{Simple Paper Doll Craft}

When I was a little girl, my absolute favourite toy was my paper dolls. I spent hours engaged in elaborate imaginative play with them, changing their clothes for balls, for tea parties, for swimming lessons, and so on. My mum and I used to spend quiet afternoons making our own clothes for them; cutting and drawing and colouring them just the way we wanted. I even remember that in the summer I turned 5, we made a whole wardrobe of brown and yellow clothes, as my mum was trying to convince me that brown and yellow were such pretty colours together - since those were the colours of my upcoming school uniform! (She never did quite convince me on that!)

Anyway, the girls and I made these cute paper dolls a while back that I've been meaning to share with you. They were super easy to make and kept the girls busy for ages.

Simply cut out a human-ish shape from thick paper or cardboard (or print from a template), then draw around the shape to make whatever clothes you like. Remember to leave tabs around the shoulders, waist, hips, and legs to hold the clothes on. Then cut out the clothes from patterned papers or use plain paper and have the kids design and decorate the clothes themselves. Or if you prefer, you could use felt and fabric scraps to decorate the clothes. You could add some yarn for the doll's hair, or even have your children design their dolls to look like themselves, as I remember doing at school when we were 6.

This is an easy multi-age activity to do, as older children can do all the cutting themselves, while younger ones can do the colouring of the clothes to suit their tastes. It's also great for fine motor skills development - careful cutting for the older ones, drawing and colouring, and working with the tabs to attach the clothes to the dolls.

Did you make paper dolls as a child, too?


{Pumpkin Fairy World}

halloween pumpkin fairy world

We started carving our pumpkin the other day and created this cozy fairy garden out of it, inspired by this pumpkin diorama.

First we cut the top - the girls were delighted by the sight of all the stringy, seedy insides!

It took some convincing, but I finally managed to get the girls involved in scooping out the insides (granted, they were a bit cold inside since the pumpkin had been sitting outdoors). Princess Pea isn't really a fan of slime, so she used a spoon and bowed out at the first possible escape window, but once Sweet Pea got started, she really enjoyed the sensory experience and helped me sort through the goop to collect all the seeds for roasting.

I cut a huge 'door' in the front (which fits back on), and we gathered bits and pieces from the garden and house to create this comfy spot for a fairy to sit and reflect.

We had found this 'fairy chair' piece of wood in the forest a couple of weeks ago and brought it home for our outdoor fairy garden. We added a few sprigs of lavender, some bark chips, and painted pebbles and snail shells from around the garden. Then we added a fake flower, a plastic salamander, a small wooden apple, a felted owl, and, of course, a fairy.

I think it's really sweet, and the girls are quite taken by it! We have it set up on the upstairs balcony, facing in towards the window so it can be seen from indoors as well as played with outdoors under the cover of the balcony roof.

I think it's not how we'll use it on Halloween night, as we'll need light in it, but it's a fun way to use it for now. When Halloween comes, I'll fit the door back on, and either carve a face in the other side, or perhaps drill some holes to make a lovely luminary like the one Taming the Goblin made.

halloween pumpkin fairy world

What did you do with your pumpkin this year?

You might also like to see our 'mummykin' pumpkin from last year, or see more pumpkin ideas here. And there are lots more seasonal ideas on my Halloween and Fall pin board.


{Pretty Peacock Easy DIY Tutu Costume}

peacock tutu costume DIY

This year, for the first time ever, I sewed my kids' Halloween costumes - All. By. Myself! Yes, that's right - it's that big of a deal! I have never completed a sewing project before in my entire life. Home Economics was the one subject at school that I failed miserably at! Last year Daddy Pea (at my request) bought me a sewing machine for Christmas - and it sat in the box until this October!

So, all of this is just to let you know how truly easy this costume is to make! Really - you can take it from me!

I found this beautiful pin on Pinterest last year and knew that I just had to make one sometime! I won't give you a full tutorial here because if you follow the pin link, it will take you to the original one. However, there are a few things I would do differently next time.

In the directions, you sew the green felt onto the brown felt, then hot glue the light blue and dark blue pieces on top. After that, you attach the feathers to a ribbon. But I found that it was tricky to attach them to the ribbon nicely, being a terrible hand stitcher, so if they flip over (which they are sure to do at some point), the backs look terrible. On the second one I made (I made one for each of the girls), I didn't sew the feathers onto the ribbon, I just used the hot-glue to attach them. The backs look much nicer; however, I worry that they are not as well attached as if they had been sewn on. If I were doing it again, I would recommend machine-sewing the feathers onto the ribbon after sewing just the green and brown felt pieces together. Then hot-glue the blue pieces afterwards. That way the feathers will be securely attached, but the stitching at the back will be less ugly.

I also had a hard time deciding whether it would be better to make the tutu first and then attach the ribbons with the feathers, or attach the ribbons first, and then add the tulle to make the tutu afterwards. I tried both ways and I'm still not sure which is better. If you have the answer, let me know!

I should also mention that the only actual sewing involved is in making the feathers (although I also stitched the ribbon to the waistband, but if I'd planned it better I would have cut the ribbon a bit longer and just tied it). So even if you're sewing-averse, there's really very little sewing to be done. The rest of the costume is hot-glued or just tied on.

Unfortunately, at the time of picture-taking, Sweet Pea was in a bit of a mood and refused to model hers for the pictures, and Princess Pea was out shopping with Daddy Pea. Luckily, Brown Bear was ready and willing to step in as a model! This one is Sweet Pea's, which is a bit less full than Princess Pea's as she doesn't really love dress-up or party dresses, so I used less tulle on hers to try to avoid it bothering her. Princess Pea's, on the other hand, has more tulle so is fuller and pouffier - just the way she likes it to be!

And there you have it! A pretty peacock costume for Halloween or just everyday dress-up imaginary play!

Be sure to see our other Halloween Fun posts before you go, and then hop over to my Halloween and Fall pin board for even more inspiration.


Please note that this post contains affiliate links.

{Playing With Symmetry - Preschool Math Game}

play with shape symmetry cover photo blocks tower

Princess Pea and I have been playing with blocks and learning about symmetry in the process, with some super simple shape symmetry play.

using building blocks to learn about symmetry

We each build one side of a castle. I build my side first, then she has to copy it exactly on her side, matching up the shapes to make a symmetrical structure. It's great for shape recognition, problem-solving, and learning about geometry. As you can see, we didn't worry about matching the colours, just the shapes, but you could do that, too, if you liked.

preschool child with completed symmetrical block tower

I was impressed with how well she did with it, and she was very proud of herself, too! 

Fun, play-based math learning, just the way we like it!

This post was originally written last summer as a guest post for Mom to 2 Posh L'il Divas. You can find loads more preschool-friendly math play ideas under her Preschool Math tab.


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{Our Chore System - Learning About Responsibility at Home}

We have recently implemented a system for chores at our house. When Princess Pea was about 3 1/2 we started giving her little jobs that were her responsibility. They were simple and quick - 'tidy up the shoes' and 'hang up your jacket' were the first ones. She loved having 'jobs' that were all her own, and she happily did them each day when she got home from preschool (though she sometimes needed a reminder.) When she was almost 4 we added 'make your bed'. Of course, she often needs help and/or I often have to re-do some things, but it's a start - and an important one, in my opinion.

As I mentioned in my post about Toddler Chores for Little Helpersdoing 'grown up jobs' always gives kids such a sense of pride and boost of confidence! 
I'm using the word 'chores' very loosely here. Obviously, I'm not enforcing Cinderella practices around our home! But Princess Pea is certainly at an age when she can and should have some responsibilities at home. Aside from teaching her a sense of responsibility, having 'jobs' teaches her practical life skills, gross and fine motor skillsproblem-solving and pre-mathematical skills, and - perhaps most importantly - reminds her that she is part of a family whose members help each other out. Having responsibilities around the house teaches her that it's important not only to do things for herself, but to do things for the 'greater good' of the family as a whole. 

That said, I certainly don't want to overload her with responsibilities - her most important job is, of course, to play. So, I implemented a system:

We got a bunch of craft sticks and I wrote out a job on each one. Princess Pea illustrated them, since she can't read yet, so she'd also be able to 'read' them by herself. And, since little sister wants to do everything big sister does and is capable of many toddler-sized jobs herself, we marked a green dot on the ends of the ones that Sweet Pea can also do.

Then we found an old jam jar, decorated it with a piece of scrapbooking paper slipped around the inside, and popped in the sticks.

Now, once a day (if I remember) they can each pull a stick out of the jar and they are responsible for doing the job on the stick. Princess Pea can select any of the sticks, while Sweet Pea only selects from the sticks with the green dots. As she gets older, we'll be adding more green dots to jobs as she becomes capable of doing them.

It's a fun way to assign 'chores', and the girls love having 'jobs time'!

In case you're wondering what's on the sticks, here's what we've got so far: 
(we'll be gradually adding more)

  • tidy toys downstairs (green dot)
  • sort clean laundry (green dot)
  • put away shoes/jackets  (green dot)
  • vacuum under dining table  (green dot) (we have a small hand-vac for this)
  • make your bed
  • change the hand towels
  • pick weeds  (green dot) (we have shown them which 'flowers' are weeds for picking)
  • set the table
  • tidy the books
  • tidy toys upstairs
  • empty dishwasher  (green dot)(plastics)
  • wash tables/counters (we have a spray bottle of vinegar and water for this)

What other jobs could we had to our sticks?



2014 Blogger Planner, Calendar, and Menu Planner from Mama Miss

{Play with Chestnuts, Acorns, and Walnuts}

18 Ways to Play


Chestnuts, Acorns, & Walnuts

Now that Autumn / Fall is here, the girls are going crazy collecting chestnuts, acorns, and walnuts! Chestnut trees, oak trees, and walnuts trees all grow in abundance around here, and every day they come home with pocketfuls they've collected or bagfuls from our generous neighbour. (I just found 4 walnuts in my purse that they must have popped in there!) 

We usually take our annual autumn walks to collect chestnuts and acorns around this time of year. This year we also brought home some logs, but that will be another post!

They enjoy trying to smash the walnuts open with a big rock (or even by jumping on them). Princess Pea eats them by the handful, while Sweet Pea prefers to play with them over actually eating them.

Princess Pea made a sweet little walnut sailboat at preschool last week, using a toothpick and a couple bits of construction paper - quite similar to these walnut boats by Red Ted Art.

The girls love to play with the nuts in all sorts of ways. They make for great sensory play, math play, and fine motor play. 

Do you have walnuts, acorns and chestnuts around, too? Why not try:
  • * sorting them into the different types of nuts
  • * counting them
  • * ordering them by size
  • * scooping and pouring them in a sensory bin
  • * painting with them (my class made chestnut versions of these golf ball paintings as part of our recent science unit on forces and motion)
  • * using them as loose parts to pair with play dough
  • * testing whether they float or sink
  • * practicing fine motor skills by moving them from one bin to another with a spoon/tongs
  • * serving them up (with a spoon and fine motor skill) at teddy bears' tea parties!

Here are some other super ideas for using fall nuts from some more Kids Activities Network bloggers:

Acorn Animals from Red Ted Art 

Acorn Fairies and Elves from Growing Green-Fingered Kids

Weighing and Exploring Acorns from Teach Preschool

Nature Family from Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Fairy Walnut Presents from Curly Birds

Chestnut Math Play - Perimeter and Area from The Golden Gleam

Chestnut Collecting, Scooping, and Fine Motor Play from Happy Hooligans