I have the honor to teach the Sunbeam class at church.  The first great thing about Sunbeams is that they are three and four years old.  Absolutely one of the craziest ages of childhood!  We have dancing, fighting, spontaneous hugging, weeping, wiggling and giggling every week; never, ever a dull moment.  The second great thing is the lesson subject matter.  While it is lovely to teach deep doctrinal topics to adults, or simplified versions to teens and older children, nothing - NOTHING beats Sunbeam lessons for opening my eyes to the power of the profoundly simple.  Life is richer when I am weekly preparing topics like, "I am thankful for water."  As I find pictures of water in different forms, rain & snow, river & lake, I find myself noticing the beauty and necessity of water that I would be otherwise taking for granted.  (Plus I get the fringe benefits of belly-laughs that come from moments like when one of my little pupils ran to his parents after the lesson yelling at the top of his lungs, "MOM! GUESS WHAT?! IF WE DON'T HAVE WATER, WE DIE!!")

With that intro taken care of, I've decided to start posting some of our fun projects on my blog - mostly as a reference for myself, but also to share ideas.  This past week the lesson was, "I am thankful for fish."  Having recently seen a craft blog extolling the joys of contact paper projects, I decided to give that idea my own twist.  I found a basic fish pattern online, fit two onto a sheet of cardstock, printed them out  and cut them out.  I free-hand cut out the center of the fish in a kind of oval shape.

I purchased contact paper and three colors of flat sequins. (Lily picked out the colors for me.  She has a great artistic eye for color combinations.) 

Cutting a strip of contact paper the width of the fish, then folding the strip in half lengthwise, I peeled off the backing of one half and stuck down the cardstock fish cutout.

Here's where it gets fun!  The kids stick the sequins all over the fish "body" to give him "scales."  Some kids are random, others have a plan, so all of them come out unique.  I'm sure that when I do this with my own kids, the older kids will come up with stripes and patterns.  My Sunbeam class favored the random approach.  (FYI - for a half sheet of paper-sized fish, it took about 40-45 scales to cover nicely.  I gave each child 15 of each color.  I always separate projects into individual units of supplies so that each child has his or her own stickers, pieces, whatever we're using that week.  The first time I did a project, I had foam stickers and just dumped them out in the middle for the kids to choose from.  It was just like a shark feeding frenzy on a Nature show!!  Since then, supplies are always pre-prepared in ziplock baggies :-)  )

Once the body was covered with scales,  I peeled the backing off of the other half of the contact paper strip and folded the whole thing closed (CAREFULLY or it wrinkles) - sticky sides together.  I pressed it flat and cut around the fish, leaving a little bit of an edge to seal it.

That's it - happy little fish. They look good on both sides, so would make a fun mobile, and when the kids were playing with them by swimming them around on the window, they surprised my by looking like stained glass.  Totally makes my mind spin with future possibilities!
I've loved to sew from clear back in Home Ec.
But ruffles are one thing that make me a wreck
All of my nerves start in to twitch
At merely the words, "run a gathering stitch."

But three little daughters make ruffles a need
For princess dresses & tutus they plead
So one day, while I was browsing online
A ruffle foot I was delighted to find

It ruffles and pleats all on its own!
Just slide in the fabric & gathers are sewn
How did I not know about this device?
For ready-made ruffles I'd pay any price.

Luckily it only cost about 20 bucks
Now I'm happily sewing ruffles & tucks
It took time and it broke needles figuring it out
But I'd hate to go back to living without

O Ruffler foot, you're my new bestest friend!
Together, our projects will know no end!

Next time I post, I'll show what my crazy ruffler foot and I have been up to.  It is a TON of fun!
St. Patrick's Day has always been a quirky day for me, since my childhood when my fantastically fun Mom would dye everything in the fridge green. Keeping the tradition, my kids started the morning with either green oatmeal or cereal with green milk. I love playing leprechaun and watching them giggle when they discover that the milk turned green in the night. I wasn't sure what to do for dinner, a traditional irish meal, or more food-colored items, but then I found spinach tortillas at the grocery store and decided on green quesadillas and fajitas. I made lemonade, then initiated my oldest into the insanity by handing over the food coloring to let him dye it green. Peas for the vegetable topped it off, and voila! Green dinner.

Doesn't look tremendously appetizing does it? The peas are especially un-photogenic! But it was hilariously fun for the kids.

After dinner, I broke out a surprise craft - which was basically the stuff I had left over from a school project for my 2nd grader's class. When I volunteered to do a St. Patrick's craft for the class, I had no idea how hard it would be to find a decent St. Patrick's day craft. After pages and pages of "tutorials" that told me to give the kids a piece of construction paper and have them cut out a shamrock (seriously? Are there people who need a tutorial that says "1- give the kids a piece of paper 2- tell them to draw a shamrock shape 3- have them get their scissors out and cut around the lines 4- Enjoy your St. Patrick's day shamrock." Maybe I'm offending someone, but even the craft-challenged could figure that one out by themselves, I'm thinking), I came up with a craft of my own. And I've decided to post it. It isn't the best craft in the world, but it was fun. It makes a leprechaun hat out of green disposable cups.

Supplies needed:
  • Green cups - I used plastic ones because they were completely green, the paper ones usually have white bottoms.
  • Card stock - you can get two brims on one piece of cardstock - see pic below. I measured the diameter of the cup's lip, then made the interior circle 1/4 inch smaller. Then I traced another circle around it 1" bigger all the way around.
  • Ribbon - I found some cute grosgrain ribbon, but felt would work too. I cut 12 inch lengths to be able to go all around the very bottom of the cup, though most of the kids chose to put their hat-bands higher.
  • Glitter Fun Foam - cut into one inch squares, then cut a small square out of the middle to make it a buckle.

  • Cut out the circles and remove the center circle, making a doughnut shape.
  • Turn the cup upside down and drop the circle over the upturned bottom of the cup. The lip of the cup keeps the circle from sliding completely off. This is your hat's brim.
  • Wrap the ribbon around the cup to form a hat band. In the 2nd grade class, I had them use glue. At home, to avoid messiness with the littler kids, I used double-sided tape. I wish I weren't out of glue dots, because that would have probably been easiest.
  • Glue or double-stick tape the "buckle" over the spot where the ribbon overlaps.
  • Optional: my kids wanted to add shamrocks. so I accommodated them.

Like I said - not a complicated project. It's just a simple craft idea. But I think they were both fun to make and turned out pretty cute. It is festive to see them sitting all over around the house.

So that was my St. Patties day. After spending the morning and most of the afternoon fighting off a monster headache, I was just so glad that the pain cooperated enough to let me have a fun night with my little lads & lassies - the sweet bairns are such a joy!!
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