My Genre

When you go to the library to pick up reading for enjoyment where do you go?

Photo: Of Good Report or Praiseworthy
Do you go to a specific section? Fiction or non-fiction?  Books or Magazines?

Do you wander the aisles waiting for something to speak to you?

Do you gravitate toward whatever is new or recommended by the staff?

I usually wander aimlessly, searching for "just the right book." 

The problem is that I don't often know how to describe that "right book."
  • A good book is enlightening and energizing. I dance around on clouds for a few days.
  • The wrong book leaves me angry that I wasted my time and loathing the book. I get grumpy.
  • Needless to say, finding the "right book" is high stakes!!

I've decided this is what a good reading book is for me:
  • It teaches me about another culture or another time
  • It is usually told from a first person perspective or reveals truths about a real person or character(s) and thus life itself
  • It makes me laugh or gives me ideas
  • It lets me escape in some way
  • It doesn't make me angry, sad, or depressed!!

Here's what I have loved recently:


6 books that teach art history through hands-on activities

I love colorful picture-book style books that "sneak" in topics of "academic" importance.

Art History through Hands-on Activities

These books provide hands-on projects and activities to correspond with a particular artist and time in history.

Each activity has a bit of background about the artist and period; just enough to whet appetites for further learning.
(1) Kid Made Modern: 52 Kid Friendly Porject Inspired by Mid-Century Modern Design - by Todd Oldham

(2) Usborne Art Treasury: Pictures, Paintings, and Projects - by Rosie Dickens

(3) Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters - by Kim Solga and MaryAnn F. Kohl

(4) Dynamic Art Projects for Children: Includes Step-by-step Instructions and Photographs - by Denis M. Logan

Art History through Looking and Listening Activities

(5) Can you Hear it? - by William Lach and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Look and listen for over 40 details in 26 works of art and music included on DVD.

(6) Look Closer: Art Masterpieces through the Ages - by Caroline Desnoettes. A lift-and-learn art adventure with clues to find in each piece of artwork.

Experimenting with the Laws of Physics: Grandpa and the Grandkids

I love how my dad plays with the grandkids!

My dad is really smart and talented.
  • If you need something excavated and leveled in a tricky, difficult situation my dad is the one to call.
  • He has an amazing talent with earth.
  • His abilities to get unstuck in wet dirt are legendary.
  • Like many boys today, he loves to learn with his hands and by experimenting.
I love that he encourages that kinesthetic learning with all the kids, boys and girls.

Here is some fun they had today experimenting with trajectories, weights, ballasts, pulleys, leverage and force.
Grandpa's stone yard is full of natural and manmade materials for exploration
Goal orientation and persistence in action

It is clearly evidence that I am not a helicopter parent when it comes to real world play :-)




Tying  knots
Pulling from the right
Pulling from the left
Brainstorming strategies

More people pulling

Adding ballast weights

Grandpa asking questions about how strategies might work

Success!! Pallets down!!
...and the *real* playground sits empty at grandma and grandpa's

Easy to make Felt Shape Sorters

Here is a fun craft to make for little ones learning colors, shapes, and sorting.

This set includes 5 sorting containers and 5 squares, circles, half moons, triangles, and rectangles; one in each color.

Step 1: Gather materials

10 sheets of felt, 2 sheets of each each color
1 spool of thread for each color of felt used
Sewing machine with zig zag stitch (or needle for hand stitching)

Use 2 sheets of felt for each container and coordinating shapes

Step 2: Cut the first sheet into (1) square for the container and (1) strip for a rectangle

First sheet of felt

Fold the rectangle sheet of felt diagonally into a right triangle

Use this fold as a guide to cut the felt sheet into a square

Save the remaining strip of leftover felt

Fold over the strip to form a rectangle shape to sew

Step 3: Cut the second sheet into the remaining sorting shapes

Second sheet of felt

Fold the second felt sheet in half. 
When you cut out shapes you will end up with 2 of each shape.

Make patterns for tracing and cutting full circles, half circles, squares, and triangles.
These are in addition to rectangle left over from first sheet.

Cut out remaining shapes so you have 2 of each: full circles, half circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles.

Step 4: Sew sorting containers

Using large square from first sheet fold diagonally

Sew from top to bottom of the corner using a regular stitch
If no sewing machine is available hand stitch with running stitch

This results in a "pinched corner"

Repeat this step 3 additional times for 4 "pinched corners"

Cut off the triangle section alongside the stitch

This results in a square with sides

Flip inside out to form sorting container

Step 5: Sew shapes with zig zag top stitch

Switch to zig zag stitch
If no sewing machine is available hand stitch using blanket stitch

Layer both pieces of shapes on top of each other (of the same color)
 Using a zig zag stitch, sew around the outside of the shapes, leaving a small opening for stuffing

Stuff fiberfill into the shapes leaving enough fabric flat to fit under the presser foot

Continue sewing the shapes closed using the zig zag stitch

Repeat the process with all the colors of containers and shapes

Kidscaping and Natural Playgrounds: 10 Sources for Design Inspiration

Kidscaping at Hoffman Hoopla

I've been introduced to lots of folks (lots from Australia!) encouraging "Natural Playgrounds." (Thank you Facebook!)

Instead of (or in addition to) commercialized play structures these natural play spaces encourage interaction with nature and reliance on natural, rather than "man"-made structures.
This is something many play and child development specialists are advocating, especially in light of increasing autism spectrum disorders, childhood obesity, and early and extensive use of technology by kids.

Google Search "Natural Playscapes"

Here are some great resources for inspiration:
  1. Natural Montessori Playgrounds. This includes an overview and checklist of potential materials to include in a natural playground.
  2. Dwell. Features a step-by-step slide show tutorial on how to build a natural playscape.
  3. Let the Children Play. This blog features ideas and photos from amazing schools that are implementing natural play areas.
  4. Rusty's Blog.  Author and owner of Earthplay, Rusty shares photos and ideas for incorporating natural features into kids' play.
  5. Hoffman Hoopla Kidscaping Projects. Please visit their blog to see all the amazing features they've incorporated into their backyard!
  6. Childscapes (AU). Company specializing in natural playscapes.
  7. Natural Playgrounds (US).Company specializing in natural playscapes.
  8. Earthplay (US). Company specializing in natural playscapes.
  9. Google "Natural Playscapes" and select images. You'll be lost daydreaming for hours!
  10. Library.  Check your local library for these inspirational design books:
Books for more ideas:

Pumpkie Pie Playdough

Moffatt Girls Blog photo
I don't know why I hadn't thought of this!

We've made coffee playdough, mint playdough, chocolate playdough and of course kool-aid playdough, but never this.

Pumpkin spice playdough recipes:

No Ordinary Moment Blog
The Moffatt Girls Blog
Disney Family Fun Website


Pumpkin pie playdough turned out great.  We wanted to make some additional fall color playdough but didn't have kool-aid.  So to add to the pumpkin color/spice playdough we made plum vanilla and pickle green!

Turn old worn out socks into clothing for American Girl size doll

What do you do with socks that are too worn out and thin in too many places to be worth darning?
Easy! Turn them into knee-high socks for your favorite American Girl sized doll.

Here's how to turn these (boys medium size) holey socks into something for little sister's dolls:

Assuming the holes on in the heels or toes...

Cut off the bottom of the washed sock, retaining the upper cuff portions

Cut each cuff in half into two pieces

2 old socks = 4 new doll socks

Flip the socks inside out so the "right sides" are facing each other inside
Pin the sock so the sides stay together during sewing

Sew the cut ends and sides

Pink thread shows the sewn end and side (original top cuff is still open)

Flip the sock inside-out

Now the outside of the sock is on the outside!

Slip on the comfy socks so your dolls can relax
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