Creative Fun with Clothes Pegs

clothes pegs craftThis little crafty trick is something I picked up from Handimania yet again. I make it a point to have a stash of wooden pegs handy since we use them a lot for art, but this was the first time I encountered this particular project. It’s fun in the way pop-up books, puppets, and that chopped-off thumb “magic” trick are fun. This peg craft appealed to both my kids (6.5 and 1.5), and I think even older kids and adults will find it quite entertaining. Seeing that added element peek out elicits a pleasant kind of surprise. Younger kids are apt to play peek-a-boo with it. I’m not the greatest at drawing, but as you can see, I bravely soldiered on. If you’re not particularly skilled at drawing and would rather not bother trying, you could probably use pictures instead.

This is how this craft peg works:

ring and boxegg and birdcupcake and boxshell and pearlfish and wormmushroom and elf

Do you know any other tricks using clothes pegs? What other figures can you draw that would reveal something when you lift up the top part?

Screen-free Week: Unplug Your Kids

Screen-free Week is almost halfway over, but if you haven’t been observing it, there’s still plenty of time to practice being screen-free, or at the very least, considerably unplugged. Being a writer in this age, and a blogger, at that, the most I can do without sacrificing work is to significantly lessen my time in front of the screen. Thankfully, my cell phone gave up the ghost a couple of months back and I have yet to find the motivation to replace it. We also don’t have the usual video games and we’re not getting any ever as long as I have anything to say about it. But we do have a tablet; my daughter uses it for watching movies and playing a few educational games, including taking care of that pet poop-like creature Pou… I can tell that I’m about to go off on an angry tangent about technology since I’m part-Amish and part-Greg Kinnear’s character in You’ve Got Mail, so I’m wrenching myself away from that particular train of thought. In any case, I’m definitely not one to talk since, as much as I disapprove, I do find much practical use in these digital devices, including the tablet, which I mostly use for reading those free ebooks I’ve been hoarding in my Cloud reader.

But if you are interested in the idea behind Screen-free Week, here are some helpful resources for suggestions on alternative activities to do, inspiration for being unplugged, etc.

Screen-free Week Online Resources:

The Slacker’s Guide to Screen-Free Week (activity suggestions divided into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening)

Get Ready for Screen-Free Week: 30 Great Activities and Printables (screen-time statistics, tips for enjoying Screen-free Week better, activity suggestions divided into Fun with Reading, Active Fun, Outdoor Fun, Arts and Crafts, In the Kitchen, Family Time, and Dinner Time Printables)

National Screen-Free Week: A Survival Guide (11 suggestions, plus a link to a Snow Day Survival Guide, which might also apply)

75 Activities for Screen-Free Week (a family’s set of rules for observing Screen-free Week, a downloadable/printable list of suggested activities)

Family Goes Screen-Free, Stays Screen-Free (a mother’s account of how observing Screen-free Week led to generally screen-free kids)

Screen-Free Week: 2012 Recap (I love this post – please take the time to read it. We focus too much on the kids going screen-free that we fail to notice if we’re applying the same principle to ourselves.)

Take the Screen-Free Challenge (lays down research-based premise for diminishing screen-time)


How about some ebooks?

Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places: 200+ Activities for Young Children Using Common Household Objects

Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.

Beginning Montessori With Infants and Tots Birth to 24 Months


Or traditional books?

Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the next generation

The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder


Sometime during Screen-free Week, we’ll be working on many of the items on our summer 2013 bucket list, one of which is to make lots of fairy houses. Marguerite rediscovered this old favorite going through my other blog. We also have many arts and crafts projects lined up for this week, as well as some activities Marguerite saw on Pinterest (we browse through boards together) and wants to do. Cameron is sure to be a cheerful participant in all these.


What about you? Are you going to observe Screen-free Week? Do you have your own ideas for making the experience extra special? Please share.

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Art and Our Unschooled Child (Must-have Arts and Crafts Supplies)

DSC_2871We put a lot of emphasis on art. I don’t really care if my child doesn’t learn how to count to 100 until she’s much older. It honestly doesn’t bother me; when it’s finally practical for her to learn it, I’m confident she will. And she encounters numbers in daily life, so I’m sure she’ll naturally pick it up. I just refuse to drill her. Art, on the other hand, is one of the things I consciously expose Marguerite to (and even Cameron, as young as he is), pretty much the same way we intentionally cultivate the love of books and reading. This exposure starts early and we truly invest in it. We’ve enrolled her in art classes and we’re never short of supplies and projects to work on.

Let me tell you, however, that until now that she’s 6.5 years old she’s still not careful about staying within the lines. My knee-jerk reaction is to correct this “wrong” habit, but another side of me vehemently balks at the idea. She also chooses and changes colors without following the normal rudiments of coloring. Since her favorite hues are purple and pink, she frequently sticks to shades of those two when coloring something. She’s not bothered about making things look neat and realistic.

Now, by circumstance of her attending a regular Sunday School program, I’m able to compare her progress with that of other kids her age, and my (also others’) observation is that she’s on an entirely different plane. Again, part of me is driven to worry, but this urge is fortunately squelched by a kind of fascination. It would seem as though she were behind her peers, but I’m discerning a much deeper implication. Take for instance one coloring activity they had to do in her class. The picture was pretty sparse of details, so the teacher told the kids to add other elements to the picture to make it come alive. All the other kids added a sun, a couple of clouds, a tree, a stretch of grass, and a flower while Marguerite chose to add a rainbowfly (some bug thing she invented), a pumpkin dragon (another invention), cotton candy clouds (“Why are they pink?” “Because they’re made of cotton candy.”), and a few other made-up creatures.

I have no idea if she’ll later end up the better artist for it, but I’m really fascinated by the freedom, the lack of compulsion to conform, the rawer imagination her work suggests. I think I crave these things. I’ve always had the inclination to rebel and to be contrary, but at the end of the day, my outlook is quite ordinary. I’m also quite anal and sadly afflicted with a lack of originality, although I believe I make a valiant effort to put up a fight against these particular traits.

work from art classPicasso said that every child is an artist, that the problem is in remaining one once grown up. My aim is to nourish this inherent characteristic and encourage it to flourish.  And, as much as I encourage it, I’m not going to make a serious business out of doing art either. When Marguerite was about to start her art classes, one of the teachers asked me if there was an area I was especially concerned about, and I replied that I just wanted Marguerite to have fun and learn, in that order. I already know that it is her impulse to be creative, so if she could broaden her knowledge and experiences, then she could have more fun ways of making art.

bloom coloring pageI also think it’s important for our children to see us engaging in creative pursuits as well. I personally am not an official artist, but I do like taking up artistic pursuits. I find that my kids always want in on whatever I’m doing, so I’ve conditioned myself to welcome this and not resent the intrusion. I do enjoy doing art activities with my kids. Cameron, of course, either wants to get everything that you’re using or makes it his mission to put everything in his mouth. It’s definitely not the relaxing, tranquil moment you probably hope for, but, in terms of quality, it’s definitely better. Take this coloring page I downloaded for free from Beauty That Moves. I printed two copies, one for me and one for Marguerite. I gave Cameron a blank sheet on which he happily scribbled, but to which he wasn’t about to confine himself to. He kept on lunging at my paper with his crayon, meeting with success one time. Naturally, Marguerite, who’s ambidextrous, finished early as, like I said, she’s not particular about staying within the lines, and she could switch hands easily when one got tired. Seeing that I was far from finished, she offered to help me. Naturally, I couldn’t refuse. It was an intricate picture with lots of details. If you find coloring therapeutic, I suggest working on this page.

I said that we’re never short of arts and crafts supplies, and as a homeschooling family, it’s really important to have some handy. Sometimes, the inspiration to work on a project comes spontaneously, so you want to be able to have the necessary materials ready when the desire to be artsy or crafty comes along. The ones we consider must-haves are the following: paper, pencils, crayons, markers, watercolors, tempera paint, glue, Scotch tape, scissors, color pencils, oil pastels, ruler, and brushes. You could assemble an art kit by buying supplies separately, or you could just buy a complete kit, which is what I prefer to do for my daughter. Some other supplies that are nice to have ready are craft foam, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes, ribbons, strings, rubber stamps, felt, colored chalk, glitter glue, and double-sided tape.

Did I miss anything? What nifty craft material not included here would you recommend or add to the list?

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