Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map

If you haven’t been introduced to our Montessori wall map and quiet book yet, you can read all about it here. This post will be for the second continent in the series: North America! Every continent will have landmarks and animals. Some, like Europe, have more landmarks than animals. North America has a good mix of animals and landmarks.

Overview and Map PatternsAfricaAntarcticaAsiaEurope
North America • OceansSouth America

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Those of you who follow along on Facebook or Instagram have been seeing the animals and landmarks I created for North America. I’m so exciting to be working on this project! This will be an amazing resource for Jax throughout his school years.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

I am posting this project in segments instead of all at once so that you can sew along with me! You can head to the Facebook page right now to choose which continent (or the oceans!) I should start next.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map

Materials I Used

The Pattern (see the first post for the main patterns)

Felt from American Felt & Craftorange juice [orange], ice [blue], pastry [tan], doe [brown], cactus [gray-green], chocolate [brown], cilantro [green], white, black, gray, chai [beige] and fresh linen [off-white]. From Benzie Design – swan [blue] for the water.

Hook & Loop – I used white snag-free Velcro on the backs of all pieces, including Africa. I used the soft loop side of orange hook & loop on the front of Africa. I used once piece of aqua blue loop where the narwhal attaches.

Felt glue to tack down the pieces before sewing, printer fabric for the continent label, embroidery floss in colors to match the felt and micro tip scissors.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

My North America page is not sewn around the edges yet, as I still need to sew the page behind it!

Sewing the Pieces

North America: (Felt used: orange juice orange and scraps of swan blue for the water) For the North American continent puzzle piece, I started by gluing then sewing the water down to the front side. Then I sewed down pieces of orange loop Velcro. (I worked from my stash, so I only had light orange left. American Felt & Craft sells normal orange too!) On the back, I sewed strips of white snag-free Velcro to correspond with the Velcro on the wall map and quietbook. I finished it by sewing the two sides together around the edge with a blanket stitch.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Label: (Felt used: orange juice orange) For the continent label, I folded under the edges (just a tiny bit to hide the rough edges) and creased it with my nails. The printer fabric held the folds nicely without ironing. Then I stitched the label to some green felt and trimmed it down to be a border. I cut a matching felt rectangle for the back, sewed snag-free Velcro to it and then sewed both sides together.

For all of the animals & landmarks, I started by gluing the pieces down to a scrap of background felt with a very light amount of felt glue. I glue several animals at a time to give them time to dry. I sewed them down, trimmed the background and cut a matching backing piece. I sewed snag-free Velcro to the back and sewed both sides together with a blanket stitch.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Eagle: (Felt used: chocolate brown for the body, white for the body, orange juice orange for the beak and feet and sparrow blue for the background) I glued down the all the parts, then sewed around the edges. I gave him a black French knot eye and made some long brown stitches for the feathers on the wings.

Caribou: (Felt used: chai beige for the body, chocolate brown for the overlays and hooves, fresh linen off-white for the antlers and fresh cut grass green for the background) I glued everything down, then stitched around all the edges in the appropriate colors. I used a brown French knot for his eye and a long stitch for his mouth. A tiny stitch made his nostril.

Iguana: (Felt used: cilantro green for the body, salt and pepper for the body shading and limeade lime green for the background) I glued and sewed down all the parts, with his neck beard the bottom layer. On the beard, I made long perpendicular stitches to look like the ribbing. He has a French knot eye and long stitch mouth.

Narwhal: (Felt used: chai beige for the body, chocolate brown for the overlays and fins and swan aqua blue for the background) Oh, narwhals, I love you! A bit of a guilty pleasure, as narwhals are one of my favorite animals (my most favorite will be in the Ocean post.) Most of the world’s narwhals are concentrated in the fjords and inlets of Northern Canada and western Greenland,” so for this map, I’ve included them in North America After gluing and stitching around the edges, I gave him a French knot eye and made diagonal stitches along the tusk. To make the spots, I just made lots of little stitches. The tiny spots are just one stitch. The larger ones are a few stitches side-by-side.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Polar Bear: (Felt used: white for the body, soap sud for the background [discontinued]) For the polar bear, I glued the back legs and body down, then glued the ear on, only pushing one side down so it stuck up. I used a French knot to make the eye, a long pink stitch for the mouth, and black satin stitch for the nose. I stitched all around his body, making longer stitches on his toes for claws, and made one stitch to secure the ear to his head. The background felt I used was one of my last scraps of a beautiful off-white color called “soap sud” which is now discontinued. Fresh linen is another open. It is more taupe then lavender, though.

Beaver: (Felt used: chocolate brown for the body, black for the tail and four leaf clover for the background) The beaver’s tail, back legs and body were glued down, then I sewed all around them. I attached the ear the same as with the polar bear. I used a French knot for the eye and some straight stitches for a stick in his mouth.

Alligator: (Felt used: salt and pepper for the body and cilantro green for the background) I glued his body down and stitched all around. I used olive green to do a French knot eye and a long stitch mouth. I made two lines of tiny dashed stitches to show the bumps running down his back.

SafariLTD provided me with these beautiful World Landmarks and Around the World TOOBs. I am working with them to make this project as amazing as possible. All opinions of these products are honest and my own. We are planning an exciting giveaway for you at the end of this project!

SafariLTD provided me with these beautiful World Landmarks and Around the World TOOBs. I am working with them to make this project as amazing as possible. All opinions of these products are honest and my own. We are planning an exciting giveaway for you at the end of this project!

Sewing the Landmarks

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall MapFor all the landmarks, I started by sewing the front piece. Then I cut out a backing felt to match the final shape and added some snag-free Velcro to it. I finished sewed around the whole edge, switching colors where needed.

Statue of Liberty: (Felt used: rainy day gray-blue [discontinued] for the statue, pastry tan for the base and sparrow blue for the background) I used a pretty gray-blue felt that is now discontinued. It’s one of the problems with using scraps on a project! Blueprint looks like a good option.

For lady liberty, I glued all the parts down. There are some tiny ones! I used a light tan thread to stitch the designs on the base. I used a dark aqua thread to sew details on the statue itself. Don’t worry about too much detail! The overall effect doesn’t really need it.

See the photos for a sample of what stitches to do. I worked from the lovely SafariLTD replica.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Mt Rushmore: (Felt used: gray flannel for the mountain and gray for the details) For Mt Rushmore, I glued the lighter gray details down, then stitched a light gray design to give them some faces. Very simple stuff like their hairlines, eyes/nose/mouth and some shirt details for Washington.

Temple of Inscriptions: (Felt used: pastry tan) I think the temple came out pretty for having only used one color of felt. I glued the stair overlay down, then started stitching rows of back stitch. When I’d get to the overlay, I’d do one long stitch across it. I did an additional long stitch in between rows to make small stairs. At the top, I stitched little brown triangles to make the arched windows. I didn’t pull the stitches super tight, which let them have the curved shape of an arch.

Montessori North American Animals 3-Part Cards

Jax just started his world continent unit with the world continent 3-part cards I made up for him. I finally ordered a Montessori globe after saving up for it, so I’m not really rushing the lessons. However, he saw me working on the cards and asked to have a lesson. He is loving them! I created these cards to be used along with SafariLTD’s TOOB figurines. North America’s animals use a wide range of TOOBs: Arctic Toob, Whales and Dolphins Toob, and River Toob.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Click here to download my free pdf file to make your own. To make mine, I cut them out, glued them to orange construction paper (to match North America’s Montessori color) then laminated them. I love my new laminator! It makes everything so shiny and strong!

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

North American Animal Silhouettes

Another activity that will help Jax with him reading and writing skills is the North American animal silhouette match. Drawing lines between the matches help with writing skills, and recognizing the similarities between the photos and silhouettes helps build visual skills needed for reading. Silhouettes from All-Silhouettes.com, 2, 3.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Activities:

Introductions and Matching: There are so many activities that can be done with all of these materials. You could start with the SafariLTD figurines and introduce the name of each animal to them. You can then present the felt versions for them to match up. Once they are comfortable with the animals and know them by name, you can show them the labeled photo cards and have them match them. Once they have advanced some, you can use the unlabelled cards and have them match the right words to each card or figurine.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Starting Sounds: For a great language activity, have your child tell you the starting sound for each animal. To make games like this extra engaging for Jax, I call them “letter races” and have him run to our movable alphabet and grab the right letter. For correction of error, match your 3-part cards to see if the answers were correct.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

On the Map: You can move the wall map to the floor and have your child place the right SafariLTD figurines on each continent. While you are still introducing them, you can stick to one continent at a time and match the names or photo cards. Seeing the animals on the maps is a great way to help them remember!

And of course your child can match the correct felt animals and landmarks on the wall map or in the quietbook while on the go.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Animal Videos: After Jax matches his animal, I like to have him choose one and then I queue a video about them on YouTube. I like the NatGeo and BBC clips. Seeing the animals in motion really captures his interest and helps him remember them. He was really taken by the mandrill video when we did your African animal cards.

Animals of North America for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

I hope you are enjoying this project as much as I am! I’ve gotten see the maps a few of you have started! If you are sewing along, tag me on Instagram @iolstephanie (I can’t see your photo if it you are private, but I can request to follow you temporarily) or share photos on Facebook. You can also email me.

I’m very late for Montessori Monday this week, but I hope you’ll check out the other great links!

Montessori Monday

I Love Felt! Do You?

I love felt! Do you?

I might have a bit of a felt addiction… Do you? But who can blame me? It is colorful, soft and easy to work with! From the early baby toys/books I sewed for Jax when he was only 1.5 years old, to the educational (but fun!) pieces I am working on now – felt is the best!

I love felt! Do you?

Thank you!

Our little corner of Facebook is about to celebrate 3,000 likes! And I wanted to say “thank you” to YOU! Your kind words, encouragement and suggestions keep me inspired to continue to create. You can also find me on other social networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Almost 3,000!

Almost 3,000!

How do you read your favorite blogs?

Felt Patterns on Imagine Our LifeI was a long-time devotee to Google Reader and I’m still mourning its loss. For now, I am trying out both Feedly and Blog Lovin. (If you are a user of Blog Lovin, you can follow this blog here.) But due to working part time from home (I’m a web/graphic designer), homeschooling Jax and constantly crafting, I am always a month behind in my blog reading! How do you read your favorite blogs? And do you have any great blog suggestions for me to add to my reading list?

If you haven’t already, I’d like to invite you to sign up to receive our posts via email. If you scroll down to the bottom of the site, you’ll find a little box to put your email address into. After you submit it, text will pop up letting you know an email has been sent to you to confirm your subscription. (I highlighted the screenshot to show you the text.)

Subscribe via Email  Subscribe via Email

Once you’ve confirmed your subscription, you’ll get all our new posts sent to you as soon as they post! Fun and easy! I do this for a few of my favorite blogs that I want to stay current on.

Subscribe via Email

Let’s swap!

I’m still testing out having blog/shop banners and buttons on the site. I’d love to link up with a lot of relevant sites – sewing, felt, homeschool, Montessori… If you have a site and you’d like to purchase an ad, visit our Support/Sponsor page. Would you like to swap an ad and put my site on your page? Just contact me!

Thank you so much for following along with me and Jax on our adventures! I hope to have the patterns and tutorials up tonight or tomorrow for North America in our Montessori World Map project. Visit our Facebook page to vote for what is next!

I love felt! Do you?

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

If you haven’t been introduced to our Montessori wall map and quiet book yet, you can read all about it here. This post will be for the first continent in the series: Africa! Every continent will have landmarks and animals. Some, like Europe, have more landmarks than animals. Africa is heavy on the fun animals!

Overview and Map Patterns • Africa • AntarcticaAsiaEurope
North AmericaOceansSouth America

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

Those of you who follow along on Facebook or Instagram have already seen the animals and landmarks I created for Africa. I’m so exciting to be working on this project! It was YOU who voted on the Facebook page to make a world map the next quietbook project, and I’m so glad! This will be an amazing resource for Jax throughout his school years. I am posting this project in segments instead of all at once so that you can sew along with me!

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

Materials I Used

The Pattern (see the first post for the main patterns)

Felt from American Felt & Craftjungle vine [green], pastry [tan], doe [brown], cactus [gray-green], chocolate [brown], cilantro [green], white, black, gray, chai [beige] and fresh linen [off-white]. From Benzie Design – swan [blue] for the water.

Hook & Loop – I used white snag-free Velcro on the backs of all pieces, including Africa. I used the soft loop side of green hook & loop on the front of Africa.

Felt glue to tack down the pieces before sewing, printer fabric for the continent label, embroidery floss in colors to match the felt and micro tip scissors.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

Sewing the Pieces

Africa: (Felt used: jungle vine green and scraps of swan blue for the water) For the African continent puzzle piece, I started by gluing then sewing the water down to the front side. Then I sewed down pieces of green loop Velcro. On the back, I sewed strips of white snag-free Velcro to correspond with the Velcro on the wall map and quietbook. I finished it by sewing the two sides together around the edge with a blanket stitch.

Label: (Felt used: jungle vine green) For the continent label, I folded under the edges (just a tiny bit to hide the rough edges) and creased it with my nails. The printer fabric held the folds nicely without ironing. Then I stitched the label to some green felt and trimmed it down to be a border. I cut a matching felt rectangle for the back, sewed snag-free Velcro to it and then sewed both sides together.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

For all of the animals, I started by gluing the pieces down to a scrap of background felt with a very light amount of felt glue. I glue several animals at a time to give them time to dry. I sewed them down, trimmed the background and cut a matching backing piece. I sewed snag-free Velcro to the back and sewed both sides together with a blanket stitch.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Lion: (Felt used: pastry tan for the body, doe brown for the main/tail and cactus gray-green for the background) For his ear, I put glue on the entire back side but only stuck it down where it attached to the head. The glue dries to stiffen the ear. I made one stitch across the bottom of the ear to keep it secure. I sewed around all the edges, then made some long stitches in the mane and tail. His eye is a French knot with a black stitch going vertically through the center. His mouth is a long stitch and his nostril is a little stitch.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

Camel: (Felt used: doe brown for the body, pastry tan for the background) I started sewing the camel from the SafariLTD figurine before I’d done anything more than check where in Africa camels were located (northern and the horn). Once I started researching for the 3-part cards, I learned that African camels have one hump – Asian camels have 2! Oops! I’ve included patterns for both, so you can take your pick. I sewed all around his body. His ear is done the same as the lion’s. He has a French knot eye and a long stitch for his mouth.

Elephant: (Felt used: gray for the body, fresh linen off-white for the tusks and cactus gray-green for the background) The elephant’s ear is glued down on one side. I actually forgot to put some stitches in, so I have to go back to that. I added some back stitching to make the wrinkles around her legs and a French knot eye. I used gray floss to stitch a line over the eye for an eyelid. The mouth is a long stitch.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

Giraffe: (Felt used: pastry tan for the body, doe brown for the spots, chocolate brown for the hooves and mane and cilantro green for the background) I glued down the mane and body (with the body on top), then glued the hooves, tail end and spots on. I stitched all the way around, making longer stitching in the edge of the mane and tail to look like hair. I used a few small stitches to sew each spot down. There is a French knot at the top of the horn and for the eye. I stitched a little nostril and a mouth. The ear is attached the same as the lion’s.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Zebra: (Felt used: white for the body, black for the hooves/muzzle and doe brown for the background) The zebra has the most intricate stitching. After I sewed all around her body, hooves and muzzle, I made a French knot eye, white long stitch mouth and attached the ear the same as the others. Then, using black floss, I stitched on the stripes, using my SafariLTD figurine as inspiration. The stripes were stitched almost in a kind of satin stitch (where you fill in an area with stitched that all go in one direction). I just kept added stitches to widen the lines, often at angles to make them slightly triangular. At the neck where the mane would start, I made sure to start a new stitch in the stripe at a different angle to show the neck’s edge.

Rhinoceros: (Felt used: gray for the body, chai beige for the background and fresh linen off-white for the horns) The Rhino was stitched very simply, though I did add some back stitching to show the wrinkles at the tops of his legs. He has a stitched mouth and nostril and a French knot eye.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

SafariLTD provided me with these beautiful World Landmarks and Around the World TOOBs. I am working with them to make this project as amazing as possible. All opinions of these products are honest and my own. We are planning an exciting giveaway for you at the end of this project!

Pyramids & Sphinx: (Felt used: doe brown and pastry tan) I combined two landmarks into one felt piece for the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, as they needed to be at the same spot on the map. I will eventually make 3-Part cards for the world landmarks, and there will be two for these to make the beautiful SafariLTD figurines.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

I started by gluing down the layers: the pyramid sides onto the pyramids, then the sphinx, torso, face and finally the features. You may need tweezers for those. Goodness, they are small! I made some small stitches in the features to keep them secure, but didn’t sew down anything else. I cut out a backing felt to match the final shape and added some snag-free Velcro to it. Then I sewed around the whole edge, switching colors where needed.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Montessori African Animals 3-Part Cards

Jax just started his world continent unit with the world continent 3-part cards I made up for him. I’m saving up for a Montessori globe at the moment, so I’m not really rushing the lessons. When we start on his Africa unit, I will present these cards. I created these cards to be used along with SafariLTD’s TOOB figurines. My African animals use the Wild Toob and Monkeys and Apes Toob. I also need to pick up an okapi figurine. It will be a larger scale than the TOOB animals, but it is worthwhile for Jax to have something 3 dimensional to look at.

Montessori African Animals 3-Part Cards

Click here to download my free pdf file to make your own. To make mine, I cut them out, glued them to green construction paper (to match Africa’s Montessori color) then laminated them. I’m still loving my new laminator! It makes everything so pretty and durable!

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Africa Maze

Jax is really into mazes right now, and they are great for pre-writing skills! I’ve designed two mazes for him – one basic and one advanced. Grab them here! We’ll most likely laminate them so we can reuse them. I’ve included an answer key page on this if you want some correction of error. Silhouettes from All-Silhouettes.com.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

African Animal Silhouettes

Another activity that will help Jax with him reading and writing skills is the African animal silhouette match. Drawing lines between the matches help with writing skills, and recognizing the similarities between the photos and silhouettes helps build visual skills needed for reading. Silhouettes (except for mandrill) from All-Silhouettes.com.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Activities:

Introductions and Matching: There are so many activities that can be done with all of these materials. You could start with the SafariLTD figurines and introduce the name of each animal to them. You can then present the felt versions for them to match up. Once they are comfortable with the animals and know them by name, you can show them the labeled photo cards and have them match them. Once they have advanced some, you can use the unlabelled cards and have them match the right words to each card or figurine.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

Starting Sounds: For a great language activity, have your child tell you the starting sound for each animal. To make games like this extra engaging for Jax, I call them “letter races” and have him run to our movable alphabet and grab the right letter. For correction of error, match your 3-part cards to see if the answers were correct. (We haven’t started on the soft G sound, so we might skip giraffe for now.)

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

On the Map: You can move the wall map to the floor and have your child place the right SafariLTD figurines on each continent. While you are still introducing them, you can stick to one continent at a time and match the names or photo cards. Seeing the animals on the maps is a great way to help them remember!

And of course your child can match the correct felt animals and landmarks on the wall map or in the quietbook while on the go.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook with Printables

I hope you are enjoying this project as much as I am! A number of you have told me you’ve already begun the huge wall map. I’m really excited to see how they turn out! Tag me on Instagram @iolstephanie (I can’t answer on your photo if it you are private, but I can try to comment in a different place) or share photos on Facebook. You can also email me.

Animals of Africa for the Montessori Wall Map & Quietbook

I’m a bit late for Montessori Monday this week due to vacation, but I hope you’ll check out the other great links!

Montessori Monday

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

I am so excited to introduce you to make latest big project! Those of you who follow along on Facebook or Instagram have already seen a lot of fun sneak peeks. Plus, it was YOU who voted on the Facebook page to make a world map the next quietbook project!

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

This project will be presented a little different than normal. Because it is SO BIG, I’ll be giving you a chance to sew along with me by posting a great deal of the patterns today. I am creating each piece by hand and then drawing up patterns from the finished product, so some elements will be provided in later posts.

Overview and Map Patterns • AfricaAntarcticaAsiaEurope
North AmericaOceansSouth America

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

The Plan

Today I am giving you the massive pattern for the world wall map and the continent puzzle pieces that can be attached to it. I also included the cover text for quietbook stores all the pieces. Here is pattern. [The pattern was updated 07/24/13 to add the water beside Baja California on North America. Sorry I forgot it!] And here is a pdf with the continent and ocean labels that get printed onto printer fabric. There will be additional posts for the other continents that will include patterns for regional animals and landmarks.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Materials

Felt: I am mainly using scrap felt to create the continents and smaller pieces of this project. The beautiful wool blend felt I get from American Felt and Crafts is just too good to waste! So I am digging into my scrap basket and using all I can. However, this project does require some larger cuts of felt. I ordered 1 yard of “Swan” blue felt from Benzie Designs. This was used to make the 34″ x 18″ wall map and then three 12″ x 18″ pages for the quietbook. I also ordered a 12″ x 18″ sheet of “Peacock” aqua blue felt for the cover, 2/3 yard of white (you only need enough for the long strip version of Antarctica, but I bough extra for other projects) and 1/3 yard of “Peppercorn” tan for the wall map continents. The continents are in traditional Montessori colors including: white, orange, pink, red, green, yellow and brown. I will eventually buy some backing felt or fleece for the back of the map to finish it off, but I have a few little bits to finish sewing first. Note – Antarctica is sewn down to the wall map due to the map projection. But I did also make a continent piece in its actual shape. You just can’t place it on the map.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards  Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Other: If you plan to print out the continent and ocean labels, you’ll need printer fabric. I use a roll that I can cut down to use in my 4″ x 6″ photo printer when I just have a little bit to print. I’ve also seen sheets for sale. For the pockets in the back of the book, you’ll need clear vinyl. I get mine in the home decor department of the fabric store. I am using felt glue this time around to lightly tack down small felt bits before sewing them. It is working out great! I have that exact kind, but found a better price in the craft store. I will be adding some closures to the quietbook – two buttons and some elastic cord loops. I’m still looking for the right ones. The big thing you need… hook and loop! I use snag-free Velcro inside the quietbook and on backs of all the loose pieces. It won’t fuzz up your felt when you close the book or store the pieces together. I also use a lot of colored hook and loop. I use the soft loop side on the fronts of the continents (for the animals and landmarks to stick to). For a stronger hold on the wall map, I used the hook side. This means I will have to put some tissue paper over it if I ever roll or fold it for storage to avoid fuzzing up the felt. I got this turquoise hook and loop for the ocean. The tan Velcro is sold with black and white Velcro in the store. All the novelty colors are available from AFC. I didn’t have the best match in orange, but I am using pieces from my stash.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Felt Wall Map

This piece is not yet finished (it needs a backing and loops at the top), but it is almost there! To make it, cut out all the large pieces and arrange them on the blue backing. Use a thin layer of glue to tack them down. Too much glue will make it tougher to sew through. Then cut out the zillion little islands and glue them down as well. I cut mine free-hand. I didn’t feel like it had to be super accurate at that scale – the overall effect when they are all in place is good enough! Once everything is glued down and dry, sew around all the edges. I used “Dual Duty Button & Carpet” thread in tan. Worked great!

I updated this 8/6/13 to add one more ocean Velcro piece in the Pacific near Hawaii!

I updated this 8/6/13 to add one more ocean Velcro piece in the Pacific near Hawaii!

After that, sew strips of hook and loop on to the map where indicated in the above photo. The ocean ones are for sea animals, the land ones are to hold the continents. I will eventually sew a backing on with some hang loops at the top.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards  Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Quietbook

I have started this, but it is only about half done. To start the book, I stacked the 12″ x 18″ sheets with the cover piece on top, then sewed a dashed running stitch through the center. I then folded along the stitching to make the book. Once the sewing is done, each page is made by sewing two layers together. I have the first and last (cover) pages done in these photos.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

I will go into more detail later, but the cover has the title letters sew on (“of the” is back stitched), and the last inside page has two clear vinyl pockets sewn on – one for animals of the world and one for labels and landmarks.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

The pages will be sewn with dotted outlines and snag-free Velcro so you can match and store the continents. Some pages will have more than one continent, as shown.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook

I came back to this post after finishing the continent pieces so I could share the final positions of the loop Velcro. Africa’s and North America’s are already posted in their patterns. See the rest above.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards  Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

Montessori Continent 3-Part Cards

Jax just started his world continent unit with these 3-Part cards I made up for him. Click here to download my free pdf file to make your own. To make min, I cut them out, glued them to card stock then laminated them. I’m loving my new laminator!

Montessori Continents Free 3-Part Cards

So far, I am presenting them to him to introduce the names and shapes, and we are matching them and finding them on the felt map. As he learns the names, he can start matching the labels to the pictures. Once all the felt continents are done, we will use them with the cards as well.

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

World Animals & Landmarks

One of the most exciting parts of this project is still to come… I’ll be making little felt animals and world landmarks that can be placed on the continents and matched to the beautiful miniature replicas made by SafariLtd! I’ve been slowly collecting each TOOB I’ll need whenever I have 50% off coupons or store credit. They are so neat that I want to play with them myself!

Shopping List

√ Wild TOOB
√ Arctic TOOB
√ Around the World TOOB
√ World Landmark TOOB
√ Rainforest TOOB
√ panda cub
√ Whale TOOB
Ocean TOOB
Land Down Under TOOB
√ River TOOB
√ Pets TOOB (hedgehog only)
√ snow leopard cub
√ peacock
√ leopard seal – other brand

 

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

I’ll be working with SafariLtd to bring you a great giveaway at the end of this project, so stay tuned!

Montessori Continents Map & Quietbook with 3-Part Cards

I hope you’ll sew along with me!

I am giving you these patterns totally free, despite the days of work going into them. I think it will really help out teachers and homeschoolers alike! If you’d like to contribute in some way, you can read more here. Also, Jax’s wishlist is where I add homeschool items I need to buy. One easy way to help? Share this project and Imagine Our Life with your friends! Thank you!
 

For more great Montessori ideas, visit:
Montessori Monday

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

Now that Jax is being homeschooled, I tend to make his quietbooks more educational. (My current project is a huge world map and continent book!) I am so happy that I made a solar system quietbook page a while back, as Jax suddenly showed interest in the planets. We’ve been studying the solar system for a couple weeks now and my little smarty pants just loves reciting the planet names and answering questions about them!

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

Our Solar System Unit (age 3)

Felt Planets & 3-Part Cards

We have been working with the quietbook page, plus using the felt planets on their own to match with some 3-part word and photo cards. You can use my free pattern and instructions to sew your own planet set.

Matching planets and their labels.

Matching planets and their labels.

You could even use the template with colored card stock instead of felt to make a no-sew set of the planets: Cut out the pattern pieces, then cut around them on colored card stock. Embellish with pens or colored pencils. Use a glue stick to piece each planet together, then laminate them to keep them safe and sturdy.

I am providing my 3-part cards free for educational use! Click here to download the pdf. To assemble, print out the cards ad cut them out. Glue them to card stock backs, then laminate and trim. I just got this laminator.

Solar System 3-Part Cards

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards  Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

Planet Art

We did a simple art project one day. I asked Jax to choose a favorite planet photo card from the basket and had him bring his jar of colored pencils to the table. I asked him to pick out all the colors he saw in the photo, then gave him a sheet of white paper with a circle drawn on it to color in.

Planet Art

I cut out the circle, then he glued it to some black paper. He used a white pencil to make stars. I wrote the planet name down as he read the letter we needed off the card.

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

Solar System Fetch

Today is a rainy day, so I used our big chalkboard for this game, but your sidewalk or driveway would work great! Draw the solar system and ask your little one to “Go fetch!” a certain planet. Ask for them by name or number (“Go fetch the planet that is the 3rd from the sun!”) or even by a fun fact (“Go fetch the biggest planet!”) Kids love to get up and move while they learn!

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards  Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

The Planet Song

I stumbled upon a cute, simple planet song on YouTube that Jax adores. We usually close out a solar system activity by singing this song together. This song helped him learn and remember the names of the planets.

There is also a longer song with facts about each one.

Mobile Montessori’s Planets of the Solar System App

We bought this app ourselves and this review is our own honest opinion of it.

We purchased Mobile Montessori’s Planets of the Solar System app to reinforce what we were studying. It cost $1.99. It includes a learning center with audio clip facts about the sun and the 8 planets, a planet size game (drag the planets into place), a small demonstration comparing orbit speeds and a 3 part card activity.

Planets of the Solar System App

We only have the original iPad – a hand-me-down one at that. We have some trouble with the app crashing, but Mobile Montessori confirmed it is due to our older device. They have great support and offered this tip:

Here’s a tip: Double-click the home button on the iPad and all the apps that are “paused” in the background will show up at the bottom. You can “turn them off” by holding one of them down with your finger until they all wiggle. Then touch each one and they will shut down completely. Shut them all down and I bet our Solar System app will run smoother for you!

Planets of the Solar System App

The app itself is pretty, combining the beauty of the planets in our solar system with the simplistic design that Montessori uses. Jax doesn’t use the learning center too much on his own, but we have begun to listen to the facts together. He enjoys dragging the planets into place in the scale game. He always comments on how tiny Mercury is – just a little speck next to big Jupiter! We don’t get that comparison with our felt planets or photo cards.

Planets of the Solar System App  Planets of the Solar System App

The 3-part cards are just like the ones I made, so Jax knew just what to do. They will be good for him to revisit the activity on his own. I really like the idea of watching the planets orbit the sun. It is Jax’s first experience with how the solar system is actually laid out. However, it is small on the screen and crashes the most of all the parts of the game.

At just $2, the app has been a good fit for our solar system unit. We are looking forward to getting more into the facts as we circle back through this unit.

Planet Counting

Jax created this activity on his own. After matching our felt planets and 3-part cards, he ran to get our bowl of glass pebble counters. He then counted out the correct number of pebbles for each planet.

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

We have a lot more we are planning to do with the solar system, but this has been a great start!

Solar System Unit with 3 Part Cards

Montessori Monday

Ocean in a Bottle & Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

A sewing note first… Exciting sewing projects in the works! You voted on Facebook that the next free quietbook pattern be a world map. Your choice was perfect, as I need to start geography and world studies with Jax in homeschool! I’m really excited, as this will be a quietbook with all the continents, plus removable landmarks, labels and animals. Not only that, but there will be a big wall map to learn where everything goes! Lots of updates will be posted and I’ll be blogging each continent separately so you can sew along. Here’s a little peek!

Due to an upcoming beach trip for my birthday, Jax and I are studying the ocean right now. Here are two more activities we’ve been doing on that theme.

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

Montessori uses a lot of 3-part cards in the 3yo – 6yo age group. They can be used in any subject to aid in adding vocabulary, learning to sort/classify, reading practice and so much more. Three-part cards are made up of two photos – one with a label, one without – as well as a separate label. Younger children start with the labeled card to help them learn the vocabulary. One of the best ways to use them is with small objects that match the photos. Older kids can work with the unlabeled card, matching the correct words or writing their own.

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

I knew I wanted to do sea life ocean matching after seeing this Pinterest pin. Armed with a 50% off coupon, I headed to the craft store for SafariLTD’s great Coral Reef TOOB (also here on Amazon). Alas, they didn’t have it! After some pouting, I used the coupon on their Wild TOOB for our world project and let Jax choose a small figure to put in our ocean-in-a-bottle (see below). He chose a dolphin calf (also here on Amazon, but cheaper in-store). I still really wanted to do some matching, so we checked the miniatures aisle. We had luck with this brand, which sells items for dioramas and school projects. I bought one sea life pack 7004 (all that was in stock) and two fish packs 7069. They do appear to have random assortments in each pack, so you might get something slightly different. My sea life pack had: sea turtle, octopus, penguin, dolphin, killer whale and seal. I got the two fish packs because I spotted three fish I recognized between the two: clownfish, blue tang and butterflyfish (I added the black dots with a Sharpie.)

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards IMG_2357 Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

I am a graphic designer by day, so laying out custom cards was a simple process, and I am happy to share my file with you! All of the photos are either public domain, creative commons or by me. All have been credited as required. Please use this file for educational use only. Click here to download the PDF file.

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

To assemble, cut out the cards, mount them on card stock, them laminate. So far I’ve only constructed my labeled cards, as I ran out of the packing tape I was laminating them with (but a laminator is on its way to me!)

Sea-Creature-3-Part-Cards

Jax has had a great time working with these cards so far. We’ve done simple matching games, as well as more in-depth lessons.

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards  Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

In one activity, he’d draw a card and we’d talk about the sea creature and watch videos.

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

Jax invented a game in which he’d trace the first letter of the animal’s name with glass pebbles on his sandpaper letters.

Sea Creature 3-Part Cards

I’m sure we’ll come up with more fun ideas over the next couple of weeks!

Ocean in a Bottle

Ocean in a Bottle

There are so many posts out there on how to make an ocean in a bottle. Here is how it went for us!

We ditched the sand. Too hard to see in!

We ditched the sand. Too hard to see in!

First, I needed the perfect bottle. I don’t drink soft drinks or anything, so I didn’t have much on hand. I had one water bottle in the fridge from a long walk we’d taken, but if you squeezed it, you could smash it in. I needed something with thick plastic, a smooth shape (for no distortions) and a wide mouth (to put the dolphin through.) I browsed the water aisle at the supermarket and found the perfect one – a $2 plastic bottle of VOSS water (which btw, tastes like… water!) These come in glass as well, but Jax definitely couldn’t manage a heavy water-filled glass bottle yet.

Ocean in a Bottle  Ocean in a Bottle  Ocean in a Bottle

We started out using some craft sand in our bottle, but it didn’t work out. As soon as we added our colored water to the sand, it got super frothy and stuck to everything. We rinsed out the bottle and started over without the sand. Jax did enjoy pouring it in with a funnel, though.

Ocean in a Bottle  Ocean in a Bottle

I dropped both blue and green food dye into our water and Jax stirred. We wanted a pretty turquoise ocean. Jax held the bottle while I poured, then he chose some tiny shells and added them in with the dolphin calf.

Ocean in a Bottle

Hi, I’m cute!

I put some paper down before pouring the oil in. I filled the bottle the rest of the way with the oil (but not where the cap covers.) Not pictured, I wiped the bottle down until it was clean and dry, then ran some hot glue around the top before screwing the cap on tightly.

Ocean in a Bottle

The oil and water separate to simulate the look of the air and ocean waves when you rock it back and forth. Just figuring out how to hold the heavy bottle and make the correct motion was a good activity for Jax!

Ocean in a Bottle

He really enjoyed watching the waves, and when he is a little older, we can discuss the science behind them.

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

We’ve just begun our first themed homeschool unit: the ocean! We will be going to the beach for my birthday weekend in one month, so it is perfect timing to learn all about the beach, the ocean and sea life before we get there.

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

To kick off the unit, we took a visit to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. I was pretty sure Jax was going to love it, but I wanted to make it extra fun and engaging. I created a colorful aquarium scavenger hunt!

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

Our scavenger hunt held up well. I had the sheets back-to-back inside a freezer bag that I trimmed and taped closed.

To make an aquarium scavenger hunt:

Being a graphic designer by day, I used Adobe InDesign to make my scavenger hunt layout. You could easily make a table in Microsoft Word. The photos were copied from the aquarium’s exhibit list, and I made sure to check if the exhibits were closed. (My absolute favorite animal, the green sea turtle, was not on exhibit. Boo!)

Ready to hunt for sea creatures with daddy! Happy Father's Day!

Ready to hunt for sea creatures with daddy! Happy Father’s Day!

I made sure to include boxes for marking off found animals, a large simple name for each one, then a smaller full name. Not shown, I typed up facts about each one as I added it to the hunt. Information like: region, fun fact and which exhibit it was in. I ended up remembering the facts and not needing to pull out my list. The font I used is a free Dnealian handwriting font, often used in Montessori.

Some animals we found from our list:

Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frog

Porqupinefish

Porqupinefish

Dolphin

Dolphin

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

Golden Lion Tamerin

In order to make the scavenger hunt easier in a dark, crowded aquarium, we used stick-on jewels to mark off each animal. They we very easy to peel and stick quickly. They were repositionable as I had laminated the two sheets of the hunt together with a freezer bag.

Searching for sea animals!

Searching for sea animals!

The scavenger hunt was a big hit! I ended up carrying it most of the time so Jax’s hands were free to point and explore. I’d tell him what we needed to find in each tank, and we’d hunt together and mark each one off with a gem. We found a lot more than I’d thought we would! (The reason I made my hunt so large so so he’d have more opportunities to find the animals.) I made sure the point was to find as many as we could, not that we had to find all of them.

The Baltimore Aquarium is in those triangular buildings. We walked the Inner Harbor after lunch. Jax got a break with a hip carry in my ring sling.

The Baltimore Aquarium is in those triangular buildings. We walked the Inner Harbor after lunch. Jax got a break with a hip carry in my ring sling.

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

Coconut Sensory Sand

Today we did beach-themed sensory work. Using three ingredients (4 cups white flour, 4 cups wheat flour and 1 cup coconut oil), I mixed up some amazing smelling sensory “sand” for Jax. (Thank you And Next Comes L for the recipe!) I hid seashells from our collections as well as dollar store glass gems. I presented the bin to Jax with a small sifter shovel from Target and a bowl for collecting his beach treasures.

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

He started out hesitant to get his hands dirty, but soon the excitement of finding treasure won over staying clean. He scooped, sifted and dug to find all the hidden objects. Then Jax suggested we write letters in the sand. He wanted to write the words “ocean” and “wave” that were up on his chalkboard. We also made impressions in the sand with the shells and our hands. Jax made “sand balls” by squeezing handfuls then laughed as he crumbled them.

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand  Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand  Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

I’ve seen on many blogs that you can write letters on shells and hide them. I didn’t want to write on our vacation shells, so we didn’t do that yet. There are lots of fun things you could do with sensory sand!

More Montessori fun with glass pebbles

There are so many great Montessori-inspired activities to do with dollar store glass pebbles, from sensory bins to counting tools!

This past week, Jax and I have already used them for counting with our number cards and to trace our sandpaper letters. Some other ideas are:

Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand  Aquarium Scavenger Hunt & Coconut Sensory Sand

Find more Montessori activities at the Montessori Monday link-up!
Montessori Monday

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

Back when I started homeschooling Jax, we chose a letter and number a week to focus on. He was super excited to learn, but every day turned into a struggle. He couldn’t focus, no matter how fun things seemed. He was dying to learn, but it almost seemed like he was just too young at just under 3yo.

I stepped back and switched to unschooling while I did a lot of reading and research. The unschooling was enlightening. I let his interests lead the way and turned them into teachable moments. He learned more than he did during our two months of traditional homeschooling! However, the things he was asking to learn – spelling, addition/subtraction – were tricky to teach a 3yo who wasn’t mentally ready for abstract concepts.

This lead me to Montessori. All I’d known about it was that Montessori schools let the children go at their own pace. What I discovered after researching, is that Montessori allows a young child (3-6yo is when academics really start) to start learning right away by using concrete materials, then gradually moving to the abstract. For example, using beads to introduce the concept of quantity, or having tactile “sandpaper letters” that a child can feel and experience when being introduced to letter forms and their sounds. They also focus a lot on practical life activities that set a child up to handle daily tasks and improve their manual dexterity – needed to move into the early stages of writing.

We’ve only been formally using Montessori for about a month, but I did switch my teaching methods to match up as soon as it looked like the right fit for Jax. Thanks to Jax’s generous aunt and uncle, he was gifted much of the language materials he’ll need over the next year or two. And, I’ve been hard at work doing DIY projects to get some of our other materials together.

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

DIY Montessori Color TabletsSensorial

Montessori encourages children to work with their senses – activities called “Sensorial“. These might include sound boxes, activities involving tastes or smells, or this project: color tablets. There are three sets of Montessori color tablets. The first introduce the basic concept of colors, and the second works to teach colors and matching. Jax has aced these concepts through other activities, so we are coming in on the final box.

I am doing the traditional Montessori “color box 3″ which is always 7 shades of 9 colors. It teaches the color spectrum, as well as dark/light and discerning subtle differences. This translates to a better grasp on comparisons/differences, patterns and visual acuity that helps with language and math later on.

There are many activities you can do with color tablets:

  • Sort them from lightest to darkest
  • Play ispy with objects around the room
  • Sort buttons/objects to match the color tablets
  • Compare them at a distance (a child has to fetch a lighter/darker tablet from across the room, without having the original with him to compare)

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

To make our DIY Montessori color tablets, I bought 6 pieces of balsa wood from the craft store, each were 3″ x 24″ x 3/32″. Using a ruler, pencil and a utility knife, I scored 2″ wide rectangles on both sides, then gently snapped them apart. I made 63 total.

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

I sanded them down (tedious!) and sprayed them with primer.

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

Using the 2″ wide tablets as a guide, I taped off the edges of each tablet. Traditionally early Montessori tablets were made of silk thread, so there were white edges to grasp so students didn’t stain the threads. The uniform look of the white edges help to isolate the quality (color) that the tablets are focusing on. Isolation of quality is big in Montessori materials.

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

I painted the tablets, doing one color at a time. I mostly started with the darkest color – straight from the bottle or tube, then added white in increasing levels. For some of the lighter shades I started with white and added drops of color. I mostly used craft paints to save money, but I did find that the color seeped under the tape. On the tablets I used my expensive artists’ acrylics I had no seepage. Since the next step was to remove the tape and paint the edges white, I wasn’t too concerned. I was happy to use the less expensive paint.

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

Once the colors and edges were painted and dry, I used matte Mod Podge to seal them. I chose matte because I didn’t want the shiny glare of gloss to make discerning the shades more difficult. I figured I could always add a second coat with gloss if I didn’t like the matte, but the matte is actually the perfect level of shine for me.

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

Jax’s first presentation of the color tablets went well! He knew instinctively which colors were lighter and darker. When he focused, he could correct his own errors. He also enjoyed making patterns of light/dark/light/dark. He is a rainbow lover, so anything with rainbow colors to order makes him happy.

IMG_2250

While I only had him grade two colors mixed up so far, we did work together to lay them all out for a photo. He helped me correct any mistakes and was so proud of the finished work!

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

This project was simple to do, just tedious due to there being 63 tablets. I need to get a better box for them eventually, but we’ll just keep them mixed up in a basket for now.

Check out the Montessori Monday link up for more ideas!

Montessori Monday

DIY Montessori Color Tablets

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush

For much of this project, I did things the same as with the Pinkie Pie I made my niece for Christmas. You can read that post for many details I will be leaving out here!

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

I scaled the pony body pattern up for a larger, huggable plush. This also made it easier to sew with felt. Felt is thick, and sewing inside out with seams can be tough. There were many places (wings, tips of hair) where it was really hard to flip the sewn felt right-side out, even at the larger size! My pattern ended up being 9.4″ wide from foot to foot (E2 to E2) on the “Underbody” piece. I had to break up the “Body Side” piece to print, then tape it together.

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

I did all of the details (everything but the body and eyes) freehand – cutting paper, then felt to whatever looked right. I did my best to photograph each piece to scale so I could draw it into a pattern for you later. Please keep that in mind when using the pattern! Things might be a little off since it was created after the fact and not tested. Grab my pattern here. (The pattern for the body is linked into the Pinkie Pie post.

IDIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles  DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Body: Rainbow Dash’s body is sewn the same way as Pinkie Pie’s was. I also used the same kind of felt, so that the two ponies will age the same. It is from Felt for Less. I got a rainbow pack as well as some light blue. Her eyes, nostrils and mouth were sewed on the same as well. (Note that she has different eyelashes than Pinkie.)

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Cutie Marks: I cut the entire shape of the rainbow bolt out of yellow as my base ,extending it under the cloud a bit. I then cut the red and blue stripes to sew on top. They are tiny! Use sharp micro-tip scissors and be patient. I had to try twice on one of them. Sew the red and blue onto the yellow (my photo shows webbing, but I ended up not using it.) Overlap the white cloud, then sew it to the pony. A curved needle may help if you’ve already sewn and stuffed her. I used a plain one and jumped around a bit when stitches were too close to maneuver to. I added blue back stitched outlines to the cloud and to make the extra swirls.

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles  DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Tail: My pattern for the tail already has  1/4″ seam allowance added, because I photographed it at that stage. Cut the base out of scrap felt (I used extra body felt) then layer the stripes on top to match, starting from red and working out to purple. Sew down the overlaps with matching thread.

Put right sides facing and sew around the large, straight areas, leaving any small flippy hair ends open, as well as a couple inches at the base of the tail. urn it right side out and sew the little flippy end bit by hand with a ladder stitch. (I talk about this in the Pinkie Pie post – It was just too hard to turn the tiny hair ends right-side out using felt.) Stuff the tail through the base, then fold in the remaining seam allowance and ladder stitch it closed. Attach the tail the same way mentioned int he other post. I kept going back and reinforcing it. Her tail is heavy!

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Mane: Used the same technique of overlapping the stripes to make the tail, but start with the blue stripe as the base and layer on the green and purple on the sides. Sew and lightly stuff. Sew closed and attach to her neck so it can curl around to her left side.

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Bangs/Fringe: For each segment, sew the two main pieces together along the top and front, leaving the bottom and end open (see dots). Open like the triangular roof of a tent and sew the base to it, leaving the end open for stuffing. (See the letters on the pattern and the photos for help understanding where things go.)

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Sew the end shut with a ladder stitch and attach them to her head between the ears. Make sure the are right up against the lower mane, and squish them in a bit to fit. I sewed them to each other and to her head near the base.

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles  DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Wings: These are similar to the mane, in that they are lightly stuffed, with the feather detail appliqued on. I actually sewed all the way around each wing, minus a couple inches for an opening) and turned each feather right-side out in a very slow process involving pointy objects and long pins used to grab bits of felt and pull it up. It took longer to flip the right way out then it did to sew them, but they came out neat. Something to keep in mind if you want to sew all the way around the tail. I attached them to her body with ladder stitch.

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Goggles: I had very little time to make accessories, and apparently Rainbow Dash doesn’t wear a lot of easy to sew clothing. I saw an image of her in goggles, and knew I wanted to do those! I freehanded these as well – including the circles. I cut out two rings of gold felt (from American Felt & Craft) for each eyepiece and sewed them together with clear vinyl layered inside. I cut strips of thick 100% wool felt in brown and sewed it in a ring to each eyepiece, layering in a long ribbon on one outer edge and a short piece for the nose bridge between the two. I cut the long ribbon to fit around her head and added colored Velcro to the end (and the inside of one brown ring.

My niece received her new pony Memorial Day weekend when she came to stay with us. She loved her and carried her and Pinkie Pie around the house her whole stay! Next up will likely be Apple Jack for Christmas. Stay tuned!

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Happy sewing! If you sew your own My Little Pony, I’d love to see it! Email me or stop by our Facebook page.

DIY Rainbow Dash Plush with Goggles

Toddler App Review – Gappy’s First Words

Toddler App Review - Gappy's First Words

It was perfect timing when we received a copy of Spinlight’s new phonics app Gappy’s First Words. I had just decided to start using Montessori methods full time for Jax’s homeschooling, and was switching from memorizing the alphabet to teaching letter sounds and empowering him to read and spell on his own. (Should I start blogging about homeschooling again? Stop by our Facebook page and let me know!)

Toddler App Review - Gappy's First Words

I handed this app over to Jax without any presentation to him, and he dove right in. He loves letters, so he first clicked on the “ABC” button. There you’ll find an alphabet page where you can listen to either the letter names or their sounds. Perfect, as I’m now using letter sounds. This is just a free play area of the app.

Toddler App Review - Gappy's First Words

Next, Jax clicked on Gappy’s silhouette and entered the game. I let him choose his level, and of course he wanted to do the highest level – 4. In level four, you aren’t given any letters in the three-letter CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. We’ve actually been working on our Montessori pink level CVC words for the past two weeks, but hadn’t started when we first tried Gappy. It was a nice way for Jax to get a feel for sounding out a word and writing it based on each letter sound he hears. I played with him, and separated the sounds out for him.

Two weeks later, Jax can reliably get starting and ending sounds himself with our encouragement, but still needs us to slow down the words for that middle vowel. Gappy’s First Words ties in great with our Montessori language lessons,. I’m happy to let my son “play a game” that is actually helping him learn to read and write at age three!

Toddler App Review - Gappy's First Words

There is a reward system built into the game. You earn house parts so you can design Gappy’s house. Every 10 words you complete, you unlock another house item. This hasn’t been a huge motivator for Jax. But he loves letters and finds the spelling to be fun in itself.

We have an original iPad 1 and have had no technical problems with Gappy. A good thing, as our iPad isn’t always able to handle new apps. Thank you Spinlight for introducing us to Gappy’s First Words!

Wee Wonderfuls – Sewing Rag Dolls

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When we let our family know we’d be visiting them for a day while we took our California vacation, my husband’s aunt reached out to me to see if I’d like to do a sewing craft with her adorable twin girls. They are 5, and S loves fashion design. I was very excited at the idea, but once it was mentioned we’d likely do a trip to Legoland with them, I needed to think of something I could leave with them.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

I decided to try sewing two Wee Wonderfuls rag dolls, making a lookalike dolly for each girl. That way, I could also pack up a little box of sewing goodies – felt buttons (in pink and purple – their favorite colors), floss, ribbon scraps and some needles. I threw in some barrettes and headbands from the dollar store, thinking I could sew the buttons into pretty hair clips for the girls and their dolls if we had time. If not, the felt buttons would be simple for their mom to help them with.

Legoland

We ended up at Legoland. Jax LOVED it! (Despite the rain.)

I used the Kit, Chloe and Louise pattern for the dolls. It included a lot of clothing options, so I was able to make two outfits per doll. (Sewing tiny doll clothes was NOT fun for me! Some I made did not make the cut. The pajama top I attempted looked like that Cosby shirt.) I actually made three dolls – my first a test doll for Jax. I was glad I did – I learned a lot!

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

I think the girls liked them! They were still in that shy phase after not seeing us for a year and a half when I gave them to them. It was very sweet seeing them with their lookalikes.

The Redhead – A’s Doll

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

Curly red hair! Swoon! Beautiful, but how do you make it translate to yarn? I actually found the perfect yarn for A’s doll, and purchased it when it was 50% off (I used 1.5 skeins.) It’s Martha Stewart’s Lofty Wool Blend. I sewed my hair on differently than the pattern called for. More on that below.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

Both dolls got a lined jumper with trim and vintage button’s from my mom’s collection as their main dress. A’s doll had a purple and lime pattern on the outside and lavender solid on the inside. I added vintage lace trim, a little ribbon belt and some mini ric rac around the neck.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

Both dolls got shoes, but I used the shoe pattern in two different ways. For A, I did brown 100% wool felt, with a white wool blend felt crescent sewn in to look like a sock. I added a ring of lace and a sew-on jewel to each.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

I really liked this jumper pattern because the lining made it so finished looking.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls IMG_2009

For A’s second dress, I made a standard pillowcase dress with a purple floral pattern and lavender satin ribbon.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

Quick and pretty!

The Blond – S’s Doll

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

Honey blond hair! For S’s doll, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn in Honey. S often styles her hair with a side part or ponytails, and loves hair clips. I made her hair thick, focusing on both a side part that hangs well when loose, and divides all the way down (to allow for ponytails.)Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

S’s main dress is a pink/black/blue striped pattern on the outside and pink on the inside. I added large pink ric rac to the bottom and vintage buttons at the shoulders.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

For her shoes, I used a magenta 100% wool felt, ribbon and vintage buttons.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

For her second dress, I followed one of the dress patterns included with the doll pattern. I used a cute pink flower fabric.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

The Doll’s Wigs

I knew I wanted to do the doll’s hair differently than how the pattern instructed. I really didn’t want their scalps to show through – especially on A’s doll where I couldn’t sew too many rows of hair or else it would be too thick. Being a felt lover, I decided to sew the yarn directly to some felt to make a wig, then sew it on to the doll.

Hopefully this gallery helps explain how I made my doll wigs. Here is the shape I cut in the felt, and what I did for the blond doll.

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

This (double) project was a lot of work, but so much fun!

Wee Wonderfuls - Sewing Rag Dolls

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

I have a lot of quiet book pages for Jax, as you can guess! When we go on trips, sometimes I just put a few pages into Jax’s bag. Other times I pack some pages into the simple cover I made. But if we are going on a long car trip and I want to bring a lot of pages with loose pieces, I bring the double-wide pillow cover I made.

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

What I used:

Handles: I used 2 strips of fleece for each handle – 2″ x 12″ (estimated). I sewed each handle together (0.5″ seam allowance), right sides facing, leaving one small end open. I turned and pressed it, folding the open end in, then top stitched all around (0.25″ seam allowance).

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

Main Body: For the body of the case, I took two pieces of fleece that were 29″ x 29″. I sewed them together (0.5″ seam allowance), right sides facing, leaving a 4″ hole open. I turned and pressed it, folding the opening in, then top stitched all around (0.25″ seam allowance). I sewed the handles in place, stitching squares with x’s inside to attach them.

I sewed strips of snag-free Velcro around the edges, making sure the strips matched up when the case is folded closed. The sang-free Velcro is great because it sticks together without snagging and damaging your felt.

Pillow Quiet Book Cover
Binder Ring Strap: (This works for my method of binding my pages. You may need to modify it.)

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

To make the strap to hold the binder rings, I took two 11″ x  3″ strips of fleece and sewed them together (0.5″ seam allowance), right sides facing, leaving one small end open. I turned and pressed it, folding the open end in, then top stitched all around (0.25″ seam allowance).

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

I laid the strap in the center of the top half of the case (on the inside) and stitched the short ends down with double rows of stitching. I then made two lines of stitching that divided the strap into thirds, and attached a 3″ binder rings to the top and bottom thirds.

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

Put half of your pages on one side of the rings, and the other half on the other side.

Pillow Quiet Book Cover

When the case is open, you can sit on it like a blanket and play. When it is closed, you can use it as a pillow!

Pillow Quiet Book Cover