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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Breakfast in Bed for Mommy … on a very special plate!

My little ones are so excited about the simple plates that they made for Mother's Day this year.  I bought ceramic salad plates at the Christmas Tree Shop for $1 and the kids drew pictures of their Mom on the plates with permanent markers. I followed Heidi from HeidiSongs' idea of drawing a circle for the head and somewhat followed her directions for a guided drawing of Mom.  I then put the plates in a cold oven and turned the heat up to 350 degrees. After about 40 minutes, I turned off the oven and let the plates cool in the oven.  Some of the colors did change a little (several got lighter, and a few got darker).  Although the design seems to be permanent I did write "Hand Wash Only" on the bottom of each plate. We will be making muffins later this week and then send them home with the plate, a napkin and a tea bag so that the kids can present their Moms with breakfast in bed.

There are lots of other Mother's Day Ideas here and here and here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Another Fairy Tale Castle

The finished castle all "blinged up."  The kids love it!

We have another Fairy Tale Castle!  Two years ago, our school did a school wide unit on Children's Literature and I chose Fairy Tales as the genre that our class would focus on.   As part of that wonderful unit, I made this huge castle out of 8 large boxes.
The kids loved it!  Last year I made a giant cardboard barn that was also very popular.  I decided to make another castle this year.  Fortunately, I have learned a lot about cardboard construction that I can share with anyone thinking about attempting one of these wonderful projects.

First - Use Mr. McGroovy's Box Rivets and plans

This step is critical!! Mr. McGroovy sells simple to follow, downloadable plans for lots of different cardboard structures.  The castle plans cost $4.95. He also sells the most important feature of my cardboard creations …Box Rivets.  The box rivets look like this:
The cost for a box of 100 reusable rivets is just under $25 (with tax and shipping costs).  I will explain how to use the box rivets below.

Second - Collect Boxes

Collecting the boxes is truly the hardest part of creating a castle (if you follow my advice for the actual construction:) Mr. McGroovy tells you to collect boxes by getting the name of the delivery company used by a  a store such as Home Depot.  Instead, I found two smaller local appliance companies that do their own deliveries and both were happy to have me stop by and take any boxes I wanted.  Each day I stopped by, I could usually find one or two refrigerator or washer-dryer boxes.  Following Mr. McGroovy's suggestion, I brought a utility knife with me and cut off the top and bottom of each box. I then folded the box and could take 2-3 boxes in the back of my small sports utility vehicle.  It took quite a few trips to collect all the boxes I needed.

Third - Get  Someone to Help You!!

If using Mr. McGroovy's rivets is my most important tip,  getting help is the the second most important tip.  When I made the first castle, I did most of it all by myself.  Mr. McGroovy explains how it can be done and it didn't sound that hard.  It is!!  This year I asked for parents to help and 3 moms came in. What a difference!!!  This is what I suggest:
First, decide how you are going to lay out the castle.  Mr. McGroovy's plans are very general.  You need to figure out where you are going to put the different sized boxes that you have collected.  I laid out the boxes by myself .  It is easiest if you have at least 2 boxes that are the same size for the tunnels on either side.
This is what the room looked like when my first volunteer arrived.
Mr. McGroovy explains how to cut the boxes even if they are not the same size.
This is the point where it REALLY helps to have a second person working with you.  I learned that the easiest way to put the rivets in is to have a person inside the box poke a hole through both boxes.  I had lent my awl to another teacher and found that a meat thermometer also worked very well for making the holes.  The person inside the box should then put their rivet through the hole.  The person on the outside will be able to see what's happening and line the 2nd rivet up at a 90 degree angle and then both people push their rivets until they ratchet together. It really is very simple (with help).  It took less than 3 hours to put the castle together and cut most of the windows and ramparts.

Fourth - Paint the Castle

This step can definitely include the kids.  I bought latex "OOPS" paint at Lowes for $4.  My color choices were hot pink or grey.  I chose grey.  Following Mr. McGroovy's suggestion, we used paint pads.  
The whole process was actually incredibly neat.  I used extra cardboard that I stuck under the edge of the castle as a drop cloth.  I then had the kids take off their shoes and socks.  I did this so they would know if they stepped in paint and could wipe their feet before walking across the room.  The painters also put on big t-shirts.  I had 3 painters working at a time.  I put the paint on the paint pad (and took off the extra paint on the edge of the pan) and then handed the paint pad to the child.  Each child got three refills of paint and then it was someone else's turn.  Although I had to paint the high spots, the kids did a wonderful job painting most of the castle.  

Fifth - Decorate the Castle

This is where we are now.  We'd love your suggestions for this step!

 UPDATE: We've Added Lots of Bling!

This year I have a class that loves bling…They wanted the castle to have jewels, glitter, flowers, lights and thrones. This is what we did.
Princesses, Dragons and Knights made flowers.
Everyone made torches (we have enough torches to light a whole kingdom:)
The finished product is spectacular.
Flowers - check

Flames - check

Glitter and Jewels - check

Thrones - check

Windows (and dragons) - check