Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Green Toys: Barn Animals

PlanToys

My son loves the adorable PlanToys Farm Animals set.  Unfortunately, my dog does too.  She ate the head off the sheep and an ear off the mother cow.  I don't normally purchase leather products but I suspect I unintentionally did with this set, and the cow's ears are leather, since my dog was so attracted to them.  They are definitely not wood and may be synthetic leather.  Either way, thanks to my dog, the cow now just has one ear and our sheep lost its wooden head.  Since PlanToys didn't return my emails or calls, asking them how to purchase a replacement sheep, I ended up making a new head for the sheep out of wool felt that looked more like a donkey and thus "donkeep" was born.  The PlanToys set comes with a pig, a dog, (the only odd part of this set, in my opinion, since it doesn't really look like a dog), a mother cow and baby cow, and a sheep with removable velcro wool for shearing.  I found the cheapest deal on this set on Amazon last year.

Anamalz makes a line of poseable farm animals as well, available at amazon.com and other online retailers.  Anamalz are made out of Chinese Maple wood.  The waste from the manufacturing process is given to a local farm to grow mushrooms.  The glue is formaldehyde free, the fabric is AZO free, and the paint is child safe, according to their website.  Purchased individually, they're pricier than the PlanToys set but just as cute.  Zulily has them on sale a couple times a year, where the toys are bundled and end up being cheaper than Amazon for the most part.  You can learn more about them here.

Holztiger also makes a line of heirloom farm animals, like the large cow in the picture above.  Unlike Anamalz, which is made in China, Holztiger is made in Europe but again, these toys are more expensive than PlanToys' farm animals since you are purchasing them individually.

My son loves all these farm animals and we are happy to support these green companies by purchasing their products.

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more info on green toys and products, DIY toys, and more posts on Lullaby Paints including their chalkboard paint, chalkboard stairs, and do it yourself chalkboards.  
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, November 16, 2014

DIY Dinosaur Playmat with Storage Pocket and Dinosaurs


I made a dinosaur playmat out of an old cotton shirt anf felt.  Here's how:

1.) Cut the sleeves off an old t-shirt.

This will become your storage pocket on the back of the playmat to hold the dinosaurs in.

2.) Cut the armpits out of the shirt and cut down the length of the two sides so you have two pieces like this:


One of these became my dinosaur playmat.  The other became a farm playmat that I will post next week.  3.) Sew the unfinished edges of the shirt by folding over a tiny bit of the material and then sewing over it.

4.) Sew one sleeve to the back of the playmat.  You just need to sew the three unfinished sides down, leaving the hemmed end of the sleeve at the top (seen near the t-rex's head).


5.) I made three dinosaurs out of felt.  I cut two of the same shape out for each of their bodies, (two T-Rexes, 2 Stegosaurus, 2 Sauropoda) and sewed the matching pieces together using a whip stitch.  You can also use a blanket stitch.  I just drew on their faces with a ballpoint pen.  You could use a Sharpie Fabric Marker too to make sure the color doesn't rub off.

6.) Finally, I cut out shapes to make volcanoes, foliage and a pond.  You can just attach it to the shirt with a simple running stitch or use a sewing machine for something a little sturdier for play.  And if sewing isn't your thing, you can just cut the landscape shapes out and lay them down on the background of the shirt.

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more green toy and product recommendations, DIY toys, and more posts on Lullaby Paints including their chalkboard paint, chalkboard stairs, and do it yourself chalkboards.  
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY Play Mat: Pond

I made a pond play mat out of felt and old cotton men's shirts that were not wrinkle-free, to ensure they did not contain any PFOAs.  The lilly pads are made from the same green shirt that I made seaweed from in the ocean play mat.  The reeds and lotuses are made from wool felt.
I cut out a pocket from the blue men's shirt and sewed it to the back of my mat so I'd have a place to store the toys and ensure they didn't get separated from the play mat.


I made a frog, duck, water snake and turtle for the play mat, leaving some lilies unattached on one side to allow the animals hiding spots during play.

This was yet another low cost, fun homemade toy that helps develop imaginations for children.  If you want to see more examples on this blog, you can search "DIY" in the search box on the upper right for fun homemade toys like a doctor's/vet's kit, play food, felt Hindu gods and mythological characters, a cardboard produce stand, card table forts, felt toys, other play mats and much more!






















Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more green toy and product recommendations, DIY toys, and more posts on Lullaby Paints including their chalkboard paint, chalkboard stairs, and do it yourself chalkboards.  
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25


Sunday, November 9, 2014

DIY Cardboard Blocks


When we placed our large order for Lullaby Paints' zero VOC primer and wall, wood, and chalkboard paint, we didn't realize how many boxes we would be getting in the mail.

Those aren't even all the boxes.

It didn't feel right to recycle those boxes without getting more use out of them.  I looked at the white boxes and realized they would make perfect large scale cardboard blocks since they have a lid that tucks into the box to easily close.  And because they were white, we could paint them however we wanted to personalize them.  So my 2 year old son and I began painting a couple boxes a day with Crayola paint that was permanent and not washable, so hopefully the color won't rub off on our floor or kids' hands when they're playing with them.


Within a couple weeks, the boxes were done.







These simple boxes provided us with hours of fun as an art project when we painted and will now entertain the kids as blocks, until they fall apart.  It is a great way to give boxes used in shipping and packaging a few more incarnations before getting rid of them.





Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more green toy and product recommendations, DIY toys, and more posts on Lullaby Paints including their chalkboard paint, chalkboard stairs, and do it yourself chalkboards.  
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DIY Ocean Play Mat


Using an old sweatshirt as the base for this play mat, I sewed on seaweed from an old men's cotton shirt that wasn't wrinkle-free (to ensure there were no PFOAs in the shirt).  I made a merman and mermaid out of felt and the same green shirt that the seaweed came from.

I made a whale and fish out of other old men's shirts that weren't wrinkle free and an octopus out of an old cotton shirt of mine.  In all four instances, I cut my marine life shapes around areas which already had buttons sewn on, to save me the trouble of sewing on buttons or embroidering eyes onto the creatures.

I cut out the pocket from the same cotton blue men's shirt that the small fish came from and just sewed it to the back of the play mat to hold all the toys.

The treasure chest and patch of sand were made from old wool felt scraps.

This was a quick project that put old clothes to good use and the pocket on the back makes clean up a breeze and helps ensure small toys don't get separated from their sets.

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts, including more on Lullaby Paints, green toys, green products and more Do It Yourself toys.  
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chalkboard Paint Birch Tree Mural Featuring Lullaby Paints Zero VOC Chalkboard Paint

My Chalkboard Paint Birch Tree Mural

After our painters were done painting our walls, ceiling and doors with Lullaby Paints' zero VOC primer, wall paint and wood paint, featured in my post last week, we had them paint a chalkboard wall, (check back next week for more information on that).  We still had a lot of chalkboard paint left so in addition to other projects which I will blog about in the upcoming weeks, (including chalkboard stairs and DIY chalkboards out of poster frames), I decided I wanted to make a birch tree wall mural using the remaining Blackest Black chalkboard paint.

Lullaby Paints Blackest Black Chalkboard Paint in its unique, environmentally-friendly packaging
 I first started drawing the birch trees on with pencil but then I realized it would be faster to just make the trees out of painters' tape.  So I got out my step ladder and began making the trees.  I wanted the birch trees to serve as a transition from the chalkboard wall on the left so I settled for six trees.  After outlining the trees, I tore bits of tape off and placed them perpendicularly to the trunk and stems as seen below:

I used a one inch brush from an old art set of mine to fill in the trees.

I started with the tree on the right, in case this turned out terribly and needed to be painted over.



I waited a few hours and then did the second coat.  A couple hours after the second coat was done, I removed the tape and was left with this adorable birch tree!


You can see a smudge of brown on the lower left of the tree.  For some reason the tape took off some of the wall paint there.  


I just used a small paint brush to go over that spot with more of Lullaby Paints' Sheep's Wool wall paint and all was well again.
Fairly confident that this wall mural was going to look great, I then filled in the rest of the birch trees.




And then I removed the tape.  There were some spots where the paint bled across the border of my tape so I used this tiny angled brush to fix the edges.



And I had one more spot with the trees to the left of the door where the tape removed the paint.  I just fixed it by painting more Sheep's Wool over it.


And the project was done!  Forgive the look of the doors there.  The painters still had to do a second coat.

Chalkboard Wall on the left, Birch Tree Mural, and Lullaby Paints Wall and Ceiling and Wood paint



And because the trees are made of chalkboard paint, you can prime a spot or two, (by rubbing the area with chalk and then smearing the chalk in so that future chalk markings are not permanent) and "carve" your initials or your children's initials into a heart or draw whatever graffiti you want on your mural and erase it.  I wanted the mural to be a dark black and not the smudgy gray look from being primed though, so I only did this in one small spot seen below.  (I don't post my kids' names on my blog so it is intentionally blurry but you get the point):



I absolutely love my birch tree wall mural.  This was a fun, fairly easy project made all the better by knowing I was using non-toxic chalkboard paint.

For more information on Lullaby Paints, check out my post from last week and visit their website to see all the different colors of chalkboard paint they have to offer!

As mentioned earlier, stay tuned in the coming weeks for posts on making a chalkboard wall with Lullaby Paints' Chalkboard Paint, making small chalkboards with their paint, chalkboard stairs, other chalkboard paint crafts, and an upcycle project with Lullaby Paints' boxes.
Chalkboard Stairs

Check back every Monday and Thursday for new posts.  
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books and YA novel, and my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25