Saturday, June 27, 2015

Toy Logs Out of Old Clothes



Today I upcycled a torn cotton shirt into toy logs.  I always make sure the clothes we reuse as toys are not wrinkle-free, as those generally have harmful PFOAs on them.

First I cut the sleeves off the shirt.


I cut one of the sleeves in half to get a total of 3 logs out of 2 sleeves.


I then took some old fabric to stuff the logs.


I cut it into 3 pieces and rolled it to fit the log.  This ended up not being enough so I added some more cotton shirt scraps to fill the sleeves.
 

Here are the three sleeves, stuffed.


I took the ends and folded them closed, almost like gift wrap.




And then I sewed those ends shut.


Then I cut circles out of felt and drew on them with a black Sharpie Stained fabric pen.


I sewed the circles onto the ends of the logs with a blanket stitch and then used the fabric pen to draw wood grain onto the 3 logs and they were done!


Here they are with our Grimm's flames.



And here they are helping cook some of our playfood.


This was a quick, fun project that gave new life to a torn shirt.

Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Monday, June 22, 2015

Block Art

Every now and then my oldest kid and I like to make sculptures and other little works of art out of our Haba blocks and Grimm's Spiel and Holz Design Rainbow, Waves and Fire.  They are all vibrantly colored pieces of art in their own right but when combined, they can look stunning, or just fun and happy, and who doesn't like fun and happy?

Here are some of our latest creations:

A boat sailing under clouds on a moonlit night.

A rainbow gnome village, perfect for rainbow-thematic unit weeks.
(There are some PlanToys blocks in here as well).

A person with a ponytail.

Flowers

A despondent face (Thank you, 13 Words for making "despondent" part of my kids' everyday vocabulary).

Another face.

The sun.

A flower.

Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Unique Green Toys

We love our German wooden toys because they are so open ended and can grow with our kids.  Here are a few of our wooden toys that my kids have fun playing with that are a little different from the norm.  These are all PlanToys and are made in Thailand.




The PlanToys Balancing Cactus is a fantastic toy that can be used in several ways.  Each colored piece is a different size and weight, teaching children about balance.  Kids can build with it to make towers or a plant, and it can be used as a form of Jenga, where kids add pieces or subtract them, trying to make the other player topple the cactus.  We have to be careful with this toy since my youngest still mouths toys and the orange, yellow and red cactus pieces are tiny, but my older son really enjoys this toy.

The PlanToys Nuts and Bolts toy comes with two figures with three pieces on them that can be twisted into different formations, helping to develop motor skills in toddlers.  My oldest wasn't interested in this toy for a long time but around the age of 3 he enjoyed playing with it.  We have another wooden nut and bolt Montessori toy but the PlanToys version is more interesting to my kids because you can make the nuts and bolts into people.

The PlanToys Mini Walking Elephant is an adorable toy that walks down a ramp when tilted just right, teaching kids about gravity and balance while developing their motor skills.  It's an adorable toy that my kids really enjoy.  They love to see the elephant walk and my older son likes to figure out how to make him walk.  I have found the best deal on this toy to be on zulily.com

Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Saturday, June 6, 2015

DIY Play Mat: Outer Space

This was an easy playmat to make.

I just cut out a planets, aliens, a rocket ship and a UFO from felt and sewed them to the front half of an old men's t-shirt that was cut below the armpits.  The back half was made into the Halloween playmat that I posted about last year.


Because the shirt already had stripes on it, I incorporated it into the mat and made it the tail of the shooting star.

I then made some aliens, a UFO and a rocketship.  I might make another astronaut for this mat too.



The mat is crooked because of the cut of the shirt but my kids don't mind one bit.  This is a quick and easy toy to make and it is conventient to bring to other people's houses too, to keep your child entertained.

Here are some of my other playmats:

Pond Play Mat



Ocean Play Mat


India Play Mat

No-Sew Ocean Mat

Farm Play Mat


Dinosaur Play Mat



I'll be posting more including a Dr. Seuss themed no-sew play mat, a car play mat and more in the coming weeks.


Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Upcycle an Old Sock Into a Sheep


Last year, while doing the laundry, I saw a sock that was balled up and thought it could make a great sheep.
So I found an old sock with holes in it and cut off the foot of it.  I then cut the following pieces out of black and pink felt.


The four black pieces on the left (2 in the top row and 2 in the bottom) are for the head.
The next four pieces (2 in the top row and 2 in the bottom) are for the ears.
And the four on the right are the feet.

I first took the two black pieces that are second from left in the top and bottom row above and sewed the tops and bottoms together with a blanket stitch.
I was then left with a cylindrical shape with openings on either end that were not stitched.
I pinched the felt and held the shape on top of the smaller pieces of felt for the head.
I then cut out the shape it made like so:

I cut two of that shape out and realized I didn't need to put on one the end of the head that would be attached to the sock.  
So I just sewed the piece onto the front of the head and stuffed the felt scraps into the head to complete it.


Using white thread doubled, I sewed two little eyes onto either side of the head.
Then it was time for the ears.

I took the black and pink pairs and sewed them together with a blanket stitch.
I then pinched the wider end of it like so to make the final shape of the ear.


Then I took my four black feet and sewed them to the sock, two on each side.

Turning the sock inside out, I sewed the bottom shut with a running stitch.  (This is the unfinished side, without the cuff, seen at the bottom).



I turned it back the right way and stuffed it with the sock's foot that I had initially cut off.
Then I sewed the other end of the sock closed.


I then folded each end of the sock, to resemble a balled up sock, and sewed it in place.  You can see that effect in the picture below.  And then I attached the ears and head to the sock and the little sheep was done.



We normally use torn socks as cleaning rags but this was a much more fun way to re-purpose an old sock and get one more use out of it in its new incarnation.

And when you can't sleep, you can always count him jumping over the fence.



Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25