Monthly Archives: March 2013

Personalized Matching Game

My nephew lives in NYC about four hours away from us.  We see him a couple of times a year, either when my sister comes down to DC or when we both go to my parents’ house for the major holidays.  We don’t get up to NYC all that often, as my sister has increasingly pointed out to me (!).  So for his second birthday last month, we loaded everybody up and made the trip to the big Apple to celebrate.

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I wanted to get him a meaningful gift, something that wouldn’t be unused.  I also know my sister has a small apartment — you know how that goes in NYC — and I didn’t want to get anything too big.  Lastly, I know 2 is that age where they can start getting into games and things, so I wanted to make something educational that he could work on semi-independently.

I decided to make him a matching game.  I just got my nifty laminating machine for another craft project a few months ago, and I needed an excuse to use it again.  I had seen similar ideas floating around on mommy blogs and wanted to try it.  Even better, I decided to use photos of our family members as the images that he would match, so it would be game custom-made for him.  I figured he could get used to associating people’s names with their pictures, and then maybe we would all be more familiar to him.  I added in my parents, my aunts, and my grandmother in addition to my kids.  And I did his mommy and dad.  And of course, the birthday boy had to have his own photo.

20130212_214625Here’s what I used:

– color printout of photos, wallet sized (I printed these on regular printer paper)

– scrapbook paper

– glue (you could also use a glue stick, but I only had Elmer’s on hand)

– Popsicle stick (which I suppose probably wouldn’t be necessary if you had a glue stick)

First off, you need to get some good photos to work with.  If I had to do it all over again, I would have made a point to get a clear headshot photo of all the family members I wanted to include in the matching game.  I could have done this when I was home for Christmas if I had thought a little further ahead.  As it was, I had to dig around for pictures, and then had to crop them to show the face clearly.  This made the quality of pictures vary because of the different cropping I had to do.

After cropping all photos to show the face and shoulders, I used the Microsoft Picture Manager program and printed two copies each on the wallet size setting.  Then I glued the pictures onto the scrapbook paper.  It probably goes without saying that you want to glue these back to back, so that once glued, your photos show on one side and the print of the paper shows on the other side. 20130212_220046 I used the Popsicle stick to spread the glue evenly.  You could have used the glue stick instead of the Popsicle stick with white glue.  20130212_220035Since the computer paper was not the same size as the scrapbook paper (and I had a limited amount of scrapbook paper), I had to cut out some of the photos and arrange them so they would fit on the scrapbook paper.  I guess you could say I had to “get them in where I could fit them in.”  :-)  The picture above is of me planning the placement of the photos.  I ended up putting some single photos onto the right side of the scrapbook paper.

Once the photos were glued onto the scrapbook paper, I cut them out and fed them through the laminating machine.  20130213_22290120130213_222911

Then I simply cut each card out and paired them up.20130213_222931

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I wish I could have sewn some sort of drawstring bag to store the matching game, but I ran out of time before our trip.  I ended up  storing them in a Starbucks tea container, which is a cute little metal box that he can carry with him.  Even with that I wanted to modge podge the tea container but didn’t have time for that either.  Needless to say the gift looked a bit homey in its undecorated Starbucks container, but I hope he likes it nonetheless!

Here are some parting action shots of our NYC Adventures.

At the Caribbean room at the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

My sister and my nephew t the Caribbean room at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Snaggle concentrating on a costume at the Brooklyn Museum.

Snaggle concentrating on a costume at the Brooklyn Museum.

Mamacita in the African shop at the Brooklyn Museum.

Mamacita in the African shop at the Brooklyn Museum.

Sunny at the Brooklyn Children's Museum

Sunny at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Me and Mamacita at the Brooklyn Museum

Me and Mamacita working on a drawing at the Brooklyn Museum

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Here’s the gang on the subway to Times Square.

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Snaggle, my sister, Minnie Mouse and Cookie Monster in Times Square.

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My sister and Mamacita on the Ferris Wheel at Toys R Us in Time Square.

Me, my nephew, and Omega on the Ferris Wheel

Me, my nephew, and Omega on the Ferris Wheel

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ABC Quiet Book – Page by Page

In my previous post, I told you the whole sordid story about how my Quiet Book came to be.  I showed each page spread there, but didn’t go into detail about the individual pages.  So here is the page-by-page breakdown, with a description of activities for the kiddos on each page, my favorite pages, and the places where my vision didn’t quite come together on the page (to put it nicely). Luckily felt is very forgiving.

I hope people get ideas from this, or at least pick up some tips about what worked well for me and what not to do.  Again, some of my pages were adapted from the blogosphere.  Most are from the book 26 Lively Letters.  A few others are from the A-B-C 1-2-3 Craft Book.  Both are older books that you might be able to find used as they are likely out of print.

A is for Airplane — the propeller on the plane flips around.20130118_153137

B is for Banana — the banana is attached with velcro and can be peeled and replaced.20130118_154115

C is for Clock — the hands spin around. (such a classic page for Quiet Books, but I did get the idea for the mouse from another blogger, whose page I can no longer find now).  I was proud of how this turned out, even with the unique colors.  I also learned how to do some rudimentary embroidery on this page too.  That was another benefit of the Quiet Book, the chance to learn some new crafting skills. 20130118_153453

D is for Dog — the collar can be snapped on and off. It’s a real dog collar.  I bought an inexpensive one and just cut it to the size I needed and sewed it onto the page. 20130118_153537

E is for Earth — The Earth is a four piece puzzle that you can assemble with velcro. This is one of my unique page ideas. I used free clip art for the Earth shape, which like most of the pictures I made, I traced onto regular printer paper, pinned it to felt, and then cut it out.  I must have been quite tired when planning this page, because I made the water green and the continents blue.  Go figure.  I should have put a red star to identify the state we live in — maybe will add that later. Please note: the puzzle is not assembled correctly in this photo. 20130118_15413120130118_154148

F is for Flowers — the flower petals button on and off and can be stored in the flower pot.  This type of buttoning practice is apparently good for developing fine motor skills and practical life skills too. 20130118_15434120130118_154436

G is for Game — you can play an adapted version of tic tac toe with the yellow circles and orange squares. The game pieces attach with velcro. 20130118_154944

H is for Hair — you can style the little girl’s hair, which is made of yarn. I wish I had added a little felt basket or something to hold barrettes and hair clips for this page.  This was actually one of the first pages I made. I still have about 48 leftover googly eyes.  I see how you quickly develop craft clutter.  Gotta find something to make with those remaining eyes. 20130118_155037I is for Igloo and Inuit — You have to rebuild the igloo by attaching the felt brick pieces to the background via velcro. I found inspiration for this page along with other amazing pages here, but decided to include an Inuit in the doorway (not an Eskimo, folks, though apparently there is still some debate about the appropriate name). I’ve noticed how many stories about Africa feature animals as main characters and act like the people there are invisible. I didn’t want to do the same thing here, so I added a person instead of a penguin.  I’m so proud of that shearling coat, I can’t even tell you.  Also, the original page was in a different language — Polish, I think — so I had to figure out how to do it on my own.  My backup option was Ice Cream with different colored cones if the Igloo didn’t work out. 20130118_15540220130118_155434J is for Jack in the Box — you can button the string to close the box. This one is straight out of 26 Lively Letters. I was worried the clown would come out looking too creepy, but he’s actually okay.  Like on a 5 on the creepy scale of 1-10.  I don’t have a big fear of clowns, but did grow up during the Poltergeist movie era, and the whole connection of creepy = clown stayed with me a little. 20130118_15550720130118_155515K is for Kite — the kids can learn to tie a knot with the tails of the string. This one is also straight out of 26 Lively Letters. 20130118_155703L is for Laces — another classic quiet book page here. You can lace the shoe up and tie the laces. I know this one is a stretch to be used for L instead of S, but I wanted to keep S for shapes.  I learned how to insert eyelets with this page. 20130118_155903M is for “Me” in the Mirror — the hands can be moved to reveal the mirror, sort of like a game of peekaboo. Combined with solitaire.  A little strange, but it still works, I think. 20130121_22515020130127_163554

N is for Numbers — each flap lifts to reveal the corresponding number underneath.20130121_22521320130121_22523320130127_163653

O is for Open, Octopus, and Owl — you can open the “window” or the “door” to reveal the animal underneath.20130121_22532820130127_163755P is for Purse — you can snap the purse open and actually store things in there too.  I put some old credit cards and store discount cards for the girls to play with.  This page is also popular with them.20130121_22541720130121_225447Q is for Quilt — the little girl can be tucked into bed under her patchwork quilt.  Yes, the scandalous little girl sleeps in her birthday suit. This was one of my last pages, and I didn’t have the wherewithall to sew on another layer of felt to get her some pajamas!20130127_16393520130121_225647R is for Rainbow — the smaller felt pieces snap onto the corresponding colors on the rainbow. (I was disappointed with this page — I couldn’t get the sew on snaps to be snug enough. And I also couldn’t sew tightly around the snaps, so the whole page is a bit wobbly.  Likely not strong enough to hold up to a toddler’s determination.  I encourage Mamacita to just point to the colors now to stave off the inevitable downfall of this page. 20130121_225758

S is for Shapes — Shape matching; another classic page.20130127_16424420130127_164203

T is for Tree — You can snap the apples on and off the tree.  This could be a cool counting game too.  The apples can be stored in the yellow basket.  One apple has already disappeared. 20130127_164210

U is for Umbrella — the narrower internal page can be flipped to show an open or closed umbrella that corresponds to the weather. I love this page.  It’s pretty much straight out of A-B-C 1-2-3 Craft Book. 20130127_16434320130127_164351V is for Vegetable Garden — you can harvest the carrots, radishes, and onions from the garden. But you can’t lose or hide your veggies, because I cleverly attached them with a ribbon.  This is one of my favorite pages too. 20130127_16445320130127_164507W is for Weaving — the strips of felt can be woven together in a pattern. I love this page, and as I mentioned, this is one that really engages Snaggle, who is currently 6 years old.  The only thing I wish I had done differently is kept the felt strips in a single layer.  I doubled them up thinking it would be better to have them be stronger and thicker, but it ended up being a little too thick to weave properly once you get to the final strips. 20130127_16464720130127_164615

X is for Xylophone — the parts of the xylophone need to be arranged from smallest to largest.  They attach with velcro. 20130127_164739

Y is for Yoyo — the yoyo is supposed to be able to be pulled up and down, but it already broke!  The bottom part of the string came off. This was another imperfect and problematic page.  I’ve been meaning to try to reassemble. 20130127_164828

Z is for Zebra (and Zipper) — the little red tent thingamajig can be unzipped to reveal the zebra looking thingamajig underneath. This was my first time sewing a zipper.  I was really nervous about it.  Now I feel motivated to tackle it in a real, practical project, like a tote bag. 20130127_16485520130127_164912

The final thing to discuss is the binding method.  I followed the instructions in 26 Lively Letters, which involves stitching pages back to back — she instructs you which pages to create side by side so that when you sew the pages together at the end, they end up in alphabetical order.  But the book ended up being as thick as a phone book though.  I put a denim cover on it, and then had to stitch the pages and the cover together down the center of the book.  This was a challenge!  After some crooked stitches, broken needles, and muttered curse words on my part, I finally got it together.  I also sewed on a handle and straps to close the book with velcro.  It all looks really janky, or wonky as I’ve seen crafters call it.  (unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I don’t have pictures of the cover).  But it hasn’t fallen apart yet so I’m rolling with it for now.

Since I’ve finished, I’ve seen people do the three hole method so that the page can fit in a three-ring binder.  That seems like a really good idea.

Well, if anyone has any questions about the Quiet Book, please let me know.  I’ll see if I can help. Thanks for listening!