing. I cut cardstock into 1″ x 1.5″ pieces. I had the girls take turns writing the letters of the alphabet. (Baby A got the letter “A”, and Baby B got the letter “B”…and so on.) The letters “I” and “U” were done in red, and the letter “O” was replaced with one of Baby A’s signature hearts.
I found an 8″ square frame on clearance at our local craft store. I also found some pink graph paper in their scrapbook section. (Having the patterned background made things really easy to plot.)
The girls helped me sort the letters into order while I glued them down.
For less than $5, a little elbow grease, and a handwriting lesson…I love the way it turned out! And we all love seeing this on the bookshelves in our den.
MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
Just over a week ago, my 7-year-old daughter J asked me if I would teach her how to sew. She’s been knitting for a while, so this seemed like an age-appropriate activity.
I’d tried introducing cross stitch, the only sewing-related activity at which I have any skill, a while back, but it didn’t take. There was no way I could teach her to use a sewing machine; I have yet to figure out how to use mine. Knowing that I’d want an easy hand-stitching project for her, I turned to the blogosphere for inspiration.
I found the perfect idea at Make It & Love It: sleep masks. Ashley made the excellent point that felt is the perfect fabric for a starter sewing project, since it doesn’t fray and requires no edge finishing. Plus, she has a free downloadable template that takes the guesswork out of cutting the felt for the sleep mask.
My daughters and I went shopping for supplies. We had plenty of ribbon at home, so we picked up a selection of felt sheets, a variety of trim, some basic thread and long needles. A single felt sheet would have been enough to make 5 sleep masks, but I decided to pick up some extra sheets. As it turns out, I’m very glad I did.
I used Ashley’s template to cut out the basic shape of the girls’ sleep masks.
We used ribbon instead of elastic, which worked fine for us. The girls threaded their own needles and allowed me to tie knots in the ends. I cut pieces of ribbon for them and sealed the ends with flame, much to the concern of my children. I showed them very basic stitching. Put the needle through the fabric, then go back in the way you came. Keep a nice long tail on your thread, but make sure it’s shorter than the main length of the thread. That’s all they needed to know to make this project a success. They just let me know when they were ready for me to tie off each length of thread.
Both girls ended up with ribbon that was too long. Since M finished up her sleep mask first, I showed her how to take in the extra ribbon. I figured this would be a skill that would serve her throughout her life, since she promises to share my struggles with clothes that are always too long. She was then able to show her sister how to do it, which was very satisfying for everyone involved.
Both the girls had a great deal of fun playing with the variety of trim at our disposal.
I even had the opportunity to show M how to make a ruffle, since she sewed a short piece of rickrack onto a wider piece of trim with stitches that were perfect for pulling tight.
Even the stuffed toys got in on the fun.
A day after the girls completed their sleep masks, I was puttering around the house, folding laundry. M asked me to tie a knot in a piece of thread, but I didn’t think much of it. Half an hour later, I discovered her assiduously sewing. She had, completely independently, designed, cut out, and sewn a Wonder Woman crown of felt.
She is now working out how she’ll make the rest of the costume for her sister. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the value of having crafting supplies freely available to the miniature crafter in your family, as well as the unstructured time to let his or her imagination run wild.
Do your kids knit or sew?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.
Did you know that March 2 is the Birthday of Dr. Seuss? Marking what would have been his 110th birthday, today schools, libraries and other organizations participate in Read Across America, an initiative to get more kids reading and to honor Dr. Seuss. His books were my favorites when I was a kid, and we have a large selection of them in regular rotation here. Plus, any parent of twins has to have an appreciation for Thing 1 and Thing 2, which I firmly believe had to be modeled on twin toddlers!
Today I am happy to share a little project I did for my kids which is a great tribute to the beloved Dr. Seuss for his birthday today. To be completely honest, when I started the project it was not timed in conjunction with the Dr. Seuss celebration or the Read Across America initiative at all. I made them because these are favorite books of my kids, and when I found this fabric I knew I wanted to do something fun for them. See, in addition to being a stay at home mom to my 4-year-old twin boys, I also have a small business making custom kids clothing. My kids see tons of cute shirts and outfits on my sewing table and most often it is not for them. So when they saw this fabric, they were elated! My son Justin chose The Lorax, which has been a favorite book and movie for years and Joshua picked Green Eggs and Ham which has become a recent favorite bedtime story.
(Kindly disregard the chaos of my sewing room and look at that smile when he saw his fabric!)
My boys love their new shirts, and I love seeing their love of books.
So now, the nitty gritty of the shirts. They are made from The Scientific Seamstress Bowling Shirt, which is a PDF pattern you can purchase from Etsy and a few other places. This was one of my first patterns when I started making kids clothing, and I have made these bowling shirts in a few dozen versions. It’s so fun and versatile. Plus, the Scientific Seamstress patterns are like a mini sewing lesson and a pattern in one. I hadn’t sewn a garment since the 7th grade HomeEc class when I made my first set of Bowling shirts for my duo, and they turned out great! There aren’t a lot of great patterns for boys, this is my main go-to pattern for boys. It has so many options for stripes and piecing, and you can be as creative as you want with fabrics. For these I decided to vary the standard piecing options (which are normally vertical or horizontal stripes) and just did the top horizontal stripe to make more of a yoke. (Which of course I cracked myself up making a yoke on a shirt with eggs. Get it? Yoke/Yolk? Cracked myself up! hahaha! Anyway…)
The shirt is lined, and therefore doesn’t have a lot of hemming or zigzagging and doesn’t require a serger to finish seams, but still has a nice, finished look. And since this is a Moms of Multiples blog, I will add that I almost always make two (or more) at a time. I made my boys several for our Disney trips, and have made a few as gifts and, like these, with no occasion at all.
I find it easiest to do all of one step on both shirts before moving to the next step. Cut out all the pieces first, then assemble. I keep the pieces of each separated in ziploc bags. Each shirt takes about 1 yard of fabric in the 3/4 or 5/6 size, depending on how you cut and whether the fabric is directional. If you intend to use directional fabric and vertical stripes, I would suggest a yard and a quarter. I have generally bought 1-1.25 yards of each of two fabrics and made two shirts from it.
I have made it with and without stripes, all one fabric and several, plus added appliqués and without. These I did add appliqués, and yes I have a fancy embroidery machine. But the Green Eggs and Ham one was not done with the embroidery machine, I did it the old-fashioned way, cutting out four eggs from scrap fabric, ironing on Heat-n-bond and tight zigzagging around it. Well, maybe not that old-fashioned, I guess.
I cannot speak highly enough of the Scientific Seamstress patterns for beginners or seasoned sewists. I have most of her patterns, and each one is easy to follow and has tons of options to customize size and style to your liking. If you’re new to sewing or just want to get something cute made for your own kiddos, you can’t go wrong with any of these patterns.
In the Spirit of Full Disclosure, the Links to the Books on Amazon are Affiliate Links. If you click and chose to add these titles to your own personal library I will get a few cents. (Thanks!) I did not receive any compensation for the review of the pattern from the Scientific Seamstress. I bought and love the pattern. I do also sell handmade items on Etsy and through my own Facebook page and take custom orders, though this was not intended to be a shill for that business.
Jen is the stay-at-home mom of newly minted 4 year old boys who all survived the terrible threes. They live in the arctic wasteland formerly known as Chicagoland, where they have been cooped up inside for the worst winter in half a century, left with plenty of time to reflect and reminisce. Her family blog Go Team Wood is oft-neglected and now functions mostly as a repository for Instagram pics and occasional updates that are far and few between. You can find out more about her handmade kids clothes biz at Just-Joshin.com
One of my twin boys is a shirt chewer. Actually, he was a shirt chewer. I made chew necklaces for him to wear and completely cured him of his nervous habit of chewing on his clothing in about two months. I am not crafty and I can not sew at all. So when I looked for ideas about how to get kids to stop chewing their clothes, I was disappointed to find complicated, messy sensory games or options that required a sewing machine.
Finally, I found an easy, free, no sew option by whining to my friend who is a school teacher. She had seen a few students wear “chew necklaces” in her elementary school.
How to make chew necklaces for kids who chew their clothes:
*old tshirts (that your child has outgrown or already chewed holes in)
*regular bedroom dresser
*ability to braid
*Cut out three strips of fabric (~25-30 inches long, depending on how long you want the necklace to be. Remember tshirt material stretches) from the old tshirts.
*Tie the three strips together into a knot at one end.
*Tuck the knotted end into dresser drawer.
*Braid the three strips.
*Tie the end of the braid into a knot.
*Tie the two knots together.
Because they are made out of tshirt material, they feel the same to kids as chewing on their clothes and are likely to be a great substitute. They can also be thrown in the wash with their clothes. They do eventually get chewed through (as evidenced in the above picture; the gray and red one is pretty much done) but it’s easy to make more. And oddly, the best news is that after wearing these for a few months, my son just quit chewing altogether. Now, we don’t need these necklaces and he doesn’t chew on his shirts anymore!
Our very first homework assignment came to us when my daughters were in pre-school. Three years ago, when my girls were nearly 5, their daycare teacher gave us general guideline to make cheap DIY stick horses for a school “horsie” race. I was surprised by how much fun we had with the project and how much my pre-schoolers were able to contribute.
Three years later, my daughters still play with their horses. They’ve held up to rough play and continue to provide fodder for the imagination. Not bad for under $10 each!
Want to know how we made them? Read on! I’ve included a list of supplies at the end of the post, in case you decide to go shopping.
We started out by taking some sandpaper to 4 foot dowels from the home improvement store. Each horse takes one dowel. I was surprised to realize that my 4-year-olds were perfectly good at this task.
They then painted their dowels. This is certainly an optional step, but each of my girls definitely enjoyed picking a unique colour for her own horse.
Here’s the genius part of this project. The horse head? It’s a sock, stuffed with batting. We used Daddy’s old socks. M and J loved shoving the batting in there.
We tied off the bottom of the stuffed socks with yarn.
Next, M and J decided on the shape and colour of their horses’ ears, and I cut triangles of felt to their specifications. I sewed pairs of felt triangles together and turned them inside out to hide the seam. I hand-sewed them onto the socks at locations of the girls’ choosing. I also sewed on buttons for eyes.
I then cut equal lengths of yarn, and the girls used yarn needles to thread them through the centerline of the sock, from slightly in front of the ears down the back of the head. I tied little knots to secure them. At bedtime, the manes were still not quite thick enough to meet the girls’ exacting standards, so they gave me instructions to finish off the job.
When all of that was done, I hot-glued the socks onto the dowels. The glued part looked messy, so I wrapped it in ribbon and hot-glued that on too. I also glued a length of ribbon (picked by the children, of course) around the front of each muzzle.
The girls both tied an additional length of ribbon on to make reins. They’ve upgraded over the years, adding beaded reins and even earrings to their horsies. Have fun with this project and send us photos of your creations!
DIY Stick Horse Supplies
Wooden dowel: 4 feet long, 1 inch diameter
Felt for ears
Buttons for eyes
Yarn for mane
Ribbon for noseband and reins
Hot glue gun
Needle and thread
Blunt yarn needle
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering. She blogged about this project on my now-retired blog Double the Fun when we first did the project.
Paint chips, the kind you pick up free at the paint or hardware store, are quite possibly my favourite crafting supply ever. They’re free. There’s no guilt in using paint chips for projects because stores expect us to take them home, for free.
And they are so very pretty, with vibrant colours in every shade you could possibly use. They’re great for educating toddlers about colours, of course, but they have a bazillion uses in crafts of all sorts.
Let us know what your great craft idea is for these colourful strips of joy.
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.
Being an elementary-school teacher, I have been fortunate to teach many different aged children (kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th grades). Each age presents their own joys and challenges, but my favorite part of the year was always setting up the classroom. I LOVED getting into my classroom to set up and get organized every August. Including my student-teaching placement, I was in 5 rooms in 5 years, so I have had lots of different chances to change around my classrooms. If you are curious, you can see my last 4th grade classroom on my personal blog.
Now that I am no longer teaching in a school, I get to take that organization and those ideas to our house… for better or worse. Yes, we have lots of labels and bins everywhere. You can take the teacher out of a classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of a teacher.
Although our babies are too young to have a need for a work station, you can bet that I’ve already started thinking about how I would want to organize it. I learned that it is really easy for students of all ages to get their work areas messy, if you allow that option. However, I then discovered that if you can organize vertically instead of horizontally, that messiness is a lot easier to combat.
I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas into this post.
This is perhaps my favorite work station that I have seen. I love how totally DIY this entire area is, and how it really doesn’t take up much room. This is an older side table, painted in your favorite color with a chalkboard-painted top. I love the use of pegboard and the complementary-color of the clipboards. Plus, isn’t that a perfect way to show off your child’s art or A+ papers?
Here is a closeup of the peg board, with the diagram of what is included. For an art station, it really has everything that your child will need. I would go one step further, however, and label what goes where. I love a good label, especially for the child that is learning their letters and how to read. Any type of labeling you can do in your house helps build their phonemic awareness. Pair those words with pictures (photographs are the best) and it is even better for their early reading skills!
If you only have a small corner, this is a good overall household organization. I particularly like the use of the Thirty-One Keep-It Caddy for library books to return.
Ah, nothing makes me happier than a good list. This one is no different. Of course, your children need to be able to read in order to make this work (you could use pictures for younger children), but it is a good everyday check-in for their responsibilities.
This isn’t a very expensive overall look for pegboard organization, and it covers so much! You have the cups that are labeled, a place for scissors and stickers (in the baggies), some baskets for jars and glue sticks, and the paper organizer.
This is a nice colorful space, although I think it’s more decorative than totally functional. Still, I like the use of a magnetic board above the desk.
Now, this is cool! Use some new shutters for organizing papers and cards.
If you only are focusing on an art station, this is a very doable and simple solution. A small table with a curtain rod above it. Hang some cups off of it with your crayons, markers, and pencils. Above it, you can have an art display on string. This would work very well for younger children, before they start at school.
Here is another idea, focusing on an art station. This seems more appropriate for an older child, especially if you have a bit more room to work with. As a teacher, I love the paper organization to the right, but it doesn’t quite solve the limited-space problem, or my goal of organizing vertically.
Here are some other basket ideas for a pegboard. Can you tell I love pegboard ideas?
If you are in a pinch, this would work, but I promise you that this would make a small area very crowded quickly, because you will be organizing horizontally (using the desk instead of the wall).
If you have a bit of a budget to invest, you could get this unit, which allows you to move the different types of storage around. This is very pretty, but I don’t think it is as versatile or useful as the pegboard.
I love this creative solution! This is a drying rack for clothes, that has been mounted onto the wall. Hang your mini baskets and cups, and you are set!
Like some other pictures, this is great for an art station, but not as practical if you want it for homework as well.
This one is called the Urbio Magnetic Modular System, and it has lots of different options. This is a system that can grow with you and your children. It’s from the Container Store, so it won’t be cheap, but it is very versatile. Plus, with that white, clean look, it would be very easy to label!
I like the addition of the calendar to this one.
How fun is this work station for the little boys in your life? This would be very easy to replicate, as you can easily (and cheaply) get metal sheets at your local hardware store. You would then just need to invest in magnetic containers to attach onto it.
Ah, the past kindergarten teacher in me LOVES this one. It is Calendar Time… just in your home! This would be great for the summers or for your preschool child, to get them ready for what is to come once they enter kg.
Ah, the joy of wire baskets! They are inexpensive and can easily match each other. They are sturdy and can hold so much! For holding papers against the wall, I don’t know if you can beat them.
If you have a whole wall to devote to your work stations, then go for this! You probably don’t have that much room, but I do like the use of the chalkboard wall behind the desk and the set spot for each child.
True, this isn’t an actual work station with a desk, but it is what I would call “Command Central.” A whiteboard for each family member and pockets for papers or things they need to remember. For the larger family, this would be key!
This is another version of the “Command Central” for a smaller family (or for just the kids). A place for everything, and everything in its place!
Never underestimate the importance of structure and routine when it comes to your child’s homework. Whenever I had a parent that asked me about helping their child to do all that they had to get done, I always started by finding out about their after-school routine. Most of the time, if they were struggling with turning in assignments or “not liking school,” it was because they didn’t have a set routine once they got home. If you don’t have a lot of space for the work stations seen above, this is the perfect solution! It is a tri-fold board (you can even cut them in half for multiple kids), with some of the organizational items that your child needs for homework time. It also doubles as a privacy station, in case your child gets distracted easily. When your child is done working, it can be folded up and put away.
Every new mom is inundated with a list of things she and her baby absolutely positively cannot live without. And similarly with a list of things that are a complete waste of money. Do not listen to any of these people!
For example, everyone told me that I will desperately need a bottle warmer and I never needed one, never got one (nor a wipes warmer). In fact, since Emily really never took a bottle, that would have been a serious waste of money! Everyone also said the changing table was a waste of money and we still (after 4 years) use it every single day. I am not a fan of changing a baby on the floor, on the bed, or any of the other places that people told me to use instead of the changing table. (we went with a tall dresser on purpose because we liked it better and it fit the room better, so a longer dresser was never an option). And I bought a changing table off Craig’s list for downstairs diaper changes. See, better for me, better for baby, better for the environment, and better for the people who no longer wanted it. Win win all the way around. Pretty good for a “useless” nursery item!
There is another item in nursery world that I would agree is useless – closet dividers. Most of Emily’s clothes were hung – all sizes. One section of her closet was current and one for the future. When we moved, every closet had California Closets (SCORE!) and that was fabulous for my OCD organizational self, and once again, Emily’s clothes were hung and organized. My way. My way that I know and no one else knows. D tries and he is great at hanging up laundry and generally gets things in or near the right sections. But my system really means that I am the best equipped to hang up her clothes. That must stop!
But her clothes are not the issue any more. The twins will be sharing a nursery and a closet (California-ized thank you sellers ) and while I can do his clothes on one bar and hers on another, I want thing to stay organized!! And that means organizing clothes by size in such a way that other people can put away the laundry (hint, if you come over to help with the babies, you can now put away laundry, which will be a big help ). But I am not about to spend money on closet dividers. And really, why would I? Instead I got creative with cereal boxes!
I present DIY closet dividers! Easy, cute, and basically FREE! You cannot do any better than that! There are a ton of tutorials on the web, so I will just give some quick hit highlights here.
First, open a cereal box and eat the cereal.
Then open the box all the way flat. I cut off each main panel to make life easier.
Here you have 2 options and I tried both, but preferred the second one. You can trace and cut out the shape and then glue on the paper. But I preferred to glue down the paper to the cereal box (spray adhesive is your friend!) on both sides, then cut out the template.
Then cut out a hole slightly larger than your closet rod. My mother in law has a handy dandy scrapbook hole cutter and I used that because when I used scissors, it was not a pretty cut. It had to be a pretty cut!
Here is what I had.
side 1 of 2 of the closet dividers
side 2 of the same dividers – one for her and one for him.
I love the way they look – the perfect clean cuts, the nice paper, I am happy! But in order for this to really work, I also wanted a way to label each one. Stickers!
Little girl’s first 3 dividers (nb=newborn).
Her dividers for bigger sizes…
Since baby boy is not going to get many hand me downs from Em, I have been hitting tag sales and clearance sales for him. Loving the $1 and $2 clearance stuff from Target! Sweet!
The section of the closet where I will keep their current clothes. Little girl’s rod looks so sad :(
LOVE LOVE LOVE these! And basically, free, which is the best part. The cereal we had anyway, this was just reusing the boxes. The scrapbook paper I had, my mother in law had and I did buy a few sheets (but at half price, $0.29 a piece), the spray adhesive I had, and the stickers I had.
So I still agree that these are completely unnecessary, but they are cute, it was a fun project and I am a sucker for anything that either organizes or creates the illusion of organization. So my official stance is that these are not necessary but there is no way they can HURT, so why not?
One of the wonderful delights of the holiday season for me is getting cards in the mail. I love all the pictures, the sentiments…and if you really want to make me swoon, a hand-written note makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. My girls, now almost five, get just as excited to see what treasures are in the mailbox this time of year.
For the past several years, inspired by the amazing Marcia at The 123 Blog, I’ve been preserving our holiday cards in a simple binder ring folder.
I use a hole punch to make holes in the cards (being as careful as possible to avoid our friends’ faces…you can see I didn’t always do such a stellar job!). You can find binder rings at the craft store or the office supply store.
Last year, I took some of the girls’ [plethora of] Christmas tree artwork and up-cycled it into a cover. I glued it onto card stock and had it laminated at the office supply store for $1.79.
The 2013 binder is a collection of cards the girls received throughout the year, from birthday, to Easter, to invitations to birthday parties and thank-you notes from friends.
Our girls LOVE to look through our card collection. It’s a great way to remind them of our friends and family, many of whom we don’t see very often.
What do you do with the cards you receive during the year? Do your kiddos like to hang onto every single invitation (the way mine do!)?
MandyE is mom to almost-five year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.
The girls and I worked really hard making homemade holiday gifts (baked goodies, Shrinky Dinks key chains, and gift tags this year). On the other end of the holiday, it’s important to me that I involve our girls in saying thank you to our friends and family who were so generous in giving their time and resources to us.
Since they were old enough to scribble a few streaks across a paper, I’ve worked with the girls to make thank-you cards. Here’s an example of some cards we did when they were 2 1/2…
I wrote the text: “Thank you for the book about the,” and then the girls filled in the blank, so to speak. At the time, they still weren’t drawing very recognizably, but they could choose a color for the background to the sea, and glue to it a few fish I’d cut out from construction paper.
They definitely “got” what we were doing, and why. And I think this kind of activity helps them remember who gave them what. They still know that Aunt Alison gave those books to them when we saw her in Alabama.
At almost-five years old, our girls can’t fully read, but they can print like no one’s business. My plan this year is to have them write “THANK YOU” on the front of the cards, and address the inside of the card, “TO: AUNT ALISON” and sign their names. We’ll either draw pictures, or in some cases I might take a picture of the girls wearing their new sweaters or playing with a particular toy to include in the card.
Of course the girls love to tape the envelope shut, apply the stamp, and walk the letters to the mailbox.
An art project, handwriting practice, and a sense of gratitude…it’s what’s on our agenda this post-holiday week.
How do you handle thank-yous with your kiddos?
MandyE is mom to fraternal twin girls, almost five. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.