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Wednesday, December 21

Sun Birthing Crown

Today, I have a super-quick Sun Birthing Crown for you to make with your little ones on Solstice or Yule morning.   This hat mimics the idea of a the infant sun unfurling those first few rays of light like a newborn baby's first stretch, while the rest of Him is still tightly curled up. 

My children and I had been reading about Solstice and talking about how the Sun is born this day.  We talked about how the sun will still be young and will stretch open, like a blossoming flower opening for the first time. As we cut out our handprints and layer them on this crown, my children's fingers indeed looked like closed flower petals.  The two hands on the front of the crown mimic a sundisk and symbolize the first rays of light from the newborn sun.

This project uses scissors and a stapler so stick close to your toddler.  I allowed Adventure Girl, who is 3 1/2 years old currently, to cut her handprints out, but I cut the plate and used the stapler.  Also, we attached a lot of 'fun bits' (sequins, puffy stickers, pompoms, etc.) to our crown, but these can easily become choking hazards to younger siblings.  Keep your eyes peeled!

This project was full of delightful symbolism for the Solstice, but was also fun practice for cutting along curvy lines and for fine motor skills when it came to picking up the small sequins that we attached to the crown.

Tips & Tricks

  • Young scissor users will probably have a few paper-hand casualties along the way.  Plan ahead by tracing a few extra. 
  • Reduce tracing and cutting time by tracing a few hands onto a single sheet and then stack your construction paper before cutting them out.
  • If your sequins and other 'fun bits' have a lot of ridges, you may find some white school glue works better to attach them than our glue stick did. 
  • Pinching and turning and stapling can be hard for some children (or adults) with fine motor issues or arthritis.  While this project is meant to help build those skills, it could easily overwhelm someone who struggles with them.  See the Alternatives section at the bottom of this post for help.

Creating Sun Birthing Crowns

Yellow Construction Paper
Orange Construction Paper
White or Silver Construction Paper
Paper Plate
Sequins, Pompoms, Stickers
Glue Stick

I chose to add white/silver to the colors of our Sun to reflect youth. If I was making a crown at the Summer Solstice, when the Sun is at his height of strength, I would replace these with vibrant reds and golds.

  1. To begin, trace 9-12 hand prints onto various colors of construction paper.  The number needed depends upon the size of your child's hand and the diameter of your paper plate.  Right, Left.  It doesn't matter and allowing them to do both builds skills, so have at.  
  2. Prepare your paper plate by cutting the center circle out and discard it. Cut through the paper ring to open it.  You will now angle the two cut sections upward so the that they overlap and come to a point as shown in the images below.  Staple on either side of the peak. 

  1. Pick two yellow hands and glue them to the front peak with the heels overlaping so that they mimic a sundisk.  
  2. Glue the remaining hands in a cascade (slightly overlapping in the same direction the entire way around -similar to the way dominos would fall) around the rim of the crown.  Allow the fingers to lean and close in on the opening to mimic a closed flower bud.  
  3. Decorate with 'fun bits' to your heart's content.

My daughter was very taken with the overlapping hands on her head.  She's young, so I'm not sure the entire message has sunken in, but her curiosity was peaked and the doors for learning were open.

We followed up this project with a reading from Ellen Jackson's "The Winter Solstice" and ate some of our Yule cookies. The illustrations are exciting and kept our conversation going for longer than usual.


Instead of discarding the inside circle of the plate and having to twist and staple the ring, reduce that stress by instead cutting a 'C' shape in the center of the plate and folding the center up to create the front of the crown.  Glue your two yellow handprints to this to create the sundisk.

Also, if your child has limitations that make tracing his or hands difficult, try this FREE hand template, instead.

If you create your own Sun Birthing Crown, I'd love to see it!  Share it with me on Facebook or Instagram with #ITHOMS or post it in the comments section below.

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Thursday, November 3

A Month of Gratitude

Moving into an actual house (A New Year) has granted my inner Martha Stewart full license to tackle my Pinterest wishlist, one project at a time.  There is so much to do... and I'm starting with trendy Thanksgiving stuff. 

Something I've wanted forever is a decent dining room to put a huge wooden table in and have sit-down dinners with my family.  This goal has been enthusiastically accomplished. My children took to tablecloths and prayer rather quickly.  They remind me when I forget and have even asked to eat at the table on lazy weekends.  They are just as thrilled with our new home as Papa J and I are.

If you are curious about our mealtime prayer, check out this old blog post on a prayer entitled "Peaceful".

Another great aspect of our new dining room is having blank wall space. I purposely left one wall furniture-free so that we can do holiday art projects on it. I decided to start with a Thankfulness Tree to correspond with Thanksgiving and the general vibe of "we are waaaay too happy" that's in the air around here.

Now, some people are brave enough to paint stuff right on the wall. I am the nittiest nit-pick that ever lived.  I can't commit. And I want that space for other projects, like a Winter Solstice advent project in December.  So, I taped together three sections of my daughter's easel paper. This gave me roughly a 40" x 50" canvas.

Adventure Girl helping out.

I knew I was going to have to get artistic, but I was feeling it, so I searched Pinterest for some ideas on how others had drawn their trees.  I pulled this one up on my phone, from The Mama Birds blog, and started to sketch with a pencil. I wanted a more tree-like look, so I began to add detail and extra twigs and rough out the ends. It took an entire nap of Baby O's to get it sketched, so about an hour.  Naps are legit currency In the House of Mama Stacey.

I upped the contrast.  These are my branches and twigs.

Baby O has a cold right now, his first ever, so he's napping more often.  He worked three in yesterday, and that worked very well for my three-step project.  Haha!  During his midday nap, Adventure Girl and I took up our brushes and painted our tree.  The watercolor look was accomplished by adding a little water to the brown tempera paint so that it was thinner and thicker in some areas.  It gave the tree that varied bark look.

Mama Stacey painting in her p.j.s.

This dried very quickly, but the final step had to wait until after dinner and bathtime.  While Baby O was snoozing again and Adventure Girl was engrossed in My Little Pony, I outlined the tree in black tempera paint (I did not water this down). 

Top: Halfway...
Bottom: All done!

I think it turned out well.  I'm not sure if I can get something this large laminated, but it would save me some time next year if I can.  I still haven't decided if I'd like to add some words at the bottom.  I've even thought of Pagan-ing this project up by painting little Greenman faces on the knots of the tree or adding little symbols among the branches.  We'll see. 

I'm thankful that I can do these projects with my kids.

For the leaves, I found this handy template on the Corwin House blog.  I printed it straight onto construction paper.  I did have to use my handy-dandy rotary paper trimmer to reduce the paper width  from 9" to 8.5", but otherwise my Tru-Ray paper went right through the printer.

You might be able to fit more on each page.

I pre-cut the leaves out and keep them in a small bowl on the dining room table.  So far, everyone writes down something they are thankful for on a leaf before eating.  I am attaching with small bits of rolled masking tape, but if I can get the tree laminated, I imagine sticky tac would rock. 

If you decide to try out a project like this, let me know in the comments section below!

Tuesday, November 1

A New Year

Good Morning!  October was a maddening swirl for the Mama Stacey Clan.  It began with a guest speaking gig at Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day and ended with Samhain.  In between, the baby got SEVEN teeth, we adopted a dog, Doodle Bug started a new special needs program, and.... we got a house!

We have always made due with teeny-tiny apartments, but with a family of five + regular visitors + a big dog + a zillion hobbies, we were bursting at the seams.  We had been chasing our dream home all summer and it ended in tears as acquaintances of ours butted heads with the owners and they unceremoniously dropped us from the running.  I was bumming pretty hardcore.  I grew angry with the goddess Hestia as we'd been praying to her for months and I had put my faith in her.  Little did I know, She had not betrayed me.  She had taken my wish list and found us an even better home. 

Our jaws dropped when we walked in.  The kids immediately began playing in the yard.  We were the first and only ones to look at it.  It was ours.

We began the process of moving on October 4th.  This involved the usual emptying of our old home, but after years of living in too small of a space, we had additional belongings scattered in storage units, family homes, and garages over three counties.  It took a lot of muscles, sprained everything, days off of work, and everything in our bank account to get all the scraps of our life to their final destination. 

We gained 700 sqft.  This translates into a 'classroom', larger bedrooms for all, a doubled living room, and a kitchen with cabinets and counters for miles.  We are in love with our new home.

Top:  Our porch decorated for Halloween & Samhain.
Middle:  Our new kitchen complete with lots of cabinets and a dishwasher.
Bottom:  Half of our homeschooling classroom.

A new address gave us the opportunity to transfer Bug into a much better school.  His needs are being met much more often and they are teaching him skills for independent living, which at age 14 should have been a major focus in his schooling (I am trying my best to forgive the old school)

We got a phone call about six weeks ago.  It was a friend who had just adopted a second dog.  We had admired this pup from the get go.  He was all black and soft as can be.  He was half Siberian Husky and half Black Labrador.  Her older dog was much too big and had recently injured the pup while playing.  She feared for his safety and immediately thought of us.  We rushed right over and adopted him.  His name is Roland (Papa J named him after a character in Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' book series) and he is exactly what this family was looking for. 

Roland at 4 months.  He is MUCH larger, now. 
 This month also granted me the opportunity to share a stage with some Pagan heavy-weights.  Selena Fox and Byron Ballard presented at the Pittsburgh Pagan Pride with me trying my best beside them.  I felt like a giant!  I never realize how tall I am until I get around a crowd.  Haha! 

I was invited to speak about the Future of Paganism.  My talk was about our need to include children and provide families with opportunity.  It was a talk about how they should not be forgotten... and well - I was forgotten.  Not a single person showed up for the talk that I had painstakingly crafted for months.  I was not given a table to sell wares or promote myself like the other presenters.  I was escorted to the daycare room and wished the best of luck.  When the first parent dropped off their toddler I realized that I was not a presenter.  I had been turned into a glorified babysitter. 

I appreciated getting to be there, but the event was nothing that I thought it was going to be.  I have yet to address the PPD committee as I am not sure if I can keep my cool just yet.  I was appreciative of the opportunity and would be thrilled to host again next year, provided some changes are made....

Any disappointment aside, preparing for this event made me realize just how passionate I truly am about children and Pagan faith.  It was a nice reminder.  

Mama Stacey, Selena Fox, Byron Ballard, and Pittsburgh's PPD Coordinator.

 Baby O got seven teeth in one go, this past month.  THAT was fun.  He couldn't help but bite while nursing and made both of us miserable.  Things are better now that they are all out, but that was rough stuff while trying to handle all the other changes and mental/physical stresses that our home underwent in October.

We ended the month with a traditional night of Trick or Treat and honoring our ancestors.  Adventure Girl chose to be a doctor (go her!).  Baby O was supposed to be a business man, but ended up looking like a cute little hobo.  Doodle Bug is in those teetering final years of engaging in Trick or Treat, so he committed only to a mask which he removed the moment another teen boy poked fun at it.  Oh, well.

Transformation has come upon our home.  It has changed us for the better.  I pray for a winter that allows us to iron out the wrinkles and relax in our new environment. 

How has your October been?

Saturday, July 23

8 Lammas Activities for Infants & Toddlers

Lammas is a great sabbat. Traditionally, we honor the first harvest and often the Celtic God, Lugh.   Mama Stacey likes to honor the sun, the garden, and the sea.  Corn, grains, berries, honey, herbs, and anything overflowing in the garden (like tomato and zucchini) are traditional for this holiday.

One can know all of that and still have no idea how to honor the holiday with young ones.  My advice for parents of Pagan toddlers is that babies need to experience a holiday, not hear about it.  You can try and teach the names of gods and the magickal properties of wheat and basil, but there is very little chance that it will stick.  Knowledge like that takes time, exposure, and repetition.  What toddlers need is music, food, and to work with their hands.

Here are 8 suggestions for celebrating Lammas with infants and toddlers.

1.  CORN SHAKERS - These honor the corn aspect and make a pretty cool noisemaker.  These can be used in a family ritual to raise energy, around the drum circle to add some zest to the rhythm, or shaken to cheer on your team at the Tailteann Games.   You will need 6oz water bottles, harvest colored ribbon, and popcorn kernals.  For full instructions and other needed materials, visit Pre-K Pages.

2.  MAKING CLAY SUN DISKS - The golden rays of the sun are bringing the harvest to fruition.  It is because of this yellowing of fields and the heat of August that we honor the Sun.  Use the salt dough recipe found on Twig and Toadstool, or use your favorite bake-able dough.  You will need salt, flour, acrylic paints, and a coat of varnish.

3.  YARN-WRAPPED HONEY BEES - These honor the labor of the honey bee.  Honey's golden color makes it the perfect sweetener for Lammas.  It also blends wonderfully with berries and bread, two traditional Lammas foods.  Talk to your children about the importance of bees and leave out some honey on your altar to acknowledge their sacrifice.  To make these, gather up yellow and black yarn, cardboard, and googly-eyes.  The tutorial at Housing a Forest uses old book pages for wings, but I'd personally use parchment or wax paper.  

4.  CORN STALK FOOTPRINTS - These are cute and seasonal.  This flexible craft is easy to do with newborns on up through adults.  You could even make a cute "family stalk" starting with parents on the bottom and children on up to the top.  You will need yellow art paint, construction paper, and a little patience to get this one done.  Check out the tutorial at House of Baby Piranha for full instructions.

5.  SUMMER FLOWER PRINTING - Wild flowers are all in season at Lammas time.  Take a walk, pick some late summer blooms, and sit down to create some sacred art.  You will need some art paint, white paper, and lots of space to get messy.  An art smock wouldn't hurt.  Find out all about this project from Learning 4 Kids.

6.  BERRY PICKING - Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries... there's probably a pick-your-own farm near you.  Give your toddler a basket and let them go nuts.  This is a great exercise in learning where our food comes from, but also one in farm etiquette.  Help your child stick to the rows, pick only what's ripe, and know beforehand that they WILL get dirty and sticky.   Check Me Plus 3 Today's tips for going berry picking with toddlers before you head out.

7.  LAMMAS SENSORY BIN - This is easily my children's favorite.  They will play in it all day long.  To steer this away from Halloween and make it more Lammas-y, try exchanging the fall leaves for star-shaped pasta (for the sun god), shell-shaped pasta (for the sea goddess), and perhaps throw in some green lentils for color.  When you purchase the corn for this, DO NOT use feed corn as it is not intended for human consumption and if I know anything about babies... they WILL put this in their mouth.  The pictured bin comes to you from CBC Radio Canada.

8.  BAKING BREAD WITH KIDS - This is a timeless Lammas tradition.  While I promise that your kitchen will have seen better days, nothing beats the pride a child feels after "helping".  Even 2 year olds can enjoy pouring, stirring, and kneading.  If you want to save yourself a little hassle, use frozen dough from the store.  Get a little encouragement from Kids Activities Blog.


Bonus:  PRETEND BERRY PICKING - If you can't find a berry patch, or don't revel in the the idea of dirty, sticky children, try this clever little backyard activity.  It reminds me of egg hunts, and we know children love those!  You will need ball-pit balls, child-sized baskets, and lots of ingenious hiding places.  Get the low down from Play Learn Everyday

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Sunday, July 17

Two Proud Mothers (or Eavesdropping on a Christian & a Pagan)

We play Pokemon Go.  It's bad.  But so does Table for Eight, so it's made for some fun evenings.  This past weekend, we were smartphone zombies, wandering the streets of their neighborhood at 9 o'clock at night, catching Ghastlies and Weedles and spinning Pokestops.  It was an evening of pure guilty pleasure and giddiness as we traded out our usual drinks and games for Pokemon hunting.

When our collective batteries died, we retreated to the back yard for marshmallows and phone cords.  Doodle Bug and Child #3 were playing in the lawn and I was keeping an ear on their conversation.  Table for Eight's children had just finished their Vacation Bible School for the summer and were full of Jesus love.  Kudos to them for raising their children in their desired faith, however Doodle Bug has had previous encounters with preaching children and gotten very confused.  So, I was admittedly eavesdropping on tweens.

#3 was telling my son about Heaven and Hell.  She was insistent that he was going to Hell.  Doodle Bug simply shrugged and told her "That's not a real place."

POW!  Score one, for my boy.

#3 refuted this and asked him about Heaven.  "It's imaginary," was his reply.  #3 was frustrated by this and I could see her considering that perhaps her special friend didn't understand her words.  She asked if he'd ever known someone who died.  He assured her that his kitty had died last year.  She told him that didn't count because, animals don't get to go to heaven.

"Why not?  That's dumb.  My kitty will be waiting for me."  Doodle Bug loves his pets.

BAM!  Score two.

#3 did not have a response for him, so they moved on.  Doodle Bug offered up that his father (biological) had died 3 years ago and his great-grandmother had died 2 years ago. That was an acceptable answer for #3, who replied, "Okay.  They're in Heaven, then."

"Nope. My Dad is in a star.  He's with our God.  And guess what?  It's a girl."

BOOM!  Score three.

#3 couldn't comprehend that.  She boasted about her family members in Heaven with "the real God.".  She described how happy her whole family will be one day when they are all together again.  And I have to say, good for her.  She truly believes in this and it brings her peace.  Children should have that.

So, I wandered closer to the adults and mentioned to my best friend that she should come hear what our children were talking about.  I described their conversation and she said that she was so proud to hear her child preaching.  I told her that I was blown away by my son's answers as I am never quite sure what sticks and what doesn't.  We walked back, two proud mothers, happy in our ability to raise aware children and still get along.

Did I mention that Table for Eight had recently switched churches?  They changed to one within walking distance.  They hadn't been there for a service yet, but had been asked by a neighbor if their children would like to attend the free bible study that week.  Driven crazy by the sheer number of children at her home in the summer, my friend had readily agreed to let someone take them to church for 3 hours a day.  After all, it was a church.  What could go wrong?

Well, as we approached, #3 was talking about the Rapture. 

"One day, the world is going to end.
There will be no more nighttime and
no more black people and
 the world will be perfect."

Both of our jaws dropped.

My friend rushed to lecture her child, "Black people get to go to heaven, too!"  Meanwhile, I asked Table for Eight's patriarch if they knew exactly what their children had been learning at this new church all week.

Pro tip: don't let someone else head up your child's religious education.

Thursday, July 14

Our Broken Summer

On July 1st, a trampoline accident led to a broken tibia and a severely sprained ankle for our little Adventure Girl.  


It was 11:20 am and to begin, I'm glad that we were there when it happened.  We were visiting friends who are big on "walk it off" mentality.  They don't "coddle" their children.  Mama Stacey is a huge coddler.  Their 3yo injured her elbow on the same trampoline and not only did they deny her rest/hugs/ice-pack... they did not take her to the doctor because they were certain she was faking it (although, between you and me, she had classic symptoms of a dislocated elbow).   We love our friends, but we have some serious differences in parenting styles.  

When Adventure Girl had her accident, she cried out and I immediately knew something was wrong.  As a parent, you can decode seemingly random screams based on pitch, intensity, etc.  I wasn't sure of my skills until that moment.  I now get a hint of what it must be like to speak the subtle languages of dolphins or grizzly bears.  Her cry, in that moment, was different from anything I have ever heard her make before. 

When I got to her, she could not put weight on her leg and the first thing she said was, "I go to doctor."  I lifted her and she began to weep.  As I carried her, she was passing out from the shock.  This is when our friend reassured me that my baby girl was "probably just tired" and "needed a nap".  My instincts were very different.  Papa J rushed her to the nearest emergency room (you should have seen his frantic parking job!).  Within 40 minutes they confirmed the break.  


It was heartbreaking to not only hear how severe the damage was, but to also find that she would need a full-leg cast for 8 or more weeks.  When the doctors left the room, we tried to cheer up our toddler by googling cool crutches and scooters, fancy swim covers, and talked about getting to pick out a cast color.  When they returned to put it in a splint, the other shoe dropped.  Her break was on the growth plate.  Adventure Girl was forbidden any weight bearing, scooting, sliding, or even dangling. No crutches.  No scooter.  No swim cover.  Only sitting or lying with her leg elevated.

We were told to immobilize our 3 year old daughter for the rest of the summer.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Awe man, that sucks."  Or, "Wow, that sounds difficult."  

The truth is, you have no bloody idea.  Unless you've had this same misfortune, you can't appreciate how soul-crushing it is to tell your vibrant child that she cannot play in her sandbox.  She cannot swim on a 101* day.  She cannot swing or slide or seesaw.  She cannot ride her new bike.  She cannot ride the carousel at the fair.  She cannot come with for raspberry picking.  Even if her beautiful blue eyes beg you for all they're worth, you must break her heart to save her leg.


Just the day before, Adventure Girl had inquired about trying out a climbing wall and had been wowed by seeing some people kayaking down the gorgeous river we live near (because, as her title would suggest, she is always up for a new adventure).  We had planned to do both in the coming weeks. Instead, we pass the days reading, coloring, and watching Netflix. 

We try to fight off boredom with long stroller rides, but still the 'recuperation blues' have taken hold.  She refuses food, or pretends to eat it for my sake, hiding it underneath her booster seat.  She cries a lot and takes turns being mad at Papa J and I, who must disappoint her daily.  She complains of being tired. She picks at her cast.


We hold her often, singing to her and trying to comforting her.  It is a difficult time, but I try to see the silver lining.  As the doctor in the emergency room pointed out, he'd rather see her have a broken leg than a broken spine or neck.  Worst-case scenario, over 4,000 children have suffered hospitals stays, paralysis, and even death since 1990. By the Goddess' grace, Adventure Girl is not one of those children.

As my thoughts turn to Lammas and our traditional Tailteann games, I am struggling to find ways to include our girl.  My thought process then leads me to one of the very first posts on this blog.  In it, I promised to provide crafts and activities for children with restrictions and special needs.  I have done a poor job of doing so.  

I look to the Lord and Lady to help our baby girl find her joy and rekindle her spirit as summer continues on.  They have already used this minor tragedy to help me better my parenting skills and amp up my blogging game.   

Faith, my friends.  Faith.   


Monday, April 11

Spiral Sun Yarn Art

The weather has been peculiar lately.  I'm sure you've noticed.  What made for a warm and enjoyable winter however, is making for a miserable cold and snowy spring.  We were granted five inches of snow this weekend.  I don't think it has ever snowed after Easter in my life.

I thought we'd try to encourage the sun to join us by creating something to honor the glow and glimmer we are craving.

6 1/2 yards (235 inches) of Yellow Yarn
6 1/2 yards (235 inches) of Orange Yarn
Assorted Sequins in Warm Tones
Parchment or Wax Paper
Hot Water
Small Bowl
Jelly Roll Pan (or any large tray/plate)
Stones/Magnets/Shotglasses (optional)
Disposable Gloves (optional)
FREE Template

I want to warn you that this project is sticky, requires fine motor skills, and takes about two days to really come together.  If your child has texture issues, try disposable gloves.  There is not much you can do to enhance the dry time on this one, but I offer two  modifications for smaller children and/or those with limited fine motor skills at the bottom of this post.
There is a template for this project.  It is completely FREE.  It is a PDF scan of my hand-drawn pattern.

Begin by understanding that not only are you about to get sticky, but so is your child.  So... hair up, sleeves back, table cleared.  Use disposable gloves if desired.

You will be cutting the Yellow and Orange Yarn into three (3) UNEQUAL segments.  Each color will be cut into a 65" piece and then the remainder cut in half so that you get two final pieces roughly 85" in length.  So, to be clear, measure {65" of Orange, 85" of Orange, 85" of Orange} and {65" of Yellow, 85" of Yellow, 85" of Yellow}.

Lay the Template down on the Jelly Roll Pan and cover with a sheet of Parchment or Wax Paper.  I used some gemstones to weight down the corners of the Parchment so that I could see the pattern a bit better and to stop the paper from sliding around.  You may find that taping the pattern down and then taping the Parchment over top is sturdier.

We will be using a glue slurry in this project.  This is done to prevent the glue from drying too quickly while you work with it.  We will also make it in small batches.  In the Small Bowl, mix a tablespoon of Glue with a teaspoon of Hot Water.  Honestly, I eyeballed this.  What you're going for is a warm, thinned glue slurry.  Place one of the 85" lengths of Yellow Yarn in the bowl and stir it around until the yarn is coated.  There shouldn't be much slurry left.

Pull the yarn out of the bowl.  I ran it over my finger to stop excess droplets, but did not squeeze the yarn.  It should be sloppy and wet.  Begin in the center of the spiral, carefully laying the yarn over the pattern.  Follow it slowly.  The template is made of two spirals.  You are following only one at this point.  There should be an empty template line between the yellow rings you are laying down.  This empty line is where the Orange Yarn will be laid next.  It is almost impossible to see when you start, but it gets easier as the circles get larger.

When finished with the first Yellow 85" length, create another batch of glue slurry.  Stir an 85" length of Orange Yarn into it.  Beginning in the center, follow the second spiral.

Above is a photo of the finished FIRST layer.  Continue on to the RAYS and finish up with a SECOND layer.

Mix a batch of glue slurry and stir in the 65" length of Yellow Yarn.  Pick a small ray and begin on the outer line. As you lay the sticky yarn down, you will trace the OUTSIDE of the short rays and the INSIDE of the large rays, alternating as you lay the yarn down.   As you come back to the spiral, lay the yarn ON the outer ring as shown in the image above.

**Note that the template is not an equal square and so two of the longer rays are cut off.
Eyeball these.  It's art.  A few oddball sun rays just adds to the whole thing.**

Mix a fourth batch of the glue slurry and repeat this process with the 65" length of Orange Yarn.

When finished, I used a cotton swab to paint the "joints" (the places where the rays overlapped the outer ring of the spiral) with extra glue slurry to ensure the connection.


Next, create another batch of glue slurry and dredge the second Yellow 85" length.  You will be laying this length right alongside the first Yellow length.  This sounds tricky, but you'll catch on. Essentially, you are doubling the Yellow string.

Keep the layers side-by-side and flat.  You're not stacking them, you're filling in the blank space.  You want the strings to touch and mingle so that when they dry, they hold each other together.

Repeat this with the second Orange 85" length.

I brushed more slurry over any parts that had dried out.  You really want the thing saturated.  I added random orange and gold sequins to make it shiny and enticing for those warm summer Sun energies.

Place it somewhere warm and dry.  Mine took just over a full 24 hours to dry out and stiffen up.  If any spots come apart, dab with glue and allow to dry again.

After these is fully dried out it should hang well.  These are meant to hang inside as wind and weather will undoubtedly destroy them.

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Young children or those with disabilities may find the fine motor aspect of this craft difficult to master.  In that instance, there are two alternatives to the intricate spiral of this project.  

The first is to weave a sun star instead of a spiral sun.  For this, you will need a square of cardboard and a dozen pushpins.  Lay the Template on the Cardboard and place the Parchment over top.  Secure a Push Pin at the tip of each sun ray.  Dredge the yarn and wind it amongst the Push Pins, criss-crossing through the center of the sun shape.  Use all of the lengths to create a layered orange and yellow sun star.  


The second method is to simply dredge and lay the first 85" length of Orange Yarn in a circle.  Dredge the Yellow Yarn and allow the child to clump and twirl it inside the sun any way they choose.  So long as plenty of it overlaps, it will still work. 

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Thursday, March 24

Coconut Tree Name Slider

Back in February, Adventure Girl was a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom addict.  While searching the web for nifty crafts built around the book, I found that several blogs had name sliders.  They were fancy and cool, but either too large (they'd been designed for a classroom) or the download was a bit out of range for our budget.

Instead, Mama Stacey grabbed a marker and some of our art supplies and came up with a nifty little Coconut Tree Name Slider that we'd like to share with you.

2 sheets of Cardstock
Permanent Marker
FREE Templates

Honesty moment.  I am a construction paper snob.  I know that I can get a pack of cheap paper from the dollar store, but it cracks when folded, fades absurdly fast, and leaves piles of lint in my paper bin.  You can't put it in the printer without making a mess... ugh.  I will use cheap staples, cheap glue, whatever, but I will drive across county lines for a sale on Pacon Tru-Ray construction paper.  It's recycled, the fibers are longer so I can curl it and bend it without it cracking, it comes in over 30 colors, and it's made with fade resistant dye.  They can sit in the open without the sun bleaching them white in a single afternoon.  Really, I may include this stuff in my wedding.  Haha! 
There are TWO templates for this project.  You can honestly get away with printing out only the "front" if it comes down to it.   They are completely FREE.  They are PDF scans of my hand-drawn pattern. 

Begin this project by hugging your child and kissing their face until they tell you you're being ridiculous and you really need to stop gushing on them so much.

Next, print the templates out onto Cardstock.  (If you are okay putting construction paper through your printer, feel free to print directly onto the colored paper.)  Cut the shapes out.  Carefully cut out the circle from the FRONT template and save the circle.

 Now, trace the FRONT onto the Green Construction Paper.  Then, trace the BACK onto the Brown Construction Paper.  Also, trace the circle FIVE or SIX times onto the Brown Construction Paper.  Cut everything out.

Lay the Green tree on top of the Brown and insert the Popsicle Stick between them.  Use the above photo as a guide to see how the Popsicle Stick should thread through the hole.

Leave the Popsicle Stick in place as you staple above the hole and then to either side of the Popsicle Stick's path.  It should be a little loose so that the Popsicle Stick slides easily.

I chose to hide the staples by gluing several Brown Circles around the opening so that it looked like a cluster of coconuts.

You're almost finished.  Time to spread some glue between the Green Front and the Brown Back.  Allow to dry and you're good to go.

Vertically write your child's name on the Popsicle Stick.  Slide the Popsicle Stick through slowly as your child recites the letters.  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

This project helps a child learn the letters and spelling of their name.  We incorporate this into our morning circle time twice each week.  Adventure Girl gets a kick out of it.

This project was part of our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom week.

For other projects and inspirations, check out our Preschool Home Educating page.

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