Mar 22, 2014

Craft Lab: Billboard Bags

Recycling an unusual material is inspiring!

Today's project:  sewing with reclaimed billboard material
 a discarded billboard banner
sewing machines
rotary cutters, rulers and self-healing cutting mats

The question you're all wondering:  How did you get a billboard?
My answer:  I was in the right place at the right time.  There's a "small" billboard near my house and occasionally, I happen to drive by when they're switching the ad.  Most of the time, I don't have time to pull over right at that moment, but one day, I did!  I asked the billboard worker whether or not I could take the ad he'd just removed and he said, "Sure!  Otherwise, it just gets thrown away."

The other question you're all wondering:  What does it feel like and is it easy to cut/sew?
My answer:  it's basically like a woven plastic.  It's strong and doesn't stretch at all, but it cuts VERY easily (almost too easily... don't get your finished bags near any sort of blade...).  Almost any project that you can find on Pinterest made from fused plastic shopping bags can also be made from this material.  It's also enormous.  Even though this was a "small" billboard (not on the highway), unfolded, it nearly filled half of our meeting room.

Mar 20, 2014

Looking for things to do at home?

If the late winter/early spring weather has your family house-bound and you're searching for some new ideas to try out with the kids, check out these resources:

The Early Literacy Calendar of Wisconsin -- with activities for each day of the year, aligned with early learning goals, you're bound to find some great options here!

Sesame Street Family Play -- an app that gives you ideas for simple games to play together with your child(ren), tailored to your surroundings and materials on hand (spoons, shoes, hats, everyday types of things).  The app also gives information about what your child is learning through each game.

Knoala -- a free app I've just discovered that is full of ideas for activities, story starters and more.  It's got an easy-to-use interface and a great filter so that you can narrow down the activities to exactly the type of thing you're looking for right away.

If any of you try these out, I'd love to hear about your experiences with them.  Any other top-notch recommendations?  Tell us about them in the comments below!

Mar 18, 2014

WonderWorks: Ramps + Textures

Exploring ramps was fun, let's try adding one extra element and see what happens!

Today's Topic: Friction (or Textured Ramps)
lengths of wooden cove molding
cardboard carpet tubes (optional)
things to slide down the ramps (balls, cars, marbles, blocks, etc.)
different textures to add to the ramps (foil, felt, fleece, foam sheets, burlap, silk, slate, sandpaper, etc.)

cover art Chicken chickens / Gorbachev, Valeri
cover art Tails / Van Fleet, Matthew

Mar 13, 2014

WonderWorks: magnifying glasses

 Let's play with tools that allow us to look more closely at the world around us.

Today's Topic: Magnify! 
a variety of magnifying glasses (interesting alternative: reading glasses!)
tiny things to examine (ideas:  feathers, sticks, flowers, shells, slides (old tech!), snowflake matching cards (or if it's actively snowing just get a sheet of black construction paper), big dictionary with tiny print, road atlas...)
2-liter plastic bottle + water or a plastic cup + plastic wrap + rubberband + water = magnifier
washable ink pads, scrap paper and wet wipes
Flat glass marbles


cover art You can use a magnifying glass / Blevins, Wiley

Mar 4, 2014

WonderWorks: Static Electricity

Let's take advantage of this dry winter weather and have some fun with static cling!

Today's Topic: Static Electricity
tissue paper
polar fleece or wool scraps (or wool sweaters, fleece blankets, your winter coat, whatever...)
plastic rulers
thin plastic produce bags
Rice Krispies

Book:  I have to admit defeat here.  I've searched for a long time and (much to my surprise) haven't found any picture books that talk about static cling.  If you know of one, please leave your suggestion in the comments section below!  In the meantime, I found this very nice non-fiction title--
cover art All charged up : a look at electricity / Boothroyd, Jennifer

*Amended 5/2015 -- success!  If you read this book you'll find a fun static surprise at the end!
cover art Beep and Bah / Burks, James

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise