I was carried away in a gust of inspiration on Thursday last week, and this was the outcome: a shadow puppet theatre box! What fun right? This idea must have been bubbling in my subconscious from the frequent vision of the rainbow silk silhouettes that I mentioned in my last post. I rose Thursday morning, excited about the idea and after dropping Maya at School, Elle and I went straight to work making it. Firstly, I visited our garage and picked out two of the saved moving boxes (ever so handy, I do not know why anyone would ever throw them out!) and then I made a small list of supplies I needed from the hardware store: exacto knife blades, matt knife, masking tape, and wooden skewers. Elle does not like to be rushed in the mornings and was not impressed about getting dressed ‘this very minute’, so we negotiated that she would come to the hardware store in her pajamas with sweater and coat over them – things one will agree to for craft!
The trip to the hardware store was a success, I found everything I needed. I am very pleased with my knew matt knife, I can not believe I have gone this long without one. Anyway, I put it to good use, as you will see, cutting out sections of one of the boxes, and then cutting up another to form a front piece to sandwich paper to the box. I also cut out a few other shapes to make it ornate. I then decided that I would paint it all white. Normally I like cardboard left natural, but the boxes had lots of stickers and moving house scribble and dirt on them, and paint is great for making something look fresher.
I lay out drip plastic in the basement and painted the cardboard with a paintbrush (I thought of using the paint roller but was happy with brush strokes). I also decided during the painting process that I liked the corrugated affect and so did not paint it solid white, but let the paint skim the surface so it looks obviously cardboard. I then left it all to dry.
A few hours latter, after I collected Maya from school, the pieces were dry enough that I could assemble it. I used wide long paper from a roll for the front of the box – I was having second thoughts while doing this and came to the conclusion that next time I would use white fabric. I went ahead with the paper anyway as my second thoughts were coinciding with applied wet glue. I sandwiched the paper between the cardboard with wood working glue, and held it all in place with clothes pegs. While I was doing this, Elle decided that she needed to work on her own project and went upstairs to get something. I was focused on gluing, during which time she returned with her scissors and sticky tape and some hearts she had painted the day before. I looked over and she was sticky taping the hearts to her boots! I was tickled by her idea and then realised Elle is a free thinker and already blossoming into a creatively independent girl. Feeling very pleased with everything, we headed back upstairs, leaving it to dry over night in the basement.
Once upstairs we started designing the puppets. I had Maya sit and draw for me what she wanted and then I cut her drawings out using an exacto blade. Having Maya draw the puppets was the purpose of this project. I wanted her to understand the concept of silhouette, and to focus on the shape of an outer line. At first she did not understand, and was drawing internal details on the puppets, but after I gave her a quick shadow demonstration on the wall in the light of the stairwell, she got it. We all contributed to making puppets. Maya drew a sun, a raincloud and a flower, I made a tree, the moon and stars and a lady, and Elle made a letter M and a leaf – both of which she drew, then cut out with scissors, and taped to a stick herself. The bird was from a previous activity I did with Maya’s class. As you can imagine ideas for puppets are endless. I am sure over time we will add to this project, for now though, I am very pleased to share the first performance in our sweet and simple silhouette puppet theatre…
At the beginning of Winter I dedicated one cupboard (of three) in the Girls room to dress-up clothes. The timing of this was for two reasons: Firstly, during cold Winter months play takes on an indoor focus, and for us it is largely dress-up and make believe play. The second reason was that this cupboard in the Girls room up until Winter had stored their off season (Winter) clothes. When Winter set in these clothes were getting used and so this cupboard was basically empty. Their Summer clothes fit into a large deep drawer and so I did not have need to hang the things as I had done with the Winter clothes. The Girls each have a built in cupboard of their own, and this third cupboard was really a seasonal luxury and so I decided it could be put to better daily use as a dress-up play cupboard, and what a success it has been!
We have some beautiful dress-up clothes that have been lovingly handmade by myself and family. With hours of work put into them, I felt like the dress-up clothes deserved to be better valued, and hanging them in the cupboard (instead of shoving them into a basket!) does just that. Along with hanging all the costumes and piling tutus and petticoats, I also sorted out the other dress-up bits and pieces that have accumulated. The Girls have a wonderful glove collection, most of which were my great-grandmothers that I too played dress-up with as a Girl. Capes and hand bags were hung on hooks for easy access, crowns and head pieces were grouped. A canvas cube was filled with wings and wands, and there are two hat boxes, one for more random accessories, and another for string, ribbons and scarves. This simple act of organisation has been great, as everything can be more easily located. It has made dress-up much more fun and I quite like helping put everything back in it’s place. The cupboard has become like a mini dressing room. Maya likes to make the window alcove into another dressing room by hanging the rainbow silk to form a wall. We have the sun pouring in through this window for most of the day and this makes for the most beautiful adorned silhouettes. I sit and watch, listen and help, all the while completely enchanted with their play, the great joy of childhood.
There are three people in our Family who like to play with Barbies! I am not embarrassed to admit I can sit for hours with the Girls and play dolls. My Mother will vouch for the fact that as a child I would construct elaborate designed Barbie houses that I would fuss over for hours..days..years..and here I am now once again making Barbie houses! I recall my dedicated search for all things miniature that would be the perfect scale for Barbie’s house. I seem to have two daughters following in my foot steps and so I find myself like a little Girl saying “Oh, that would be prefect for Barbie”.
Our Expedit shelving unit has become Barbie’s apartment. I went so far as to give each room a feature wall paper backing. One room has a Victorian butterfly print, two rooms have white floral embossed, and the other room has hot pink. I don’t need to tell you how much fun I am having and the Girls are all for Mummy’s ideas! Thanks To Nanna Maya and Elle received lots of new barbie toys for Christmas. Both are very much enjoying all the tiny bits and pieces. As you can imagine I have it all sorted into containers for organised play and easy clean up. Next on the list is some Barbie sized bunting flags, and some Barbie bean bags and throw cushions!
We are enchanted by our garden. A few steps out side our door, it is our very special, magical play space. A thing we cherished after years of not having a yard. Since moving to Ditmas, this little back yard has been a source of joy. Summer days were easily filled with gardening, pools and sprinklers…and now Autumn days are here we are continuing to delight in the private outdoor haven. It is an enchanting space, just perfect for two little Girls. The colourful flower bed, the tangled rose bushes, the profuse ivy and the square patch of green grass, just large enough for a garden party. Here is hoping we have many days of Fall like this.
I feel like I am writing a book called “101 ways to water play” as it seems that every day I am trying to think of a new fun activity for water play in the back yard. Using food dye and water to entertain the Children is something I have done before, but in the past it has been in the bath tub. Food dye can really make a mess, and so playing with it in the yard is much better all round. All you need is a few glass jars, water and food dye….be prepaired to have stained hands and colour splotched little bodies!