Sensory Pockets

Oh the evolution of crafting – it’s fascinating, isn’t it? Today I’m finally documenting the most recent project/idea that has evolved here in my craft room. I’m calling these little things Sensory Pockets. When I was so thrilled at my first few and showed my husband, he asked, “they’re cute babe – what are the kids supposed to do with them?” My first thought was – fight over them, like they do with everything new. So I had to make a bunch.

It all started with this post I saw on Pinterest –

I loved them and thought they would be fun, especially for our littler preschoolers who are still in the exploratory phase of play. So I bought a clear shower curtain and some intense glue because I didn’t want to hand sew the edges.

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That was some CRAZY glue – it sort of dissolved the edges of the vinyl and I didn’t like the way it looked at all – very sloppy. So then I thought, why not try to sew the edges with my sewing machine? That was a disaster because my needle couldn’t go all the way through. I did some reading and decided a leather needle was what I needed for my machine. That worked nicely although I had to help the vinyl move under the feeder because sometimes it would get stuck sewing in one spot. Here’s what the sewed pockets looked like –

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Oh dear – please try to overlook how dry and awful my thumb looks – it’s winter in Upstate NY – in fact – it’s a huge snow storm, which is the only reason I have time to write this post!

ANYWAY….I decided I wanted to add something besides just rice or sequins or whatever. So I picked up a bag of buttons – Grandma’s Grab Bag I believe it was called. They have them at Hobby Lobby and JoAnns where you can pick up a bag with your handy 40% coupon. And Amazon if you don’t mind paying full price ($6 or $7). Oh readers – these buttons! I literally wanted to tear open the bag and spread them out when I got in the car because I could see so many wonderful treasures. Most of them are buttons but some are embellishments. Looky! Go ahead, zoom in if you can 🙂

sensory button collage.jpgThe right top picture were some of my favorites from my first grab bag. The right bottom pictures some goodies from my (ah hem) other grab bags. I use coupons, OK???? And back to the appropriate use of the word evolve – my sensory pocket project has now evolved into a bit of a button obsession. Have you ever seen a button tree or button art on canvas? Look on Pinterest! That’s my next project.

OK, back to business. After I got bored of colored rice, I thought – why not dye some other small pasta and use that to fill the pockets? So I tried some little alphabet pasta and some Acini De Pepe. Ever hear of it? Looks like Cous Cous. I threw a little glitter in with the pasta, dye, and alcohol (which I don’t measure – just toss a splash in a plastic baggie and shake, then lay out to dry on wax paper. The neon food color is my fav. Sometimes the fine glitter just makes the vinyl look dusty so I didn’t put glitter in all of them.

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So, I’ve got the mostly sewed pocket filled with some kind of filler, buttons, puffy stickers in a couple and some glitter in some. I sew up the pocket the rest of the way. But the edges still looked unfinished to me so I tried a bunch of different riboons and trims. Probably the best were the gathered lace trim and the Paper Studio brand of pom pom ribbon (in the paper crafting section of the craft store – .99 cents for a yard.). Here are some of the finished projects. They each have a theme – birds and flowers, the beach, dogs, Christmas, pearl trim/ribbon/beads, dragonflies, etc.

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Most of them are about 4 inches in diameter but at the end I tried making a larger one, which is pictured below next to the Sharpie so you can see how big it is. And there you go – my sensory pockets!

sensory pocket collage

 

 

What Winter Storm Warning Really Means

It means an entire day to craft away….and then blog about it. So this week we’re doing our ‘Outer Space’ theme and there’s no shortage of fun, smart ideas for content teaching on Pinterest and Teacherspayteachers. For open-ended outer space play, we’ll use our Safari Space Toob figures – if I have any left from last year or if like every year, I need to buy another one because I won’t find last year’s figures until the Space theme is finished for this year…ayeayeaye.

There are dozens of playdoh recipes floating around online but the one I’ve used for years is:

2 cups flour, 2 cups water, 1 cup salt, 1 Tbsp oil, 2 tsp cream of tartar*, and food coloring.

I whisk it together in a bowl and pour into a pan on medium heat. I stir until it becomes a single glob and then I take it out and knead it on the counter – it’s pretty hot  so I wince at first (this is probably why I don’t like making it!). Last time I made playdoh I added some fine glitter and it was so gorgeous, I couldn’t stop staring at it. When the kids would drop some on the floor, I’d pick it up and mutter under my breath! I don’t think I’ll ever NOT add glitter to playdoh again.

*just a note about the cream of tartar – I used to use 2 tablespoons but I’ve read some recipes that use the smaller amount and the stuff is so darn expensive that if it doesn’t make that much of a difference, why spend more? Do you know where the stuff comes from? I just learned this – from the bottom of wine barrels. You could really save money if you made your own wine AND cream of tartar my friends.

Anyway, back to the subject. I added black food coloring to this batch and after it was out of the pan, I kneaded in blue, pink, and gold fine glitter and small white and blue star confetti. And look at this stuff! Will I even be able to take it to school???? The picture doesn’t do justice and I don’t have the toys to put with it because – it’s a snow day! Maybe I’ll post some faceless kids playing with it later in the week. For now, it’s MINE….ALL MINE!

galaxy playdoh

sparkle bottles

sparkle bottle green

Yesterday I decided to make some of the gorgeous bottles I’ve seen on Pinterest. Like most creative things, there are a few different versions and there are better and worse ingredients to use. The ones I saw on inlieuofpreschool.blogspot.com used Smart Water bottles and I liked how tall and narrow they were but wanted to try a bottle that was even narrower so little hands could hold them more easily. I found these –

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The drinks on the left were from Tops ($1 each – but yuck…poured out the drinks after 1 sip). The bottles on the right were from Hobby Lobby ($1.99 for a pack of 2). These were the supplies I used –

supply pictures for bottle project The Sparkle Glitter Glue in the larger bottles were from Walmart (about $4) and worked the best. The glitter glue was completely water soluble so when I added it to a bottle of warm water, it blended easily. For some reason, the stuff pictured below turned clumpy and didn’t dissolve as well. I loved the variety of colors but was really disappointed in the way it interacted with the water…weird! Just looked like worms in a test tube.

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OK, so to make them, I just added warm water to the bottle (about 4 parts water to 1 part glitter glue but it’s not a science – just shake it up and see if you like the way it looks). Then I added some extra fine glitter. I added a few beads in some bottles and sequins in others but you can’t really see them very well because the sparkles are pretty dense. After I was satisfied with the contents of each bottle, I used hot glue to seal the lid and wrapped sparkly duct tape around the lid for a little extra visual effect. I had to use hot glue on the duct tape because for some reason, it kept unpeeling. It’s duct tape – what the heck!?

Here’s how they turned out –

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All in all, a pretty satisfying project. What will I use them for? Just as a sensory object. I may give them to the new kiddos to hold during circle time or as a transition object to get kids to the table for mealtime. I just HOPE the plastic doesn’t crack and they start leaking. What a sparkly mess that would be! Everything inside is non-toxic and could be wiped up but if it leaks on a rug or in a mouth – oh dear!