Tuesday, August 30, 2016

DIY Educational Toy Disks (for all ages!)

If you are a mother, father, grandparent, guardian, teacher, daycare worker, social worker or anyone that spends time around children this post is for you.  Today's craft can be made to help children learn their colors, letters, numbers, shapes and more- it can even be used as a sensory activity!  Best of all?  It's so easy to make and only takes a few minutes to put together.

[Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing items through the links gives me a small commission with no extra charge to you.  I only link up products I personally use and trust.  Thank you for supporting my blog.]

I first made these several months back in the painted style and then today decided to try it with felt!  My toddler LOVES this shape book that he has and is super into "colors" and "shapes" right now so I wanted something new for him to play with that would allow him to practice those areas.

He loves telling me what the shapes and colors are and I love hearing him tell me.  I also love when such as easy project is "a winner" for my kiddo.

Here's how to make your own.  It only takes a few materials and 3 steps (okay, really 2!)

All you need to have is:

- Felt (Joann Fabrics has tons of solid colors and cool prints in 8.5x11 size for cheap)

- Mod Podge (I used glossy but it's being used as a glue so it really doesn't matter)

- Paint brush

- Scissors (If you are planning on working with fabric in the future, I recommend buying Fabric Scissors to use strictly for cutting fabrics. This is my favorite kind.)

Wood "disks" (I used 1.5 inch size.  It's perfect for my toddler's hand.  If you want to go larger for fear of choking risks, they have many sizes available)  Get the kind without any holes punched out.

{Here's how big the 1.5 inch disks look in my *on the pretty small side* almost 2 year old's hands}

Step 1: Cut out shapes

Using different colors, cut basic shapes small enough to fit on top of your wood disks.  [Hint:  Don't use marker to draw your design before cutting.  I didn't think it would show through the backside but it did!  My toddler doesn't care but if you want it to look nicer- just freehand it or using something lighter!]

See what I mean about the marker showing through?  

Step 2: Glue felt to wood disks

Using Mod Podge, lightly brush the back of the felt with Mod Podge and stick to the wood disks. Press down the edges to make sure it sticks.  Set aside until dry.

Don't worry if the Mod Podge shows through your felt.  It disappears once it dries!  Still, you only need a small amount to get it to stick.

Step 3: Play!

I felt like I couldn't stop at two steps, but that's it!  Once everything is dry, let the play begin!

If you've got a little bit more time, consider painting some of the wood disks for more detailed designs.  Instead of making a matching game like the felt one above, I made double sided disks that teach colors and numbers as well.

Using a stencil (I made my own from vinyl using my Silhouette CAMEO) or by drawing free hand (which I cannot do... at all!) paint splotches of color on one side and the name of the color on the other.  My son actually knows all the colors but can't read yet so someday we can use them again to recognize the word. Love when toys can be re-used!

I finished off the wood with a mineral oil, which is why it appears darker than the felt game pieces.  I did this to better seal the design and prevent chips in the paint (and it just looks nice).  Make sure that you use non-toxic paints and natural sealers if giving this toy to a little one that might stick them in their mouth!  Be smart, be safe & have fun!

You can also make the reversible disks to help your little ones learn to count.  I again used paint and vinyl stencils that I created but wish I was better at free hand drawing because that would have been a lot easier!  Put numbers on one side and then that amount of whatever design you want on the other.  I also sealed these disks with mineral oil.

You can get as simple or as detailed as you want...

Best of all- you can make these in any size, design, game (matching pieces, flip over to learn, etc) and topic you want.  They don't take up much room at all and travel great.  Just toss them in your bag and go!  I also sewed up some muslin bags that close with Velcro for easy storage.  They measure around 6x4 (add an inch to each side when sewing) and can fit up to 20 of these pieces in them (although that's just about the most it'll fit).  I added the words out of heat transfer vinyl.

I love how these all turned out- I can't pick a favorite!

Your Turn!
What game would you make? How fun would these be to have in a large classroom setting?  I love to see your finished projects so feel free to share on our facebook page as well (and give us a "like" if you haven't already).

Friday, August 26, 2016

How did you miss this week's post?

Wondering how you missed Wednesday's amazing post?  Well I can promise you that it wasn't because you were too busy at work to see the facebook update (are we really ever too busy for facebook?) or that my scheduled post got transferred to some far off future date (DIY a million years later) no, no... it was none of those things.

Actually, it's because I've been super busy with this...

That's right... baby #2 is a-cookin'.  I've been dying to explain myself but my husband and I don't like to share our news publicly too early.  So all those times I've been late posting a new DIY (or never posted one at all) was probably because I was either 1- spending my time with my head in the toilet 2-laying on the couch like a blob or 3- going to bed at 8PM because I'm just so tired from chasing a toddler all day and being pregnant (seriously, how do you mamas do it?!)

Also- I've been itching to share a DIY table & chairs makeover post with this awesome Rust-Oleum paint that I got but my husband is very set on the "no painting while pregnant" rule.  He and my mom have both offered to come do the project for me as long as I direct them.  Really though, how sweet is that? Nonetheless, it's been a lot harder to schedule the time for that than if I was doing it myself.  (Psst... it uses the table and chairs pictured above!)

Now that you are filled in on my absence, bear with me.  I think I'm finally getting some energy back and occasionally my toddler gives me a break.  Maybe I can get some of these awesome posts to you soon.  I have a notebook full of ideas ready to be created!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Hidden Money" Savings Jar

Sorry I'm a day late posting- every now and then sleep is more important than editing photos!

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing items through those links pays me a small commission at no extra charge to you.  All items mentioned are products I personally use and trust.  Thank you for supporting my blog!]

Have you ever had to save up money for a "large" purchase- whether it be a vacation, new computer or just something fun you don't usually budget for?  My husband and I budget pretty well overall and set aside money for things like yearly vacations or for when the car breaks and needs a new part (we went through the Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" and use that method of money management).  We even take out $30 a month of "fun money" for each of us to spend on whatever we want- no questions asked.  This can be used on take out coffee, special treats, "frivolous" non-necessities really. I usually spend mine on personal crafting supplies.

For the first time (maybe ever) though, I really want something that's going to cost me several hundred dollars.  It's hard not to spend cash as it sits in my hand so I needed to think of a way to "set the money aside" and stay focused on my goal.  Here's what I came up with: (psst- keep scrolling to see the side of the jar- you wont want to miss it!)

Why I like it:
1. It's a mason jar and I love all things mason jar.

2. You can't see inside it.  Not only is this good because it's less likely to get stolen if someone were to break into our home but it's also less likely to get broken into by me seeing all that cash not being spent on scrapbook paper and fabric! #noselfcontrol

3. Because it is covered in chalkboard paint, I can write little notes on it that continuously remind me of my goal.

4. The chalkboard paint also makes it easy to add a "progress bar" that can be used over and over again (just erase and start over!)

5. It isn't tacky.  I can set this out anywhere in my home and mix it in with the decor and it would just look like another piece of decoration.

Are you on board?  Here's how to make your own.

First, gather your materials:

At the most basic level all you need is:

- Mason jar with lid

Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint (make sure you get the black- it also comes in green) Also- it lasts forever so it's worth the money for all the projects you can do with it!

- Sand paper/file

- Paintbrush.  I ended up using a foam brush instead of the brush pictured because I felt like it worked better.

*Optional Materials*

- Chalk

Acrylic Paint

Chalk Marker

- Anything you want to dress up the lid.  Check out this post to see how I made those pink flower tops!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Wash your mason jar so the surface is clean.  Once it is dry, mix up your chalk paint and start painting!
*at first it's going to look very see-through and you will think it's never going to work.  Let dry and put another layer on.  Now it's starting to look like it should. (It says to wait an hour in between coats but that is no necessary for this project.  I don't think I even waited 10 minutes in between them!)

Step 2: Once your jar looks like you want it to and is dry, get out your sandpaper.  Gently sand the lifted areas of your jar (for example: where it says "mason jar" or "ball" or "kerr").  For a distressed look, don't take all the paint off in these raised areas, just spots here and there.

{The darker spots you see are where the paint is sanded away.  That's the glass showing through.}

 Step 3: (Optional) Cover the entire jar with your chalk.  Turn it sideways and rub it on.  This is important if you want to write on it later with chalk because it creates a chalky-base that makes it easier to erase later!  Once finished, gently rub the jar with your hand or towel to rub in the chalk and get rid of the extra.

{I may have used my son's sidewalk chalk for this project when I couldn't find my own!  It works just as well!}

Step 4: (Optional) With the tiniest amount of acrylic paint on your finger, gently brush your finger over the raised areas that you previously distressed.  I like this because I think it brings out the distressing and the raised words better than leaving it with only the glass peeking through.

Step 5: (Optional) I added a "progress bar" to help me keep track of where I am in my saving.  Using the chalkboard marker, simply hand draw the outline and then fill in details with the regular chalk (doing this will allow you to easily erase the "progress" without erasing the progress bar every time you want to start over).  The chalkboard marker is also much brighter so it really stands out!

Step 6: Put your lid on and voila!  Now is the time to personalize your lid by painting it, covering it in fabric or adding a flower on top.  If you are going to be adding money frequently and want easy access without removing the cap, simply drill a hole in the lid before screwing it on.  Then you can roll up your money and drop it straight in!

That progress bar is my favorite part!  I even included a spot to keep track of my current total (since my bar only goes in units of 50)

...and the front again...

That's it!
What a cute and easy way to "hide your money in plain sight"!  I still haven't decided if I want to keep the flowers on top or do something else.  What would you do?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

String Art DIY

Have you ever made string art before?  I'm in love with the look but I wasn't sure I would be able to do it.  There are some amazing designs out there (check out these Etsy sellers below) that are super out of my league but surely I could do a basic design right?

*Seriously though, how amazing are those designs?  I love all things personalized (they make great wedding gifts) and those actual flowers sticking out of the jar?  Adorable!

Well, I could and if I can do it so can you!  I created a sign with one of my favorite quotes and planned to use it at my son's birthday party and to hang in his room as well.  It's an inexpensive craft and fairly easy to do.  Honestly, the hardest part is deciding how to run the string (maybe I'm just too indecisive?) but I think with a little practice these projects could be a breeze!

{I can't believe his first birthday was almost a year ago already!  This sign uses the blue/orange color scheme that looks oh-so-lovely.}

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing items from those links pays me a small commission at no extra charge to you.  All items are included because I use them and personally recommend them.]

Here's what you'll need:
- a piece of wood in size of your choosing
- Wire Nails (I got mine at Lowe's in size 1/2 x 19)
- Acrylic Paints (I used a combination of brands for this project)
- Foam Brushes
- String (pictured is jute twine but I ended up using DMC thread)

Sorry I don't have step by step photos for you but it's so easy you wont need them!

Step 1: Paint your wood and let dry.

Step 2: Using a pencil, draw out dots to "sketch" your design so that you will know where to put the nail holes.

Step 3: Using a stencil or free hand, add any message or picture you want to show up in paint. let dry.

{Love those colors}

Step 4: Insert the nails, leaving them stick up enough to catch the string.

Step 5: Tie the string onto your starter nail (I suggest a middle point) and start running your string around the nails.  Nothing is set in stone so feel free to play around until you get the desired look you want.  Straight lines are easy because you don't have to weave them but make sure you wrap your string whenever making a turn.  This makes more sense as you are doing it, I promise.  When you are satisfied with the look, tie another knot at the end and trim any extra.

That's it!  Imagine the possibilities!  I thought this arrow design was pretty simple but I'm excited to try some more advanced designs.  What design do you think you would make?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pom Pom Flower Mason Jars

Can you believe it's August already?  For most, school is getting ready to start back up and although Autumn doesn't "officially" begin for another almost two months, there is just something about August that seems like fall.  Don't you agree?  It also means that I have less than 3 months to get everything in order for my son's birthday party.  Sure I promised my husband that birthday #2 wasn't going to be as themed/ornate/detailed (pick one) as #1 was but a crafty girl still needs a theme- am I right?  Plus, at the rate I do things I really should have started 3 months ago.

That reminds me- this summer I put together a bridal shower for my best friend from college.  She is pink-obsessed and the shower was held at a tea house (so quaint!)  Because the location already had it's own "decorations" I was limited on what to do.  However, I think I managed a few cute pieces and wanted to share one of them with you today.

This project is beginner level with an expert look!  It also takes no time at all and costs very little.  Here's what you'll need:

- mason jars
- 6 inch pom pom garland (I got mine at the Dollar Tree for $1 a package!)
- paint for the jars
- hot glue gun
- scissors

I couldn't find a stock photo online of the exact pom pom garland I purchased.  It came in different color options and the garland had 6 pom poms per garland (package).  You can pick up the same thing at Walmart, Joann Fabrics or similar stores as well (but it's much cheaper at the Dollar Tree!)

{Via walmart.com}

{Martha Stewart brand via joann.com}

The pom poms come flattened and all you do is open it up and fluff out the pieces of tissue paper.  Before doing any of this however, I cut my garland apart, leaving around 4 inches of string on each side so that I could tie them closed and (later) tie multiple pom poms together.  When you have three pom poms fluffed, start tying them together using the rest of the string from the 4 inches you left.  Only the top and sides will show so try to make them as close together as possible from the top view (the bottom will be glued down so it's fine if it's flat).

Meanwhile, pour paint into your mason jars and turn them around to cover all sides of the jar.  If you need to touch up spots with a brush that's fine too.  Leave the jars sitting over newspaper or parchment paper upside down so that the extra paint comes out.  I'll be honest, I didn't use special glass paint- just leftover paint from my son's high chair!

All your parts are done!  Now it's time to put it all together.

With a hot glue gun, glue the lid and ring from the mason jar together.  Don't get glue on the threading though because you will still need to put the lids on the jar.  Next, flip it over and cover the top of the lid with hot glue.  Quickly attach a 3-bundle of pom poms to the lid.  Press firmly and repeat until you have as many as you need.

{The glue doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to hold}

That's it!

Screw the lids onto the jars and voila!  Easy and lovely jars for centerpieces, table decor, or whatever you want. I had so many people comment about how lovely they were and to think- they were just put together from leftover mason jars and dollar store garland!  I love those kinds of projects, don't you?

and a little closer up..