Summer Reading Fun: Charlotte’s Web Handmade Toys & More

A few months ago Big Sis and I read “Charlotte’s Web” which was Big Sis’ very first chapter book. She was in the middle of taking a Farm Class and I knew that the themes in the book would correlate wonderfully with her class, and besides, who doesn’t LOVE Charlotte’s Web??? It’s one of my favorites!

Each day before her nap we sat in her bed and read a chapter of Charlotte’s Web. Sometimes it’s crazy and Little E is screaming or Big Sis is being easily distracted but most days we cuddle up and take a 10 minute break, just the two of us.

We had so much fun with this story that we decided to do a few activities, her favorite being the handmade Charlotte’s Web toys. Of course we had to share. :)

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

These are all super easy crafts that allow you to repurpose stuff you have around your house! These toys provided opportunities for retelling and summarizing through play. We had a lot of fun with these.

To make Wilbur:

Materials:
approx. 32 oz. juice bottle, emptied
2 toilet paper rolls
pink pipe cleaner
pink construction paper
pink acrylic craft paint
black sharpie
hot glue
scissors

Directions:
Use the pink paint to paint the juice bottle, with the cap on. Let the bottle dry and give it a second coat. Paint the toilet paper rolls with the pink paint after you give the bottle a second coat, they should be fine with just one coat.

When the toilet paper rolls and bottle are dry, cut the rolls in half and hot glue them on one side of the bottle.

Cut the pipe cleaner (keep the rest of the pipe cleaner to make Templeton) to about two inches and curl it around a pencil or even your finger, this is the tail. Hot glue the pipe cleaner on the bottom of the bottle, on the opposite side that you’ve glued the legs (if you look at the picture this will be easier to understand).

Use the black Sharpie to draw two eyes, two nostrils and a mouth (again see the pic).

Cut two triangles from the pink construction paper  (save this paper for Templeton) and hot glue them onto the top area near the face to create the ears.

To make Templeton:

Materials:
Grey fun foam or construction paper
small pink pompom (if you don’t have one, just use a rolled up piece of paper and paint pink or take a small piece of cotton ball and paint that pink)
googly eyes
pink pipe cleaner (use the unused portion from making Wilbur)
pink construction paper (use the unused portion from making Wilbur)
scissors
hot glue

Cut a half circle on the grey fun foam (I failed to take a pic of this) from one end to the other end, look at this link for an idea on how to make the cone. Cut it out, glue one end to the other end. Glue on the googly eyes, pink pompom and pipe cleaner as the tail.

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

To make Charlotte:

Materials:
Two brown pompoms
2 googly eyes
2 pipe cleaners, cut in half
hot glue

Directions:
Glue the two pompoms together. Glue the pipe cleaners across the body and bend for the arms. Glue the googly eyes on.

For Charlotte’s Web (from Modern Parents Messy Kids):

Materials:
White yarn
White glue, such as Elmer’s
Wax paper
Scissors
Medium bowl
Water

Directions:
Cut white yarn into lengths of 1-2 feet, depending on the desired diameter of the finished spiderweb. Pour the glue into a medium bowl. Thin it with water (about 3 parts glue to 1 part water). Cover your work surface with wax paper. Dip the yarn in the glue and then spread out on the wax paper. Continue with several more lengths of yarn, crossing them over the first at the center like spokes in a wheel, to create the base of the spiderweb.  Once the base is complete, connect the radiating yarn pieces with additional lengths of glue-soaked yarn spiraling around and around to create a spider web design. Let dry (this may take a couple of days) then turn over and pull off the wax paper. You’ll have a yarn spiderweb that holds its shape.

As we were reading Charlotte’s Web I had Big Sis make a Charlotte’s Web journal. I would say a portion of a sentence, in this case, “My favorite character is…” and I would write her answer down and then have her draw a picture. The picture is Charlotte and the big swirly scribbles are the web, this was during a phase when everything she drew was monochromatic, heh.

 

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

Other questions I asked were,  ”If you were Charlotte what would you have written in your web?” “If you had your very own pig just like Fern did, what would you name it?”  ”What is your favorite part of the story?” “What do you think Templeton is going to do with the goose’s egg?

These questions aid in comprehension and make the book discussion so rich.

We also read some books, mostly about spiders, to go with the story. We read:

The Very Busy Spider: This was Big Sis’ favorite book. A spider lands on a fence post near a farm and a handful of farm animals ask her to do some activity with her but she is too busy spinning her web.

Are You a Spider? : A great non-fiction book for young kiddos. Information is presented in questions and reads like a storybook but it’s full of information about spiders.

 

Sophie’s Masterpiece: A sweet story about a spider who wants to spin beautiful creations all day but isn’t welcome anywhere, until she finds a special guest to stay with and creates a masterpiece for the guest. This was my favorite.

 

The Year at Maple Hill Farm: This book goes through all of the different aspects of the farm that change with each season. It’s a long book but even just looking through the pictures and talking about the book is a lot of fun.

Lastly, we took an 8 week farm class but if you’re not interested in a full farm class many farms have tours that you can go on.

Explore a Local Farm | Motherhood in the Trenches

 

Explore a Local Farm | Motherhood in the Trenches

It was so fun to talk about the animals on the farm in relation to “Charlotte’s Web.” If you’re in the Inland Empire check out Amy’s Farm which I wrote about here.

Do you have a favorite Children’s chapter book to read with your little ones? I’d love to hear about it!

Painted Dish Towels: The Perfect Kid Made Mother’s Day Gift

Mother’s Day is coming up so fast! I always like to give a handmade gift to my mom, especially now that she has grandkids. These painted dish towels are so easy, so cute and so useful!
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White dish towels, washed, dried and ironed (I bought ours at Target for like $5, and they are giant. I didn’t realize it until after I opened them. They work fine but I would have preferred something smaller.)
  • Fabric Paint (we used Martha Stewart Paints because I love their colors)
  • Paint supplies (brushes, sponges, printmaking things like apples, stamps, whatever you’d like.)
  • Paper to cover your area
  • Masking tape to tape the towel down

Here’s what you’ll do:

Make sure your dish towels are washed, dried and ironed.

Start by covering your work area. You may want to set up a few different “stations” because the paint will bleed through the towel and onto the work surface. If you reuse the work area you’ll get paint on the back of your new towel.

Use masking tape to tape the towel taut.

Whenever I do a project I start by letting Big Sis do whatever she wants. I find that if I give her free reign first, she’s more likely to cooperate with directions after. So the first towel (pictured above) I let her paint however she wanted. That one ended up being my favorite.
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Then we did an apple print. Cut an apple in half, dip into paint and press onto the towel.
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches

Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Lastly, we did a handprint towel, because what Grandma doesn’t love kid handprints?!
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Let them dry for the time allotted on the bottle of your paint, usually 24 hours. Then wash them again to make them softer. The paint will still be pretty stiff but washing them softens them up a bit.

This is great to pair with some handpainted wooden kitchen utensils which I’m hoping to share on Monday! If you try the project I’d love for you to share. Comment below with a link to your blog or tag me on Instagram or post on our Facebook page. Happy crafting!

Our Favorite Easter Resources

You guys, I cannot believe that Easter is less than a month away. Wasn’t Christmas just yesterday??? Gee willikers (do people even say that anymore? I say that all too often, haha)

Over the past 4 years I’ve collected a few Easter resources that we really enjoy and I want to share a new resource that I am SO excited about! Here are a few of our favorite Easter resources.

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

Easter books! I LOVE children’s literature. Like really, really, really love children’s literature, A LOT! If I could, I would buy a new book every day, I just love them! Anytime there’s an opportunity for a themed collection of books, I’m all over it! Here are some of our favorite Easter books and why we love them.

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

The Easter Cave by Carol Wedeven is my favorite. It is repetitive which younger kiddos love. It focuses on specific pieces of the full story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. From the tomb, to the rooster crowing, to Jesus, then the crown, the guards, the nails that sting, the women who cried, the stone that was rolled away, the angel and lastly the friends with the good news. It opens up room for discussion and while it’s simple, it’s not dumbed down. Definitely a must have!

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

The Very First Easter Board Book by Paul L. Maier. We have the board book which is a simplified version of the actual book, I have not read the full book so I can’t speak for that version. Both books are a historical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The board book is very simplified, maybe a little too much? but the pictures open up opportunities for discussion. We have had some great discussions about the pictures and what is portrayed in the pictures.

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

God Gave Us Easter” by Lisa Tawn Bergren. I really like Lisa Tawn Bergren. I haven’t read all of her books but the books I have read I really enjoy. This one does talk about Santa and the Easter Bunny, so if you don’t do those, it may be confusing for your kiddos. On the flip side, there are some great questions answered that your kiddos may ask as well.

A few years ago we made a resurrection garden. It was so much fun to do and while we didn’t use it any specific way, it was fun to put together and to retell the story of Jesus rising from the dead.

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

We’ve also incorporated Oh Amanda’s Un-Easter Baskets. These are a great alternative to the Easter basket and have so much more meaning. You should definitely check them out!

Uneaster basket 1

 

And now to share a new resource that I’m so excited about! For three years now, during Christmas, we do “Truth in the Tinsel” which is an amazing advent experience for young kiddos. I look forward to it every year. Well this year Amanda, the creator of Truth in the Tinsel, came out with “A Sense of the Resurrection.”

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

 

It’s 12 lessons that take you through a sensory experience of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because it’s brand new, we haven’t done all of the lessons but we did start with the first lesson and I can’t tell how excited I am to continue.

For the first lesson we read John  12:1-8 where Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with oil. The activity for that passage was to make Mary’s perfume. We decorated glass jars, filled them with essential oil and olive oil and stuck bamboo skewers in them. Every time we walk past them it is a reminder to thank Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins. It is a constant reminder of Christ’s sacrifice.

Our Favorite Easter Resources | Motherhood in the Trenches

The conversations are rich, the text is the Bible, the activities are unforgettable. So so great! The e-book is only $7.99 but right now, until March 28th, you can use code OHEASTER at this link and get 20% off.  Although the lessons can be pretty deep, you can simplify them for preschoolers. A lot of the materials are materials you’ll already have around the house. This is an investment of time and money that you won’t regret! Go check it out!

The Prayer Jar | A Great Tool to Teach Your Kids to Pray

The Prayer Jar | A Great Tool to Teach Your Children to Pray for Others | Motherhood in the Trenches

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

That verse is not a promise, it’s a proverb, a general truth and one that encourages me as a mom to teach my kids the things of the Lord. It is never to early to teach your kids to pray!

We’ve been using the prayer jar for a year and a half now and it has been such a great tool to teach Big Sis to pray for others. Each night, after her bath, we read a kid’s devotional book and then she picks someone out of her prayer jar to pray for. This has sort of become a game as she gives us hints and makes us guess who we are praying for that night. After we guess it we pray for the person that we picked out of the jar. It’s something we all look forward to every night.

It’s so easy to make your own prayer jar and to implement it into your home. Here’s what you’ll need:

The Prayer Jar | A Great Tool to Teach Your Children to Pray for Others | Motherhood in the Trenches

  • A container (For our first prayer jar we used a soup can but it does have sharp edges so make sure to put tape on the edges. We obviously used a cashew “can” which has no sharp edges. Look around your house and see what you might have)
  • Decorative paper to go around your can
  • Any embellishments you might want. (mine aren’t pictured but you’ll see them in a bit)
  • Glue (any glue will due but if you’re doing this yourself, hot glue works wonders and makes the project sooo fast)
  • popsicle sticks
  • fine tip permanent marker or black pen
  • scissors
  • pictures (more on that below)

What you’ll do:

First you’ll want to gather your pictures. When I made our first prayer jar I went through my pictures and printed any pictures I had on hand, just as they were. This resulted in G-Pa’s head being gigantic and Grammy’s head being so tiny. This time around I used Photoshop to crop the pics and brought them into a new 6×4 document so that the heads would be around the same size. If you don’t have photoshop you could do the same in Microsoft Word or Pages. If you aren’t worried about having all different head sizes then skip this part.

Hint: If you want to get your pics for free, try signing up for an online photo site that you haven’t used before. I got mine printed at CVS. I created a new account and got 10 photos free. So I uploaded them and they were ready to pick up within an hour.

Now that you have your pictures, you need to cut them out and glue them onto the popsicle sticks.

Now you’re ready to write names on them. I started writing the names in fancy type but then realized that Big Sis is the one who will be reading them so I went back to the printing them so that she would be able to read them herself.

The Prayer Jar | A Great Tool to Teach Your Children to Pray for Others | Motherhood in the Trenches

And now you just need to put the sticks in the jar. We put our sticks upside down because Big Sis was taking forever to choose who she was going to pray for. If they’re upside down it’s a fun surprise and it speeds along the process.

The Prayer Jar | A Great Tool to Teach Your Children to Pray for Others | Motherhood in the Trenches

Lastly, when we finish we put the stick into an empty basket. When the jar is empty we put everyone back in the jar and start over again.

The Prayer Jar | A Great Tool to Teach Your Children to Pray for Others | Motherhood in the Trenches

And there you have it…the prayer jar! Do you have other ways you teach your kids to pray? I’d love for you to share them!

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Dirk and I recently gave Big Sis a second-hand digital camera and she has been documenting almost every moment of every day. It has been so much fun to see how she views her world and what she deems important. I thought I’d share with you some selects from one day in the life of Big Sis. The captions are her words.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Daddy’s taking a picture of me taking a picture.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Oh, that’s when I was reading to Little E. I wanted you to take a picture of us because I love reading to Little E.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Little E woke up from her nap!

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That’s the beautiful light coming through the trees in our backyard.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

This is before we left to run errands.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Those are the diapers we bought at Target with 0024

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Strawberries at the farm

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That’s just some random guy at the farm.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That’s Little E in her shopping cart. It’s the first time she’s sitting like a big girl. (I took a pic of this and she was right there next to me taking a picture)

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That’s the Fresh Beat Band, I love them.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Mommy’s cooking dinner while holding Little E because she was crabby.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

Oh, Daddy came home from work and showed me how to use the light thing (the flash) on the camera.

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That was spaghetti

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That’s Mommy on the way to get ICE CREAM!

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

That’s on the way to get ice cream and then there’s our ice cream and that’s it!

A Day in the Life of a Preschooler

*****

And there you have it folks. A day in the life of Big Sis. If you have an old camera lying around I think you’d have fun seeing how your kiddo views his/her day.