Archive for March, 2011

Fairy Gardens and houses

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Spring is here! Well, almost. Every year my kids and I make fairy houses I the yard and last year we built a bunch at our local library too. I love seeing how flexible their minds are, and seeing the design choices they make: “Here’s the tire swing in the living room” or, look the pool is right outside the back door.

We were inspired by the Tracy Kane’s fairy book series “Kristen’s Fairy House.” In our yard, we have added non- natural things, or pre-made things. According to the book, you should only use natural things like bark, pine needles, acorns, pine needles, shells, rocks, anything you can think of!

The fairy house building usually involves some reading material too like The Littles by John Peterson or The Borrowers by Mary Norton, which has been made into a Japanese anime which should be available to view in the US this summer by Hiyao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke).

and and     


And a picture of Totoro, just because I love him so much

My Neighbor Totoro – Studio Ghibli in Japan (available on Netflix!)


Even the frogs and spiders like all the attention

For the house that Bella is sitting with, Mom & Dad made it with screws and a glue gun – as long as all the man made stuff is hidden, it’s sort of kosher. For the garden area, it was nice to be able to use all the crafts we made indoors all winter long outside. Painted birdhouses, and all those little flower & butterfly crafts from school.

Good Behavior Chart for kids

Saturday, March 5th, 2011



Before my children could read, I needed a good behavior chart with an easy to understand concept. We love to read, so I used a visual from a couple of favorite books. For my daughter we used “Papa, Please get the Moon for M” by Eric Carle, and fr my son we used “Go Dogs Go” by P.D.

Eastman. Both had pages with ladders on them. I started o note that there are a lot of children’s books with ladder images – the Fire pigs or construction workers in Richard Scarry s Busytown books, or Dr. Seuss books. Pick a book and visual your kids recognize from a favorite picture book.


When my kids reached the top of the ladder, they got a treat — or in my son’s case, they got to go to a dog party!!!


I was very happy with my Eric Carle copy made with a stiff piece of cardboard from a dishwasher box, paint and pipe cleaners. The “Papa” was the one who went up the ladder to get the moon, and I made him out of a fancy wooden cocktail fork, a button, yarn and an old bubble wrap mailer. The likelihood that I will ever throw another party that requires cocktail forks is very slim! I made the moon out of an old plastic bubble mailer — the plastic kind takes and holds acrylic paint really well.


In this picture you can see Bella (“Monica” in the real book, which I highly recommend, waiting for Daddy to do her bidding and get her the

moon.) If I did this again, I would make it a little smaller. The ladder is made out of pipe cleaners, and you can have as many rungs as you like.




For Quil’s chart I used an old kitchen cabinet door, just because it was around. It was too heavy, if I did it again I would use heavy cardboard or foam core. I wasn’t so happy with how my version of the art from Go Dogs Go came out, but there was little hair left on my head, and I needed something fast to keep my little boy motivated to do good in this world! I should have put the cars in the treetop, since that’s where he wanted his cocktail fork mini-him to be all the time. These ladders worked for a good 4 years with both of my kids! When one got to the top, he/she got to choose their treat, and who should go. I am proud to say that both kids wanted their sibling along, so everyone won and both were motivated to work together on getting to the top.