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the greening of a family


Today’s post about Earth Day and raising eco consciousness in our families is from Amy Turn Sharp of Little Alouette – you can visit their lovely shop of heirloom wooden rattles and toys here.

(photo above from Little Alouette)

Earth Day 2010 celebrates the 40th anniversary of a wonderful movement started by Senator Gaylord Nelson. He had a great idea and kept working at spreading the word in a grassroots way, starting with a Scholastic Magazine article that the schools across America read and shared. It seemed that everyone began working together to focus on starting this special day. It started small but has grown into a promise by many of us to protect and nurture Mother Earth.

photo via Flickr

I love the story of the movement being started by the small ones! Yay for wee ones and educators! You can start today to make life a bit greener in your home in simple and affordable ways. The greening of a family can start slowly with simple deliberate actions.


photo via Flickr

Here are some ideas for raising eco consciousness in your family:

• Make your own household items like detergents and cleaners. I made laundry detergent last year and have fallen in love with the economical and greener clean I get from the mix. Check out our blog here to find out how!

• I like to use vinegar for most of my cleaning. You can dilute it and add water and presto you have a perfect cleaner that is very inexpensive. Baking soda is perfect all-purpose scrub and won’t harm little ones. I love using natural products and I find that adding essential oils can give you a fresher scent and mood lift while cleaning.

• If you can give up a paper towel addiction turn to washable cloths and kitchen towels. I love micro fiber cloths!

• Teach your children well! Talk about recycling and head to a local landfill and recycling center for a field trip. Have a simple recycling center in your home and let even the youngest place items in the bins. Label bins with pictures and word and encourage your children to recycle each day. Try out backyard or kitchen composting. For a load of fun and science try vermicomposting! WORMS! (We do it and it is a blast!)

Art for kiddos- talk to kids about thinking first about the supplies we have in the home for art. The recycling bin is a perfect place to check first.

Check out the Crafty Crow for amazing recycled art activities!
I found this amazing Springtime fun on the site this week….


boats from cork!

Save those corks!

Another fun activity for Earth Day and beyond is stamp making in the recycling bin

You can start small and teach your children that tiny steps in the right direction will help us all and truly honor Mother Earth.

Thanks! Amy Turn Sharp of Little Alouette xo

Be sure to check out Little Alouette’s beautiful teething trees, made from Ohio maple wood (and much love), and all the other beautiful handmade pieces in their shop.

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Making Egg Candles for Easter.

Hi, I’m Donni. My shop is called Fairyfolk. My blog is called The Magic Onions.
Making sweet Easter candles has become an Easter tradition in our family. We make a few variations and save them all to put on our Easter table. It is a treat for the kids when they are, at last, allowed to light them… each child taking turns with the taper. The anticipation of having saved them through the Easter season shines from their excited eyes… it’s too delightful.
Today, we made colorful Easter Egg candles.
Waldorf Beeswax Easter Egg Candles
We needed:
* empty egg shells (here is a tutorial on how to clean out eggs)
* beeswax
* colored crayons
* candle wick (found at craft stores)
* sticky tape
* an recycled egg cup
* scissors
Prepare the eggshells for the melted wax by sticking a little sticky tape over the small hole on the egg shell. Make sure the tape is stuck fast to seal the shell well.Turn the eggshell upside down and place it in the egg cup so that it is secured.
Cut a length of wick. Tie it around a stick and balance it in the middle of the egg shell. Your shell is now ready for the melted wax.
I use a recycled jar to make a bain-marie to melt the beeswax (here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to safely melt wax).
We adore the wonderful golden color of melted beeswax and breath deeply of the honey aroma. My house always smells so sweet on beeswax craft days.
When I am doing a craft using melted beeswax with the children, we are very careful. Melted wax is extremely hot and would cause a horrid burn. As a precaution, I always work with a bowl of iced water nearby and my children know to put their hand into the cold water if they do get burned.
To color the beeswax, add a little colored crayon to the melted wax and stir until the color blends evenly into the beeswax.
Then carefully pour the melted wax into the eggshell and allow it to cool.
Cut the wick to the desired length and… Voila! Beautifully colored Easter candles.
Blessings and magic for your Easter preparations!
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Blossoms for Birds.

Hi, I’m Donni from The Magic Onions Blog. My shop is Fairyfolk.
Here in Southern California, Spring has definitely arrived! Our nights are cool, our mornings are crisp and our days are warm and sunny… it’s lovely weather, my favorite time of the year. The squirrels come out, the jasmine blooms and the birds start collecting treasures to build their nests with.
We have a spring tradition that we call ‘Blossoms for Birds’. Each year as Spring approaches and we start to notice the birds building their nests, we decorate a bare tree branch with lovely soft wool for them. We find a branch.

Saw it to the right length for little people to reach even the top branches.
And then we put the bare branch in a spot in the garden, just beyond our deck, where we can watch it from our dining room. It’s best to put the branch in a visible place, somewhere where you can watch it, undetected by the outside creatures.
Collect a basket of spring-colored wool scraps. I let K choose any color she wanted from my precious stash.
Decorate the bare tree with the wool, winding it around the branches and twigs.
Timone, our squirrel, came to see what we were doing.
She caused great distress by climbing down our Blossoms for Birds tree, nearly knocking it over and making K very angry… “This is for the BIRDS, Timone!” K scolded.
We were able to placate her with a few nuts while we finished decorating our wool tree.
It looks so pretty, covered in colorful tufts of wool, however, a pretty tree is not why we made our Blossoms for Birds Tree… it’s for the birds to build their nests with!
All Spring long, we’ll watch from our dining room table as the neighborhood birds are attracted to the colorful wool. They’ll twitter about in a frenzy of excitement at the lovely soft wool they’ve found. They’ll take a colorful bundle in their beak and fly off with it to build their nests. Just imagine what their nests will look like… pink, blue yellow… so pretty and soft for the sweet little baby birds.For more nature-inspired children’s activities, visit my blog The Magic Onions.

Blessings and magic!
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Make Wet-Felted Rainbow Eggs

Wet Felted Rainbow Cracked Egg tutorial by Jen from SewnNatural

Spring brings new babies throughout nature, and the magical, enchanting process of watching wee ones hatch from eggs. There’s a turtle sanctuary on an island near where we live, and my daughter loves discovering the beautiful white eggshells left behind. Here’s how to make a wet felted, rainbow wool egg for gentle play, your nature table and even spring celebrations like Easter and Passover.

You’ll need:
• an egg to wet felt around (we use old marble eggs we have around, you can also use a plastic egg shape, or even a real egg, but I’ve never tried it with a real egg)

• wool roving and various bits of colored feltable wool (Corriedale is one of our favorites, but Merino and others work too)

• organic, non toxic soap

• 2 big bowls of water, or 1 bowl + kitchen sink

• towels to mop up the inevitable spills and to dry the egg afterwards

• a little elbow grease

My daughter says the most enjoyable part of the process is actually choosing the colors for her egg.

Next take your egg shape (we use a small-sized one for the kid projects) and wrap wool roving around it, placing narrow pieces of wool in different directions, wrapping it neither super tighthly, nor super loosely.

It’s far from an exact science, and the felting process will make the apparent “messiness” of the wrapping disappear.

The thicker the wool coat on the egg, the thicker and sturdier your final rainbow egg will be. You should not be able see the egg clearly through the wool (that would mean it’s best to add more wool).

Now hold the wrapped egg in one hand, and have your child (or your other hand) pour some liquid soap right onto it, turning the egg as the soap is applied. I’ve found this to be an easier method to felt the eggs.

I have yet to use too much soap in felting!

Now quickly immerse the egg in hot, hot water. Gently squeeze the soap egg, turning it in your hands (or your child’s hands). Keep the wooly coat on the egg warm by dipping it into the hot water every so often (the warm/hot water relaxes the fibres of the wool which allows for easier felting).

Keep gently squeezing and patting the wool, and as you work and the wool begins to felt you can work it more vigorously. This process take a little bit of time, but the results are well worth it!

Once you begin to feel the fibres felting around the egg, and solidifying somewhat, it’s time to add the “rainbow”. Your child can gently rip off small pieces of colored wool, and place them onto the egg in varying directions.

The wispier and more spread out the wool bits, the better (the more easily they will felt to the woolen egg).

Then pour some soap onto the egg, immerse gently in hot water, and gently squeeze the soapy egg to help felt the rainbow wisps together to the wool roving.

Keep squeezing and rubbing it vigorously in your hands.

You can also use something with texture to help felt the fibers of the wool. I use an old wire rack for this, and roll the egg around on the rack for a few minutes. Then I take it back into my hands, warming up the wool in hot water, and squeeze it some more.

Once you’re done, you can dip it into cold water to help strengthen the felting. The shock of the cold water tightens the fibres.

I wrap the egg in a dishcloth to remove some excess water, and place it near a vent to dry.

Once it’s dry (anywhere from a few hours to a day or so), you or your child can carefully cut the egg open, either in a straight line across the long part of the egg, or a cracked jagged line.

The cut need not extend the length of the egg, just enough to “birth” the egg from it’s woolen coat, so to speak.

You may also choose to blanket stitch the edge of the cracked part of the egg with embroidery thread, but my daughter prefers her “au naturel.”

You can find more how-to’s and eco living articles on our blog, the SewnNaturalstudio.

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Crafts with Kids – “Baked Crayons”

One of the very best things I can think of to do is to spend time with my daughter doing yet another project around the table.  This project is oh so simple.

Use little nubs or broken crayons. Baked in a muffin tin at 150 degree oven (or the lowest setting your oven has) for about twenty minutes or so. Cool to room temperature or if needed 20 minutes or so in freezer. That is it … lovely multicolor crayons for your little one’s next drawing project.

Originally published on “Whither Will I Wander”.
posted by prettydreamer
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Crafts with Kids – "Baked Crayons"

One of the very best things I can think of to do is to spend time with my daughter doing yet another project around the table.  This project is oh so simple.

Use little nubs or broken crayons. Baked in a muffin tin at 150 degree oven (or the lowest setting your oven has) for about twenty minutes or so. Cool to room temperature or if needed 20 minutes or so in freezer. That is it … lovely multicolor crayons for your little one’s next drawing project.

Originally published on “Whither Will I Wander”.
posted by prettydreamer
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How to make your own knitting needles by Elemental Handcrafts

How to make Your Own Knitting Needles with Kids

by, Stephanie of Elemental Handcrafts

A wise woman once told me that the best way to teach your child to knit is to start at the beginning; by having your child make his or her own needles. In this tutorial, I will teach you step by step how to make your own wooden knitting needles, with your child. Wood is the best material for a person to knit with as the wood holds the warmth of the hands while you knit. The smell of the beeswax polish acts as natural aromatherapy as the needles click-clack their way through the yarn and into what will hopefully become a lifelong love of knitting.

We’ll start at the beginning. The “ingredients” you will need are as follows:

  • one 36” wooden dowel -size and wood type depends on your preference
  • sand paper – coarse, medium and fine
  • beeswax or other natural wax or oil (an almost used up candle or crayon works)
  • a bit of wool roving
  • dish soap
  • warm water
  • a soft cloth
  • glue
  • scissors

Start with your store bought wooden dowel. The easiest to find is likely to be birch wood. You can also special order cherry, walnut, maple or other hard woods if you prefer, but the birch is easy to work with and easy to find. The size to buy depends also, on your preference. Bringing a knitting needle sizer, (found at craft or knitting stores) is a good idea. For a child just learning, large easy to handle needles are best. Choose a dowel that is smooth and straight.

Knitting Needle Sizer

Have an adult carefully cut the dowel down to knitting needle size. Ten inches is a good starting size. The child can now help sand one end of each needle into a point, using the coarse sand paper. It’s easiest to lay the paper flat on the ground and rub the needle on the paper, turning it often so the tip stays relatively even. Help her with this and assist so that you don’t end up with too sharp a point. The tip should be gradual as it flows into the rest of the needle. Do this for both needles.

Once you are happy with the shapes of your needle tips, use your medium grit sand paper to sand the whole needle, tip to end, and follow this sanding by repeating with the fine sand paper until your needles are as smooth as can be. Then finish the wood with your wax. I like to use a beeswax based polish made for salad bowls. If you’d like a vegan alternative, you can use a crayon or non beeswax candle, or just a simple olive oil. Buff it to a shine with a soft cloth.

Now comes the top. You can use many things for a personalized and colorful knitting needle topper. In the past I’ve used wooden or glass beads, acorns, slices from a branch, clay sculptures and even small pebbles glued into place with strong glue.

Today we’ll make felted wool needle toppers. To do this we will make a wool bead. Take a small piece of carded wool roving.

Roll it into a tight ball and while holding tighlty, dip the ball into very warm soapy water. Roll the wool ball in your palms until it starts to tighten up. It will get softer and mushy feeling before it tightens. You might want to get this started for your child. Once you feel it tighten, keep rolling it and dipping as needed until you have a solid, wool, bead. This should take about two to three minutes. Practice rolling the dry wool and felting it a few times to determine how much wool you need to get the size bead that looks best on your needles. This can take a little practice, but is fun to do.

Once the bead is dry, (a sunny window will speed things up), have an adult use sharp scissors to snip a little sclice in one side of the bead. Try the bead on the flat tip of your needle and once it fits nicely, add a little strong glue and put the bead back on the needle and let dry completely.

You are now ready to knit!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through my shop: www.ElementalHandcrafts.etsy.com.

If you prefer your knitting needles already made, visit my shop in March as I’ll br re-stocking my stash of colorful and unique knitting needles! Thanks for reading and have fun!

Stephanie

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fun for mama, good for mama . . .

A fallen tree branch with bark, some sandpaper, twig, leaf. I would bet these are common things that can be found in most back yards or woods. In as little as ½ an hour you and your kiddo can create a boat or other natural toy to spark your child’s imagination.

As a mama and a crafter, these two roles often mesh together in my parenting. I realize more and more how crafting with my children is fun for me, but also incredibly valuable to mama earth. Crafting change for our world really is in our hands. By taking time to create with your children with natural materials you are teaching them valuable lessons:

*instills value in what they create.
*shares an awareness of what and where the materials come from that they are creating with, and the long term affect of when it is done- heirloom but also naturally sustainable.
*reduces purchasing pre-made from unknown sources, and encourages a DIY lifestyle.

Now that some beautiful weather is here, take a nature walk and see what you can find along the way whether it be a twig, acorn, rock and see what you can create. One of the things I love about being on the Natural Kids Team is the amazing natural children’s items that are made, but also the variety of kits and other items that encourage us to turn off the TV, get out the craft supplies and create something that is so simple yet so powerful for our children’s imaginations. The fun part for me is also when it is time to give a gift we head down to the art table and make something together instead of shopping.

Be sure to check out some great items from the Natural Kids Team to help you on your creative journey with your children. Here are some fun things to start off with:

Have fun crafting! And check this oldie but goodie book that I was gifted to discover as a child with my aunt, The Best of Making Things by Anne Wiseman.
contributed by mamaroots