Friday, August 28, 2009

back-to-school cones (the post we always remember after the fact)

Seriously. We've been MEANING to write up this post for years now. (Hence the Amazing Growing Kidlets in the photos throughout.)

Let's (finally) SCRUMDILLY-DO some SCHULTUTEN!!!

Also called German School Cones or First Day of School Cones, a Schultute is a candy-toy-and-school-supply-filled cone traditionally presented to first graders in Germany.

I can't remember if it was my dear friend Anne, living in Germany, who told me about them, or if I first saw some lovely oooooold photo on flickr. But I'm always looking to adopt old traditions, and I'm all about encouraging Ander and Zaza to be SOSOSOSO EXCITED about the start of school. And then of course there was the excuse to shop for (me) and/or make (jek) cute/teensy/tasty/cool stocking-stuffer-like goodies a whole three months before Christmas!

(Positive reinforcement or mama-style brainwashing? You be the judge.)

Pressed for time a few years' back, I found and purchased our Schultuten on-line. Maybe next year I'll get around to making some... (Nudge me next August, jekky-poo!)

There are gorgeous -- and intricate -- templates all over the web these days, but why not keep it simple, repurpose something from around the house, and perhaps get the kidlets involved in the cone-making (while you handle the cone-stuffing)?

You can make your cone from any half-circle of cardstock, posterboard, old poster, or cereal box. Oooh! How cute would it be to use an old Pee Chee folder? If you have ever made those wee, sweet, conical May Day baskets we used to leave on neighbors' doorknobs as kids, then you already know what you're doing -- just make 'em BIGGER. No photo tutorial needed, right? Right. You just need to make a big half circle. Easy-peasy. It doesn't have to involve geometric equations or a compass (unless you want it to), and it doesn't need to be perfect (unless you can't help yourself).

Your half circle of stiff paper can be cut to whatever size you prefer, collaged/painted/stickered or covered with fabric, curled into a cone shape, and sealed up along its seam with hot glue, double-stick tape, craft glue, Velcro, staples, or even hole-punched eyelets and ribbon laces.

If you're worried about goodies spilling out, you can attach fabric or tulle along the top (inside the rim) of your cone, which can then be pulled up over bulky items and tied closed with a ribbon.

Let the wild cone-stuffing start!!!

Crayon-shaped chocolates (Cost Plus World Market, I think?), sugar-free breath mints or gum, personalized pencils, Japanese erasers, pocket dolls, barrettes, funky socks, markers, stickers, a mini stapler, a roll of pennies or quarters, a globe-shaped pencil sharpener, mini Composition notebooks, hi-lighters, mini bottles of hand sanitizer, pins and buttons and patches for decorating backpacks, tape, a fun ruler, comic books, flash cards, sticky notes, trading cards, vials of glitter...

...finger puppets, Silly Putty, Pez, balls of yarn, wind-up robots, Playmobil 'guys,' Legos, pom-pom balls, pipecleaners, rubberband balls, fruit leather, worry dolls, marbles, jacks, a harmonica, a magnifying glass, animal crackers, a 'magic' wash cloth, headbands, temporary tattoos, a toy car, paint brushes (tiki heads optional, see below), gift cards... The possibilities are endless, and can be as minimal or as, um, baroque as you see fit.

When Ander first started preschool, I made the mistake of giving him his cone on the morning of his First Day. Disaster! Chocolatey, whiny, hyper, over-stimulated, rush-rush-rushing disaster!

Since then, Ander -- and now Zaza too -- get their cones the day before their first day of school. I usually include something in their cones that they may want to bring or wear to their first day, and I have found that the 'first day eve' celebration ramps up nicely to the actual first day's excitement. You may prefer presenting the cones on the afternoon of the first day, when everyone is home again, and first day stories have been shared with the family.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

odds & ends art in the style of louise nevelson

last summer i took a class on women in art. it was more awesome than awesome and i finished up the whole adventure with a deep yearning for more. one of the projects we did was a sculptural project based on the large scale installations of Louise Nevelson we began with a flat square of cardboard, a bottle of tacky glue and an enormous assortment of small wooden pieces. after we framed and layered and glued ourselves silly, we took our projects outside for a coating or two of black spray paint. it's interesting how everything looks nicer when it is all monochromatic.early this summer we were attempting to begin the big purge in my casa and had two kidlets in tow. we set them up in the garden with all sorts of doodads. plastic bottle caps, popsicle sticks, cereal boxes, wooden discs and anything else that was destined for the recycle bin. after all the glue dried, the kidlets picked out their paint colors and we did our own takes on a Louise Nevelson piece.creating an art project based on an artist's style is not meant to emulate their masterpieces but to tie it all in so that your kidlet can connect the two. they may not remember the artist's biography but chances are, once you have them do their own Nevelsons, Warhols or Picassos they will remember a familiarity with that artist's work and they will remember the joy they felt when making their own creations. children are never to young to receive art and creativity as long as we make it a joyful experience.

other Lousie Nevelson projects:
Art Projects for Kids
Art Lessons for Kids
Modern Art Projects for Kids
Art is Messy

**this is a project to do on a day when the kidlets are bored. it is a "use what you have" kind of project. it may use up your recyclable materials and you may be able to repurpose much for this but in no way am i trying to claim this is an environmentally sound project. using spray paint kinda takes away from that idea. you are free to, and encouraged even, to use other types of paint though those may not cover all your areas as nifty. however, by doing so, you will add another step for your kidlets to complete and a mess happy art experience for them as well. happy arting!

Monday, August 24, 2009

winners of the strawberry basket giveaway!

i had wanted to post a pretty picture and clever entry but the day ran away from me so here ya go...from the random number gnerator, the winners are comments number 2 and 14...that means Vone and Ginny win! email me your addresses and i'll send along some crafting goodies and yes, strawberry baskets! (if i don't hear from ya, i will hunt ya down!)

**and i know, i know that 160 baskets seems like a lot of baskets but if you go into the purchase with a few friends, you will find that 40 baskets or so disappear quite quickly! sheesh! thank you everyone for playing along. i enjoyed your comments and they made me laugh outloud! happy almost September!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

10 things to do with a strawberry basket & a giveaway

1. store trinkets in it
2. turn it into a bubble wand
3. dip into paint and print with it
4. stencil with it
5. use it for weaving
6. turn it into a mobile
7. turn it into a mouse/fairy/bug house
8. turn it into a basket with handle
9. cut it up and make a pin
10. use your imagination and make something grand!

you can find plastic berry baskets here and if you leave a comment, i will add your name to a basket/craft kit giveaway. what say you? the winner will be drawn on monday!