🐸My Etsy Sh🌎p🐸

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

San Diego

Today, we are leaving San Diego and heading to La Jolla for a few days. I will miss this view and turn down service :)

I brave the red trolley that runs through downtown with the girls yesterday. New experiences make me nervous coupled with the responsibility for two kiddos...but it was good. We all enjoyed the trolley ride. And childhood is all about the experiences.

We took the trolley to Seaport Village to ride a carousel built in 1895. Beautiful. Horses, giraffes, zebras, a goat. We Loved it.

The three of us shared "a slice" bigger than the plate. So yummy! The man called it New York Style pizza. All we knew was it was good.

We strolled along the harbor then back to our hotel. We squeezed in a 30 minute swim before nap.

After nap, it was off to the science center. We were a little disappointed with it. Kind of generic and the toys there all needed a good scrubbing.

We went to dinner in Olde Town in an outdoor Mexican restaurant with live music and dancers. We were all soaking in the culture.

It's been fun to explore San Diego with the girls. I think I would like to come back. We are off to La Jolla and tidal pools and sea lions and the Scripps Aquarium.

Have a fun and playful day

Monday, April 27, 2015

For the birds!

I love when a small fact becomes an interest. "Mel, did you know that hummingbirds are teeny tiny and have a super long beak?" that was the launching point for us watching hummingbird videos on YouTube and discovering that there's many different kinds of hummingbirds.
Children learn the most when the subject interests them. If you have a kiddo, try this. Find something they like, then "research" together and incorporate it into their play like we did here.

Have a fun and playful day

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Teaching our Children to Care for the Earth

My Grandma Helen died a year ago, but her Life lessons follow me daily. She said Serve God, love your family, plant a garden and some flowers, and take care of those in need.

On this Earth Day, I think back to being on my hands and knees in the dirt beside her pulling weeds or helping her refill the bird feeders outside her kitchen window.

Grandma Helen was an amazing example for her 8 children, 23 grandchildren, and 40+ great grandchildren.  Every year, she planted a HUGE garden behind Grandpa's garage.  She planted lots of flowers for the bees.  The neighborhood birds never missed a meal - Grandma Helen's feeders were always full.  If she couldn't darn it or Grandpa couldn't fix it, she gave the items away to those in need.

Simple, right?

Simple but exactly how it should be.  Grandma Helen, through living example, gave us the tools for taking care of the Earth and people around us.  I hope I am teaching my daughters these rules for taking care of the earth.

Have a fun and playful day.

picture is from a previous post entitled Rainbow Forest - a nature friendly imaginative way to play

California Here I Come

On Thursday, I am traveling with my nanny family to sunny southern California for 8 days!

They are going for work and I am going along to watch the girls. This is a great opportunity to travel, to see a place I have never been, to explore. I do love to travel.

I am only a little nervous - not about the flight or trip itself. In 15 plus years, I have never been away from my husband for even a whole day. I am afraid that I will be homesick. My husband supports me and encouraged me to go, saying, "You may never get this chance again." He's amazing.

We will exploring the area, going to the incredible San Diego zoo, playing on the beach, seeing a lighthouse. We are going to pack in as much adventure as possible.

The day after I get back, my daughter is going to her junior Prom. So the adventure will continue even after l get home.

I am packing light for myself. I will mix and match clothes to make multiple outfits. My carry on bag is solely dedicated to entertainment and snacks for the girls. It is over a 4 hour flight with a preschooler and toddler. Small toys, goldfish crackers, books, drawing items, etc.

I am excited and nervous and filled with wanderlust. I will be posting but perhaps not as often.

Have a fun and playful day

My story - how playscapes are made

My distraction has become more like an obsession.

I have always sewed, crafted, written, been creative. I taught preschool for many years. That's the back story.

In September 2014, my father in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. I was worried and concerned for my husband and family. I found myself thinking about cancer all. The. Time. I couldn't sleep. I needed a distraction.

I decided to make these playscapes. I wanted to make with lots of teeny tiny details and whimsy and imagination.  I got lost in the details and the creativity of making the play mats. I was able to escape for a little while in the stitches and details. Isn't it the small things that we remember in Life? Isn't it the small things that make Life special?

My father in-law always said, "Do what you love." I combined my love of sewing and crafting with my passion for early childhood. And I am launching that into a business through etsy.

My father in-law lost his battle with cancer after only 16weeks. He was a Christian, who loved and lived for God. We are comforted in that fact. We have his quirky sayings to keep encouraging us.

That is how my distraction became an obsession.  I have a notebook that I carry with me all the time that I sketch out new ideas for play mats.  You can see all of my playscapes at www.mybigworld2015.etsy.com

That's my story.

Feel free to share yours.

Have a fun and playful day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Play Mat in a Silent Auction benefiting local preschool

This playscape play mat is going to be auctioned off at CLCC's Art Show and Silent Auction. I am so honored to be included.
All the funds from the art show benefits their preschool program which is dear to my heart.
I donated this playscape plus animals and gems, so the stage would be set for play.
Here are some examples of how it can be played with.

Have a fun and playful day

Monday, April 20, 2015

Circus, anyone?

Once upon a time, there was a tent. It was a lonely circus tent. No cheering people. No performing animals. No peanuts or popcorn.
But one day, just when the lonely circus tent wanted to collapse, a neat happened by. He was a talented bear who wanted to make others smile.
When the bear saw the tent, an idea came to him. He would travel the world in this tent with other animals. Together, they would make others happy.
So the bear packed up that tent, meeting new and equally talented friends along the way.  They formed the Red Tent Circus and did indeed make lots of people smile.

The end

Have a fun and playful day

The Land Down Under

Koalas, kangaroos, and wombats - oh my!
In Music Together music class, we learned a song about Australian animals, which lead to this playful scene.
I take experiences - like music class or songs - and expand those experiences into play.  It creates a more meaningful experience.  These are Safari Ltd Toys from the Land Down under Toob

Have a fun and playful day

Making Snails

When I saw that Safari Ltd had put out a toob of shells, well...my imagination went right to snails! Yep, snails.  I gathered a few items and we got started.
1. Shell Toob
2. Crayola Magic Model (or playdough or clay will work too)
3. Wire (or pipe cleaners)
4. Googly eyes
The snail body is basically a long lump of clay.  The 21 month old did this right along side us. Then you pick a shell, pop it on its back, poke in the wires with googly eyes glued on, and...drum roll please...you have Snails!!!

This was fun to do on a rainy morning.  And G said, "I think we should put some snails out in our fairy garden."  Okay!  This one is always making plans :)

Have a fun and playful day

Math Games Mondays - Checkers Ponies & Fairies

Math Games Mondays - Checkers Ponies & Fairies

Cinderella Inspiration

I STILL have not seen the new Cinderella movie, but hear it is A-MAZE-ING!  Maybe when I get back from California, I will go see it.  Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairy tales. Besides the obvious beautiful dress, fairy godmother, and Prince Charming, I like it because, despite what the world threw at her, she still was sweet and kind and sang and didn't complain.
I decided (with the help of a couple little friends) to "dress up" a couple of my play mats in Cinderella style. Mice.  Garden. Pumpkins. Glass Slipper (I ate the Jelly Belly jellybeans out of it just for this picture - just kidding). Blue birds.
We had about an hour and half of playing, reenacting the movie, making up our own versions of the beloved tale.

More play mats can be purchased from my etsy store at www.mybigworld2015.etsy.com NOTICE: all orders placed between Wed. April 22 and Fri.May 1st will be shipped out of Saturday, May 2nd as I will be on a "work-cation" in sunny California.

Have a fun and playful day!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hamsters and Hedgehogs Play Mat

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with teeny tiny toys. I think most kids are. Lalaloopsy, My Little Pony, Schleich, Safari, Palo, Palace Pets, Calico Critters, etc. All teeny tiny.
I never really grew out of that obsession, and, now that I am a nanny, I get to keep playing. I loved imaginative play with my daughter's then later with my preschoolers.
When I am thinking about play, I take the theme or the child's interests in mind OR I surprise them with something totally new and not yet seen.
I set the scene for play - an invitation to play if you will. This scene says, "Come play with me. Make up a story. Include me. I want to play with you."
The scene should be uncluttered - only 3 to 5 Toys. (too many can be overwhelming to the child) The golden rule of thumb is the simpler the better. Simpler allows the imagination to take over, expand, and fill in the story.

Play mats can be created in your own or I sell them in my etsy store. See more at www.mybigworld2015.etsy.com

Have a fun and playful day

Good Luck Play

Everyone needs a little good luck or at least the hope of luck, right?

Safari Ltd has a whole plethora of good luck creatures - dragons, unicorns, animals, roses, butterflies. So many.

You could pop them in a lunchbox for your kiddo to brighten their day or mail to someone. Or just play with them like we did above.

Play Mat available in my etsy shop at www.mybigworld2015.etsy.com

Have a fun and playful day

What in the World - a geography game

Have you ever played this? We take a random animal toy and try to place it properly on the map. Some animals are easy, because they can live almost anywhere. Some animals - thank you, platypus- live in only one area. If we don't know, we do "research" - in books or online and read a little about that animal. It's fun and educational. I learn new stuff all the time.

Have a fun and playful day

Friday, April 17, 2015

Toys R Us calls it. Masterpiece

Here is what Toys R Us said about my garden playscape play mat! Sooo sweet

Have a fun and playful day

Rainbow Fruit Tray

Is your mouth watering? Mine is! I did this Rainbow Fruit tray up for a special surprise of yummy yummy goodness. Who says lunch had to be boring? Not me. Make it interesting. Make it fun. Kiddos are more likely to eat it if it's fun!

Have a fun and playful day

Photographs of Childhood that You Don't Want to Miss

 They are only little for long. Take lots of pictures. That's the best advice I may ever give a new parent.
 Take pictures of them at birthdays and with older family members and when they are playing and quiet and sleeping.
And take pictures of their little hands working, playing, exploring.

Have a fun and playful day

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Playdough Pasta and Straws - Toddler Sensory & Small Muscle Exercise

What I love most about playdough is the toddler educational benefits.  Playdough is probably the number one way to play to strengthen those small muscles in little fingers.  While they are molding and smooshing and manipulating the playdough, those little toddler finger muscles are getting a workout.  And strong finger muscles are needed to hold a pencil properly and control it and write.  Who knew playdough was so amazing, right?
You can set up the scenario at the table for your kiddo.  I started with a glob of playdough and poked 3 thin straws into the glob.  Roo immediately knew what to do, but if your toddler needs help, you can model what they are supposed to do.  Fit the pasta onto the straw and let it slide down.  Repeat again and again.  Toddlers learn through repetition.  You may go bored with it, but a while a toddler is exploring, they are learning.
This activity held Roo (who is 21 months) for about 30 minutes.  That's a looong time in toddler time!  Let your kiddo experiment and play until their attention span wears thin.  It could be 2 minutes.  It could be 22 minutes. 

Have a fun and playful day