Monday, February 25, 2013

VHC Party Decor AND Favors in One!

I've got to pat myself on the back for how well-prepared I am for this next birthday party! And I've been so organized too that I'm kind of scaring myself! What has happened to change the tired, harried, and always hurried mother of three exhausting kids into Wonder Woman? I don't know. Maybe I just really love this party theme? Whatever it is, I like it and I like how it's all coming together. I may just be in a good mood because I just scored an awesome deal on three 8-packs of polka dotted ice cream cups for the party. They were originally $1.47 @ Walmart and when I got rung up, they scanned in at ONLY .75/package! I love surprise deals! If they had had more, I would've gone back and got them all but I had grabbed the last three packages already. 

All right, this post is actually supposed to be about the party favors that I finally completed today! They're so cute, I kind of just want to keep one hanging by the window to look at. They are papier-mached cocoons that have either been painted or pasted with green tissue paper. I used both methods because I wanted them to have different textures and because my kids wanted to help paint them as a way of helping with their little brother's party. 

I stuffed them with a butterfly magnet and a couple of cute gummy bugs both of which I bought from Oriental Trading Company. The gummy bugs were leftover from my older son's Valentine's Day cards and they fit this theme well enough that I used the rest of them up to fill the cocoons.

I printed a little thank you message from Noah and cut them into leaf shapes to be attached to the party favors.

I decided I would just hang them from my pussy willow branches instead of buying or scavenging for branches. We live in a townhome community that wouldn't like for us to go cutting down branches from the young trees but if you have a large tree that needs trimming, then lucky you! My previous house had a large, lovely old maple tree in back and I used to always have a ton of branches to pick up. Sure do miss it now! 

i think they look adorable hanging from the pussy willows though. I will be setting these on the table with the party favor bags so as the kids leave, they can pick one right off the tree to take home. So it really serves two functions: party decor AND favor! LOOOOVE IT! =)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Papier Mache Party Decor

Isn't this guy just the coolest ever? A good friend came by Saturday afternoon and spent the evening with us to help make him for our VHC 1st birthday party. I asked my partner later if we should fill it with candy and allow the kids to beat him up but he said, "NO WAY! He's way too cool to destroy." Sooo...I guess our little guy is going to have a VHC bedroom soon? No idea---BUT I have seen this guy being used to decorate reading nooks in schools and libraries and I think I will probably reuse him in just that way for my own kids at home!

To make him, we just papier-mached 5 balloons with newspaper strips and allowed them to dry for a few hours. We cheated a bit and blow-dried a few just to get this project done in one evening. After allowing them to dry, we didn't pop the balloons right away because we still had to glue on the strips of colored tissue paper and keeping them filled helps to stabilize the structure as you rotate it.

I cut out the eyes, nose and ears from colored card stock and attached them with double-sided tape. Easy peasy. Doesn't he look like he's asking, "When's the party?" =) 

The last step is to hot glue the balloons together in the shape of the caterpillar. If I were to do this all over again, I'd glue them together before attaching the tissue paper strips. The strips were getting hot-glued together instead of the newspaper base so I had to remember to lift the tissue then apply hot glue. Very difficult to do and NOT burn myself and I did not emerge from this project unscathed! Luckily, I'm so used to being burned by hot glue that it wasn't a big deal for me but just for future reference, if I ever do a similar project, I will glue first THEN attach the tissue last!

I think he's going to be the highlight of the party- other than my son, of course! I'll be hanging him from our loft overlooking the living room so when guests walk in, they'll get an eyeful of him immediately. Great way to set the party mood! =) Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, February 22, 2013

Some More Very Hungry Caterpillar Party Decorations

Yay! I'm getting sooo much work done for the party and all I had to do was stay up until almost 1 AM every night this week! But it was worth the baggy eyes after seeing how great the decorations were coming together- better than I had even imagined when I first started planning!

First, I incorporated my caterpillar I had made a few weeks ago into the blue poster above. I pasted colored tissue dots to recreate the polka dots seen in the book. This is going to be the backdrop to a small food buffet along with the green leaf garlands I made below. The poster will hang in the middle and two garlands to each side of it.

The poster below was ordered through the Staples website. I simply uploaded a picture from the book and inserted my own text. Cute, huh? My son is a hungry little fella- or he at least acts like it all the time! That's why this theme was so appropriate for him! I can't wait to see him pigging out on all the food at his party. I'm predicting right now that the cake will be his favorite!

I haven't decided yet if I will frame the poster or merely hang it on the wall with some removable tape. But I do plan to hang it next to some pictures of him during his first year of life. 
This beautiful sun below was finger painted by my daughter and me. She had so much fun doing it and she especially liked that she was contributing to the party in some way. This will hang above our mantle-less fireplace. I'm debating about what else I should put up there with this sun, other than a little caterpillar. Maybe the simpler, the better? Well, once it's up, I'll be able to figure that out!

 Below are a couple of pictures of the very long, colorful, cheerful garland I sewed using colored card stock. I used my 2" circle punch and a 1.5" floral punch to create the shapes. Neat thing about this is that it can be used again in the future for other parties because they're so colorful!

I scored some clearance polka dot plates at Target! I think I may need to buy more but I don't plan on it being a very huge party like the two I had planned last year. Maybe 34 plates are enough? I had planned to purchase smaller red and green cake plates as well and place one on top of these in an alternating pattern on the table. For cups, I have some red Solo cups in the cupboard that I will hole punch and tie a small green leaf to it so that our guests can write their names on them. I hate mixing up cups at parties, don't you?

And finally, my daughter was so inspired by all the decorations I was putting together that she created this little caterpillar to put next to the sun she had painted. Isn't she a wonderful little helper? This morning, she even helped pick out her big brother's school outfit and laid it neatly on his bed with a pair of socks. She's only 4 and she's quite wonderful already! =)

I have a couple more decorations I have to complete before I can post them, including possibly a giant papier-mache caterpillar that will hang down from our loft into the living room. I may even fill it with candy and just use it as a pinata! The kids would probably enjoy smacking a giant caterpillar to bits, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Very Hungry Caterpillar Invites- Take Two!

Hello! It's been awhile since I last posted! It's been a crazy couple of weeks at home (we've been hibernating due to frigid temps the last few weeks and I've had to deal with three kids with cabin fever) so I haven't had as much time to work on DIY stuff until yesterday! I redid my VHC party invites because the first idea I had didn't turn out as neat as I had originally envisioned. =( Boo. So I regrouped and brainstormed again about what I could do that was different from the usual invites and came up with this:

It's a magnetic save-the-date kind of invite that you can post on your refrigerator! Only the caterpillar has a magnet attached and the leaf can be recycled after the party.

I hand wrote the date and time on it myself with a calligraphy pen and on the back is another yellow leaf with the address and phone number to RSVP.

I love them and will be keeping a set just for my little guy's baby book. =) 

And this here is a sneak peek at one of my party projects. I made a lollipop stand using floral foam and different shades of green cardstock cut to look like grass. I think it's adorable and will look great on our food table! 

I have more table decor in the works that I'll feature tomorrow. I'm very happy at how well this party is coming together and I have just over a month left to go before the big day. Time management isn't a problem when you start early on these things! ;-)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Semi-Homemade Kids Educational Games: Number, Sight Word and Letter Recognition

When we moved into our current home, we discovered that the previous owner had left behind a few old board games and playing cards. The kids totally went to town with them and tossed cards and game pieces left and right. And in the course of cleaning, either I or my partner ended up tossing a lot of the stuff we found, thinking there was no point to keeping them. Until now. =) 

With my son in kindergarten and struggling to learn his letters and numbers, I decided to come up with simple games that either he or his younger sister could play. I'm a strong believer in having fun while learning and my kids love playing games with us because it makes them feel so grown up. With these games I made up, they can learn letter and number recognition with repeated play. My son has drastically improved in the letter and sight word categories, but is still struggling with the numbers 20 and up so he and I have been focusing on the number game I created and which he loves (you'll see why below.)

These are star word pointers: sight words that he needs to recognize, read aloud, and write with minimal assistance. I keep them in a "Superman" bucket (leftover from his Superhero birthday party) and they seem to pair up really well, don't you think?

As we read together, he'll use the star pointer to call that specific word out when he sees it. So far, he's done really well here and having something in his hand and a task to do while reading with me keeps him from getting distracted (which he easily does on a regular basis.)

Here is why my son loves our counting game: something as simple as a knitting counter that clicks as you press the top and make the numbers go from 0 to 99. I discovered this at the bottom of my knitting basket while I was cleaning out my closet.

I bought some colorful plastic numbers from the dollar store for this game. As the counter is clicked, he can grab numbers to match what the clicker is showing. We say the number out loud as we click and repeat when he puts together the matching pair with the plastic numbers. With my son, I realized that sitting at a desk and writing numbers row after row just wasn't getting him to learn so I needed something to stimulate his visual, auditory and tactile senses. Since we just started this game yesterday, I have yet to see if he's really learning but I'm just glad he enjoys playing it.

This next game that I put together came about because I found these letter cards from the game "Last Word" and a letter cube/ die thingy. Yep- these were just some of the cards and game pieces that the kids had scattered around the house and luckily, I found them and put them to better use. This simple game involves rolling the die and finding a matching letter in the 5 cards that each player is given. Easy, right? When a match is found, the card can be set down in the middle and whoever gets rid of all their cards first, wins. As they grow smarter, I'll make this game and the others a little more challenging.

I bought these letter dominoes from the Dollar Spot at Target awhile back. I am still brainstorming different games to play with them rather than the usual letter matching. Hmmm...

 This is how I organize all those itty bitty games. After plastic bagging them, I stuff them into these stackable trays (also from the dollar store) and label them so I remember where their home is. I have a lot of "stuff" so labeling helps keep it all in order, for the most part.

 Here's the little bookshelf I keep it all on. Definitely need another one to hold the ever-growing pile of games, books, and craft supplies but I'm pretty happy that it's all contained for now. The kids can easily access anything that interests them and that they want to work on without needing me to constantly get it for them. I always keep old magazines around because I use them for letter or number spotting. The kids love it. They think they're reading mommy's grown-up magazines that I rarely ever let them touch until I'm done perusing them.

Hopefully, you got some good ideas for teaching your young'uns letter and number recognition. Practicing letter and number writing is well and good but it's hard to do that when you don't know what you're supposed to be writing. Recognizing and remembering the lines and curves of a letter or number should preclude writing, I think. But I'm no educational professional- I'm just creating stuff that's geared towards how my kids learn best. To each their own, right? =) Happy Friday, everyone! I'm taking the weekend off!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Simple "Heartfelt" Cards for Valentine's Day

Why buy expensive holiday cards when you can make simple, beautiful, heartfelt cards for your loved ones? I think these are adorable and perfect for sending to family and friends who I know will truly appreciate the thought and time I put into sending a little love their way. 

 Seriously- anyone who can cut a heart out of paper and felt can make these. Such a simple, sweet reminder to the recipient about how much we love and care about them. Great for V-day or anytime of the year! I'm making more just to stock up and because I have so much Valentine's paper to use up- not to mention scrap felt! It definitely is a great way to use up all the scraps in your craft room!

Valentine's Day DIY Gift- For Under $4!

My daughter LOVES Valentine's Day. All she really knows about this holiday is that it's pink, purple, and red and that it's about love- so what's not to love about it, right? =) She's a sweet, happy child and her favorite things reflect the sweetheart that she truly is inside. This year, she wanted to make some gifts for two of her favorite cousins so we went to the Dollar Tree and poked around for ideas about a month ago. I found these amazingly cute little wood boxes with magnetic lids. So very customizable for any occasion and perfect for little trinkets and gifts that little girls love to give and receive!

My mini-me painted the pink one for her best friend, Olivia, and I worked on the purple one. I like the idea of teaching my daughter to make a special semi-homemade gift instead of giving only store-bought stuff all the time. It just makes it so much more special, doesn't it? 
The castle, heart and crown were sponges that we applied paint to and stamped to the tops of the boxes. So darling, aren't they? Perfect for little princesses who enjoy a sweet and pretty holiday like Valentine's. One day, we'll have to teach them the real story behind this holiday, but for now, I'm pretty happy just explaining that it's about showing and celebrating the love we have for one another.

We went to the Red Store (Target) and got some cute socks and sticky notepads from the Dollar Spot. We found these cute gel pens on a clearance end cap- 5 for only $1.47! Score! Perfect price and perfect size for our little boxes!

We even customized their gift bags to coordinate with their boxes...well, at least I did, lol. My daughter has yet to learn patience when it comes to drawing. She much prefers the quick scribble to a refined piece of artwork. 

For each gift, not including the bag, it was less than $4! I already had the bags on hand from my daughter's birthday party last September so I guess you could say the cost for those were free. My daughter made cards for both her cousins as well and we stuffed those all in with some pretty pink tissue paper (courtesy of a generous Victoria's Secret employee- thanks, by the way). All in all, a very satisfying little craft-turned-Valentine's Day gift for cheap.

Monday, February 4, 2013

DIY Valentine Mailboxes

I recycled an old value-size Kraft Mac & Cheese box and a Rice Krispies multi-pack snack box into adorable little Valentine mailboxes for my kids this year. They will both be making homemade cards for each other and for friends and family. I've made a resolution this year to celebrate each holiday, no matter how minor it may seem. After V-day, we'll focus on Martin Luther King Jr. I think they are definitely old enough to understand who he was and why he's so important to the history of our country. Happy Love Day everyone! <3

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