Raising Creative Kids

Our Homeschool Room and Play Room Tour

We’ve lived in our 1880s farmhouse for about two and a half years now, and in that time, I’ve rearranged the bedrooms about fifty bazillion times. Seriously. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my sewing room shift from room to room. It had become pretty clear that while I wanted to have my own sewing space, it just isn’t the season for it. Our family needed and would get much more use from a playroom/school room. So my sewing space is once again shared with our master bedroom, like in our previous home. And the brightest room in the house is now our playroom/school room. It’s probably the best room swap we’ve done yet, and I’m excited to show it to you!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

We recently got an IKEA, making all my organizational dreams come true. ;) I knew I wanted to have one wall with books, toys, and learning materials. We have other books throughout the house (because I’m a firm believer that reading needs to be part of your family culture), but here we’re housing our non-fiction reference books, my teacher’s manuals, and some picture books.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

Since we have a toddler in the house, I put the learning materials that have small pieces up on the higher shelves. We used to have a lot of these items in bins, but I love having most of them in baskets now – they’re a little more open and easier to access. I kept some of the choking hazards in bins with lids, because of aforementioned toddler. ;)Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This is nearly all the toys we have in our house. We have legos and a few Star Wars toys upstairs, since they have small pieces. Our play kitchen is in our family room, where we tend to do our Morning Time and read alouds. It’s nice to have some toys nearby for the littles who get easily distracted. We also keep board games in a closet and bring them out only when we’re playing them. I’ve been working hard to declutter and keep our home more minimal. To be honest, this isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but it’s definitely better for my mental health and for our family in general.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

I knew I wanted some ALEX drawers from IKEA, and this size was perfect for all of our craft supplies, papers, coloring books, and blank books for story writing. Storage for papers and art supplies was the biggest problem I needed to solve. I love that this gives us a confined space for it (meaning, we can’t go crazy and buy all the things – we can only fit so much!) and it’s so nicely organized. Remember that storage cushion?? It’s currently filled with the boys’ sweatshirts, which makes it nice and comfy. :)

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This room had some little shelves in this random spot when we moved in, and since we haven’t done anything to change this room (including the wallpaper… which I have mixed feelings about) they seemed like the perfect spot for our Nature Shelf. We spend a LOT of time outside and in nature study, so this was a must have. And yep…. those are skulls. Life with boys!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

The other corner of the room has a table we found in our basement when we moved in, plus the rest of our art supplies and school books. In this smaller set of ALEX drawers, the boys each have a drawer for their personal school books. The top drawer houses things like rulers, erasers, tape, etc. The baskets hold chalkboards, extra paper rolls, dry erase boards, and clip boards. The shelf on the wall is my toddler proofing… markers, scissors, glue, and pencil sharpener. Basically a mom’s worst nightmare if a toddler gets their hands on them. ;) Having this dedicated creative space is awesome for my kids – they’re always creating, drawing, and writing. We tend to “do school” all over the house, so this won’t necessarily be used primarily for formal lessons, but it’s nice to have some options. I’m searching for some new kitchen chairs, and when I find ones I like, our current chairs will move in here to replace the hodge podge of stools. But hodge podge works well enough!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This sweet little spot is one of my favorites. I recently found a little vintage table and chairs, and it’s PERFECT for my youngest. The other kids actually like it too. I keep my vintage sewing machine here (next to my sad attempts at having a green thumb), mostly because I don’t have another place for it right now, and I hate to keep it hidden away.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

Someday I’ll have my own sewing room again, but for today, I’m happy to have this beautiful space where my kids can learn and play. I know this room will evolve as we use it, and I have some plans for some wall decor that will come eventually. But I really love how it turned out, and it’s actually becoming one of my favorite rooms in the house. When it’s clean, anyway. ;)

Advertisements

Keeping the Kids Busy This Summer

Summer has officially begun, and you may be thinking of ways to keep your kiddos busy. We use screens really sparingly around here, but sometimes I just want something quick to occupy my boys. And if I don’t have something on hand, it’s super easy to fall back on iPads and Netflix. That’s why I’m so glad to have this Boredom Buster Kit from Andrea’s Notebook.

DSC_7072 copy

This post contains affiliate links.

There are SO many different activities in this kit! Some of the activities require some additional craft supplies, but many of them are just print and go. And there’s such a wide variety of choices!boredom-busters-sales-image

After scrolling through the activities, I chose the Fill-in-the-Blank stories from the Creative Kit. I knew that my oldest would love this one, because it’s done MadLibs style.

DSC_6954 copy

There are several stories to choose from, and the instructions are clear enough that your kids can do them on their own. One page is just for the words, so they fill it out without looking at the story. Adjectives, people, emotions, etc.

DSC_6995 copy

Then they transfer the words over to the corresponding spot in the story. Sidenote: I love how bold and colorful these pages are! Fun and bright, just like summer!

DSC_6979 copy

The giggles have begun!

Untitled-1

Have your kiddos read the story aloud to you, and watch as they laugh at their silly story!! Seriously, we had SO much fun with these!

DSC_7087 copy

And share it with siblings, of course. These two would not.stop.laughing! I remember how much I loved these things as a kid, and they haven’t lost their appeal even now! Each story also has an additional activity that goes along with it – this one has your kiddo draw the silly robot they wrote about in the story.

Check out all the different activities that come in the Boredom Buster Kit:

boredom-buster-collage-2

Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st

Buy Now!

You can buy the entire Boredom Buster Kit
BOREDOM-BUSTERS-SQUARE

or you can purchase only the Adventure Kit

ADVENTURE-BOREDOM-BUSTER-SQUARE
Or you can purchase just the Creative Kit.

boredom-busters-creative-kit-square
Personally, I’m glad to have both kits, because the Adventure Kit is more outdoor activities and the Creative is more indoor – so some are great for getting outside in the summer sun, others are perfect for some downtime inside when it’s hot or rainy. Plus, there’s a bonus Reading Kit you can add on. This is full of printable book review pages, reading logs, library lists, bookmarks to color, and more. My boys love to read, so we are definitely going to use these!

DSC_7038 copy

Once he had completed the first fill-in-the-blank story, my son asked for another and wouldn’t stop until we had gone through them all! It will be super fun to print these out again to do another version of these silly stories. After we do some of the other activities in the kit, of course. I’ve already printed out the story cubes from the Creative Kit, and they’re ready to go when the boredom strikes!

Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st
Buy Now!
boredom-busters-sales-image
Buy Now!

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids

If your kids are anything like mine, gifts that encourage creativity are always a safe bet. They love anything that allows them to express themselves. And I never have a problem buying them sewing and crafting supplies, because we are all about raising creative kids over here. Here are 15 gifts for crafty kids, that you still have time to get!

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids:

(this post contains affiliate links – purchases through these links cost you nothing extra, but I receive a small commission, helping me to run this site!)

51Ad2jt-gtL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_

Crafty Chloe – this book is ADORABLE. My boys absolutely love how Chloe makes gifts and clothes and all sorts of fun things!41cRbnczNrL._SX450_

Janome Mini – I highly recommend this sewing machine for kids! It works really well (I’ve used it in a pinch ;) and it’s built for even young kids to use safely.

91pY07RoRdL._SL1500_

My First Sewing Kit – this kit has all your kiddos need to hand sew crafts!71fIRkDbHPL._SL1500_

Self-healing Cutting Mat – protect your kitchen table from scissors and scratches

716JzDIV2JL._SL1100_

Sewing Kit – a must for any kiddo learning how to machine or hand sew

81TUTiaX7yL._SL1500_

Yarn Craft Kit – your kiddo can learn to knit, crochet, and make super fun accessories!

510oGSjbJ6L

Easel Accessory Set – this art set is perfect for many ages. I love sets like this where everything comes all together. These paint cups are so great too and prevent a lot of messes!

61w9xEJ7tXL._SL1050_

Double-sided Easel – every artist needs an easel!

71yKRI714eL._SL1000_

Drawing Set – I like how this set has different mediums for drawing, giving your littles the opportunity to use many drawing methods. Perfect for all ages!

81LHjC9SW+L._SL1200_

Sketchbook – this is the sketch book that I use to plan out new designs and ideas, and I get them for my boys as well. They like having their drawings all in one spot, and I like not having a thousand different papers lying all over the place. ;)

51DCliRMUzL

Craft-A-Day – this book is FULL of ideas for your crafting kiddos!51+2PgDb4TL

Felt – this is a must for crafting! There are so many things you can do with felt: sewing, crafting, gluing, cutting…

81AiD2m1kNL._SL1200_

Stained Fabric Markers – my favorite fabric markers! Pair these with some plain t-shirts or aprons for hours of entertainment.

81+y2mahcOL._SL1500_

Assorted Craft Supplies – pretty self-explanatory ;)

A1yL7J0Fp0L._SL1500_

Embroidery Floss paired with Embroidery Hoops for hours of stitching fun!

Happy crafting, friends! :)

Pumpkin Craft for Kids

This post was originally posted over at Craftaholics Anonymous. I’m sharing it here today, because although I originally posted this as a Halloween craft, it’s also perfect for any fall day. Can’t you picture little rows of pumpkins adorning your Thanksgiving table? So if you’re looking for a craft to keep the littles busy today, bust into your recycling bin for this one.

Kids’ Easy Pumpkin Craft

Pumpkin Craft for Kids

My kiddos love art, and raising creative kids is a high priority in our family. We tend toward free for all art, letting the kiddos have free reign of the craft supplies, creating whatever they wish. But occasionally we do a mom-directed craft, and I decided to add to our fall decor with a kid-crafted pumpkin patch!

Kids Halloween Pumpkin Craft using Egg Cartons Tutorial//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

Supplies

  • cardboard egg carton
  • orange and black paint and brushes (Can’t handle the mess of paint? Use orange markers instead!)
  • small pieces of green tissue paper or crepe paper
  • liquid school glue
  • scissors

1.Cut apart the bottom of the egg carton.

pumpkins 32. Trim down the sections of egg carton, so that they are flat all the way around.

 

pumpkins 43. Liberally apply glue along the edges.

 

pumpkins 54. Press the two sections of egg carton together. Hold them together tightly. I suggest setting it down on a table and putting something slightly heavy on top of it to hold it together while it dries. **If you’re doing this craft with really young kids, do these first few steps for them, as you may have to wait awhile for the glue to dry**

 

pumpkins 65. Once the glue has dried, paint your egg carton pieces pumpkin orange.

 

pumpkins 26. If you want to turn your pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern, use black paint to add a silly or scary face! It helps (especially for young kids) to use the thinest brush you have. You could also use a sharpie after the paint has dried.

 

pumpkins 87. Cut small tissue paper strips and glue them together onto the top of the pumpkin! You can also use a green curling ribbon if you have it on hand.

 

pumpkins 9Watch your kiddos be creative with their pumpkins! Because who said pumpkin vines can’t be pink??

 

pumpkins 10Once your pumpkins have dried, you’ll have your very own pumpkin patch! My boys love that they contributed to our fall decor. They’re so proud of their pumpkins!

 

pumpkinsAnd bonus for mom, you can use supplies you have on-hand! A free activity that keeps the kiddos busy and happy. Win for everyone!

 

pumpkins 11

Happy crafting!

Why I Let My Kids Help (even when I don’t want to)

“Can I help, Mama?”

I know these words are coming as soon as I start to open the box. Sigh. The truth is, I really don’t want any help. I know that I can do this much faster on my own, without little hands and fifty bazillion questions and patience… so much patience.

But I look into those blue eyes, and I say yes anyway. Even though I would rather say no.
DSC_8292

It turns out, he’s really good with an allen wrench. He follows my directions, looks for the right pieces, and keeps track of the screws better than I thought he would. And he works hard. Harder than I knew his little three-year-old hands could work.

“I can do it!” he tells me, when I try to step in and speed things up a little bit. You’re right, baby. You can do it. And he does.

DSC_8291

It’s hard for me, letting go of the little bit of control I think I have. So often I just want to get it done, and please, can you just go play, so Mommy can finish this? But most of the time, the world won’t come to a crashing halt if dinner is ten minutes later or if the laundry is folded tomorrow instead of today. One day all too soon, they will walk out of my house, taking with them whatever they have gained from their few years in our home. I want them to remember how I let them help. How I didn’t care if they always got it right. How I handed over the tools or the dishrag or the broom and said “Thank you so much, I would love your help.”

DSC_8297

And while I hope I’m teaching them something, I think I’m probably the one who learns more. About letting go and not being in control. About putting aside my to-do list. About how much they really can do when I let them. Because that table, it doesn’t wobble. Not even one bit.

“Do you remember when I builded that table, Mama?”

I sure do, baby. I hope I always remember.

Summer Fun for Kids: DIY Pool Noodle Sailboats!

For our family, summer = lake. We live near Lake Michigan (which is amazing) and we vacation every year with my family at a small lake in northern Wisconsin. When I was packing up our swim toys, I had a great idea: this year we would make pool noodle sailboats! Simple, inexpensive, and hours of fun. You could do this at a lake, river, or even in your own backyard pool or tub!
DSC_7815

All you need:

  • pool noodle (if you have one that is ripped or broken, this is a perfect use for it!)
  • small stick or dowel
  • piece of paper

DSC_7706_2

1. Cut off a small section of the pool noodle.

DSC_7710

2. Cut the pool noodle section lengthwise. You can cut it exactly in half if you want, but we found the boats to float a little better if you cut them a little more than halfway.DSC_7770

3. Fold your paper in half and make two small holes to poke the stick through.

DSC_7807
4. Poke the stick into the center of the boat (we found it floated better when in the center vs. on one end of the boat). DSC_8102

You should also trim the sail to be about the width of the boat. If your sail is too wide, the boat will tip over. Ask me how I know… ;)DSC_8110

Then set your boat in the water and watch it sail the open seas!

DSC_7956My boys have been loving these boats! They’ve had such a great time testing them out in different conditions, with different sails, and a variety of “passengers!”

DSC_7894Rock passengers were the biggest hit, and also helped to balance the boat if there were any waves.

DSC_7882There’s so many things you can do with these boats, from races to experiments (how many rocks before the boat sinks? how tall is too tall for a sail?).IMG_5784

We discovered that the boats are also super fun to float with the noodle turned the other direction! If it’s super windy, this will also help your boat stay upright.

DSC_7936Keeping childhood simple and fun! That’s how we like it. :) Happy sailing!

 

The Summer Fun series is going on at Nap-time Creations, and there are some fantastic ideas for you and the littles to enjoy!

Summer Fun Series 3

Check out today’s posts in the summer fun series:

Frozen Pineapple at Nap-Time Creations

Orange Frozen Treat at Frances Suzanne

Ways to Play in the Sandbox by Messes to Memories

Pool Noodle Boats by If Only They Would Nap

Summer fun for kids - make Pool Noodle Sailboats! Easy, fun, and inexpensive!

15 Ways LEGO Encourages Kids to be Creative

As a creative mama, I think it’s incredibly important to encourage creativity in my kids. There are so many ways to do this, but in our house, LEGO is one of the biggies. Rarely a day goes by without the sound of my boys digging through the LEGO bins (parents, you know the sound!) and bounding up the stairs, creation in hand, with a loud chorus of “Look! Look, Mom! Look at this!” If your littles have yet to discover the joy of these colorful bricks, here are 15 ways Legos encourage kids to be creative:

15 Ways LEGO Encourages Kids to be Creative

1. Endless possibilities – There’s no end to what can be made with LEGO. Whether they’re using a kit or a box of random bricks, if your kiddos can think of it, they can make it. Creations can be however elaborate or simple as they wish.

2. Open-Ended Play – unlike toys with buttons and screens, kids can play however they want. They can tap into their imagination to create an elaborate battle scene, an enormous mansion, or simply play with their Lego guys and have them talk to each other. There isn’t just one direction their play can take, it can follow their whims and interests wherever they go.

3. Teamwork – Not everything can be built alone! Sometimes you need a brother or a friend to help you out, find the right piece, suggest a different way. Or occasionally (ahem, every.single.day.) your brother wants to use the piece that you want, and either have to cooperate and build something tougher or compromise and change your design.

4. Problem Solving and Perseverance – When something doesn’t work, when what you’re building isn’t turning out the way you want it to, you try it another way. Or start over and try something different. In sewing (and life!), there are so many times that I have to try something two, three, or more times before it turns out the right way. This allows kids to brainstorm and come up with new ways to solve problems.

5. Improvisation – Sometimes life doesn’t come with directions, and not every design can be found in a LEGO kit. The LEGO Master Builders who built the incredible large-scale model of the U.S. Capitol didn’t say “Hey, let’s make the Capitol Building!” walk into the LEGO store and come out with a kit. They worked for hundreds of hours, designing and building, making mistakes and changing their plans along the way I’m sure.

IMG_1373

6. Follow Directions, but Make it Your Own – When I’m following a pattern, I don’t always want to make it exactly the way the designer created it. So I’ll add my own twist and take it in a new direction. This is the beauty of creativity! My kids have gotten quite a few LEGO kits, but after they build them once or twice by following the instructions, they get an idea of how they could make it better or taller or faster or cooler. They get ideas and inspiration from the kit, but their creativity makes it their own.

7. Explaining your DIY – Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of creativity to be able to explain how you made something to someone else. It’s a skill that needs to be developed, and it doesn’t always come easily. My kids love to tell me why they put a specific brick in a certain place or how they got the front of their rocketship to look that way.

8. Don’t Worry About What Others Think – You love to build with only red bricks? Awesome. Your friend likes to build the tallest towers he can? Sweet. Your brother only wants to build race cars to see which one is the fastest? Fantastic – everyone can do their own thing, because that’s what building with LEGO is all about.

IMG_1412

The car racing ramp in Mayfair Mall at the Lego Americana Roadshow

9. Make What You Don’t Have – Isn’t this the backbone of every DIY-er? If my boys don’t have clothes for a wedding, I can make it for them. Can’t find pants that fit over baby’s cloth diapers? Design and sew them! The other day, my oldest said to me, “Legos are awesome, because if I don’t have a certain toy, I can just make it!” Thank you, LEGO, for helping my kids to love to DIY even before age ten.

10. Step Out of Your Box – Sometimes it’s hard to take apart the pieces of a kit and make something new. But after awhile, kids get brave and realize that if they use the piece that came with the camper kit in their flying car, it would make it even better.

11. Aesthetics and Design – It’s not always about function. Sometimes you really want something to look good. LEGO gives kids so many opportunities to practice symmetry and patterns and color blocking – all things I think about when I’m creating a garment or thinking up a new design. I don’t just want clothes that cover my body, I want them to flatter me and look good!

12. Builds Confidence – Don’t you love that feeling when you made something really awesome? And you get so excited to show everyone, and they’re all excited and amazed? It builds your confidence and gets you super pumped to do it again. When your littles make a car that really moves or a building that is taller than they are, it gives them the guts to try it again and to try something even harder next time. One of the first landmarks we saw at the Lego Americana Roadshow was the Statue of Liberty, and my boys were.in.awe. They couldn’t wait to go home and try their hand at something so jaw-dropping.

IMG_1369

13. Concentration – Have you ever tried to build something intricate with Legos? You need a lot of patience and concentration. Same goes for sewing, knitting, hand lettering, building furniture…. you need to focus on your craft to get good at it. LEGO teaches kids to sit in one spot and work on something for more than five seconds.

14. You Can Entertain Yourself – I have to say, I’ve never heard my kids tell me they’re bored. They know how fun it is to entertain themselves and stretch their imaginations and make something outstanding. They’ve had a lot of practice. The more freedom you give them to just build and play however they want to with their bricks, they’ll blow you away with what they can do.

15. Build and Understand What You Can’t See in Real Life – We’re not all lucky enough to be able to travel around the world or even across the country. We can, however, build a miniature version. And if you can’t figure it out? You can look at someone else’s creation. If you’re local and you haven’t checked out the Lego Americana Roadshow yet, there’s still time. It is AMAZING, and I’m not one tiny bit exaggerating. If you’re not local, you should find out if it’s coming close to you – and it’s even worth a drive! If it weren’t for naps, we could have spent all day there, discovering all the tiny details on all the phenomenal creations.

IMG_1385

You can still see the FREE Lego Americana Roadshow at Mayfair Mall through this Sunday, June 28th.

Mayfair Mall
2500 N Mayfair Rd
Wauwatosa, WI
Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 6:00

Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.