DIY EMOJI PILLOWS

Our tweens and teens group had the chance to make their own emoji pillows this week!  Let me tell you, the hype that surrounded this program was crazy good!  Anytime I was out on desk getting anything prepped for these pillows, I would have kids coming up and asking me tons of questions, which I loved!  Since it was so popular in my library, I figured a quick lil’ tutorial to share the love would be helpful so here you go!  The step-by-step with pictures is located below, but read on through for the details and what worked well for us.

Our awesome teen librarian and I started by looking at our audience.  We are working with kids in grades four to eight, many of whom had never sewn before.  We wanted to give them the chance to learn basic stitches and to use a sewing machine.   Working with upper elementary and middle school kiddos meant we needed materials that were forgiving.  We ended up choosing fleece for the heads because it has enough give that it could easily cover slight mishaps with cutting and stitching.  The felt, however, was by far the easiest to cut since it is so sturdy and therefore was the best material for the facial pieces.

Speaking of those faces, we took advantage of some of the great free coloring sheet sites in order to create our patterns.  We printed them out to fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, then had the kids cut the pieces, pin them down to the felt, and cut around.  This was pretty much the most pattern cutting the kids did since we decided to pre-cut the yellow circles that everyone would be using for their pillows.  Depending on how long your program is, you could let kids do this, but for our time frame, it made much more sense for us to get this out of the way ahead of time.  They still got plenty of practice with patterns and cutting when it came to constructing their emojis though!

To be honest, we did cheat a bit in another area too.  The kids stitched the fleece pieces together, but glued the felt pieces on.  For the skill level our kiddos were at (and our librarians, but shhh… don’t tell), it just made the most sense so no one got frustrated. It also gave the kids a lot more freedom to create some of the faces with smaller pieces that would have been a real pain to sew.  One important detail… do get fabric glue!  It worked beautifully even when a little too much glue was used!  Other glues also don’t hold as well over time and we didn’t want anyone’s face falling apart.  The other plus?  It dried quickly!  While we were showing some great youtube tutorials on back-stitching, ladder stitching, and going over the sewing machines and letting them give those a whirl with some practice paper, the glue dried and we were able to move on to the sewing!

As I am sure you noticed if you did the Pinterest spin through looking at different tutorials like we did, a lot of folks use no sew for these pillows!  We opted to sew for two reasons.  First of all because sewing is an awesome skill that everyone should have a basic concept of.  Second, because when we tried glue, we had a bit of a disaster.  It puckered and left some gaps.  You had to clothes pin it all over to get it to stay together.  Granted, that was using fabric glue since hot glue isn’t an option with so many kids and so few of us grownups in the room.  Still,  sewing everything but the gap for stuffing and using glue to close said gap didn’t even work.  On one of our test runs, we tried this theory and it literally looked like someone had taken a bite our of our emoji’s chin!  So with all that said, we stuck with sewing.

Hover over or click on the steps pictured below to get the details and tips that helped us have success with this.  The step-by-step below was done by hand using a double floss for thread.   If you are new to sewing, I promise, it isn’t as hard as it may look.  Tutorials make it very easy to watch as you sew to double check yourself.  If you are comfortable with a machine, these zip through very quickly.  Just be careful since fleece does have quite a bit of give.

 

The kids absolutely LOVED this project and we hope you do too!  We would love to hear about how your pillows turn out or any suggestions you have for us! Drop us a comment below!

Exploratorium Teaser: Rocket Bottles

Exploratorium is by far one of our favorite programs to do.  The element of surprise each week as kids walk in the room, the different hands-on experiences we are able to provide, and more importantly the connections we get to make with parents and their kiddos makes it as enriching for us as it is for them.  This S.T.E.A.M.-based program is one we offer each week when our school district has early release and it is one many families have come to look forward to because there is always something different and exciting.  We cover it all (even Math…gulp)!

 

For me though, I love the science and art side of it.  These areas collide more often than people realize… or at least they can if you allow for it.  The activity we are doing this week was a really fun example of that.  We are talking about friction and movement so I decided to make these Rocket Bottles propelled by friction with strings that run through the rocket. There is plenty of time for kids to turn their rockets into a piece of art before they take it for a test drive so we get to feed their creative side as well.  Take a peek to see how to make a Rocket bottle of your own!

No Dogs Allowed Necklace

nodogsallowedneckalce

Our 1st-3rd grade book club read No Dogs Allowed! by Stephanie Calmenson and Joanna Cole for the month of August.  This delightful book is about two dog loving best friends, Kate and Lucie, who live in an apartment building that nodogsalloweddoesn’t allow dogs.  When they visit a local thrift store, they find matching dog bone necklaces that gives them the power to become dogs whenever they would like.  A dream come true for these canine-obsessed girls!

To go along with our book discussion, we made our own dog bone necklaces using air dry modelling clay.  These cute (but fragile) creations would make a great at-home or classroom craft to accompany a fun story.  Below, I’ve outlined how I created the dog bone charm.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!

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How-To: Make a Dump Truck flannel board!

dump trucks

Parents often ask where we get ideas for story times and programs, and we’re quick to say, “PINTEREST!”  And while it is true, we also do our fair share of thinking up crafts and activities on our own or as a department.  To be honest, our programs are a pretty even mixture of inspiration (from Pinterest, teacher and librarian blogs, and parenting sites) and imagination.  That was definitely the case for the Dump Truck flannel board (sometimes called a felt board) that I created for this week’s Wee Wigglers!

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