Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Super Simple Alphabet Board

This project is fast and easy and customizable to your materials or talents.  It's perfect for a child around age 2 and just starting to learn letters.  And bonus cool point: it only cost me $2!


- Cookie sheet (spray painted or left silver) - $1 at Dollar Tree
- Magnetic Letters - $1 at Walmart
- PICK ONE OPTION: 1) Adhesive backed vinyl - 2) Cardstock and Mod Podge - 3) Letter stickers

How To:

1) If you're going to paint your cookie sheet, do that first.  I used blackboard spray paint.

2) Cut out your letters.  There are so many ways you can do this.  I used my Cricut and the sticky vinyl.  I made my letters 1.25" tall and they matched perfectly.  If you don't have vinyl, you can use card stock and just glue/seal them onto the sheet.  You could also use alphabet stickers or even print some off on the computer.  For all the super lazy people out there, you could just grab a sharpie and write the letters yourself.  I also chose to use the same color vinyl as the magnetic letters.

3) Plan out your letters on the sheet then glue or stick them down!  That's it!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Magnetic Paper Dolls [Cricut Project]

I love the paper doll Cricut cartridges.  I have both the Dress-Up one and the Everyday one.  They're valuable for the endless outfits you can make, but it's such a great bonus that each item also has tons of accessories.  This was the first thing I made with the Dress-Up cartridge.  I made two as gifts.   This project is great for any child over age three, though little girls would probably be more interested.  It is not safe for kids that still may swallow small objects.  Some of the shoes are pretty small, and the magnet could be dangerous for a little one.  My kids are past that stage, so I'm excited to finally make one for my daughter.  You can also adjust this for a much smaller scale if you like the idea, but not having a hundred pieces of paper clothing getting scattered around your house.

- Cookie sheet - $1 at Dollar Tree
- Blackboard spray paint - $3.67 at Walmart
- Sandwich box or similar container - $1 at Dollar Tree
- 2 to 4 small envelopes or thin boxes - you can just make some on your machine
- Card stock in assorted colors and patterns
- Magnet tape - $6 at Hobby Lobby
- Mod Podge and brush - very small amount
- OPTIONAL - 4 small strong magnets (at least a 6 on the scale)

1) Clean any residue off the cookie sheet and spray paint the front.  Use nice, even, back and forth strokes.  Do a very light coat, wait a few seconds, then do a second coat.  You may need 3 light coats.  When it's completely dry flip it over and do the back.  Don't forget about those thin pesky sides.

2) During your drying times you can start cutting out your shapes.  Start with the bodies.  I make mine 6 inches tall.  Make a note of the size because all of your clothes need to be consistent.  You can fit as many people as you want on your tray.  The 6 inch size fits up to three people.  Keep in mind that some of the tall hair,  wide dresses, or thick gloves take up more space, so don't place your people to close to the edges or each other.  You may want to cut some test pieces to make sure you can fit them on the dolls without going over the sheet's edges.  I usually do two people so they have a little more room.

3) I like to trace over my people's faces with pen because they're difficult to see otherwise.

4) Cut and glue underwear to your people, if desired.

5) Mod Podge the backs of your people and place them on your sheet, making sure they're flat.  Then Mod Podge the tops and make a outline of about an inch around the whole person.  Alternatively, you can Mod Podge over the people and the entire side of the cookie sheet if you don't like the look of just outlining them.

6) If you're adding anything else to the sheet (sun, tree, your child's name), now is the time to cut and Mod Podge it.

7) While your people are drying, it's time to cut the clothes.  This is the most tedious step.  If you use the Cricut Craft Room, then it's easier to plan each page by color.  I tend to use so many scraps that I just grab my image book and start cutting away.  Get a good color balance of colors, clothes, shoes, and male and female hairstyles.  Be silly and make some bright purple hair.  Use a lot your child's favorite color.  You could also cut some non-clothing pieces if you think your kid will enjoy some little dogs or dinosaurs or purses or whatever else.  Here are all my clothes and some unassembled envelopes for organizing them later.
8) After all your clothes are cut, attach the magnet tape.  Yes, there are little teeth on the dispenser that you can use, but scissors are much more precise.  Some of your pieces are very small and need an even smaller width of magnet.

9) Use your small boxes or envelopes to organize the pieces.  I put all the shoes in one envelope, gloves and accessories in the second, shirts in the third, pants in the last, the hair/hats and dresses free in the box.  You can use as many as will fit within your larger organizer box.  You can label them, too.

This all basically boils down to: glue people to a cookie sheet, cut out clothes, and attach magnets.  I'm just trying to be as detailed as I can to avoid any possible hiccups.

Some Tips/Tricks:
- You can paint the sheet any color you like.  You can even leave it with the metal finish.  I prefer a matte look for this particular project.  I use the blackboard stuff so the kid can use the backside as a chalkboard.
- I get 2 or 3 cookie sheets and paint them at the same time.  There are a lot of projects that use magnetic boards, so it's easier to paint them all at once.
- I like to cut letters for the child's name and glue it to the other side of the board.  It's just nice for a more personal touch.
- This is a great project to use up all those old paper scraps.  It's also great for those really pretty papers that you just can't find a use for.
- I cut out 2 of each clothing piece.  You can use the second set for either a gift in the future or as a backup in case your child tends to lose the pieces.  Or if you use the Cricut Craft Room, then just make sure to save your project.
- I plan in advance a general list of clothes and colors before I start cutting.  It starts getting a bit hectic and confusing after you've cut your 50th shape.
- Keep in mind that some images have to be placed behind the person, for example capes and several of the longer hairstyles.  You won't be able to use these because the dolls are glued down.
- The 4 optional magnets can be attached to the storage container so it will stick to the sheet when not in use.  You have to use some pretty strong magnets for this to work.

If you want to do a smaller version, glue one person to the right or left side, cut out 3 to 5 outfits and just place them on the empty side of the sheet.  Short and simple!  It's a great idea for holidays.  The Dress-Up cartridge has a lot of Halloween costumes and Christmas outfits, so you could make one for each kid at a party and it would only cost you a few bucks.  There are sports uniforms, job uniforms, et cetera.  There are so many theme opportunities with these two cartridges.