Water Beads Sensory Play {or fun with squishy things}

After college, I wasn't very sure what I wanted to do. However, I knew I was good with kids. That led me to a job working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Man oh man did I LOVE working with that population of kiddos! One valuable lesson I took away from my time in the field was the importance of understanding how sensory experiences effect us all differently.

Even without sensory processing issue, most of us have textures we just hate. For me, I can't stand avocado  I'm fine with it in guac, but I sure don't want a big old slice of it on a sandwich. We learn, develop, and grow through experiencing a wide variety of sensory inputs.

Over time, many of us learn which kinds of inputs we enjoy (warm water in the form of a bubble bath) and which we want to avoid (loud noises). Its important to expose our kiddos to a wide variety of sensory inputs from an early age. You'll quickly learn which your kids like, which they hate, and which can have calming or overstimulating effects on them. This information can be used in a variety of ways, including helping create a calm environment when you're kiddos are overstimulated.

One of my favorite things to play with back in the day were water beads. They are round, marble sized squishy beads that are often used in centerpieces and as vase fillers. They feel wet, cold, and squishy all at the same time. They even bounce. You can get them from a variety of places on line as well as Michael's and Joann's. I got a big old container from Michael's for around $5 with a 40% off coupon.

The great thing about water beads is you can use them purely for sensory input or as medium to explore other topics. I filled a large tuperware box with the entire container of water beads. I then added shapes from our shape sorter. This let us explore both the texture of the beads as well as talk about shapes.

Emma was very timid at first. She loves all things involving being wet, so I was hoping she'd get on board. With a little coaxing from Dad she dove right in. Emma played for a good thirty minutes before we had to clean up for nap time.

During the play, we talked about all the sensations she was experiencing  We also talked about the different shapes and used the shapes as cups to scoop up the beads. She's only 22 months old so our shape talk was secondary to letting her play. But you could easily adjust this activity with age to have the kiddo receptively or expressively identify the shapes.

The possibilities with water beads are really endless. You can put in different animals and have your kiddo find them and make animal noises. You could have your kiddo guess how far a water bead will bounce and then evaluate their predictions. The sky is really the limit when it comes to different ways to use these beads!

A couple of safety notes...

You should be watching your kiddos at all times when playing with water beads. These suckers can easily be mistaken for candy. They defiantly shouldn't be eaten! Also, keep track of where the beads roll off to during play. I know our cats were pretty interested in what we were up to. I doubt they would be good for pets to eat. When you're done playing, throw them back in the container and top it off with a little water. They last forever!

I think providing your kiddos with different sensory experiences is both fun and rewarding. There are so many creative ways to use so many different materials. We recently busted out the shaving cream. Emma was not a fan. I'd love to hear what your favorite sensory play materials are!



Peep Easter Treat {with free printable}

Easter is next week. Am I the only who who can't believe its already Easter? I feel so unprepared. I haven't finished Emma's dress and I still need to stock up on a couple more little treats for her basket {anyone know where to get a toddler sized Nerf soccer ball?}.

However, I am on top of Easter treats for Emma's daycare. I'm not going to lie...I'm pretty proud of myself for these guys. This could not get simpler!

All you'll need for these cute little treats are Peeps, clear treat bags {I got a pack of 50 for about $1.25 with coupon at Hobby Lobby}, and bakers twine or ribbon.

As a Easter treat for all of you, you'll find links to the tags below. These are for personal use only. If you share, please link back to this post...not the download. Oh, and please follow my blog before downloading!


Happy Easter everyone!

Come party with me! C.R.A.F.TMommy By Day, Crafter By NightShwin & ShwinTip JunkieSouthern LovelyUncommon DesignsSomewhat SimpleYesterday on TuesdayHouse of Hempworths52 MantelsThe CSI ProjectSerenity NowTatertots and JelloFamily Ever AfterThe Grant LifePositively SplendidI {Heart} Nap TimeIt's Overflowing


Spring Flower Barrette Tutorial {or a bit of sunshine}

The weather here in North Texas goes from spring to dead of winter and back again...all in the same week. I'm getting a bit sick of it. I've decided to embrace the spring colors and just pretend like the cold isn't happening. Hence, these springy flower barrettes.

Let's start with how to fabric cover the alligator clip.

You'll Need:
* Alligator clip
* Grosgrain ribbon
* Hot glue/gun
* Scissors
* Fray Check/lighter

Start by treating the end of your ribbon with Fray Check or heat {be careful!}. Put a dab of hot glue on the top inside of the clip and attach the end of the ribbon.

Run a thin strip of hot glue along the top and secure the ribbon to it.

Flip your clip over. Run a strip of hot glue down the middle of the clip. Pull the ribbon tight over the clip to secure.

Open the clip and fold the ribbon in. Cut to the right length. Seal the end. Secure with hot glue.

Now, on to the clip.

You'll need:
* Craft felt
* Template
* Disappearing ink pen
* Scissors
*Hot glue/gun

Cut out your template {I used the medium petal} and trace/cut out five times using your disappearing pen.

Put a small dab of hot glue in the very center of your petal. Then, fold in half and press until the glue dries. Repeat for all of your petals.

Put a small dab of glue just to the right of center on one of your folded petals. Place a second petal overlapping and press down. My finger is where you'll put the glue on the second petal.

Keep repeating this process until all four petals are glued down.

Fold your last petal in half again. Then, glue it into the gap in the middle of your flower.

These little spring blooms are perfect to warding away the not quite spring blues. You can't help but smile when your little cutie is running around with these flowers in her hair!


Come party with me! C.R.A.F.TMommy By Day, Crafter By NightShwin & ShwinTip JunkieSouthern LovelyUncommon DesignsSomewhat SimpleYesterday on TuesdayHouse of Hempworths52 MantelsThe CSI ProjectSerenity NowTatertots and JelloFamily Ever AfterThe Grant LifePositively SplendidI {Heart} Nap TimeIt's Overflowing


Over at The Grant Life

Come drop by The Grant Life today for my Spring Flower Barrette Tutorial.

Also, make sure you check out Kelley's new website devoted to all things breakfast- The Breakfast Hub. Breakfast for dinner? What could be better!?!



Boutique Baby Blanket Tutorial {or my baby isn't that much of a baby anymore}

I shared this fun tutorial over at The Grant Life last week. Check it out!

I'm thrilled to be sharing with you my finally finish {twenty some odd months late} Boutique Baby Blanket...complete with tutorial. While this baby blanket is sure late, I am over the moon with how it turned out!

This blanket defiantly has some scary elements to it. However, with some simple tips it becomes a manageable project. I'd call it a "confident beginner with lots of pins" level project.

Want to make your own? You'll need:
* 1 1/4 yd quilting cotton {I used Sarah Jane's Children at Play for Michael Miller Balloons in Aqua}
* 1 1/4 yd minky {From Joann's
* 1 yd satin fabric {Mine was $2.99/ yd at Hobby Lobby}
* Matching thread for both front and back fabric
* Sewing machine, cutting supplies, iron, and TONS of pins

Start out by squaring up your quilting cotton. Here's a tutorial if you need help with that step. Then, cut your minky down to the same size as your quilting cotton. Minky stretches and sheds. Basically, its a beast to work with. Go slow when cutting and be prepared to have to clean your cutting surface when all is said and done.

Use a bowl to round the corners of your fabrics.

Now, its time to get busy making a whole ton of ruffles. I cut 7 strips of satin that were 4 inches by the width of the fabric {WOF}. This should work for you if your satin is 60 inches wide and you are making a 1 1/4 yd by WOF blanket.

If you'd like to do a different sized blanket, let me tell you why I cut 7 strips. I measured the perimeter of my blanket and multiplied that by 2 {because I wanted things to be very ruffly}. I then divided the doubled perimeter number by 60 and rounded up to the nearest whole number. That meant 7 strips. And we're done with math...I promise.

Sew you satin strips together, end to end, until you have a massive length of stain. Iron your giant strip, wrong sides together, hot dog style.

Get to ruffling. If you have a ruffle foot or a favorite method for ruffling, have at it. Otherwise, check out this tip. It will make your day. Sew your choice of ruffling stitch as close to the edge of your fabric as you can. But, make sure you're catching both layers of fabric!

Now its time to really start working with minky. I have called minky some pretty terrible names in my sewing days. I do everything I can not to work with it. However, Pinterest has been my best friend for learning to make my peace with this awful, comfy fabric. The answer? Tons and tons of pins and sewing super, duper slow! Also, you want to sew with the minky on the bottom to take advantage of the feed dogs.

Lay your minky right side up on a large, clean work surface. Smooth the living daylights out of your minky. Then, lay your quilting cotton on top, right side down. Smooth everything out.

I worked in small sections at a time to add in the ruffle and pin. Fold up a bit of your quilting cotton and lay your ruffle on top of your minky. The seam of the satin should be lined up with the edge of your fabrics. Now pin like you've never pinned before.

You should be pinning every inch. Seriously. I hate pinning. But this is sooo important to not want to curse out fabric as you sew.

Keep working all the way around your fabric. When you get back to your start, cut the satin down to two inches of overlap. Then, fold the raw seams in on both sides of the satin strip. Carefully stuff one side of the satin into the other and finish pinning.

At this point, you should have pinned all the way around the fabric. I'm guessing you're a bit upset that I've forgot to tell you to leave a gap to turn. The need for pinning with minky is so stinking intense that I recommend pinning all the way around your blanket. Then, when you sew {with a presser foot seam allowance}, be careful to stop 6 inches from where you started sewing. And back stitch. Sew very, very slow. This will reduce the stretching and other weird things that minky will do.

Go ahead and unpin the gap and turn your blanket. Make sure your curves are all the way rounded. Press the blanket well, minky side down. Make sure you tuck in the minky and fabric at the gap in. Also, make sure the ruffle is well tucked in. Now, pin that gap like crazy.

Use a thread that blends in well with your top for your spool and a thread that blends in well with your minky in your bobbin. Top stitch as close to the edge of the blanket as you can. Again, go very slower. The minky will still try to stretch and shift.

That's it! You have a boutique styled baby blanket for much less than the boutique price.

Want to add a personal touch? Have an embroiderer add your little love bug's name to the top layer of your blanket after you've squared, cut, and rounded all your fabric but before you start sewing. I just love that little detail!

Both my husband and I still have our hand made baby blankets in our linen closets. My husband's is really gross and mine is missing all of the beautiful hand embroidery it once had. Regardless, these blankets hold special meaning for both of us. I hope many years from now my daughter will still feel safe and loved just knowing that this blanket is somewhere in the back of her linen closet.

Come party with me! C.R.A.F.TMommy By Day, Crafter By NightShwin & ShwinTip JunkieSouthern LovelyUncommon DesignsSomewhat SimpleYesterday on TuesdayHouse of Hempworths52 MantelsThe CSI ProjectSerenity NowTatertots and JelloFamily Ever AfterThe Grant LifePositively SplendidI {Heart} Nap TimeIt's Overflowing


Saving Money and Doing Good {or a getting a really good deal}

As I've mentioned before, I am working on my Master's in Social Work Degree. I'm currently completing my field placement in a large, urban school district. Some days I feel like I'm making a huge difference. Other days I feel like I'm dealing with far too much Jr. High drama. Regardless, I'm loving it.

This field placement will be done at the end of April. Then it's back to classes, classes, classes. Which means its back to the expense of overly priced, not terribly helpful textbooks. Since starting my masters, I have been renting books whenever possible. It saves me a ton of money and keeps me from having to resell books I've barely used every eight weeks. CampusBookRentals has been one of the most affordable sites I've come across.

I was recently contacted by CampusBookRentals asking if I would be interested in learning more about their services. Well, I was already a fan. They save me money, have good quality books, and ship free both ways. What's not to like?

I've found a reason to like them more. With every book rented, CampusBookRentals donates to Operation Smile. Finding this out means that CampusBookRentals will be my first, and likely last stop when searching for textbooks.

Operation Smile operates in over sixty countries to provide comprehensive medical care for those born with cleft palates and cleft lips. This includes seeking to train local medical professionals to appropriately diagnosis and treat clefts. As a result, Operation Smile provides life-saving care and sustainable program development around the world. This gives kids the chance to live, and live will. It increases the likelihood that children born with clefts will survive their first year and go on to participate fully in being a child. There are few greater gifts to give than this.

We are living on one income while I attend school. Saving money is important. If nothing else, it lets me feed my unhealthy addiction to pretty fabric from time to time. CampusBookRentals has saved me hundreds of dollars over the course of my education. I am thrilled to know that saving money is also helping give back to an organization that is helping kids thrive. If you're looking to save on the outlandish price of textbooks, I highly recommend that you check CampusBookRentals out!

This post was compensated by CampusBookRentals. All opinions and experiences are completely my own. Questions? Check out my Disclosure page.


The Creative Exchange {or sign-ups are here!}

It's here! It's Creative Exchange time! Kelley @ The Grant Life, Brooke @ Covered in Grace, and I are so thrilled to be hosting this event again!

What's the Creative Exchange you ask? It's an opportunity to make a new friends and exchange handmade goods. You and your partner will exchange emails to get to know each other. Hopefully it will build a fun new friendship! Then, you'll send your partner a handmade gift or crafting supplies. Who doesn't love getting a new friend and mail!?!

Please read this whole post before signing up! 

  • What to get in on the fun? Email me at coveredinmodpdoge@gmail.com with "The Creative Exchange"in the subject line.
  • All sign ups must be received by 10pm CST on 3/8/13.
  • Open to US residents only {To keep shipping costs down.} 
  • Packages must be postmarked by 3/29/13.
  • Please follow all three blogs! That way you're up to date on all Creative Exchange happenings.
  • Packages should be handmade gifts or crafting supplied made and/or selected based on getting to know your partner. Please don't tell your partner to just select something from your Etsy shop.
  • You don't need a blog to participate. 

Come by any of our three blogs on 4/1/13! We'll have a link party showing off all the fun gifts you've made for your partner. 

Need ideas for what to make? Check out the Creative Exchange Pinterest Board. It will be updated regularly with new, fun ideas. 

Don't forget to snag a button!

<img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pYqxvW6VZBg/T-9nCWg2UcI/AAAAAAAAAxs/axec1xt34KE/s800/creativeexchange.jpg" border="0" alt="Creative Exchange">