Indiana: Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy

Did you know these cute dolls were first made in Indiana?  I didn’t either until I started looking up facts on the state.

That of course requires reading one of their stories.  This particular one is the story of how they found their friend who had been stolen and rescue her from pirates.  Very saccharine sweet. Widgets


My kids didn’t quite think this was a requirement, they wanted to get to the craft project.



Not that you can tell from Princess’ sour face.  She was not in a good mood that day.


I found a paper doll template on Kidley, I think it was one of the first blogs I discovered, and sadly it’s not writing anymore.

Then I turned them loose with a box of crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue, and a box of scrapbook paper.  Their only instruction was to make a boy doll and a girl doll, an unpopular instruction with everyone.


And here’s what I got:


I love the look on the boy’s face in the top picture, that really is his personality.  My kids never gave me a chance to get a picture of them with their pictures.  I love the variety, from the all colored to the some colored some paper.  All of them were unique.


The bottom right corner is one of my boys’ pictures.  I’d guess Superman from the one guy being all blue.

Shibley Smiles

Louisiana: Mardi Gras


“Mardi Gras” is a great book about the holiday and how it is celebrate particularly in New Orleans.


It approaches this holiday at a kid level and gives a fair amount of background.  I loved how well it covered how New Orleans celebrates it and I learned all sorts of things.  It made me want to go to New Orleans to see Mardi Gras, and then the other mom who was with me burst my bubble.  Apparently it’s a higher crime rate then and most locals just stay off the streets as much as possible.


I guess I always picture it sort of like this:

Well, after reading the book we made our own Mardi Gras masks in the traditional colors of purple, green, and yellow.


I found these great masks at First Palette and printed them off on cardstock.

Then I turned them loose to make it.

Mardi Gras masksMardi Gras masks008

All we need to add now is a ribbon to tie it on.  I also want to applaud myself for not making it too over the top in effort and overthinking it.


At the time of picture taking Princess didn’t have hers done, but she’s since gotten it done.


Oh, and in case you’re wondering the boys masks are superhero masks.

Kid Craft: Make a road map

We’ve made lots of blue tape roads all over our floor, and I saw a super cool idea over on Quirky Momma, and knew I wanted to make it.

Besides it made a great distraction for the boys who didn’t have a friend over while Princess did.

And while I had great plans of multi-level ones on our stairs, my boys wanted flat folders they could fold up and carry around.
But, Quirky Momma really has a much cooler one, so you should go check it out.

I’m clearing through some drafts, and saw this one.  It’s definitely an instance where I had grand plans and the boys just weren’t inspired by the craft.  Do you ever have crafts or activities like that?  “The best laid plans” and all that?

Bible Alive: Creation!

If this seems like a familiar topic it’s because I’ve taught it a couple of times before.  First because we did My Father’s World, and then because of Mystery of History.  This time it’s because we’re starting a 2 year trek through the Bible with our Sunday School class and my kids get to be the guinea pigs for activities.



For whatever reason I decided it’d be a brilliant idea to make a game of “Sort the days of Creation bean bag” toss.


So, I sat there and ironed on about 90 transfers onto squares and made insanely large numbers of bean bags.

Materials for book: creation printables, jello, index cards

Materials for bean bags: creation printables, fabric, iron on transfers, stuffing of some sort


Then I took seven index cards and had the kids make a cheat sheet about the days of creation.  I printed off smaller version of the same pictures and made jello stickers (my counter and tables were covered in these sheets for days as they dried).


They happily licked their way through the days of creation, and finally drew a picture of “God taking a nap.”


And there’s their books to help them play the game.


And there we played the game.  There were 3 different colors of bean bags, and I just so happen to have 3 kids.  Coincidence?  I think not…….

Decorating a doll house

Princess got a gorgeous doll house built by her Granddad when she was two.  She played with it a little bit earlier, but she’s really starting to get into it now.  She’s also putting stickers on it.  So, I’m trying to turn her creative bent in a constructive non-destructive way.


To forestall the complete stickering of the dollhouse I offered to help decorate one room.

We had to ride for a long time to get the supplies.  A very long time.


And then we got to work “making it pretty.”  First we cut some pink flannel for a carpet.  Princess insisted it needed to be taped down, so it is well and thoroughly taped.  Then we got some very fuzzy pink fabric (not sure what it is, maybe  fleece) and cut it into small blankets and pillows.


Mac checked out our work and declared we needed something on the walls, and some knick knacks.  So we took another long ride and picked up some scrapbooking paper and some flower buttons to strew about the room.

And finally after hours of work it was done:

There are extra blankets and pillows for all of the visiting dolls.  The pet dragon has a lovely pink pillow for his bed.  Now, I’m just wondering how long before the boys demand I first build something like this for their  rooms, and then how long before it needs to be “decorated.”


And finally after all that hard work we were tuckered out, and took a nap.  Oh wait, that only happened in my dreams.

learning laboratory at mama smiles

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:


Last Thursday was Laura Numeroff’s birthday, and I thought it’d be fun to read her seminal book: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”  I did a quick Google search and found a story sequencing activity to use with the kids.


And then I saw a post over at ABC and 123 that reminded me of an activity they’d done over at Superheroes and Princesses, so I went there only to be reminded that she was given the idea from a post over at Almost Unschoolers.  Wow, what a chain of links…….  each one leads to more great ideas.


jello stickers

So, I printed out the sequencing activity I found, and while the kids were making their own cards to make into stickers I very quickly painted the back and waited for them to dry.


Amusingly enough only Princess was willing to try and make stickers.   The boys outright refused.


jello stickers


Then while I read the story they quite happily licked their stickers and put them on in order.


There was a bit of grumbling from the boys at first, but eventually they got into it as well.


If You Give a Mouse a CookieIf You Give a mouse a cookieif you give a mouse a cookie


As you can see eventually they all thought it was a fun project.  Even if they had to be convinced of it……


The boys now have a whole list of flavors they want to try.

I already have a whole slew of books to try this with in mind…….  So much fun to try!

Maryland: Billie Holiday

I found a few famous people who were from Maryland, and being a Jazz fan I decided to spotlight Billie Holiday.  I wanted to do something for Jim Henson as well, but I’m still brainstorming that one.



Tiny’s Hat is a super cute story about Billie Holiday as a girl and how much she loves her Daddy, but he goes away.  It’s rather sad and bitter sweet, but ends on a happy note.


I loved the chalk illustrations on this book and thought it’d be fun to let the kids try drawing with chalk.


003SUPPLIES: chalk (I found a box at Michael’s for a dollar), black construction paper


The kids happily experimented with drawing in chalk, for a while, and I left them with the paper and chalk and took turns having the kids read to me.


I returned to discover they’d left my planned project and started their own



I don’t have a picture of Princess’ bat, using black construction paper, a plastic lid, and 10 pounds of blue tape, but it was impressive.


And now I’m going to actually remember to hit publish!

Shibley Smiles