Category Archives: Handicrafts and Life Skills

Drama Queens & Handicrafts, Part 2: Readers Theater


Our second term began with the basic introduction of a readers theater that would perform once a week for Mom and Dad. To this end, I purchased several books that I thought would help them to stay on track and have short successful {where we enjoy them and not get mad at each other} shows. There were three topics: Greek Myths, Shakespeare, and Silly Fairy Tales.

greek myth scripts

Readers Theater Books

I gave JitterBug (she’s my organizer and go-getter) the books when they arrived and explained what I had in mind. Then I talked to all the girls about it and told them that Dad and I would be available once a week and we would love to see what they wanted to perform.¬†It has been so much fun!

Here are some pics from Spiderella:

Spiderella & Fairy Godmother

JuneBug is Spiderella (in her work clothes here) and she is showing me the Fairy Godmother (BittyBug’s stuffed elephant they dressed up, LOL).

The Prince

The Prince (but why he is in a dress is a mystery!)

At the ball

Dancing at the ball while the stepsisters primp in the background.

Fighting over the Prince

Fighting over the Prince.

Spiderella Proposal

The proposal.

Curtain Call

The Curtain Call – they look happy and satisfied, don’t they? ūüėČ

Because it is reader’s theater no one has to memorize lines, there doesn’t have to be long practices, and it is short and moves along…I think the longest we’ve sat and watched one was about 15-20 minutes.¬†

A Wise Showing and Letting Alone

Charlotte Mason taught that teachers were to introduce a feast to children by exposing them to a myriad of subjects and ideas, one of which she called Handicrafts. In this area, she advocated teaching children skills that were used to create beautiful and real things…and that also could be used to help a person earn a living if needed. Like most things, though, she wanted the teacher to show a child how to do something and then get out of the way and let the child take it on for himself, since we learn so much by the doing of something.

In my blog post about my Drama Queens, I mentioned that JitterBug was helping me to hand craft felt puppets for our theater, but that she decided to to her own thing about an hour into it. It has been fun to watch her finish making – not puppets – but little dolls out of the pattern.

Felt Princess DollsAfter a few weeks, she kept mentioning that she wished that they had included other princesses that she could make and one day she decided that she was just going to make her own designs. She made Meg from Hercules, Rapunzel from Tangled, and Anna and Elsa from Frozen.

Additional PrincessesAren’t they so cute?

Now she has designed and begun making characters from the Percy Jackson series. Here is Percy:

Felt Percy doll

All I did was show her the basic stitches and give her access to my felt stash. She spends hours listening to books while sewing. I love it!

Felt Friday: Hamburger and Fries

Felt Hamburger & Fries

I made these hamburgers and french fries for my kids for Christmas.

hamburger bun

The bun was machine stitched except the seeds which are French knots sewn on it by hand.


The hamburger was machine stitched and I added stripes of black to make it look grilled…at least this way it looks cooked.¬†

hamburger cheese

 I made two kinds of cheese by hand.

Felt hamburger veggies

The lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles are layered and hand sewn. The ketchup and mustard are just cut out of felt and left as is.

2 felt fry styles


The fries are all hand-stitched, and are of two styles. I used a blanket stitch and slightly overstuffed them to get the crinkle look.

Fries in container

I made them little serving bags too since they come in bags like that at some restaurants. 

I made my own patterns (except the lettuce which was a left over from this post), but thought I would share a great tutorial here:

Happy felting!

Drama Queens and Handicrafts: How I Found Some Peace

{I have a whole house of Drama Queens.}

They love to play, act out their favorite movie scenes, Disney on Ice scenes, books, anything! ¬†And we can’t just take a few minutes…everyone has to take their OWN turn and act out every.single.scene from whatever they are performing from – even if their sister just did it, too! Since I have seen the same movies, been to Disney on Ice with them, read the books, whatever…this drives me {totally bonkers}. One hour after they start, I am completely fed up and they are all mad. This had to change but I needed¬†to do it without crushing the kids.

After a bit of thought and prayer…I decided to focus on some aspect of creating and acting that I could handle and that would give them other ways to perform.¬†

One way was to use handicrafts to corral interest and show some options: The first term of our 2014-2015 school year focused on creating puppets to use for narrations and dramatizations of stories. The second term has focused on using Readers Theater scripts to put on SHORT, interesting plays that allow the girls to all have parts, find props, set the stage, and put together costumes. The third term will be used to teach sewing so that they can create their own costumes if desired.

Mr. Bug helped me to create a mini-stage for the puppets using a cardboard science fair project board. This allows us to fold it up for storage when not in use.

Puppet theater

JitterBug decided to join me in sewing puppets (only she adapted them for herself, but that’s another post.)

Felt Puppets

HorseyGirl wanted to make her own since sewing is hard for her, so I asked her if she would do some things for Sleeping Beauty. She is amazingly talented…look at all these wonderful free hand illustrations:

Sleeping Beauty Puppets

Sleeping Beauty Dragon

JuneBug was frustrated with her coloring, so we printed out some and let her cut out her own story. She chose to do The Poky Little Puppy, so we used the illustrations from a lapbook found here.

Poky Puppy Puppets


BittyBug chose her story Bear Snores On and colored the puppets we found here.

Bear Snores On Puppets

We laminated the paper puppets and adapted some of the felt finger puppet patterns I bought to go on the sticks. The fun thing is that it gave us all a definite project for handicraft days, it was something that we were all interested in, and it is something that we continue to use today, even though our handicraft projects switched to a new focus this term. 

Waterlilies and Bridges: A Monet Picture Study

For the first term of our 2014-2015 school year, we studied the art of Claude Monet. He was incredibly talented – not only did he paint, he designed his own garden which has been immortalized in his paintings and can still be visited today. I guess, though, being a painter fascinated with light and water and all the movement to be found therein, having your own garden would be both convenient and satisfying.

monet's water lilies

For our pictures to study, we used the Monet Picture Study Portfolio¬†from Simply Charlotte Mason. ¬†These come with an appropriate biography and 8 nice prints to view and enjoy. We typically put it in an 8 1/2″ x 11″ frame and set it on an easel in the school room to see daily as we are working in there.

Before we start the study, I sit down at the computer and find the pictures from the portfolio so that I can make small prints for each student to put in his own book. Charlotte Mason recommended that each child be given their own small print of each picture studied so as to make it easier for them to see and remember them. It helps to keep something beautiful in their minds and to feel it in their souls. We just use a photo book from Walmart and I print the pictures to fit the book. You can only legally do this if your artist’s works are in the public domain.

I added a couple of books to our study as they helped to bring the stories and paintings alive in the girls’ minds. This is not really necessary if you are using the portfolio biography, but I already had the books, so I read them.

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt (LOVE this series!)

Linnea in Monet’s Garden by¬†Cristina Bjork and Lena Anderson

Claude Monet: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia

Claude’s Impressions by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (I like their books a lot!)

I have an Impressionist coloring book, so I let the girls color some of his paintings as we read the biography.

My favorite thing we did for this study was re-create his Waterlilies and Bridge painting with our chalk pastels…there was a tutorial in our HodgePodge All Through the Seasons¬†book.

Monet's Lilies

We have seen some of his water lily paintings in person at the St. Louis Art museum. They are huge and the effect is felt so much more in person than in a small print.

Felt Friday: American Girl Doll-size Food

American Girl Doll Felt Food

¬†I have shared photos/patterns of the felt food that I have been making for my girls before. I ran across these photos of the doll-size food I made to go with the 18″ American Girl dolls that my girls have and thought I would share them. It was a lot of fun!

Mini-dessert Tray


Fancy Felt Cake

We bought plaques from the craft section at Walmart and spray painted them silver to be platters – this daughter was always wanting to have tea parties with her doll. The platters dignified the food and made them look cool.




A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels

Starting Chalk Pastels

¬†Last school year (2013-2014), HorseyBug wanted to learn more about different art mediums – she loves to draw. So we started looking around and decided that A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels from Southern Hodgepodge would be a great place for her to start (thank you, Tristan,for your review¬†ūüėČ ). She loved it and created lots of things…in fact, she enjoyed it enough that we are now doing them as a family art experience for the 2014-2015 year. Here are some of her earliest projects:

Mountains and meadows


Night Time

Fall Color Water Reflection

The Castle