Monday, November 30, 2009

Wrapping Jesse Tree Ornaments

I'm still wrapping up a few ornaments for our Jesse Tree but since it's quickly approaching I figured I'd literally wrap up the ones I've finished.

After talking with a friend that's doing her Jesse Tree, I decided I liked the idea of the kids opening up the ornament each day as a sort of gift from God to them. Each story we study reminds us of God's love for us - it's the perfect way to tie in the idea of gift-giving at Christmastime.
I'd love to find some simple wooden or brown paper boxes to put each one in. But I haven't found ones I like that are inexpensive enough and then there's the storage factor. Where do you stash 25 boxes? So this year, until I figure out something else, I'm using brown paper sacks.
I made little tags with the Advent day's number on them. I had a stack of small cardboard inserts from bias tape packages that I saved. I cut them in half, rubbed the edges with a brown ink pad, and stamped the number on.

I liked the way they turned out and I think they'll work perfectly this year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jesse Tree: Moses' Staff Ornament

I'm hoping to complete all of my ornaments for our Jesse Tree in the next day or so. I have a few that are causing me grief but hopefully I can finish them in time. If not, I may have to make a couple notecards like we used last year.
Here is another one I made a while ago and haven't shared yet. It's Moses' staff representing God's leadership.
It's just a small stick we found in the backyard, pulled the bark off, shaped with a knife and screwed an eyelet screw into the top of.

More posts about the Jesse Tree and a few more handmade gift ideas coming soon! The tryptophan has slowed me down the last few days. :)

For all of my Jesse Tree related posts, see here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Preschool at Home: Letter D Week

I mentioned in a previous post that I do learning time with Boo during the week. My intentions when I started these home preschool lessons at the beginning of the year were to work through one letter of the alphabet each week, and by the end of the year to have circled through the alphabet twice. Well, I totally overestimated our pace and as the year comes to a close we are just now finishing up the alphabet...for the first time. Whoops! Life with two little ones is busy and I've learned to not feel guilty if we don't get to our learning time some days. There are plenty of other ways Boo's learning every day.

Anyways, here is our Letter D Week Lesson from several months ago.We learned about what doctors do. I wanted to take Boo up to the hospital to see Daddy at work but we ended up doing that several weeks later insted.

We read the story of David and Goliath from a children's bible and I had Boo do a little craft to correspond with it. I tore out little stone shaped construction paper for him to glue near the stream where David found a stone. He was only 2 1/2 at the time and was really into gluing things on by himself.

We made a drum from an old oatmeal container. Boo had fun decorating his drum and then playing it. We made crescent dogs for a picnic lunch one day and dubbed them Diggity Dogs to go with our letter D theme. Boo helped wrap the dogs in crescent rolls before I popped them into the oven.
We read about dinosaurs and Boo painted a small wooden dinosaur plaque with acrylic paints.

Throughout that week (or two) we practiced Spanish words starting with D: dinero, durazno, diente, diez. We also made a peach {durazno} crostata, and Boo learned his letter D bible verse: Psalm 34:14.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jesse Tree: Ten Commandment Ornament

Here's the Ten Commandments ornament for our Jesse Tree.

I used stone-like textured paper to wrap cardboard "tablets" printed with a simplified version of the ten commandments. I really wanted the ten commandments written out on the tablets, rather than scribbled illegible text. This way we can read through them together. I looked to two of Boo's children's bibles for a kid-friendly translation of the text. Though I was tempted to put the original text from Scripture - that would be great too.

I hot-glued them together in the bottom corner, backed them with gray paper and glued a support strip of more gray paper to the middle back.
I punched holes in the top and hung the ornament with brown ribbon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jesse Tree: More Store Bought Ornaments

Here are a few more ornaments I've gathered recently for our Jesse Tree.
A crown to symbolize the beginning of the kingdom when Samuel crowned Saul. This ornament corresponds with Day 15 of our advent devotionals. I bought it half off at Hobby Lobby, found in the baby decor section. I just replaced the organza ribbon with brown satin ribbon.
Our star ornament for Day 24: The Magi. Purchased at the Dollar Tree.
An angel representing the angel that spoke to Mary in our devotional for Day 21. {Not a very accurate representation since it's a girl angel. Oh well!} I bought this one half off at Hobby Lobby.A lion for Day 18 of our Jesse Tree, a devotional on Daniel and God's protection in the lions' den. I found this at Cost Plus World Market recently.
I've enjoyed hearing from you about the Jesse Tree - whether you've already made it an Advent tradition, are starting this year or have plans to do it next year. Thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jesse Tree: Joseph's Coat

Joseph's Coat.
Day 8 of our Jesse Tree devotions now has an ornament to go with it. Hooray!
I made Joseph's coat out of felt. It turned out alright, though I'd like to remake it with a finer fabric. It will do for this year. Felt is so easy to work with and I had all of these scraps on hand so it was a quick one to make.
Out of curiousity, I'd love to know if anyone else is planning on doing a Jesse Tree this year. Is this your first year doing it? Are you using a book or writing your own devotionals? Are you making your ornaments or collecting/buying them? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Handmade Gifts: Monogrammed Stone Coasters

I'll be doing a series of posts on handmade gifts that are quick and inexpensive. Just in time for Christmas!

This first tutorial is for one of my all-time favorites: monogrammed stone coasters. I've given a set of these coasters to all of my family and many of my friends. They're beautiful and useful - a perfect gift.

Here's what you need: tumbled tile {I used travertine}, rubber or felt bumper pads, staz-on permanent ink pad, patterned and initial stamps, post-it note.
Cut a small square out of the top of the post-it note being sure that the sticky part is on the back of your square. Stick the square in the center of your tile.
Rub StazOn ink on a large script {any fine pattern would work} stamp. Press firmly on the tile.
Whoops. I was a little heavy-handed on the ink on the top right. No worries. It doesn't have to be perfect. Peel off your Post-It square and place it in the center of the next tile. Repeat with all tiles.

This one turned out better.I like when there are gaps in the pattern. Don't go to great lengths to squash the stamp on the tile. A little give to it adds character.Pull out your initial stamps. I bought a set of these at Hobby Lobby years ago when they were 50% off. NEVER buy anything full price at a craft store. There are always 40% off {or more} coupons to use and Hobby Lobby is the greatest because they regularly reduce their merchandise to half off.

Remove the Post-It square and stamp the initial in the empty space.Gorgeous!

When the ink has dried, apply rubber or felt bumpers to the back corners of each tile.Wrap with a bow and give as a Christmas gift or housewarming present.

A note about the ink:

Don't use regular ink. Be sure to buy StazOn or another brand of permanent ink so that when the coasters are used, the ink won't run.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you end up making them!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jesse Tree: Noah's Ark

You'll be seeing a lot of Jesse Tree ornament posts here as we approach Advent. I'm finishing them up quickly so we're ready on December 1st...just two weeks away!
Here is our Noah's Ark ornament for our Advent devotional about The Flood and God's Promise. To make it, I started with an unpainted wooden pirate's ship from Hobby Lobby. We ripped off the sales and cut off the masts.
Boo and The Good Doctor found a block of wood, cut it to size and glued it to the top of the flat boat. They also cut thin craft wood to make a pitched roof for the top.
I used an extra fine point sharpie to draw planks of wood and nail holes on the roof, then painted the whole thing with brown acrylic paint.
I plan on attaching several pairs of felt animals on the top deck but won't finish that in time for this year.
We used an eyelet screw through the roof to attach ribbon for hanging.

For all of my Jesse Tree ornaments to date, look here. You can also check out pictures of my ornaments on Flickr. Feel free to add yours to the group there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Snowy Day Crafts

Despite the fact that it's warm today, warm enough to be sitting on my back patio barefoot, I thought I'd post a few of the simple crafts we did two weeks ago when we were stuck inside because of a crazy snow storm. Boo was particularly into doing crafts after only one day of being cooped up inside. He did three in a row!

We were working on the letter U so he made and "up" arrow. I cut out a bunch of small arrows and gave him the task of gluing them all on pointing up.
He made this umbrella. {sorry it's blurry} He had to piece together the umbrella stripes, connect the dots to make the handle, and glue on raindrops all over.
For another letter U umbrella craft, see Allie's here.

And after those two, he wanted to do more. I drew an oval on a piece of construction paper and cut out various parts of the face. He also had some cut yarn, pom poms and google eyes. He created a face with all of the pieces. He had to think about how high up to put the ears, where the lips are in relation to the chin, etc.
It was fun and he was so excited to show off all of his crafts when Daddy got home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Preschool Co-Op: Thanksgiving Theme

I taught our preschool co-op today. I loosely based the theme on Thanksgiving, focusing more on fun turkey stories and the feast than the historical elements. We have two more weeks before the actual holiday and no doubt the other moms will emphasize the historial significance and spiritual characteristics. Plus, I had a migraine last night and didn't get my lesson together until early this morning. Talk about putting things off until the last minute.

Anyways, on to the lesson...

We started our circle time discussing the upcoming holiday and talking about what a feast is and the foods we like to eat at Thanksgiving. Then, we read A Plump and Perky Turkey.

Such a cute book! We've had that one checked out from the library a while now and it's been fun to read and reread.
After we read that, we talked about how Pete and the other turkeys in Squawk Valley were disappearing around Thanksgiving time because they didn't want to end up as dinner. I drew a turkey on our chalkboard easel and told the kids that they were going to help our turkey drawing disappear too. They got to decide which parts of the turkey to erase {disappear} first but they had to tell me a rhyming word instead of the word itself, i.e. street instead of feet, weather instead of feather. They needed a little help with this at first since it's a new concept to them but they were getting it pretty well by the end.

For our turkey craft, we went on a walk to find maple leaves. We gathered several and came home to make our turkeys. The children glued their turkeys together. {I found the template here and cut out all pieces on construction paper beforehand.} They did an excellent job putting their turkeys together and gluing on the collected maples leaves as the feathers. It amazes me how much more independent they've become in just the last 9 months. When we first started this co-op we had to help them a lot with activities like this. Now they listen to the instructions, see the example, and try on their own before asking for help. It's such a joy to see the progress!

We read another book, Run, Turkey, Run!. It's a fun book and the kids got a kick out of the turkey running from the farmer, trying to hide with all of the other farm animals. I had originally planned to go outside after reading it so the kids could pretend to be turkeys like the one in the book, running and hiding to see if the farmer (me) would find them. But we ran out of time.

Back to the "feast" part of the lesson, I had the kids sit down at our kiddie table for a little Q&A on table manners. I asked them questions about how they chew {with mouths closed}, what the polite way to ask for more food is, where they should put their utensils when they're not using them, etc. I gave them each construction paper place mats that had place settings drawn on them. I told them about how to set a table and gave each of them a full place setting to practice with, using their place mats as a guide.

We talked about how we thank God for our food before we eat and that everything comes from Him. One of the little girls taught us a new prayer she just learned for mealtime.

We learned how God gives us so many good things, including the wonderful foods we get to eat. I made cornucopias out of lunch bags with our verse of the day written on them, Psalm 145:7. The kids scooped out popcorn, dried cranberries, raisins and chocolate chips to fill up their cornucopias.

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