Saturday, March 30, 2013

Handmade Travel Activities for the Kids

We've had our new-to-us van for just over a month now, and we've managed to put over 4000 miles on it.  Holy car ride, Batman! o.O
With the extra time we've been spending in the car, I made a few games/activities to keep the kids occupied, so we wouldn't have to rely on continuously popping a different DVD in the player.  All of them were a hit with the kids, but there are some of them that they've been begging to play with while we're at home, too!

DVD Coloring Case
I needed something that would hold all their crayons and paper, without making a mess in the van.  I made these out of old DVD cases!

(pardon the glare!)

Things needed:
Empty DVD case
Fabric (I found little squares of fabric at Wal Mart for 97cents each, and I had plenty!)
Spray adhesive
Duct Tape (Optional-- you can use the spray adhesive for all of it if you want...)
Crayons and blank paper
Utility knife and scissors and a self-healing cutting mat

Remove any cover inserts, or stickers from the outside of the DVD cases.

The tricky part-- cutting out the circle where the DVD goes.  You need to use a utility knife, and slide a self-healing mat between the case and the plastic sleeve on the outside.  You want to make sure you don't cut the plastic sleeve. We did this on three different cases, and each case cut differently.  Some easier than others.  (And yes, I said "we"-- my hubby was very helpful when it came to cutting these out!)

Then cut a piece of cardboard to fit on the side of the case where you made the hole.  Then you'll cover the cardboard with some of the fabric.  Use the spray adhesive to make sure it stays flat on the front, and overlap it an inch or so on the backside and glue down with the spray.  (Of course, I forgot to take a picture of that step, but it's simple...)

Fold a piece of the fabric in half (or you can hem one side if you want... folding was easier for me...) This is how you'll make the pocket for the crayons.  You're going to attach it on the bottom of the cardboard.  Set the crayons on there, so you know how much slack should be in it.  Attach the sides and the bottom of the pocket to the backside of the cardboard with the spray adhesive.

Or use duct tape for the back of the pocket. :-)

Spray adhesive on the DVD case around the hole that you cut, and press the cardboard to it to secure it.
Then cut paper to size to fit on the other side of the case, using the little tabs to hold it down!  (5x7 inches)

Johannah's Book- Even fits with 6 of the "big" crayons in there!

Thomas' Pirate Color Book

Michael's "monster/dino/alien" Color Book

I used left over fabric to decorate a piece of paper cut to size to fit in the outside, under the plastic sleeve.  (Otherwise, you see the giant hole I cut in the back...)  For two of them, I just used more spray adhesive to attach fabric to the entire piece of paper.  For one, I cute out pieces of the fabric and glued them on.

The kids LOVED them!


Felt Travel Scenes

Felt is a fun material-- it kind of sticks to itself, but not in a static-y sort of way.  It has enough hold that I didn't have to worry about pieces flying all over the van when we hit the breaks, and the kid's didn't have to worry about their masterpieces being ruined at every speed bump.

I didn't get pictures of the process of these, but you can see they're pretty simple to figure out...

Items Needed:
Different colored felt
Spray Adhesive

Pick a background color, and use the spray adhesive to attach the felt to the cardboard.  I used a 9x11ish inch piece of felt, and cut the cardboard to fit.

Use the other felt to cut out different shapes.  I put each kids' shapes in a ziplock bag for safe keeping. The boys each got dinosaur shapes, and Jo got princess stuff.   I'm planning on making them some more random shapes soon, (circles, triangles, squares...) so they can use them to make their own designs.

They had a blast with these!  It was by far Michael's favorite.


Letter Sticks

Here I go, sneaking in some learning with their play-time! ;-)  I made these, and thought that they might help take up a little time in the car, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much the kids liked them!

Simplicity at it's finest.

Items Needed:
Cardboard stick (paper towel roll, etc...)
blank stickers and marker/pen
packaging tape

Put stickers all over the stick, and label them with the alphabet.  I did one stick with all capital letters, and one with lower-case.  Wrap the stick with packaging tape, so the stickers stay secure. Then make another set of stickers with all the letters.  (again, one set with capital, one with lower-case)

The kid with the lower-case stick has to use the capital letter stickers and match them up with the letters on the stick.  Vice-versa for the capital stick.
Since it's wrapped in tape, it's easy to peel off the stickers they match up, and do it all over again.

Since Joey doesn't know her letters yet, I was going to make one for her with shapes.  Then I realized I was out of cardboard tubes.  So I used a little plastic cup. :-)

Silence in the backseat!  (Well, until Michael says, "Mommy, I can't find the "insert letter here" anywhere!  It's not here at all! I think you forgot this one!  It's not here! It's... oh... wait... nevermind..." )

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Up-Cycled Plastic Picnic Table

In our fairly small apartment, we've had to sacrifice certain spaces to make room for others.  Mainly, we've decided to lose our kitchen table, and use what is designed to be a dining room as the kids' play room.  It makes more sense to have all their toys in once area downstairs, rather than having them drag things around from their rooms upstairs to play with downstairs, and it definitely makes it easier when it's clean-up time.

So, we had to figure out how to serve meals without a dining room...

It's easy for my husband and I to use t.v. trays for our food, but the kids are a little more... clumsy. ;-)  They need something smaller, and more stable!  We've have a small folding table with little folding chairs set up in the living room for a while, but it's gotten so worn, and it's quite literally on its last leg.  It may now rest in peace!  We have a "new" table!

Beautiful, isn't it?!

Okay, so when we got it from someone who had used this table outside for several years, it was obvious that it had seen better days!  First Step: Deep cleaning!

Eight little screws are all that's holding the table together.  Super easy to take apart.

My husband was a great help, and did most of the cleaning!  We used my homemade vinegar floor cleaner to really scrub it down, and sanitize it.  The table was pretty dirty, but it still only took about 30 minutes.

After it was all clean and dry, the next step wass painting the legs.  I used Krylon plastic spray paint that was on sale at Wal Mart.  I found a brown color that has a little bit of glittery shimmer to it.  Not too much, but just enough to add a little something extra. =-)  (This Stuff!) I set the legs on a plastic chair that I didn't care about ruining, and sprayed!  It covered nicely, and quickly!  I bought two cans, but didn't need all of it.

Here you can see the slight shimmer to it!

BONUS: I had a lot of over-spray that got on the ugly green chair that the legs were sitting on.  Since I had some left over paint anyways, I finished off the can on the rest of the chair!  Probably would have turned out better had I planned for it, and cleaned off the chair first... For now, it's complete with little brown spider webs, and a few random leaves at the bottom. Eventually I'll get more paint, and do the other chairs that we have like this to match. ;-)

Next- Upholstering the seats and table top!  After many hours of browsing online, and probably 3-4 trips to the fabric store, my husband and I finally agreed on a pattern!  I got two yards, to make sure I had enough, and probably ended up with about 1/2 yard leftover.  Then we used our staple gun to attach it to the bottom of the table top and seats.  One of the random difficulties, was getting the fabric around the little pegs that the screws will go into.  I ended up just cutting a slit all the way to them, and then folding the fabric around them a little bit.  Once I started stapling them down, it stayed nicely, and didn't add too much bulk.

It took a little while to get the corners laid nicely, but once I figured out what worked, it went quicker.  The key was to get most of the bulk to what will be the underside of the tabletop, and not the sides by the screw pegs.  We wanted to make sure the table would still piece together easily.  (I used some duct tape to help me keep things lined up until I got them stapled-- it was really helpful!)

Since the seats only had one screw peg, they were a little easier to place.

Once we got all the fabric on, we repeated the process with a layer of clear vinyl!  This way, it will be easy to keep clean, and will wipe down easily after meals!

All done!

Then it was time to put the table back together!  Viola!

What a transformation!